Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sermon for 4/28/13--Fifth Sunday of Easter


Truth, Sin, and Righteousness

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Truth is almost a dirty word today. What is truth? How can I come to know tit? What if mine is different from someone else’s? We have spent much of our lives in Christ studying God’s Word through the lens of the Small Catechism. We have studied God’s Word, looked at the Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and the Sacraments. In all of this, one thing is clear: we cannot know it all. There is no way that any of us can stand on our own and say, “I now know all that there is to know about God’s Word.” If we were to do this, we would be lying. Yet for those of us who have been through Confirmation, we have stood before God and the congregation and have vowed with the help of God to hold fast to the doctrine and practice of the Lutheran Church, even to the very point of death. We prayed that our Lord would make His church of one will. Now that’s serious business. We have said that we would rather die than give up the doctrine we have been taught from God’s Word. And for those of us who have not yet made this promise, by the grace of God you will make this promise.

How can we make such a claim? How do we know that this is the truth of God’s Word? We know these things because of Jesus’ promise: “When He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth.” Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would come and would guide us into all truth. So what is the message of the Holy Spirit? What is His task? Jesus says in our text that the Holy Spirit comes into the world to do three things: to convict the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. These three things give us a picture of what it means to be a Christian.

“[The Holy Spirit will convict the world] of sin, because they do not believe in Me.” It may come as a surprise to some, but we are not automatically made Christians. There are many people in the world who do not believe in Christ. There are many people in the world that do not believe they are sinners that need the Gospel. So the work of the Holy Spirit is first of all to preach the Law. The Law shows us our sin. It kills us. It brings to light our miserable nature as sons and daughters of the devil. But we won’t come to know this on our own. Somebody has to teach this to us. So the Holy Spirit uses God’s Law to kill us and condemn us for our unbelief.

Second, “[He will convict the world] of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more.” This isn’t just talking about the Ascension of Jesus. Jesus went back to His father triumphant over Satan. He went back to the Father because He rose from the dead! So when He goes to the Father, He goes and presents you spotless and whole, perfect because of Christ’s righteousness. In other words, the work of the Holy Spirit is to preach the Gospel. The Holy Spirit comes to convince you that you are righteous and holy for Jesus’ sake. It is the simplest message in the world, and yet it is this message of God’s love for lost sinners that takes a lifetime to learn. We can only know this message of God’s love in Jesus because of the work of the Holy Spirit.

Finally, “[the Holy Spirit will convict the world] of judgment, because of the ruler of this world is judged.” Because of Jesus’ work on the cross and in the empty tomb, Satan has no more dominion over you. Again, we can only know this because of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, because it is certain we would never believe it on our own. Think of the temptations that you face every day. Sin, death and the devil attack you as a Christian all the time. Without the Holy Spirit, you would be lost. But you aren’t lost. The Holy Spirit comes to you and announces that Jesus has won the forgiveness of your sins. Satan has no power over you. There is nothing He can do to harm you. This is great news! Who would believe that God’s Word and the Holy Spirit would have so much to give to this lost and condemned world? But give it they do.

Being a Christian is not easy. There will be times in your life when it will be very hard. There will be times when you will be tempted to allow work, recreation, or any of a thousand other things to draw you away from Christ and His Church. Not even the promises made for you in Baptism or which you made at Confirmation can save you. Only Jesus through His Holy Spirit can hold your faith together and bring you to himself in Heaven. But have no fear! Jesus will do this. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” That is His promise to you. That is the promise that He gave to you when your pastor said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” From the font, God’s Word was planted in you. The work is God’s alone. For He alone will keep you and hold you in this faith and life, both now and for all eternity. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.

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