Spirit-Convicted – Sermon for Easter 5 on John 16:5-16

Listen here.

John 16:5-15

“But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

Holy Spirit Dove Stained Glass12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

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.

Jesus tells the disciples that it is to their advantage that He is going away. Because of that, I was tempted to title this sermon, “Go away, Jesus.”

This ‘going away’ that Jesus is talking about is His death on the cross. Jesus goes to the cross and to His Father so that first Easter evening He can breathe on His disciples giving them the Holy Spirit and sending them with the proclamation of Christ’s forgiveness (Jn. 20:22-23).

Right off the bat, it is probably important to address something. Sometimes, Lutherans are accused of not talking about the Holy Spirit enough. People today think the Holy Spirit is at work when they get a particular feeling or emotion because of the things going on around them during the service. Scripture is very clear that feelings are not a good gauge to determine whether or not the Holy Spirit is at work.

Now, maybe it is a fair assessment to say Lutherans don’t talk about the Holy Spirit enough. But it should be noted that the Holy Spirit is very content not being talked about. In fact, the work of the Holy Spirit is to point us to Jesus. Just a few verses before our text today, which we will hear in next weeks’ Gospel lesson, Jesus says that when the Holy Spirit comes, “He will bear witness about Me” (Jn. 15:26).

In other words, whenever you hear about Jesus death and resurrection for the forgiveness of your sins, the Holy Spirit doing His primary work of creating faith. That is why Jesus calls the Holy Spirit, as our translation puts it, the ‘Helper.’

The word Jesus uses means ‘advocate, intercessor, or mediator.’ And Jesus focuses on three convictions of the Holy Spirit. He convicts us – He brings out into the open, or convinces us – concerning sin, righteousness, and judgement. And we need to consider each of these.

First, Jesus says the Holy Spirit convicts the world concerning sin “because the world does not believe in Me.”Notice that Jesus doesn’t say that the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin because they are so horrible.

Christ of St John on the Cross Salvador DaliWe think that the opposite of sin is good works. So, we wrongly think our sin is something we can manage on our own. We imagine we can hide our stains by being kind to those around us. We think we can distract God from our lust, anger, pride, and selfishness with a few good works.

But the opposite of sin is notgood works. The opposite of sin is faith in Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Romans 14[:23] says, “Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”

So, the Holy Spirit shows us the depths of our sin. He points us to Jesus who has taken all the punishment. The Holy Spirit shows us that we are fools if we think our sin can be taken away by anything other than the blood of Jesus shed on the cross. The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin showing us that we need Savior Jesus.

But even when the Holy Spirit has convicted us of our sin, He isn’t done. There is still more Spirit convicting to do.

Second, Jesus says the Holy Spirit convicts the world concerning righteousness “because I go to the Father.”

The Holy Spirit speaks through the Scriptures to convict you that because Jesus has died, you are completely freed from those sins which should separate you from God for eternity.

Satan, the accuser, comes along and tries to tell you that God doesn’t love you. He lies saying that Jesus’ death and resurrection isn’t enough. He comes along and tries to tell you have been lying to yourself and that you really aren’t a Christian. Or if you call yourself a Christian you aren’t a ‘true Christian’ or a ‘committed Christian’ or an ‘on-fire Christian. Hogwash.

Listen to what the Spirit says in the Scriptures: You have been made perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect (1 Pet. 1:16). The Holy Spirit says Jesus became sin for you so that you would become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). The Holy Spirit promises that there is no condemnation for you who are in Christ Jesus (Ro. 8:1).

The Holy Spirit shows you that the righteousness you needed has been totally and completely provided for you by Jesus who went to His Father saying, “It is finished.”

And the Holy Spirit still isn’t done.

Jesus says the Holy Spirit convicts the world concerning judgment. Now, you might be thinking that Jesus is going back to Law. But notice that the Holy Spirit convicts the world concerning judgment not because you are judged, rather “because the ruler of this world is judged.”

Christian, when you suffer, when bad things happen to you, you might think that God is judging you. But the Holy Spirit comes and says to you that you are not the target of God’s judgment. Satan is, and he always has been.

When God confronted Adam and Eve in the Garden, the first judgment He gave was to the devil. God promised that He would send Jesus to crush the serpent’s head. Jesus has come and done just that.

The Holy Spirit’s work is to bring all this out into the open. Because of what Christ has done for you, you are not God’s enemy. God demonstrates His love for you that while you were still a sinner, Christ died for you (Ro. 5:8). And even when you were God’s enemy, here’s how He treated you – He reconciled you to Himself by the death of Jesus (Ro. 5:10). The Holy Spirit points you to Jesus’ own words where He says that hell was designed not for you but for the devil and his angels (Mt. 25:41).

John 16_13 - Spirit.jpgThis is the Holy Spirit’s work. The Holy Spirit convicts you of sin, righteousness and judgment. The Holy Spirit takes all the work of Jesus and declares it to you. He is your Helper, Comforter, Advocate. Through Spirit’s working, He opens the Scriptures creating, sustaining, and strengthening faith and guiding you into all the truth.

So, believe. Your sin is paid in full by Christ’s shed blood. Christ’s righteousness covers you. And you are judged worthy of eternal life because of Jesus. All that the Father has belongs to Jesus. And the Holy Spirit takes all that Jesus has and declares it to you.

Alleluia, Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds inChrist Jesus. Amen.

Advertisements

Children of God – Sermon for Easter 4 on 1 John 3:1-3

Listen here.

1 John 3:1–3

1See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Alleluia, Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

One question repeatedly comes up in life. And though the form of the question changes, it really is the same. When you are young, the question is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” As you grow, the question changes, “What are you going to study in college?” Later, the question gets dumbed down, “What do you do?” Eventually, it becomes, “When are your plans for retirement?” Then, when you do retire, “What do you do with all your free time?”

Can I just be honest? I hate this question. Today, when I get asked, “What do you do?” I’m tempted to tell people I’m a plumber. It wouldn’t be a lie per se because I am in the business of dealing with people’s… stuff. All kidding aside, I do love to be able to do what I do.

Anyway, this question, in its various forms, is continually asked because you are someone who is somewhere, and you will be someone doing something different somewhere else later. It’s a question of identity which is continually changing.

Well, today, this text gives an answer to the question of your identity. And it’s not just any answer – it is God’s answer.

Child PrayingYou are God’s children. “See what sort of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God.”

Generally, children resemble their parents. And you, Christian, know your sin. You aren’t as loving or forgiving as you should be. And you certainly aren’t perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. So, it is easy to doubt the truth of what John says here. Maybe, it was an exceptionally windy day when that apple fell from the tree.

It’s hard to believe that you are children of God, but it’s true. Hear it again because John doesn’t want you to miss it – he emphasizes it, “See the kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God – and so we are.”

It wasn’t easy – God making us to be His children. And yet, God, out of His great love for us, sent His only begotten Son. Jesus went to a Good Friday death on the cross and was raised that Easter morning all so that you could be God’s children. Nothing less.

Now, the world looks at you and scoffs at the idea that you are children of God. The world doesn’t know you as a child of God because, frankly, they don’t know who God is. Some think He is a type of Santa Claus who rewards those who are good and punishes those who are bad. Others think God is just an old man in the sky with old-fashioned ideas and is spiteful and full of vengeance. Their perceptions of God are wrong. And because their ideas about God are wrong, their ideas about you are wrong.

Because they do not know God as He has chosen to reveal Himself in Christ, they do not recognize you who are in Christ as the children of God.

Baptism 2So, Blair: Today, God has Baptized you. Today, God has connected His Word to water and joined you to Christ’s death and resurrection (Ro. 6:3-11). God has clothed you with Christ (Gal. 3:27). God has given you the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit and saved you (Tit. 3:5-7). Today, you are born again, and God has made you His beloved child.

Blair, and all of you here, God has brought you out of darkness into His light. God has caused you to be reborn. You were living a lie and have been brought into the truth. So, John says it again. “Beloved, we are God’s children now.”

So, you children of God, what do you want to be when you grow up? Different questions rise from there. All sorts of specifics we would like answered. “What will I do this summer?” “Where will I be enrolled next semester?” “Will my business grow or hold steady?” “Will I get married, and to whom and when?” And some of you might even be wondering, “How much longer do I have left in this life?”

Sorry, but God doesn’t answer to those specifics. And, honestly, it is foolish to search for those answers because God hasn’t given them. But God does give the answer, the final and ultimate answer to what you, child of God, will be when you grow up.

Children of GodWhen Christ appears, you will be like Him because you will see Him as He is.

You will be like Jesus. On that day, it will be enough to see Jesus as He is. It will change you. You will be pure, perfect, and loving – just as Jesus is.

Until then, purify yourself. When you see that you are sinning and living like a child of the devil, purify yourself. Turn away from that sin. Turn away from your anger, your apathy, your self-centeredness, your gossiping, your coveting, your lust. Repent. Give that all over to the cleansing blood of Jesus and trust His forgiveness.

Instead, honor and love one another. Let us, as this little band of God’s children here at Christ the King, radiate God’s love and light in our relationships, in our homes, in our workplaces, in our community, and throughout the world.

Live as you are. Live as God’s forgiven, beloved children. Amen.

Alleluia, Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds inChrist Jesus. Amen.

Just as He Said – Sermon for Easter Sunday on Mark 16:1-8

Listen here.

Mark 16:1–8

1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” 4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” 8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Empty Tomb 1

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

No less than three times, Jesus had told His followers that He would be betrayed, suffer, and die. And on the third day, He would rise again.

As the sun rises, the women grab their spices and make their way to the tomb. Their hope is lost because they fell into believing the mocking they heard on Good Friday, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself.”

These women intended to do a loving but futile service to their dead friend, Jesus. Their plan is to honor Him by putting sweet smells on His stinky corpse. In their minds, God had failed them, and hope was lost.

And as they walk to the tomb, things get even worse. They realize they can’t even do what they were planning: “Who will roll away the stone?” Even this one, little thing – putting spices on a dead body – is beyond their ability.

How often does this happen to you? How often in life do you feel like you are simply wandering through a graveyard, weeping? How often does some stone get in your way so you are unable to do the smallest thing? How many times have you failed? How many times have you fallen? How many times have you been ready to give up? How many times has your sin brought you to despair?

Well, look up. The stone is rolled away for you. Go ahead, enter the tomb. No dead are inside. Your Savior is risen, and everything is just as Jesus said:

Christ was judged, and you are liberated.

Christ was spit upon, and you are washed clean.

Christ was mocked, and you are praised.

Christ was killed, and you are reborn.

Christ is risen, and death is undone.

Christ is risen, and the devil flees defeated.

Christ is risen, and mankind is restored.

Christ is risen, and you will rise too.

Jesus has gone before you. He has gone through trial and temptation, and He has come through victorious. Jesus has gone through a life of suffering, yet without sin. Jesus has come through death. He lives. So will you.

You will see Him. Everything is just as Jesus said.

You are forgiven, just as He said.

You are the recipients of His grace, just as He said.

Your Redeemer lives, just as He said.

Everything Jesus has promised is yours.

Jesus says in Him you find rest (Mt. 11:28).

Jesus says that – though you have tribulation in this world – He has overcome the world, so take heart (Jn. 16:33).

Jesus says that you who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be satisfied (Mt. 5:6).

Jesus says whoever believes in Him will have eternal life (Jn. 3:16).

Jesus says He is your resurrection and your life (Jn. 11:25).

Jesus says there is no condemnation for you who are in Him (Ro. 8:1).

Angel Sitting on the Stone of Christ's Tomb Matthew 28And now, you have angel’s work to do. Go. Tell others. Tell them that because Jesus is their brother, they are God’s children. Tell them they are forgiven because of Jesus. Tell them they are made holy because of Jesus. Tell them because everything is finished just as He told you.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Amen.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.