THE HEART OF THE GOSPEL

Scripture Reading:  Acts 2:22-24

“This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.  God raised Him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it.”  (Acts 2:23,24)

After Peter made his explanation of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (vs. 14-21), he proceeded to the main theme of his message:  the proclamation of Jesus as both Lord and Christ.  Jesus Christ is at the heart of the gospel.  Jesus told His disciples in the upper room, on the night in which He was betrayed, “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me, and you will bear witness also, because you have been with Me from the beginning” (John 15:26,27).  The Holy Spirit gave Peter the words to say and the focus of his message was Jesus.

Peter was speaking to Jewish people.  His message was based on teaching from the Old Testament as we will see.  But first Peter boldly proclaimed the heart of the gospel: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  He pointed to the miracles that Jesus performed:  “the mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through Him (v. 22).  These signs and wonders attested to the truth of the teaching of Jesus.  Some who heard Peter’s message had witnessed, or at least heard about, the miracles Jesus had performed.  These miracles were evidences of the power of God at work.

Peter proceeded to speak of God’s great plan:  “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (v. 23).  The death of Jesus was part of God’s predetermined plan for the salvation of His people.  The Messiah must suffer and die (Isaiah 53) because God’s justice had to be satisfied.  In order for this to happen, God had to provide the sacrifice.  However, sinful men of their own volition nailed Jesus to the cross.  Here is a picture of the mystery of the sovereignty of God and man’s volition.  God is in control, yet He often uses the free acts of men to accomplish His purposes.

After explaining the nature of Christ’s death, Peter proclaimed the resurrection:  “God raised Him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it” (v. 24).  Peter made it clear that God raised Jesus from the dead.  Jesus’ resurrection removes the pangs of death from God’s people.  The “pangs of death” refers to God’s judgment.  God gives His people victory over death and judgment through Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:54-57).

Peter faithfully and powerfully proclaimed the good news of the gospel to the people on the Day of Pentecost.  The gospel was the essence of Peter’s sermon and Jesus Christ is at the heart of the gospel.

Lord God, thank you for Your definite and predetermined plan of salvation for Your people.  Thank you that You sent Jesus to die in my place and that You raised Him from the dead so that I could have victory over sin, death and judgment.

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