Sermon Text: Acts 4:8 – 12
Theme: Confidently Confess Christ!
During my sermon on Easter Sunday, I referred to the survey by the Barna Group that is mentioned in the bulletin today. One of the sad conclusions of that survey is that “those who celebrate Easter because of the resurrection of Christ are not particularly likely to invite non-churched friends to worship, suggesting that their personal beliefs about Jesus have not yet translated into a sense of urgency for having spiritual conversations with their acquaintances.”
Certainly my prayer is that this is not true of you or me. I pray that you and I ARE filled with a sense of urgency to tell people about Jesus, because as Peter confesses in God’s Word before us “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” The encouragement you and I receive from God’s Word is to be like Peter; not the Peter who denied his Savior three times; rather, the Peter in our first reading today from Acts, chapter 4. Today, you and I receive the encouragement to CONFIDENTLY CONFESS CHRIST!
The reading before us from Acts chapter 4 continues the reaction to the almighty Lord, using Peter to heal a man who was crippled from birth. Last week, as he spoke with the crowd which had gathered following that healing, Peter confidently confessed Christ as the one who healed the man.
Now, before the religious leaders of his day, Peter confidently confesses Christ as the promised Savior. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter quotes from Psalm 118 when he confesses about Jesus that he is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.'” And that “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
By God’s grace, this is Good News that you and I know and confess as well. As you and I confidently confess Christ, we confess that there is only one way that we are saved. It is not by anything that we can say or do. In fact, left on our own, you and I are deserving only of God’s wrath and punishment in hell.
But working through the powerful Word of God, God the Holy Spirit has created faith in your heart and mine; that God-given gift of faith that trust in Jesus and confidently confesses Christ as the one and only Savior. Only by the means of grace, only by the power of the Gospel message, are you and I able to confidently confess about Christ along with John in our second lesson for today, “He [Jesus] is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”
This brings to mind another point: you and I confidently confess Christ so that many others may know him as their Lord and Savior:
As parents and grandparents, we confidently confess Christ to our children and grandchildren, each time we share with them the message of God’s Word. As we read in Psalm 78, “We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.”
As members of St. Matthew’s, you and I confidently confess Christ to others who do not yet know Jesus as their one and only Savior. We do this in the private conversations that we have. This is also the main reason why we are building our new childcare center and school out on Highway P; so that we have many more opportunities to confidently confess Christ to young people and their families. It is Jesus himself who says to you and me in Matthew 19, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
As members of our Wisconsin Synod, you and I confidently confess Christ as together with our Brothers and Sisters in Christ, we combine our resources to send out missionaries to places where you and I aren’t able to go, both in our own country and around the world. As our church body faces a shortage of 125 pastors and 180 teachers, we encourage young people to consider serving in the full-time ministry and we invest in their training so that they are able to go out and confidently confess Christ. To our young people here today, there is this encouragement: the Lord needs you! He needs you to confidently confess Christ as you serve him either as a pastor, a teacher or a staff minister in our Synod. For it is in Romans chapter 10 that we read, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'”
The story is told about a young Christian man who spent his summer working in a factory. Each day he was surrounded by people who loved to use foul language, to brag about their immoral lifestyles and to make fun of Christians and Christianity day after day. When he returned to school in the fall, his friends asked him how he could work in such a place as that factory. To which the young man answered: “It was really easy! You see…I never let on that I was a Christian.”
In a sinful world, which is becoming more and more hostile towards us as Christians, you and I may be tempted to be like that young man; to hide the fact that we are Christians and followers of our Lord and Savior. May God the Holy Spirit continue to use his all powerful Word to strengthen your faith and mine in Jesus as our one and only Savior from sin! May he continue to use that same Word to make you and me bold so that, at all times and in all situations, you and I confidently confess Christ! Amen.