Your Part in God’s Plan, Part 4

Bible Reading: Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

The story is told of a tiny English chapel whose stone walls were covered by ivy. Over an arch was inscribed the words: WE PREACH CHRIST CRUCIFIED. For many years a generation of godly men did exactly that: they preached Christ crucified. But times changed. The ivy grew and pretty soon covered the last word. The inscription now read: WE PREACH CHRIST. Other men came and they did preach Christ: Christ the example, Christ the humanitarian, Christ the ideal teacher. As the years passed, the ivy continued to grow until finally the inscription read: WE PREACH. The generation that came along then did just that: they preached economics, social gospel, book reviews, just about anything.

Acts 1:8, “You shall be My witnesses.”  There are two main parts to Peter’s first sermon.  Acts 2:14-21 is an introduction.  Peter says “this is that” in explaining why it was that the disciples were speaking in tongues.  The heart of the sermon is Acts 2:22-36.  Note this about that part of the sermon.  It begins and ends with Jesus.  The first important word uttered is “Jesus” (Acts 2:22).  The last phrase in the sermon?  “This Jesus whom you crucified.”  So we have in this sermon the great theme, which is the great theme of all the Scriptures—the person and work of Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul summed up the concern of His ministry in these same terms.  1 Corinthians 2:2, “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”

D. L. Moody once said that the “main thing is keeping the main thing the main thing.”  And we find here, in Peter’s first sermon, the main thing.  The main thing is bearing witness of Christ.

And note also how Peter elaborates on these truths.  His message was to Jews and proselytes.  His chief concern was to affirm to them that Jesus is the Christ.  So, he speaks of how this truth was affirmed in the life of Jesus—in the miracles that He performed (Acts 2:22).  One question that would have puzzled those folks was how could the Messiah die.  So, Peter spoke of the death of Jesus being by “the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23).  Then he proved the resurrection of Christ both by prophecy and his own witness (Acts 2:24-32).  And finally spoke of the ascension of Jesus Christ to the right hand of God (Acts 2:33-36).

His message?  The life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.

And this Christ-centeredness continued on in the ministry of the early church.  This is a test for us.  The ministry of the Spirit of God is to glorify the Son of God.  There is something wrong with a church when it is diverted or distracted from its ministry of bearing witness to Jesus.  To be sure, the Spirit of God is not at work if there is a failure in this regard.  And, on the other side of the coin, there is nothing of more importance or of greater need that for the church to bear witness of Him.  Salvation is bound up in Christ alone.  That is why Peter and John later said to their persecutors: “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  And why they said, “We cannot stop speaking of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).

The early church was preaching the gospel.  That’s what we need to do.  We need to work together for that purpose.  Both living out and proclaiming the truth of the gospel: “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ; so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27).


I love to tell the story
of unseen things above,
of Jesus and his glory,
of Jesus and his love.
I love to tell the story
because I know it’s true;
it satisfies my longings
as nothing else can do.

I love to tell the story;
‘twill be my theme in glory
to tell the old, old story
of Jesus and his love.

I love to tell the story,
for those who know it best
seem hungering and thirsting
to hear it like the rest.
And when in scenes of glory
I sing the new, new song,
‘twill be the old, old story
that I have loved so long. [Refrain]

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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