Sunday, May 10, 2009

Today's Easter 5 Sermon

. . . in which I don't mention mothers at all. . . partially because I don't do a special Mother's Day sermon, but mainly because I had a funeral Tuesday, and as such, the fact that *Sunday* was Mother's Day didn't even dawn on me.

Sometimes in my mind there is a divide between Church time and World time. That's good - and sometimes, it's not.

Easter 5 – May 10th, 2009 – John 16:5-15

Christ is Risen – He is Risen Indeed, Alleluia – Amen
As Christ our Lord speaks to the Disciples Maundy Thursday evening in our Gospel text, He is preparing them for the life in the Church after Pentecost. Our Lord is preparing them for how things will work when they are no longer His disciples but His Apostles, how things will work even as they do now, in the time of the Church. When Christ has ascended, then the Helper, the Holy Spirit will come. I will send Him to you. And of course, we see this happen on Pentecost, and we are part of the Pentecost Church, even unto this very day. So this morning, we will give ear to the Words of our Lord and see what we learn about the Holy Spirit and how He works.

First, we need to remember that there is a tie, a connection between Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Sometimes today there is this idea that the Holy Spirit just runs around like a wild, loose cannon, sometimes just randomly popping up and zapping us, or sometimes just completely disappearing until we flap our arms and get His attention. But that’s not the case. In Scripture, our Lord always ties the Holy Spirit to Himself, to His Word. Lets consider what our Lord says. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth, 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 go, I will send Him to you. Do you hear the connection and tie? The Holy Spirit is the Helper who is sent by Christ – there is order, there is structure there. The Holy Spirit isn’t running around like some kid on a sugar high, bouncing off the walls – He is working to Help, He is working as He is sent by Christ. You aren’t going to have the Holy Spirit doing things apart from or unrelated to Christ.

Or consider this – I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you. Again, do you see the connection between the Spirit and Christ? The Spirit is the Spirit of Christ. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life – and so if the Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, He is the Spirit of Christ. If the Spirit is the Giver of Life, He is tied to Christ. And specifically here, we see Christ telling us that the Spirit is tied to the Word. The Holy Spirit will speak forth the Word of God, He will speak forth Christ, He will take Christ and proclaim Christ forth. And when does this happen? In the writing of the New Testament – when the Holy Spirit carried along the Gospel Writers and the Epistle writers and had them speak forth, write down all these things which Christ says to us in His Word. The Holy Spirit is tied to the Word. Christ, the Word of God, and the Holy Spirit – these two always work together. One of the fathers in the early Church referred to Christ and the Spirit as the Hands of God – the Hands that work together. We see this at Creation – what’s going on at Creation? The Father speaks – see the Word, and things happen. The Spirit is there as well, hovering over the deep, breathing in the breath of life – because the Spirit and the Word go hand in hand.

Thus, if we want to know where the Holy Spirit is, where He is present, where He is active – we know it is wherever the Word of God is. When we study the Holy Scriptures – the Holy Spirit is there. When we pray, that is when we speak back to God His own Word, when we pray as He has taught us to – the Holy Spirit is there – indeed, it is the Holy Spirit who is doing the praying, for as Romans teaches us, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” When we speak out Christ’s Words to others, we know that the Holy Spirit is there, in fact, we know that it is the Holy Spirit who is doing it - For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. God works through the Word, and the Holy Spirit always attends that Word and is active through the Word. Whenever the Spirit is working, it’s always with and through God’s Word. Simple as that.

And our Lord Jesus even tells us what work the Spirit will do through the Word, what we can expect the Holy Spirit to accomplish through the Word of God. Our Lord says, “And when He comes He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” Three things the Spirit will convict, will concretely speak about – sin and righteousness and judgment. So let’s look at these three things. To begin, sin. Concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me. The Holy Spirit will cut to the heart of the matter when dealing with sin. All sin is a violation of the First Commandment – Thou Shall Have No Other Gods before Me. All sin is not believing, is ignoring God, ignoring Christ Jesus the very Word of God, and instead doing what you yourself want. And part of the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict people of their sin. The Holy Spirit is why the Law of God works – why God’s Law will thump you when you’ve done wrong. The Holy Spirit, using God’s Word, will let you know when you’ve gone astray, will call you repentance. That’s one of the things He does.

Another is that the Spirit convicts the world concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father. Strange things can happen when we start talking about righteousness here in the world. If we want to talk about our own righteousness, how we in and of ourselves are righteous – then the Holy Spirit is going to smack us down. The truth that the Scriptures tell is that there is not one who is righteous, no, not one – that all our works are as but filthy rags, that no man many boast. If we wish to point to our own righteousness, the Spirit will show us that we are wrong and in error, that we are of ourselves unrighteous. However, the Spirit also shows us where righteousness truly is – and that is in Christ. Note again what Christ says, “concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father.” When Christ rises from the dead, when He ascends, this is the ultimate proof that He is righteous, that Christ Jesus is the righteous One – and more over, that by the power of the Word Christ’s righteousness is made our righteousness – that God considers us to be righteous on account of Christ Jesus – and the Holy Spirit, by the power of the Gospel, creates faith and ties us to Christ, ties us to Christ’s righteousness – so that we receive what is Christ’s as our own. This is the heart of our faith – that we who were sinners are made righteous in Christ because Christ is righteous. This is why we over and over proclaim that God is righteous, that He is just. Because God is Just, He makes us just – He justifies us. We are justified by grace through faith – and this faith comes how? By hearing the Word of God, the same Word that the Spirit works in. This is where it all ties together – life and forgiveness and salvation are all made ours by the Holy Spirit working through the Word, taking what is Christ’s and giving it to us.

And finally, the Holy Spirit will convict the world concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. The Holy Spirit will speak a Word of comfort to us while we are still in this world. There are times when being a Christian in this sinful world is hard – when we look and we see ever more and more wickedness. Yet what does the Spirit say to us when we behold the vileness in the world – the ruler of this world is judged – he’s judged, the deed is done, one little word can fell him. This is the great comfort of the Holy Spirit – for it is the Spirit working through the Word that draws our eyes off of the simple, horrid things of life, and rather pulls our eyes unto Christ, so we see everything through Christ – so we at all time remember the death and resurrection of our Lord and know and are focused on His victory.

This is how Christ tells the disciples things will be, and this is how they are, even unto this day. We begin our worship calling upon God, Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit – and we are gathered here around the Word, and the Holy Spirit works through that Word to forgive our sins, to bring us growth in faith. The Holy Spirit then opens our lips so that our mouths might show forth praise, that our lips might speak words of prayer that are pleasing in the sight of God – that we might know forgiveness and comfort, that we might be given joy, that we might be strengthened and enriched in love. And all of this, Christ has promised through His Spirit, whom we find whenever we are in the Word. This is the wisdom of God – that you need never struggle to seek Him, for He has told you where He is to be found – the Spirit of Truth is always present with the Word, and when you hear the Gospel of Christ, the Holy Spirit keeps and sustains you in the true faith, even unto life everlasting, so that you might share for all eternity in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is Risen! (He is Risen indeed, Alleluia) Amen.

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