October 23, 2016 – 23rd Sunday after Pentecost
by Pastor Pete Scheele
Grace and peace to you as you live in the assurance of God’s love, from God, our Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Today in our reading of the 24th chapter of the Acts of the Apostle we find the Apostle Paul standing before Felix the Governor of Palestine and saying, “Knowing that for many years you have been a judge over this nation, I cheerfully make my defense.” (Acts 24: 10) Today many of us will have to, as we have done in the past make a defense of our faith. So through God’s Word we hopefully will learn from the example of the Apostle Paul how God works in our lives to help us make our defense of our faith in the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and all that He has done for us. Which is showing our respect for the resurrection of the dead given to us.
The first thing that we all need to learn from the Acts of the Apostles is what Jesus taught the Disciples as He says to them and us, “And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.” (Mk. 13:11)
With respect for the resurrection of the dead we are not anxious beforehand about what you are to say. Now I don’t know about all of you, but I like to plan what I am going to say and do beforehand so that I wouldn’t make a fool of myself. But let me also tell you that’s not the way that God and the world lets us do it sometimes. As we have been reading through the Acts of the Apostle we have seen time and time again how Peter, John, Stephen, Philip, Paul and others are put into situations where they have to defend their faith in Jesus Christ with respect for the resurrection of the dead and are able to say just the right words at just the right time to have the greatest effect on the people they are speaking to. They didn’t plan what they were going to say, yet God uses their words to be a testimony to all the world of who God is, what God has done for us and how God is working in our lives thus they show their respect for the resurrection of the dead.
With respect for the resurrection of the dead we say whatever is given us in that hour. What is given to you and me to use in our defense or our respect of the resurrection of the dead? God’s Word! That’s why God gives us His Word and that’s why He reminds us in the Apostle Paul’s letter to Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16 – 17) It is importance to not only hear God’s Word in worship each Sunday, but to study and make God’s Word a part of our life each and every day so that with respect for the resurrection of the dead given to us we may make our defense using God’s Word from our thoughts and minds so that we can show other our respect for the resurrection of the dead given to us.
With respect for the resurrection of the dead we know that it is not we who speak, but the Holy Spirit. The Acts of the Apostles is not just about the works and words that the Apostles did after the ascension of Jesus Christ back to His heavenly throne and the beginning of the Christian Church. No, the Acts of the Apostles is also about how the Holy Spirit is working in our lives through God’s Word and the Sacraments daily to enable us to show our respect for the resurrection of the dead. We have all the witnesses of the past recorded in the Bible and to show us how to defend our faith in the resurrection of the dead along with God’s help and promise as He tells us, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:1–3)
How does the Holy Spirit work in our lives to enable us to have faith in the resurrection of the dead given to us by God and defend it at the right time and in the right way? Well through the Apostle Paul we have been given an example of how to show our respect of the resurrection of the dead as he says, But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets,  having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.  So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man. (Act 24:14-16)
Our respect for resurrection of the dead starts with the basics given to us! As we live in this world we see the law of God working in our lives and in this world, sin. Sin is impossible to understand without God’s Word, but with God’s Word we not only know about our sin but we know what God has done for us to take all our sins away through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for us. The basics of our life and our hope in the resurrection of the dead begins with the love of God, who gave us life and how that sin has come into our life because of our rebellion from God, we have a need for God to come back to work in our lives to save us from sin, death and the power of the devil to bring us back to God’s love. That’s the basics of our faith and God’s love for us.
Our respect for resurrection of the dead is shown by our proclamation of our hope in God! The world that we live is looking for hope in a hopeless world, but we have been given hope by our faith in God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We have hope in God the Father, because our faith has given us the ability to believe that God created this incredible beautiful and complicated world for us and will maintain this world and us out of His great love for us. This hope in God our Father gives us the assurance that He is in control of all that is going on in this world and will use the good and the bad situations in our life to help us and others to come to know the great Love, grace and mercy we have been given by Him.
We have hope in God the Son, because we have come to know that Jesus Christ came into this world of sin to conquer sin, death and the power of the devil for us by His life, death and resurrection. Because Jesus has given us the resurrection of the dead we can live in God’s love, grace and mercy now and for all eternity with Him. The hope we have in God the Son is strengthen in us as we come to worship Him through His Word and Sacraments and as we are given the forgiveness of sins that He purchased and won for each us by His body and blood sacrificed for us on the cross of Calvary and rose again from the grave in the first resurrection.
We have hope in God the Holy Spirit, because we have come to know that the Holy Spirit is working in our lives daily through God’s Word and Sacraments. As we partake in God’s Word and Sacraments and let the Holy Spirit go to work in us we receive faith in the resurrection of the dead and are strengthened our faith so that we can face all the trials and problems of this world. We have hope in the Holy Spirit as our lives are changed from being self-center sinners to Christ centered saints, even though in this world we will be both saints and sinners, with the help of the Holy Spirit we will remain on the path of righteousness and find the peace that only God can give to us.
Our respect in the resurrection of the dead is shown to the world in the pains we take to have a clear conscience with God and man! Oh it’s not easy being a Christian in a world that is ruled by the Devil and his ways, but God is on our side and He wants us to be a witnesses of all the love, grace and mercy He has given to each of us. As we share the love, grace and mercy of God with other we are showing our respect to the resurrection of the dead given to us by God and we are spreading the good news of God’s love, grace and mercy to the ends of the earth.
Oh, We are at war in this world not with our fellow human beings, but we are at war with sin and the power of the devil working in the lives of us and others that want to take our faith in the resurrection of the dead from us, as the Apostle Paul says, “It is with respect to the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you this day.’ (Acts 224:21)
The Resurrection of the dead bring us to the heavenly glory given to us by God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That’s what we are looking for as we proclaim our faith and share the good news that we have come to know about the resurrection of the dead. As we wait for this glorious event to take place Jesus remind us, “But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. 13 This will be your opportunity to bear witness.14 Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer,15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. 17 You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish.19 By your endurance you will gain your lives.” (Lk 21:12 – 19)
The worst that the world and the devil can give may be a part of our lives but our faith in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit will give us the perfect life in the heavenly home prepared for us after the Resurrection of the Dead. So put your hope in the resurrection from the dead and you will show the respect the resurrection of the dead and the life awaiting you in God’s love, grace and mercy forever. Amen.