Study 12 PETER’S SECOND RECORDED SERMON
STUDIES IN ACTS (Chapters 1 – 3)
by Francis Dixon
Study verses: Acts 3:12-26
Preaching is the primary task of the Church. This means that not only preachers but all who pray for them and listen to preachers should be deeply interested in this study. Unfortunately preaching is often regarded as unimportant, and consequently many things have been put in its place. Some have advocated the substitution of dialogue and discussion, but there is no substitute for preaching itself. It must come first because this is the Church’s primary task. What is preaching? True preaching is the communication of divine truth through human personality in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Church’s commission is to preach the gospel (Matthew 28:18-20); it is the means by which faith is awakened in the hearer (Romans 10:17); it is a necessity laid upon the preacher (1 Corinthians 9:16), and compare Jeremiah 20:8-9 and Acts 6:4. Preaching is the means of salvation (1 Corinthians 1:21), and the history of the early Church demonstrates its importance. Look at Peter’s sermon recorded in Acts 3:12-26 and notice seven things about it.
1. THE OCCASION
We usually preach at appointed times, but that was not the case here. Something happened which produced an opportunity for preaching, and we read about this in Acts 3:1-11. In verse 12 we see how Peter quickly took advantage of the occasion and made it a glorious opportunity to present the gospel message (1 Corinthians 16:9). How often did these early preachers preach? – whenever they got the opportunity (Acts 5:42; Acts 6:4; Acts 8:4-5). If preaching is the communication of divine truth through human personality in the power of the Holy Spirit, how many times are we to do this? (2 Timothy 4:1-5).
2. THE DIRECTNESS
Notice how quickly Peter applied his message to his hearers. He said, “Men of Israel…” (verse 12). Some preachers are so general in their approach and in their proclamation and application of the truth that one wonders who they are speaking to! They do not take aim; they fire at random and hit nobody. Sometimes preachers are afraid to be too personal, but the apostles were not like this – look up and compare Acts 2:39; 13:26. When Nathan came to David with a solemn message he was not vague or indefinite in his application of the truth. He said, “You are the man!” – and David knew full well that God’s word was meant for him and for him only – look up 2 Samuel 12:1-13 (particularly note verses 7 and 13).
3. THE RELEVANCE
How carefully Peter related his message to the people, and how skilfully he got on to their wave-length by speaking about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (verse 13) and the prophets (verse 18) – compare verses 22-24 and 25. His hearers were familiar with these things since Peter was speaking within the context of their history. We are to preach in ways that will be understood, against the background of people’s knowledge and needs. This is the kind of preaching that God blesses.
4. THE HEART
The central theme of Peter’s sermon was God’s love and grace revealed in His Son. He soon mentioned Jesus (verses 12-13). True preaching is all about Jesus! Notice the names he gives to the Lord in one brief sermon:
- 1. “his Son Jesus” (verse 13 KJV) – look up and compare John 1:1-2 and 14; Matthew 1:21.
- 2. “the Holy and Righteous One” (verse 14); the testimony of God, of His friends and enemies, of angels, demons and of Himself was that He was sinless – look at Hebrews 7:26.
- 3. “the author of life” (verse 15) – declaring that He is the one who came to give life and that He slew death by dying and gives eternal life to all who trust Him – look up 1 John 5:11-12.
- 4. “Christ” (verse 18), the anointed one. This is His official title.
- 5. “the Christ” (verse 20) – the one anointed to be Saviour – look up Acts 4:12.
- 6. “His Son Jesus” (verse 26 KJV); here is the wonder of His perfect deity and true humanity.
This is the preacher’s message – the message of Christ’s incarnation (implied throughout); His crucifixion (declared in verse 15); His resurrection (presented in verses 15 and 26); and His glorification (stated in verse 13).
5. THE CHALLENGE
Peters attitude was not, ‘Take it or leave it!’; it was, ‘You are guilty; you must do something about it!’ (verses 19 and 26). These people were to repent and be converted. These are missing notes in much modern preaching, but they are essential in all true biblical preaching.
6. THE URGENCY
When Peter preached it was a matter of life or death for his hearers, and in verse 23 he reminded them of the solemn danger of rejecting God’s message. There are only two classes of people (Luke 19:10); two ways (Matthew 7:13-14); two destinies (Matthew 25:46).
7. THE PREACHER
Take a quick look at him! He was a born-again man, a Spirit-filled man, a Bible-believing man, but also he was: (1) A praying man (Acts 3:1). (2) A reliable man (Acts 3:12). (3) A faithful man, bold and courageous (Acts 20:27). Pray that God will raise up preachers like this to preach sermons like this!