Monday, June 04, 2012

Sermon on Acts 2:22-36, Holy Trinity Sunday, "The God of Action"

Sermon Outline:
1.      How often do we really live according to the popular phrase, “It’s not about you; it’s about God/Jesus?” Our needs, desires, goals first—what’s in it for me? Not God and His Word first. Prayer is a good test of this: are we praying for “my will be done” or “Thy will be done?” Are we praying for God to change someone else, or do something that serves our needs, or praying for God to change us, for us to serve someone else?
2.      A day like today, Trinity Sunday, and a text like our reading from Acts 2 are good ones for us. Like so many others, we’re just in the back seat, observing what God is doing. Good step back to see that it’s all about God, and Jesus. “God in Action”—God doing all the verbs, all the action in the reading. God doing stuff with, for, and through Jesus.
3.      Just to review: God publicly attested to Jesus v. 22, God did the signs and miracles through Him v. 22, God appointed Him, had foreknowledge of Him v.23, God raised Him, loosing the bonds of death v.24, God made known to Him the paths of life v. 28, God filled Him with gladness v. 28, God swore an oath to David v. 30, God raised Jesus from the dead v. 32, God exalted Jesus to His right hand v. 33, Jesus received the Holy Spirit from God v. 33, God speaks to His Son, seating Him at His right hand of authority, and subordinates all enemies beneath Him. v. 34-5, God made Him both Lord and Christ. All about what God is doing for us. Preparing and carrying out salvation.
4.      God’s actions public—seen by many witnesses, inescapable truth. Jesus given all the “calling cards,” “credentials,” “identity markers” to show Him as the Messiah. Public attestation. Many prophecies He had to fulfill: born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth, proclaim peace and good news to the poor, make the blind to see and the deaf to hear, the lame to walk. His death had to involve the piercing of His hands, feet and side, not one of His bones could be broken in death, He could not be abandoned to the grave, as quoted from Ps. 16 in today’s reading, and His body could not be corrupted or decomposed. And He must rise from the dead! These and many other prophecies were marvelously fulfilled by Jesus. God’s public attestation for the people, that Jesus was truly sent by God.
5.      The hidden part of the plan, the part that was not seen by everyone, but was mysterious, was how He was going to work life and salvation through Jesus’ betrayal, crucifixion at the hands of wicked men, and resurrection. But all known and planned from long before time. God’s infinite wisdom. But the best part is God breaking the bonds of death. Literally the “birth pains” because death is giving way to life in Jesus’ resurrection—a new birth for the old creation. Death had real trouble with Jesus. It couldn’t hold Him down, couldn’t beat Him back, couldn’t chain Him down to the grave.
6.      The sorrows, the pangs of death were great for Christ, He suffered an awful ordeal, but see how God took action in raising Jesus from death. It was more than just a simple wakeup call--David and Peter wrote that in His raising of Jesus He made known to Him the paths of life, filled Him with gladness from His presence, and loosed the pains of death. God took away the grief, the sorrow, the great misery of that awful death, and filled Him with such a gladness and knowledge of Life to fill His heart and tongue with gladness. Life, joy, gladness, hope were all restored. Heart and flesh were glad and dwelt in hope.
7.      Where are we in this reading? What do we do? It’s not about us, it’s about Jesus for us. We are the observers; see and hear all this take place, in awe of God’s majesty and power
8.      We are those who rejoice to see the One who brings great trouble to death. The One whom death can’t hold, even with its miserable chains of fury, agony, grief. And so we’re promised that even death’s worst won’t do us in, that our heart will once again be filled with gladness, and our flesh dwell in the hope of God. We’re filled with gladness to watch God’s Messiah, His chosen Deliverer, walk out of the tomb promising life to all who simply believe in Him. One day we’re going to give death “trouble” too, because of the One who died and rose for us—the grave won’t be able to hold us in on the Day our Messiah, our Savior Jesus appears.
9.      We’re the subjects of the King, the ones who look up to the right hand of God the Father, and worship Jesus in reverence and awe.
10.  We’re the ones who receive His Holy Spirit to dwell in us, as a holy temple; who receive the Triune God’s name in Water and the Word: “You are baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” God places His mark of ownership on you. The seal of His name, marking you as redeemed (bought back) by Christ the crucified.
11.  This passage, like so many others, puts us in the “back seat” where we belong, watching God at work, instead of trying to be “back seat drivers.” God is in control, He moves the great events of time, sometimes clearly, sometimes in a hidden and mysterious way. But His plan is behind it all. God is in action—Father, Son, Holy Spirit, working out His salvation for you. He accomplishes it by His mighty power in the sight of all, and gives it freely to all who believe as the Words and promises of God declare. Amen.    

Sermon Talking Points
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  1. Note on the Athanasian Creed: The end of the creed makes reference to all people rising and giving an account concerning their deeds, and that those who’ve done good will enter into eternal life, and those who have done evil into eternal fire. Examine these Scripture passages that refer to the judgment: Matt. 12:35-37; 25:31-46; John 5:21-29, esp. vs. 24, 29 & John 6:28-29; cf. Rom. 8:1. While works are examined in the final judgment, those who have faith are spared judgment and condemnation on account of Jesus’ righteous life.
  2. In Acts 2:22-36, Peter quotes two Psalms of David, Psalm 16 & 110, that prove Jesus was God’s designated Messiah (Christ, “Anointed One”) and that God had exalted Him to the highest place. Read both Psalms in their entirety. How does Peter argue that Ps. 16 could not refer to David, but must instead refer to Jesus?
  3. Read through Acts 2:22-36 and pay attention to the verbs, the “action words.” What are the actions that God Himself performs in these verses? How is salvation ultimately the work of our Triune God, and not our own works? How is God the “God of action?” What actions of God are commonly associated with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
  4. In v. 22, Peter talks about how God has publicly attested to Jesus as His chosen Messiah. He uses the language of a public certification for office. What marked Jesus as the Messiah? What were His “credentials”? Isaiah 61:1-3; Is. 53; Micah 5:2, etc.
  5. How was God’s definite plan, though hidden from mankind at first, at work in Jesus’ death and resurrection? John 10:17-18; Matt. 16:21. How is this resurrection hope decreed for all who believe in Jesus? John 11:25-26. 

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