The Gospel Unleashed - Unleashed by the Proclamation of Truth

Sermon Summary

This message sets the stage for why truth is such an integral part of the gospel message. It looks back at how Jesus never compromised the truth as He sought to love others and bring them into the Kingdom of God. After Jesus ascended back to heaven, Peter, one of Jesus' closest disciples was given the task to unleash the gospel on the Day of Pentecost by proclaiming the truth surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus. Peter was uniquely qualified because of his past experiences and his newfound humility and commitment to the truth, as well as his desire to share the good news of Jesus with a lost and deceived people. He was used in a powerful way to change many lives and to launch the New Testament Church.

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. It has become increasingly popular to believe a person can just create their own truth when it comes to religion and morality. What do you think about this and why?

2. Jesus spent His life loving others while at the same time unashamedly speaking truth in their lives. Eventually He would be arrested on false charges and put to death. Jesus knew His commitment to truth would lead to the cross. Why was He so committed to speak truth when He knew some would reject His love because of the accompanying truth? The following verses might help:

John 14:6  Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

1 Cor 13:6  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

Gal 6:7  Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
Gal 6:8  The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

3. How can we speak hard truths and at the same time be loving towards others.

1 Th 5:14  And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
1 Th 5:15  Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.

4. What are some of the possible consequences if we abandon truth in order to win the acceptance of all people?

2 Tim 4:1  In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:
2 Tim 4:2  Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction.
2 Tim 4:3  For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
2 Tim 4:4  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

Full Sermon Notes

Unleashed by the Proclamation of Truth Part 1

"There's no other name like Yours, Jesus, Like Yours, Jesus!" The name of Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua.  Joshua means "Yahweh is salvation" or "Yahweh delivers." Christ means "the anointed One," or "Messiah." So the name Jesus Christ means "The anointed One who delivers salvation!" The proclamation of this truth to the crowds who had gathered in Jerusalem around 50 days after Jesus' death unleashed the gospel to the world. Let's pray and ask God to teach us His truth in a powerful way today and let it unleash the gospel in our lives.

I'm so thankful I was confronted with the truth of who Jesus is what He did for me many years ago! It changed my life forever. But for me to find truth, I had to be confronted with truth. I'm so glad there were people in my life willing to proclaim truth to me even though it was not an easy thing for them to do. It led to my salvation. One of the things we have to be so careful about in our world today is the temptation to abandon truth! We want to be loving and willing to give grace to people and Jesus certainly told us to do that! If we aren't loving and willing to give grace and forgiveness then we are not being Christ-like. However, Jesus never sacrificed truth in His efforts to love people. He spoke the truth in love, but He spoke the truth. He spoke the truth even when He knew it would lead to the Cross! Why? Because He knew if the people continued to follow the lies and deception of their religious leaders it would destroy them. So He often confronted the religious leaders in their hypocrisy. In fact He once said this about them...

Luke 20:46-47 “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most
important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets.
They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.”

Now this may not seem very loving, but Jesus knew the truth and it needed to be told. He was laying the foundation for the New Covenant God was going to make with His people and with the Gentiles who would believe. He was setting the stage for the birth of the New Testament Church. But Jesus still cared about the Hebrew people and their religious leaders. He once said this...

Luke 13:34-35 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children
together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!
Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say,
‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ’”

So Jesus wanted to love them, but they would not allow Him to do that. In fact, they would later have Jesus arrested at night and Peter would deny knowing Jesus three times. Listen to what happened the next morning after Jesus' arrest:

Luke 22:66-23:2 At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and teachers of the law,
met together, and Jesus was led before them.
“If you are the Christ, ’” they said, “tell us.” Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me,
and if I asked you, you would not answer.
But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”
They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” He replied, “You are right in saying I am.”
Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”
Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate.
And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation.
He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king.”

Wow! Can you believe the lies they told. They said Jesus apposed payment of taxes to Caesar and claimed to be an earthly king. Totally untrue. In fact the teachers of the law and the chief priest had tried once before to find a way to arrest Jesus by getting Him to go against paying taxes to the Romans and here's what happened...  

Luke 20:20-25 Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be honest. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said so that they
might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor.
So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but
teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.
Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
He saw through their duplicity and said to them,
“Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied. He said to them, “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

Can you see how the religious leaders had decided to abandoned truth in order to justify their actions. Jesus cared about them but He called them out time and time again by holding up the truth! Religion which is not based on God's truth is man made and had a history of taking the Hebrew people far away from God. Now, why is this so important to our message today? The very birth of the New Testament Church happened because someone was willing to speak the truth in love, but with strong conviction, and it's absolutely no accident that it was Peter, the one who denied Jesus three times, who preaches on the day of Pentecost. Why did God choose Peter to bring the message? I believe one of the reasons was Peter's newfound humility. You see, Peter had been one of the most vocal disciples and quite prideful and boastful. Back at the last supper Peter had made this boast...

Mark 14:29-31 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—
before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”
But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.

Now we all know that Peter did deny Jesus three times, even cursing while he tried to distance himself from Jesus. To be fair, Peter was the only disciple who had been willing to take a chance on being close by the illegal proceedings being held by the those who had arrested Jesus. Peter was scared for his life. But, non-the-less, he denied Jesus. Listen to the last denial and what happened...

Luke 22:59-62 About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”
Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed.
The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster
crows today, you will disown me three times.”
And he went outside and wept bitterly.

But this is not the end of the story, by any means. After Jesus was resurrected He appeared to Peter and some of the other disciples by the sea of Tiberias. You might remember, they had been fishing all night and had caught nothing. They were coming in, and Jesus was on the shore. They didn't recognize Jesus at first and He tells them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat. They're like, "who does this guy think He is?" But they humor Him and catch a net full of fish. They realize it's Jesus and rush to the shore. Jesus already had fish cooking. After they finished eating, Jesus has this conversation with Peter...

John 21:15-17 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me
more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered,
“Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time,
“Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.

Now why in the world would I go to such lengths to set such an elaborate background for our text? Because truth matters so much, but it also matters how we present truth, and the condition of the presenter's heart also matters. God did some amazing things in Peter's life and He became God's spokesman on the day of Pentecost to the nation of Israel and to the known world. Remember that people had gathered from many distant lands and God worked some pretty amazing special effects to gather up a crowd of thousands. And Peter, who once feared for his very life and was willing to deny ever knowing Jesus, stands up in front of the very crowd that just a month and a half ago had yelled "Crucify Him!" Peter stands before them humbled by his experiences, but also emboldened by his experiences. Peter was no longer standing on his own strength, but on the strength of God. He was no longer anxious to blurt out his own opinions, but honored to proclaim the truth of God's Word! He was no longer worried what others thought of him or what they might do to him, for he was filled with the Holy Spirit! Peter had received a personal call from Jesus to feed His sheep, and feed them he did. Peter, in humility, but with great conviction addresses the crowd. And one of the very first things he does is remind them of the sacred truth of the words of the prophets, like Joel, which had been abandoned by the religious elite. Listen...

Acts 2:14-21 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd:
“Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.
These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning!
No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
“ ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

Peter reminds them of the truth that the prophet Joel had spoken concerning the out pouring of God's Spirit on His people so they could prophesy, which means to proclaim a message from God. And the message from God that had been unleashed on the day of Pentecost was the good news of Jesus Christ and His willing sacrifice on the Old Rugged Cross in order to save all who would believe! He also reminds them of the truth that someday God's wrath would be poured out on the wickedness of humankind, but with this word of hope...

Acts 2:21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

And here's a powerful truth for us today. Someday the wrath of God will be poured out upon the wickedness of mankind, but Jesus took that wrath and judgement so those who make the decision to call on the name of the Lord will be saved from the judgement. But oh what a cost Jesus paid in order to provide us with salvation. And remember the song we sang earlier about the name of Jesus?

"There's no other name like Yours, Jesus, Like Yours, Jesus!" The name of Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua.  Joshua means "Yahweh is salvation" or "Yahweh delivers." Christ means "the anointed One," or "Messiah." So the name Jesus Christ means "The anointed One who delivers salvation!" And how did He deliver that salvation? Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2:21...

1 Peter 2:21-25 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats.  
Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins  
and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

And you and I might not be as versed in the Old Testament prophecies, but the people who heard Peter on the day of Pentecost would have been very familiar with Joel's words and the context of Peter's quote. And if we look back at it we discover an amazing passage that helps us understand what Peter was trying to get the people to do. It was what God had wanted them to do for ages...

Joel 2:12-14 “Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious
and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing —grain offerings and drink offerings for the LORD your God.

Can you think of a message our nation more desperately needs? Our world needs love but they also need truth! Truth without love is mean, but love without truth leaves people in their lostness. Peter was not willing to do that so listen to what he said next. It was not easy to say or easy to hear, but it changed thousands of hearts and unleashed the gospel to the world...

Acts 2:22-24 “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles,  
wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.
This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge;
and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.
But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

Peter stood up to the very people who had crucified Jesus around 50 days earlier and told them the very harsh truth that they had crucified the promised Messiah, the Savior, the Christ, the One whose name meant Yahweh delivers. But He told them God had raised Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him!

What he tells them next and their response to his message is so powerful that the gospel was unleashed to the whole world. What did he tell them and what was their response? That's next weeks message. Let's pray!