The Book of ACTS
James J. Barker
PETER'S PREACHING ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST
- In Luke 24:49, our Lord told His disciples to tarry in the city of Jerusalem, "until ye be endued with power from on high" (cf. Acts 1:8).
- That enduement of power from on high came on the Day of Pentecost, and that power is here to stay (1:4, 5; cf. 2:38, 39).
- Our Lord said in John 14:16, "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever."
- Oswald J. Smith said, "The Holy Spirit is able to make the Word as successful now as in the days of the apostles. He can bring in souls by hundreds and thousands as well as by ones and twos. The reason why we are no more prosperous is that we have not the Holy Spirit with us in might and power as in early times" (The Revival We Need).
- Dispensationally, Pentecost marked the beginning of a new age. The book of Acts records the growth and the development of the New Testament church, beginning in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost.
- Tonight we will pick up where we left off last time, and that was with Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost.
THE SUBJECT OF THE SERMON
- The subject of Peter's sermon was the Lord Jesus Christ (2:22).
- This was also the subject of Peter's second sermon (cf. 3:13-15), and his third sermon (cf. 4:10-12).
- He should be the subject of all sermons!
- The apostle Paul said, "But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness" (I Cor. 1:23).
- This is the first of sixteen sermons in the book of Acts -- there are seven by Peter, seven by Paul, one by Stephen, and one by James. All these sermons are centered on the Lord Jesus Christ.
- As soon as Stephen mentioned the crucifixion of Christ, the crowd "gnashed on him with their teeth" (Acts 7:54).
- Some people do not like it but we must preach the Gospel of Christ -- His crucifixion and His resurrection (2:23, 24).
- Charles Haddon Spurgeon said that no matter what text he was preaching he always made a beeline to Calvary.
- David prophesied that the Messiah would be raised from the dead (2:25-27). Peter pointed out that David could not be speaking of himself, but was speaking of the coming Messiah (2:28-31).
- In verse 32, Peter says, "We all are witnesses." The apostles all saw the resurrected Christ, and they traveled all over proclaiming it.
- In verse 33, Peter gives another proof that Jesus rose from the dead. Our Lord promised to send the Holy Spirit and He did. A dead man could not send the Holy Spirit. But the resurrected and exalted Christ did.
- Preachers must always apply the message of the cross to their listeners. Peter said in verse 23, "Ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain."
- In verse 36, Peter said, "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ."
- There must always be a personal application in preaching. Interpretation is very important, but there must always be an application also (cf. Acts 3:12-15).
- People are not changed or motivated or challenged or moved until the message is applied. There is a difference between a speech and a sermon.
- There is a difference between a lecture and a message. The songwriter said, "I've a message from the Lord, Hallelujah!"
- Peter had a message from the Lord, and three thousand souls were saved (2:41).
- Notice they got baptized after they were saved. This is the Biblical pattern (2:41).
- Some people do not like invitations (altar calls), and I agree some preachers over do it. However, invitations are Biblical if they are done properly.
- Our modern day custom developed over time. The old-fashioned Methodist camp meeting preachers gave sinners an opportunity to come forward and get saved.
- Charles Finney, the great evangelist, popularized the "mourner's bench" (or "anxious seat").
- Most evangelists were known to give invitations -- D.L. Moody, Billy Sunday, Billy Graham, and so on.
- A preacher once told evangelist D. L. Moody that he did not like the way he gave his invitation. Moody admitted he knew he should improve it, and he asked the man how he gave his invitation.
- The preacher said he never gave an invitation. Moody told him, “I like the way I’m doing it better than the way you’re not doing it!”
- Peter made his application and his listeners "were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (2:37).
- These sinners were under conviction during Peter's preaching. They asked, "What shall we do?" (2:37).
- "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (2:38).
- Repentance must always come first!
- By being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, these Jews were identifying themselves publicly with Christ and His church (2:38, 41).
- Some churches and some preachers have created mischief over this verse. Two errors are taught. First of all, this verse does not teach baptismal regeneration, and secondly it does not deny the Trinity.
- Our Lord Himself said in Matthew 28:19, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Scripture never contradicts itself.
- Regarding the error of baptismal regeneration (taught by the Church of Christ), much of the confusion comes from a misunderstanding of the preposition "for" -- "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" (2:38).
- I heard a man say he went to prison for drugs. He did not mean he went there looking for drugs. He meant he went to prison because he was caught dealing drugs. If you use the word "for" that way, the verse makes sense and does not teach baptismal regeneration.
- Furthermore, the confusion can be removed by understanding that the preposition eis (which is translated "for" in Acts 2:38) also means "unto" (see Scofield margin) or "on account of."
- The same Greek word eis is translated "unto" in Matthew 3:11, where John the Baptist says, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance..."
- Baptism is very important, but it cannot save anyone; and it must always follow conversion.
- In verse 38, Peter said, "And ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."
- This promise of the power of the Holy Spirit is not limited to Peter's audience. He said in verse 39, "For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call."
- Claim the promise of Pentecost. Our Lord said in Luke 11:13, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"