Summary: As we CONSISTENTLY proclaim the good news of Jesus we can ANTICIPATE God’s harvest!
A Pattern For Missional Proclamation
Charles Spurgeon - the great prince of preachers of the 1800's- established a college for preaching to educate and train men who felt God's call to preach. At this college there was a regular practice the students enjoyed every Friday afternoon. The students, instructors, and Mr. Spurgeon himself would all gather together. At that meeting each Friday a random student was chosen and given a passage of Scripture which he then must preach extemporaneously, on the spot, with no preparation. For many of these young preachers, this on-the-spot sermon served as their very first sermon before an audience of people. Pretty foreboding if you ask me. On one of these particular Friday gatherings, a student was given the passage in Luke 19 where the account of Zacchaeus' conversion is recorded. The young preacher got up from his seat, walked up to the platform and here's the entirety of his 3-point sermon: "Mr. President and brethren, my subject is Zacchaeus, and it is therefore most appropriate to me. First, Zacchaeus was little of stature, as am I. Second, Zacchaeus was up a tree; so am I. Third, Zacchaeus made haste to come down; and so will I." And at that he took his seat.
I remember my first sermon before a congregation. I was 15 years old. It was "Youth Sunday" at FBC Wimauma, FL. I was asked by our pastor to deliver the Sunday morning sermon. That was 30 years ago and I still remember the text I preached from - Acts 3, which was Peter's second recorded sermon he spoke from Solomon's Portico. I worked on that message for several weeks, preaching it in my room, preaching it on our family farm to the pigs and cows. I timed it to see how long it took me - right at 30 minutes. But when I got up to deliver the sermon at 11:30 that morning, it only took me 10 minutes to preach it. We were out of church and headed home at 11:45! Wishful thinking today, right?
Today we're looking at Peter's very first sermon. If you'll remember, just before Jesus ascended into heaven he reminded the 120 followers in Jerusalem that he promised the coming of the Holy Spirit. And last week we saw that 10 days later the Holy Spirit was in fact poured out in power upon those gathered. The Holy Spirit manifested himself upon them in these sensory ways - sound, sight, and touch which resulted in them speaking in tongues. The explosion of power with which the Spirit came upon those 120 disciples was so loud, it attracted thousands of Jewish pilgrims in the city for the festival of Pentecost - the sound attracted them to the location where they were gathered. And when they got there, they heard the mighty wonders of God communicated in their own language from these Galileans.
And the idea we came around last week was that the Holy Spirit came upon them in power - not primarily to give them an ecstatic, sensory experience - that was a secondary result. He came upon them to empower them for the mission Jesus had given them in Acts 1:8: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Again, what we're going to look at today is Peter's very first sermon. It's a sermon he gave in response to the question that was circling through the crowd of pilgrims gathered outside who had just heard them speaking in their own language. The question that was swirling around was "What does this mean?" And Peter's sermon is in response to that question.
We regard Pentecost as the birthday of the church. And I don't want us to miss the importance of this fact: The first act, the first ministry of the church was a sermon. This points to the primacy and central role that preaching has in the life of the church. Preaching, Biblical proclamation is THE primary means God has ordained for the advancement of his kingdom in this world. If we cease to preach, we cease to be the church.
I do hope you have your Bible open. It's a lengthy text and because of it's length I didn't print it on the outline this week because it would have taken up most of the sheet. But we will read it in it's entirety.
14But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: