Turn in your Bibles to Acts Chapter 2. We begin our study this morning. Some strange reason as I began this message early in the week and study in preparation, I had this compelling desire to just talk about the importance of preaching. Now you say well that's just defending your own thing. That's right. There's no question about it, but I had this compelling desire to just really emphasize the priority of preaching as we enter into, of course, Acts 2:14, it's Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost.
And I really didn't know why. I just felt this very strongly. And so I
sat down, I just kept writing and writing and writing and writing all
my thoughts about preaching. And I still didn't know why this morning
and I got up and I preached away about the priority of preaching in the
8:15 service. After the service was over this morning, I started down
and the gentleman came up and he took my hand and he said, "you don't
know me, but he said I'm a preacher." And he said, "I've been 18 months
in my church," and he said, "I needed to get away and reevaluate what I
was to do." He said, "I...my wife and I took a room at the Holiday Inn
down here and we decided we'd come here this morning and see if maybe
God would speak to us." And he said, "Thank you, that's what I needed."
You just really never know what God is planning. Now for you, of course this sermon is superfluous. But anyway, Acts 2:14-42
is the sermon of Peter on the day of Pentecost. It is strategically
important because it is the first Christian sermon ever preached. And
thus it sets for us a pattern of preaching, apostolic preaching and a
pattern that carries down even for our own preaching today.
Before we do get into it though, I do have some things that I want to
say in regard to the priority and the importance of preaching since the
first thing the early church did the first day it was born was begin by
preaching. I think something was established that is of prior
consideration. Now there's much literature being produced today about
the church. I suppose in Christian literature and there's an awful lot
of it, the two reigning things that seem to be dominating are counseling
or Christian psychological therapy or whatever title you want to give
to it, how to set your family straight, how to set your marriage
straight, how to set yourself straight, and then how to set your
neighbors straight, all the way down the line.
And the other great volume of material is being put out on the
subject of the church, it's identity, it's contemporary priorities,
where it fits, etc., etc. And the current church emphasis has in my mind
one glaring omission. And that is that there seems to be in so many of
these books and in so many cases of what people are advocating today,
the omission of preaching. Now this greatly concerns me. I have read at
least two or three books that eliminate preaching altogether from the
life of a church, from the pattern of the church.
And I believe this is a gross injustice to God's pattern and God's
design and is a miscalculation of the New Testament genius of
Christianity and its dynamic. Today we have this great emphasis on whole
gob of little group Bible studies and home interaction things and in
their place they're all very good. But seminaries and colleges that are
supposed to be producing men for the ministry today are teaching
psychology and counseling techniques and they're producing reams of
material on psychotherapy, group counseling, sensitivity training with
certain deletions so it becomes palatable to Christianity, etc., etc.
And there are only perhaps a handful of seminaries in all of our
country that are exceptions to that rule that are teaching men
principles by which they can teach and preach with power of the word of
God. The small group interaction bonanza is upon us. And it's part of
the cycle of getting back to individuality in a computer in a mechanized
age. I'm aware of that. But in many churches, the church life and the
pattern of the Holy Spirit movingin the church is bogged down because
men are lost in all kinds of foolishness that it's secondary to the
power of preaching the word of God.
And we make no apologies at Grace Church for our preaching ministry.
In fact, we've established it as a priority. When Paul told Timothy what
to do about his ministry he said it as simply as you can say it. He
said, "Timothy, preach the Word. Preach the Word." The book of Acts is a
record of apostolic preaching. And I'll give you a nice little journey
through Acts right now. Don't try to follow me. But just listen and this
will be a view of Acts from the standpoint of preaching and we'll see
whether it's priority.
Acts Chapter 3, verse 20, "And he shall send Jesus Christ who before
was preached unto you." 4:2, "Being grieved that they taught the people
and preached through Jesus the resurrection of the dead." And then over
to Chapter 8, skipping some sections, verse 5, then Philip went down to
the city of Samaria and preached Christ unto them. Verse 25, "And they
when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord returned to
Jerusalem and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans."
Verse 35, "Then Philip opened his mouth and began at the same Scripture
and preached unto him." He only had one in his audience, but he still
preached. Verse 40, "But Philip was found at Azotus and passing through
he preached in all the cities until he came to Caesarea. Chapter 9,
verse 20, "And immediately he preached Christ in the synagogue that He
is the son of God." Verse 27, "But Barnabas took him and brought him to
the apostles and declared unto him...unto them how he had seen the Lord
in the way and that He had spoken to him and how he had preached boldly
at Damascus in the name of Jesus."
You can go to Chapter 13, 14, 17, 20, and right on out to the end of
the book of Acts and you'll find that the priority in the church was the
preaching of the Word. Now it's important to have Bible studies. It's
important to have Sunday School. It's important to have home action
groups. It's important to have a lot of things. Nothing supplants the
preaching of the Word. Preaching is characteristic of Christianity.
Broadus in his classic volume on preaching says, "No other religion has
ever made the regular and frequent assembling of the masses of men to
hear religious instruction and exhortation, an integral part of divine
worship except Christianity. It's the genius of Christianity as so
designed by the Holy Spirit. Others have copied it because of it's
In the ministry of Jesus the Bible says that Jesus came preaching.
And in Luke Chapter 4, I love Jesus' view of His own ministry. He says
in verse 16, "He came to Nazareth and when He was...where He'd been
brought up and as His custom was Jesus went was, Jesus went into the
synagogue on the Sabbath Day and stood up to read. And it was delivered
unto Him the book of the prophet Isaiah and when He had opened the book,
He found the place where it was written, "The Spirit of the Lord is
upon Me because He hath anointed Me to," what, "to preach." "To preach
the gospel to the poor. He had sent Me to heal the broken-hearted. To
preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty them that are bruised to preach the acceptable year of
the Lord and He closed the book and gave it to the minister and sat
The priority of Jesus Christ repeated three times and the prophecy of
Isaiah was that He came to preach. John writing many years after that
looked back and said, "Jesus cried in the temple teaching and saving."
Jesus boldly preached. His preaching was powerful. His preaching was
urgent, but His preaching was at the same time compassionate. Preaching
involves the gospel proclamation and it also involves theological
instruction. And for a moment, I'd like to get you into a definition of
So often we hear this statement, well, he's a good preacher, but he's
not a teacher. There's no such thing. He is not a good preacher if he's
not a teacher. He's the worst kind of preacher. There is no such thing
as preaching without teaching. The theological view of preaching right
out of the Word of God is that it contains the proclamation with the
doctrine with the instruction. That's how our Lord preached. He left
that legacy to all. He told His apostles to go into all the world and to
preach and to teach, and there's no difference. They are the same. In
fact, those two words are used in the gospels interchangeably when
referring to Jesus Christ.
For example, in Matthew, it'll say in Jesus Christ taught. And in a
comparative passage in Luke, it'll say and Jesus Christ preached. And in
the very same incident recorded by various views, the two words are
used interchangeably. So that preaching without teaching is
non-existent. Preaching was the announced purpose by Jesus Christ. It
was the announced purpose given to His apostles and they carried out in
the book of Acts and it's not different today. Paul said to Timothy,
"Preach the Word."
The history of the church records the preaching of the Word of God.
Now there have been many things that have come along to try to supplant
it. We have a lot of things today that try to replace preaching. And the
sad part of it is that most people let it happen. And you open your
newspaper and instead of seeing through the church page, men preaching
the word of God, you read about musical, phantasmagorias, and movies and
this and that and the other thing going on and they all have a place.
Never do they have a place in supplanting the powerful Spirit energized
preaching of the Word of God.
And we can talk all we want about radio programs and TV programs and
Christian movies and drama and everything else, but to me all it is, is a
challenge to make my sermons more relevant, more fresh, more dynamic
and more exciting so people will want the real stuff. Now, I'm not
discounting the place of all of those things. I'm only establishing the
priority of preaching. Those things have their place. And sometimes
they're used to good effect. They can never supplant the preaching of
the Word. A holy man gifted to preach by the Spirit of God and prepared
in the word of God has not equal in a power presentation of the truth.
That's the pattern of Scripture.
And if the preaching doesn't make it, it's not the fault of the
method, it's the fault of the man. Social work and pastoral work are all
important, but they never compensate for a lack of power in the pulpit.
This is the thing that God uses abundantly. And you know, I have to ask
myself today the sad question, where are the preachers? Where are they?
So many times people say to me where are the men who preach the Word of
God? Where are they? I don't know where they are. They're few and far
between, I know that. Where are the great men who preach and teach God's
words whose lines are so saturated with the word of God that Spurgeon
said their blood is bibbling.
Where are the men of God who are lost in their message with no
personality and no gimmick just firing out the word of God and the
energy of the Spirit? Where are these men? Great men of God don't just
work with small groups, some do. Not exclusively. Great men of God are
men who proclaim the truth of the word of God to thousands of people.
You can go back in history and look at the revivals that have happened
through history and they've centered around the preaching of the Word of
I was reading about Whitefield. What a masterful man he was, and what
a man of God and what a powerful preacher. And Whitfield, you know,
preached in Bristol to 20,000 people regularly, often daily. Sometimes
when Whitfield got up in the morning, there'd be 10,000 people outside
waiting for him to begin. Often he preached to 40,000 people. It is said
that near Glasgow, Scotland he preached to as many of 50,000 to 100,000
people. Now this was without any...this was without any preparation.
This is without any publicity. This is just people drawn to the power of
the word of God.
And this is without a microphone. Think about that. His voice must
have been something unbelievable. Even if you didn't want to listen, a
lot of choice. He was sometimes accused of rambling in his sermons and
getting off the point. Who wouldn't preaching all day, every day like
that. But he replied, "If men will continue to ramble like lost sheep,
I'll continue to ramble after them." At 70 years of age George Muller
preached regularly to 5,000 people. Moody, Spurgeon, Edwards, Finney,
and the rest preached and taught to thousands of people in great crowds
and great tabernacles and great congregations and they preached in the
Spirit's energy with great power.
There's nothing sacred my friends about small groups. People say to
me, well, isn't your church getting too big? I mean, if you get too many
people there, what happens to your small groups? And my answer is, if
God wants to build a church where the word of God is preached, I don't
care if He brings 50,000 people if that's His desire. I believe in the
word of God as preached. And we need some men today like that. We need
some faithful, some bold, some powerful men, some holy preachers who
make no compromise with the world, no compromise with the flesh, no
compromise with the devil, and stand true to the word of God and declare
with fire and power.
And I sometimes wonder where they are. I pray God, that out of this
congregation He'll raise up some. I really do get weary of the view that
the ministry is glorified group therapy. The preachers are errand boys
for a congregation or a denomination. I think we need to establish the
priority of preaching. And I pray God that in this church this will be a
place of powerful preaching and that we will never substitute anything
for the Spirit energized preaching of Christ, His cross, and the word of
God. Now if you haven't gotten, I believe in preaching.
You say well where do you get all this? Where do you get the idea of
the priority? Well, the first thing that happened on Pentecost was just
that, and as we come to Chapter 2, verse 14 that's where it all begins.
Don't go there yet, I'm not done with the introduction. Peter is the
preacher. And Peter is Spirit filled and Peter's been restored and
Peter's a firebrand now and things are going to happen, and it all
begins with a sermon. Now people can try to design the sermon out of the
service and enter in with all kinds of different things and so forth
and so on, but there's never to be replacing of that.
Acts doesn't say that after being baptized into Christ's body in
Chapter 2 and being filled with the Spirit and beginning to speak the
wonderful works of God and all those languages and gaining the ear of
the multitude that they all broke into small groups for interaction. It
doesn't say that. Or that each received a mimeographed sheet for their
independent study. Doesn't say that either. Or that the disciples
immediately went into 12 weeks of training for pre-evangelism. It says
that when the Spirit of God had filled them, they stood up and they
spoke. And later in Acts it says when they were filled with the Spirit,
they spoke the Word with what? With boldness.
The dynamic of the Spirit of God issued itself in the birth of church
in the preaching of the Word. And I think it still does. I think it
still does. When the Spirit had come, we saw the strategy last week
didn't we? We saw how the Spirit of God set the scene for the sermon.
Beautiful. By the sound that they all heard of the wind, the crowd
gathered. And when the disciples began to speak in all of these
languages, they were amazed and shocked, they were at God with wonder,
they were astonished. They couldn't figure it out. Some of them said
they're drunk. They couldn't understand how these Galileans from up
there where the hayseeds lived in the northern part, they're not even
educated. And here they are rattling off these languages like mad. They
couldn't figure what was going on.
The Spirit of God had set the stage. They were together, they were
confused. It was time for somebody to come in who wasn't confused and
eliminate the confusion, perfectly setting the stage. And as we begin in
our study today we're just going to barely get into Peter's sermon. You
say how come it takes you four weeks to preach one sermon? That's my
problem. Peter preached it in one shot, I can't.
I want to take you into it and show you the details. It's a good
thing I wasn't there on Pentecost or this sermon would have run into
Chapter 7. But anyway, Peter got it out a lot faster and easier than I
did, but let's face it. He had direct inspiration from the Holy Spirit
for every word. I fumble around, but I hope I get there eventually. Not
to inspiration, but to the end.
In Chapter 2:14 to verse 42, this whole sermon appears and we'll be
in it for a couple of weeks because I want you to see it. Strategically,
it is the pattern of apostolic preaching. It's the foundation of all of
our apostolic proclamation. The preaching of the cross all through
Acts, through the Epistles and even today follows this pattern or should
follow this pattern. But the Spirit had set the scene so perfectly. He
had even tied the whole thing into the God of these people, the true God
of the Old Testament by making these languages to speak the wonderful
works of God. So that the people were seeing this miracle and they would
say well it's a miracle, therefore it comes from a supernatural source.
Well, it either comes from the devil or God, because they're the only
two supernatural sources. And if they're all declaring the wonderful
works of God, you know the devil's not in the business of doing that. So
therefore, the Spirit had staged the deal, getting them altogether
confusing them and then having them hear the wonderful works of God
tying it all into God. And now with that beautiful illustration, that
beautiful stage set, Peter just slips in and just fires away.
The Spirit of God has done all the preparation. And this is a
fantastic sermon. The results, verse 37, look at the results. When
they...I'll give a look at the end before we get there. "And when they
heard this, they were pricked in their heart and they said unto Peter
and to the rest of the apostles, men, brethren, what shall we do." I
mean, they were shook. And verse 41 says, "Three thousand of them were
saved and baptized."
It's wonderful to see Peter doing this, isn't it? That's what's known
as recovery. Now I want to give you a little view of preaching in terms
of what I mentioned earlier, it's content. The word preach, kerusso, is
to proclaim or herald a proclamation. It means to announce a
proclamation. That's kerusso and from the word kerusso comes the noun
kerugma. Now kerugma is preaching the content of the proclamation. When I
get up and preach, what I have said or what I have proclaimed is the
kerugma or the body of proclamation.
And the kerugma in the New Testament was made up always of the same
things. First of all, it centered in Jesus Christ, always. And
throughout the book of Acts it involves the fact, number one, that Jesus
fulfilled Old Testament prophecy. It was always tied into the Old
Testament prophecy. Secondly, it always indicated that Jesus was God in
human flesh. Thirdly, it centered on His life and work, particularly
death and resurrection. Fourthly, it always talked about His second
coming and fifth, it always ended with the fact that salvation was alone
in Him and anybody who rejected it was lost forever.
That was the kerugma. That was the content of the
proclamation. But may I add something very, very important. Apostolic
preaching and all preaching was not just kerugma. It was not just proclamation, it was also didache. Didache is the Greek word for teaching. And didache, from which we get didactic, which has to do with teaching referred to actual reasoning and doctrine so that Christian preaching was a combination of kerugma and didache. And you can spring that on your friends and they'll think you've got the scholars corner on it.
But kerugma and didache made up preaching. There is
no such thing as preaching without content and doctrine. They always
went together. They always overlap in Acts. There's no preaching without
teaching. Frequently for example, in the book of Acts we read that
after one of the apostles had preached, it doesn't say that people were
convicted or converted, it says that people were persuaded. And the very
fact that that term is used indicates that they were going through a
logical process. That there was doctrine involved, that there was a body
of truth. How many times have you heard a cheap presentation of the
gospel that never did start at the beginning and end at the end and then
when the appeal was made, the appeal was made on the basis of nothing
And the only response could be an emotional response. All of the
preaching in the book of Acts and in the New Testament a true apostolic
preaching has integrity my friends. That is it gives the kerugma and the
didache before it ever makes the appeal. Stott says in his book The Preacher's Portrait, you never make an appeal without a correct kerugma. A correct proclamation. And vice versa, you never give the kerugma and the didache without making an appeal.
You say why do you always have an invitation. Just because I believe
that that's what you ought to do. If you're going to ask somebody to do
something, then you ought to give them a chance to do it. The best
example I think of this is Paul in Ephesus. And you know, Paul was there
for two years, because he had a lot to work against, you know. That was
a pagan place. And he argued...the Bible says "he argued daily in the
hall of Tyrannus." And some of the old manuscripts say he argued from
the fifth hour to the tenth hour. That's five hours a day for two years.
Paul argued or reasoned, his preaching was doctrinal preaching.
That's 25,000 plus hours of preaching I figure. That's a lot of
preaching. No wonder the next verse says all the residents of Asia heard
the word of the Lord. And Paul's content was kerugma, proclamation of
Christ and didache, doctrinal instruction, the two go together. So this
we understand then first of all, the importance of preaching and its
priority and secondly we understand the character of preaching.
Now we'll get to my sermon and Peter's. Now as we come to this
sermon, it falls into four parts and really all sermons do. So it's a
perfect pattern of preaching, a good one to teach preaching from. It has
an introduction. It has a proclamation or a body. It has an appeal and
then a result. And all good preaching, incidentally has a result. The
introduction explaining Pentecost, the proclamation exalting Christ, the
appeal exhorting people, and the results examining effects.
Today, we'll only look at the introduction and may not get too far
into that. We'll see. Verse 14, "But Peter standing up with the eleven,"
now that's nothing new for Peter. He was always standing up to say
something only this time it's under the control of the Holy Spirit,
which is a nice change. And you'll notice that he's standing up here
with the eleven and that indicates that Matthias had been absorbed into
the eleven having been selected at the end of Chapter 1 and now the body
of the twelve is complete.
So Peter stands up. Now the moment is fantastic. The Holy Spirit has
set the stage. The people are confused. Their minds are all messed up.
They can't understand what's been going on. From their standpoint
everything is ready. From Peter's standpoint everything is ready. He's
been filled with the Spirit of God. He's about to open his mouth and God
is going to speak and so he stands up. And then I like this, it says
"he lifted up his voice." Oh preachers love that verse, because that's a
wonderful text that grants New Testament precedent for yelling. "And
Peter lifted up his voice." You know some preaching demands that.
I mean, some...you can...I remember in seminary, you know they used
to train us how to do that. You say oh boy I wish they hadn't done that.
But that's part of it. You know, one seminary professor used to tell
his kids that when you get out and you forget your next point, just yell
a lot. And if you don't have anything real solid to say, just really
yell and make it heavy, you see. So one guy got into his pulpit and he
was preaching on the coming of Christ and judgment and he came to the
statement "Behold I come quickly," and he couldn't remember his next
point. And so he decided I better yell and maybe it'll come to me.
"Behold I come quickly," and it didn't come. So he said, I'll try it
again, I'll hit the pulpit. And he hit the pulpit, "Behold I come
quickly," and it still didn't come. And he said I'll try it a third time
and gave it everything he got and hit the pulpit, "Behold I come
quickly," sailed right over and landed in a lady's lap. And he was so
upset and he said "oh ma'am, I am so sorry." She said, "Sorry, why
should you be sorry. You warned me four times."
But nevertheless, Peter lifted up his voice. Now he...when he lifted
up his voice, listen to what he said. If there's anything I love, it's a
positive preacher. "Ye men of Judaea," that is the ones who lived and
resided in there, "and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem," that is you who
have come to sojourn here during the time of the feast, "be this known
unto you and hearken to my words." Oh I like that. Don't you like that? I
heard a preacher not too long ago who got up and I dare say that ten
times during his sermon he said now this is only my opinion and I'm only
giving you what I think and how I see it and you know, my reaction was
well friend go home and get in the book and when you can come and say
thus saith the Lord, then you say it.
If all you've come to do is deliver your opinion or your ideas or
give me the options I'm not interested. And I know one minister who left
the ministry because he could never decide on what the second coming
was all about so he just got out of the ministry. Unfortunately, for him
he couldn't stand it. Fortunately, for everybody else he did get out of
the ministry, lest he confused.
Dear ones, if we can't stand up in the pulpit believing in our heart
that God has put us there and with His truth then we shouldn't be there.
And I don't mean that we're hard-shelled and that we're dogmatic or we
have no right to be, but we better be able to say thus saith the Lord.
And so Peter stood up and I love it, he says, "Be this known unto you
and hearken to my words." He says listen people, I've got something to
say and you better hear it. Don't you like that? That's boldness. Now
where did he get that boldness? That's the same coward who was running
at a little girl asking him if he knew Jesus. What's going on here? He
may be talking to as many as 100,000 people to 200,000 people. Where'd
he get the courage. The Spirit of God gave it to him.
You see Spirit filled Peter is different than plain old Peter. Now
mostly like Peter spoke in Aramaic because that was the vernacular of
Palestine and familiar to everybody. And so he perhaps spoke and they
would all hear, but he begins his sermon with the illustration. And the
illustration bounces off the scene that's just been painted. His
introduction has already been staged by the Holy Spirit. You know, they
used to tell us in seminary that if you can have a good introduction and
really hook the people at the beginning, you've got a really great
start going for you. In other words, if you drag the beginning of your
sermon, it takes them a long time to get warmed up.
Now some people, you know, develop shock type things at the beginning
of their sermon to startle everybody and get their attention, so forth
and so on. Other people teach the idea that what you ought to do is
create confusion at the beginning of your sermon and then when they get
real confused you're there to give the answer. You sort of get their
spiritual salivary glands going and then you feed them. You create a
hunger, and in a sense that's very good. That's very good. And it's
exactly what the Spirit has done here. He's confused these people so
much that they are so hungry to find out what's going on that Peter just
stands up and says here folks I'll tell you. The thing is set. Every
ear was right on Peter. No confusion at all about who they wanted to
listen to. Peter stood up and said now listen to me and I'll tell you
what it's all about.
The Spirit of God had prepared everybody by the languages, the wind,
all of these things had brought it about. I used to talk about having a
grabber at the beginning of your sermon to get your audience. Well, the
Holy Spirit provided a living grabber and they were congregated in one
spot wondering what was going on. A living illustration and in the midst
of that Peter steps up and takes off of that illustration bouncing
right off what had happened and begins his introduction. Now at last,
let's look at verse 15.
Here comes the introduction. "For these are not drunk and ye suppose.
Seeing it is but the third hour of the day." You say well Peter that is
a weak argument for drunkenness. I know people that are drunk before
nine o'clock. What does that prove? Well, that's because you didn't live
in a Jewish culture. No Jew would drink or eat prior to the third hour
of the day which was approximately nine o'clock in the morning. That was
time for morning devotions. They did not eat nor drink until after nine
o'clock. Especially did they not do that on a Sabbath, a feast, or a
festival day, and this indeed was the feast of harvest, Pentecost. And
so no Jew would be drinking by this time and so Peter says simply that.
In other words, the custom was so wide spread and so universal that
Peter only has to appeal to that custom to settle the argument that
they're not drunk. You know better than that, it's only nine o'clock.
They don't even begin to eat or drink until after that. And so he passes
off that and then he wants them to know that the Holy Spirit is doing
it, so he launches into a prophecy from the Old Testament. And of
course, preaching out of the Old Testament to these Jewish people is
really the genius of his approach all through the book of Acts, it's
always that way, because they want to put it in their frame of
So he says, your own prophet Joel prophesied this thing. Beginning at
verse 16, and let me read the whole passage for you and then we'll just
pick it up. Verse 16, "But this is that which was spoken through the
prophet Joel." And then he quotes for Joel. Joel Chapter 2 verse 28-32
and he quotes it. "And it shall come to pass in the last days saith God,
I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh your sons, your daughters
shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall
dream dreams. And on My servants and on My handmaidens I will pour out
in those days of My Spirit and they shall prophesy. And I will show
wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath blood and fire
and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon
into blood before that great and notable day of the Lord come. It shall
come to pass that whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be
Now in this passage that Joel gave, Joel had in mind the kingdom and
the coming of Messiah to reign. That's obvious, because he makes
reference for example in verse 19...pardon me verse 18 "to the pouring
out in those days of my Spirit to the wonders," verse 20, "to the sun
darken and the moon blood," and all these things we see in connection
with the kingdom and the tribulation and other passages and then at the
end of verse 20, the notable day of the Lord. Now the notable is the
terrible day of the Lord. Not notable, but terrible. He's talking about
the day of the Lord. When is the day of the Lord? That's the time when
Jesus comes in judgment to set up His kingdom. This is a kingdom
prophecy. This is Joel's prophecy of the coming of Messiah to set up His
kingdom. And judgment is involved in it isn't it?
When Christ comes, judgment is involved. Now the Jews knew. When
Messiah came He would come first to judge the ungodly and to set up His
glorious kingdom. And so Joel is speaking in a millennial sense, talking
about the kingdom of Israel to be established when Israel is in the
land, the one that was promised throughout the Old Testament. Now notice
this phrase, catch it, verse 17. "It shall come to pass in the last
days." Now this is a very important statement, the last days. A common
Old Testament expression, watch this, get it, "for the messianic times."
The term last days referred to the time when Messiah came. Are you
with that? Throughout all the Old Testament the prophets would speak of
the last days, the last days, the last days, and it always read
reference to the coming time of Messiah. Now mark this, the Old
Testament prophets saw no such thing as the church or the great age of
grace as we know it. They didn't see that. It's not in the Old
Testament. They only saw that Messiah would come and set up His kingdom
in one big thing.
For example, Isaiah Chapter 9, "A child is born," and the next thing
it says, "the government shall be," what, "upon His shoulders." They
didn't see anything in the middle. They saw a child born and a king
reigning with nothing in between. That's why Paul says the church,
that's us, slapped in the middle of the first and second comings of
Jesus is a mystery, right? That fact means that it was hidden from the
Old Testament saints. Only Paul discloses it in Ephesians 3 as the
Spirit revealed it to him. The whole church thing, what we're living in
is the mystery kingdom. We're living in the mystery form right now that
never was seen in the Old Testament. The Jews of the Old Testament only
saw Christ the Messiah coming and reigning and they saw nothing in the
middle. They didn't expect a 2,000 year parenthesis to intervene.
What reason would a Jew have, for example, hearing the word of Daniel
reading the instruction of Daniel to assume that there's going to be at
least 2,000 years between the 69thand the 70thweek
of Daniel, no reason at all. In other words, they only saw Messiah
coming in full glory. And therefore, when Messiah came it was the last
days. Now I'll tell you something very simple. Put it in your
theological file, you're living in the last days. Everybody's been
living in the last days since Jesus arrived to minister.
The Jewish last days began 2,000 years ago, did you now that? That's
right. The Jewish last days began 2,000 years ago with the arrival of
Messiah. They will be completed when the setting of the kingdom takes
place. It just so happens that the last days has stretched at least in
the 2,000 years. You say why so? Because God graciously is calling a
people from the Gentiles. And secondly, because God in chastisement is
punishing Israel for unbelief.
And when God gets through calling together the fullness of the
Gentiles and gets through gathering and regathering Israel to the land,
then the last days will be consummated. Now Paul writing to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:1 and 2 Timothy 3:1,
talks about the last days there, but he's talking about the last days
of the church. That the interval of 2,000 years that we've been living
in, I believe we're living in the last days of that. Do you believe
that? Do you believe Jesus is coming soon? Do you believe the rapture is
soon? Then we're not only in the last days of Israel and have been for
2,000 years, but we're in the last days of the church.
But you see this is a Jewish context. And so he says it shall come to
pass in the last days. And the last days were messianic times and the
Messiah had come so it was the last days. The last days began with the
arrival of Jesus. Let me prove that to you by showing you several
verses. 1 Peter 1:20
says this, it's talking about Christ, the Lamb without blemish and
without spot. And verse 20 days, "Who verily truly was for ordained
before the foundation of the world?" Jesus was, wasn't He?
Then he says this, "But was manifest in these last times for you." Do
you know that the last times began when Jesus was manifest? Hebrews 1:2, 1:1,
"God at sundry times and in diverse manners spake in time past unto the
fathers hath in these," what, "last days spoken unto us," what, "by His
Son." Jesus came in the last days. Listen to this, 1 John 2:18,
"Little children it is the last time." You see that's an eschatological
term for messianic time. And you have the same thing clearly indicated
in Hebrews 9:26.
And that statement shows that they really believed that the last time
began with Messiah. The writer of Hebrews says this, "But now once in
the end of the ages hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of
Himself." When they saw Messiah come and die, they said gang it's the
end of the ages.
And Peter says in 1 Peter Chapter 4, verse 7, "The end of all things
is at hand." He didn't know there'd be 2,000 years in there. Nobody knew
there'd be 2,000 years, because of those times and seasons no man
knows. And so everybody, since the time of Peter, lived as if Jesus was
coming in the next moment to set up His kingdom, because the last times
have already begun 2,000 years ago.
And so the last days of Israel began with the coming of Messiah to
summarize so you'll understand it. The kingdom was not brought at that
time because you see when Israel wouldn't believe the kingdom had to be
postponed. Until Israel could be regathered, redeemed. And then once
they believe again, the kingdom will come and the last days will come to
an end. So Peter is right to apply this text. People said well, Peter
blew it here. He didn't apply the right text. He's exactly right, it is
the last days.
Now, let me give you another thought hang on here. But all of the
things of this prophecy haven't been fulfilled have they? No, just the
very smattering of the beginnings. They can't all be fulfilled til all
the last days is wrapped up, right? It's easy to understand if you just
interpret it dispensationally. Prophecy will be completely fulfilled at
the beginning of the millennium as Christ comes and the great judgment
at the end of the tribulation and then He sets up His kingdom and then
the visions and dreams and prophesying and all of that's going to take
place, and all of the wonders in the heavens and in the earth. And the
day of the Lord as well.
So what does Peter say? Saying this, what you see is the beginning of
the end. The beginning of the last days. Now you're not seeing the full
fulfillment of it, but you're seeing what Dr. Feinberg coined the
prefillment. In other words, a preliminary fulfillment. I'll show you
what I mean. Verse 17, "It shall come to pass in the last days saith
God, I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh." Has that happened? He's
poured out His Spirit, right? On all flesh? Wrong.
That's kingdom. All flesh in the kingdom, why? Because when the
kingdom begins the only people who will be in the kingdom at the start
will be believers. And so all of them will receive the Spirit. But at
this time, He has poured out His Spirit. We've begun to see what it will
be like in the kingdom. Because the last days began with Jesus Christ,
in a prefillment sense. And I'll take you a step further to help you
grab this, because it's important. Everything that's going to happen in
the kingdom has already begun to happen in a kind of a prefillment sense
already in our lives. We live in a kind of a mystery form of that
kingdom but the full millennial earthly kingdom is yet to come.
Now in this form that we live in, a mystery form of the kingdom, we
experience some of the things that are going to be fully in the kingdom.
For example, during the kingdom, the Spirit will be poured out on all
flesh, but during the mystery kingdom, the Spirit's poured out on us,
right? Titus 3, "That He has poured out His Spirit abundantly upon us
all." In the kingdom there is perfect peace. Is there perfect peace in
the world now? No, but there is my heart.
In the kingdom, Jesus Christ reigns. Does He reign in the world now?
No, but He reigns in my life. In the kingdom, Christ is the judge of all
things. He is the one that brings all things to light. In my life He is
just the same by His Spirit convicting me and revealing things to me.
To see everything that is going to take place in the kingdom in a
pre-sense is now living within me in the form of the Spirit.
So what Peter is simply saying is that. He's saying friends, you've
seen the beginning of the last days. And what is going to come to a full
fruition in the great kingdom has already begun to be seen at
Pentecost. Do you see how he is explaining to them what happened at
Pentecost? And tying it right in with the prophecy of the Old Testament
and with their own God, and showing them that it is the last days? And
so Peter bounces right off that living illustration with great power.
Well, look at the verses just individually and we'll just look at
them very quickly. "I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh and your
sons and your daughters shall prophesy and your young men shall see
visions and your old men shall dream dreams." Old men don't see visions
as well evidently. They get tired easier and God communicates to them in
sleep. But whether you're awake or sleep at that time is going to be
visions or dreams. God's going to communicate whether you're awake or
sleep, and men are going to prophesy.
You say what does all that mean? I haven't got the faintest idea. I
have no idea. I read my Bible just like you and it says that and then it
stops at the end of verse 17 and that's where I stop. But that's
talking...mark it, that's not talking about now. I'm not saying
everybody go out and get a vision. That isn't the point. If anybody
comes to me and says I had a vision, oh I worry. I ask them first of
all, what did you eat before you went to bed. The point here is this is
millennial. This is talking about the period of the time when Messiah
comes to set up His kingdom, then there's...God's going to communicate
directly through dreams and visions and through prophesying.
And verse 18, "On My servants and on My handmaidens, I'll pour out in
those days of My Spirit and they shall prophesy." There's going to be
some fantastic things going on in the kingdom as God works His Word
through individuals. I don't know what that means. I just know that's
what it says. And I'll be around at the time of the kingdom and I'll
find out and so will you if you know Christ. But I'm not going to worry
Like Mark Twain said, "It's not what I don't know that bothers me,
it's what I do know." Verse 19, "Also at the time of the kingdom, I will
show wonders in heaven above, signs in the earth beneath, blood and
fire and vapor of smoke." And here he specifically mentions some things
that are going to happen around the time of the coming of Christ. Don't
you see the power of putting this Old Testament kingdom passage right
into the issue there at Pentecost to show them how critical it was that
they move. Peter didn't know when Jesus was coming back. For all he knew
He'd back in three days or one day.
Do you see the urgency? He didn't know when this was going to happen,
but it fired him up. I think so many of us, because it's been so long
have lost some of that fire. But Peter says it's going to be like this,
quoting from Joel, "blood, fire, vapor of smoke." And you know something
if you read the book the Revelation which details the end times for us
when Messiah does come back you read about just those three things.
For example, I read about blood in Chapter 6, verse 7, Revelation.
We're skipping 7, it says in verse 8, "Power was given unto them over
the fourth part of the earth to kill with sword, with hunger, with
death, with the beasts of the earth." There's going to be blood
unbelievably streaming about the earth in that great terrible fourth
seal, which is death. And then in moving through Revelation Chapter 8,
we find it again in 7, 8:7, "The first angel sounded, there followed
hail and fire mixed with blood." Verse 8, "Fire was cast into the sea
and a third part of the sea became blood." And on and on it goes. In
Chapter 9:15, it says, "And the four angels were loosed who were
prepared for an hour and a day and a month and a year to slay the third
part of men." Bloodshed as one-third of the population of the world
And then further on in Chapter 14, that most remarkable verse 20,
"And the wine press was trodden outside the city and blood came out of
the wine press even to the horses bridles by the space of a thousand six
hundred furlongs." Blood five feet deep covering 200 miles. And on and
on it goes. Chapter 16, verse 3, there it is again, "blood like the dead
man, the sea turns to blood." And then we find in the book of
Revelation also fire indicated at the time when Jesus comes back.
Chapter 8, verse 5 talks about the censer filled with fire and cast to
the earth. Verse 7 of the same chapter talks about fire again. Verse 8
talks about fire again, cast into the sea. Verse 10, burning fire cast
into the area of the rivers and the fountains of waters.
And then as we read Chapter 9, we read about the smoke as the demons
ascend out of the pit. All of these things are pictures of the coming
judgment of Christ when He returns. Then in verse 20 it tells us
something more. "It says the sun shall be turned into darkness and the
moon into blood. And before that great notable day of the Lord come."
Now isn't it amazing that although they hadn't seen all of these things,
they had in fact, seen wonders in heaven, hadn't they? They heard the
sound. And they had not only seen that, but they had seen wonders in the
earth. The miracles of the languages. Not only that, what happened all
over the place at the death of Jesus Christ? Darkness covered the earth.
Verse 20, "The sun shall be turned to darkness." So you see in that
same kind of preliminary way, they had begun to experience what the
fullness of the great and terrible day of the Lord was going to be like.
The sun shall be turned to darkness, the moon to blood. We read in
Matthew Chapter 24 an indication of that in the direct words of Jesus in
talking about the time of His coming to set up His kingdom. Matthew 24:29,
"Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun shall be dark
and the moon shall not give its light. The stars shall fall from heaven,
the powers of the heaven shall be shaken and then shall appear the sign
of the Son of Man in heaven and then shall all the tribes of the earth
mourn and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven
with power and great glory."
You see there Jesus' coming is again tied with the wonders in heaven.
As we saw in Revelation the wonders in earth as well. And so before
that great and terrible day of the Lord, these wonders shall occur. Now
the term the day of the Lord has to do with the coming of Christ in
judgment. It is a term that refers to the coming of Christ during the
tribulation and at His second coming when He judges. It's a terrifying
term. It's an Old Testament term for judgment. So you see what Peter
does? He ties this whole thing together as the fulfillment of prophecy
with a powerful urgency that messianic times have already begun. It is
the last days and he wraps it up with Joel's great climax in verse 21.
"And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the
Lord shall be saved."
A natural question would be at this point coming to the end of verse
20, how do you get out of it, right? So he says it shall be those that
call upon the name of the Lord. Do you see what he's doing? He's driving
into their hearts the need for salvation. And then as we'll see next
week, he begins in verse 22 to show them who it is and it is alone that
can save them, you see?
The power of this sermon, the way it has been carried, led of the
Spirit of God brings him right up to the fact that you need to be saved
and you need to be saved now and here's how. Through Jesus Christ and
Him alone. Let's pray.
Father, we thank You for what we've learned this morning. Thank You
for tremendous truths of the Word. And Lord we are so thankful too for
the wonder of preaching, for what we learned from Peter for how the Holy
Spirit set the stage for him. And then how filled with the Spirit he
simply stood up and opened his mouth. And he quoted from Joel and so fit
the scene. And how he pressed to their hearts the urgency of these
coming judgments and oh Father we know those Jews gathered that day
understood what he meant when he said the terrible day of the Lord.
Father, how their hearts must have been burning inside of the them.
They had seen such miracles. They had seen them a sign to their own God.
They had seen them from Peter's lips as the fulfillment of their own
prophesies. And how their urgency must have been gripping them and then
to have Peter say you need to be saved from this coming judgment.
Father, we just thank You for the Spirit of God's preparation and
then that Peter could from there and teach them how to come to Jesus
Christ and be saved. Father we learned so much about how we should
present the gospel from this. Thank You for teaching us. Father, we know
too that there are some here this morning with us to whom we would say
it is the last days. Indeed, for Israel that began 2,000 years ago, but
we believe it is the last days for the church and Jesus is coming so
And we even look up, for our redemption draws nigh. And Father, we
would not have anyone leave this place even today who doesn't know Jesus
Christ who has not yet been saved. We pray Lord that Your Spirit will
do a work of conviction and bring that one to Christ. And Father for
those of us who are Christians, challenge us with priorities in our
lives of fearlessly and boldly proclaiming Jesus Christ whatever the
Father, raise up from this congregation preachers, holy men who will
speak Your truth with power. And Father maybe there are some whose
hearts are even challenged this morning that You are speaking to about
this, but Lord for all us as Christians, help us catch something of
Peter's urgency. If blessed Peter could be so fired up and so urgent
2,000 years ago, oh Lord, what must be our urgency? Challenge our hearts
Lord with these truths. In Jesus' name. Amen.