What is the essence of preaching? Is it clever words and rhetoric? Is it a keen sense of humor and a winsome delivery? Does it involve how we look while we are doing it? Is it possible that no preaching actually occurs in some churches these days? If that is true, is it really, in fact, a church at all? Those are some kind of heavy duty questions to throw at you right out of the gate this morning aren’t they?
There is a word which occurs frequently in the New Testament. It does not occur in the passage we are covering today, but in the truest sense, this passage is the very definition of the word. This word is the Greek word, Kerygma. It means preaching or proclaiming. This word is often compared and contrasted with the Greek word, Didache, which is teaching or discipling. A church that will have true and lasting converts to Christ must have both Kerygma and Didache. They must have both preaching and teaching. But what is the essence of preaching? How can we discern the difference between Kerygma and Didache?
The passage we have before us today is probably the purest example of Kerygma in all of Holy Scripture. It is the gold standard. It is compelling, it is concise, and it is Holy Spirit powered. I invite you to turn in your bibles to Acts chapter 2. We will begin reading in verse 22. As we work our way through the sections, you will see that true Kerygma happens when we proclaim, with power, the life, death, resurrection and exaltation of the risen Christ. Short of that, we don’t really have preaching–we have merely teaching or in some instances, in some places, we have merely motivational speaking. Again, a church with true converts will have true preaching. Kerygma will be present.
1st Corinthians chapter one says:
21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach (Kerygma) to save those who believe. 1st Corinthians 1:21
I. The Life of Christ
Look with me in verse 22 of Acts chapter 2 please:
22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—
Peter begins this section of the sermon by focusing in on why he is standing before them. In the previous section you will remember, if you were with us, that he referenced a prophecy from the prophet Joel. He said that the things which Joel said are now coming to pass. He used reason and scripture to draw the crowd in. Now he moves on to a bold proclamation of Christ–reasonable, scriptural, Christocentric and bold. Today begins the section which is Christ-centered and very bold to say the least.
The fact that Jesus came from Nazareth would have been a stumbling block to some.
John chapter one says:
Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” John 1:45-46
We have already shown you, in the opening words of the book of Acts, that the crowd thought that anyone from Galilee was uneducated and below them. They were fishermen. They were men of humble birth. But Peter is telling them now, that this person that they overlooked as someone beneath their dignity is, in fact, the Christ — the Messiah.
He says, “You saw, with your own eyes, mighty works. Dunamis is the Greek word here, where we get the word dynamite. It’s the same word used in Acts 1:8 when it says you will receive power. The word “wonders” used here, points to the awe that is created when the crowds saw the mighty works. And then finally, the word signs. Signs points to the proof that was offered through these mighty works. So the combination of them means, “You saw mighty works that made you wonder in amazement, and these were the proof that you need that he is the Christ.”
There was always a certain benevolence involved in the miracles of Jesus. Even in something as impersonal as turning water into wine, there was a kindness in the act. He was honoring what his mother was asking for in the moment, and he was providing much needed replenishment of their depleted supplies for that wedding. So there was kindness in the actions of Christ in that sense. In other miracles, where he healed someone or raised someone from the dead, the benevolence in those actions is much more apparent.
But the important thing to remember in all of these, is that even though there was a tremendous benefit being offered to these people at that time, this was secondary to the real reason he was doing these things.
[box] He was not healing people for the primary purpose that they be healed. He was healing them to bear witness to the fact that he was who he said he was. I am the Christ— the Messiah— and here is the proof.[/box]
Now, did people benefit tremendously? Without a doubt. Just ask Lazarus if he was the beneficiary of Jesus acting on his behalf. I am sure he would testify that he was very glad to be back among the living again. But the primary thing that happened was in those around Lazarus. People believed. People’s hearts were changed.
The Miracles were Proof
We can offer no better proof to people of the truth of the claims of Jesus, than to point to his life and miracles. Christ went the extra mile at all times to prove to people who he was. Likewise, we need to go the extra mile in defending his claims to the throne of heaven by presenting the proofs that he offered that he was legitimate.
[box] True preaching of the gospel message, true kerygma, will speak of the life of Christ. And it will speak of the fact that all the way through that life, Jesus was offering compelling proofs along the way of the fact that he was God in the flesh.[/box]
It has become a common occurrence in our day to have to offer identification. If you go to vote, you have to show your ID. To board an airplane, you have to provide ID. It is common. Just consider the life and works of Jesus as his providing ID to us. “I am legitimate. I am the person that I say I am, and here is proof of it.”
II. The Death of Christ
Second today — true Kerygma will speak of the death of Christ. Look there at verse 23:
23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
Peter sort of goes straight for the throat of his audience with this audacious statement, “You killed him. The Romans carried it out but you killed him.” I can imagine that at this point in time, you could have heard a pin drop in the place. Where before there was noise as a rushing wind and people were speaking loudly in other languages to those gathering, now it is deathly quiet.
It is not as though the Jews didn’t understand that the Messiah was going to die. Isaiah 53 gives a prophecy that the Messiah would be wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. But this had to sting just a bit extra for this audience, because those doing the actual wounding and bruising were there in that place gathered together.
But there are a couple of things that I want to make sure that we all understand about the death of Christ, and they are related. One is fairly practical and the other is more doctrinal in nature.
We’re All Responsible for the Death of Christ
First of all, before we sort of puff out our own chests and look down our noses at the crowd gathered there that day, we need to check those thoughts. Because the fact of the matter is, that every single one of us in this place this morning are responsible for the death of Christ.
[box] Every single one of us here may as well have been the one who took a large hammer and nailed a large spike through his wrists and through his ankles. We are responsible for the death of Christ, because we are responsible for the sins committed that made it necessary for him to die. If there was no sin on our parts there would not be a need for him to die.[/box]
1st Peter 2 says:
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24
The reality of the situation is that from our very first set of parents and the fall of man that caused us to fall into sin in the first place, every single one of the seed of Adam have been born sinners. As born sinners, when we reach an age where we can be willful, which is not very old at all, we become actual transgressors, and actual transgressors are in need of a savior. So Christ’s death then becomes necessary for us, personally and individually, just by virtue of being a born sinner. So we have nothing to boast about. We have no fingers to point in the direction of the Jews present that day — we are all culpable. You may as well consider yourself a face in the crowd that day.
Concurrence – God is Sovereign, but We are Still Responsible
This leads to the second thing I would point out about this — the more doctrinal piece of it. This is called the doctrine of concurrence. The doctrine of concurrence sounds kind of big and scary, but it is not really, when you hear what it is. This simply means that God is sovereign, and yet man is still responsible for their actions. The verse says that what happened was according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, and yet you killed him. God planned it from eternity, and you carried it out.
Now who is responsible for the death of Christ? I am — and you are and everyone single elect person who has ever lived. When Joseph was sold into slavery in Genesis and later when he had risen to power he told his brothers that, “What you meant for evil in my life God worked for good.” When that event happened in the life of Joseph, were his brothers then less responsible for the malice in their hearts?—Not for a moment. When Judas betrayed Christ for 30 pieces of silver, was he later off the hook because without this betrayal, the plan of redemption could not go forward? No. Judas was still responsible for his free moral actions of evil.
The Westminster confession says this about the doctrine of concurrence:
“God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.” Westminster Confession
Now that is some major 17th century mumbo jumbo to tell you that God plans. God ordains, man acts but man is responsible for those actions. Each of us is responsible for the death of Christ. Not a real ‘feel good’ part of the sermon, is it? But it is true. This creates in us the humility, the recognition of our true condition before God, that God can work with. We don’t come swaggering up to him with the attitude that He is lucky to have us joining his team. We come before him broken and aware of just what was paid on our behalf — just what it cost to reach us.
A Real Life Picture of the Gospel – Philippine Cave Rescue
One of the clearest real life pictures of the gospel message occurred recently in the story of the boys trapped in the underwater cave in the Philippines. That story made for some very interesting reading and some anxious moments for many of us as we waited for the results. Those boys followed their representative, their head, into a cave where they became trapped. They had no way to rescue themselves. Without intervention, they would die.
Extraordinary and extravagant measures were undertaken to get them out of there. Elon Musk alone must have spent over a million dollars trying to help the situation. One man even lost his life while attempting to help these young men. He willingly went into harm’s way and paid the ultimate price for it. This focused effort by brave men and women, with no regard for their own safety, eventually resulted in every single boy being rescued in a very difficult and dangerous maneuver.
I am sure in the days that followed their rescue, they may have questioned, at least in their minds,why their actions had to cost the life of another. Why did someone have to die in order that we might live? They became aware of the extraordinary measures that were undertaken to reach them. I am sure this was a cause of great humility and gratitude in their lives. They will live life differently because of the things that happened to them while they were trapped and because they were rescued.
[box] Can you see the picture church? We followed our head into sin — we were trapped and someone had to die to save us and Christ willingly did so. The true message of the gospel, true Kerygma, is going to boldly proclaim the death of Christ. We will not shy away from it because death is Icky, or because it may put people off to hear about these things.[/box]
You may be thinking, “How are we supposed to grow big and healthy, if we are always talking about somebody dying, or even worse, dying because of something we did personally? That is a major buzz kill Pastor Dan!” But it is the way to Life. It is the way toward people truly understanding their condition before God. It is the way toward being reconciled to God. Thankfully, it is not the entire story. Just as the story of the Philippino boys has a happy ending, so our story told in true preaching has a happy ending.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://koinoniachurch.info/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Pastor-Dan.jpeg[/author_image] [author_info] Pastor Dan Woody is a founding elder for Koinonia. He has been serving churches as a pastor for the past 13 years. He and his wife Peggy are the parents of two sons, Chris and Jonathan. Pastor Dan is currently studying for his Mdiv with The North American Reformed Seminary. His interests include music, and most outdoor sports like golf, hiking, tennis and fishing. [/author_info] [/author]
Posted by Koinonia Church on Sunday, August 5, 2018