Posted by: Brad Beaman | March 25, 2008

Preaching at Pentecost, Acts 2:14-41

                                                    Fire

It is a foolish thing to preach a sermon. When you stand up and tell people that they are lost and that their only hope of salvation rests in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus that in the world’s way of thinking is foolishness.

Not that standing before people and talking is foolishness. The top universities use this as a chief method of teaching. It’s the cross that is nonsense to the world.

Preaching the cross is not actually foolish. It only seems foolish to many. But it pleases God to demonstrate His power by the foolishness of preaching. (1 Corinthians 1:21)
Preaching the gospel is not foolish. No. The foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom. The weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength (1 Corinthians 1:25).

For the one who is wise in the world’s wisdom the cross is crude and unscientific. They think it is foolish. Preaching the Gospel is the power of God to those being saved. These verses record Peter’s Pentecost sermon. This passage Acts 2:14-41 demonstrates the great power in preaching the gospel.

This is a Pentecost sermon because this day that Peter preached was Pentecost. This was the Jewish feast celebration. On this day Jews from all over the Diaspora (dispersion) had come to Jerusalem.

The festival of Pentecost is celebrated fifty days after Passover. On this occasion of Pentecost:

50 days earlier Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem.
47 days earlier Jesus resurrection took place.
10 days earlier Jesus ascended to heaven.

The early believers were told to wait for the promised Holy Spirit to come. Now only 120 believers are gathered waiting as Jesus instructed them.

Suddenly a sound like the violent blowing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

The great sound attracted a crowd of Diaspora Jews. They were amazed that they each heard them speaking in their own language.

The people thought they were drunk (Acts 2:13). If you can’t understand it, slander it. But Peter stood up to tell them what was happening. This was the same man who just 51 days earlier rebuked Jesus for talking about his death. But now Peter is preaching that death.

Peter saw the resurrection and is now filled with the Holy Spirit. Now with boldness he preached the cross of Christ. God demonstrated that such preaching is the power unto salvation. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).

The first thing Peter did when he stood to address the crowd was to set the record straight. These men are not drunk as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! (Acts 1:15)

They all knew that Jesus was crucified. What he must convince them of is that Jesus was the promised messiah and that God resurrected Him.

Peter Preached his Personal Experience.

Peter was a different man than he was just fifty days ago when he denied Christ. He saw the empty tomb and he saw the Risen Lord. That had a profound effect on him to change him from the man who denied Christ to the man who is preaching the Pentecost sermon. He was changed because he witnessed these things. (Acts 2:32)

For preaching to be powerful you must have experienced the power of God in your own life. You need a personal experience. You don’t need a theology degree to describe what happened when the power of God worked in your life. Peter did not have one he was a fisherman.

When you preach the message of the cross to people who are wise in world’s wisdom, people who claim the cross is foolishness, then you can say it may seem like foolish to you but, my faith in Jesus Christ changed my life. I can also point you to others who claim the same experience.

Despite how illogical it sounds for God the creator of the universe to come to earth and take on humanity and die on a cross, He did. His resurrected power is in me. My sins are forgiven. I am born again and have received eternal life. I went to college as an atheist but the power of the resurrected Jesus changed me there.

Heaven is for people who think the cross is foolishness and are wise in the world’s wisdom. There where 3,000 people like that who came to Christ there that day.

Peter shared his experience there that day. You don’t need a theological degree but, you do need to work on your testimony. So it communicates. People can argue theology, but they cannot argue your experience.

When I came to Christ people where asking me, What happened? You have changed. You seem happier. I told them Jesus saved me and His death on the cross paid for my sins. I have been forgiven. I have eternal life. Yes I’m different. I am born again. I am a new person.

Peter Preached the Scriptures.

When preaching gets away from Scripture it quickly drifts to worldly wisdom. It is worldly wisdom that thinks the cross is foolish.

Worldly wisdom holds to a view that can explain our existence without God. I was sixteen years old and sitting in church when I became convinced that God did not exist. The cross was foolishness to me for the next four years.

Peter’s Pentecost preaching brought forth the power of God. His was a preaching that was based on Scripture. He was not afraid to preach contrary to human wisdom. What we have in scripture based on scripture. What we have is a sermon that is full of scripture. There was more to the sermon than just what we read here we are told in Acts 2:40. This sermon was full of scripture. Joel 2:28-32, Psalm 16:8-11, Psalm 110:1

The first scripture of Peter’s Pentecost sermon was from the book of Joel concerning the Old Testament prophecy about the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:17-21).

In Acts 2:25-28 Peter refers to King David who made a prophecy about the resurrection. Peter hit the barrier to their unbelief in Jesus Christ with Scripture. Peter preaches that Scripture predicted that the messiah would come and be crucified and resurrected. David said it not about himself. David is still in his tomb. Only Jesus tomb is still empty.

My how we see Peter has changed drastically in the last fifty days. But why not? Peter has seen the risen Lord and is now filled with the Holy Spirit. Peter explained what they now see is the power of God (Acts 2:33).

People may be seeing the power of God working around them but someone needs to tell them what they are seeing or they will misunderstand. Peter told them that. He told them the people are not drunk. It is God who caused them to speak in their native languages.
God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. The people were cut to the heart result of Peter’s sermon (Acts 2:37).

Peter did not leave them there but told them how to respond. Repent and be baptized (Verse 2:38). Repentance and faith, believing in Jesus Christ saves (Acts 2:21).

Baptism is the identification, the outward act of the inward spiritual transformation. The New Testament verifies it. Baptism is not part of your salvation but an outward symbol of the inner transformation. Baptism is expected for new believers. That day all 3000 who were saved were baptized right away. The order in Acts is you hear, you believe and immediately be baptized. It is the consistent pattern in the book of Acts.

There were 120 who experienced the tongues of fire that day. But for 3,000 there were no outward manifestations except their baptism. The miracle for them was that they had the Holy Spirit within. There is only a slight difference between the 120 and the 3,000. All 3,120 received the Holy Spirit that day. When you believe in Christ you have the Holy Spirit.

They accepted the message and were baptized (Acts 2:41). They didn’t come there to accept Christ. The world calls it foolishness. The preaching of the Gospel is the power of God.

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Responses

  1. Dear Pastor,

    I read the first 2 sermons on Acts 2:14-41 and the Parable of the Sower. They touched a soft spot with me.

    Let me respond to one of your statements, which is, “Peter saw the resurrection and is now filled with the Holy Spirit. Now with boldness he preached the cross of Christ. God demonstrated that such preaching is the power unto salvation. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18)”.

    I see the first sentence the other way around. I think Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and therefore saw the purpose of the resurrection. No man can be saved merely by the preaching. We all must have the unction of the Holy Spirit before we are able to believe in Him who saves. And it is the Spirit of Christ who gives to all those that the Father hath given Him the instrument of faith to believe, freely (Eph.2:8). All those who do not recieve faith freely by the Holy Spirit die in their sins. We must always remember that the elect are saved by grace (Christ), while the reprobate is lost to the eternal flame because of his sin. We too would be lost except for the mercies of Christ.

    You cite 1Cor.1:18, which speaks of the power of the gospel to salvation. I think what that verse and also Romans 1:16 is saying is that the gospel is the true and infallibile word of God. The minister is called to preach the truth of the ‘word of faith’ (Rom.10:8) and that word, preached in all its purity, has power in that it sets forth the truth ‘of’ Christ and what He has and will do for His people, the elect (Rom. 10:14). But there is at least two things to keep in mind:

    1) When the lie is preached, as it is off from many pulpits today, then their is no power in such preaching, i.e. Christ loves all men.

    2) It is not the preaching itself that saves, for the preacher and his preaching can only present to his audience the truth ‘about’ or ‘of’ Christ, whereby they all can know ‘of’ Him (Rom 10:14). But to know Him personally (John 10:27) takes the work of the Holy Spirit in ones heart, whereby we not only hear the truth of the word that is preached, but believe by faith the truth of the word that is preached by virtue of the Spirit’s work within our hearts. (This you covered somewhat, I beleieve)

    In closing, let me expound a bit on John 14:16,17,26. There we are told of the promise of Christ that He was going to sent “another Comforter (the Spirit). Christ did so at Pentacost. But what I find to be true is that the 1st Comforter, the work of the Holy Spirit, had already been in place since the time of Adam when God gave promise of the new and everlasting covenant of grace. In fact, Peter and the other disciples, and also the prosolites and devote Jews that were gathered in Jerusalem, all had the Spirit within them, which Comforter showed them by faith that a Savior was coming to save them from their sins. But the new or ‘another’ Comforter was necessary for the New Testament Church to reveal to its members that Christ did come, die, and was risen again. This truth Peter and the others did not get until the day of Pentacost. That is why Peter was not only able to preach Christ, but his audience was able to believe that Christ did some, for they were elect and had the Spirit sent to them. All of the reprobate seed did not recieve the 1st or ‘another’ Spirit to open their eyes and therefore remain blinded to the truth.

    Thanks for listening and I hope I did not offend in any way.

    Milt

  2. Thanks Milt for you comment on Preaching at Pentecost. I do want to mention that the idea that, “Christ loves all men” is a core belief of mine.


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