Preach (Acts 2:22-36)

Preach (Acts 2:22-36)

 “God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this.” (Acts 2:32)

Here we have the first sermon preached in the history of the church, and, unsurprisingly, it is about the resurrected Christ. Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, stood to address the crowd gathered for the Feast of Pentecost and immediately spoke on the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, drawing on prophecies made by King David in the book of Psalms. It is impossible to think of a more relevant message – how odd it would have been if Peter had preached on any other topic!

As we continue to reflect on Acts as a book describing the way God does ministry, we find here some important truths about preaching that are used by the Holy Spirit to bear fruit.

Firstly, effective preaching must be relevant to the circumstance and to the audience. Any class in homiletics will instruct students to consider the concerns and cares of the people listening when preparing a message. True, the Holy Spirit can still be at work even when our sermon is not particularly suitable for the audience. He can still take what we say and apply it to people’s lives (John 16:13) but this is no reason not to consider who we are speaking to.

Unquestionably Peter did this. His message was relevant to those gathered – people who already had an understanding of the Old Testament scriptures and were looking for a Messiah.

Secondly, another role of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Christ (John 16:14) which reminds us of the importance of actually talking about Christ in our preaching – and Peter did this too! If there is no mention in our messages of Christ: His life, death, resurrection and ascension, then the spiritual impact of our preaching will be limited indeed.  

Surely one of the greatest compliments any church or ministry can be given is for people to say, “They are always talking about Jesus.” Amidst all the programmes and events, the message of Jesus shines through consistently and powerfully. This must be our goal!

That is not to say that no topic other than Jesus can be taught. Many topics must be covered in discipling people to live their lives effectively in this world, but every message preached must ultimately cycle back to Jesus and all He has done if it is to bear fruit in people’s lives.

Even those not especially gifted at preaching will find that their messages will frequently bear spiritual fruit if they set out to glorify Christ.

The great preacher Charles Spurgeon, told the story of the old minister who heard a sermon by a young man, and when he was asked by this man what he thought of his message, Spurgeon was slow to answer. At last, he said, “If I must tell you, I did not like it at all; there was no Christ in your sermon.” “No,” answered the young man, “because Christ was not mentioned in the text.” “Oh!” said the old minister, “but do you not know that from every little town and village and tiny hamlet in England, there is a road leading to London? Whenever I get hold of a text, I say to myself, ‘There is a road from here to Jesus Christ, and I mean to keep on His track till I get to Him.’ ”

The Apostle Paul understood this principle well. From a human standpoint, his preaching was not particularly impressive, but from a spiritual standpoint, the key to his remarkable effectiveness was that he “preached Christ”, and in doing so, witnessed the Holy Spirit’s power (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

However, simply preaching Christ, though, is not enough. Peter preached Christ but then added these crucial words in Acts 2:22: “…and we are all witnesses of this”.

Now of course, none of us have witnessed the resurrected Christ with our own eyes as Peter did, but the principle here is this: Peter was expressing what he himself could personally witness to be true. He was talking from experience. And so must we.

Without this first-hand experience of the presence and power of the risen Christ in our lives, our messages may be technically brilliant, theologically accurate, and entirely relevant, but they will lack true conviction. We cannot speak about what we have not experienced.

We can draw on insights from the best commentaries and even take these insights and ask AI to write a brilliant message for us. But unless the presence of Christ saturates not only our message but our lives too, there will be no personal conviction behind anything we say.

As a result, our words will sound empty and will bear little fruit in others’ lives.

Reflection and discussion

  1. Read together Peter’s sermon in Acts 2:22-36. What verse or phrase do you find most impacting?

  2. Discuss the most recent message you heard (or preached) in church. To what extent did it “preach Christ”?

  3. Think of some topics you might regularly preach to those you lead – ones that are relevant to their lives. How might you weave Christ into your message so that people are not only informed on your topic but also hear the gospel?

  4. Share with each other what Christ means to you. Unless we can explicitly state this, we cannot expect to implicitly communicate it in our preaching and teaching.



Before we preach or teach anything to those we lead, we must personally bear witness to the truth of what we are saying in our own lives. What might this mean in practice?


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