PROCLAIMING CHRIST'S REIGN
Intro to Acts 2
- The church is waiting and praying. Now the gift of empowerment that Jesus
promised is delivered. It is noticed by the crowd
- The spirit enables them to speak out boldly and proclaim
- But even more - The crowd is enabled to hear in their own languages. It is not that
the apostles preach it in various languages. People from every nation. Each one
hears in own dialect
- In their own language they hear the Greatness of God. They were amazed.
Speaking to each other about this: What does this mean? Some critics say -
Acts 2:14 - 36 (Peter's Sermon - Let's give attention to this first proclamation
of the church)
God gives the church its voice and message through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We
are heralds of the kingdom rule of God emerging into the world. Peter's sermon can
show us the basics of our continuing message and proclamation ...
Borrowing statements from the letters of Paul and Peter, let us consider how we
continue to proclaim Christ's kingdom in the same way Peter did on Pentecost ...
- We Believe Therefore We Speak
But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with
scripture--"I believed, and so I spoke"--we also believe, and so we speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with
Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. - 2 Corinthians 4:13-14
- When the apostles spoke, they spoke as witnesses. They were doing more than
simply articulating their personal convictions. They were doing more than
proposing a philosophy or theory. They spoke out of their experience of God's
- In 2 Peter 1:16, Peter grounds his message in the fact that he and the other
apostles were eyewitnesses of Christ's majesty and that conforms to the
message of the prophets.
- In I John, John says that he and the other apostles declare "what was from
the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what
we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life.
- Paul's ministry and message are rooted in his experience on the road to
Damascus where he encountered the Risen Christ.
- These may be slightly different personal experiences, but they have one
thing in common - Christ, the crucified one, is risen from the dead and
exalted as Lord. That reality is transforming. It's implications are striking.
- Usually when we experience something we try and fit that experience into one of
well-known categories. But the experience of Jesus, the risen Lord, rearranges our
categories. (Consider how radically Paul's life is changed).
- Consider what this means for us: Our proclamation of the gospel is more than just
a debate with others about our personal beliefs versus theirs. (Remember that
Peter doesn't spend much time refuting the critics who claim he is drunk). Rather
our proclamation is of something new.
- The definition of news - We report, you decide. We can speak of the news
of God. We witness his actions, we report his work.
- Is this objective or subjective? It is both. Certainly God has made Christ Lord -
regardless of how you or I respond to that. This is objective. (Note: that Peter does
not invite the crowd to make Jesus Lord of their Life but he affirms that God has
made Christ Lord regardless of their response or invitation). Nevertheless, there
is a place for us to speak of our subjective experience of Christ's lordship. How has
it changed me? How do I see the world differently? The apostles do this. This has
its place because we experience this news about God as something wonderfully
We declare the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people,
in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of
darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are
God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
- 1 Peter 2:9-10
- When the apostles claim that salvation is found in no other name than Jesus, they
are not being crude and intolerant. Their primary agenda is not to condemn other
views. Rather, they first proclaim what is unique and exceptional about the gospel.
They are speaking from experience of the mercy and goodness of what God has
done. (Recall that Peter betrayed Christ and was restored. Recall that Paul was
a persecutor yet he was spared and received by others with forgiveness). They
simply state that God has done something unique to overcome the powers of sin
and evil. So, this is the only real hope. There just isn't an alternative.
- When Oprah Winfrey (among others) says that there are many paths to God, it
assumes that God is out there waiting to be found by us. And even if we disagree
with many paths we sometimes operate under the assumption that God needs to
be found by us. But the reason why the apostolic news is so good is that God is not
hiding while we seek him - he has arrived and revealed his grace in Jesus Christ.
That's why the Hebrew writer says these are such incredible days because Long
ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in
these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things,
through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God's glory and the
exact imprint of God's very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word.
When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the
Majesty on high ... - Hebrews 1:1-4
- Consider what this means for us: When we proclaim the uniqueness of God's
kingdom rule it is not from arrogance (as though we found the path to God) but from
humility - God has found all of us. Paul seems to express this humility when he
says to the Galatians (4:8-9) Formerly, when you did not know God, you were
enslaved to beings that by nature are not gods. Now, however, that you have
come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again
to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits?
- Our proclamation is not arrogant - it cannot be - for it isn't about us, rather it is
about God. Although the news we proclaim is about the great things that are
exclusive to God and that goodness is exceptional with God, we never have the
right to claim this is exclusive among us! For God extends his grace to all who hear
and respond in trust. The story of the book of Acts describes how Israel discovers
that God's mercy and love includes the Gentiles. God has empowered us to send
out the invitation, but he hasn't authorized us to make the guest list!
Speaking the Truth in Love
But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the
head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every
ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the
body's growth in building itself up in love. - Ephesians 4:15-16
- Words have creative power. God spoke the world into being with words. Adam had
authority to name creatures. Apostles are empowered to speak and the result of
that empowerment is not just an argument to consider or a sermon to compliment,
it is a new reality - this is Kingdom breaking in.
- The result of Peter's Spirit-Powered Sermon is new creation. Not only are language
barriers overcome (reversal of Babel) but also social and political ones Luke
describes the church as a new community quite different from anything we know -
- A witness to the power of words is marriage: "By the authority invested in me I
pronounce you man and wife" - that's more than just flowery speech. That is
witness and proclamation of a new reality: two are now one! This is why discussion
about the meaning and definition of marriage are not primarily political issues they
are first Kingdom of God issues. May the law of the land conform to God's
proclamation (so I pray) but if not we still know who has the only final authority to
create with words and speech.
This calls on us to do more that just speak out against what is not (wrong) it calls
on us to proclaim what is true and good. If we cannot do that, then we must remain
silent for we will not be proclaiming Christ's Kingdom - no, we will just be griping.
Unfortunately, there's been too much griping passed off as "biblical preaching."
What's the difference?
When Peter called the crowd to realize that they had crucified God's Messiah it
would have been griping if his only goal was to make them feel bad or to prove how
terrible they were. (And wouldn't that have been hypocritical on Peter's part - after
all where was he when Jesus was on trial?) Griping offers no hope. But to the
people who were suddenly feeling hopeless and lost because they had crucified
their rescuer and promised King Peter speaks for God when he says - "Repent, and
be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be
forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you,
for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God
calls to him." (Acts 2:38)
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 2 May 2004
Link to next sermon
Link to other sermons of Chris Benjamin