Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sermon for 4/24/16: Fifth Sunday of Easter

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All Truth

ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

The Holy Spirit is a big deal. Flip through the channels on your TV, and you'll see all kinds of Holy Spirit stuff supposedly going on. But these words and phrases are often as misunderstood as the Holy Spirit Himself. If you listen carefully to the Holy Gospel readings in these Sundays of the Easter Season, you will hear our Lord Jesus speaking Words that will teach us the truth about the Holy Spirit. For Jesus teaches exactly this: the Holy Spirit is doing His job not when you hear about the Spirit, but when you hear Christ preached and the forgiveness of sins delivered. Jesus says, “[The Spirit] will not speak from Himself, but whatsoever He hears He will speak.” The Holy Spirit does not do fancy tricks to make you shake or fall on the ground or speak in gibberish. The Holy Spirit directs you to Jesus by the preaching of the Word, and through that Word and the Sacraments of the Church He delivers Christ's forgiveness to you. The more you hear of Christ crucified and risen and delivered in the Means of Grace, the more you can be sure the Holy Spirit is at work. On the other hand, the more you hear about the Spirit, the more you can be sure that the Spirit is not preaching.

Jesus said, “When that one comes, the Spirit of truth, He will lead you into all truth.” What is the Truth? The Truth is Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The Truth is that God does not count your sins against you but counts instead for you the righteousness of His Son, Jesus Christ. This He does through the Word and in the Water and at the Supper. This is all laid out for us in Holy Scripture. Speaking through the apostles and prophets who wrote the Bible, the Spirit speaks and testifies of the truth, which is this: in Christ, God is reconciling the world to Himself. Many people say that no one church has all of the truth. They say, “We're all on the same path to God.” But be wary of such thinking! The Spirit has been sent by Jesus to lead us into all truth. Never think that the Word of God is insufficient. It would be easy to think so in our day and age when everyone claims to have a piece of the truth, when everyone claims to be spiritual but not necessarily religious. But what does Jesus say? “The Spirit will lead us into all truth.” You have the Word of God which rescues you from your sins, delivers Jesus to you, and through which the Holy Spirit leads you into all truth. Let there be no doubt that the Bible is all you need to know the will of God, that is, your salvation in Christ.

Jesus goes on to say, “The Spirit will glorify Me because He will take of what is Mine and announce it to you.” The Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus by delivering Christ’s gifts to you. Jesus is not glorified if the Spirit preaches about the Spirit. If the Spirit just promotes the Spirit, then He has not carried out His work. Jesus is glorified when what He has done is given to you. Jesus, the Son of God, has come in the flesh to carry the sins of the world and to die for them. Christ has conquered your sin and death. By suffering on the cross, Jesus declares your salvation is finished. By rising from the dead, the Lord confirms that your sins have been paid for and your salvation is won. It is Christ who owns the victory over sin and death. And it is the Spirit who teaches this to you through the testimony of the apostles who wrote down what they saw and heard. All that the Father has belongs to Jesus, and all that belongs to Jesus is given to you by the Spirit in the Word and Sacraments. Where Baptism is preached, where Absolution is spoken, where Christ crucified is preached and the Supper of our Lord's body and blood are given, there you may be sure that the Spirit of Truth has led you into all Truth by delivering to you all that belongs to Christ.

Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit. And Jesus sends Him—not for the Spirit’s sake, but for yours, that you might receive from Him all the gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation that Christ won for you. The Holy Spirit points you to Christ. The Holy Spirit teaches you to live in your baptism, to confess your sins and to eat and drink the flesh and blood of Jesus. The Holy Spirit teaches you not to glorify yourself but to humbly serve your neighbor. And that same Spirit waits until that Last Day to give you that one last gift of Christ: the resurrection of your flesh from the dead. From birth to death to rising again, it is the Spirit of Truth who leads you into all truth by bringing you to Christ and keeping you in Christ forever. ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! 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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