Waiting in Faith

Sermon: Easter 7

Acts 1:12-26

While in this ministry of death Judas is certainly the most notorious, he is hardly alone. All of the disciples participated in the handing over of Jesus. Peter three times denied even knowing Jesus. John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, followed at a distance, but never once opened his mouth in Jesus’ defense. As for the rest of the disciples, they ran for cover when the soldiers appeared. The twelve apostles failed in the one responsibility that Jesus demanded of them. When Jesus sent the apostles, the text tells us that “he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God” (Lk 9:2). Yet, on the night when Jesus was betrayed, no one preached; no one opened his mouth to testify concerning our Lord. The apostles were silent; and in their silence, they became tools of darkness.

“Matthias, not otherwise known, but said by Nicephorus to have preached and suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia.

So….What do you think they prayed for? I’m sure they prayed for an increase of faith. I’m sure they prayed for courage and wisdom. I’m sure they prayed for patience. Perhaps, as they began to process the daunting task set before them, they found comfort in Christ’s promise. They found themselves waiting in faith for the promised Spirit of truth, for they had a message of hope to share with the world!

Here is not what happened with the disciples. They did not privatize their faith. They did not include the word polarized in their mission statement. They did not stay in that Upper Room, praying among themselves. They did not try to build a monopoly around Jesus.

Here’s what did happen. They let their faith be known in such a bold way that all were martyred except John. They suffered for the faith. They preached inclusiveness and compassion for all people since it is for all people that Christ died. And yes, they joined together to pray in that Upper Room, but they didn’t stay there. They left to pray among the people and carry the message of Christ’s victory to all nations. And no, it wasn’t a monopoly on the truth; it was a mission in the truth.

  • The resurrected and ascended Christ promises the gift of the Holy Spirit to his disciples that they may give witness to all the earth while remaining steadfast in prayer.
  • That we understand and appreciate that our patience and endurance come from God, who is the author and sustainer of our faith.
  • With salvation secured, what is left? The only thing left to do is to say, “Thank you, Lord.” 
  • That form of gratitude is offered up in worship and prayer. 
  • That gratitude is seen in our witness to others. 
  • That gratitude to God also leaves us anxiously waiting for the Lord—that is, deliverance from sufferings in this world. 
  • We wait anxiously for our homecoming.
  • We earnestly pray that we may never be left without comfort or counsel. 
  • It is not that we pray for the Holy Spirit to enter our hearts at this time (we wouldn’t be praying if we didn’t have the Holy Spirit/faith already!). 
  • Our prayer is that the Spirit of truth would continue in our lives so as we wait for deliverance we wait confidently, patiently, with boldness.
  • As our Savior remains constant in prayer, interceding for us before the Father, we remain in prayer, faithful and confident that we have the Father’s ear because of his Son.
  • With that promised Spirit working in your life—having made you a new person in Christ by your redemption—what are the by-products of your faith? 
  • Trust. Hope. Confidence. 
  • Suffering is inevitable. If you’re a Christian if you’re living your faith out loud—suffering is inevitable. This is what it means to bear a cross. 
  • Thus, there is an obvious need for strength; there is an obvious need for the Spirit of glory and God to rest on those who bear the name of Christ.

V 12: 

  • The English word journey is likely to be misheard by those of us who are accustomed to modern travel standards. 
  • For faithful Jews of Jesus’ day, permissible foot-travel on the Sabbath (for purposes of worship) was limited to two thousand cubits (about eight hundred yards). 
  • This practice is still followed by Orthodox Jews today, with certain caveats.

V 14: 

  • homothymadon, “with one mind”; “with one spirit”; “with one accord.” Occurring in the NT only here and in Rom 15:6.
  • proskartereō, “continue faithfully, remain constant.” (Another wording: “They remained steadfast in prayer.”)
  • “…we must obey his command and operate constantly with the Word, while we leave the time and hour to God (Acts 1:7)” (Tappert, FC SD Xi 56).

We know then where the Lord left his disciples after ascending on high and where he left the church: in the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit. And we know where he leaves us for these remaining days here on earth. He has left us with the order of salvation now fulfilled. So then, do we stand gazing into the clouds like the disciples were caught doing at first? Or, do we follow what they did next? 

The dangers are that we do the following:

 A.  Waste opportunities by never leaving the “Upper Room.”

 B.  Treat the church like a “Members Only Club House.”

 C.  Sometimes forget that we are all on the same team.

  • Consider the apostle’s admonishment: “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought” (1 Cor 1:10).
  • The disciples were united. It’s truly amazing what can be accomplished when everyone is heading in the same direction with purpose. 

V 25: 

diakonias, from diakonia, “ministry,” is descriptive of service toward others, charitable support and help, and of ministerial service to God.

  • We are told no more about Matthias. All our attention is directed to the apostolic witness to Christ and the power of his resurrection. 
  • We have the Good News that he died on the cross for every one of our sins and rose again that one day we will be with him in heaven. What hope fills our hearts, and what joy to share this hope with a broken and hurting world!

Waiting in Faith