One of the greatest sermons in church history is Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost. Jesus promised His disciples they would be His witnesses in Acts 1, and the rest is history. Peter, John, Stephen, Philip, and Paul preached the gospel throughout Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria. Peter's sermon in Acts 2 is one of the most well know sermons in Acts (and in all of Scripture).
There are several aspects of Peter's sermon that deserve recognition. I want to point out the most significant elements of his sermon, but I want to give special attention to the last one: the call for a response.
1. Peter Based His Sermon on the Old Testament Texts
Peter's sermon was thoroughly biblical. He quoted Joel 2, Psalm 16, and Psalm 110. These quotations reveal Peter's respect for the Old Testament. It seems clear from Peter's use of the Old Testament that he valued the biblical text and viewed it as authoritative.
Preachers today can learn from his example. Value the biblical text. Preach the biblical text. God's Word is authoritative, and we should be challenging God's people to submit to it and obey it. Every sermon should be based on a biblical text, and the sermon should be faithful to the original meaning of the biblical text.
2. Peter Exalted Jesus Christ
Peter's sermon was certainly Christocentric. He preached the crucifixion of Jesus. He preached the resurrection of Jesus (using Psalm 16 to support it). He preached the ascension of Jesus (using Psalm 110 to support it). He declared Jesus to be Messiah and Lord. His sermon was grounded in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Preachers today should seek to emulate Peter by exalting Christ in their sermons. He is our crucified, resurrected, and ascended Lord, and every sermon should point people to Him. Let us commit to following the Christ-centered example of Peter and of Paul, who said, "For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (2 Corinthians 2:2). Every sermon should exalt Jesus Christ.
3. Peter Challenged People to Respond
Peter's sermon was interrupted by his convicted listeners, who asked, "Men and brethren, what shall we do" (Acts 2:37)? Peter told them to repent of their sins and to be baptized in the name of Jesus as a result of having their sins forgiven. Then, Luke said Peter testified and exhorted his listened to be saved "with many other words." He continued to challenge his listeners to respond to the gospel.
Every preacher should call his listeners to respond. The gospel itself demands a response. It calls unbelievers to repent and believe. It calls believers to obey the demands of the gospel (as the result of their gracious salvation, not the cause of it). Every sermon should include a call for listeners to respond.
I'm not saying you have to have an altar call. I'm not saying you have to lead them in the sinner's prayer. I'm not saying you have to sing 439 verses of "Just As I Am." I am simply saying you need to call them to repent and believe in Jesus Christ when you proclaim the glorious truths of the gospel.
Preaching the gospel and failing to call people to repent and believe is like taking a person to a buffet, letting them look at all the food, and then waking out without letting them eat. This is silly! Don't just show your people the Bread of Life; call them to feast on the gospel of Jesus Christ!
So, preach like Peter. Preach the biblical text. Exalt Jesus Christ and the gospel. And, don't forget to challenge people to respond.