| Apostolic Strategy
© July 2000 by Asher Intrater
I have been asked to continue writing on "apostolic" strategy. To me, this means simply looking
with an analytical eye at the events in the book of Acts and seeing what
practical spiritual lessons we can learn for how we go about serving in
the kingdom of God.
I was thinking about this recently as I read
through Peter's sermon in the second half of chapter two of the book of
Acts. Here we see several simple elements of his preaching and the
community response, which were part of the revival there.
I. Charismatic/Supernatural Experience
The first part of Peter's sermon (verses
14-21) is actually an explanation of what the not-yet-believers saw and
heard in the outbreak of the Spirit on the new believers. There were
tongues and interpretation, praise, and an exterior appearance that
appeared as though the people were drunk.
Peter explained first of all that the people were
not crazy or drunk; that this was, in fact, something spiritual from
God. He had an interesting theological explanation. He claimed that this
was the continuation of the "prophetic" experiences of the
bands of the prophets during the Old Testament period in Israel. Think
about that. He is claiming that the gifts of the Spirit among believers
in Jesus throughout the body of Christ are an extension of the prophetic
manifestations in ancient Israel.
His second theological explanation was that the
experience in Acts 2 was an initial fulfillment of the kind of end times
outpouring of the Spirit as prophesied by the prophet Joel. In this way
he again connected the modern charismatic experience with the prophetic
experience of ancient Israel.
II. The Death and Resurrection of Jesus
After giving this rationale for the strange
experience that confronted these not- yet believers, Peter began to tell
them the simple story of the life, death, burial, resurrection, and
ascension of Yeshua (verses 22-35). We cannot emphasize this enough. If
we want revival, we must keep the focus of our messages on Yeshua
Himself. We must fight against the ever present tendency to slip off
into other theological issues or programs. Every issue of purity, faith,
and discipleship can be taught, but they must be done with the basic
story of Yeshua at the center.
It is interesting to note that Peter placed special
emphasis in this first archetypal gospel message on Yeshua's descending into hell between the time of the crucifixion and the
It is also interesting to note Peter's method of
exegesis in quoting the Psalms. He quotes Psalms 16 to explain the
death, descent, and resurrection of Yeshua. He quotes Psalm 110 to
explain the ascension of Yeshua.
III. Confrontation of Sin
Peter sums up his message with a knife stab
to the heart of his listeners. He calls them personally responsible for
the crucifixion of the long awaited divine king Messiah (verses 36-37).
Of course, this applies to all of us, not just
those Jews and Romans who took part in the crucifixion itself
physically. There must be something in our messages today that always
puts the spear point to our hearts for moral conviction and change. Our
messages should never be theoretical only. Every message must at least
at some part be pointed enough to demand a real life change in the heart
of the hearers.
Peter's hearers were aware that a personal
change was being demanded of them. Their prayer for salvation was voiced
in the words, "What should we do?"
IV. The Three Responses
Here is another key element. Peter called his listeners
to respond in three ways (verse 38). These three ways are the correct response
to the gospel. These three responses are the goal of our preaching. These
three responses are the essence of a salvation experience.
The first response is to repent of sin. We must, of our own will, change in
our actions and attitude what we are able humanly to change.
The second response is a complete dedication to the Lordship of Yeshua. Peter
expressed this in a call for them to be immersed. Of course, I believe that
a person needs to be immersed in water, but I am emphasizing here a personal
heart immersion to the life and person of Yeshua. We are called to be totally
saturated and immersed in Yeshua Himself.
This personal dedication to Yeshua involves accepting Him as Lord, as our
authority, and thereby submitting to Him and obeying Him. It involves a loyalty
and love of Yeshua in a personal relationship to Him. It involves a complete
identification with Yeshua in His death and resurrection. It involves conforming
ourselves to Yeshua's character and personality. And it also involves having
our conscience cleansed from guilt by a revelation of the power of the blood
The third response is to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Not
only does God want to forgive us of past sins, He also gives us power to repair
the damage of those sins. The Holy Spirit heals us and restores us. In addition,
our victory over sin is not just forgiveness, but also the power not to sin.
That power comes from the Spirit of holiness who lives within us.
V. A Sharing Community
The conclusion to the message of Peter was that the people were saved
and baptized (verses 41-47). As they were saved and baptized, they were immediately
absorbed into a community of faith. This community of faith involved lots
of time spent together, total commitment one to another, and the sharing of
The joining into this community represents the congealing and completion of
the salvation experience.
There were many elements in the activities of this community of faith, including
daily teaching, fellowship, the Lord's supper, prayer, the fear of God, miracles,
signs and wonders, sharing possessions, sharing money, meeting in the temple,
meeting in homes, eating together, joy among the believers, generosity to
the poor, constant praise, favor with those around them, and continual growth
Hallelujah! May God grant us the same.