Peter's biblical evangelism resulted in growth and blossoming amongst his hearers and within the Early Church. The Early Church's account in Acts 2.14-41 is a kind of A B C of evangelism. Shortly after the Day of Pentecost, the Apostles apply the lessons that Jesus had taught them when they address the large crowds. Peter's evangelism strategy emerges. "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.'" What Peter knew in his heart and mind needed to be shared with his fellow Israelites.✞
It reminds me of the Irish Bishop who spoke to a new curate after hearing this young man's first sermon. "Your sermon," the Bishop explained, "is full of peace and mercy." The curate beamed with pride until the Bishop added, "Your Peace passes all understanding and your mercy endures forever!" It was incomprehensible and too long!
Peter's strategy for evangelism continues to explain the facts about Jesus in Acts 2.23 and 36, "In accordance with his own plan, God had already decided that Jesus would be handed over to you, and you killed him by letting sinful men crucify him." "All the people of Israel, then, are to know for sure that this Jesus whom you crucified, is the one that God has made Lord and Messiah." The evangelist sometimes had to attack injustice, but we should remember the example of our master, "Jesus criticized, but he was prepared to die for his critics."✞
The acts evangelism appeal of the Apostle Peter made a clear association with the listeners' needs. It began when the Apostle Peter said to them in Acts 2.38-40, "'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off - for all whom the Lord our God will call.' With many other words, he warned them; and he pleaded with them, 'Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.'" Billy Sunday, (1862-1935) the great American street preacher and former outfielder in the baseball National League, urged his hearers to come to repentance. Someone once said to him, "Bill, you rub the fur the wrong way!" His reply was, "Let the cats turn round!" Repentance is necessary to receive Christ.✞
In this Acts passage, Peter deliberately built an association with the people in his appeal. He urged the crowd in Acts 2.14b, "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say." In Acts 2.29 he added, "Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day." The author William Manchester (1922-2004) told of a return visit he made to the site of the battle in Okinawa, Japan where he had fought as an American Marine thirty-four years earlier. He wrote, "Men, I now knew, do not fight for flag or country, for the Marine Corps or glory or any other abstraction, they fight for their friends." Peter cared for his friends, his brothers and his fellow Jews in bringing them the Gospel.✞