I have spent a great deal of time on the first two points of Peter’s sermon, that it was centered on the Bible and centered on Christ. They are of great importance. But let me mention two more things about Peter’s preaching.
First, it was fearless. I say “fearless” because, after all, the sermon was being preached in Jerusalem, and it was in Jerusalem that the Lord Jesus Christ had been crucified. Peter was preaching to the very people who had called out, not many weeks before, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Moreover, Peter was preaching in the shadow of the temple, no doubt overlooked by the same religious leaders who had plotted to kill his Master at that time, and had succeeded, humanly speaking. Peter and the others had cause to be afraid. Yet they were not afraid. And the reason they were not afraid is that the risen Lord Jesus Christ was with them. The Jesus they served was not merely a man who had been crucified. He was also the Son of God who had been raised from the dead, had ascended into heaven, and was now seated at the right hand of the Father, directing the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the preaching of the Gospel.
These men expected results. They said, “This is what the work of the Lord Jesus Christ has led up to. He has died for sin. Now it is our task to preach this Gospel.” They expected the Holy Spirit to bless their preaching, and the Holy Spirit did.
Let me say, finally, that Peter’s sermon was also sound, by which I mean that it was eminently reasonable. Sometimes preaching can be eloquent and moving so that an entire congregation can be swayed by the rhetoric. Yet it can also be unsound in its reasoning.
This was not the case here. I am sure that Peter was an eloquent man. I am sure that on this occasion, as on other occasions, he preached with great fervor and that the people noted this. I am sure also that the Holy Spirit blessed his fervor and eloquence and everything else. But when we read this sermon, we are impressed not so much with his eloquence as by the fact that he was calling the people to think reasonably. He was saying, “You know about Jesus. You know what he did. You know the miracles that took place through His ministry and by His hands. That was God’s way of authenticating Him. How could He have done miracles if God had not been with Him? You know how the leaders—your leaders—arranged His crucifixion. You saw how He was killed. God raised Him from the dead. You know this. We are witnesses of it. The resurrection is proof that God has accepted Christ and repudiated your repudiation. It is this Christ who has poured out the Holy Spirit, whose power you can see and witness now.”
Then Peter went on to his conclusion, and that was reasonable as well. “If this Jesus is the Christ, then you have killed your Messiah. What you should do now—you know you should do it—is repent of this great sin, believe on Jesus and be baptized, and thus identify yourself with Him.”
That was powerful. We are told as we come to the end of the sermon that Peter’s hearers were cut to their heart and said to the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And three thousand believed and were baptized. I long for a day when we will see that in the church of Jesus Christ—in our cities, in our countries. I long for the day when preaching will be so biblical, so Christ-centered, so fearless and so sound that men and women will cry out, “Oh, brothers, what must we do?” And when the answer is given, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven,” there will be great repentance. We need much more of such preaching today.