Qualities of Urgency in Preaching Seen in Peter’s Pentecost Sermon

Martyn Lloyd-Jones once stated to preachers, “You are not simply imparting information, you are dealing with souls, you are dealing with pilgrims on the way to eternity, you are dealing with matters not only of life and death in this world, but eternal destiny. Nothing can be so terribly urgent.”

With that quote in mind, what does urgent preaching look like? With over half of its content sermonic, the Biblical record contained in the Acts of the Apostles would support the thesis that true preaching is urgent preaching.  Using Peter’s message at Pentecost as a paradigm, we can see urgent preaching would appear to possess at least these seven qualities.

1) A yearning to glorify God for his salvation (Acts 2:17, 22, 36). Peter makes it clear throughout his message that salvation is the work of God from beginning to end.

2) An aim in the message to touch hearts as well as minds (Acts 2:14, 22-23, 29, 36-37). When those gathered at Pentecost heard this message, they were “cut to the heart,” which is clearly Peter’s aim.

3) An eschatological sense that the gospel is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Eleven of the twenty-three verses of Peter’s sermon are Old Testament quotations, which add incredible authority to his call.

4) A clear, congregationally-directed call to repent and escape the evil of this world (Acts 2:38, 40). He could not have been clearer to what they had to do but repent, be baptized in Christ, and be saved from evil.

5) A desire to see active faith in the hearers (Acts 2:39). Peter called them to respond by bringing this message to their children and others.

6) Repeated urgings for the hearers to respond to the declaration of the kingdom of God (Acts 2:40). His sermon did not simply end with the words recorded in Acts. “And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this crooked generation.’”

7) Great joy expressed when the hearers respond (Acts 2:47).  Urgent preaching anticipates, by the power of the Holy Spirit, that people will respond to the gospel.

Lloyd-Jones went on to say, “If we do not know something about this sense of urgency, we do not know true preaching.”


  1. Brian September 7, 2015 at 10:58 pm #

    Glad that I found this blog, and this was the first post I read here. Thanks for posting it, Barry.

    This subject came up today in a conversation with my wife. In discussing the preaching of our former pastor who is one the best I’ve ever heard, but he lacks one thing: there is rarely a sense of urgency to his otherwise excellent sermons, and it seems rather odd to not urge listeners to respond to such a gospel as we have been given.

    • Barry York September 8, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by, and glad it was helpful. And Amen!


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