BY: Frank Tunstall, D. Min.
Apostolic preaching is confrontational preaching.
The Apostle Peter was the leader of the disciples whose force of personality was most important in holding the apostles together in those nerve-wracking days when Jesus’ body was in the tomb.
Peter was boldness personified anchored in three great gospel facts. First, Peter was absolutely convinced Jesus was raised from the dead (Acts 2:32). Second, Peter knew Jesus had forgiven Him for his cruel denials and reinstated him as an apostle (John 21:15-19). Third, Peter, along with the others in the Upper Room had been filled with the Holy Spirit.
Jesus had taught them conviction for sin would be in the job description of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8). It is the work of the Holy Spirit to boldly confront and it includes wooing, drawing and even courting, with the goal to bring people to repentance at the cross of Jesus. Spiritually hungry people discover the great love of God when they see with the eyes of their hearts the bloody death of Jesus that atones for their sins. Merely looking at the cross of Jesus is confrontation.
Preaching, therefore, must become partnering with the Holy Spirit. The apostolic model was to inspire people with teaching wrapped in the love of God, and at the same time confront them for their sins against God. Then, motivate them to want the solution – a ‘new heart’ in a New Birth (see John 3; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 Peter 1:23). Receiving this spiritual ‘heart transplant’ assumes willingness to admit all sin against God and ask sincerely for His forgiveness. The follow up included willingness to suffer for Christ’s sake.
The Holy Spirit leads a penitent person to make the decision to turn his life around and get on the right road – the gospel road – that yields peace with God. The very generous grace of God’s forgiveness always follows heartfelt repentance.
The Holy Spirit is the evangelist in the Trinity who confronts and convicts of sin. Evangelists and pastors have the high privilege and responsibility to partner with the Spirit in confrontational ministry as He brings in the harvest. In fact, tens of thousands of people will never be saved unless they are confronted by the Holy Spirit speaking to them through a bold, Spirit filled evangelist or pastor, or some other servant of the Lord.
Because the Holy Spirit is God, He knows what to do, when to do it, and how to get it done, and the Spirit can tell Jesus’ followers what to say, when to say it, and how to say it to get it done. This means the Holy Spirit is boldness personified as He confronts and convicts of sin. Because Peter was full of the Spirit, he showed boldness to lay his life on the line by willingly facing the gross wickedness and raw evil present that memorable Pentecost morning.
We should not be surprised that boldness is a characteristic of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told His disciples, “The gospel must first be preached to all nations.” So, wherever you go in your preaching, “when [not if] you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say [be bold enough to say] whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking but the Holy Spirit” (see Mark 13:9-11).
Four examples stand out, with each coming from Peter’s ministry.
First, when the Day of Pentecost arrived, the Holy Spirit reaffirmed Peter as the leader of the disciples. It was Peter who confronted those in the crowd for poking fun at the people speaking in different languages and glorifying God. These critics accused them by saying, “They have had too much wine” (Acts 13). Peter boldly defended the disciples: “these are not drunk as you suppose…” It’s not even nine o’clock! This is what the prophet Joel foretold (Joel 2:28-32).
Second, the Apostle Peter on that great Pentecost morning said to the crowd that had gathered: “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 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” (Acts 2:22-24).
Third, Peter had the boldness to say to Israel’s chief priests and elders: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Fourth, when Peter and the other disciples were on trial before the Sanhedrin, the apostles spoke in unison, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
Oh! That all the pulpits of the land could rediscover this cornerstone principle of the job description of the Holy Spirit.