The DEEP

Peter Leaves Out the Altar Call.

Is this a gospel sermon or not?

Acts 2:22-28 (ESV)

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

For David says concerning him, ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’”

Now Peter gets to the point. Jesus of Nazareth who did mighty works and wonders and signs was crucified and killed. But, God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

This is the gospel? Where’s the part about our going to heaven? What about His crucifixion paying for our sins? Where’s the part about saying “Jesus is Lord”? Where’s the altar call?

They’re all not here – and they’re not in the rest of Peter’s sermon either. Peter’s message isn’t about us; it’s about Jesus – His resurrection and what that means. Everything in Christianity is based on the resurrection. If Jesus is not raised, it all crumbles.

And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. – 1 Corinthians 15:14

But Peter’s not done. This goes somewhere. The resurrection fulfills messianic prophesy from David. Therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope.

Jesus is the Holy One. Salvation has arrived.


This is the most important sermon in the history of Christianity and yet, by many people’s standards, it doesn’t contain the gospel. We have become so used to a message where the gospel is all about us, that the Pentecost sermon itself seems off the mark.

We’re off the mark. We need to stop worshipping ourselves and stop singing about ourselves. Next time you sing a hymn, count up all the times the words “I,” “me,” and “my” occur. Divide that by the total number of words in the song to get the “me index.” The doxology has a me index of 0. Don’t be surprised if every song you sing in church on Sunday has a me index above 10%. Some are above 30%!

Something’s wrong.


The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.