Preaching to the saints of the Lutheran Church at Christ-Elkhart and Faith-Hugoton in Kansas since February 8, 2015. All sermons prior to that date were preached either at Trinity Lutheran Church-Layton or First Lutheran Church-Tooele, Utah.
“But 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. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning." John 15:26-27
...You are holy, that is to say, saints, because that is what the Holy Spirit has made you through Holy Baptism, through the preaching and teaching of the Holy Word of God, through the Holy Communion of Christ’s Church. This is the work of the Holy Spirit as Jesus explained to His disciples before His ascension. The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father [has sent] in [Jesus’] name, [has taught] you all [the] things and [brought] to your remembrance all that [Jesus has] said to you."[John 14:26]
To hear this sermon preached at Christ Lutheran-Elkhart, KS and Faith Lutheran-Hugoton, KS for The Feast of Pentecost, "When the Helper Comes," click on the audio link provided above. The audio begins with the Old Testament reading, Ezekiel 37:1–14 at 15:14 of the MP3 file.
A servant of the Word and His folk,
Graphic: "Pentecost," oil on canvas by Anton Raphael Mengs, ca. 1765.
For those of you who prefer to read or read along while listening, the preaching manuscript follows below.
Dear Holy Ones of God,
It’s almost feeling more like the end of October than the end of May today--more like a memorial day of late fall than the Memorial Day which signals the beginning of Summer to the citizens of the United States of America for whom so many have shed blood in order that they may have their picnics, and BBQs, and baseball games, and NBA playoffs, and Indianapolis 500, … as well as their Pentecost Feasts today.
As we humbly thank God in remembrance of these fallen earthly heroes this weekend and celebrate their memory with feasts as well as by saluting their graves, even more humbly let us thank God and celebrate The Feast of Pentecost. Because now the Son of Man is risen from the dead, and even having ascended to the right hand of the Father now sends the successors of His Apostles, the ministers of His Holy Christian Church, with the breath of His Spirit, just as certainly as He sent them and with the same promise and command.
• “But 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. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. John 15:26-27
• “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to [Jesus],”. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Matthew 28:18b-20
That is, He has instituted the Office of the Ministry, “as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God,[1 Corinthians 4:1]” to deliver to you and all who hear them “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” [Jude 1:3] because He “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” [1 Timothy 2:4]
You are holy, that is to say, saints, because that is what the Holy Spirit has made you through Holy Baptism, through the preaching and teaching of the Holy Word of God, through the Holy Communion of Christ’s Church. This is the work of the Holy Spirit as Jesus explained to His disciples before His ascension. The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father [has sent] in [Jesus’] name, [has taught] you all [the] things and [brought] to your remembrance all that [Jesus has] said to you [John 14:26]--to open your ears and give you the spirit of hearing, to bring you out of the darkness of sin and into His marvelous light of salvation [1 Peter 2:9]; to “sprinkle clean water on you and clean all your uncleanness,” to break your hearts of stone and turn them into hearts of flesh—that is, the “new heart, and new spirit” [Ezekiel 36:25-26] of faith that breathes life into our dry bones as Ezekiel was given to prophecy thousands of years ago.
Again, all of this is the work of the Holy Spirit, Whom Jesus calls “the Helper.”
When we think of a helper, we think of someone who gives us a little boost, or a helping hand to make difficult things easier to and faster to accomplish. But the Holy Spirit is the Helper sent by God to work in you what you cannot do for yourselves--period.
The Third Article. LSB p. 323
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
What does this mean? I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian Church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the last day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.
According to Jesus, this faith the Holy Spirit works in us and by which He keeps us with Christ, includes at least two very specific things we cannot do and do not have.
1. Love of God
2. Peace with God
23Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. John 14:23-24
The truth is, we do not love God and we do not keep His Word apart from the work of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit takes hearts empty of love and at war and unrest with God, and pours the love of God into them, which gives them the peace (comfort) that surpasses all understanding to keep our hearts and minds with Christ Jesus.
Yes, you are holy—bought and brought back from sin, death and the power of the devil, that is, bought back from the darkness of this world and separation from God and brought back into His marvelous light to live in His very presence as His loving children in order to serve Him by serving each other according to the order He has established in His kingdom by His creative Word: God and man; Husband and wife; parents and children; teachers and students; government officials and citizens; rich (even masters) and poor (slaves); pastor and people of God.
Oh yes, dear holy ones, living according to this order is all part of loving Jesus and keeping His word. That is what His Commandments are all about. Jesus wraps these Commandments up by saying that the holy ones of God, whom the Commandments describe, “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. . . . love your neighbor as yourself.”
Dear holy ones of God, you see that this order that God has established, the roles and relationships and stations for which He has created us and into which He has called and placed us are for our benefit and the benefit of each other. As Jesus says to His disciples in Mark 9: "If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all."
However, our sinful selfishness still refuses to accept these roles and relationships and stations and abuses them for our earthly gain.
So while you must never forget that you are holy ones of God, neither must you ever forget how it is that you are holy and who it is that made you so—that is, the help and comfort of the Holy Spirit. And you must understand both of those things, help and comfort the way God means them rather than by what they have come to mean in our slippery, ever changing English language.
When Jesus, the Son of God talks about sending the Helper, He is also calling you what you are—helpless. While He would ever have you remember that you are His holy ones, yet He would never have you forget how it is that you are made holy. He takes those who are unwilling, and by the Word of Christ makes the willing. He takes we who are unholy and makes and keeps us Holy by sending the Holy Spirit to “bear witness about [Christ, the Son of God,] to keep you from falling away.”
What is more, Jesus has also said of His sending of the Helper, which also means “Comforter,” 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27
Why does He say such a thing to His disciples and to us if not because we are troubled and afraid. He brings us peace where there is no peace. In making us willing, and creating the love of God in us, we are no longer at war with God against His commandments and against His love for us. He gives us comfort where before there was only dis-ease.
Luther writes: The Holy Spirit’s office is that He only is “bestowed upon those who are sunk in affliction and misery. … He is given to none except those who are in sorrow and fear; in them it produces good fruit. … If the Holy Spirit is to retain this name, [Comforter], He must [work] only where there is no comfort or peace and where comfort and peace is needed and desired. Consequently, He cannot comfort the hard hear heads and audacious hearts, for these have not tasted of struggle and despair, and have never been in distress; He can accomplish nothing except with sorrowful, comfortless and discouraged hearts.”
As Jesus Himself puts it, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:31-32
And this is true comfort: not that you are relieved of all pain or removed from any suffering, but that in the midst of your pain and suffering, the Holy Spirit comes to you with the Word of God in Holy Baptism, in the preaching of His called servants of the Word, and in the Lord’s Supper to gather you around the heavenly throne to sit with Christ at the right hand of the Father even as the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh assails us with every possible doubt, temptation and fear. The Holy Comforter comes to you when you are comfortless as God promises to do for all He has called and chosen.
48] [The] doctrine [of God's Eternal Foreknowledge and Election] provides glorious consolation under the cross and amid temptations. In other words, God in His counsel, before the time of the world, determined and decreed that He would assist us in all distresses. He determined to grant patience, give consolation, nourish, and encourage hope, and produce an outcome for us that would contribute to our salvation. [FORMULA OF CONCORD, SOLID DECLARTION ARTICLE XI. GOD'S ETERNAL FOREKNOWLEDGE AND ELECTION]
As Jesus tells His disciples and us in our Holy Gospel for the Feast of Pentecost: “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. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. John 15:26-27
Let this give you comfort in your time of trouble, and make you holy ones who love God and live with Him now and forever, because the witness and comfort is this: you are forgiven all of your sins-in the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Insofar as this sermon is a true proclamation of the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, it belongs to Him and His Church. Therefore its use is free to all who deem it worthy and beneficial.
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