Day of Pentecost Proper C1
Rev. D. K. Schroeder
John 14:8-17; 25-27 Sermon
May 23, 2010
Hymns (from the Service Book and Hymnal):
126 "Come, Oh Come Thou Quickening Spirit"
124 "Creator Spirit By Whose Aid'
123 "Come Down, O Love Divine"
129 "Spirit Of God, Descend Upon My Heart"
130 "Holy Spirit, Truth Divine"
LOOKING FOR GOD IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES
TEXT (vs. 15-17; 25-27): "15 If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you for ever-17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 25 All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
"Have you been baptized by the Holy Spirit?" I've been asked that question before, and I'm guessing that you have as well. How in the world can you answer a question like that? When somebody asks that question of you, what kind of an answer do you think they are looking for?
I can tell you what my answer is, and that quite simply is "yes." I have indeed been baptized by the Holy Spirit, and it happened in February of 1955 when I was but a few months old. My parents, in obedience to our Lord's command to make me a disciple by baptizing me and to bring me up in the training and instruction of the Lord, took that first step on my behalf.
In the Bible, God makes some promises. In Acts chapter 2 verse 38 Peter says, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
And Jesus when speaking to Nicodemus in John chapter 3, says this in verses 5-8: "5...I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' 8The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
God's Word is very clear on this subject. When a person is baptized according to Jesus' command to "baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," that person receives, through the waters of baptism connected with God's Word, the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus himself demonstrated this to be the case in very grand fashion. When he was baptized by John in the Jordan River, Mark records what happened in chapter 1 verses 9-11: " 9At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11And a voice came from heaven: 'You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.'"
A water baptism and a Spirit baptism are one in the same thing. However there are those who believe that they are two separate events, and are not connected at all. People will contend that even though a person has been baptized by water, and it has been done according to Christ's command they aren't REALLY baptized until they experience some sort of miraculous outpouring of the Holy Spirit, similar to the experience the Apostles had on that first Pentecost with the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
The results of this can be not only troubling, but disastrous for a person. People start to seek the Holy Spirit in various ways and means, with the hope that they can experience some sort of emotional assurance that the Holy Spirit has baptized them. They will seek to speak in tongues, hoping to duplicate the experience the Apostles had when they received the capability to communicate in other languages. They hope that somehow the top of their heads will turn into Bic lighters or birthday candles.
Jesus knew about those who were expecting such miraculous signs. When Jesus healed the son of the royal official, I'm sure he felt some frustration with the people gathered there. In John chapter 4 verse 48 he says, "48Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders...you will never believe."
But still we have people looking all over the place for the Holy Spirit. They will look high and low, and pray that the Holy Spirit will zap them like a bolt of lightning. And when there isn't some sort of dramatic show or emotional high or some sort of physical reaction, then they are discouraged. People are made to feel like second-class Christians, or even worse that they aren't really saved unless they've had this sort of experience.
Sad to say, many have completely abandoned the Christian faith out of nothing more than sheer frustration. They can't produce the dramatic signs that are expected of them, so why even try?
The Apostle Paul brings things back into perspective for us. In Ephesians chapter 4 verses 4-6 he writes: "4There is one body and one Spirit-just as you were called to one hope when you were called- 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."
It all comes together quite nicely. Jesus tells Nicodemus that a water baptism and the baptism of the Holy Spirit are one in the same. Peter affirms this in the form of a promise that when a person is baptized, they receive the Holy Spirit. Jesus even demonstrates this fact at his own baptism. Then Paul brings this to a nice conclusion when he tells us that there is but one, and just one baptism.
What a peaceful blessing this must be for the burned-out charismatic or the searching sinner who has been looking for God in all the wrong places! Think about the prophet Elijah in the Old Testament. In 1 Kings chapter 19 verses 11-12 we read this account: "11 The LORD said, 'Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.' Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper (or as it says in the King James Version) a still small voice."
So where do we find God in all the right places? The answer is simple. We go to where we know God speaks clearly, and where we can always find him. We go to the only place where we can find God's will for our lives. We go to the only place where we can find peace and rest for our troubled souls. That place is the Bible, the Holy Scriptures, God's divinely inspired and inerrant Word.
The Holy Spirit works through the read and spoken Word. The Holy Spirit also works through the Word being connected to water in Holy Baptism. The Holy Spirit also works through the Word being connected to bread and wine in the Lord's Supper, or Holy Communion. In theological terms, we say that the Holy Spirit is active and works through Word and Sacrament.
Our text for this morning, which is our Gospel lesson appointed for today, is from the 14th chapter of John's Gospel. In my estimation, this is probably one of the most comforting and reassuring chapters in the Bible.
This takes place at one of the more dramatic times in Jesus' life. He had just instituted the Sacrament of Holy Communion at the Last Supper with his disciples. Coming up in the next few days would be his betrayal, arrest, trial, crucifixion, and death. As Jesus completes the work of redemption that he came to earth to accomplish, his stress level would be at an all-time high. And yet, instead of asking for consolation and support from those closest to him, he turns around and gives them comfort and hope.
Jesus gives clear testimony as to his divine nature, and that he is indeed true God. His days on this earth will be short, and then he will return to heaven. And there, he promises to listen to us, to intercede for us and bring our prayers before the throne of Grace. But most importantly, Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit, whom he also refers to as "the Spirit of Truth." In verse 26, Jesus says that the Holy Spirit "will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you."
I think that it is amazing when Christians will chase around all over the place, trying to capture the Holy Spirit. They will run themselves ragged, instead of stopping and listening to that "still small voice" of God speaking through the pages of that Bible sitting on the table.
I'm always happy when our friend, Herman Johnson from Our Redeemer comes and pays us a visit. He's part of the Gideons, and for that privilege, he has to pay dues. The important thing however, is the Bibles that these people distribute. Just think for a minute what has happened.
For a very small amount of money, a Bible is placed somewhere, like a hotel room or a hospital room. But once that Bible is opened and a person begins to read it, suddenly the full power of the Holy Spirit is released. And when that happens, then miracles of faith often follow.
The Gideons can relate story after story after story about how someone, perhaps sitting in a motel room someplace, has been on the brink of total despair, maybe even suicidal. But then, through the words of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit speaks to them. He convicts them of sin and brings them to faith in Jesus their Saviour. For the few dollars it costs to place a Bible, a priceless soul is saved.
Hebrews chapter 4 verse 12 says: "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." And when you think that a person sitting alone in a motel room has nobody preaching to them, and nobody taking them through a Bible Study; all they have is themselves and a Gideon Bible, you recognize right away how "living and active" God's Word really is. The Holy Spirit has brought them to faith through that "still small voice." It's like Paul says in 1 Corinthians chapter 12 verse 3: "...no one can say, 'Jesus is Lord,' except by the Holy Spirit." He also says in Romans chapter 10 verse 17: "17So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
I don't remember my baptism, but I know it happened. I have a certificate to prove it, and even a tape recording of the service. What I do know however, is that when the water was applied to me as Jesus commanded "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," I received what God promised me. I received the gift of the Holy Spirit. And when that happened, I accepted Jesus as my Saviour through faith, even though I couldn't form the words to say it. My sins had been forgiven, and I became God's child through faith alone.
I cringe when Christians try to limit God's power or attempt to tie his hands by saying that a baby cannot have faith and believe in Jesus. In fact, when Jesus is with the children in Matthew chapter 19, he says in verse 14: "14 ...Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." The children spoken about here are children of all ages. Jesus certainly wouldn't have used them as an example of faith if they were incapable of having it in the first place.
If I may continue to use myself as an example, I can honestly say that there hasn't been a time in my life that I haven't known Jesus as my Saviour. And as I look back, I can see how that was the case from my earliest recollections.
The Holy Spirit came to me--not by direct revelation, not by a lightning bolt from the sky, and not by being struck blind while walking down the road. I have never been thrown to the ground in some emotional religious ceremony, I have never babbled in some unintelligible language, and I've never had my head turn into a Bic lighter or a birthday candle.
Rather, the Holy Spirit came to me first through water connected with God's Word. The Holy Spirit brought me to faith in Jesus. And it is that same Holy Spirit that works in me today to convict me of my sin, and lead me to my Saviour's waiting arms. My parents took Jesus' command to make me a disciple by baptizing me and teaching me very seriously. This gift of the Holy Spirit was the most important thing they could have ever given to me.
I know the Holy Spirit has been active in your lives as well. It might have happened when you were baptized, or it might have happened later in your life. But at some point in time, you came to know Jesus as your personal Saviour. You have been assured that your sins have been forgiven, and that through faith in Christ you will remain forever in God's kingdom where Jesus lives and reigns for all eternity.
And so, as we live our lives on this earth, we have the Holy Spirit always with us to gather us together, to keep us faithful to our Saviour, and to comfort us with the message of the Gospel. Therefore we can always take comfort with Jesus' words in verse 27 of our text for today: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."