Text: ACTS 3:12-26
1. My message this morning is entitled, “Apostolic Preaching.” Some may call it “Revival Preaching” and that is OK because in my opinion apostolic preaching was revival preaching.
2. Consider Peter’s first message in the book of Acts (cf. Acts 2:36-41). Three thousand souls saved and baptized sounds like revival to me.
3. Then when we come to Acts chapter 3 we read about Peter and John going to the temple and meeting a lame man (3:1-11).
4. When God healed this lame man, Acts 3:10 says the people “were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.”
5. Verse 11 says a crowd of people formed and they greatly wondered.
6. Peter saw this as an excellent opportunity to preach Christ and of course that is what he did (3:12, 13).
7. As we consider Peter’s second sermon (recorded in the book of Acts), we will focus on three aspects of apostolic (or revival) preaching.
I. PETER POINTED OUT SIN
II. PETER PRESENTED THE GOSPEL
III. PETER PROCLAIMED CHRIST AS THE SINNER’S ONLY HOPE
I. PETER POINTED OUT SIN (ACTS 3:12-15, 19).
1. There is precious little preaching about sin these days. Most preachers do not refer at all to sin. The “successful” ones (e.g., the TV preachers, the seeker-friendly ones, etc.) deliberately avoid any mention of sin.
2. For example, listen to this quote from Robert Schuller: “I don't think anything has been done in the name of Christ and under the banner of Christianity that has proven more destructive to human personality and, hence, counterproductive to the evangelism enterprise than the often crude, uncouth, and unchristian strategy of attempting to make people aware of their lost and sinful condition” (Time, March 18, 1985).
3. So according to Mr. Schuller, the apostle Peter was “crude, uncouth and unchristian.” And apparently so was Stephen (Acts 7:51-54). And apparently so was the apostle Paul (Acts 13:9, 10).
4. I only refer to Schuller because he is one of the leaders (unfortunately he has many followers) of this new form of Christianity, which is not genuine Christianity at all. In 1923, J. Gresham Machen wrote a book (still in print) entitled, Christianity & Liberalism. In this excellent book, Dr. Machen asserted that liberal Christianity was as foreign to traditional (orthodox, conservative, evangelical, fundamental) Christianity as was Hinduism or Buddhism or Islam.
5. The liberals did not like Machen’s book (it is still in print) but he was right on target. The apostles preached against sin but unfortunately most of today’s preachers will not.
6. I received a phone call the other day from a missionary heading for Venezuela. He told me that for a few years he pastored an independent Baptist church in California. He told me that many of the churches in California (even some of the fundamental ones) are influenced by Hollywood.
7. What a horrible indictment of modern day Christianity! Sinners are perishing while worldly Christians are entertaining themselves into a spiritual stupor.
8. But this is not what we see in the book of Acts. Peter was not in the entertainment business. Peter was very pointed in his remarks. He said to his audience (Jews assembled at the temple – 3:11) —“You delivered up Jesus, you denied Jesus, you insisted that Pontius Pilate crucify Jesus, you preferred Barabbas, a murderer, and you “killed the Prince of life” (3:13-15). He was convincing them of the enormity of their sin.
9. Pontius Pilate “was determined” to let Jesus go, but the Jews insisted that Barabbas be released and that Jesus be crucified (3:13, 14). The apostle Paul refers to this in Acts 13:28-30.
10.Peter explained that they killed Jesus out of ignorance (3:17). God is merciful but once we are confronted with the truth we had better act upon it for God will hold us accountable. Peter says that now that these Jews had heard the truth, it was time for them to repent and be converted (3:19).
11.Peter stressed that our Lord’s death was a fulfillment of OT prophecy (3:18, 21-24).
12.Christ’s death was God’s plan for our salvation (Acts 2:22, 23; cf. Isa. 53:4-6, 10).
II. PETER PRESENTED THE GOSPEL (3:15).
1. How sad that the Gospel is rarely preached these days. Multitudes go to church starving for the bread of life and they are fed stones.
2. If you study the book of Acts you will see over and over the proclamation of the Gospel; i.e., the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (2:23, 24, 32, 36; 4:10, 33, etc.).
3. Sinners need to hear the Gospel proclaimed, and Christians love to hear the Gospel proclaimed.
4. “I love to tell the story, for those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.
And when, in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song,
‘Twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.”
5. Let me stress that the Christian faith is built upon indisputable, historic facts. Approximately 30 years after preaching this sermon in Jerusalem, Peter wrote his second epistle, and in that letter he wrote, “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables” (II Peter 1:16).
6. All of the religions of this world are built upon cunningly devised fables, except for one and that is the Christian faith, which is built upon historical facts – Peter reminded his listeners that they had “killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses” (Acts 3:15).
III. PETER PROCLAIMED CHRIST AS THE SINNER’S ONLY HOPE (3:16; 4:12).
1. Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, “The sermon that does not lead to Christ, or of which Jesus Christ is not the top and the bottom is a sort of sermon that will make the devils in hell laugh, but might make the angels of God weep.”
2. The Lord Jesus Christ was the theme of Peter’s sermon and He is the theme of all apostolic preaching. Note:
· He is God’s “Son” (Acts 3:13, 26). This is not the usual Greek word for “Son.” Strong’s Concordance says the word could refer to a “servant, especially a minister to a king.” This reminds us of Isaiah’s prophecy – “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth…” (Isa. 42:1).
· He is “His Son Jesus” (3:13). The angel of the Lord said to Joseph, “Thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).
· He is “the Holy One and the Just” (3:14). These titles assert our Lord’s equality with God the Father. These titles affirm His deity.
· He is “the Prince of life” (3:15; cf. 5:30-32).
3. Notice Peter said that Christ was “glorified” (3:13). He was exalted. God glorified His only begotten Son when He raised Him from the dead. Christ was glorified when He ascended into heaven.
4. Philip P. Bliss put it this way, “Lifted up was He to die. ‘It is finished,’ was His cry; Now in heaven exalted high; Hallelujah! What a Saviour!”
5. True Bible preaching must magnify and exalt the Lord Jesus Christ. On the front pager of yesterday’s newspaper was a photograph of the pope’s coffin. Engraved on the top of the coffin was a large letter M, in honor of Mary.
6. This is not surprising but it is clearly unscriptural. The Bible says, “that in all things He might have the preeminence” (Col. 1:18).
7. If Mary herself could look down from the portals of heaven she would not be pleased with such misplaced zeal. She herself said in Luke 1:46, “My soul doth magnify the Lord.”
8. She would be in total agreement with her cousin John the Baptist, who said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
9. Peter demonstrated this same humble spirit when he said, “Why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?” (Acts 3:12b).
10.Peter used this miracle as an opportunity to point sinners to Christ. The lame man was healed in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth (3:6; cf. 3:16; 4:7, 10, 12).
11.And in His name people are not only healed, but more importantly they are gloriously saved from their sins – “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
12.I have said that Christ was the theme of Peter’s message and He is the theme of all true Bible preaching. Let me elaborate and put it this way – the theme of all true Bible preaching is salvation in Christ (Acts 3:26).
13.And let me go further – salvation is through the substitutionary death of Christ. We are saved by His blood – not by His miracles, not by His magnificent teachings, not by His exemplary life, not by the wonderful example He set – only by the blood of Jesus. This is the only way to have our sins “blotted out” (Acts 3:19).
14.Christ is the sinner’s only hope. Sinners must “repent…and be converted” (Acts 3:19). The words are similar. To “repent” means to “change your mind” and to “be converted” means to “turn around” (cf. Acts 26:18-20).
15.When you truly repent of your wicked sins, you will turn around. Don’t bother turning around unless you mean business with God. There must be genuine repentance.
16.Our Lord said, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). First, the sinner must repent – and then turn to God (cf. Ezek. 18:30-32).
1. We do not have the time to examine the consequences of Peter’s stirring message, but I would like to mention two important results.
2. First of all, the devil’s crowd was stirred to action (4:1-3).
3. Secondly, many of those who heard were saved (4:4).
4. Which group are you in?
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