The First Sermon of the Church

The First Sermon of the Church

Shortly after I came to Bethany, a little over eleven years ago, and I began serving as pastor a very seasoned, yet discouraged pastor said to me, “I do not think preaching makes very much difference in people’s lives.” While I respected this man, I did not believe him at the time. In fact, I wanted to weep for him; that a preacher would consider that preaching would have little effect upon those who would hear. But in these eleven years of preaching and pasturing, since my pastor friend first spoke these words to me, I have come to believe that he is even more wrong than I had originally imagined.

The preaching of God’s word invigorates and empowers any person who listens with a receptive heart. Preaching is God’s ordained method to evangelize this world and to build up the body of Christ. Much of the weakness of our modern church falls in the lap of the decline of effective biblical preaching from pulpits and lecterns. When churches begin to struggle they often try to fix themselves through new programs, through small groups, through advertising strategies, through strategic planning sessions, through culturally relevant worship services, through building programs, and through a host of other ides that will stimulate growth within that body.

Indeed, most of these things may be helpful. They may actually assist in the vitality of that church, but if we remove the priority of preaching and teaching the Word of God to the church they will do more harm than good.

Acts 2 instructs us that the very first event of the church was a sermon. This is not by accident. This is God’s emphasis; a priority of preaching His Word is an emphasis that will follow all through this great book that we are studying, the book of the Acts. We first observe, as we move forward from Peter’s sermon just a few verses to make the point about the priority of preaching God’s Word and how this is the strategic essential to the church’s life and health.

In Acts 2:42, we find that they devoted themselves “to the apostle’s teaching”. In Acts 3:12, when Peter saw this, he launches into his second sermon. In Acts 4:2, they were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming Jesus and the resurrection of the dead. Acts 5:42, we read that, “day after day, and from house to house they never stopped teaching and preaching, proclaiming the Good News that Jesus is the Christ”. Acts 6:2 says that, “the twelve gathered some of the disciples together and said, ‘It is not right for us to neglect the ministry of the Word in order to wait on tables, in order to help the widows.’” Helping the widows was important. It was vital, but it is not right, they were saying, to neglect the essential ministry of the Word of God, preaching and teaching it. Acts 7 is a sermon from Stephen. Acts 8:4, says, “The persecution to the church comes and to those who have been scattered because of the persecution preach the Word wherever they went”. We can launch into Act 9, and all the chapters after it, but this is the emphasis of the book of Acts.

The book of Acts can rightly be named, “The Book of Words and Acts”. A full twenty-five percent that we will be studying are the words that the apostles taught to the church. Does God have a emphasis upon the necessity of preaching and teaching His Word? Absolutely! The early church’s emphasis was merely an extension of Jesus’ ministry, for Jesus went about preaching and preaching and preaching. In fact, in Luke 4:43, Jesus would say:

“I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”

The modern, technologically advanced man protests and says, “The medium of communication is changed so much in the past two thousand years. Isn’t preaching an outdated form of communication? Don’t we have other mediums of communication that would better serve the church and that would better promote the message of the Gospel? Think of the changes that have take place in communication. In the 15th Century there came along the invention of the printing press that revolutionized the world so that books were able to be in the hands of the people. From there we just forward to the invention of the typewriter, the telephone, the radio, the television, videos, cd’s, the computer and the Internet. Isn’t preaching an outdated form of communication?”

Listen to God’s timeless command to pastors in the Second Letter to Timothy, a young pastor, Paul writes, in Chapter 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: 2Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3For 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. 4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”

God initiated the life of His church by appointing Peter to preach the sermon. This is no accident. This is purposeful for God intends to use biblical preaching to nourish His church and to call sinners to repentance all the way until the day Jesus Christ returns in glory.

Peter in these twenty-eight verses preaches a tremendous sermon. Three thousand people come to know Jesus Christ and they have their lives completely transformed as a result of this one sermon that peter preaches. This sermon, as we read it, will become a model for good preaching.

What do you think makes preaching good? Some might protest and say, “Why should I even care? That is your job, preacher. It isn’t mine.” It may be true that you will never preach a formal sermon in all your life, but I do think that you listen to quite a few, don’t you? In fact, if you were to attend church just once a week for twenty years, and that is not a really long time, you will have listened to over one thousand sermons. Don’t you think that it would be helpful to rightly evaluate what you are listening to? Furthermore, as a Christian, you are called to witness to others and the very things that make a sermon good also make your witness good, effective, and healthy to reach out to others around you who need to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We are going to look at Peter’s sermon as a model sermon. From his sermon we derived five specific qualities that make a sermon good.

Quality Number One: the preacher, the messenger, must be empowered by God’s spirit.

As we look into the context of Acts 2, first, we see in Acts 1, Peter is gathered around with the other disciples and what are they doing? Verse 14 tells us that they are joined together constantly in prayer. It indicates for us that the filling of God’s spirit and prayer are connected. Peter readied himself to preach this great sermon by prayer. Furthermore, in Acts 2, the Holy Spirit is poured out upon these disciples of Jesus and it fills them in a remarkable way, so much so, that they are able, through a supernatural sign, to speak to foreigners in their own language. That is what this buzz is about as they are being asked the question, “What does all this mean?”

Peter was a man charged with spiritual power. He was not effective in preaching because of his own personality, his own dynamism, because of his own liveliness and winsomeness, but Peter’s power to preach came from outside of himself; it came from God. It didn’t come from within.

The connection to prayer and the Holy Spirit to preaching is made again in Acts 4:31,

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. Human talent does not supply preaching’s requirements. Preparing a sermon is not just about putting the right words together in the right order. Preparing a sermon is not just about finding that right illustration that connects the lives of modern day men and women to biblical Truth. Preparing a sermon is much more than just finding relevant applications that are true to life. In fact, preparing a sermon is even much more than accurately discerning what the Bible says. In order to prepare a sermon, you have to prepare your life through prayer and through a yielding to God’s Holy Spirit.

A man can stack dry wood neatly and call others to gather around it, but only fire can ignite that wood and cause others to be warmed as they gather near. A messenger who has not prepared himself or herself through prayer, a messenger who is not empowered by God’s Spirit is merely a stack of dry wood, neatly ordered. It might be neat to look at, but those who gather near have no real effect and are not warmed.

Such an empowerment by the Holy Spirit makes two effects upon the preacher and the messenger. First, it gives him passion. Second, the Holy Spirit provides courage.

First, I want you to notice Peter’s passion. In Verse 14,

… Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd.
He may have raised his voice only for the purpose of being heard for, after all, there were over three thousand people in attendance and he didn’t have a microphone. I believe that even if there were two or three gathered around him at that moment he would have raised his voice out of passion. Why do I believe that? It is because to the things that he said. Look at Verse 36:

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

Can you imagine Peter saying this with a monotone voice, “Now I have come to proclaim to you that God has made this Jesus.” He could not say those words without having passion within his soul. Furthermore, look at Verse 40:

With many other words he warned them…

The first observation is that Luke, as he writes, is writing the Cliff Notes Version to Peter’s sermon. As we read it, it is only two or three minutes long, and some of you may think; “Now that is a good model for a sermon!” I want you to notice, Verse 40, and he goes on to say,

…and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves…

Peter knew the eternal destiny of the souls of the men and women around him were at stake and he pleaded with them. What gave him this passion? Did he drum it up out of his own energy? No, what gave him this passion was that he was filled by God’s Spirit.

Passion is one of the things that keeps a preacher from being boring. I had a professor at seminary, Howard Hendricks, who said, “It is sin to bore people with the Word of God!” In other words, the Word of God so exciting it is a sin to be a messenger who takes it and delivers it without the kind of passion that would cause people to be interested in what God had to say. I believe that is true.

Abraham Lincoln put it rather strongly when he said, “I don’t care for cut-and-dried sermons. When I hear a man preach I like to see him act as if he were fighting bumble bees.” That is a good word picture, isn’t it? He wants a little life behind the messenger.

Richard Baxter, one of the Puritan pastors, wrote a book to encourage and instruct young pastors, and this is what he wrote, “Whatever you do, let the people see that you are in good earnest. You cannot break men’s hearts by jesting with them or telling them a smooth tale, or patching up a gaudy oration. Men will not cast away their dearest pleasures upon a drowsy request of one that seemeth not to mean as he speaks or to care much whether his request be granted.”

Not only does the Holy Spirit provide for the messenger, but also, the Holy Spirit provides the necessary courage to speak boldly truths that may be rejected and may be mocked and may be hated and ridiculed. Consider Peter, fifty days earlier, when he sees his Lord taken by the Romans, nailed to a cross, a cruel form of execution, and in fear he scatters knowing that, “I don’t want to be connected to this man because that fate might be mine and I am afraid of that.” Fifty days later he is standing in the center of the nation of Israel and he is proclaiming “in a loud voice” Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. What gave him the boldness? It is the Holy Spirit.

As the pastor at Bethany it is often easy for me to proclaim God’s Truth boldly because I know so many of the congregation love God’s Truth, even when it offends. As I have spoken before to groups, as I look out proclaiming the Gospel message and the message of God’s Word, I know by their facial expressions that they don’t like it. That is a difficult place to be. Apart from God’s Holy Spirit, it is impossible for the messenger to courageously and boldly proclaim the Truth in such a context, and that is the context that Peter was in.

There is a great story of a preacher of old by the name of Hugh Latimer who once preached before King Henry VIII. If you know your history, King Henry VIII was not a kind man. He executed many people including his wife. He listened to Latimer preach and he was greatly offended and greatly displeased by the boldness in Latimer’s sermon. He asked Latimer to preach again the next Sunday with the warning that Latimer needed to apologize for the offence that he had given him. The next Sunday, after reading his text, Latimer began his sermon this way, and he began by speaking to himself, “Hugh Latimer, doest thou know before whom thou are this day to speak: to the high and mighty Monarch, the king’s most excellent Majesty who can take away thy life if thou offendeth. Therefore, take heed that thou speakest not a word that may displease, but then consider well, Hugh, does thou not know from whendst thou comest, upon whose message thou art sent, even by the great and mighty God who is all present and who beholdeth all thy ways and who is able to cast thy soul into hell. Therefore, take care that thou deliverest thy message faithfully.” After that introduction, Hugh Latimer preached the exact sermon that he preached the week before to King Henry VIII.

What gives a man such boldness? It is God’s Spirit.

The second quality of a good sermon is the message roots itself in the Bible. This sermon of Peter’s, in Acts 2, is only twenty-four verses long, yet ten of these verses are direct quotations from the Scriptures. The other fourteen verses are an explanation of these texts. The point of Peter’s model is that the Bible itself accomplishes far greater spiritual impact than any preacher could dream up on his own. The preacher is not called to be a philosopher, or a moralist, or a socialist, nor a psychologist. What is a preacher to be? He is to be God’s echo. He is to echo exactly what God has already pronounced in His Word. He is called to speak the very words that God has entrusted to him through His Scripture. The preacher is not called to dream up his own message but to deliver what was faithfully given to him by God through His Spirit in the Scriptures.

Imagine for a moment that you had a dear friend who was in a horrible accident and they passed away. Before they passed away someone had come to their assistance, and they knew that they were dying, and they said, “Please, sir, would you give such-and-such this message.” And they proceeded to give a message to this man to be delivered to you. After this dear friend dies, this man looks to find out where you live. He calls you us and he says, “Your friend died and I was there at the very end. His last words were a message for you. Would you come to my house and I will communicate that?” You ready yourself as you get into your car. You are filled with grief and yet you are so excited to hear this message that your dear friend left you. You get to this man’s house and you sit down and say, “Okay.” He proceeds to tell you some interesting stories of his life; about things that he had done in his past. They are all very entertaining, and then he proceeds to tell you a few jokes that may make you laugh a little bit, but after a time you become very irritated because you didn’t drive to this guy’s house to listen about his life or to hear amusing stories, or jokes that would entertain you. You came for the express purpose of hearing a message that your dear friend had delivered to him to give to you.

Yet, how is it we come to church and we are appeased to hear stories of the pastor’s life, or someone else’s life, and hear amusing jokes and yarns and we aren’t discomforted by the fact that we realize that this guy hasn’t told us anything about what he is supposed to tell us about. God has given him a message and I am waiting not to hear about him and his life, but I am waiting to hear what God has said to me to be delivered by him.

Beloved, good preaching roots itself in the Scripture. Good preaching delivers faithfully the very words of God.

It is interesting the context that Peter finds himself as he delivers this message. The Holy Spirit is poured upon the disciples, men and women alike, that begin to speak in other languages. In Verse 12 and 13, the crowd responds,

12Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

Some of them begin to mock and ridicule and say, “They are all just drunk with wine. That is why they are acting this way.”

Peter’s message is a response to this question, “What does all of this mean?”

Before we look at Peter’s answer through his sermon consider what he could have said, “Let me tell you. I was with Jesus throughout the three years of His ministry. I witnessed many miracles that He did. I saw Jesus crucified and I saw Him appear to me many times in the resurrected body. I stood there and I watched Him ascend into heaven to be received by God and sit at the right hand of the throne of God. Today, something really strange happened. Let me tell you about my experience with the Holy Spirit. I was sitting there with other disciples and we were praying when the Holy Spirit came. This is what it felt like and this is what was going through my mind as it happened.”

Peter could have said that and that could have been interesting, but that is not what Peter did. In response to the question: “What does all this mean,” what Peter did was say, “Let’s consider what Joel, the prophet, said.” Peter knew that his own experience was not authoritative to answer the question that they needed. Peter knew, and he would write this in II Peter 1, and he said, “I could tell you about my eyewitness account, but we have a more sure word, a more certain word, that is written for us in Scripture. What you need to hear is the word of God. Let’s talk about what Joel, the prophet, wrote.”

Let’s look at what Joel wrote, in Verse 17:

“‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.’”

Joel, the prophet, writes in a time of great disaster in Israel. The land had been plagued with a locust invasion so that the crops were devastated. In an agricultural economy that means perhaps even death for many in the community. There could hardly be a worse piece of news than that of a plaque of locusts wiping out an entire crop, but that is what happened. Yet, the prophet Joel is given a word by the Lord to say, “You think this is bad? It is going to get a whole lot worse when God comes in judgment upon you for your sin.” The prophesy that Joel gives us is one of great gloom and darkness. In the midst of this dark prophesy, though, as always God shines His brilliant light and this is the section that Peter quotes from. He tells them that there will come a time, “when God will pour out His Spirit upon all mankind and there will be blessing such as you have never known. You are struggling now and you are looking for physical salvation from starvation, national disaster. Joel, the prophet, says in Verse 21,

’…everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

He asks them, “Do you want to know what all of this means? The prophet Joel tells about it, but listen, there is a day of judgment that is coming, but there is also this free offer that God has given to you right now: everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord. Let me tell you who the “Lord” is that Joel is talking about – it is Jesus. Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”

The message roots itself in the Bible. If a preacher is not encouraging you to open your Bible as you listen, I say, find another preacher who will. A man may preach interesting sermons without the Bible. A man may preach inspiring sermons that cause your spine to tingle without the Bible. A man may preach emotional sermons that will cause you to cry, but without the Bible. A man may preach amusing sermons that will get you to laugh and be entertained without the Bible. But, if a man is to preach a good sermon, he will go to the Bible and deliver what God has already said in His Word.

Someday you may move out of town and need to find another church. Perhaps you may stay in town and decide that Bethany is not for you. If so, I plead with you, with all the power of my soul, to find a church that preaches God’s Word. As you open God’s Word, there you will find your soul nourished but no where else.

The third quality we find in a good sermon is that the message centers upon Jesus Christ. All of the Bible speaks about Jesus as the Messiah. It was said in the Ancient World that, “all roads lead to Rome”. All Verses carve a path to Jesus Christ. In both the Old Testament and the New Testament, every chapter and every verse points to Jesus Christ. That is exactly what Peter reveals as he quotes from Joel, from Psalm 16, and from Psalm 110. All point to Jesus Christ.

Interestingly, the Day of Pentecost was a day when the Holy Spirit was poured out and the Third Person of the Trinity was given to the church. What would be the topic Peter would choose for the first sermon of the church? We would expect it to be something about the Holy Spirit and dwell upon who the Holy Spirit is and what the Holy Spirit is going to do.

That is not what Peter does. He goes back and says, “Let’s talk about Jesus because Jesus said: ‘I am going to send another comforter and when I send him, the Holy Spirit, he will guide you into the Truth, he will glorify Me, he will teach you about Me, who I am and what I have done.’” A church that is lead by the Holy Spirit is a church that focuses and centers its ministry upon the person and work of Jesus Christ. This is the greatest evidence the church can possibly have; that the Holy Spirit is strongly at work. It is not miracles that might take place there. It is not speaking in tongues. It is not great affects, but the surest evidence of the working of God’s Spirit is this: that the church proclaims Jesus Christ and that church embraces Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Notice what Peter says about Jesus. He says four things about His life: first, He was a man who performed miracles that lead credibility to His claims (Verse 22):

“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…

Peter goes back to the basic, historical facts. Even Jesus’ enemies didn’t refute His miracles. In fact, the more miracles He did, the more they hated Him and the more they wanted to kill Him.

For most, the rejection of Jesus Christ has nothing to do with the lack of evidence. It has everything to do with the lack of love for God and a fullness of love for self. They hated Him and so Peter takes them back in Scripture and says, “Consider Jesus. He performed these miracles and God gave evidence to you about His claims concerning His person; that His is the Lord, that He is Christ, through these miracles. Peter didn’t stop there. He went on to talk about Jesus’ crucifixion and His death. In Verse 23, Peter said,

“This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge…”

Peter was saying, “Jesus didn’t die because He lost the wrestling match or because He made some strategic mistakes and got Himself in a fix. This was all the eternal design and plan of God to send His Son for the purpose of dying a sacrificial death so that you and I will be forgiven. This Jesus, He was delivered over to you by God’s set purpose and God’s design (Verse 23b):

“…and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.”

Peter, Peter, Peter, where is your sensitivity to your audience? You are telling them straight up, “you put Him to death”. Peter wants to clearly proclaim Christ and in order to do so he clearly proclaims the heart of man and his rebellion against Him.

Peter next goes on to the resurrection in Verse 24,

“But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death…”

He goes on to say that this is what David taught about Him, that David wasn’t speaking about himself in Psalm 16, when he said, you will not

“…let your Holy One see decay.”

He goes on to say in Verse 29,

“Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried…”

Peter asks, “Do you think David was speaking about himself? No, he was pointing to Jesus.” All Scripture points to Jesus the Messiah.

Peter goes on, not only to speak of Jesus’ life, His death, His burial, and His resurrection, but also His exaltation in Verse 33:

“Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.”

He said, “If you want an explanation of what has happened, I will tell you what has happened. This Jesus who did miracles, this Jesus who died upon the cross, this Jesus who was resurrected, this Jesus who was ascended, even as He promised, is now sitting at the right hand of God. Do you know the greatest proof we have that He is ascended and is at the right hand of God? It is because the Holy Spirit is here and the Holy Spirit wouldn’t be here unless Jesus is on the throne, reigning from heaven. That is the order that He promised. That is the order that the Scriptures tell us that has to happen for the Holy Spirit to come. Do you want to know what all this means? It means Jesus is Savior; Jesus is the Lord. That is what this means.”

Verse 36:

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

He made Him Lord; powerful Ruler; Sovereign God; worthy of worship; righteous to rule in your hearts and in the world; Savior; Messiah; Christ, full of grace and full of mercy, full of love and tenderness to all who would come to Him.

The fourth quality that makes a good sermon is that it is spoken with simple clarity. In Verse 37, it says, “That when the people heard this…” They weren’t the scholars. They weren’t the intellectuals. They were just the common people and

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart…

The message was so clear that the common person couldn’t miss it. It wasn’t spoken with flowery language, with intellectual terminology to impress, it was spoken with clear, plain truth so that even a child sitting in the audience could say, “I understand what he is talking about when he talks about Jesus and what I need to do.”

Sermons must not be times to impress but are occasions to speak the Truth plainly to the soul of man. It was King James I who became annoyed with the irrelevant ramblings of the court preacher. He shouted up to the pulpit, “Either make sense or come down out of that pulpit!” The young preacher became a bit miffed and he replied, “I will do neither!” Unfortunately, there are too many like that young, preacher of old. It is ours to be clear when we present the message of God’s Word.

The fifth quality is that the message calls the hearer to respond. The sermon is not a sermon unless it asks for action on the part of those listening. It is not enough to dispense the Truth, to build a storehouse of knowledge, but a good sermon always calls for a response. In Verse 38,

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.”

He didn’t just tell them about Jesus Christ and say, “Now you have a decision to make and this is the decision: God calls you to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.”

Biblical preaching always calls for the hearer to respond. For this reason, people will either love biblical preaching or they will hate it. They will respond to it and receive the transforming grace of God, or they will turn away and reject it saying, “That was a miserable experience. I can’t believe what that guy said.”

How about you, have you called upon the name of the Lord. Everyone who does call upon the name of the Lord Jesus will be saved.

What makes a sermon good? It is a messenger empowered by God’s Spirit. It is a message rooted in the Bible. It is a message centered upon Jesus Christ. It is a message spoken with clarity. It is a message calling for a response.

Here is one more question: what makes a good hearer? It is possible to have a banquet of food but not receive any benefit because we don’t eat or digest it. So, what makes a good hearer? We have a responsibility when we come to listen to God’s Word to come with a mind that needs to consider God’s Truth.

You have a right to expect the preacher to appeal to your mind, to be reasoning through the Scriptures, to be rational and logical in his thought and his development and his presentation. You have a right to that but you also have a responsibility to engage your mind when he does.

I encourage you to take notes because a pen in the hand engages the mind. Almost every student in high school and college knows this. I have met two or three in my life who have said that they are “auditory learners”; that they learn just by hearing and in their academic career it is possible that they didn’t take notes of the professor because they could learn better. If you are one of those, more power to you, just listen, but every student I ever sat next to had a pen in their hand because they realized that they needed to engage their mind with what is being said.

God’s Word is being spoken so we engage our minds and we engage our ears and make them eager to hear. The Bible has a little phrase that says, “Let him who has ears to hear, let him hear.” The idea is to have a heart’s desire to receive, and an excitement and readiness, and to want the Truth; an eagerness to know who God is and how we can better worship, and serve and obey, and how His Kingdom might be extended, and an eagerness to discover and hear the Truth.

Lastly, we need a heart humble to respond. It is not enough to fill our mind. We must be ready for God to deal with our soul. Take time to pray before and after you come to listen to God’s Word, whether it is in your devotions or whether it is in church. Take time to pray and make your ears open to hear and your heart ready to respond.

In Verse 21:

“Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Isn’t that a great promise? The Gospel of Jesus Christ is exclusive, that is to say, and this is true, that the world hates. But, this is to say that there is only one way to have our sins forgiven. There is only one person through whom we can get to heaven and that is the person, the One Mediator, Jesus Christ. He is Lord and He is the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior. There is no other and if we are to have forgiveness and find a happiness with God forever it is because we come through Jesus Christ.

But, the promise and the Gospel is also inclusive. That is to say that there is not one person who is not called, who is not invited, to come and call upon the name of Jesus Christ. It matters not what we have done in our past or who you are. It matters not how we have lived. We are invited, “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Why should we stay outside the great banquet of God, out of His great heaven, and out of happiness with Him when He invites us so graciously to come and call upon His Son Jesus? I urge you, today, to call upon Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and you will find that have become a member of God’s gracious family.