“The Spirit never fails to return you to learn and receive what Christ has done for you” Pentecost 2022

05. June 2022
John 14:23-31

“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.”

In Name of the + Jesus. Amen.

May “my speech and my preaching [be] not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Cor 2:4-5) Today we rejoice in the culminating festival of the Church year. Just as there can be no Good Friday without Christmas, nor an Easter without Good Friday, there can be no Pentecost without all the festivals that preceded it, including Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter. Without Pentecost, there is no Church. 

Without the giving of the Holy Spirit on the apostles, on the 3000 gathered that day and the continual giving of the Spirit on those whom God has chosen, no one would know and believe in the Incarnation, Crucifixion, or Resurrection of Jesus Christ. And without knowing and believing in Jesus Christ, you would still be dead in trespasses and sins, dying apart from God, and doomed to destruction.

The Holy Spirit is not an invention of theologians and church fathers, any more than the confession of God the Father and His only-begotten Son Jesus Christ. The propagandists of godlessness and unbelievers assert that Jesus himself did not teach anything concerning the Holy Spirit. But Jesus has a great deal to say about the Holy Spirit. He spends much of the night He was betrayed catechizing the disciples to see, know, believe, and receive the work of the Spirit. These last few weeks have only scratched the surface of what Jesus’ has to say to you of the Spirit.

When He was about to leave His disciples, He promised them that the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, would come to them. They were to remain in Jerusalem until they were clothed with power from on high. And just as He promised, the Spirit came upon the apostles on this day, signified by the rushing wind, tongues of fire, and the Gospel of forgiveness in Jesus proclaimed in the many languages of the people. The Spirit would continue to make it possible for them to continue the work of Christ. The Breath of God would never fail to call, gather, enlighten, and sanctify the congregation of the nations whom Jesus redeemed. The Spirit would give the Apostles the wisdom to be able to speak before governors and kings. He would teach them all things and lead them into the whole faith. He would witness to them about Christ, all that the Church may know Jesus, believe in Him and be saved.

So, how should you think of the Holy Spirit? You should actually not “think” of the Holy Spirit at all. He is not a product of your intellectual powers and cannot be comprehended by the mind alone. The Spirit is revealed and given by Jesus! You can learn to know Him only through the work which He does among us. And His work is not to reveal himself, but to glorify Christ. He does not seek to describe a likeness of himself to us, but it is the picture of Christ that comes alive before our eyes when the Spirit is at work. He gives you to fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. 

“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). The means which the Spirit uses is the Word. He does not work apart from Jesus and endeavors only to give you Jesus in the Word. He teaches you all that Jesus taught and reminds you daily of what Jesus said. It is the work of the Spirit that brings you, Jesus Christ, in the Word. Jesus speaks and deals with us still today in the Word. And where the Word is, there is the Spirit, living and active. The word of forgiveness in Jesus’s name is the living Word.

The first thing the Spirit does through the Word is to convict both you and the world of sin. By the preaching of the Law, the Spirit shows you the rebellion of sinful humanity as is evident in your life. He brings you to understand how twisted things and mixed up a mess you’ve made of things. But He never leaves you dead in those trespasses and sins. The Spirit never fails to return you to learn and receive what Christ has done for you. He never fails to return you to Jesus for forgiveness.

This work of the Spirit leads us to the assurance of faith in our hearts. He holds the cross before your dying eyes. He gives you to see Jesus Christ as your only hope of salvation from your guilt and shame that lead to death. The Spirit works faith in you by Baptism and the ongoing mandate: “teaching them to observe all I have commanded you.” 

And, “The Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” He has given you “His Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” It is through the Spirit that we learn to say, “Abba Father.” “The Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27)

No doubt, you do not always feel such confidence. Often, your emotions mislead and betray you. Yet even when you are perplexed and disturbed, the Spirit is still at work in your hearts. The Spirit is God’s breath, breathing life again on the slain so that they would be restored to the faith once more. The sign that He has not forsaken you is the fact that you have not forsaken the Word. That Word constantly awakens repentance and faith. 

Today the Spirit has brought you back into the fellowship of His Son and those saints redeemed in His blood. The Holy Spirit cannot be known or possessed unless we have been brought to faith in Christ by the Word. This is the precise reason why some people cannot possibly understand the Holy Spirit. He is “the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him, nor knows him.” 

But you know Him because you know Jesus. “Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Cor 12:3)  And “In [the Jesus] you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Eph 1:13)

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen.

Rev. Christopher R. Gillespie
St. John Ev. Lutheran Church & School – Sherman Center
Random Lake, Wisconsin