Pentecost Sunday June 9, 2019
232, 234, 231, 224:3
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
Editor’s Note: A Note to our Readers: The following Pentecost sermon is from our Ministry by Mail Archives. It was originally published by our first editor, Pastor Paul F. Nolting in 1968. It is our prayer that the timeless truths of the Holy Spirit would continue to be a blessing to our readers 51 years later.—NJP
Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. “ These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. “You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I. “And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe. “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. “But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here.”
In Christ Jesus, whom we have learned to know as Lord and Savior through the teaching of the Holy Ghost, Fellow Redeemed:
How can anyone learn without a teacher? Parents are the first teachers of their children. If parents fail to teach their children or if they are unable to teach their children, children fall behind their age level, even before they enter school the first day. That is why the government has initiated the “Head-start” programs. The government must train teachers, for it has assumed the responsibility of public education. We are all aware of the competition among states and cities and school districts for the best and most competent teachers. Learning presupposes teaching.
So it is also in spiritual matters. The Holy Spirit once sent Philip on a mission to seek out the Ethiopian eunuch. Philip joined him in his chariot while he was reading the 53rd chapter of Isaiah. Philip asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The eunuch answered, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” (Acts 8:30-31) That was a plea for a teacher!
During His public ministry our Lord taught His disciples. At times He taught them together with the multitudes, at times privately. If He said something in public that they didn’t grasp, as when He told His parables, they could ask Him for explanations in private. He was their constant Teacher. On the night of His betrayal, when He knew that He would be leaving them, He spoke of His replacement as their Teacher. He promised to send a competent replacement for Himself. These are the words of that promise: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” This promise the Lord fulfilled ten days after His ascension. He sent the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost. He came and He remained. He came to function and He continues to function as Teacher. This truth we would concentrate upon this morning.
A teacher must have students. Who are the students of the Holy Ghost?
“He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance…” Jesus was talking to His disciples. They and all future disciples of the Lord would be the students of the Holy Ghost.
Does that seem obvious? It isn’t as obvious as it may seem. It is possible for a person to be self-taught, self-educated, self-trained. Many people, for example, teach themselves how to operate a typewriter. So also in many fields of human learning. But not so when it comes to the things of God. St. Paul once wrote to the Corinthians, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (I Corinthians 2:14) Natural man, that is, man before the Holy Spirit becomes his Teacher, cannot grasp, believe and accept spiritual truths. They are foolishness unto him. He needs the Spirit of God as his Teacher. This is itself a Spiritual truth that natural man rejects. Man, especially the more intellectually gifted man, believes that he possesses in his own reason and intellect the power to discern spiritual truths, to evaluate them correctly, to accept or reject, believe or disbelieve. In brief, people don’t think they need the Holy Ghost as their Teacher. The very fact that they think this way reveals how desperately they need Him!
It was again to the Corinthians that Paul wrote, “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” (I Corinthians 12:3) One can teach a parrot the words, “Jesus is the Lord,” but only a person taught by the Holy Ghost can make that confession with a believing heart. Again Paul wrote, “The preaching of the cross is foolishness to those that are perishing.” (I Corinthians 1:18) For us the preaching of the cross is forgiveness, life and salvation. Why? Because we have been taught by the Holy Ghost. He has caused us to see the necessity and the value of the cross of Christ. To the unbeliever it’s all foolishness because he has rejected the Spirit’s efforts to teach him. So then, anyone who would become and remain a disciple of the Lord must become a student of the Holy Ghost.
What can one expect to learn of the Holy Ghost? In earthly learning teachers have become more and more Specialists in a limited area. The Holy Ghost is also a specialist. He limits Himself to spiritual truths, but He covers all Spiritual truths. Our text tells us that—
“He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” What our Lord taught His disciples when He was with them personally that the Holy Ghost teaches all disciples through the Lord’s Word.
Think of some of those teachings that concern us especially today. In our very text our Lord spoke to His disciples of “the prince of this world” coming to do his work. That was the hour of darkness. Judas, filled with Satan, had left the group to work out the details for the betrayal. Satan would sift Peter that night like grain is violently shaken so as to be separated from the chaff. Who is there among us that has not felt the tempting, alluring, enticing power of Satan? Or are we so spiritually callous that we don’t even realize who seeks to gain control over us? We have made confession. With that confession we have acknowledged Satan’s power over us, for sin is his sphere of operations. Have you hated? Have you lusted? Have you failed to put the things of God first? The Spirit would have us realize Satan’s power. He would have us repudiate Satan once again. He would lead us to grieve that we have fallen prey to Satan’s devices and been unfaithful to our God. Let us hearken unto the Spirit’s pleading that we be sober, that we be on the watch, for Satan is ever ready to devour us, that is weaken, undermine and, if possible, destroy our faith.
Our faith—do you believe the words of the absolution? Do you believe that Jesus is your Way and the Truth for you and your Life? Do you cast yourself upon His mercy for forgiveness? Do you find comfort in His righteousness, confessing that the best you can produce is but as filthy rags? Do you trust His blood shed for you unto death as your escape from eternal death? If so, the Spirit of God has worked faith in your heart.
Some of you are coming to the Lord’s Table this morning. It was on the night in which our Lord spoke the words of our text that He took bread and said, “This is My body, given for you.” Then He took wine and said, “This cup is the new testament in My blood shed for you.” Do you believe these words? The Spirit is even now working upon your hearts strengthening your faith so that you believe with all simplicity that the Lord Jesus will again this day give you His true body and blood—in, with and under the bread and wine—to eat and drink as a pledge and assurance of His forgiveness. Let no one reject the Spirit’s teaching! Let no one say, “I can’t understand how this is possible, so I reject it.” Let everyone take his reason captive under the words of the Lord. So the Spirit teaches; so disciples learn and believe.
A good teacher always has an aim and a purpose. The Holy Spirit is a good Teacher.
Jesus said to His disciples that night, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my words.” The aim of Jesus’ teaching was to teach men to love Him and to manifest that love by keeping His words. The Holy Spirit carries on with this same aim. Do you love the Lord? Certainly, you say in your heart. But now check the answer of your heart with your attitude towards His Word. There are thousands upon thousands of people sitting in Christian churches who would immediately say that they love the Lord Jesus, but who deny that confession by their attitude towards His Word. A child may say to its mother, “Mommy, I love you.” The mother may well respond, “Fine, but why don’t you show your love by doing what I tell you?” What would a young woman say to a young man who claimed to love her, but never did anything she suggested? She might well come to the conclusion that he didn’t love her at all because he didn’t concern himself about her words and will. If you and I love the Lord, that love will show itself in our guarding and keeping, valuing and being concerned about His words. Your membership in and your support of this congregation, which is dedicated to the proclamation and defense of every word of the Lord, is evidence of your love. It’s a work of the Spirit of God. He would have us ever grow in love of the Lord—that love which guards and cherishes His Word.
Of those who love Him and keep His words Jesus says, “My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” The heathen used to make temples for their gods; the Spirit of God makes us temples for our God. Here is something mystical. The Triune God knocks at the door of our hearts and wants to move in with us. He wants to make our bodies and our spirits His dwelling place. Think of what this means—to have the Father with His great love for us, to have the Son who gave Himself for us, to have the Holy Spirit, the Teacher of the whole Christian Church, come and abide with us and make us their dwelling place. This is what the Spirit of God wants to do. Think of people you may know or people you may read about whose bodies and lives are the dwelling place of sin and lust, of evil spirits and Satan himself. They have become prisoners of sin and prison houses for every kind of evil lust. They may be adulterers and adulteresses, petty thieves or respectable crooks, alcoholics or slaves of drugs, pleasure addicts or smug self-righteous people who think they need no Savior because they imagine that their outwardly respectable lives are acceptable to God. The world is full of such. They are on all sides of us. The Spirit of God has made us different. He has made and He would in an ever greater degree make us His temples, His dwelling places. “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My words, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him..” This is the Spirit’s aim for you and for me.
Yet another aim the Spirit has—to give us heaven’s peace. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.” This peace, the certainty that all is well between us and our God, is the peace that the Prince of Peace came to win for us. He achieved that peace with His holy life and innocent sufferings and death. He is our peace. The Spirit would have us experience that peace. Who does not experience peace—disturbing things in his life? When a son or a brother goes into the Armed Forces, we experience a jolt. The realities of the conflicts of our times become suddenly very personal. When death strikes in our families, we realize all of a sudden how short life on earth may be. When sickness strikes us or our loved ones, we may tend to panic. Suddenly all peace and quiet are gone from our lives. He may be tempted to doubt that our God truly loves us. He may feel that He is punishing us for some sin that we have committed. At such times the Spirit comes through the Word of the Lord assuring us that all our sins have been atoned for, that our Heavenly Father loves us despite appearances to the contrary, that all things—including the very things that at the moment may be disturbing our minds and grieving our hearts—are intended to work out for our good, as those who love God. When the Spirit teaches us these things, He causes us to experience the peace of heaven that truly passes and surpasses all understanding. May He grant us all to taste of that peace. Amen.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.