Sunday, May 22, 2011

May 22, 2011 - The Fifth Sunday of Easter - St. John 16:5-15

In case you hadn't heard, the Rapture and Judgment Day were supposed to happen yesterday. I actually went to that false preacher's website to see what he had to say about it, especially since Jesus told us pretty plainly that no one knows the day or the hour. One thing he said was that over 20 years ago the Spirit was taken away from the church. The fact that we are here today I'd say pretty well proves that the Spirit is right here in Christ's church and not with that false prophet. But that's the problem. Today "the Spirit" is tossed around as the answer for everything. If someone feels like doing something, they do it, right or wrong, and says, "well I was moved by 'the Spirit.'" If some lifestyle is judged by God's Word to be wrong, the teaching is changed because "the Spirit" is at work living in the church to bring us to new understandings. When it comes down to it, things that are clearly not taught in the Scriptures are all over the place attributed to "the Spirit" even when such a teaching is directly contrary to the Bible! We're guilty of this too. For how often do we get a notion or opinion in our heads and figure that even if it doesn't square with what the Bible teaches, God or "the Spirit" must be leading us to do it? And if it's not the Holy Spirit, it's a false, deceiving spirit and we need to know the difference. So how do we sort it out?

Jesus gives us the answer when He tells us what the Spirit's job is. Jesus teaches us that the Spirit is going to convict the world with respect to three things: sin, righteousness, and judgment. And then Jesus says the Spirit will take what is His and give it to the disciples thus leading them into all truth. Not part of the truth or some of the truth or someone's version of the truth. All Truth. The Spirit works in the church and He works only where Christ's Word is. That means where Christ's preachers are preaching and teaching what is in the Bible, not what someone SAYS is in the Bible or what they think the Bible means. So what about the Spirit's convicting the world? First of sin because they don't believe in Jesus. Sin, boiled down to its most basic, is denying Jesus and the forgiveness He gives. The world is sinful because it goes against God and doesn’t want to be forgiven. Righteousness because Jesus goes to the Father. You don't get righteous by somehow getting a hold of Jesus. Rather, His righteousness is bestowed upon us and given to us as a gift by the preaching and Sacraments in His church. Of judgment because the ruler of this world is judged. Here we learn that Christ, by His death on the cross has defeated sin and death and the devil, the ruler of this world. That's why He became man: to suffer and die and rise for sinners. So everything the Spirit is about is Jesus. If it's not about Jesus and His forgiveness, it's NOT THE HOLY SPIRIT.

Jesus says the Spirit doesn't speak for Himself. Instead, He takes what is Christ's and gives it to you. And He does that by the Word and the Sacraments. Whatever is apart from the Bible, preaching and teaching, and Baptism, Absolution and the Supper is NOT the Holy Spirit. If we're not talking about those things, then we're not talking about the Holy Spirit and we're not talking about Jesus. And these things are not neutral. Either what is preached and taught and heard is from Christ or it is from the devil. It can't be both. If what goes into our ears isn't from the Holy Spirit, it won't save us but tear us away from Christ to false belief and despair. This is why the Spirit takes what is Christ's and delivers it to us. That Jesus became man and died for your sins and rose again. That you are washed and given Christ's righteousness in Baptism. That Christ's own words are that your sins are forgiven. That Jesus' Body and Blood are the feast of salvation. That's what happened with the End of the World guy. He tried to teach and preach apart from the Word. Apart from the clear Scriptures. Jesus Himself says, “No one knows the day or hour. Not the angels in heaven, not even the Son.” So we know it will come but not when. So to say when simply goes against the Bible and the only way to do that is to say “the Spirit” led him. No. I'll repeat it again: It CANNOT be the Holy Spirit if the simple and clear words of Jesus are contradicted.

And this is why, dear Christians, that it's more important than ever to learn the words of Jesus. So that you will know all He has said and done for your salvation AND be able to discern the false from the true. There's a reason we're ALL—parents and kids and everyone—going to meet this summer in Sunday School to hear about the life of Christ. To read and hear Jesus' own words. And by those very words of Jesus, He promises His Spirit will forgive our sins and strengthen us in the faith. We all have something to repent of here: thinking we can know Christ apart from His Spirit, neglecting learning God's Word, parents not making sure their children are taught the Word and learning it themselves. So let's take this summer to gather as Christ's people and learn his words and deeds so well that no false spirit can ever deceive us. Make time, brothers and sisters in Christ, to come and receive every one of those good gifts that is given by your Father in heaven.

Brothers and sisters in Christ: the world around us is filled with “spirits” and the devil wants nothing more to confuse us with all the seeming contradictions and interpretations. But listen to Jesus, our Good Shepherd. His voice, His Word is clear and simple: He goes to the Father by His death, resurrection and Ascension and sends the Spirit who leads us into all Truth. Since Jesus is the Truth, the Spirit leads us to Christ. Gives us what is Christ's: his forgiveness and salvation. And having Jesus, you have everything there is to have. Everything God has for you. The Spirit has one job: that through the Word and Sacraments you would believe in Jesus, have the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. That is the Holy Spirit that Jesus sent who brings us to Jesus and gives us life everlasting. That is what it means to have all truth: to have Jesus. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

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