Peter the Preacher
by James L. Slay
May 14, 1956

ETER HAS BEEN the subject of many sermons. His life, stormy as it was, has been an inspira­tion to millions. We have admired him in spite of his mistakes, loved him in the face of his outbursts; and we strive to emulate him in his Pentecostal prowess.

This florid-faced fellow should be especially dear to us who claim and possess apostolic blessings. He was the first Pentecostal preacher. He moderated the first business meeting for the remnant of the faithful. He stood up with the eleven and, as some bold mariner, set sail on a sea of preaching that hitherto had only been envisioned by a few. This Apostle wrought, by God’s power, the first Pentecostal miracle; and, as a result, became our first apologist and prisoner. Much, very much, could be said about this dear man. We should write more about him, read more of him and learn more from him.

At the moment we want to write something of the preaching of this man. Naturally, his preaching was tempered and seasoned by his personality and experience. We appreciate what a man says when we know him, and we do know much about Peter. Much we know about Peter commends him to us, but much we know of him, commends to us the grace of God. After all, divine writ gives to us the many-faceted story of Peter that we might glorify God and neither boast nor glory in the flesh.

Luke gives us, in detail, several of Peter’s remarkable sermons. They are masterful discourses. Expositors have reveled in analyzing them. Those who heard them from his anointed lips knew that no brash fisherman could thus speak. With logic, reason, poise and power, this erstwhile coward became as brave as the bravest.

What made Peter, the fisherman; Peter, the outspoken; Peter, the unwise, such a stalwart herald? We find the answer to this in 2 Peter 1:16, “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming· of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” Here we have epitomized the whole secret of Peter’s preaching prowess. Might we also add that we have here a text that could be well called the text of a successful preacher.

First of all, Peter tells us how not to preach, “We have not followed cunningly devised fables.” There were cunning preachers even in his day. Men who knew how to devise tales that would interest and entertain. The preacher is not an entertainer. Others can do better at that than he can. He is not to speak anything other than the truth, or something that will make known the truth. It is the task of the preacher to let the people know. What is he to let them know?

We have the answer here before us, “We made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The man behind the pulpit should let the hearer know something of His power-something of His coming. Now we are at the very heart of the matter. Peter’s message was a little one-sided, but then that is what made him outstanding. He, like Paul, was a Jesus preach­er. How did he preach Jesus? He preached about his


HOW WE DO need powerful preaching to­day! This does not necessarily mean loud preaching; nor does it mean quiet preaching. What it does mean is preaching that sets forth the power of Christ as being present not only to save but to baptize and heal and keep, as well.

Christ needed to be lifted up in Peter’s day. Only recently had the Nazarene died on a cross. Few believed in his resurrection, and the ecclesiastics of the day were too rationalistic to accept any doctrine that was so super­natural and mystical as was this new revelation of Christ and His body, the Church.

If Christ needed exaltation in Peter’s time, he stands in need of the same today. Never have we seen more people joining the Church, yet never have we seen so little of Christ’s Spirit being manifested. According to Dr. Peale, it is old-fashioned not to attend church. Thou­sands go to church on Sunday morning, hear some delightful ditty and go on home to sin some more. The members of the Church will lead Christ-centered lives if the preachers will only deliver Christ-centered mes­sages. No dogma or creed will suffice today.

Men are hungry for Jesus. His power in their lives is the only thing that will make them more than con­querors. A mental assent to his Work and Word is not enough. The devils believe; they fear; they tremble. Too many today accept, without qualms, the fact of His existence, but to yield to His power and become filled with His Spirit is something they cannot countenance.

Peter made known unto all and sundry the power of Jesus. On Pentecost he let the amazed crowd know that the amazing manifestation of God’s power was the result of Jesus’ work. “He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear,” Acts 2:33. The crowds will be amazed today when God’s power is revealed. O. C. Morgan says that the Church of today fails God when she does not create wonder and amazement in the hearts of unbelievers. God help us to make known His power from the pew and pulpit.

After attracting the attention of the people by the manifestation of God’s power, Peter then had the privilege of presenting to his hearers the second portion of his simple sermonizing. He also made known unto them the


SAD AS IT SEEMS, we readily admit that we have too little preaching on the Second Coming. A few years ago, when we had a real revelation of His power, and were not too easy in this world, there was much heard about His coming. If we are to main­tain our apostolic place and power we must still look for Him. As I write this, I wonder if we have not lost some of that power, and the fact that it has been lost contributes to our not looking for Him as we should.

The early Church had an other-world outlook. They had been indwelt of the Spirit. They had one job to do, and that was to witness for their Lord, and thus hasten His return. Does it not seem reasonable that we who have been indwelt in the same way should have the same ministry and feelings. We are carrying on the work He began. We are getting ourselves and others ready for His appearing and coming. A vision of His coming will serve as a deterrent to sin and a passion for the lost.

Peter was able to preach his message of the power and coming of Jesus because he was an “eyewitness of His majesty.” Far· too many today are trying to preach something they have heard or read. Far too few are telling us of what they have seen and felt. Yes, the Pentecostal preacher of 1956 can be a force in this world. All he has to do is make known to the world “the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Peter lacked education, but he had power. He had no back­ground, but he knew Jesus. God give us men of today who not only know about what they are talking but also about whom they are talking.

“But Peter, standing up With the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: .. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” -Acts 2:14-19, 39.