Evangelism Methods in the Bible Part 1: Peter
Though we can direct you to many effective evangelism styles and even provide some amazing testimonies when people got saved, it is best for us to first direct you to evangelism methods in the Bible. The book of Acts is volume two of Dr. Luke’s two-volume set and is the first history book of the Church. And in it we discover how God used the promised Gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to empower believers to proclaim the Good News. This good news was first proclaimed by the Apostle Peter to the Jewish nation and then later the Apostle Paul leads an evangelistic mission to the Gentile world.
As the Gospel even continues to spread across the world today, we are convicted to do as the many Saints before us, to go back to this ancient message of hope exampled for us in the book of Acts. For example, Peter, Stephen, Paul, and Phillip provide us with some amazing examples of evangelism. What makes them amazing is that we actually have written record of the Gospel, how it was delivered, how one is to respond to it, and the results of those who put their faith in Christ Jesus.
Of the many places we can go to examine how the Gospel is proclaimed in Acts, we will visit and contrast Peter at Pentecost (Acts 2) and Paul in Athens (Acts 17). We will look at the evangelism methods of Peter in this post, and for the next blog post we will look at Paul’s methods. Before jumping in, we need to briefly review the Gospel that we will be looking for.
We read a succinct presentation of the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1–5.
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the Gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
Here Paul tells us that he is giving, as of first importance, what he himself received, the Gospel, and it is by this Gospel that one gets saved.
Outline of the Gospel
Paul then fits the Gospel into a form that we see replicated over and over again by the Apostles in Acts:
- Christ died for our sins
- He was buried
- He was raised on the third day
- He appeared
Christ’s burial is evidence for His death and those who witnessed Him appear is evidence for His resurrection. Also, the mention of “according to the Scriptures” pointed his audience to fulfilled Old Testament prophesies for His death and resurrection. Apparently evidence is important to the Gospel because the Gospel is surrounded by it!
(For more on this outline, click here.)
Evangelism Methods: Peter’s Preaching in Acts
As you go through the book of Acts, you will notice that the main points of the Gospel (Christ’s death and resurrection) are always directly mentioned. The audience’s sin, Christ’s burial, and the witnesses to the resurrection are either directly or indirectly mentioned.
We will start with Peter at Pentecost. After being filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter gives the first Gospel sermon in the history of the church.
Before reading on, please read Acts chapter two and look for any mention or references to:
- Christ (Messiah/Anointed One)
- How one responds
Did you read it? If so, hopefully you noticed how many times Peter went over each of those points. When it comes to evangelism methods, it is clear that for Peter, the Gospel must be repeated and made very clear. Peter reiterates the Gospel three times, he provides the context for the Gospel (sin), and an opportunity for the audience to respond.
- Vs. 23 you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
- Vs. 38 “your sins”
- Vs. 40 “crooked generation”
- Vs. 31 “The resurrection of the Christ”
- Vs. 36 “Both Lord and Christ”
- Vs. 38 “Name of Jesus Christ”
- Vs. 23 “crucified and killed”
- Vs. 24 “pangs of death”
- Vs. 36 “you crucified”
- Vs. 27 “soul to Hades”
- Vs. 31 “abandoned to Hades”
- Vs. 24 “God raised Him up”
- Vs. 31 “the resurrection of Christ”
- Vs. 32 “This Jesus God raised up”
- Vs. 22 “as you yourselves know”
- Vs. 32 “we are all witnesses”
- Vs. 40 “He bore witness”
- Vs. 21 “everyone who calls upon”
- Vs. 38 “repent”
- Vs. 41 “received His word”
(Click here for more about responding to the Gospel)
- Vs. 21 “shall be saved”
- Vs. 33 “promise of the Holy Spirit”
- Vs. 38 “be baptized”, “forgiveness”, “receive gift of the Holy Spirit”, “promise”
Evangelism Methods: How Peter Contextualized the Gospel
As you see above, the Gospel was so important for Peter, he reiterated each point multiple times. But how did he meet his audience on common ground? What evangelism methods did he use?
Though the Gospel is simple in form (Death & Resurrection of the Christ), we must not over simplify it. One needs to know what it means, and how it fits within the context of human history and an individual’s life.
Peter’s audience were thousands of Jews from all over the world. Because of their background as Jews, he intentionally did tow things:
- He met them on common ground by connecting the miraculous events at Pentecost to fulfilled prophesy from Joel chapter two.
- He connected Jesus to King David, and helped the audience understand that they are in fact responsible for killing their own Messiah.
Because of this intentional contextualization of the Gospel, the audience was left convicted and in desperate desire for help. Acts 2:37 says:
Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Then Peter tells them how to respond to the Gospel in Acts 2:38.
And Peter said to them, “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.
From here about 3000 Jews acknowledged their sins, turned from them, and put their faith (trust) in their Messiah, Jesus Christ, for salvation.
Results of Peter’s Evangelism
The stated results are beautiful:
About 3000 Jews got saved, were forgiven for their sins, received the Holy Spirit, and were baptized!
If you would like to read more, consider reading about 11 Evangelism Misconceptions or our listening to our latest podcast episode.