Sermon Notes: St. Luke the Evangelist, (20th Sunday of Trinity) 18 October 2015 Anno Domini
St. Andrews Anglican Church
1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: 3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: 4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. 6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. 9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.(Acts 1:1-11 KJV)
Today’s lectionary text from the Book of Acts is, like all other parts of the Bible, more sensible and cohesive if quoted in a fuller context; and so I have also included three additional verses to those suggested by the lectionary. Practically all ancient and reliable authorities attribute the Book of Acts to the writing of St. Luke as inspired by the Holy Ghost. It is of such a balanced and broad nature that I do not doubt that fact.
This date in the Church calendar is an opportune time to commemorate St. Luke and even the beginning of the Advent Season. St. Luke, in His Gospel, recorded actual eye-witness accounts of the life of Christ. In this present book, he gives us an account of the Second, and yet unseen, Advent of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I sent out a quote yesterday of Philip Schaff on the importance of history concerning the church: “How shall we labor with any effect to build up the church if we have no thorough knowledge of her history? History is, and must ever continue to be, next to God’s Word, the richest foundation for wisdom, and the surest guide to all successful practical activity.” ~ Philip Schaff. Schaff was a renowned writer and historian of the last century concerning the Church. I believe the above quote to be the most profoundly important of all that he wrote in the many volumes of work he authored. So Acts is the beginning history, continuing history, and future history of the Church. It is one book of the Bible that is incomplete because the history of the Church is being written in the lives of believers today.
The glory of St. Luke is like unto the glory of the pen-quill with which Shakespeare, Hafez, or Longfellow wrote their masterpieces. It is not the quill that embodies meaning, but the mind behind the author who conceived and wrote the story – even if by means of a scribe such as St. Luke (the Quill).
OUR LIVES AUTHENTICATE WHO WE ARE:
Each of you today are writing the story of the church by the living testimony that the world observes in your lives. Hopefully, the chapters will be extensive and intense for beauty. You will acknowledge that the first Bible anyone may see could be that written on the pages of the lives of the church. Look at the opening line of this important Book: “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach.” All that Jesus taught, was also revealed in His actions of compassion, healing, enlightenment, and even judgment. If we are to teach Bible studies, it is incumbent upon us to live a life that will document the credibility of what we teach. No one would venture to have a pile-driver repair a tooth cavity any more than he would hire a dentist to break up a concrete walkway. The teacher must live what he teaches – and Jesus did that.
Note also (from verse 2) that Jesus chose the apostles Himself, and they did not choose Him. No man chooses to become a minister of the Lord unless He is first called, chosen, and empowered by the Holy Ghost to undertake so mighty a work. Many are called and chosen, but have weak ears to hear the call. Those the Lord will make an “offer they cannot refuse.”
The veracity of all Holy Scripture rests upon six fundamental facts of faith: 1) that God is Maker and Creator of all things visible and invisible; 2) that Jesus was conceived of the Holy Ghost by the Virgin Mary; 2) that He lived a sinless life; 4) that He was crucified and buried for the redemption of our sins; 5) that He rose again from the tomb on the third day; and 6) that He ascended to Heaven where He sits on the Right Hand of God the Father. All of these are summarized in our Apostles Creed and proved by Scripture. Even secular history attests to these fundamentals more than any other single event in history. “He shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” In the pulpits of most churches today, there seems to be a loss of memory concerning these fundamentals for they are barely mentioned even at Easter.
FAITH DEMANDS PATIENCE:
“but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.” Sometimes our patience is required in the service of the Lord. We do not like ‘waiting.’ We believe that our works will yield immediately results, but our schedule differs from the timeline of Heaven. Abraham received the Promise 2000 years before its consummation in a manger at Bethlehem. He waited and waited – and so did all of the Godly lineage from Abraham until Christ. They looked for the Promise of His coming, and Abraham saw it, by faith, from 2000 years past.
BAPTISM IS MORE THAN A WET HEAD:
“For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” What is the difference in a saint and a hypocrite, or a Pharisee and a disciple? A hypocrite or a Pharisee may know much more words of the Bible than some true believers – certainly, the Devil knows more than we. “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:19 KJV) So what does St. Luke tell us that differentiates between a simple Bible scholar and a true Bible believer? Is it not the aid and comfort of the Holy Ghost to call to remembrance all things that Scripture has taught us of Christ? Once we have a head knowledge of God – His Creation, His Kingship, His Son – what else is needful? We have a solid understanding in our head, but that head knowledge must be written in the ink of love on our hearts by the Holy Ghost.
DO NOT GET TRAPPED BY TIMELINES AND GENEALOGIES:
How many ‘for profit’ books are being written today, and gaining much filthy lucre for the authors, on prophecy of the end times? or going to Hell or Heaven and back without either a scorch or a crown? This is not our great concern. Christ may come for you in the next ten minutes via a massive heart attack or automobile accident. Why concern ourselves with the trivials? Why not exercise the patience of the saints and allow Christ to surprise us with that dawning of Eternity! “ When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matt 24:35-37 KJV)
And what, pray tell, were the days of Noah like? Just like today, the people ridiculed the righteous teacher. Just like today, the imaginations of men’s heart was continually evil. “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen 6:5 KJV) Just as men are eating and drinking to gluttony, and having no respect of marriage or distinction of sexes, so were the men of Noah’s Day: “For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,” (Matt 24:38 KJV) So I suppose you can use those prolific publications that nail down the very day and hour of Christ’s coming for kindling. (Material used to start a fire for the younger ones here, and what a fire those books will fuel in the hereafter)
DO NOT FRET ABOUT THE ‘MODE’ OF CHRIST’S COMING – SCRIPTURE TELLS US ALL WE NEED TO KNOW:
Luke closes his text for today with this important glimpse of the Second Advent: “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Yes, the scriptures tell us that Jesus was “received by a cloud’ (verse 9 above) at His ascension! It is quite appropriate that a cloud received Him for He was that Pillar of Cloud by Day and Fire by Night that both led and followed the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt. He was the One whom the cloud covered on the Mount of Transfiguration. He was received by a cloud, and He shall return in a cloud. “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen
(Rev 1:7 KJV) So dear friends, do not be dismayed by the cloudy days – they may herald the return of our Lord. Are you ready?