On the day of Pentecost, God sent the Holy Spirit to empower the church to carry out the Great Commission. One example of this empowerment was with Peter. He had previously denied knowing Jesus and after being baptized by the Holy Spirit, he is now preaching a message and proclaiming Jesus Christ which resulted in over three thousand people being saved (Acts 2:14-41). After hearing this sermon, the people spoke up and said, “Brother’s, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37d, NIV). In this article I want to deal with Peter’s dramatic change, the convicting power of the preached Word, and the answer to their question.
Peter’s Dramatic Change
I don’t mean to over emphasize this, but it must be understood that Peter had failed. When the pressure was on, he folded like a cheap suit. “Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.’
But he denied it. ‘Woman, I don’t know him,’ he said.
A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.’
‘Man, I am not!’ Peter replied.
About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.’
Peter replied, ‘Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!’ Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:54-62, NIV). After having denied the Lord three times, Peter probably assumed that his service for the Lord had come to an end. How could God entrust someone who had been so unfaithful. But here is the first truth I want you to see. God allows His people room to fail, but then He permits them to get back up and still be used by God. And if God treats us this way, shouldn’t we extend the same freedom to our friends, family, and those we lead?
The Convicting Power of the Preached Word
The Apostle Paul wrote, “That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” (Romans 1:15,16, NIV).
I was recently talking to a minister about when his church gave the invitation to receive Christ. This church normally does this after the singing and before the preaching. The reason they placed it before the sermon was to prevent any dead spots in the sermon. I’m not trying to judge, as they seem to be doing a great work for the Lord. Nor am I trying to create any “golden calves.” However, my concern is that they do not realize the power and purpose of the preached Word. I could give a number of examples, but let me just present one. Paul told the Roman Church, ‘How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? and how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And How can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news…Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message heard through the word about Christ” (Romans 10:14,15,17, NIV). My friends, singing is wonderful, and programs have their place, but they are no substitute for the preached Word. It would be like taking a rag dipped in water and wiping a stain on the wall. Then to squirt soap on the wall and rinse it off. You would find it much easier and much more effective to place the soap on the wall, then scrub it with the rag with water, and then rinse it off. So, it is with preaching. It is so much easier to win people or encourage and increase their faith if the Word of God has been administered through preaching first.
The Answer to Their Question
“Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37, NIV). Peter tells them they need to repent, be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, and they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Repentance means to change your mind, your heart, to turn away from your sins. There are some who want to continue to live as they always have, to have the same view and disposition toward sin as when they were a sinner, and yet receive forgiveness. Peter tells them, they must repent. He also tells them they should be baptized. Water Baptism does not save someone or how would you explain the thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43)? Water baptism is for three reasons. First, it is in obedience to the command of Jesus. To be saved, a person must surrender their life to Jesus. Second, water baptism is a testimony to others as to what Jesus has accomplished in your life. Third, for some, they interpret this to mean that you have become a member of the Church. Finally, Peter says you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. I believe this has a two-fold application. I believe it refers to the fact that when a person accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in your heart and life. It also deals with the Baptism of the Holy Spirit that is given for service for God.
The point that I am trying to make is that the work God will do in your life is transformative. He makes people righteous who were rebels. He makes success out of failures. He literally can turn your life around. I want to invite you to place your trust and hope in Him. I promise, God will not let you down.
Question: What are some ways we can preach the Gospel if we are not engaged in vocational ministry?
(Note: We look forward to your comments. You may answer any, all, or none of the questions. If you wish you can pose your own questions or simply add your insight and viewpoint to the article.)