May 17, 2007
Preparation to Witness
Introduction: Today is one of the chief feast days in the life and history of the church. What does this day signify? What is so important concerning this day- this Feast of the Ascension of our Lord? Ascension marks the fact that Jesus’ work on earth is complete. Today marks the fact that Jesus' mission is complete. Yet, there is work for the members of His body to do- We review Jesus words, “And you will receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you. You shall be witnesses of Me in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria- even to the uttermost parts of the earth. Jesus by these words reminds us that we shall receive:
The Power: “But ye shall receive power…”
Jesus has not let us weak- He has not left us powerless. To the contrary, The Lord has given power and strength to His church. He equips us to work for Him as His representatives.
The places where we are given this power are found specifically in His Word which is preached, taught, read and shared. It is found specifically in His blessed Sacraments. It is found specifically in the message of Christ’s forgiveness.
Transition: There is power there are also provisions the Lord has for His people.
The Provision: “After that the Holy Ghost is come upon you…”
God has provided you with His Spirit. Some believe that in the Ascension Jesus has left us. These believe that there is somehow a sense of separation or distance between Christ and His Church. They reason that the Church is on earth and Christ is in heaven so somehow Christ has distanced Himself from His people. Not so! For He has sent us His Holy Spirit.
For what is the role of the Holy Spirit? He calls, gathers, enlightens sanctifies and keeps us in the one true faith. Luther would remind us that the Holy Spirit has called you by the Gospel, gathered you into His church, enlightened you with His gifts, makes you perfect, blameless and holy and will continue to keep you faithful to Him and to the Christian faith. This is the provision He has given to you.
Transition: There is power given, there is provision of the Holy Spirit. There is also the prospect of being witnesses for Christ.
The Prospect: “And ye shall be witnesses unto me…”
The early Christians said repeatedly; “We are witnesses of these things” All the disciples and believers spoke concerning what he Savior had done. The result? Whole families were brought into the family as the Lord was adding them those that were being saved.
You too are witnesses- You too tell the wonderful news concerning Jesus Christ. This is the only way the Church of Jesus Christ grows- one Christian at a time. Yet it is always the Holy Spirit who adds the increase.
Transition: Yet where shall we go? The Holy Spirit has also provided the place.
The Places: “In Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
It’s where God has planted you. For the early Christians of the 1st Century it started in Jerusalem, then Judea, it grew into Samaria- then finally to the uttermost parts of the earth.
For us, living in the 21st Century? It starts sat Friedheim, then it expands into Preble Township, it grows into Northeast Indiana. And with respect to the uttermost parts of the earth. It’s getting so much easier to reach so many. The nations are literally coming to our borders. Residents from foreign lands continue to make their home here in our area. These are also the people God places in your life. This is your mission field.
Conclusion: The 1st Century directive of reaching out continues to be our directive. God the Holy Spirit does all of the work from front to back. He simply uses us to be His instrument. The Holy Spirit has provided the power, the provision, the prospect, the place. Thanks be to God. He has done it all.