Religious Philosophy of Today and Peter’s Preaching

“But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:” (Acts 2:14). 

These are the beginning words of Peter in the great sermon given on that day of Pentecost, which brought about the beginning (cf. Acts 11:16) of the fullness of the gospel.  By the end of the day about 3,000 souls were saved and added by the Lord to the saved (cf. Acts 2:41).  In the day when people cry out for results, it would be hard to plead against such numbers.  However, consider the approach that Peter by the Holy Spirit used in preaching the gospel on that morning and see how it conflicts with the religious philosophy of today.

  1. Absolute Religious Authority Contrasted to Relativism. Relativism is the philosophy that holds to there being no absolute truth.  According to relativism, everything depends on situations and points of view.  All viewpoints are considered valuable with no one viewpoint esteemed above another according to the popular religious philosophy of today.  Peter spoke definitively and absolutely.  “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:16).  “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:” (Acts 2:22).  “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly . . .” (Acts 2:36).  The Holy Spirit did not leave any room for opinions or points of view to arise in the discourse.  It was not a matter of “How do you see it?” but a matter of “This is the case; therefore, know and know assuredly.”
  2. Ascribing Bible Citations for Proof Contrasted to Human-Interest Stories. Some hold to the belief that book, chapter and verse type of preaching is ineffective and archaic.  Human-interest stories warm the hearts of hearers and readers, it is said.  Don’t use too many Bible verses as that tends to be too preachy and people won’t listen to that, it is asserted.  Stories, especially success stories, that show how one went from depravity to being the dedicated disciple of the cause help people to believe that they too can do it, man is told.  Peter used the Bible to convince these devout Jews (cf. Acts 2:5) the truths before them.  He cites what the prophet Joel said in Joel 2:28-32.  Again, he cites what David, himself also a prophet (cf. Acts 2:30), wrote by inspiration in Psalms 16:8-11 as well as Psalms 110:1.  Faith does not come by stories, but by the word of God (cf. Rom. 10:17).
  3. Affixing Personal Responsibility for Wrongdoing Contrasted to Tolerance and Feeling Good About Oneself. Tolerance and the age of immediate gratification call for religious experiences of feeling good about oneself and how to help others feel the same.  It is averred that preaching to call for major lifestyle changes turns people off.  Peter called for their personal responsibility with their “wicked hands” (Acts 2:23) and how that they “have crucified” (Acts 2:36) the very one God made Lord and Christ.  They were pricked in their hearts (cf. Acts 2:37) and asked the right question.  They were authoritatively told what to do (cf. Acts 2:38-40) and did it (cf. Acts 2:41).  Hence, God’s way is the way.

Jimmy Clark