Thursday, July 15

One Little Question for You

Weeding, as anyone who's ever done much of it knows, leaves lots of time for thinking. So I've been doing a bit of thinking--not straightforward, directed thinking, but the mind wandering sort. The sort with not a lot of answers, but lots of questions. I thought I'd let you in on one thing I've been thinking about and solicit your feedback.

Did you ever notice the ending of Peter's sermon at Pentecost? I suppose we might call this an evangelistic message, and the results, of course, tell us it was a successful evangelistic message. But have you ever paid much attention to the actual content of the sermon proper?

Peter spends a bit of the middle of the sermon telling them something like this: God sent the Messiah you were waiting for--yep, that's right, He was here, and the miracles proved it--and you took Him and killed Him. And here is Peter's ending sentence:
Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified. (Acts 2:36 ESV)
If I paraphrase that last sentence a bit, he's saying something like, "The Messiah God sent and you crucified is now ruler over all." Or, to paraphrase even more, "You are in deep doo-doo!" That's it. The end of the sermon.

No pretty little carrot of hope dangled in that! The hope comes later. What is amazing is that 3000 of the listeners were "cut to the heart" with that message, and cried out to the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" They understood completely how terrible what they had done was and the deep trouble they were in. And that's where the hope came in, because Peter's answer to their question was this,
Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.
And of course, you know the rest of the story. So, considering the content of the sermon itself--I'd rather not get into all the usual debates that the few verses following seem to cause--my questions is this:

Should this be a model for us of a good evangelistic message? Why or why not? Even if you think that this sort of sermon would not be appropriate today, is there anything we can learn from it?
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