The first sermon ever preached by the church of Jesus Christ was pretty successful. Every preacher would love to have a response such as took place in Acts 2. Scripture recorded 3,000 people were added to the number of disciples that day (with the number closer likely to 10,000 when you add women and children).
The Spirit of God had been given to the church on the day of Pentecost, and now Peter was filled with boldness. The once fearful follower who denied Jesus three times was so filled with the Holy Spirit that He stood before the crowd with a holy passion from heaven. His message was anointed, but we also see some simple key points.
First, he began with the sign and promise of God. The crowd thought the disciples were drunk as they praised God and spoke in these tongues and languages. Peter then stood to correct them and direct them to the feet of Jesus. He began telling them that this sign they saw was based upon God’s promise to come to his people as prophesied in Joel 2: “In the last days, I will pour out my Spirit on all people…” God said this would happen. God promised it would happen. He connected Jesus to this story, and declared that Jesus was sent from God and fully accredited by God through the signs and wonders. Peter indicated that God was reaching out to them in the person of Jesus. This was God News. God has not forgotten us.
Then Peter turned to the bad news. He reminded them of what they chose to do to Jesus saying, “This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross” (Acts 2:23). Peter made it clear that God was fully in control and sovereign over all that happened, but then he laid the hammer against the crowd. They were guilty. They killed Jesus, hanging him to the cross. This is what sin does. This is the picture of the rebellion of the human heart. We want to be the god of our own lives, and we overthrow God’s right to rule. Scripture says we “have all sinned” and fall short of God’s standard. Who killed Jesus? To some extent, we are all responsible because it was our sin that put him there. In his movie “Passion of the Christ,” Mel Gibson is shown in only one scene. When Jesus was held to the cross and the spike driven in his hand, it was Gibson’s hand that held the spike. He said it was his acknowledgment that he too is responsible for the death of Jesus. Jesus died for our sin.
Then Peter shared the good news — “But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death.” Peter proclaimed the victory of Jesus over sin, death, and the grave proclaiming that Jesus is Lord.
Finally the people were cut to the heart and sense the guilt of their sin. They asked, “What shall we do?” Peter shared, “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” (Acts 2:38)”
Repent means to turn — turn away from your sinful and selfish life and turn to Jesus Christ and His Lordship. This message called the Gospel demands a response. You cannot remain neutral. Peter was calling them to surrender to Christ and identify their selves with Him, and He would forgive them and fill them with the new life of the Holy Spirit. The Lord still calls us today to repent and turn to Him. Jesus didn’t come as a good man, or a good option. He came and lived so he could die for us and our sin — so that we might be forgiven and live. He rose from the dead with all power and authority. We can turn to the One who rules and reigns over sin, death, hell and the grave. What shall we do? Repent and believe upon the Lord Jesus, trusting and receiving Him for the forgiveness of sin. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. And that’s the Word.
The Rev. David Yarborough is pastor of St. Simons Community Church. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 912-634-2960.