Directional presentations take a real hit in these post-modern times. Story telling, illustrative of deeper truth and mnemonically helpful, seem to the order of the day.
Granted the difference in the times, the audiences and the presenters, one might remember the Church starts with the endowment of the Holy Spirit with resultant directional preaching of a very narrow type. Is Peter right or wrong when he urges the crowd to repent (an inward choice) and be baptized (an outward profession)? Remember, Peter is wrong a lot, even after the Holy Spirit comes on him. God corrects Peter later in Acts about that which is clean and unclean and Paul must rebuke Peter about his shifting doctrinal ideals.
Still, Peter gets a lot of things right, if slowly. Here he must respond on the spur of the moment to the crowds of Jews from around the known world. What does he say, when men sound the invitation appeal, apparently ahead of the speaker’s intent?
"Repent," Peter says first. Routinely, repentance runs the route of regret, remorse and restitution. In this case, if we are to assume the crowd hears the message God means them to hear and responds as God wants, then the specific act from which they must repent at that moment is the ritual murder of Jesus, the Christ.
Think about it. If they masses, many of whom are not directly guilty of the death of Jesus as to their present action, are to repent (experience reegret, show remorse, enact restitution) of Jesus’s death, there is a universal element to sin guilt over Jesus. That is, one does not have to be present to have His death laid at your feet, or be Jewish, or live in the first century in Jerusalem or be of the Sanhedrin.
If we are to know what to say when persons ask us, "What shall we do?" we should seriously consider their/our sin guilt as worth comment. This is not "lording it over anyone," for we each have the same need. Some will assess arrogance to any who assume all humans have the same need(s) but, before long, the critics will offer the same universalist argument, just for another cause.
Directional presentations may mean mind changing. That is certainly the case in Acts 2. The crowd around Peter and the Apostolic Band does not get up that morning thinking, "Today, we will see the KIngdom come to Israel." They are in Jerusalem for the Pentecostal Event of the Old Covenant. What they see and hear is intended to be mind/heart/soul changing.
Change can come even to persons who meet only to celebrate what they already possess. If we take the ministry of the Holy Spirit through the Church-possessed seriously, we can see minds change in the most unlikely of circumstances.
Peter’s plan is proclamation. He simply states the truth of the gospel truthfully.
The Pentecostal sermon changes minds becauses it satisfies intellectually. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, Peter majors on what the hearers already know, 2:22. Now, there are different ways to know; experience, memory, senses, authority and intuition. Many of the men in the crowd that day do not have the actual experience of knowing Jesus, or the memory of His personal ministry. Nor have they sensed him with any of the five natural senses. They are from all over the Jewish world. They did not see Him die.
Instead of appealing to senses, experience or personal memory, the epistemological approach of the Holy Spirit that day is through appeals to authority (what they have heard from another, who they do trust), with the expected intuitive result. That is, Peter goes to Scripture, to the experience of some in the crowd who may have seen Jesus, to King David’s words and then, and always, shows Jesus as the fulfillment of all that comes before Him.
Directional presentations, messages that matter, sermons that seek to change, are not a thing of the past only. In fact, the message that speaks in every day is the one that seeks to teach/reach the mind as well as the heart, in order to allow the Holy Spirit to take the hearer on to the question, "Ok, what should we do?"
Three thousand took the plunge that day. I wonder how many heard? We may not know this side of Heaven but we do know, in any age, 3,000 is a good start.