Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
303-665-6105
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April 15 – The Power Of Christ’s Resurrection

EASTER 2 – April 15, 2012 – Acts 4:32-35

“THE POWER OF CHRIST’S RESURRECTION”

 

Introduction:  Grace be to you and peace, from God our Father, and from our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Our text is the First Reading from the book of Acts.  We begin with prayer.

 

Dear fellow disciples of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ:

  • We all come to “the church,” and relate to the church based upon what we have been taught and our past experiences with “the church.” Just as in other areas of life, we assume these perceptions into our “presuppositions” and then operate accordingly.  Often, we are unwilling or simply lack time and energy to “examine” these presuppositions – and so for years we simply assume that our perceptions and presuppositions are “correct.”
  • When we see and hear descriptions of the life of the early church like that in our text, which vary quite a bit from our own experiences within the church, we often have a “disconnect.”  We can hardly consider seriously what is described, or relate to it – so we just shuck it off as impossible to understand, or relegate it to just more irrelevance from ancient history.
  • But perhaps, especially when we see the church struggling in our own times, we would do well to look more carefully at the dynamics of the earthly church, and give some consideration as to whether it would be better for us to more closely emulate those dynamics in our own congregational life, and our own personal fellowship within the church.
  • It is obvious from the history of the early church recorded in Holy Scripture that there were great blessings but also great challenges and problems in the early church.  But from our text we learn that:

I.  Within The Early Church There Was Great Unanimity And Agreement In Faith, Being, And Sense Of Purpose

 

Text:  “The full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul.”

Statement:

  • Stop to consider for moment how this compares with our own congregation, our own church body, and the whole visible church in the world today.  How apt would this description be of the church today?

 1.    We might be tempted to think that with all the denominations, there is very little “unity and agreement” today, but the fact is, there is complete agreement in much of the doctrine – though our differences remain problematic and significant.

2.    We might also think that with all the debate within our Synod, that there is not much “unity and agreement” today – but our differences are rather miniscule compared with the disagreements that exist within many church bodies and between church bodies.

3.    We are also well aware that within our own congregation there are times when significant differences of opinion surface, and that given our cultural emphasis on individuality and uniqueness, there is a lot of disunity even within our little church.  However, there is tremendous unanimity and agreement about the things that matter most – our confession of faith in Christ!

Application:

  • Still, the description in our text is intriguing – “The full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul.”  Is this something to be desired, something to work toward, something to aspire to as a congregation?  Is this a blessing that we would like to have more of?  Is this God’s will for us?  Perhaps it would help to hear the prayer of Jesus in this regard:

 

John 17:20,21  “”I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one, just as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.”

 

Transition:  This then is part of the power of Christ’s resurrection, and bears witness to His resurrection – this unity of heart and soul, and it is something that we should all aspire to, and be willing to invest our time and energy in, particularly in Bible Study! 

 

And according to our text, this unity of “heart and soul” manifests itself and exhibits itself outwardly, for we read in our text that:

 

II.  All Of These Early Believers Had The Same Love And Compassion For One Another

 

Text:  “No one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. . . . There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.”

 

Statement:

  • This is so counter-cultural that it is almost frightening to us – we who have lived our whole lives in a capitalistic country, growing up with concepts of personal responsibility, self-reliance, self-determination, and ambition and zeal to “make a good life for ourselves.”
  • It is also quite contrary to basic sinful dynamics of selfishness and pride – to make sure that we have all that we need to satisfy our wants and desires, and that others have to acknowledge that we are “hard workers, ambitious, industrious, skilled, knowledgeable, successful,” that we have progressed and gotten ahead of most others around us. 

 

Application:

  • Unfortunately, much of this has integrated itself into the life of the church – so that often the basic reality within the church is quite different than the description of the church in our text. 
  • And when we think of all of this, we probably tend to feel much the “rich young ruler” must have felt when Jesus told him:

 

Mark 10:21  “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

  • Now, to relieve you somewhat – there are no commands in Scripture requiring us to do this.  And in fact, if we were to do this unwillingly, or by some coercion, then it would ruin the “goodness” of the whole thing.  No, these people were under no external compulsion or order to do what they did – rather, it seemed to them the natural thing to do in consideration of God’s great love for them in Christ Jesus, and they did it because of the love that was in their hearts for God and for one another. 

 

Transition:  Still, it seems reasonable and prudent for us to consider their example of love and compassion.  For we also see from our text that:

 

III.  God’s Great Power And Grace Was Upon These Early Believers In Jesus

 

Text:  “And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.”

 

Statement:

  • I would expect that all of us would desire these blessings for the church today – the great power and grace of God being upon all of us!  But how is this to be received – how do we prepare ourselves to experience this rich blessedness of God within the fellowship of the church, within this congregation?
  • The testimony of those in the office of the ministry today should be no different than that of the apostles – I think we would all agree with that!  And I suspect that we would all prefer that this “testimony” would bear much fruit – that many people would come to honest repentance, joy in God’s forgiveness, and peace, comfort, and courage in the sure and certain hope of our own resurrection.

Application:

  • So the pastors today, if they truly desire the growth and blessedness of the church, should in fact conform all of their teaching and preaching to that of the apostles. 
  • But what about our “unity” in faith, our oneness of “heart and soul”?  Are we willing to strive for this – to study the Scripture, to conform, to affirm one another?
  • And what about our unity in love and compassion – are we willing, and ready to move in the direction of the early church, where:

 

“There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.”

 

Conclusion:

  • Again, we all have certain presuppositions about the nature of the church, about our life together within the church, and about our own personal relationship with the church and our fellow believers.
  • We also have certain presuppositions about the nature of life in this world – of what we should be working for, striving to accomplish, and what rewards should be ours. 
  • Is there need for reevaluation and rethinking?  I suspect there always is!  Are we willing to do some of that rethinking?  Are we truly willing to receive and participate in “THE POWER OF CHRIST’S RESURRECTION”? 
  • I pray that we are – and that we recognize that there is no blessing greater than having “great grace” upon all of us!  May God grant each of us genuine repentance, deep experience of His gracious and merciful love, and that His great grace and power be upon us!  There is no need for us to wait for others – let them follow us and join us.  May our unity of faith express itself in unified love and compassion for one another.  Amen.

 

Votum:  And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in the true faith, which is in Christ Jesus, even unto life everlasting, Amen.