Monday, May 15, 2017

Sermon on John 16:5-15, for the 5th Sunday of Easter (1 year Lectionary), Cantate (Sing!), "Spirit of Truth"

Sermon outline:
·         Sorrow on disciple’s hearts—Jesus’ farewell speech (before cross, resurrection, ascension). Leaving them—we also long to be comforted by Jesus’ personal presence. Jesus’ ongoing presence—the Spirit, teaching, Lord’s Supper, joined in living relationship and salvation through baptism. Not orphans—but they won’t see Him. Disciples’ sorrow—this is not to our advantage! Jesus’ answer—it is to your advantage, because the Spirit is coming! Now Christ’s ministry, not in one location—but ministers through His Helper, the Holy Spirit, to the entire Christian ministry across the earth. Jesus is everywhere His Spirit is outpoured, and the works of the Spirit are done, and people directed to Jesus.
·         Works of the Spirit (others listed John 14-16)—convict the world concerning sin, righteousness and judgment. As Christians we often want to celebrate the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and being led by the Spirit, etc—but do we rejoice that “convicting us” is central to the Spirit’s work? Can’t have it any other way—if we want to be taught and comforted by the Spirit, must also be convicted of our wrong doing. He must assault the works of the devil, which include our sin, unbelief, self-righteousness.
·         Clarified:  concerning sin because they do not believe in me. This is the major sin of the world! Unbelief! All others stem from this. It’s the bad root that must be uprooted and replaced with a living attachment to Christ the Vine—also work of the Spirit. Faith is the new root of life in Christ. Unbelief in Jesus is the sin that condemns. All the other stuff is the bad fruit on the tree. You can pluck all the bad fruit you want off the tree, but if the tree and the root is bad, it won’t change. Becoming a Christian is not a “cut and paste job”. Only by being grafted into the New Vine, Christ, can we bear good fruit. Change in belief, in identity. Spirit’s power, not ours to accomplish.
·         Unbelief in Jesus: independence from God—refuse to rely on God’s help, or to acknowledge or praise God for creating us, redeeming us, etc. Unbelief denies God’s role in our life, without which we could not even exist—even if we never acknowledge Him. Living as though there is no higher authority
·         Concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer. The Holy Spirit convicts us about righteousness because we must know and understand what true righteousness is. Gerhard writes that people naturally think that a life that is honorable and filled with achievements counts as righteousness before God. Consider how many times you hear at a funeral how someone was “such a good person.” Not always meant in terms of that person deserving eternal life in heaven—sometimes just trying to “speak well of the dead” and remember them well—but how often is it said in that context or understanding? Even Lutherans who have heard all their life long and been taught from their pastors that we’re saved by grace alone through faith in Christ alone, still have answered in large numbers in surveys, that being a good person gets you into heaven. Wrong! The Holy Spirit must convict us of righteousness to clear away that false self-righteousness, and to establish in its place the true righteousness of Jesus Christ, who is going to the Father.
·         Thing about unbelief and righteousness—mostly can’t see it, unless a person tells us what is going on in their hearts. Outward good deeds we see—but this is the point—that is not what justifies before God. Faith, hidden in the heart, the work of the Holy Spirit, declares us righteous before God.
·         Concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. John 12:31 (ESV) Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. Coming hour of Jesus’ crucifixion and death—this would be how the ruler of this world—the devil, would be judged and cast out. Holy Spirit convicts us of this reality—the devil rules over the world of chaos, rebellion, and disobedience to God’s order, but he’s been cast out and judged. Disarmed, defeated, chained. When we abandon God’s design, His commands, for our own way, we’re living under the rule of the devil. That life will be filled with evidence of discord, suffering, bad consequences, etc, that witness to us against a life of sin, and by the Spirit’s conviction, should steer us to repentance.
·         As with false righteousness (i.e. trusting in ourselves), so also with false-judgment, we want to judge ourselves, rule ourselves. This is the lie of autonomy—that we are independent, self-ruling, self-governing people. Even the devil “the ruler of this world” tried to bribe Jesus by thinking that He could rule everything, if He just worshipped the devil. Not true, but we’re enticed by the same lie. Think that we can make up our own rules as we go along, and there is no one higher than us to answer too. But this is a gross deception, as we must all answer before God in judgment.
·         So what is the right judgment that the Holy Spirit leads us to? The judgment that the devil and his weapons of sin and unbelief stand judged and are cast out. That the righteousness of Jesus Christ has been exalted and glorified, and that this righteousness of Jesus is the only thing that stands up before God. The righteousness by which we are forgiven and judged innocent on account of the mercies of Jesus Christ. This is the judgment the Holy Spirit brings to our hearts. Earlier in the Gospel Jesus speaks about faith and judgment: John 5:24  “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” Faith in Jesus is the only way to pass through the judgment from death to life.
·         12“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13When 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. 14He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” Spirit of Truth—in opposition to all lies, deceptions, and errors—fed to us by the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh, which is all too happy to aid and abet the devil for our own pleasure or personal gain. Our sinful flesh means that we have a built in conflict of interest with the truth. The Truth, however, will set us free. Spirit of truth continues Jesus’ work. Not His own authority, but from Jesus’ authority which comes from the Father. “Proceeds from the Father and the Son.” Sent by both to carry God’s message to mankind.
·         Some, from a spirit of error, will try to rip out of context that Jesus has things to say “but you can’t bear them now” to imply that Jesus had radical new ideas which were yet to be told, and are not contained in the Bible, but would later come from the Spirit. This is obviously contradicted by the immediate context—“not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak,…take what is mine and declare it to you.” Spirit’s work is to highlight and glorify Jesus. Not to depart from or add to what Jesus taught. Beware of those who would us this verse to smuggle foreign ideas into the Bible. Read the whole passage!
·         Truth is needed now more than ever—especially the Way the Truth, and the Life. With hearts full of sin and blindness, the world is busy building props and pretensions that hide the True God from us. And from that unbelief springs all the other bad fruit and sin in this life. But Jesus stands as the One who was sacrificed and glorified, to cast out the ruler of this world, and who was raised up for our justification, that the bad root of sin and unbelief would be put to death and replaced with a new, living, growing bond to Himself, the Vine, in whom we will bear much fruit. Jesus as the Truth is the only real solution for a world under the rule of sin and evil, and for that reason we continue His proclaiming ministry, convicting hearts by the Spirit of sin, righteousness, and judgment. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Sermon Talking Points
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  1. John 16:5—where or to whom is Jesus returning? Though Jesus’ disciples (including us) view Jesus’ departure as a disadvantage; what reason does Jesus give us that it is actually to our advantage? John 16:6
  2. Name as many of the jobs or duties that the Holy Spirit will perform, according to Jesus. John 16:8, 13-14; John 14:17, 26; 15:26. Carefully examining Jesus’ words in each of these verses, is there anything to suggest that the Holy Spirit will teach new and innovative things that diverge from Jesus’ teaching? How do these verses instead express a complete harmony between God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
  3. Who is the “ruler of this world” that Jesus says is “judged” in John 16:11, and when and how does it happen? John 12:31-33; Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 2:14.  
  4. In John 16:12-14, how would the Spirit be the further instructor of the disciples? How does Jesus always remain at the center of the Spirit’s teaching? And that in turn all goes back to whom? John 16:15.
  5. Why is the truth under so much attack today? How is truth lost or undermined? When truth is lost, what do we lose with it? John 14:6. How do we regain and establish the truth? How does the truth confront us or make us uncomfortable? How does it reassure us of God’s salvation? 

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