"For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." (1 Cor. 2:2)
The Fifth Sunday of Easter (Cantate)
"WORK, WORK, WORK"
In the Name of the Father and of + the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Perhaps no other Christian teaching is more misunderstood today than that of the Holy Spirit. Who is He? What does He do? How does He work? Why has the world exploded with curiosity about the Holy Spirit and His work? This explosion of Christian curiosity is a result of the individualistic ideal of freedom of expression. Thus,, Christian understanding of the Holy Spirit can be found to vary not only from denomination to denomination, but also from congregation to congregation, pastor to pastor, and Christian to Christian. (Paul Strawn - Forward to Convicted by the Spirit, Lutheran Press, 2009)
To clear the confusion, let us examine the Holy Scriptures to answer these questions:
Who is the Holy Spirit?
What does He do?
How does He work?
The Holy Spirit is the Third person of the Holy Trinity. He is one with the Father and the Son yet a distinct person of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is uncreated, infinite, and eternal. He is God. and Lord. He is of the Father and the Son neither made nor created nor begotten but proceeding.
Now, onto the work of the Holy Spirit and the Gospel lesson teaches in this His last sermon before His death and resurrection. This sermon by Jesus is one of consolation. His disciples are very sorrowful because He is only going to be with them for a little while.
The disciples are disheartened, terrified, and greatly saddened. Jesus has taught them that the world will hate them, persecute them, and kill them for His Name's sake. They're falling into despair and at a very rapid pace. They need to be comforted and NOW!
In this sermon, Jesus promises them the very comfort they need. He tells them that after He returns to His Father, He will send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. He will come and convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgement. He will also teach the world and point sinners to the Christ who suffered and died on the cross to save them from sin, death, and the power of the devil.
The Holy Spirit will fill the void caused by the ascension of Jesus. He will console and comfort the believers with the Gospel of the crucified and resurrected Christ. He will strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ and initiate the kingdom of God on earth and spread it throughout the whole world.
The disciples will be charged to go out into the world to proclaim the Law and Gospel of the Scriptures proclaiming all that Jesus taught them and Baptizing in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The world will reject the message of salvation they bring to their ears and the Holy Spirit will convict them of their sin and unbelief.
The Holy Spirit convicts you too when you fall into unbelief. He uses the Law to cut to the marrow of your soul, to expose your sin, show it to you that you know your sin and confess it before the Almighty God and Father of The Lord Jesus Christ. Thus confessing your sins, you are forgiven for the sake of Jesus Christ and restored back into fellowship with the Father.
The second part of the Holy Spirit's work is to convict the world of righteousness. This is not a civil righteousness, secular law or moral teaching. The righteousness the Spirit convicts the world of is that Jesus returned to the Father who is in heaven.
Unclear? Confused? Fear not. The Word of God is clear. Jesus says, the Holy Spirit will convict the world of righteousness "because I go to the Father and you will see Me no longer." (10) So what does this "going to the Father" mean for the world and for you?
Simply, these words "going to the Father" encompass the whole work of your redemption and salvation. It is for this work that the Son of God was sent from heaven. Jesus has done the work His Father gave Him and continues to do it until the end, namely, His suffering, death, resurrection, and His entire kingdom in the Church." (Luther, Convicted by the Spirit, 51)
This "going to the Father" means nothing else than that Jesus gives Himself as a sacrifice by His shedding of Blood and death in order to pay for sin. By His resurrection, Jesus overcomes and subdues sin, death, and hell.
Jesus is your righteousness. He stands before His Father and intercedes on your behalf. He prays for you. He forgives you. He hears your prayers of thanksgiving and praise and also your prayers of need and deliverance. Jesus righteousness is called an alien righteousness because you have done or merited nothing nor can you merit anything. His righteousness is alien because it is yours by grace through faith alone.
Finally, Jesus says the Holy Spirit will convict the world concerning judgment because the ruler of this world is judged.
In the Hebrew, "judgment" means "dealing with and judging between two conflicting parties to determine which one is right and which one is wrong." The term also includes two essentials in court proceedings: grace and wrath and award and penalty. Grace and award acquit the innocent while wrath and penalty condemn the guilty.
The world in all her wisdom believes that she is right. She knows the difference between right and wrong and no lowly beggar of a preacher is going to change her mind. The world doesn't believe she is sinning because of unbelief. These sinners do not know God thus have no need of His Law nor His Gospel. They have no need of this alien righteousness because they are already righteousness in their own sight.
The world thinks she is safe. Nothing can harm them. The world will not let itself be moved by being offered the righteousness of Jesus Christ for their salvation. The world will go on pretending to do the right thing and be in no way obligated to put up with having its wisdom and righteousness destroyed.
The Holy Spirit continues to convict the world for the sake of such judgment. He must teach His conviction and tell the world that it and its judgment are condemned along with its prince, the father of lies, the devil.
Now, how does the Holy Spirit do all this work? He does it through the preaching office. Jesus calls men into His service to go out into the world as sheep among the wolves and preach the Good News of salvation to sinners. These men go and teach all that Jesus has given them in His Word concerning the kingdom of God, the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.
Jesus also tells these men as He tells you, you're not in this alone. I am with you always even to the end of the age. Jesus is with you. He is with me. He is here by His Spirit who preaches and teaches the crucified, resurrected and ascended Son of God for your salvation.
The Holy Spirit convicts you of your sins to restore you unto the kingdom through the forgiveness of your sins. He convicts you of righteousness because you get wild notions of saving yourself. You cannot. Christ is your righteousness. He alone saves. He convicts you of judgment because you often times think of yourself as the holy one, perfect, and no one is going to tell you anything especially about how you live your life. Apart from Christ, you can do nothing. You are lost and condemned without the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Repent.
Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to you to comfort you, strengthen you, and guide you in the way of Truth. The Holy Spirit is the One who points you to Jesus as Lord and Savior. He is the One who gives you understanding and discernment of the Holy Word of God that reveals Jesus to you.
Rejoice and sing the Alleluias for Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
In the Name of the Father and of + the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen.
(C) Rev. John F. Wurst
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