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First Sermons

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Easter 3

First Sermons – Keep it Simple. Acts 3:11-19

<<Man rejects God, God rescues man.>>

I have in my hand the outline for the first ever sermon I preached.

You have in your hand – the outline of one of the first sermons ever preached by a Christian.

Not the first – Pentecost.

Whilst mine is highly unlikely to become a collectors item... Outline Peter's sermon to the temple crowds - part of book of Acts – Luke's history of how the first Christians turned the world upside down – worth careful study.

[Over next few weeks at St Mary's...]

I say Outline – because preached on the spur of the moment. I spent hours preparing my first sermon... Peter was shooting from the hip. As far as we know Luke wasn't there. Substance.

Occasion: maybe 2 months after the resurrection. Peter and John have healed a lame man in the name of Jesus. Temple. read v11.

Peter's sermon [like all the best evangelistic sermons] marked by Passion – Clarity

2 points:-

  • The enormity of the people's rejection of God
  • The tremendous power of God's forgiveness.

Imagine the scene.

Solomon's Portico impressive collonade – east side of temple.

Jesus' trial and crucifixion still fresh in people's memories

The crowd gathered around Peter and John 500yds from praetorium where Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate. Some of the same characters.

Peter extraordinarily brave - pulls no punches.

Tells it like it is: The way the Israelites have treated Jesus

rejected the messiah in place of a murderer (14),

killed the Author of life (v15).

no doubt - heinous nature of the crime.

Contrasted with how God treated Jesus.

God: glorified (v13), raised (v15).

The Jewish leaders had thought they were doing God's will.

Resurrection brought home the Atrocity.

Man – rejects. God glorifies

Man – kills. God raises to life.

[God has first word and the last word about Jesus [chiasm]]

Peter speaks with tremendous CLARITY: no doubt about what his message is.

His listeners' sin is painted blacker than black – Jesus is painted in glorious light of the resurrection.

No room for sitting on the fence. 2 responses

Angered – threw them into prison / cut to the heart in remorse

Perhaps Remorse so deep – lose hope. If I have killed the very author of life, what hope is there for me?

Climax to Peter's sermon v19 “Repent therefore and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out.”

No hope ---> Great hope.

What Good News!

No matter how great our rejection of God – even the crucifixion of the author of life. It can be completely erased. The 5000 people who believed that day went from being. Repentance and faith in Jesus turned them from being No hopers to Great hopers

How is this relevant for us? We were not there when Jesus was sent to the cross. It was not our voices that clamoured for him to be crucified in front of Pontius Pilate. Sure we sin, but it's not as bad as all that is it?

We ask that question because we misunderstand the nature of Sin. religious jargon. We've come to think ... simply naughty things... Said a bad word here, slightly massaged the truth here.

Sin is an attitude to life. It is about a rejection of God and his ways. And we have all been polluted.

All sin begins in the garden of Eden when Adam and Eve rejected their God-given boundaries.

All sin ends with the rejection of Christ and the crucifixion of the author of life.

When we stand beneath the cross and reflect on what happened there, we discover in ourselves those same attitudes that caused the crowd to kill the author of life. We are all ensnared in the sin that took Christ to the cross.

[Behold the man upon the cross,

My sin upon his shoulders;

Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice

Call out among the scoffers.

It was my sin that held him there

Until it was accomplished;

His dying breath has brought me life -

I know that it is finished. (Stuart Townend)]

At the cross we see our rejection of God most definitively, but we also see God's love for us most powerfully – dying in our place.

And so we too are reminded that God calls us from being no hopers to being great hopers.

God forgives and sets free even me! even you!


1st sermons. Keep it simple. Make one point and make it well!

Not just preachers but all Christians. Keep it simple. The Gospel is simple. Go back to basics.

We reject God, but God rescues us!

John Newton, C18th hardened slave trader, converted, CofE minister.

Alas! I knew not what I did,

But now my tears are vain;

Where shall my trembling soul be hid?

For I my Lord have slain.

A second look He gave, which said:

I freely all forgive;

This blood is for thy ransom shed;

I die, that thou mayest live.”

Thus, while his death my sin displays

In all its blackest hue;

Such is the mystery of grace,

It seals my pardon too.

With pleasing grief and mournful joy

My spirit now is filled,

That I should such a life destroy

Yet live through Him I killed.

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Sermon text with italics and bold and John 3:16 and v. 20.

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