This sermon is translated from German into English. You can find the original video here
If we look at the next section of Acts this morning in our Unstoppable service series, Peter’s speech at Pentecost, we can do it from two angles.
On the one hand, we can learn something from the example of Peter about how we ourselves can talk to other people about faith.
Paul writes to the Colossians:
Conduct yourself wisely and prudently toward those who are not of the church. Make good use of the time you have left! Your word always be in grace, seasoned with salt; you should know how to answer each one!
You can think about whether you talk to people like this:
Kind, benevolent, non-judgmental, generous, giving second chances but seasoned with salt, Jesus and his message sprinkled over and over again to draw people’s attention. Not fake, but completely natural, because hopefully it is also part of our everyday life.
We have the best message in the world and should use the time to pass it on to those around us. The Holy Spirit helps us with this. We will see that in Peter and his speech in a moment.
Then this simple fisherman stands up in front of thousands of people and starts preaching.
What had happened to him?
Not long before that same Peter had denied three times that he even knew Jesus. But Jesus had forgiven him and God makes him his instrument.
This should also encourage us:
No matter how much we may have failed in the past, no matter how great our guilt, God can forgive and He wants to use us anew. We are to do our part, submit ourselves to God and be ready, and God will do His part and work in us through the Holy Spirit.
The second side to listening to this speech is that it hits us, just as it hit people back then, because it’s still very relevant to us today:
Now Peter, along with the eleven other apostles, came before the crowd. In a loud voice he declared: “You people of Judea and all of you who are here in Jerusalem these days! I have something to tell you that you absolutely must know. Listen to me! These people aren’t drunk like you think they are. It’s only nine o’clock in the morning. No, what is happening here is nothing other than the fulfillment of what God announced through the prophet Joel. ‘At the end of time,’ says God, ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all men. Then your sons and your daughters will prophesy; the younger ones will have visions and the older ones will have prophetic dreams. Even on the servants who believe in me I will pour out my Spirit at that time, and they too will prophesy. Both in the heavens above and on the earth below I will cause miracles to happen, and frightening things will be seen: blood and fire and thick clouds of smoke. The sun will be darkened and the moon will be red as blood before that great day comes when the Lord appears in His glory.
Judgment day is coming
Two weeks ago we saw the Holy Spirit come upon the disciples and about 120 people who had been together in Jerusalem praying and waiting as Jesus told them.
They had started speaking in different languages to the people around them, who had gathered from all over the world for Pentecost, so that they could understand them in their own language. A special gift given by the Holy Spirit.
And then we read how some were dismayed, others wondered what that meant, and still others made fun of it and said that the disciples must have been drunk.
And now Peter stands up and begins to explain what is actually happening here.
The Jews who had gathered here knew their scriptures , today’s Old Testament, very well.
And so Peter repeatedly quotes individual passages from it. He begins with a word from the prophet Joel, after briefly responding to the accusation that the disciples were drunk.
From the way Peter put it, it seems to have been clear to everyone that one did not get drunk before 9 a.m. in those days. It is probably no longer possible to say this in such general terms today.
Peter attributes what the people are seeing to the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy, namely that God promised that he would pour out his Spirit constantly on people, that they would start prophesying, having visions, miracles happening.
The Spirit of God supernaturally endows the disciples with supernatural gifts. And what was true for the disciples then is still true for us today. We have the same Spirit that equips, enables, transforms, guides, draws us to God.
Two weeks ago we already saw what the Holy Spirit does and how good and important it is that he lives in those who entrust their lives to Jesus.
In the case of the prophet Joel, this promise is directly linked to another prophecy quoted by Peter:
” Then the big day is near .”
Whenever that day is mentioned, the Jews knew perfectly well that it meant the day when God would come again in glory and judge.
In the case of prophecies, it is often the case that, as we have used this picture before, a prophet is shown things and does not know how close these events are to each other. Just like on a mountain hike, when you stand on a peak and see the next mountains but can’t estimate how deep the valleys in between are.
It was not clear to the people then when that day would be, and it is not clear to us today when that day will be either.
Of course you must not forget one thing, dear friends: For the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day for him. It is not, then, that the Lord is delaying in fulfilling His promise, as some think. What they think of as procrastination is actually an expression of His patience with you. Because he doesn’t want anyone to get lost; rather, he wants all to turn to him. Still, the day of the Lord will come, and it will come as unexpectedly as a thief. In that day the heavens will be destroyed with a mighty crash, the stars will be consumed with fire, and the earth and all that has been done on it will be judged. When it all passes like this, how important is it that you live a thoroughly sanctified life, a life of reverence for God! Wait for the great day of God; behave in such a way that it can dawn soon!
Because people had made fun of it, and one can actually ask oneself why this day has not come to this day. But Peter makes it clear that God has a different calendar and that he is gracious to us because he wants as many people as possible to be saved.
But that doesn’t mean that day won’t come.
We have to keep that in mind today, and recent events may have made us more aware of it. We should be ready for that day.
And how do we do that?
Who is saved, who can stand before God when he judges.
That’s the big question. And Peter answers and says to the Jews second:
Jesus is the Savior
Everyone who then calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ ‘ ‘O people of Israel, listen! What we have to tell you is about Jesus of Nazareth . Through this man, as you all know, God has performed mighty deeds in your midst, performed miracles and done extraordinary things. He confirmed him to you as his messenger. What happened next, God knew long in advance; he himself had planned it like this: Jesus was betrayed and handed over to you, and you had him crucified and killed by people who knew nothing of the law of God. But God delivered him from the power of death and raised him up; it was shown that death had no power over him and could not hold him down. Already David says (and actually it is Jesus who speaks here): ‘I have the Lord before my eyes all the time; he stands by my side so that I will not falter. 26 Therefore joy is in my heart and gladness on my lips. Even when my body is in the grave there is hope for I know you will not leave me in the grave; you will not leave your holy servant to decay. You showed me the way that leads to life, and the fact that I can be near you fills me with joy.‹ Dear brothers and sisters, you will certainly allow me to say it openly: Our great father David also died and was buried – exactly like other people; his tomb can still be seen here today. But David knew that one of his descendants would sit on his throne; God had promised him with an oath. And because David was a prophet, he prophesied of the resurrection of the Messiah. For it was the Messiah whom God did not leave in the realm of the dead and whose body did not decompose. Yes, God raised this Jesus; we are all witnesses to it. He has been taken up into heaven to take pride of place at God’s right hand and received from his Father the promised gift, the Holy Spirit. He has poured that Spirit out on us now, and that’s what you see and hear here. That it was not David who was taken up to heaven is also shown by the following statement, which he himself made: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I have made your enemies a footstool for your feet So it is absolutely certain, and all Israel shall know it, that God made Jesus Lord and Messiah—the Jesus whom you crucified.”
The listeners were moved to the core by what Peter said. “What shall we do now, dear brothers ?” they asked him and the other apostles.
First Peter says: Whoever calls on the name of the Lord: Kyrios . The king.
Since the Jews did not want to pronounce the name Yahweh, as God had imagined, so as not to violate the 3rd commandment, they used Adonai everywhere instead.
In the Greek translation, which was already widely used by the Jews at the time of Jesus, this was translated as Kyrios .
So who calls on the name of God. The audience agreed with that. Some people today might agree with that. God is ok, God, I can think of it and do it as I want. But now Peter turns around and says: This is all about Jesus!
Jesus is the lynchpin of our faith and message, and only through Him are we saved.
It makes the difference to all other religions, because in it God himself comes to this earth, shows people how he is and makes it clear that only he himself can pay for the forgiveness of their sins.
And Peter justifies this with various arguments:
Confirmed by his life
Through this man, Peter writes: Jesus was fully human. Only as a human could he truly set us free. Only as a human can he really fully understand you and feel with you how you are doing. But he also did great miracles, writes Peter.
He was also God.
Jesus had authority over demons.
He healed people.
Later he raised the dead and said:
“For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wills.”
And vice versa, when Herod wants to kill him, Jesus simply says: I’ll die when I want.
And finally there is an incident with the 4 friends who let a paralytic man through the roof and the first thing Jesus says is: Your sins are forgiven.
That’s outrageous. Only God can say something like that. That’s what the Pharisees think too.
And then Jesus says: What is easier to say: your sins are forgiven you or get up and go?
And then he heals the paralytic.
b. Confirmed by his death
Jesus was crucified and killed.
It was really Jesus who was crucified and killed, not someone else, and the audience knows that. But Peter says that God planned it in advance.
Jesus had spoken of his death.
That was no coincidence. It was also intentional. Only in this way could Jesus clear the way for us to God. By dying on the cross for us and our guilt and taking upon himself what separated us from God.
Even though it was planned, Peter tells the audience:
That doesn’t absolve you of responsibility. You are guilty. And we are guilty too. Our guilt made it necessary for Jesus to die on the cross.
c. Confirmed by his resurrection
God confirmed what Jesus said and did by His resurrection.
He showed that the death of Jesus is valid and sufficient for the forgiveness of our sins, as Jesus said.
His death and resurrection make it clear:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Peter speaks of the disciples being winesses of this resurrection. Paul later names more than 500 people to whom Jesus appeared at the same time, whom people could ask if they had their doubts.
Frightened and hopeless followers became courageous, joyful and hopeful disciples who were willing to give their lives for this message.
All the talk of an imagined resurrection, a resurrection in the minds of the disciples, or the theft of a corpse is easily refuted. There are also testimonies from historians of the time.
No, Jesus was actually resurrected and that confirms him as a Savior. And because all this is not enough, Peter adds a fourth point:
d. Confirmed by King David and the Old Testament
King David was, so to speak, the supreme human authority among the Jews. The coming king should be of his family. And Peter uses various statements by David to make it clear to the listeners that the Old Testament also refers to Jesus and speaks of his crucifixion and resurrection.
I found a list of over 60 prophecies about Jesus. Words that people spoke about him hundreds of years before Jesus. All of this confirms the plan of God and Jesus as Savior.
He has been lifted up into heaven to take pride of place at God’s right hand.
He sent the Holy Spirit that led to what people see.
And now Peter is saying that Jesus is this Kyrios that he spoke of earlier, whose name the people are to call upon to be saved. That he is the savior.
The word of God came to the people of Jerusalem with such power that it did not bounce off their outward appearance. “But when they heard it, it penetrated their hearts .” They were shocked and asked, “What should we do?”
And maybe you are asking yourself this question too.
Repent and entrust your life to Jesus
“Repent,” Peter replied, “and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then God will forgive you your sins and you will receive His gift, the Holy Spirit. For this promise applies to you and your descendants and, moreover, to all people, even in the farthest countries – to all whom the Lord our God will call to his congregation .” With these and many other words, Peter bore witness to the gospel; He urged them: “This generation is on its way to perdition! Be saved from the judgment that will come upon them !” Many accepted the message that Peter preached to them and were baptized. Through God’s work, the church grew by about three thousand that day.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from every unrighteousness.
If we do this from the heart, then repentance also means that from now on I direct my life towards Jesus and put my trust in him from now on. This becomes clear in Peter’s formulation of being baptized in the name of Jesus. That shows who we belong to.
It’s about much more than just salvation from judgment and that I get eternal life, once I can spend eternity in God’s presence.
Trusting Jesus also has an impact on me now asking what He wants from me because He is in control and good to me and I live in a friendship with Him.
Faith means much more from the Bible than believing that God exists. In the word faith, as the Bible means it, is the word trust. And trust has something to do with relationship.
Only where we live it do we discover the other and may learn that he is trustworthy.
For this we need a great conversion, if our life has fundamentally gone in the wrong direction, namely without God. And there is always a need for small turns where we have not trusted God enough in everyday life and have nevertheless gone our own way again.
The visible sign of this conversion is baptism.
Baptism without a heartfelt decision is worthless and does not save. Baptism should make it clear what has happened inside a person, that my life without Jesus is over and a new life with Jesus begins.
When Peter speaks here of being baptized in the name of Jesus, that is not meant exclusively.
Jesus commissioned his disciples to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. But here Peter is deliberately emphasizing the name of Jesus because what was new to his listeners was that Jesus is Lord and Savior. And it was about consciously acknowledging him in it.
Everyone who repents and gives his life to Jesus receives the Holy Spirit.
We talked about that last time. And he will be added to the church of God. First of all, to the worldwide church of God, but this is always expressed in small local communities.
God did not intend to live a life as a Christian without a binding fellowship with other Christians, in the way that some think we can live. Because he wants us to support, encourage and correct one another and also to contribute our gifts for the good of others and for the building of the kingdom of God. This is also a sign of the new life that asks about the will of God.
Peter also tells us:
Judgment day is coming
Jesus is the Savior
So repent and entrust your life to Jesus
And maybe that’s exactly what he wants to tell you personally this morning:
Turn back and entrust your life to me
He might also tell you:
Be baptized as an expression of that decision
Reorient your life towards me
Start committing yourself to God’s church
Use the time you have left in conversation with your fellow human beings to point out Jesus and trust that the Holy Spirit also wants to use you like Peter.
Over 3000 people were rescued that day. And Jesus still wants to do that today through you and his Holy Spirit.
Before we celebrate communion together, we want to come to God with songs.
And this time is your opportunity to respond to what God has just spoken to you