Saturday, May 23, 2015

Pentecost Sermon

Pentecost Day - John 15 and 16 - May 23rd and 24th, 2015

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit +
What is the Holy Spirit's job? As today we are celebrating Pentecost, the giving of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles and the Church - what is the Holy Spirit's job? It's a simple question, isn't it - but it's also one to which I hear plenty of strange and bizarre answers. If you don't believe me, just turn on the TV. Folks will talk about the Spirit giving them extra special powers, or blame the Spirit for whatever ideas they come up with. It's almost as though whenever people want to claim something that isn't in the Bible, they pin that tale on the the Holy Spirit, making a donkey of Him. That's not what the Holy Spirit is about. Today, rather than just making up things to our twisted heart's delight, we will look at the Scriptures and listen to Jesus tell us what the Holy Spirit's job is - so that we might rejoice in the Spirit, and also learn not to be led astray. Listen to Christ Jesus.

"When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness about Me." First things first - we get the Holy Spirit described here as a "Helper". That word there - Helper - is a hard one for us to get our minds around in English. Some translations will use the Name "Comforter" - or some of you might remember the translations that just say "Paraclete" - which is the Greek word there. So, what is a Paraclete, exactly how does the Spirit Help and Comfort us? In the ancient world, a paraclete was basically your defense lawyer. He was the person who would sit along side you and help you with your defense, who would comfort you when the accuser was going on and on - who would say to you, "Don't worry, we're going to get you out of this, and you will be declared not guilty." The Holy Spirit is your defense lawyer against the charges of sin and damnation that Satan, the Accuser, levels against you. The Holy Spirit is Perry Mason, is Bill Matlock, is whatever other awesome Defense lawyer you can think of. And His job is to bear witness (see, another legal term), to bear witness to you about Christ Jesus so that whenever Satan breathes his threats and murders against you, you would remember, "This case is in the bag - for I am declared innocent on account of the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, my Lord!" That is how He helps, that is how He comforts you - so that at all times you would remember that your salvation and life have been won by Christ Jesus and what He has done for you.

And here as well is an important check. Jesus says that the Spirit will bear witness about Jesus. Everything the Holy Spirit does, He does with the goal of preaching the Gospel. If it's not about Jesus, if it's not driving to the point of redemption and salvation - it's not the Holy Spirit. Whenever you hear people talk about the Spirit, but they don't get to Jesus winning forgiveness for you - you can know for a fact that they are off and wrong and lying, for as Jesus says of the Spirit, "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." Well, wait - it just said that the Spirit will speak about things that are to come - sure. And why? To glorify Christ. To guide you unto Christ Jesus Himself who is the way, the Truth, and the life. The Spirit will take what the Word of God Himself declares and by Christ's authority He will declare it to you. And what is to come? And He will come again with glory to judge (see, another legal term) the living and the dead - and guess what, in Christ Jesus you are the living - and when Jesus comes His kingdom will have no end, so don't sweat the small stuff going on now - you are forgiven by Christ Jesus and you belong to Him forever and there is nothing that Satan or this sinful world can do to stop that. Declaring this, that's the Holy Spirit's job.

And Jesus notes in our text for today that it is to our advantage that Jesus ascend and the Holy Spirit comes. Think on this for a second. Here we are in Herscher, Il. If the Church were basically just Jesus Himself, preaching wherever He happened to be - how often would He make it out this way? Would we all need to pack up and move to the middle east? No, this is to our advantage, for Christ Jesus has poured His Spirit out upon His Church, so that the Gospel is proclaimed not only by Christ, but in all places, in all tongues - so that we hear in our own langauge even today the Gospel of Christ (did you note that in Acts - as soon as the Holy Spirit comes upon the Apostles, what do they do? They preach Christ and Him Crucified - we cut off Peter's sermon - but it goes on to be all about Jesus). No longer will we have to go to Jerusalem, no longer will we have to search to find a prophet, follow Ezekiel off into exile, or even wait. No, the Spirit is poured upon the Church so that in every place Christ Jesus may be proclaimed and by the power of the Spirit people hear and believe - for the Spirit is truly the Giver of Life.

And Jesus gives us three more ways of understanding what the Spirit will do - again, using legal language. Jesus says, "And when [the Spirit] comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment." Convict - convict whom? Convict the world. The Holy Spirit is a great defense lawyer. Not only will He comfort you, but He will turn the tables on Satan and the world - that is how conclusively He will defend your case. Whatever the world, whatever sin and death say, the Holy Spirit will proclaim the truth, and then focus us upon the Gospel of Christ Jesus once again.

The Holy Spirit will convict the world "concerning sin, because they do not believe in me." This is a simple point. All sin, every single one, stems from disbelief - every sin is a breaking of the first commandment. That's why in the catechism lesson which we just heard, the meaning to the second commandment starts the same way the first meaning did - we should fear and love God so that.... And all sin, even the sin we get tempted towards and fall in to, all sin comes about because of disbelief, because of a lack of fear and love. And the Holy Spirit will point that out. When the world struts its stuff, the Holy Spirit will point out that it is not the stuff of God. And when we in our pride sin, the Holy Spirit will show us that sin - not to condemn us, but to check us, to draw us back and bring us to repentance. To keep us from going off on our own plan and assuming it must be good because golly-gee we're such great people - but rather letting Christ alone be our sure defense.

And the Holy Spirit will convict the world "concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father." The world, and even our own sinful flesh, will try to stir up doubts and fears - especially as Christ Jesus has ascended and we don't see Him walking around as such anymore. And so the Spirit will convict, He will declare convincingly the truth of righteousness. Christ Jesus is righteous. He has done everything needed for your salvation, He Himself has declared that it is Finished, and thus you are forgiven, and thus you have life everlasting, no ifs, ands, or buts. And over and against the threats and taunts of the world, the Spirit will preach Christ Jesus and Him Crucified - and in Him in have hope.

And the Holy Spirit will convict the world "concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged." And if the world still keeps ranting, if Satan still keeps hounding - then the Holy Spirit points to the end. Yes friends, judgment day is coming - but for you who are in Christ Jesus, baptized into His holy Name; you who have recieved the washing away of Your sin and the gift of the Holy Spirit - judgment day is a good day. It is the day when you are declared innocent. It is the day when you will be set free from this fallen world and walk out, free and resurrected unto life everlasting in the new heavens and the new earth. It is the day when the tables will be utterly turned upon Satan, and the Accuser who sought to accuse you and to bring about your defeat and punishment will himself see his own defeat and his own eternal punishment. On that day, the trials of this life will be over, and the freedom that you have in Christ Jesus - the life you have in Christ Jesus - you'll see it in full.

But we are not there yet. We are still in the midst of the difficulties we face in this life. And so it is right today to give thanks to God the Father almighty and to Jesus Christ, our Lord, for sending to us the Holy Spirit, who above all things makes us to understand the Word of God, makes us to see and know the salvation that Christ Jesus has for us - for if it were left to us, we wouldn't be able to do any of this. We would be up the creek without a paddle - but the Holy Spirit, the Helper, the Comforter, the Paraclete has come - and while the world rages around us, while our own sinful flesh rages within us, the Spirit of peace declares Christ's joyous salvation to us. Do not fear the judgment - for you are innocent and forgiven for Christ sake, and as He has risen, so too shall you live. Your dry bones will rise, and the Spirit will give you life everlasting; for you have been baptized and brought to repentance - you are forgiven, and the Holy Spirit has been given to you, to keep you focused upon Christ and His peace. In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit +

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