The Fingerprints Of The Spirit
May 19, 2018
Verse: John 16:4–16:15
Christ Lutheran Church
May 20, 2018
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
The Fingerprints Of The Spirit
I did not say these things to you from the beginning because I was still with you. But now I am going to the One who sent me, but none of you asks me, "where are you going." But because I speak these things to you, sorrow Fills your heart. Nevertheless I am telling you the Truth: that it is to your advantage that I go away, because if I don't go the Paraclete will not come to you. But if I go I will send him to you. And when he comes he will convince the world concerning sin, and concerning righteousness, and concerning judgment. Concerning sin because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness because I am going to the Father and you no longer see me; concerning judgment because the judgment of this world's prince is accomplished.
I still have many things to say to you, but you are not able to grasp them at this time. But when he, the Spirit of Truth, should come he will guide you along the paths of the whole Truth. He will glorify me in that he will take of what is mine, and make it known to you. All that the Father possesses is mine! Therefore I said that he will take of what is mine, and announce it to you. John 16:4-15
As the church again celebrates the High Feast of Pentecost she is bound to glorify God with ten thousand fiery tongues, because he has given her salvation by his Beloved Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit to lead her into all truth.
And so listen now to what our Lord teaches us about the Spirit whose person and work we glorify today.
Perhaps most remarkable is the Lord’s saying that: it is to your advantage that I go away, because if I don’t go the Spirit will not come.
What is Jesus saying here? What could it possibly mean when the best thing this world has ever seen! says: I am going away, and it is to your advantage that I do?
Jesus means two things by “going away.” First that he is going to the cross where, by his own death, he conquered death, devil and sin and put that “unholy trinity” permanently out of commission: never to rise again!
And whatever you might still see of them today, or whatever collateral damage you might suffer even now because of them know this. That because Jesus died and rose again, evil has an expiration date and your God will be your shield. And so “seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-3)
But his going away means more besides. When he returned to his Father he did not leave us as orphans, but poured out his Spirit upon all flesh. And so let us now learn exactly what that means.
He sent his Spirit to convince the world concerning sin, righteousness and judgment.
Humanity’s chief sin is unbelief. Man’s stubborn refusal to “fear, love and trust in God above all things.” The refusal to believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and that no one comes to the Father but by him. (John 14:6) It is a message so scandalous, so un-nerving to human pride, that even large segments of the church have changed it, softened it, or silenced it altogether; rather than suffer the wrath of the world because of it. But the message will not go away because the Spirit of Truth will not go away!
The Spirit also convinces the world of Righteousness. Jesus is Righteousness. But Righteousness here does not mean good behavior; but is instead the Bible’s word for a condition. Namely the prevailing condition of things when the world has been fully redeemed, restored and reconciled to God in Christ. When man’s warfare with God, and with one another, is concluded: then there is Righteousness!
When your sons and your daughters speak only God’s word, as St. Peter says in his Pentecost sermon, then there is Righteousness. When young men see holy visions, and old men dream godly dreams, then there is Righteousness.
Or looking at today’s Old Testament lesson when God’s Spirit gives life to the dead; when he gives us “the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting,” then there is Righteousness.
Righteousness made possible because the “Prince of this World” was judged when Jesus died on the cross. His reign of terror is now over, and you are no longer his slave or his play thing, you owe him nothing! Please learn that! Since Jesus died and rose again the Evil One has no power over you; except whatever power you are willing to foolishly give him. And so hear the Word of St. James: “Submit yourselves to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you!” (James 4:7)
But the Spirit doesn’t only work in the world, but in the church as well. Jesus says, “I have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them this time. But when the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into the path of the whole truth.”
You observe his work in the church but are generally unaware of it. Not only did he give us Scripture and Sacraments, but the Spirit is the One who leads and guides the church in the way of the Truth across the ages.
One of the cries of the Reformation was: Sola Scriptura. Scripture alone. It was a port in a storm but things are not that simple. Scripture needs to be interpreted, nor does it answer every question. And so the church needs the Spirit to lead her day by day.
The Holy Spirit is the one who has given the church not only the Bible and Sacraments but his fingerprints are all over her doctrines, creeds, councils, confessions, liturgies, lectionaries and Service Books. Her rites and rituals; ceremonies and celebrations; art, architecture and music! Her ecclesiology so that all that the church is, has and does comes from the Spirit of Truth who leads the church into all Truth.
And these things find new expression from age to age; as the Spirit gives the church new glasses to see things she could not with her old ones; and so we must pay attention.
While much in the church stays ever the same, much also changes, and it is no virtue to be frozen in time. That is not the work of God’s Spirit. Learn that this Pentecost, dear Christians if you have not learned it before.
There is much more to say but we cannot bear it all today. But for now let us give all glory, laud and honor to Christ our Redeemer King who saved us by his cross; and poured out his Spirit on all flesh. Amen.