Peter Delivers the Good News by Chewing Everyone Out

And yet, it's still all good news.

Acts 3:14-26 (ESV)

“But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.

“And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”

The sermons in Acts are weird. Sure, they are brilliant and successful, but you’ll never hear a sermon like them. This one is amazingly high pressure. It almost sounds like a “good cop/bad cop” routine. “We know you were in on it, but you acted in ignorance. If you’ll play ball with us, we can get the judge to have your record blotted out.” This seems over the top, but it’s not – for this audience.

In a way, this isn’t a sermon at all; it’s a confrontational conversation. It’s not unlike when Nathan confronted David, except that a whole bunch of people are in the same shoes and can be given the same message. And so, a tongue lashing comes out as a sermon.

Mass tongue lashings are rare; the lesson here is about one-on-one interactions. Notice that, despite the harsh rhetoric, Peter’s message is oozing with hope. That’s the secret sauce.

Whether you’re confronting someone with the gospel, or just confronting them, the key is to give them hope. Despair is never the answer and never the right ending. But know this – confrontation done right is very powerful evangelism. However, “done right” means making the kind of airtight case Peter made.

Do you know someone who could use some confrontation? Have you avoided confronting them because you don’t know what to say? Have you built an airtight case? Is the ending hopeful? Is the problem that you left out the gospel?

Don’t assume confrontation is always the right move. If you haven’t resolved the questions above, you’re not ready.

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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.