Sermon for 04.30.23 “Real world? Real Savior!”

Easter 4, April 30, 2023
Text: Acts 2:42–47
Theme: Real world? Real Savior!
Other Lessons: Psalm 23; 1 Peter 2:19–25; John 10:1–10

A. In the Name of the Father…Amen.
B. The first reading from Acts 2 serves as the sermon text for this morning.
C. Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God our heavenly Father through
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
D. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:

LSB 911:1 Lord, This Day We’ve Come to Worship
Lord, this day we’ve come to worship;
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
Grace us with Your blessèd presence;
Blessèd Savior, be our host. Refrain

Alleluia, alleluia,
Alleluia, praise the Lord!
Alleluia, alleluia,
Alleluia, praise the Lord!


A. As beautiful as the scene of our sermon text is, it almost has a “Once
upon a time” feel to it.
1. This is not to say that St. Luke is romanticizing things or that he
doesn’t have his facts straight.
2. It just seems that the scene he describes is like nothing we have ever
experienced before.
3. And if you have never experienced such a beautiful scene, perhaps you
wonder what help Luke’s words have to offer.
B. We should not assume these conditions of the early church would be in
the church’s future.
1. Luke lets us peer through a small window into life in the early church.
2. What we get to see through that window is by no means a full-length
feature film, but it is also much more than a mere snapshot.
3. The church described in our text is bustling with activity:
a. a vibrant life of worship
b. and an avalanche of generosity toward the needy,
c. a beautiful camaraderie that no snapshot could capture.
4. It’s like the flurry of activity you see when an ants’ nest has been
stirred up.
a. Every single member of the body seems to be busy with something.
C. Perhaps to us, the problem with this beautiful scene is that it (almost)
lacks any problems.
1. You almost have to read between the lines to find anything less than
2. Apparently, not everyone in Jerusalem had yet come to faith in Christ.
3. But at the same time we hear these words:
Acts 2:43 (NASB95)
43Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were
taking place through the apostles.
4. The people were:
a. Acts 2:47 (NASB95)
47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was
adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
5. There were people who needed help
Acts 2:45 (NASB95)
45and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing
them with all, as anyone might have need.
a. but those needs seemed to be met as soon as they came to light.
6. So if there is any problem with this beautiful scene, it’s that it seems
too beautiful.
a. We have a hard time relating to it.
b. After all, we live in what we have cynically come to refer to as the
“real world,” right?
D. We may live in the “real world,” but for that “real world,” God in his
grace has provided a real Savior, the risen Lord Jesus Christ, our Good
1. I don’t need to tell you that the church today is living in the “real
world,” a world where sin seems out of control, where it’s often hard to
distinguish the church from the world it’s supposed to be witnessing to.
A. Churches embracing homosexuality as an “alternative” lifestyle.
B. Condoning rearranging the order of God’s creation:
1. It’s okay if a boy wants to be a girl.
2. It’s okay if a girl wants to be a boy.
3. All this is to be seen as “normal”.
4. If it makes you feel better about yourself, do it!
5. This is not normal and it is wrong according to God and His Word!
C. Today’s church faces a growing opposition from the world around it.
1. Now, this is nothing new for many Christians around the word, but for
the church here in North America, this is not something we are accustomed
a. Then we hear, far more often than we would like, of scandals within the
1. embezzlements,
2. sexual misconduct,
3. misappropriated funds,
4. things that give the church a real black eye and have the world telling
the church to clean up its own act before it dares to preach to others.
b. Individually, we all have our own battles against sin:
c. not big, public scandals, per se,
d. but private problems that only we and maybe a close friend or two know
e. But they are still battles, and they leave us bruised and wounded.
2. Then there are wounds we’re nursing from others’ sins against us, and
our struggle to forgive as we have been forgiven.
a. Add these all together, and it seems our world bears no resemblance to
the world Luke describes in our text for this morning.
D. But remember: as beautiful as it is, the scene Luke describes is just a
small window into the early church.
1. It teaches us some wonderful things, but Luke is not suggesting that the
early church faced no real problems.
a. Keep reading! In chapter 4, real hostility arises against the church as
Peter and John are arrested for proclaiming the Gospel.
b. In chapter 5, the church faces scandal.
1. Ananias and Sapphira apparently wanted to see their names on a big wall
plaque, announcing what generous people they were.
2. They pretended to make a big donation to the poor, but it was all for
show; and to pull this off, they lied:
A. to the church,
B. to the apostles,
C. but ultimately to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3).
c. Moving on to chapter 6, we hear the Greek-speaking widows complaining
that they were being discriminated against.
2. We could go on and on, but you get the point.
a. Whatever else Luke is teaching us, it is not that the early church faced
no real problems.
b. The world of those early Christians was every bit as “real” as ours is.
2. But for people (then and now) who find themselves in the “real world,”
our text proclaims the life that comes from the very real (and risen)
A. Jesus lives! The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
1. Luke’s description of life in the early church is beautiful, not because
those Christ­ians faced no real problems, but because they were learning to
face real problems with a real and living Savior!
2. Jesus lives!
B. And because he lives, we shall live also—in him!
John 14:19 (NASB95)
19“After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see
Me; because I live, you will live also.
1. Our Good Shepherd is leading his flock to life.
a. With David, we pray:
Psalm 23:6 (NASB95)
6Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
2. But the Scriptures also make it clear:
a. eternal life does not eventually begin when you die in faith.
b. Eternal life has already begun from the moment God joined you in faith
to Christ, your Good Shepherd, in and through your Baptism.
John 5:24 (NASB95)
24“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who
sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed
out of death into life.
3. The Good Shepherd leads us through the valleys of life:
Psalm 23:4 (NASB95)
4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no
evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
4. Why does He do this?:
Psalm 23:6 (NASB95)
6Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
5. No doubt, we look forward to that glorious day.
a. But that life is already now being manifested in his church.
C. That’s what makes our text so exciting.
1. It’s not that the early church had no real problems.
a. It’s that they knew they had a real Savior, and that glorious truth
could not help but show itself in how they lived out their faith.
2. That life manifested itself in their devotion to the Lord’s Word and
Acts 2:42 (NASB95)
42They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and
to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
a. Luke is speaking of the three thousand or so who had come to faith in
Jesus on Pentecost.
3. They were steadfastly devoted “to the apostles’ teaching” because that
is where they heard the voice of the Good Shepherd’s.
4. They were devoted to “the fellowship,” their sharing together in Christ
and all his gifts, including the gift of the family of faith.
5. They were devoted to “the breaking of bread,” which may have included
the Agape meals that were part of the early church, but it especially
involved the regular celebration of the Lord’s Supper.
6. And they were devoted to “the prayers.”
a. For God had made them:
Exodus 19:6 (NASB95)
6and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are
the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”
b. and they earnestly took up their priestly work of interceding for
c. The early church lived from a rich, vibrant life of worship!
7. Because they were so strongly connected to their Good Shepherd’s voice,
that Word took root in them and made them agents through whom the Good
Shepherd extended his care to others.
Acts 2:45 (NASB95)
45and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing
them with all, as anyone might have need.
a. No one told them they had to do this.
b. It was simply the natural care and concern they had for one another as
part of the flock of the Good Shepherd.
D. Yes, the church today has problems.
1. But what better time to manifest the life and love of Christ?
a. The same God of love,
b. the same risen Savior,
c. the same Holy Spirit,
d. They are all still at work in the church today!
2. The church of Jesus continues to be fed and strengthened by our Lord’s
Word and Sacrament.
a. We gather together to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd by:
1. Devoting ourselves to the apostolic teaching,
2. To the fellowship,
3. To the breaking of bread,
4. And to the prayers.
3. Strengthened by these gifts of grace, the church of Jesus continues to
serve as the agent through whom the Good Shepherd extends his care to
others in their various needs.
a. First among those needs is the proclamation of the Gospel.
1. Everyone still needs to hear that Jesus has died for her or his
b. But lots of other activities bear witness to that Gospel:
1. food pantries,
2. grief counseling,
3. care for the sick and dying.
4. these and countless other expressions of care are a natural outgrowth of
the church’s life, and they all happen because our real and living Savior
lives in and through his church.

A. We sometimes speak of people who “look at life through rose-colored
1. We have in mind people who are overly optimistic and seem not to want to
face reality.
2. Such an over-optimistic outlook can be dangerous when it refuses to take
into account the real sin (and its effects), the real evil, that has
infected God’s good creation.
3. When the optimism has no foundation, sooner or later the bubble will
burst, leaving behind it shattered hopes, dreams, and even lives.
B. In the resurrection of Jesus, God allows his people to look at life
through Christ-colored glasses (Acts 2:42–47).
1. Our optimism is not based on ungrounded personal wishes, but on God’s
sure and certain promise grounded in the death and resurrection of Christ.
2. As we look at life and the world, we can view it as marked with the sign
of the cross.
3. We can look at life as it truly is:
A. as part of God’s very good creation, beautiful, and yet infected with
(and affected by) sin.
B. So, there will be times of joy and beauty.
C. There will also be times of sorrow, sadness, and suffering.
D. But all of it falls under the promise of God’s steadfast love in Christ,
E. Romans 8:28 (NASB95)
28And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those
who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
C. Life in the early church as St. Luke describes it might seem too good to
be true, like it’s not part of the “real world.”
1. Just remember: our text is not the church’s whole history.
2. Other parts of that history testify to sin’s ongoing presence, and to
the church’s ongoing need for a very real Savior.
D. But the church has just such a Savior; and while our text is not the
church’s whole history, it is a very real part of that history, and it
demonstrates the very real life which our very real Savior has imparted to
his beloved, forgiven flock.
E. While Leading You, His Sin-Wounded Sheep, to Life, the Good Shepherd
Creates among You the Very Life to Which He Is Leading You.
F. And you shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever! Amen.
G. Let us pray:
LSB 911:3,5 Lord, This Day We’ve Come to Worship
May Your Word enrich our spirit,
Give us strength to do Your will,
Show the kingdom we’ll inherit,
When at last our voice is still. Refrain

Celebrate the resurrection
In the church and sing His praise,
Till we come to true perfection:
Serve the Lord through all our days. Refrain
Text: © 1995 Richard C. Dickinson. Used by permission: LSB Hymn License no.
H. The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts
and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
I. In the Name of the Father…Amen.