Greetings Project Ezra! This week we will be reading Acts 3, which includes what could probably be considered an open-air preaching session by the Apostle Peter. There are a number of such incidents in the book of Acts by several different Apostles, including Stephen, Peter and Paul, and I am hoping to make a study of them in the near future. What better place to draw inspiration for sharing the Gospel publically? But in this particular instance, there seem to be three major points of focus:
The Jesus they denied, God glorified.
The Jews chose sin and rebellion over God, despite the evidence
It was time for the Jews to turn from their sin and turn to the Savior
The healing of a man lame from birth is an amazing miracle, but in reality the miracle is almost a side note in this chapter. Peter immediately shifts the focus away from the miracle and uses it as an opportunity to bring glory to God and to draw people to the savior. Whenever we speak to people about what we believe, whether on a one-to-one basis or preaching in the open air, we need to make sure our focus is the same. Don’t aim for personal attention, even when you open-air. You should try to preach well, since we should always try to bring glory to God by doing our best, and you should spend time preparing through study and prayer. But don’t try to impress people with your eloquence or Biblical knowledge. The most important point of any gospel presentation is it’s faithfulness to God’s word, along with an evangelist who is compassionate, respectful and real, all of which bring glory to God.
Peter calls Jesus holy and righteous, which of course He is. But I think he also emphasized the point to remind the Jews just what they had done, and to whom, and where that left them. Those we witness to are comparable to the Jews in their behavior. They too deny the truth of who Christ is, and they too prefer sin over God’s will, despite ample proof of His existence and power. The Word says in Romans 1:20 that God’s existence is clearly seen, being understood from what has been made so that men are without excuse. Point this fact out to people, and challenge them on the source of their disbelief or idolatry. It will generally be self serving, just a matter of making excuses for their own love of sin. You will find that most arguments are really just smokescreens.
So God’s foreordained plan had come to completion through the acts of the Jews and the Romans. The Christ had suffered, died, and been raised from the dead and glorified. Now the Jews were called to repent of their sin and put their trust in the savior, just like we all must. God wants to bless us by turning us from our wickedness and giving us times of refreshing, as He said. But it is a command, not a request, and He says that every soul that does not listen will be destroyed from the people. So show your listeners their love of sin and their rebellion against God. Challenge them, even if they won’t answer you honestly, to examine themselves. Show them the horrendous consequence of denying God. And show them the wonder and glory of a God who sent his Son to die, despite their sin and rebellion.
For the praise of His glory!