Tuesday, May 27, 2014

“Preaching the Resurrection!” (Acts 17:18-19)

S-1433 6SOE/3A 5/25/2014 Hymns: (O) #191; (S) #204; L.S.#201; #200; #307 (C) #191

Texts: Acts 17:16-31; 1 Peter 32:13-22; John 14:15-21

Theme: “Preaching the Resurrection!” (Acts 17:18-19)

Question: “What difference what we preach makes?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia! The text is from Acts: “Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, ‘What does this babbler wish to say?’ Others said, ‘He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities’—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, ‘May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting?’” (Acts 17:18-19).

Beloved children of the heavenly Father, every Sunday I begin my sermon with these words: “Christ is Risen!” and you respond “He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!” I begin with these words because preaching the resurrection is of the utmost importance. Preaching the resurrection is our foundation. Preaching the resurrection is our focus. Preaching the resurrection is our future. Preaching the resurrection is our faith. Without the Resurrection there is no justification, which means there is no Church! Without the resurrection we have no hope, no help and heaven.

Preaching the resurrection is the message that in Jesus Christ who rose from the dead and in Him eternal death has become eternal life. Preaching the resurrection is the message that our future is bright. Preaching the resurrection is the message we declare to the world that Jesus has indeed destroyed the devil, done away with sin and delivered us from the punishment of hell. Preaching the resurrection is the message that God has restored mankind and creation from death to life. Preaching the resurrection is the message that we need to hear again and again. And that is precisely what Paul is declaring in the text today. For in the preaching of the resurrection we are teaching that man can’t save himself. And it is a message that makes all the difference in the world.

By the grace of God you and I are here today to be taught that the message of the Resurrection is the message of the Church and our message. It is the message our dying world needs to hear just as it was in the day of Paul as he visited Athens.

As we tune into the scene in the Areopagas we find Paul waiting for his companions—Timothy and Silas to join him to do the work God has called him. Paul is very impatient and the Spirit within him is provoked (God the Holy Spirit is doing this) by all of the idolatry in the city. The people are ignorant of the true and living God, enslaved by false gods and prisoners in a life that has no hope or future.

He can’t wait for them to arrive so he begins speaking to the people. He has a message of the resurrection of Jesus that drives him forward. He must confess it! He must tell it! He must live it! If you remember in Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus the Savior said to one of His servants Ananias to say to Paul: But the Lord said to him [Ananias], ‘Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel’” (Acts 9:15). Therefore, Paul preaches the resurrection first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles so that they may know that this Jesus, this unknown God to whom they have an altar—is indeed a living God who came to earth, suffered, died, was buried and rose from the damp and dark grave to live forever. PAUSE.

Likewise, you and I have a mission as followers of Jesus—to preach His resurrection message. Certainly we say it every Sunday morning “Christ is Risen!” But that is not enough. Look at the idolatry in our world. See how many temples people have built for themselves and before which they bow, hoping that these gods—man made gods can give them satisfaction and enjoyment in life.

We, who have heard the message of the resurrection preached, know the blessings that come our way. We have seen what a difference the preaching of the resurrection makes. You have been to funerals where the minister always points to the dead person and all he/she has accomplished and accumulated in life. But these are hollow and empty words that don’t bring any comfort to the survivors. These sermons preach sentimentality and not salvation! But on the other hand you have listened to a funeral and the message of the resurrection and the difference that message brings. The first is simply remembering the person and the second, is having hope in Him who opened the grave once and for all and freed all the children of Adam and Eve from death to life.

That is why we preach the resurrection message every Sunday. For that is our focus, foundation and future. We preach the resurrection because it shows the world that God the Father has accepted the sacrifice of His only Son on Calvary’s cross. We preach the resurrection because it is our hope and help. We preach the resurrection because it teaches us that we will rise bodily from the grave to life eternal with Him—who lives forever & ever—even Jesus Christ. PAUSE.

Benjamin Franklin is known as the “First American” and one of the Founding Fathers of this great Nation. In one of his lighter moments, penned his own epitaph. He didn’t profess to be a Christian, but it seems he must have been influenced by Paul’s teaching of the resurrection of the body. Here’s what he wrote: The Body of B. Franklin, Printer Like the Cover of an old Book Its contents torn out, And stript of its Lettering and Guilding, Lies here, Food for Worms, But the Work shall not be wholly lost: For it will, as he believ’d, Appear once more In a new & more perfect Edition, Corrected and amended by the Author.

Beloved in the Lord, I don’t know about Benjamin Franklin or his belief. But I do agree with him in that the Author of our lives, Jesus Christ will raise us on the last day to be a more perfect edition, corrected and amended by the One who died and rose for us from the grave.

Though it is hard to believe, yet we preach the resurrection because it goes against reason and logic. Certainly the resurrection is not normal and it contradicts our experience. “For our eyes see that the world is swept away by death and dies,” (Luther What Luther Says p. 1216 #3879 Hard to Believe). We preach the resurrection because although it is hard to believe, yet Jesus spoke of how in nature “Except the corn die how will it bear fruit?” (John 12:24) Also, Paul’s arguments in 1 Corinthians 15, “But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?’ You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies’” (vv. 35-36). This message needs to shared especially with unbelievers that the resurrection is unreasonable. Though it is hard to believe and unreasonable, it is our confessional article of faith—faith based on the powerful promises made by Him who destroyed death forever.

With the eyes of faith we see the Resurrected Lord rising with power from death to life. We see in His Word that He is the living Lord. We see it in the lives of Paul and other evangelists as they took this message to every corner of the world and declared Him not as a dead God, but as the LIVING ONE! PAUSE.

Therefore, no matter what the world teaches and preaches—you and I as His followers preach the resurrection. For we, too, have died and been raised to a new life—through the waters of Baptism. In that gift Peter tells us that we have the power of the Resurrection (1 Peter 3:21). In truth the resurrection power of baptism trains us to daily die to self and to rise to live for Christ. What joy we have because of the Resurrection of Christ and ours.

People of the RESURRECTION, We may no longer have any Epicureans, Stoics, and philosophers, but we have doubters and deniers who still worship dead deities as they did in Athens. Like Paul, we ought to speak to this dead world about the living Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Like Paul, we take the message of the Resurrection and proclaim it to the ends of the earth. For we preach Christ and Him crucified, risen and soon returning. Amen.

Now the peace of God…


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