Summary: My first sermon was certainly no model for Christian preaching. However, Peter’s first sermon presents a model that should characterize all Christian preaching today. Notice the elements in the first Christian sermon. There was explanation, exposition,
THE FIRST CHRISTIAN SERMON
I remember my very first sermon. It was on Easter Sunday evening in 1961. For some years I had been wrestling with the call to preach the gospel. During the closing service of a revival meeting at Riverside Baptist Church in Pascagoula, Mississippi, I went forward and surrendered my life to preach the gospel. I didn’t know that the pastor would ask me to preach the very next Sunday. As the revival meeting closed out on a Sunday evening, I had exactly one week to prepare for my first sermon. As an 18 year old high-school student I knew very little about public speaking, let alone about preaching. Needless to say, it was a terrifying week for me.
Finally, the time came for me to enter the pulpit and preach. I read my text, gave my testimony, and preached my sermon. The entire event took approximately five minutes. In spite of my lack of homiletical skills, God used that message to touch the life of a 14 year old girl who gave her life to Christ at the invitation. What a joy it was for me to later witness her baptism. My feeble attempt at preaching, reveals clearly that it is God who does the saving
In our Scripture passage today, we read Simon Peter’s very first sermon. Moreover, it was the first Christian sermon. Peter was a novice as a preacher. Yet his sermon gives us a model for all Christian preaching down through the ages. Some years ago, I had the privilege of serving as Professor of Homiletics in the Costa Rica Baptist Theological Seminary. In one of my lectures which I entitled “Great Preaching”, I used Peters sermon as a model for preaching. I said that great preaching is (1) Spirit Filled preaching, (2) Biblical preaching, (3) Christ centered preaching, and (4) Evangelistic preaching.
My first sermon resulted in one conversion. But as Peter stood to preach that day, 3000 people were converted to Jesus Christ, baptized, and became a vital part of the early church. My first sermon was certainly no model for Christian preaching. However, Peter’s first sermon presents a model that should characterize all Christian preaching today. Notice the elements in the first Christian sermon. There was explanation, exposition, exhortation, and edification.
I. EXPLANATION: Peter began his message by explaining what had just happened. The Holy Spirit had come upon the first Christians in mighty power. The people in Jerusalem heard what had happened and gathered together in great numbers. Note how they responded.
A. Some were confused: “What does this mean?”
B. Some were closed: These are drunk.
C. Some were converted: They saw God.
Peter began his sermon by citing a prophesy from the book of Joel. (16-21) This is that which Joel spoke about. Some accused the Spirit filled believers of being drunk. Peter defended Pentecost by saying, “This is that which Joel told us about…..”
II. EXPOSITION: Peter continued his message by proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. Note that the Bible Peter used was the OT. Could you take an OT passage and point someone to Jesus? The OT was the only Bible they had. Peter Preached a Christ centered message. All Christian preaching must point to Jesus Christ. Note that he:
A. He preached about the life and ministry of Christ (v. 22) God attested the ministry of Christ (23a) by miracles, by signs, and by wonders. These things verified the Christ. His audience had seen and heard those miracles.
B. He preached the cross of Christ (v. 23). The cross was God’s pre-determined plan of redemption. It was no accident. It was God’s plan. Yet, men crucified the Son of God. “You have taken by lawless hands, and have crucified, and put to death.” Thank God we don’t end at the cross however,
C. He preached the resurrection of Christ: (v. 24) You crucified Him, but God raised Him. Peter continues his exposition of the resurrection by the OT in vs. 29-35.
D. He preached the Lordship of Christ (v 36) All Christian preaching should be anointed by the Holy Spirit, Biblical in content, Christ honoring in its subject, and evangelistic in its appeal. That brings us to the third element.
III. EXHORTATION: Peter explained what had happened at Pentecost, and had clearly expounded the gospel of Christ. The Holy Spirit pierced the hearts of the hearers who asked, “Men and brethren what shall we do?”
Peter exhorted them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (2:38-39)