John 16: 5-15
Easter 5, 2023
Opening Prayer: Send, we humbly ask You, Almighty God, Your Holy Spirit into our hearts, that He may rule and direct us according to Your will; comfort us in all our temptations and afflictions, defend us from all error, and lead us into all truth, that we, being steadfast in the faith, may increase in love, and in all good works, and in the end obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, now and forever. Amen.
+In the Name of Jesus+
In his preface to the Catechisms, Luther writes this:
The deplorable conditions which I recently encountered when I was a visitor constrained me to prepare this brief and simple catechism or statement of Christian teaching. Good God, what wretchedness I beheld! The common people, especially those who lived in the country, have no knowledge whatever of Christian teaching, and unfortunately many pastors are quite incompetent and unfitted for teaching. (Tappert, p. 338)
Since 1530, Lutheran pastors have depended on Luther’s Small Catechism in particular to guide them through the instruction of God’s holy people. His concise instruction and guidance on the Sacraments of holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are unequaled in the world of theology. In his exposition of Holy Baptism, Luther appeals to the Rock of the inspired Word, rather than the musing of human logic. So, he reminds the pastor to teach what Baptism means:
Such Baptizing with water means that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts; and that a new man daily come forth and arise, who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.
However, since the God of all truth has taught us that it is not by works of goodness which we do, but according to His mercy that He has saved us through the washing of regeneration, it is necessary that we put Luther’s words regarding Baptism to use and daily drown that voice of the Old Adam in order that the message of the Gospel fill our ears and heart. We do this today by listening to the voice of our Good Shepherd regarding the gracious work of the Holy Spirit as we consider:
THE GLORIOUS GIFT OF THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH
He proceeds from the King of Truth.
He convicts the world in regard to the truth.
He leads His people into all truth.
HE PROCEEDS FROM THE KING OF TRUTH.
Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father. In His final address to His disciples before His crucifixion, Jesus assures the bewildered disciples that it is to their advantage that Jesus goes away so that He might send them the Spirit of Truth. Now they would become the messengers of the Gospel to the entire world. While the Gospel is the only way for people to escape the lake of Fire and Sulphur, the Gospel would be a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greek.
Therefore, the disciples needed a Divine Helper who would be with them in all places, at all times, under all conditions to preach and teach in the demonstration of the Spirit and power to a hostile world. That promise of the Divine Helper was fulfilled not only on Pentecost, but continues to this day for we see that it is still a stumbling block to the Jew and foolishness to the world.
But let the world ever be asking the sneering question of Pilate, “What is truth?”
- Let them tell you that “Truth” is relative and no person can ever possess the truth.
- Let them tell you that you have your truth and they have their truth.
- Let the world continue to hold to the ever-changing theories of the origin of the universe and the evolution of man.
- But you, Dear Child of God created anew through the water of Holy Baptism, look to the Spirit of Truth in the inspired text who proceeds from the Father of all Truth and from Him who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
HE CONVICTS THE WORLD IN REGARD TO THE TRUTH
Secondly, Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the “Spirit of Truth” because He will convict the world of the truth. But the question is: What does the word “convict” mean? Does this mean that all the world will willingly now admit its sin, seek Christ and His righteousness to avoid the Lake of Fire? Sadly, many will refuse to admit to the truth of the Spirit’s testimony about their sin and remain obdurate to the end. Certainly, some will come to see their sin against the LORD of glory and bow to the testimony of the Holy Spirit in regard to their sins.
But when Jesus says that the Spirit will convict the world, He means that it will be examined; that its “truth” will be refuted and put to shame regardless of how brazenly they claim the contrary. The only truth that will endure in all eternity is the truth of God’s Holy Word that Jesus came to save sinners.
What Jesus wanted to leave with His downhearted disciples and also now with us is the assurance that the message which they are to bring into the world will not be weak or vacillating, changing with the culture so that it might accommodate to the world and its sin. Jesus wants to leave you with the certainty of the Gospel so that you may refute the Old Adam and the devil Himself when your sins come and accuse you of guilt.
But the remarkable thing about our lesson today is the definition that Christ gives those three terms: Sin, Righteousness and Judgment. Had Jesus defined sin as consisting in the common outward manifestations such as murder, adultery, robbery, rape, there would be no objections raised by our Old Adam. Even unbelief finds these things to be wrong and so exonerates itself from this list. Rather Jesus summarizes all that is known as sin in one brief statement: “Concerning sin because they do not believe in Me.”
O dear Christian, if there is anything that needs to be drowned in us each day as Luther says, it is the Old Adam’s idea of sin. He will say, “But I have not killed anyone; I have not committed adultery; I have not robbed anyone.” The fact that for years many have killed the voice of the Spirit by neglecting the Word and Sacrament; that they have chased after the gods of this world, success, pleasure, fame, money, recreation, while the Son of God who died for them and even now pleads for them before the Father in heaven, means nothing to them.
Here is the irony: Adulterers, murderers, robbers, have gone to heaven. Ultimately on the Day of Judgment, the only sin that damns is unbelief. Unbelief is such a heinous sin because it calls God a liar and tramples underfoot the precious blood of Jesus on the cross. Faith trusts that the righteousness of Christ is your righteousness. But this is what your Old Adam battles. He would have you believe that if you do the best you can, God will overlook the rest, that you don’t need the righteousness of Christ.
This is one of the greatest battles the Old Adam wages against the Holy Spirit. But dear Christian, your Savior has sent you the Holy Spirit to counter the lies of the Old Adam. He has come to bear witness of Christ. He has come to tell you that God demands that our heart must at all times delight in the Law of God. But there is the rub. We might be able to conform to the outward demands of the Law, but the heart remains a seething cauldron of earthly desires.
But again, our Lord has sent the Holy Spirit to counter the demands of the Law. The righteousness of which Jesus speaks in this lesson has been won for you through the holy life of Jesus and on the cross. You no longer need fear the accusations which the devil hurls against you. You have already been judged in the righteousness of Christ and His substitutionary death so there is no longer any condemnation for you who have been baptized into Christ. This is the conviction your blessed Savior leaves you through the work of the Holy Spirit.
HE LEADS US INTO ALL TRUTH.
Finally, Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Truth because God means to lead us into all Truth: Now the question is this: How does He do this? Listen to Jesus: “He will take what is Mine and declare it to you.” Jesus has given us the Words of life. These are the truths that the Holy Spirit declares, words of forgiveness and reconciliation. No new revelations are necessary, indeed they are dangerous.
What is now necessary for all is to make diligent use of what has been revealed to us through the Holy Spirit in the inspired and inerrant Word of God. Jesus said, “If you continue in My Word, you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.”
That Word, the Word of Truth, the Word of Life, the Word of forgiveness from the lips of Christ has been declared to us through the pages of Holy Scripture. This is our assurance as Peter wrote: “We have something more sure, the Prophetic Word to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place.”
The Spirit of Truth leads us to know this: The love of God in Christ is stronger than our filthiness. This means that even though we are sinners, our filthiness does not take away our sonship nor do we fall from grace each day because of our sin. This is what our Old Adam cannot accept.
Remember the Old Adam cannot be converted; he is recalcitrant and completely opposed to the truth and work of the Holy Spirit. You cannot reason with the Old Adam. You cannot live peacefully with the Old Adam. You cannot accommodate the Old Adam. He must be put to death. The way the Holy Spirit has provide for you to do this is in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism.
So drown Him each day in the water of Baptism. Push Him down into the water of forgiveness and regeneration. Hold him down in that blessed water until he stops his incessant jabbering and babbling that you have to first reform your life before God will accept you. When he tries to come back up to get a breath with another accusation, drown Him in the in the water of LIFE.
The Spirit of Truth has recorded the Words of Christ to battle our Old Adam: “Him that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out.” But just remember, as Luther noted, the Old Adam is a good swimmer and why he reminds us, “The Old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance be drowned.” Come to the Table again this day and receive the body and blood of your Savior for the forgiveness of sins just as the Holy Spirit says. Amen.
Soli Deo Gloria