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Ascension and the Steadfast Work of Our Lord

Rev. Kurt Hering
Trinity Lutheran Church  
Layton, Utah

Thu, May 26, 2005 

Preaching to the saints of the Lutheran Church at Christ-Elkhart and Faith-Hugoton in Kansas since February 8, 2015. All sermons prior to that date were preached either at Trinity Lutheran Church-Layton or First Lutheran Church-Tooele, Utah.

Greetings, dear baptized -- in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the holy Spirit!

"The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach." [Acts 1:1 NKJ] With these words Luke, the "beloved physician" and faithful companion of the Apostle Paul during his missionary journeys and imprisonment, opens the book of Acts. Although this book has come to be known to Christendom as "The Acts of the Apostles," with his words of introduction Luke indicates that his account of the early church was not intended to be a tribute to the achievement or heroism of the apostles or any other man or woman named along the way. Citing his former account ... of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Luke signals that the works and growth of the church "in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8 NKJ) recorded in the book of Acts are the continuation of the localized acts of Christ recorded in the Gospel of Luke.

While the localized acts of Christ -- specifically His suffering, death and resurrection -- accomplished salvation for all people in every place and every time, it remains for this salvation to be delivered "to the end of the earth" and "to the end of the age." Therefore, in preparation for His ascension from the company of the disciples to the company of his Father in heaven, Jesus the Christ spoke

 of a time when "he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father." (John 14:12 NKJ)

 of a time when, in order that believers might be able to do these works, "It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you."

 of a time when in doing these works -- i.e. "baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you -- it will be seen that in believers doing these works by the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus promise, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt 28:19-20 NKJ) is fulfilled.

By His ascending to the right hand of the Father, Christ now exercises His power wherever and whenever He pleases. This He does by sending the Holy Spirit to gather believers around His Word and Sacraments and into His very presence, then sending those believers out into the world with the same Word and Sacraments. In this way "all that Jesus began both to do and teach" is continued in the work or Acts of the people He calls "church." This continuing work of Christ through the sending of His Holy Spirit beginning at Pentecost, signals that the "last days" have begun (Acts 2:17). These last days will continue until the last of God's elect has been gathered into the body of Christ and the fold of His heavenly kingdom. (Romans 8:30, 2 Peter 3:9)

"All that Jesus began both to do and teach" did not conclude with the last chapter of the Gospel of Luke and it did not conclude with the last chapter of Acts. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, continues His work to this day and even to the end of the age. You and I are members of His body of believers in these last days. As such we, just like the apostles and the believers of the Book of Acts, continue the work of our Savior, Jesus Christ, to deliver His salvation "to the end of the earth" and "to the end of the age."

To that end, let us continue "steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers." (Acts 2:42 NKJ) It is in this way and this way alone, that "the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." (Acts 2:47 NKJ) For where the word of God is taught and proclaimed and where people are baptized and fed the very body and blood of Christ, there the Lord is sure to be found forgiving sins and gathering His people, the church, into His heavenly kingdom.

"Steadfastly" means summertime too.

I look forward to seeing you in worship and Bible study in these last days- and in God's kingdom forevermore.

Your servant in Christ,

Pastor Hering

* Source: Franzmann, Martin H. The Word of the Lord Grows, 204-212.

Insofar as this sermon is a true proclamation of the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, it belongs to Him and His Church. Therefore its use is free to all who deem it worthy and beneficial.

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