Acts 2:14 But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words.
The Book of Acts is invaluable when it comes to learning the importance of preaching, and how the Word of God is to be preached. The Book of Acts' official title is "The Acts of the Apostles". Other writers of times past have deemed it "the Acts of the Holy Spirit" since the Holy Spirit or His "acts" are mentioned some 40 times throughout the book. In this post today I would like to consider the book of Acts from the standpoint of seeing what we can learn about those who preached and the sermons they delivered.
1. The Book of Acts is a Book of Sermons
The Book of Acts could be nicknamed "The Acts of preaching" since roughly 20 sermons or portions of sermons are recorded:
a. 1 by Jesus, God in human flesh, in Acts 1
b. 5 by Peter, an Apostle, in Acts 2,3,4,13.
c. 1 by Stephen, a Deacon in Acts 7
d. 1 by Phillip, a Deacon in Acts 8
e. 1 by James, half brother of Jesus according to the flesh and biblical author in Acts 15
f. 11 by Paul, an Apostle in Acts 9, 13,14,15, 17, 20,21,24,26 & 28.
2. The significance of preaching in the early church
In surveying all of these sermons, here is what you discover about their contents and significance:
a. 10 of the sermons focused on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ
b. Many of the sermons focused on the Actor of salvation, Jesus Christ; the accomplishment of Christ's cross and resurrection and the application of salvation to all who believe by the Holy Spirit
c. All the sermons were saturated with scripture and explained contemporary situations in light of those scriptures
d. The early church as a movement did not progress nor see conversions apart from the sermons preached. The early church's central ministry had to do with the preaching of the Word that equipped it to do its main task: the great commission.
3. There was opposition to preaching in the book of Acts
Every message recorded in the Book of Acts had some type of direct or indirect opposition. Peter had to deal with many of the Jews who opposed the early church and heretics that threatened the church. In the book of Acts, we see people attempting to twist and change the message preached by the Apostles. Such oppositions and persecution drove the church to its knees and made the preaching much bolder, better and clearer. Rather than abandoning preaching, we see preaching only increase throughout the book of Acts.
In this brief survey of preaching in the Book of Acts, we discover that God ordained preaching as His primary vehicle of communicating the scriptures to the church at large. Jesus Christ, the head of the church, uses preaching to strengthen the church in times of opposition and urges His church to retain the practice of heeding the preaching of God's Word. The essential elements of the message of scripture and the scriptures themselves are the marks of true biblical preaching. Without the preaching of God's Word, the church would lose its direction and identity as Christ's main vehicle for carrying forth His great commission. May we all today pray for those who preach the Word. May those of us who preach the Word live the Word we preach. May all of us be faithful to the Lord and do His bidding, His way and for His glory.