A Christian Guide to Acts by R. David Pogge

Chapter 2

Peter's Powerful Sermon

Acts 2

Peter’s powerful Pentecost sermon converted 3,000 people. You might be surprised by what Peter said; but there are two things even more surprising that Peter did NOT say. Can you figure out what Peter didn't say?

Section 2.1 - God Said it Would be Like This

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. These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

“‘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.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
   I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
   and they will prophesy.
I will show wonders in the heavens above
   and signs on the earth below,
   blood and fire and billows of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness
   and the moon to blood
   before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
And everyone who calls
   on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ 1

“Fellow Israelites, 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. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 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. David said about him:

“‘I saw the Lord always before me.
   Because he is at my right hand,
   I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
   my body also will rest in hope,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
   you will not let your holy one see decay.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
   you will fill me with joy in your presence.’2

“Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 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. Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 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. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
   “Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
   a footstool for your feet.”’ 3

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” [Acts 2:14-36]

The main theme in Peter’s sermon is the fulfillment of prophecy. Fulfilled prophecy is compelling evidence that the Bible really is God’s word—and the crowd could see prophecy being fulfilled right before their eyes. In particular, the predicted crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus testified to the truth of Jesus’ message and ministry. The miraculous speaking in tongues, which all were witnessing at that very moment, was additional convincing evidence that God had sent His Son to Earth.

Peter pointed out that King David died, and is still in the grave, waiting for the resurrection of the righteous on the Day of the Lord. King David didn’t go to heaven when he died. On the other hand, Jesus died, was resurrected, and went to heaven immediately because Jesus is a greater king than David. Jesus is the Messiah.

Section 2.2 - Here Come Da Judge

Many Old Testament prophecies predict the great and glorious Day of the Lord, 4 at which time all people will be judged. Peter pointed out their sins, just like Jesus did. Please note the response of the crowd.

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

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. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. [Acts 2:37-41]

Section 2.3 - Love Lost

Peter’s sermon is peculiar (by today’s standards) because he never said, “God is love,” or anything remotely similar. The message, “God loves you,” is something itching ears want to hear; but Peter didn’t scratch that itch.

Peter also didn’t say, “The law was nailed to the cross.” Instead, Peter exposed their sins and warned of the coming judgment because of their transgressions of the law (which was clearly still in effect). He pleaded with them to repent.

Jesus had just spent 3½ years pointing out sin and urging people to repent. It wasn’t a popular message. That’s why they killed Him. Jesus said,

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’” [John 15:18-24]

Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to fall upon Peter (and other believers) giving him the mission of proclaiming the truth and urging the world to repent and be saved, and the power to accomplish that mission. Consequently, Peter was hated as much as Jesus was.

If Jesus had just preached a message of love and forgiveness, he would not have been hated, and would not have been crucified—and neither would Peter (who, according to tradition, was crucified upside-down).

Yes, God does love you, and that’s why He uses Peter and others to warn you that Judgment Day is coming, urging you to repent.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. [1 John 1:9]

Don’t think that just because God loves you He will save you if you don’t repent and continue to sin. Jesus said He would not.

Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’

“But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’

“Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’

“But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’

“There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. [Luke 13:22-28]

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. [Matthew 7:13-21]

To be saved, you must do the will of the Father who is in heaven. Unfortunately, many people don’t do the will of the Father because false teachers have told them they don’t have to keep the commandments to be saved.

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Footnotes:

1 Joel 2:28-32
2 Psalm 16:8-11
3 Psalm 110:1
4 The entire books of Joel and Zephaniah, Isaiah 34:1-17, Ezekiel 38:1-39:29, Psalm 110:5-6, Proverbs 16:4, Isaiah 2:1-5:30, 28:5-30:33, 60:1-61:11, Amos 5:16-27, Obadiah 1:15-21, Malachi 4:1-6, to name a few.