Saturday, March 15, 2008

Preaching Like Peter

How did Peter preach on the Day of Pentecost? That question has several answers. We could look at his method of formal preparation for the message (none), or at his informal preparation (three years of the best there could be), or at his source of power (the Holy Spirit). However, today I want to take a quick look at what his sermon did and didn't contain. Here are some things I notice about his sermon recorded in Acts 2.
His message combined

  • Signs and wonders
  • An appeal to reason from the scriptures
  • Personal testimony (2:32)
  • Proclamation of the hearers' guilt (2:36) and of salvation in Jesus (2:38)
  • Strong urging (2:40)

This post is far too short even to begin to address the topic of whether signs and wonders are possible today. I'll just pretend that you agree with me that if the Lord chooses to send them, we should not try to force him not to do so, and that if the Lord chooses not to send them, we are not second-class; we can be filled with the Spirit and walk in his power.

Surely our sermons today would be better if almost all of them included reasoning from the scriptures, a small bit of personal testimony, the clear statement of people's guilt apart from Jesus, the offer of salvation through him, and strong urging to obey the Lord.

Notice also some of the things that his message did not include:

  • An opening joke
  • Folksy stories
  • A three-point alliterated outline

There was no reference to such things as

  • "The power of faith"
  • "Let Jesus come into your heart"
  • "Becoming a better you"
  • Church membership
  • Wealth and health through strong faith
  • Scrolls or holy water for sale

He took his task seriously; too seriously to deliver everything in a pretty, neat package based on the laws of Greek rhetoric. He took the truth too seriously to teach such false doctrines as faith in faith, or self-centered salvation, or phony promises. He didn't use the occasion to get a large amount of money for himself.

Lord, give us preachers like Peter--with your Holy Spirit's power and truth.

1 comment:

Jason Burrows said...

Good points. Today's evangelism too often involves methods which God does not honor such as comedy, skits, hi-tech entertainment, and circus-like routines. And when preaching is involved, it is often self-centered, or it presents an inaccurated view of Christ. I don't have a problem with an occasional, appropriate joke. But the core message should always be the Gospel message of Christ crucified -- 1 Corinthians 2:2.
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17