Title: The Gospel Unleashed - Unleashed by the Proclamation of Truth

Part 2

Sermon Summary 

This message is the second half of a sermon on how Peter's willingness to proclaim the truth on the Day of Pentecost changed the world. Had he not been willing to share the very hard truths he shared there would have been tragic consequences for those listening as well as for the future of the gospel message. It is so tempting in today's world to go easy on the truth in the name of love. However, we are not helping people find the life God desires for them to have if we are unwilling to stand on the eternal truths and principles of God's Holy Word. On the other hand, if we stand on those truths and share them in a non-loving, condescending or condemning way, we do no better. There's an old saying that people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. I believe Peter cared deeply for the people he was speaking to and I also believe he was a changed man who spoke with conviction and yet with great humility. His effectiveness speaks for itself. Over three thousand gave their hearts and lives to Christ that day. 

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. What went through your mind as you were watching video from Voice of the Martyrs about their founder's torture? If you didn't get to watch it you can follow this link to see it... Watch VIDEO!
 
2. How did Jesus respond to his persecutors?
Luke 23:33-34 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father,forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
 
3. Given your past experience when your faith was challenged how do you think you would react in a persecution situation?
Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
 
4. Peter spoke the harsh truth in a loving way and he changed thousands of lives and  gave birth to the New Testament church. Why is it so important that we speak the truth in love? 

Romans 10:12-17 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

Full Sermon Notes

Unleashed by the Proclamation of Truth Part 2

"No longer a slave to fear I am a child of God!" How powerful is that? Very! Everyone in this room has been offered deliverance and liberation from bondage. But here's the truth you must understand: You have to accept that deliverance and allow God to liberate you! You might ask, liberate me from what? Well that's a good question, and here in America we would list things like...greed, selfishness, lust, anger, fear, worry, resentment, disappointment, dissatisfaction, bitterness, depression, hopelessness and there are many others you could put on the list. But here's something we don't often think about and we should. There are Christians in many parts of the world and the deliverance they need is deliverance from persecution. We don't yet face it like they do. Persecution is not new for Christians. It started with the persecution of Jesus. He spoke truth and was persecuted and then crucified because He spoke out. He spoke truth with great conviction, but also with great love. Yet they crucified Him. There have been others who followed His example and were persecuted and even martyred for Christ.

Today, before our message we will watch a 6 minute clip from the movie "Tortured for Christ" that will come out next year. It is a true story about the founder of "Voice of the Martyrs", Richard Wurmbrand. I must let you know there are some scenes of torture that are not appropriate for young children. So either cover their eyes or step out during this six minutes. After the video I will pray and I ask you to be praying as well for the persecuted Christians who unleash the gospel by proclaiming the truth at great personal cost. So please take your seats and prepare to be personally challenged in your commitment to Christ and His message of truth!

Watch VIDEO!

Let's pray!
Father God thank You so much for Richard's amazing testimony! A man who would begin a mighty movement of God because of his faithful proclamation of the truth! I'm so amazed that his desire to reach the lost with your love was more important to him than personal comfort. As I watched this I thought how he could have prayed lying in bed! He could have prayed silently and avoided the beatings. Did he have to get on his knees with folded hands? No, you would have heard his prayers no matter his physical position, but had he prayed silently and secretly his captors would not have witnessed his faith and would not have heard the gospel. God help me to love with that kind of love and to have that kind of commitment to Your truth! Lord, today we pray for the persecuted believers around the world. Please give them the strength and the power to be a witness to their captors. I pray for their families who suffer so much. I pray also for their persecutors because You loved them and died for them. I pray they will see Your love in the very people they are persecuting and come to know Your mercy and grace. Please hide me behind the cross now, as I proclaim Your truth to this precious congregation! In Jesus Name I pray and I believe. Amen.

Last week we looked at Jesus' commitment to the truth of God's Word. We also saw how those who rejected that truth used all manner of lies and deception to accuse Jesus of wrongdoing. Jesus loved them so much but He was not willing to compromise the truth even though He knew it would lead to the cross. In fact, when Jesus was asked by Pilate what He had done to be arrested…

John 18:36-38 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.” “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” “What is truth?” Pilate asked. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.

But Pilate was more concerned with protecting his position and power, than the truth, so in order to please those who wanted Jesus dead, he freed a true criminal and insurrectionist named Barabbas and had Jesus flogged and crucified. We also talked last week about how Peter had denied knowing Jesus when he thought he might be arrested and put on a trial with Him. Jesus turned and looked at Peter after the third denial and Peter went out and wept bitterly. But later, Jesus gave Peter the chance to repent of each denial. All of this uniquely qualified Peter to proclaim God's truth to the people of Israel and others who had gathered together on the Day of Pentecost. We saw how Peter used the Old Testament prophecies of Joel to remind the Jewish people of how their own Scriptures had foretold what was happening on that day. We also discovered that the context of the prophecy included the following words from God to the Hebrew people...

Joel 2:12-14 “Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing —grain offerings and drink offerings for the LORD your God.

This was exactly the message the Hebrew people of Jesus' day needed to hear and they were about to hear it in a powerful way. So let me remind you of one more thing from last week. Peter is standing before the very people who had crucified Jesus around 50 days earlier, some of the very people he had been so afraid of when he denied knowing Jesus, and Peter says this to them...

Acts 2:22-24 “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

Now about this time I'm thinking "Wow, Peter is going to get himself killed! He just came right out and told them they were responsible for crucifying the promised Messiah, the Savior, the Christ, the One whose name meant Yahweh delivers." But Peter knew these people needed to head Joel's advice and repent and they would never repent if they were not confronted with the truth. Remember, what I said last week. Peter was now a very humble man. He probably felt some of the same responsibility for the death of Jesus because he didn't stand up for Him, but denied Him. So Peter wasn't acting like he was all better than everyone else. But you can have great humility and still hold on to strong convictions. You don't have to sacrifice your beliefs in order to love others. In fact, never forget this, speaking truth without love is just mean, but love without truth, at best leaves people in their brokenness, and at worst leaves people in their lostness. Jesus was not willing to do that and Peter was not willing to do that. So now the moment we've all been waiting for. What did Peter tell them next and what was their response?Paul once again goes to their own Scriptures and to one of their most beloved and historic leaders, King David. Peter continues his sermon...

Acts 2:25-28 David said about him: “ ‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’

This is so powerful!!! King David testifies that his belief in the promised Messiah is what gave him hope in life and in death. He said he saw the Lord always before him and because He was at his right hand he would not be shaken and his heart would be glad and his tongue rejoices. I believe this indicates that Jesus was the very inspiration for many of David's songs in the book of Psalms. King David even had hope for a resurrection someday and at the time David wrote those words very few people believed in the after life. And even in Jesus' day many of the Jewish leaders and teachers of the law dismissed any future resurrection. The Sadducees totally rejected resurrection although the Pharisees still held out hope. They would often fight about the subject. But here's the truth Peter is trying to get them to see. Jesus had literally risen from the dead. He knew they wouldn't believe his testimony or the others so he again turns to Scripture. And listen to what he says next...

Acts 2:29-32 “Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.

So here's what Peter was telling them: You know David was not just talking about himself in these passages, because you can go to his tomb and he's still in it! He was a prophet and was talking about the Messiah, the Christ! That Jesus was not abandoned to the grave, nor did His body see decay. God had indeed raised Jesus from the grave! His tomb was empty. Peter continues his message...

Acts 2:33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.

What does that mean? Well, for starters, Peter makes it clear in verse 33 Jesus was exalted at the right hand of God and was given the authority to pour out The Holy Spirit of God on those who would believe. Peter reminds them of yet another promise in there Holy Scriptures found in Isaiah 61:ff and it's one Jesus had quoted in Luke 4:16-21...

Luke 4:16-21 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

So Peter is proclaiming amazing truth to these people. They are stunned and amazed to say the least. They had never heard their Scriptures explained in such an understandable fashion. Peter continues...

Acts 2:34-35 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, “ ‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” ’

Now what does this mean? Peter is pointing out to the people that Jesus was indeed Divine and that David had prophesied this many years before. The Messiah, The Christ, that David believed would someday come and who he had been promised by God would be one of his descendants, that Messiah was indeed Divine. How so? While David had never ascended to heaven he had been given a glimpse into heaven and he told us what he saw...

Acts 2:34-35 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, “ ‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” ’

So if David, speaking of Almighty God, says, "The Lord said to my Lord:" "Sit at my right hand…" then that indicates that the Messiah, the Christ, is not just a another prophet, but is actually Divine! God taking on human flesh and making Himself known to humanity. And the people listening are now putting 2 and 2 together and Peter was a fisherman so he knew it was time to draw the net. He says...

Acts 2:36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

A second time he proclaims the truth of what they had done. He wasn't trying to be mean or to rub it in what they had done, but he needed to be sure they understood their guilt and their culpability in what had happened. And now that they understood clearly what David had prophesied about the Messiah they had to be confronted with the truth that they had crucified their own Messiah. Why? Because without a knowledge of wrongdoing and a repentant spirit and attitude, people will perish in their sin. They will remain in bondage. They will not find the freedom God so desperately wants them to find. Do you remember the first words out of John the Baptist's mouth when he started his ministry to prepare the way for Jesus?

Matthew 3:1-3 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ ”

And then the words of Jesus when He began His ministry...

Matthew 4:17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

Repent means to turn from the wickedness that will destroy you and turn to the righteous ways of God that will bring you life. I'm not talking about trying to earn your salvation by doing enough good things, you could never do enough or be good enough to deserve God's love! I'm talking about admitting there are things in your life that are not Godly and asking for forgiveness and mercy and allowing the love of God to change your heart and life through the sacrifice Jesus made on that Old Rugged Cross! And that's exactly what Peter was talking about! Okay, now the moment we've all been waiting for since last Sunday. Now that we know what Peter told them, what was their response?

Acts 2:37-41 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “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. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off —for all whom the Lord our God will call.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

What would have happened if Peter had decided to not proclaim the truth because the people might have been offended by his message? Well, three thousand people would have missed out on the good news, the love, the forgiveness, the mercy, and the daily presence of Jesus Christ in their lives by way of the Holy Spirit. And the New Testament Church would not have been given birth. And there's a real possibility you and I would never have heard the message that not only saved our souls for eternity, but the message that has changed our lives here on earth and given us purpose and meaning. And this church I love so much might never have been planted. Thank God for Peter's willingness to unleash the gospel by proclaiming the truth!

Let's pray!