The Power in Peter's Message
We are continuing our study in the book of Acts this weekend. We are going to look at Chapter 2 of Acts, verses 14-41. Up to this point we see Christ ascending into Heaven, leaving his disciples with simply instructions. Spread the Gospel the ends of the earth, but to wait for the Holy Spirit to come to give them the power to accomplish their mission.
Last week we saw the Spirit finally arrive. Their obedience paid off! They waited and prayed and finally the Church was born and each of them was baptized in the Holy Spirit. They received power and began speaking in foreign languages they had never learned and the Gospel message began to go out to all people groups.
Today we are going to look at Peter’s first message preached with this new power, the Power of the Holy Spirit. What I hope that we will see is that we too have the same command as the Disciples. To spread the Gospel to the ends of the Earth, beginning with our community. And the first thing I want us to notice, is that we cannot possible accomplish this mission without the power of the Holy Spirit. Michael Green says,
“How much we need the Holy Spirit in our church life! Had it struck you that if the New Testament is right in the marrying up of the Holy Spirit with witness bearing, this might shed a flood light on the poverty of spiritual experience in many a church and many a Christian? Could it be that we know so little of the Spirit in any powerful way because we care so little for evangelism? Equally, that we know so little of the Spirit? These two God has joined together, and we cannot put them asunder. No evangelism, no Holy Spirit; no Holy Spirit, no evangelism. There is a vital link between them, and that explains a good deal of the powerlessness in the modern church. The early Christians were well aware that the Holy Spirit and evangelism went together and affected each other intimately.”
This chapter is the power chapter! If we want power in our church and power in our individual lives, we need to tap into the Power of the Holy Spirit. The best way to do that is to Evangelize. In Order to experience the Power of the Holy Spirit we must Evangelize.
Starting next Sunday morning at 10AM during Sunday School we are going to begin a class on Evangelism. This class is the Finally class in our Series of Classes. Class 101 will be taught this weekend. Class 101 is about Church Membership. Class 201 is about Spiritual Growth. Class 301 is about Discovering your Ministry. And Class 401 is about Personal Evangelism.
You want Power? You want the Holy Spirit reveal that Power in your life in an explosive way? Evangelize. Lets look at what happens in Acts 2.
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 “ ‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.’a
22 “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men,b put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him:
“ ‘I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will live in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.’c
29 “Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ,d that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,
“ ‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
35 until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.” ’e
36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
I want us to notice two things about Peter’s Approach to Evangelism.
First, He Stood Up. He obeyed the Spirits prompting and stood up to deliver the Message God gave him. Folks, We need to stop hiding in the shadows of our church building. We need to stand up. We need to be obedient and share the Good News of Christ to our Community.
Next, He Quoted Scripture. Peter was a fisherman. He was no Bible scholar. He had not gone to Rabbi School. He did not even have a Bachelor’s degree. However, He knew enough of his Bible to be able to Quote Joel .
A lot of folks never witness to anyone, they never share their faith, they never tell anyone what God did for them because they fear that don’t know enough scripture. Sometimes that is true! Shame on you if that is the case, you need to be studying your Bible more than just Saturday Nights or Sunday Mornings. Take Class 201 and we can teach you how to develop a consistent daily personal Bible study. That is no longer an acceptable excuse. Peter used what he knew. We need to Study the Word of God.
A Christian man owned a barber shop. One night, at a revival meeting, the barber felt greatly burdened to do more with his testimony for Christ. The next evening, the barber began attending a "soul winners class" at his church. He attended faithfully every night for two weeks. He rehearsed all the material, took extensive notes, and memorized the assigned Bible verses. At the end of the two weeks he received a plaque acknowledging his completion of the course.
The next morning, in the barber shop, he hung the plaque and bowed his head. "Dear Lord," he prayed, "help me to witness to the first man to come through that door this morning." At that moment in walked the biggest, meanest, foulest man the barber had ever seen. It seems this man had recently lost a bet with some "biker" buddies and now he had to get his head shaved. Needless to say, the barber did not feel very comfortable quoting the "Roman Road" to a man with a tattoo on his neck.
The rest of the day did not go any better for the barber. At 5:00 p.m., the barber was sobbing with shame. He had not witnessed to a single person. He bowed his head again. This time he prayed, "Lord, if you will allow one more opportunity, I promise I will do my part." At that, the door opened and in walked a pleasant looking gentleman. The man smiled at the barber, apologized for coming in so late and took a seat in the chair.
As the barber draped the man in his protective sheet, he began to try to remember what he was supposed to say. He began to get very confused. As the barber put shaving cream on the man’s face, he tried to remember the answers he had learned to the possible objections. As the barber began to strop his razor, he realized that he simply could not remember a thing he had learned. This made the barber very nervous and soon sweat began to break out on his forehead.
Finally, in desperation, he shook the razor at the man and screamed, "ARE YOU PREPARED TO DIE??!!!"
No one is off the hook. If Peter the fisherman can win 3000 people to Christ in a day, surely we can win a couple each this year.
One day a lady criticized D. L. Moody for his methods of evangelism in attempting to win people to the Lord. Moody’s reply was "I agree with you. I don’t like the way I do it either. Tell me, how do you do it?" The lady replied, "I don’t do it." Moody retorted, "Then I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it."
What was Peter’s Method? It was very simple. He used what he knew. We can break down his message into 3 basic parts.
22 “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men,b put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
The first part simply stated that they had crucified Jesus, God’s miracle worker and they had killed him. But, Jesus rose from the dead and accomplished God’s plan anyway!
36“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
Next he shows them that the same Jesus was God! He was man and God at the same time. Jesus is the long awaited Messiah.
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.
And finally He calls them to repentance. “Turn away from your sins,” he tells them!
This is the same formula that we need to use. It is not popular. It will make more enemies than friends. But it is the only formula that we have been given, and it is the one we are commanded to teach to the world if we Love God. Do you love God? Then you need to teach this formula. “God loves the World, He came to earth as a man, died for us, rose again, and paid for our sins. You need to turn from your sin and make Him the new ruler of your life. Christ and Christ alone!” That is the message of truth that we must share to the world starting here, in this town, with your neighbor. We must keep the message Simple. Salvation is simple you know. Grace is simple. We try to make it hard but it is simply.
There is a great article shows how simple salvation by grace really is, written by Charles Stanley.
“One of my more memorable seminary professors had a practical way of illustrating to his students the concept of grace. At the end of his evangelism course he would distribute the exam with the caution to read it all the way through before beginning to answer it. This caution was written on the exam as well. As we read the test, it became unquestionably clear to each of us that we had not studied nearly enough.
The further we read, the worse it became. About halfway through, audible groans could be heard through out the lecture hall. On the last page, however, was a note that read, "You have a choice. You can either complete the exam as given or sign your name at the bottom and in so doing receive an A for this assignment."
Wow? We sat there stunned. "Was he serious? Just sign it and get an A?" Slowly, the point dawned on us, and one by one we turned in our tests and silently filed out of the room.
When I talked with the professor about it afterward, he shared some of the reactions he had received through the years. Some students began to take the exam without reading it all the way through, and they would sweat it out for the entire two hours of class time before reaching the last page.
Others read the first two pages, became angry, turned the test in blank, and stormed out of the room without signing it. They never realized what was available, and as a result, they lost out totally.
One fellow, however, read the entire test, including the note at the end, but decided to take the exam anyway. He did not want any gifts; he wanted to earn his grade. And he did. He made a C , but he could easily have had an A.
This story illustrates many people’s reaction to God’s solution to sin. Some people look at God’s standard--moral and ethical perfection--and throw their hands up in surrender. Why even try? they tell themselves. I could never live up to all that stuff
Others are like the student who read the test through and was aware of the professor’s offer but took the test anyway. Unwilling to simply receive God’s gift of forgiveness, they set about to rack up enough points with God to earn it.
But God’s grace truly is like the professor’s offer. It may seem unbelievable, but if we accept it, then, like the stunned students who accepted the professor’s offer, we, too, will discover that, Yes, God’s grace truly is free. All we have to do is accept it.
3,000 people accepted Peter’s simple message that day. They repented and accepted Christ and were baptized into the church. Wow. And you know what? It all started with Peter’s willingness to be obedient. To Pray, to wait, to stand up, to speak out, and to Study the Word, and to keep it simple. One man. One Man! What can God do if you, One individual, will be obedient to Him and share His Gospel?
F. Jim Cymbala preaches at a church in the slums of New York. He tells the following story: It was Easter Sunday and I was so tired at the end of the day that I just went to the edge of the platform, pulled down my tie and sat down and draped my feet over the edge. It was a wonderful service with many people coming forward. The counselors were talking with these people. As I was sitting there I looked up the middle aisle, and there in about the third row was a man who looked about fifty, disheveled, filthy. He looked up at me rather sheepishly, as if saying, “Could I talk to you?” We have homeless people coming in all the time, asking for money or whatever. So as I sat there, I said to myself, though I am ashamed of it, “What a way to end a Sunday. I’ve had such a good time, preaching and ministering, and here’s a fellow probably wanting some money for more wine.” He walked up. When he got within about five feet of me, I smelled a horrible smell like I’d never smelled in my life. It was so awful that when he got close, I would inhale by looking away, and then I’d talk to him, and then look away to inhale, because I couldn’t inhale facing him. I asked him, “What’s your name?” “David.” “How long have you been on the street?” “Six years.” “How old are you?” “Thirty-two.” He looked fifty- hair matted; front teeth missing; wino; eyes slightly glazed. “Where did you sleep last night, David?” “Abandoned truck.” I keep in my back pocket a money clip that also holds some credit cards. I fumbled to pick one out thinking; I’ll give him some money. I won’t even get a volunteer. They are all busy talking with others. Usually we don’t give money to people. We take them to get something to eat. I took the money out. David pushed his finger in front of me. He said, “I don’t want your money. I want this Jesus, the One you were talking about, because I’m not going to make it. I’m going to die on the street.” I completely forgot about David, and I started to weep for myself. I was going to give a couple of dollars to someone God had sent to me. See how easy it is? I could make the excuse I was tired. There is no excuse. I was not seeing him the way God sees him. I was not feeling what God feels. But oh, did that change! David just stood there. He didn’t know what was happening. I pleaded with God, “God, forgive me! Forgive me! Please forgive me. I am so sorry to represent You this way. I’m so sorry. Here I am with my message and my points, and You send somebody and I am not ready for it. Oh, God!” Something came over me. Suddenly I started to weep deeper, and David began to weep. He fell against my chest as I was sitting there. He fell against my white shirt and tie, and I put my arms around him, and there we wept on each other. The smell of His person became a beautiful aroma. Here is what I thought the Lord made real to me: If you don’t love this smell, I can’t use you, because this is why I called you where you are. This is what you are about. You are about this smell. Christ changed David’s life. He started memorizing portions of Scripture that were incredible. We got him a place to live. We hired him in the church to do maintenance, and we got his teeth fixed. He was a handsome man when he came out of the hospital. They detoxed him in 6 days. He spent that Thanksgiving at my house. He also spent Christmas at my house. When we were exchanging presents, he pulled out a little thing and he said, “This is for you.” It was a little white hanky. It was the only thing he could afford. A year later David got up and talked about his conversion to Christ. The minute he took the mic and began to speak, I said, “The man is a preacher.” This past Easter we ordained David. He is an associate minister of a church over in New Jersey. And I was so close to saying, “Here, take this; I’m a busy preacher.” We can get so full of ourselves.
Will you be obedient this week to share the Gospel? Will you grow closer to the Holy Spirit this week through evangelism? Will you discover the Power of Acts chapter 2?