The preaching of the Apostles and those directly associated with them was marked by the evident and glorious power of God, the
Holy Spirit. Whilst we do not expect, or need, the ‘signs of the apostles’, nor the miracles and wonders, we do need the same Holy Spirit, the same holy gospel, and the same blessed consequences in the hearts of those who hear the word preached.
Whilst some aspects of the Apostles’ experience were temporary and confined to their own unique place in the founding of the New Testament church, there are many other aspects of that God-appointed ministry which are left on record as an authoritative pattern for all subsequent preaching. What are these characteristic features?
It was effective preaching. “And the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2.41). “Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand” (Acts 4.4). “And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women” (Acts 5.14). “And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed and turned unto the Lord” (Acts 11.21). “And much people was added unto the Lord” (Acts 11.24).
It was directed preaching. “Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert”(Acts8.26). “Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore,
and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing” (Acts 10.20). “Come over into Macedonia, and help us – the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them” (Acts 16.9-10).
It was direct and personal preaching. “God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2.36). ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2.38). “Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you” (Acts 13.40-41).
It was direct and personal in its warnings even though many did not believe. “But seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles” (Acts 13.46).
It was preaching with warmth and exhortation and was certainly
no mere academic statement of facts. “And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2.40). “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us” (Acts 17.27). “And when he had gone over these parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece” (Acts 20.2). “And Judas and Silas, being prophets themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words and confirmed them” (Acts 15.32). “Exhorting them to continue in the faith” (Acts 14.22).
It was preaching which gloried in the sovereignty of God but it was certainly not inhibited by fears of addressing the non-elect by mistake! “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2.23). “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 2.39).
It was preaching to every creature and to all nations according to the Lord’s commission. Matthew 28.19 and Mark 16.15-16.
It was not preaching which left the hearers wondering whether they possessed certain spiritual qualifications necessary to be the favoured ones addressed by the preaching. Neither was it preaching which forced the hearers into their own hearts to search for some sign of spiritual life before they were qualified to believe what was preached to them. It was preaching which demanded immediate attention, immediate repentance, and immediate faith because its demands were made by none other than the Son of God. It was the King of heaven and earth who was demanding the hearer’s submission to Himself.
It was pre-eminently preaching in which Jesus Christ was greatly honoured and His divine demands plainly declared. The Apostles preached Christ, and Him crucified, knowing full well that “the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1.18).