You killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus. God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.
-- Acts 3:15, 19-20, 26, ESV
To read this sermon from Simon Peter in its entirety, go to Acts 3:11-26. Of course, it's a summary inspired by the Holy Spirit through the pen of Luke. The Apostle was really kicking in this sermon, not with his foot, but with his mouth, having taken the foot out of his mouth since Pentecost. So put on an extra pair of pants, let Simon kick you where it hurts, then repent and believe the Gospel.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ must deal with sin. The first kick in this sermon boldly confronts us with our sin, which we do by nature and choice. People are guilty of many sins, but chief among them is their denial of the deity of Christ and His lordship over them. If one really believes Christ is Lord, they worship and follow Him. But most people prefer the things of this world, power and money and sex, things that will ultimately kill them, over the things of God. Lost people go through life unforgiven, unchanged, and prefer to be unchallenged by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If people do not see themselves as sinners they will never seek to accept forgiveness from the Savior. The Gospel, rightly preached, gives them this chance.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ must be delivered with compassion. When you call someone a sinner, say it with a smile. I do not think Simon Peter had his nose in the air or his fist hammering down. He remembered when He had denied the Lord, when He had pressed Jesus to do things in a more worldly way, where he was when Jesus died, hiding and weeping in bitter tears. Peter saw himself as a sinner, redeemed, preaching to sinners in need of redemption, a sinner telling another sinner compassionately how to get rid of their sin. And only One can take it away.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ must be centered upon Christ. The most important name Peter names in this sermon is the name above all names, the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Christ is the center of this sermon, as He should be in every sermon, for Jesus is the glue who holds the world, the Bible, and the Gospel together. Peter preached the Gospel straight on by telling who Jesus is and what Jesus has done. Many other gospels have been preached through the ages. In our present day, the social gospel is getting wide publication. By no means am I against efforts made, especially in the name of God, to eradicate society's injustices. But, the only thing that can really cure the causes of injustices, namely sin, is the true biblical Gospel of Jesus Christ preached and accepted. Peter preached it, par excellence, and also instructed his audience on how to accept and apply the Gospel.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ must demand repentance. Faith is an empty shell if it is not conjoined with repentance, the change of mind that changes the heart that changes the will and results in "turning every one of you from your wickedness." A Gospel sermon has no kick if it does not mention faith and repentance. And, when one truly believes, they truly repent. And, when one truly repents, one engages in the religious rituals and activities of the church, good works toward others, and the repeating of the Gospel to the lost and unchurched so that they might be saved. The Gospel is alive, but faith without repentance, and subsequent good works, is dead.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ must promise the world. Peter does use the terms justification, sanctification, and glorification in the sermon, but he preaches and teaches them just the same. Through the Gospel, you can be absolved of all the sins committed in this world. Through the Gospel, your life in this world can have meaning, purpose, power. Through the Gospel, you can inherit a better world, a new heaven and earth, when the Lord Jesus Christ returns.
Simon Peter lined up for a Gospel kick. It's high enough, it's long enough, it's good!
Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church, 5963 Central Ave. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected]