Practical Thoughts and Reflections on Peter's Sermons

Alexander Campbell

We have now heard that Peter, to whom the Lord in person gave the keys of the kingdom of heaven, prepared to open it to the Jews. This is the openinlspeech of the Reign of Grace. It announces the most transcendent fact6 ever announced on earth. It reveals the mysteries of the Messiah's life, death, burial, and resurrection. It disclose,; secrets hid from ages and generations. The universe is now made to stand in a new attitude before us.

A child born of an humble virgin, in Bethlehem of Judea -- a person of great obscurity, though of a noble and a royal ancestry -- brought up by Joseph, a carpenter, in the town of Nazareth-after a life of perfect purity, holy, harmless. and undefiled -- distinguished by the noblest deeds of piety and humanity, as numerous and as various as the days of his life; after being opposed, insulted, reprobated, times and ways without number, is finally condemned and crucified; but after an ignominous death and an humble sepulture, suddenly rises from the grave- identifies himself to his few true and faithful, though disconsolate friends; and, after numerous interviews for instruction and consolation, bids them an affectionate adieu-ascends to the heavens -- is carried through the portals of the skies amidst the greetings and acclamations of adoring saints and wondering angels, and ushered into the presence of the King, eternal, immortal, and invisible.

No sooner does he appear before the awful sublime and glorious throne of the universe, than the everlasting God and his Father arises from his throne, and, saluting him in the words reported by the sweet Psalmist of Israel in his divine lyrics, says, "Sit thou at my right hand till I hake thy foes thy footstool." "I have sworn by myself, and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchisedeck." Thus being, made Lord and Christ, he receives the rod of universal empire, is crowned "Lord of all," and the angels of God are commanded to worship him.

A new King now presides over the universe -- a new law-giver and Judge, all in the person of him who was reprobated by the Jews and crucified by the Romans. He has the entire dispensation of the Holy Spirit, for he has received that promised honor from his Father and his God. How truly and circumstantially did Isaiah speak of him -- "Unto us a child is born-a son is given, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Founder of an everlasting age, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth, even forever."

Nothing could have been more suitable to the occasion than the point to which the Apostle brought the subject. He desired to prove, in the most convincing manner, that God had constituted that same Jesus, whom they, as a nation, had most wickedly condemned and crucified, both Lord anti Christ. This he did by a proper selection and application of the testimony oll the national Prophets, whose authority with his audience was paramount and ,,upreme; also, by reasoning in a very clear, concise, and pointed manner on the testimony adduced; and then by a solemn declaration of his own personal knowledge and that of the eleven witnesses standing beside him, of the in6utiable certainty of his resurrection from the dead and ascension to heaven. In all this he was sustained not only by the assent of his fellow apostles, but b., the glowing tongues of fire radiating their persons, while th6ir hallowed lips, touched with a live coal from God's own altar, in dialects not their own, but especially vouchsafed for the occasion, confirmed the message which he delivered. Never did words fall with more irresistible weight on human ears than did these -- "Let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made that same Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." This information pierced them to the heart. It was accompanied with the demonstration of the Holy Spirit and with power displayed before their eyes.

This is a model sermon. It was scripture, argument, and proof. No idle declamation-no pomp of speech-no effort to soften the heart by melting tones, gentle cadences, or an impassioned mannerism. There was sincerity, and there was gravity. A conciseness, characterized every word and action. Such, at least, are the indications to my mind f rom all that is written, and from the question propounded to the Apostles by the audience.

-- A. Campbell

Truth Magazine I:5, pp. 12-13
February 1957