22 April First Lesson Acts 4:8-12

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1 22 April 2012 First Lesson Acts 4: Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 He is the stone you builders rejected,which has become the capstone. 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. Second Lesson 1 John 1:1-2:2 1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make ourjoy complete. 5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. 1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. Gospel Lesson Luke 24: While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, Peace be with you. 37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have. 40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, Do you have anything here to eat? 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence. 44 He said to them, This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. 45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high. Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught. Amen. 1

2 Sermon Acts 4: Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 He is the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone. 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. The Word of the Lord. Dear friends in Christ, but especially you young men and women, our confirmands, What are we here for this morning? The confirmands and I had a debate about that question this past Wednesday night when we practiced for today s exam. I called today an examination, but one of them, in I think good humor and fun wanted it called an interrogation. But the question remains. What are we here for today? Why have you studied God s word with me for the past years? Why do we ask you to review the heart and core of our Christian faith in front of a church service? For that matter, why are all of us here today in worship? Our lesson from Acts gives us two reasons, reasons that also explain the reason why our congregation even exists. What are we here for? First To build on the Saving Name, and then To bring His Name to others. Peter and John stood on trial before the same Jewish court that had condemned Jesus to death. They had been arrested for teaching about Jesus after the risen Lord had given them power to make a crippled man walk again. But as He always does, God turned difficulty into good. For it gave Peter an opportunity to tell those leaders and us why Jesus is so important! Peter said: He is the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone. A capstone is the most important building block of an arch, like the stone with the cross on the front of the bulletin. If the capstone isn t just right, or if there is no capstone, the arch falls down and the whole building crumbles. What Peter said with picture language from Psalm 118 he also says this way: Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. Jesus Christ, the Son of God who died and rose again is the only way to God, the only way to be saved, the only way to live in heaven. Jesus is the one and only foundation to base faith and life upon. Jesus is the saving Name to build on. Without trust in Jesus our lives will end in eternal ruin in hell. This truth is why it s so important for us to be in God s House and to listen to His Word, the Bible. This is why it is important for both young and old to learn and review what God says! For you won t hear Jesus is the only saving Name out in the world. Our culture and society says it doesn t really matter what you believe. You can believe whatever you want as long as it s good for you. We are bombarded by a world that says all religious ideas are equally valid, pick whatever you want as long as you re sincere and as long as you don t say anyone else is wrong. But what a bunch of nonsense that is! Suppose I believe very strongly that tying a hundred pound anchor to my neck will help me swim across the Mississippi River. But it doesn t matter how sincere I am, I will still sink! That s the truth. And this is the truth: Salvation is found in no one else except Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Apart from trusting in Jesus, we will sink eternally. That is the one and only saving truth. 2

3 The truth backed up by the power of God, the resurrection from the dead. Confucius, Mohamed, Buda, Joseph Smith and countless others have told people ways to get right with God or with gods, but all their bodies still lay in graves and tombs. But not Jesus Christ! He died on the cross, but He rose again and lives. Peter and John plus more than 500 others witnessed He was alive. Jesus was alive to give Peter the power to make that crippled man walk. Notice by quoting from Psalm 118 about the capstone Peter reminds us that the fact Jesus saves is also backed up by the power of God s Word, the Bible. An amazing book, written over 1600 years in three languages on three continents by more than 30 human writers, yet has an absolutely perfect unity of thought, purpose and theme, and includes what no other book does, the miracle of future events foretold and then fulfilled exactly as told, all making it clear this book, the book has one Author, the One true God! God who spoke through His Word and has changed lives across the centuries by the power of the one of a kind amazing love of God found only in Jesus Christ, the saving name. And that s What are we here for today. That s why we have young people study the Bible and confess its truths they ve learned. So that they get to know Jesus better. That s why we open our Bibles and come to hear the wonders of God in worship, to build our hearts and lives on the saving Name of Jesus. For the fact is we all need Jesus. That picture of a giant anchor around our necks and being tossed into deep water well describes us how hopeless we are without Christ. God demands perfection, but we come burdened with sin and imperfection like an anchor dragging us down. We re already born with that weight, a heart eager to stray and serve itself. A sinful nature we inherited from our parents going all the way back to the first two human beings who sinned. And we ve only made that weight bigger with the guilt we add each day. God calls hearing His Word the One Thing Needed, but we often treat it like something we ll get into more if maybe some day we have some time leftover. The Lord wants us to boldly confess Him before the world and witness to his love with our lives, but we often fear what others might think and are more concerned about making our lives more comfortable. This and all our sin would rightly drag us down to the depths of hell s crushing punishment. Notice Peter makes it clear we can t do anything about it. Salvation: rescue from our sin is found in no one else. That includes us and anything we can do. God s Word plainly tells us no mere sinful human could pay for even one sin. But God has not left us to sink. He has given us salvation, rescue, help for the helpless. Given, not earned given in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. But what does that mean, in the name of Jesus? A name is much more than just sounds and syllables. If you hear your mother s name or your best friend s name, you don t hear just sounds. You think of everything you know about that person and what they mean to you. A name includes everything we know about someone. So it is with Jesus! Jesus is the name foretold by the angel who said Mary would have a baby even though she was virgin. Jesus is really the Greek way to say a Hebrew name: Yeshua. A name made up of two words, the Hebrew word for the LORD and the word for salvation or rescue. The name Jesus means: The LORD who saves! Jesus is true God who became fully human, who came into this world to do what the angel described in Matthew 1: you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. Jesus name describes what He does for you and me. He saves us from sin, from the sinful hearts we were born with, from the sins of our fears to speak up for the Lord, from the guilt of our self serving selfishness. He saves us because His name, Jesus of Nazareth was written 3

4 above a blood stained cross, because God s Son not only let himself be rejected not just by Jewish leaders but also by His heavenly Father when on the cross He suffered the depths of hell our sins earned. And by his death Jesus has cut that anchor of sin and guilt of from our necks and tossed it into the depths of the death He died in our place. Jesus has forgiven you, forgiven me by drowning our sin in the ocean of His saving love that shed the blood of God to free us! He has lifted you up and set you on dry ground, at peace with God because He clothes us with his own perfect life. Now we will not die, but live, just as Jesus rose from the dead. Christ will bring us to heaven s happiness and give our bodies life again when He returns! That is salvation, and it is only found in Jesus and what He has done. That s why we re here, to hear God s Word and continue to build on The Saving Name of Jesus! When we remember that salvation is found in no one else means that trust in Jesus is not just the way we are saved, it s the only way to for anyone to be saved, it reminds us there is another reason we are here for: to bring His Saving Name to others. That s exactly what our risen Lord told us as his followers to do in our Gospel lesson: repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached to all nations you are witnesses of these things. Not only has Jesus shown us amazing undeserving love in saving us, he even gives to us the amazing privilege of being part of his work to bring others to trust in his saving name by telling others what Jesus has done for them. Martin Luther put it this way: We live on earth for no other purpose than to be helpful to others. Otherwise it would be best for God to take us away (to heaven) as soon as we are baptized and have begun to believe. But He lets us live here in order that we may lead other people to believe, doing for them what He has done for us. One of the main purposes we exist as a congregation is so that we as Jesus forgiven and thankful people can do the work Jesus has given us, to tell others about his saving love. Perhaps the moment we think of that work, we also start to think about our weaknesses and our past failures. Or we might think that if we talk about Christ we won t know what to say, or we ll be too afraid if someone challenges our faith. But go back to our reading and remember who spoke that beautiful and bold confession of Jesus as the only one who saves. It was Peter, speaking up while on trial. Could he be so bold because he was so strong? Not a chance. This is the same Peter who ran when Jesus was arrested, this is Peter who denied Jesus when he was challenged by a servant girl. How did Peter make such a bold confession now!? Listen again: Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit. It wasn t Peter. It was Jesus keeping his promise to send the Holy Spirit to teach his disciples what to say. The good news Jesus was alive, the news Peter was forgiven, news Peter believed by the power of the Holy Spirit who opened his mind to understand God s Word had changed Peter from a frightened fisherman into a bold spokesman for Jesus. And you and I can find that same strength. Because we have the same risen Lord to help us to do the work He gives us. The same Jesus who rose on Easter, lives to forgive our failures and calm our fears with his promises. The same Holy Spirit comes to us and fills us as we read our Bibles, come to worship, recall we re baptized children of God and talk about Jesus with other Christians in Bible class so that we will have the words to speak. So we can say why we re going to heaven, because of Jesus. So we can invite people we know to learn more about Jesus. So we are encouraged to pray and support the work of our congregation and synod to bring Jesus saving name to our community and to the world. 4

5 That s why you young people are here, that s why we re all here. To hear about Jesus saving name, so that we build and rest our faith on Christ alone and are equipped by His Holy Spirit through His forgiving power to bring His saving Name to others. Amen. The LORD s right hand has done mighty things! I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done. Amen. 5

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