“This is no general homily to faceless folks in pews. No, Peter is very direct and tells them what they must do with the gospel truth they are hearing. He pulls no punches. Surely, there is much eye contact, and the listeners know he is speaking with love right to them.”
The sermons found in Scripture are a great study. Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost deserves our special attention (Acts 2:14-41). As I have been preaching through this portion of the Bible, I have come to appreciate his message as an excellent prototype for all true biblical preaching. Consider its essential elements:
1. It is Christ-centered. Throughout the sermon, Jesus the Messiah is foremost. Peter repeatedly focuses on the person and work of Christ. Jesus’ death, resurrection, ascension, and enthronement are all predominant (vv. 22-24, 29-36).
2. It is full of Scripture. Peter quotes from Joel’s prophecy (v. 17; Joel 2:28), and from David words in Psalm 16 (vv. 25-28), and Psalm 110 (v. 34).
3. It is expository. Peter goes beyond just quoting Scripture to opening it up by incisive explanation. He expounds his citations. For example, concerning Psalm 16, he says that David spoke not of himself, but “concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption” (v. 31).
4. It is serious. Sullen it is not, but it has a weighty solemnity. The apostle preaches as a dying man to dying men, earnestly “testifying and exhorting” his hearers (v. 40).
5. It is personal. This is no general homily to faceless folks in pews. No, Peter is very direct and tells them what they must do with the gospel truth they are hearing. He pulls no punches. Surely, there is much eye contact, and the listeners know he is speaking with love right to them. He says, “Men of Israel, hear these words” (v. 22). “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you” (v. 29). “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (v. 36).
6. It is Spirit-empowered. Peter does not trust in his own human ability; he preaches “by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven” (1 Pet. 1:12). Peter’s sermon is a demonstration of the Spirit and of power (1 Cor. 2:4), that same Spirit who came so momentously in redemptive history on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4).
7. It is gospel-saturated. Peter heralds the good news of forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ our Lord. Proclaiming Christ, Peter boldly announces, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (v. 21).