SML Sermon 05242015
SUNDAY, MAY 24, 2015 | PENTECOST
Ezekiel 37:1–14; Psalm 139:1–12 (13–16); Acts 2:1–21; John 15:26–27, 16:4b–15
John 16:8–11 (ESV) 8And when he [the Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
“God Works!” Now what in the world does this mean?
That’s what I hope to get at in this meditation. The text tells us that Jesus taught His disciples in preparation for His departure. While on His final journey to Jerusalem, for the last Passover, the mock trial, His crucifixion, death, and burial, He prepares His little flock by telling them more about the Holy Spirit whom He and the Father would send after He is taken away. He speaks here in this text of some specific work the Holy Spirit will do when He comes.
He will convict the world concerning three things:
1. Sin and
2. Righteousness and
Some of you might have an inquiring mind like mine that wants to know what the Spirit means by …
· RIGHTEOUSNESS and
Actually, I hope we all have inquiring hearts and minds with respect to the work of God. I’ve always wanted to know how things work. As a young lad growing up on a small dairy farm, I’d take things apart just to find out how they worked; old broken clocks, electric razors, radios that couldn’t be tuned to a channel anymore, and other small household items. Dad stopped me when I wanted to tear into an old tractor engine. “Above my ability,” he said. So, I asked my shop teacher about that at school. We rebuilt an automobile engine and put a car back on the road. “Above my ability,” my rumplestiltskin. A machine was built, in my humble opinion, to work. So when they didn’t work, I wanted to know why, so I could fix it.
When approaching God’s Word, it became very evident, rather quickly, that it wasn’t for me to find out how it worked, but to believe that it works because “God Works!” God changes how we think; what we do; what we hope for; what meaning and attachments we value in life. This is a God thing when our lives find more and more identification with Him as we go through this life. And we really have very little to do with that. I mean, who can see or feel or understand the ways of God’s Spirit so as to direct Him in the way He should go? Not me. And yet, all who have the Holy Spirit have great understanding of where they are going because “God Works!”
We who have tasted of His Holy Spirit, and been convicted of sin and righteousness and judgment live in a WORLD that does not grasp, and neither can it understand these things because people without the Holy Spirit do not see or know Him.
This is nothing new, of course. The WORLD, the κόσμος in the Greek, can refer to the universe of all creation, or it can be used to speak of the spiritual life, that is, the WORLD of unbelief. But there is another aspect of the κόσμος we should understand. In his first epistle, John says this about the world: “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.” (1 John 2:16, ESV). I don’t want to get into all of what that means right now, but those are things that he admonishes believers not to love because they are going to pass away with the κόσμος. Then he adds, only the one doing the Father’s will abides forever. And that is not possible unless “God Works!”
All that in the world and of the world, might well cause a person to wonder, “Where is God?” or even, “Is there even a God?” or “What evidence can you give of God?” least wise, whether God works or not. These questions all deserve truthful and honest answers; not answers that come from the wisdom of man, for that itself is but the world’s wisdom. So what wisdom should be sought and where does it come from to get truthful answers? Ironically, truthfully, and honestly, it comes from the very source of the one who is in doubt—God Himself! “God Works!” He has been at work in this world more than any of us even realize.
Whether from Creation itself, the proven laws of nature, which by the way are only discoveries of Creation; or, the words of the scripture readings for today;
· “God Works!” to bring about life even to dead dry bones;
· “God Works!” to give boldness to fearful, tongue-tied disciples to declare His truth;
· “God Works!” to give salvation to a world so that even many languages hear God’s message of victory in and through Jesus Christ; to God be the glory! Amen!
And where “God Works!” there is bound to be trouble. Jesus warned of the coming persecution His disciples would face. Every follower of Jesus is a disciple in the sense that they are His understudy, sitting at His divine feet to learn of Him. Through the Holy Spirit “God Works!” all the time on the world. This is actually why we, the church on earth exist. “God Works!” through His people to bring about His plan for the WORLD.
The work God does in this regard is quite profound. The Greek word actually has the force of meaning to “convict … of guilt.” Elenxei. This is done by “presenting or exposing facts to convince of the truth.” The Hebrew equivalent ykḥ denotes God’s disciplining by …
· testing, and
In other words, the Spirit of God works on hearts and minds to show them the truth of God. Since Jesus has ascended into glory with His physical body, He and the Father have poured out the “Helper,” as Jesus calls the Holy Spirit, on those who will be His witnesses, His martyrs in the world. We think of martyr in connection with death, and it sometimes is, but not always. We bear witness to Jesus in what we say and do; how we behave in the world. Our very lives proclaim God’s glory and the Spirit’s work in us, unless of course, we live according to the flesh and the world, but not the Spirit.
Keep in mind that the child of God who is inhabited with God’s Spirit has died to sin and lives for righteousness because judgment has already been made at the Cross of Jesus Christ. And the judgment is this: In Christ your sin is forgiven, your sin debt paid in full, your life called out of darkness into His marvelous light, so that you may live a new life in Christ Jesus in Righteousness, His Righteousness. “God Works!” And because He has completed His, we are blessed to do ours.
Convicting the world is no easy task and is beyond what any one of us, or any number of us can do. That is not our job! Our work is simply to be martyrs, witnesses of His glory.
The world doesn’t like being told it is wrong. Neither do we! Or, is that just a remnant of the world remaining in our own heart. Nevertheless, when wrong meats right and lie meets truth, there is bound to be volatility. And remember where truth resides; it is not in us, but God’s Word is Truth. Jesus is the Truth. “God Works!”
If convicted of sin, it is because we have heard the word of God and are convinced by the Holy Spirit that because of Jesus, we are no longer blind, dead, enemies of God because “God Works!” Sin, my sin, is forgiven for Jesus’ sake.
If convicted of righteousness, it is because we have heard the word of God and are convinced that He is at the Father’s right hand interceding for our innocence because of His tortured body and shed blood. We receive His life that is now and is forever, in place of our life that is but for a moment in time. And even though we do not see Him, our hearts yearn for Him because “God Works!”
If convicted of judgment, it is because we have heard the word of God and know that Jesus Christ has already judged the ruler of this world and that is why we who believe are able martyrs of Christ because we have come to know, “God Works!”
So just know when you leave here today that “God Works!” for you and your benefit and for the benefit of the whole world. That is why it is so important that we as His chosen people keep growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
· Through Word and Sacrament, because there “God Works!”
· Through devotions and guided bible studies, because there “God Works!”
· Through our interactions with one another and with the world, because there “God Works!”
Everyone who is here this morning is here because “God Works!” Let’s make the best of it and so prove to be Jesus’ disciples. Amen.
The peace of God that surpasses all understanding will keep our hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus now and unto life everlasting. Amen.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet