Remember when you left seminary or took up your present pastorate, and you were going to set the church aflame with your sound biblical exposition, your sweeping theological insights and your homiletical eloquence? Roger Wagner suggests that maybe it is time to re-examine the preaching of Paul, Peter and Stephen and reconsider what it was in their preaching that not only set the Church aflame but set the world on fire as well.
Wagner sets out to give you the insights you need to preach like those closest to Jesus. He first looks at the characteristics of New Testament preaching and then looks in more detail at ten sermons preached in Acts by Peter, Paul, and Stephen. An appendix deals with how to preach to the modern, pluralist, materialist, pagan society we live in. Dissatisfied with your sermons? You too can preach like an Apostle!
“Peter’s purpose is to persuade the Jewish crowd that the man, Jesus of Nazareth, is the divine Messiah promised in the Scriptures, and so to convince them that his coming heralds an imminent judgment upon them, requiring that they repent and believe on him.” (Page 125)
“Essentially, whether the Greek term is translated ‘boldness’ or ‘confidence’ (or ‘plainness’ or ‘sincerity’), at the heart of the idea is freedom to make the truth of God known without fear of opposition or consequences.” (Page 41)
“Thus an ‘apostle’ of Jesus Christ in the strict, technical sense refers to one commissioned and sent by Christ the Lord to carry his message for him, one who bears his full authority as the One sending, and one who in effect is identified with the ministry of Christ himself.” (Page 25)
“We preachers need to realize—and be encouraged by the realization—that the preaching of the Word itself creates the need which it is designed to meet. As a matter of fact, only the Word of God adequately defines a man’s problem, and only as it convicts him of his desperate condition before God will that man see the biblical ‘good news’ as the true solution to his problem.” (Pages 138–139)
“Peter’s words here remind us how vital it is for all preachers to create interest in their audience as they introduce their messages. Too much sermon listening is unfruitful (as is much personal Bible study) because it is not driven by important questions. The Bible has the answers, but as preachers you have to help your people ask the right questions.” (Page 151)
As a Bible believing minister you are already accustomed to using the Scriptures for the content of your messages. Now I am calling you to examine the way the sermons in Acts can also give you insights into how to shape the form of your messages, and let the apostolic preachers become your examples of how to deliver sermons that will be powerful and effective.
—Roger Wagner, from the introduction
Preachers dissatisfied with archaic, ingrown traditionalism on the one hand and with relativistic contextualization on the other will find in Tongues Aflame a biblical alternative that is faithful to Scripture, personally challenging, and stimulating in its passionate confidence that preaching as Peter, Stephen, and Paul did will advance Christ's reign of grace in the 21st century, as it did in the first.
—Dennis E. Johnson, Professor of Practical Theology, Westminster Seminary in California, Escondido, California