Sermon on John 15:26-27

The Festival of Pentecost

Our Powerful God Uses Powerful Tools to Communicate a Powerful Truth

Text:  John 15:26-27

Intro

When God speaks, powerful things happen.  God spoke and there was light.  God spoke and the ground ripped asunder and floodwaters covered the earth.  God spoke and 100-year-old Abraham and his barren wife Sarah had a son.  God spoke and an entire sea split in half for two million Israelites to pass through on dry ground.  God spoke and a virgin conceived and gave birth.  God spoke and the crippled stood up and the blind could see.  God spoke and the winds and the waves obeyed.  When God speaks, powerful things happen.

Yet these words only scratch the surface of the power our God has displayed in his words.  It is astonishing that a universe could be stitched together in six days.  It is astounding that a virgin named Mary could have a Son.  It is amazing that a storm might obey one’s command to “Be still.”  But yet there are other words that extend beyond the human brain’s power of cognition.

There are three words so powerful, so remarkable, and so astounding that they could not be believed except through God-given faith and trust.  These words were hidden in the depths of despair.  These words were connected with pain and suffering.  These three words of greatest power were spoken paradoxically at a moment of greatest humility.  Jesus spoke them from the cross:  It is finished.”

Understand those words.  Understand their power.  When they were spoken, a promise from the beginning of time was kept.  When they were spoken, prophecy was fulfilled.  When they were spoken, the prince of demons was crushed.  When they were spoken, death was destroyed.  When they were spoken, salvation was accomplished.  When they were spoken, the doors of heaven were flung wide open.

Understand those words.  Understand their power.  When they were spoken, God’s anger was appeased and God’s punishment was satisfied.  When they were spoken, your sin was covered.  When they were spoken, your guilt was removed.  When they were spoken, you were forgiven.  When they were spoken, you were pulled from the depths of hell and placed into the riches of heaven.

It is finished.” Those three words can be properly labeled “gospel.”  Those three gospel words of truth are the most powerful words of all time.  Indeed, when our powerful God speaks, powerful things happen.

Body

God still speaks today.  God still speaks today, but not as he did in the past.  In the past God walked in the Garden with Adam and Eve.  In the past God thundered down with words to Moses and Israel on Mt. Sinai.  In the past God the Son spoke for 30-plus years here in this world.  In the past God spoke in dreams to Peter and to Paul.  God still speaks today, but not in those ways he did in the past.

God no longer speaks directly in conversation with people.  God no longer speaks in dreams.  God doesn’t speak in signs or wonders.  God doesn’t speak through the stars (astrology).  God doesn’t speak through bad omens like earthquakes or hurricanes.  Could God speak directly to us?  Could God speak in dreams?  Could God speak through horoscopes?  Yes.  But does God?  No.  Therefore, anyone who claims that God spoke directly through something—a dream, a sign, a signal—is either terribly confused or else is being horribly deceptive.  God does still speak today, but not in those ways he did in the past.

God himself explained how he himself would speak to us in this New Testament era of his people.  Listen to Jesus’ words in John 15, the gospel for Pentecost:  When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.”

This is a new and different era of the Church.  In the Old Testament, it was the Father who primarily spoke with believers—Adam, Abraham, Moses, David.  In the gospels, it was the Son who primarily spoke with believers as Jesus walked this earth and preached and taught.  But Jesus promised that in these last days someone else would speak.  This someone else is called “the Counselor” or “Comforter” or “Encourager.”  This someone else would be sent from the Father.  This someone else is the third person of the Trinity—the Spirit.

Beginning with this special day called Pentecost almost 2000 years ago, God the Holy Spirit became the one who primarily interacts with the Church.  But again, not as people today claim.  The Spirit doesn’t zap people from heaven with divine surges of faith.  The Spirit doesn’t speak in dreams.  The Spirit doesn’t use signs or hidden messages.  The Spirit doesn’t give the gift of speaking in tongues any more.  No, Our Powerful God Uses Powerful Tools to Communicate a Powerful Truth.

The first tool that the Holy Spirit uses to communicate with us is God’s Word, the Bible.  The apostle Paul says, I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” In the Bible we hear the gospel.  Gospel is a word that means good news.  The gospel, the good news, is that It is finished.” The gospel is the good news that your sins have been forgiven.  You have been saved.  You are going to heaven.  That powerful truth of the gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes it.  That powerful truth of the gospel is revealed in holy Scripture.  Thus, God’s Word is one of the tools that the Holy Spirit uses.

Jesus says today, When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.” The Bible is the first way the Spirit comes.  He works in our hearts through the Word of God.  He testifies about Jesus through the Word of God.  He brings us to faith through the Word of God.  He strengthens our faith through the Word of God.

The conclusion should be obvious, but for us sinners it often is not.  If the Word of God is how the Spirit works in our hearts, if the Word of God is the power of God, if the Word of God is what strengthens and bolsters our faith—then we should always be in and around the Word of God.  It’s a conclusion that should be obvious, but for us sinners it often is not.  We get tired.  We have long days.  It gets pushed down our list.  We have other things that come up.  Besides, what does it matter if I don’t read the Bible all the time and what does it matter if I miss church here and there?

Friends, when you are reading the Bible, you are reading the very Word of God.  When you are in church, you hear the very Word of God.  And when you read or hear the Word of God, the Spirit is working in your heart.  Period.  There are no questions, there is no doubt.  When God speaks, powerful things happen.  Your faith will be strengthened.  You will grow closer to your God.  You will gain a greater understanding of the peace and hope that are yours.  The Word of God is the power of God.  So be in it.  Be around it.  Read it.  Hear it.  Sing it.  Study it.  Learn it.  Memorize it.

The Spirit comes to us still today.  Not in ways he did in the past.  No, Our Powerful God Uses Powerful Tools to Communicate a Powerful Truth.  The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to communicate with us.  Tool number one.

The second tool the Holy Spirit uses is baptism.  In baptism, like in the Bible, God speaks.  He speaks as water is applied to the individual and the words are spoken, “ . . . in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  When God speaks, powerful things happen.

Baptism is not a sign.  Baptism is not a symbol.  Baptism is not what you do to become a member of a church.  Baptism is not how you show your dedication to the Lord.  No, baptism is much more powerful than that.  It’s not powerful because of the person.  It’s not powerful because of the water.  It’s not powerful because of the pastor.  Baptism is powerful because the Word of God is used with the water and a promise is attached.

God says, Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” God says, Be baptized and wash away your sins.” God says, He saved us through the washing that works rebirth.” When God speaks, powerful things happen.  In baptism, that powerful thing is that sins are washed away.  Guilt is removed.  An individual is adopted into the family of God.

Thus, the water doesn’t matter.  It could be done in the ocean.  It could be done in a swamp.  It could be done by completely immersing the person.  Or it could be done by simply sprinkling water on the forehead.  The kind or amount of water doesn’t matter because it is the God the Holy Spirit who matters who works in the Word attached to the water.

In the same way, the person doesn’t matter in baptism.  It could be a male or a female.  It could be a Caucasian, Asian, African-American or any other race.  It could be a 95-year-old, it could be a 4-week-old like Gwendolyn my daughter two weeks ago.  All people are to be baptized because it is not the person that matters, it is God the Holy Spirit that matters who works in baptism.

So be baptized.  Have all your children baptized.  Remember your baptism.  Go back to your baptism every day.  Every day remember that your sins are washed away.  Every day remember that your guilt is removed.  Every day remember that your sinful nature has been drowned.

The Spirit comes to us still today.  Not in ways he did in the past.  No, Our Powerful God Uses Powerful Tools to Communicate a Powerful Truth. The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to communicate with us.  The Holy Spirit uses baptism to communicate with us and to apply forgiveness to us.  Tool number two.

The third tool the Holy Spirit uses is the Lord’s Supper.  In the Lord’s Supper, like in the Bible and in Baptism, God speaks.  He speaks as the words are spoken, “Take and eat . . . Take and drink . . . Do this in remembrance of me.”  When God speaks, powerful things happen.

The Lord’s Supper is also not a sign.  It is not a symbol.  It is not just a rite that Christians do.  It’s not how you show your dedication to the Lord.  It’s not a magical ceremony.  No, the Lord’s Supper is much more powerful than that.  In some way which you and I could never grasp and never understand, Jesus’ true and real body and blood are present in, with, and under the bread and wine.  For Jesus says, “This is my body . . . this is my blood.”  How that happens we don’t understand.  But we receive bread and wine together with Jesus’ body and blood.

When God speaks, powerful things happen.  A simple meal becomes a sacrament in which the very body and blood which were given to death for our forgiveness touch our own lips.  We receive forgiveness, strengthening of faith, and assurance of salvation.

The Spirit comes to us still today.  Not in ways he did in the past.  No, Our Powerful God Uses Powerful Tools to Communicate a Powerful Truth.  The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to communicate with us.  The Holy Spirit comes to us in baptism.  The Holy Spirit comes to us in the Lord Supper to grant forgiveness and strengthen our faith.  Tool number three.

Conclusion

When God speaks, powerful things happen.  It has been that way since God first spoke and created this universe.  But these days, God speaks to us and God comes to us in different ways.  God has chosen not to come to us directly anymore.  God has chosen not to speak to us directly anymore.  No, now God uses special tools to come to us and to communicate the truth of our salvation in Jesus Christ.  Those special tools are the Word of God and the Sacraments.  Sometimes they are called the Means of Grace, because they are the means by which God’s grace is given to us.

If God the Holy Spirit comes to us still today, and if God the Holy Spirit uses his power on us still today, and if God the Holy Spirit uses special tools or means to come to us today—be around those tools.  Be in the Word.  Be in worship.  For in the Word of God and in baptism and the Lord’s Supper, God works.  God comes to us.  God grants forgiveness, life, and salvation.  When God speaks, powerful things happen.  Be where God speaks—in the Word at home and in the Word and sacraments at church.  Powerful things will happen.

AMEN

If you would like to view a copy of this sermon to print or to share, click here.

Advertisements

Posted on May 23, 2010, in Church, Sermons and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: