Sermon title:    Peter Didn’t Mince Words

Immanuel Baptist Church – August 30, 2020

 

 

 

Could you imagine a sermon that moved 3,000 people

to repent of their sins

and embrace Jesus Christ as their Lord?

 

3,000 people—turned to Christ by one sermon!

 

Well, there’s no need to imagine it,

because we have that sermon recorded

in the 2nd Chapter of Acts.

 

It was the Apostle Peter who gave this moving sermon,

and he gave it on the day of Pentecost—

50 days after Christ’s death on the cross,

around a week after Jesus ascended to heaven.

 

It happened like this:

 

The sound of a mighty wind from heaven occurred,

and filled an upper room in Jerusalem

where 120 believers were gathered for prayer.

 

The unusual, loud sound was heard in the streets below,

and crowds gathered to see what was going on.

 

Inside the upper room, tongues of flame appeared

over the head of each believer,

and they all began praising God

in foreign languages they never learned.

 

All of this was an outward sign that

the baptism in the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised

was being fulfilled.

 

God poured out his Holy Spirit from heaven that morning

on those 120 believers who included the 12 Apostles.

 

And the crowds that gathered in the streets below

heard, not just the sound of the wind,

but also the commotion of voices

speaking all these different languages.

 

The crowds were made up mainly of visiting Jews

who had come to Jerusalem from all over the world

to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Pentecost.

 

Even though they came from different countries

and spoke different languages,

each one heard his own native language

coming from the windows of the upper room.

 

They were all wondering how this could be,

since the disciples in the upper room

were all Galileans,

yet they suddenly spoke these languages.

 

The Apostle Peter got the crowd’s attention

and explained to them

that this miraculous gift of tongues

fulfilled Old Testament prophecy.

 

But then Peter went on to give those Jews

the message about Jesus.

 

And that sermon Peter gave

is what led 3,000 of them to be baptized.

 

Beginning in Acts 2:22, Peter shouted to the crowds,

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words! Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved by God to you by mighty works and wonders and signs which God did by him among you, even as you yourselves know, 23 him, being delivered up by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by the hand of lawless men, crucified and killed;

 

That wasn’t a gentle message.

 

It was an accusation.

 

He was telling them, essentially,

‘This man of God, Jesus—you killed him!’

 

That was a strong accusation.

 

Peter confronted them with their sin.

 

He didn’t beat around the bush.

 

He didn’t mince words.

 

He didn’t appeal to them

to come enjoy a happier life with Jesus.

 

He accused them of being sinners.

 

He accused them of killing the Messiah.

 

He told them,

“Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved by God

. . . you have taken by the hand of lawless men, crucified and killed.”

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There’s a hesitancy today among Christians

to confront unbelievers with their sins.

 

There’s a hesitancy to say,

You’re sinning by having sex outside of marriage.

 

There’s a hesitancy to say,

You need to repent of your homosexual conduct

and change your way of life.

 

But Peter didn’t hesitate

to confront sinners with their awful sin.

 

And his way worked.

 

We’ll go on to see that 3,000 of them repented

and got baptized.

 

But, for several years now

it’s been unpopular for churches

to confront sinners with their sin.

 

And the result is a whole generation

that has slipped away from the Church,

repudiates the Gospel of Christ

and embraces everything else, instead,

from socialism to Buddhism

and from yoga to witchcraft.

 

The great Protestant preachers and revival leaders

through their sermons over the centuries

brought their listeners face to face

with their sins and their need to repent.

 

And the Church grew.

 

Billy Graham used to confront sinners with their sins,

and whole stadiums of people came to the Lord.

 

But now there is a desire not to offend anyone.

 

And so, the offenses that offend God

the things the Bible calls sins

are seldom mentioned,

to avoid offending the sinners.

 

But Peter did not follow that modern approach.

 

Rather, he confronted his listeners with their sin--

that they were complicit in sending Christ to the cross.

 

After confronting his listeners with their horrible sin—

their sin of being complicit in killing the Messiah—

he went on to tell them what God did,

which further proved that Jesus was, in fact,

the promised Messiah.

 

Peter went on to say about Jesus in Verse 24,

 

24 whom God raised up, having freed him from the agony of death, because it was not possible that he should be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,

 

So, Peter points to Jesus’ rising from the dead

as further proof that he was the promised Christ,

Jews were waiting for, for centuries.

 

Peter quotes from Psalm 16, written by David,

a thousand years before Christ.

 

He quotes David as writing,[ 2 SLIDES ]

‘I saw the Lord always before my face, For he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved. 26 Therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced. Moreover my flesh also will dwell in hope; 27 because you will not leave my soul in Hades, neither will you allow your Holy One to see decay. 28 You made known to me the ways of life. You will make me full of gladness with your presence.’ Psalm 16:8-11

 

The plain reading of the Psalm makes it seem

that David is talking about himself,

that his soul would not be left in Hades,

and that his body would not decay.

 

But Peter points out

that David couldn’t have been writing this about himself,

but, rather, was writing prophetically

about the coming Messiah, or Christ.

 

Peter says,[ 2 SLIDES ]

29 “Brothers, I may tell you freely of the patriarch David, that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, he would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, 31 he foreseeing this spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was his soul left in Hades, nor did his flesh see decay.

 

Peter’s argument was a convincing one.

 

Since King David died 1,000 years earlier,

and his tomb was still there in Israel,

and his body decayed long ago in that tomb,

what David wrote in Psalm 16

must have been prophetic of someone else—

the long-promised Messiah.

 

And that added to the proof that Jesus

was the promised Christ,

because, unlike David, Jesus did rise from the dead.

 

Peter went on to declare that Jesus rose from the dead,

and that he and the disciples with him

were all eye-witnesses, who could testify personally

that they saw Jesus alive from the dead.

Christ appeared to the disciples a number of times

over a period of 40 days

before he finally left them

and rose bodily up into the sky, into the clouds,

as they looked on.

 

Peter said,

32 This Jesus God raised up, to which we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted by the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this, which you now see and hear.

 

Peter explained to the crowd of Jews

that it was Jesus, risen from the dead,

and now seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven,

who poured out the Holy Spirit,

resulting in the miracle of tongues—

the languages the disciples

were miraculously speaking.

 

Jesus had promised

that he would ascend to the Father and do this,

and the disciples watched him ascend into the clouds,

and now the miracle that Jesus promised

was happening before their very eyes.

 

How else could the crowds in the streets

explain what they saw and heard?

 

Then Peter reminded his audience

of another Psalm of David,

Psalm 110, that spoke of the Messiah

ascending to heaven, to sit at the Father’s side.

 

Peter said,

34 For David didn’t ascend into the heavens, but he says himself,

 

[ OLD TESTAMENT SCROLL SLIDE ]

 

‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit by my right hand, 35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’ Psalm 110:1

 

And then Peter added,

36 “Let all the house of Israel therefore know certainly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

 

You did it!—Peter accused them.  You killed the Christ.

 

The man you falsely accused of crimes

and turned over to the Romans to be crucified—

he was the Messiah sent by God.

 

And he has ascended to heaven,

where he now sits on the throne of God,

at the Father’s right hand.

 

Peter told them,

“God has made him both Lord and Christ,

this Jesus whom you crucified.”

 

Peter didn’t beat around the bush.

 

He told them they were sinners—naming their awful sin.

 

And he told them how serious their sin was.

-------------------------------

 

How did his listeners react?

 

Verse 37 tells us,

37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

 

That’s how honest-hearted sinners react

when confronted with their sins.

 

They are “cut to the heart,”

and they want to do something about their situation.

 

When churches today avoid mentioning sin,

and avoid naming serious sins,

to avoid offending anyone,

they are making a mistake.

 

They are not following the example

of Peter and the Apostles.

 

If a church is following the Apostles’ example,

and naming sins like fornication, abortion

and homosexuality,

then sinners who hear the message

will respond like these crowds did.

 

If a church is doing its job correctly,

and calling sinners to repent,

it will be as Paul wrote

in the 14th Chapter of 1st Corinthians,

“if an unbeliever or uninstructed person comes in while everyone is prophesying, he will be convicted and called to account by all, 25 and the secrets of his heart will be made known. So he will fall facedown and worship God.”

 

Paul said the unbeliever coming into church

should be “convicted” and “called to account.”

 

That doesn’t happen in churches that don’t talk about sin.

 

And it doesn’t happen in churches

that want to avoid offending unbelievers who drop in.

 

And it doesn’t happen in churches

where the only sins that are mentioned

are being rude to someone at the grocery store,

or failing to recycle your plastic waste.

 

People are “convicted” of their sin and “called to account”

when they hear God say in the Bible

that people having sex outside of marriage

won’t go to heaven.

 

The Apostle Paul’s point is that the message to unbelievers

should be clear and to the point:

they are sinners who need to repent of their sins

and turn their lives around to follow Jesus.

 

The pastor should not avoid talking about

homosexuality or fornication or abortion

because a visitor to the church

might be practicing those things and become offended.

 

The pastor should talk about those sins,

because a visitor to the church

might be practicing those things

and needs to be “convicted”

and “called to account.”

 

And that’s what Peter did

when he addressed the crowds in the streets of Jerusalem

on the day of Pentecost.

 

He named their sin—that they had killed the Messiah—

he convicted them of their sin

and he called them to account for their sin.

 

And the result was that they were “cut to the heart”

and pleaded with Peter and the Apostles

to tell them what they needed to do.

 

And Peter gave them a direct answer,

and told them what they needed to do:

 

38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all who are far off, even as many as the Lord our God will call to himself.”

 

Yes, they needed to “repent” of their sin

and be baptized in Jesus’ name

for the forgiveness of their sins.

 

Then they would receive,

not only forgiveness of their sins,

but would also receive the Holy Spirit

and be born again as children of God.

 

Baptism would usher them into a new life—

a life of following Jesus,

empowered by the Holy Spirit.

 

Peter detailed for them what that involved—

the commitment they would be making,

not only to have Jesus as their Savior from sin,

but also their Lord and Master,

whose teachings they would obey.

 

We read in Verse 40,

 

40 With many other words he testified, and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!” 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized. There were added that day about three thousand souls.

 

So, Peter’s tough-talking sermon had the desired effect.

 

His listeners were “cut to the heart”

and “convicted” of their sin.

 

They repented, and 3,000 of them were baptized

as new followers of Christ.

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Notice, too, that Peter concluded by urging them to

“Save yourselves from this crooked generation!”

 

And it was a “crooked generation” they were living among.

 

It was a generation that tolerated

their ruler Herod marrying his brother’s wife.

 

It was a generation where the priests and teachers of the law

kept silent while Herod took his brother’s wife.

 

It was a generation that allowed Herod to

imprison and kill John the Baptist

when he spoke out about Herod’s sin.

 

And it was a generation that

turned the Messiah over to the Romans,

for him to be crucified on trumped-up charges.

 

When Peter urged them to

“Save yourselves from this crooked generation!”

his meaning must have been

for his listeners to come out from under

the divine condemnation on that generation.

 

Jesus had warned repeatedly in his final days

that punishment from God was coming upon

that generation.

 

In fact, the Bible translation called the

Contemporary English Version  

translates Peter’s words like this:

"I beg you to save yourselves

from what will happen

to all these evil people."

 

That generation faced God’s anger,

and punishment from God.

 

And if that was the case with that generation,

just think of what is the case with our generation today!

 

Unborn babies murdered by the millions each year.

 

Surgery performed on boys to turn them into girls,

and surgery on girls to turn them into boys.

 

“Hooking up” for casual sex

accepted as normal behavior.

 

Homosexuality so accepted and practiced so openly,

that a man married to another man

could run for president of the United States.

 

People today need to save themselves

from this crooked generation.

 

This generation faces God’s anger,

and punishment from God.

 

People today need to be told,

“Save yourselves from this crooked generation!”—

—"save yourselves

from what will happen

to all these evil people."

 

It’s the loving thing to do.

 

We’re not doing sinners any favor

if we avoid denouncing sin for what it is.

 

We’re not doing sinners any favor

if we tell them God approves of them

just the way they are.

 

God is calling them to repentance,

and they won’t know to repent

if they’re not told that their lifestyle is sinful.

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But some people won’t want to hear it.

 

Some visitors to the church

may storm out, or simply never come back,

when they hear it preached

that the lifestyle they’re living

is condemned by God,

and will bring punishment from him.

 

But many people will be like the 3,000 in Peter’s audience,

who were cut to the heart,

and who repented of their sins

and became followers of Jesus.

 

Peter didn’t mince words.

 

And neither should we.