“The Spirit of truth  will guide you into all truth” — Cantate 2023

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07. May 2023


John 16:4-15

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.”

In the holy Name of + Jesus. Amen.

Never tell a lie. Always tell the truth. This is one of the maxims of the book, “Beyond Order: 12 More Rules For Life,” by Canadian clinical psychologist and author Jordan B. Peterson. I’ve followed and listened to his commentary since he dared to oppose the proposed Canadian hate-speech law that would prosecute you for not using someone’s preferred gender pronouns. 

The propaganda media of his government dropped the hammer on him for such audacity. Ever since then, he’s had a rollercoaster ride of life with massive speaking tours, substance abuse, tragic health consequences, recovery, and now an advocate for historical and traditional cultural norms. Regardless of what you think of him or his ideas, it all began with speaking the truth, in his case, the biological reality of male and female.

Never tell a lie. Always tell the truth. You’d think that would be commonly accepted, especially among Christians. But even the conservative religious observant Christian disagrees either in word or practice. Christians will say “white” or “little” lies. They lack the courage to reject deceivers who spew their deceit in the media. They accept liars for public servants and swallow their lies. They think it is good for the intelligence community to keep the ugly truth from them, content to live an illusionary life. They’ll fail to speak when called upon. They’ll neglect to speak the truth in love to those openly rebellious to God’s created order and His revealed will in His Word. 

Even Christians think lying, lies, and liars are the only way to live a content life. The truth is too ugly, difficult, or devastating to expose. And if that truth gets too close to home and a little too real, we’ll fall back to myth, illusion, and falsehood to keep our precious consciences clean. It’s ironic since Jesus gave an explicit Word to Moses and thereby to the people on Sinai. “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” Or, if you prefer, “You shall not give false testimony.” In other words, “Don’t lie about your neighbor.” So why do we lie about ourselves, this world, or others?

But it doesn’t work. You will never be at rest until you rest in Jesus, who alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. If you try to deal with the guilt and shame of what you’d done and left undone, you’ll be dragged further into despair and hurt. As the apostle testifies, “We deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” But Jesus will not leave you under the spells of this world’s charmers, enticed by the mystical promises of the political and scientific magicians, or under the illusions of the spiritual proclaimers and the idol factory of your heart. “But He is merciful and just, to forgive us our trespasses.”

Jesus speaks the truth to you because He is the capital-T Truth. His Word tears in two the curtain, the dividing wall between you and God. He has revealed the truth about yourself, this world, and the powers and principalities in the heavenly places. You are given to see what is really real as Jesus exposes your sinful heart, the world’s deception, and the devil’s lies. But He doesn’t leave you exposed and naked, but covers you with His atoning blood, clothing your shame and guilt with His forgiveness. Now you see the Truth by hearing the Truth in God the Father’s Son, Jesus Christ, the Word-made-flesh-and-dwelt-among-us. 

God the Son sends forth His Spirit of Truth to accomplish this work. Jesus’s Spirit is His breath that brings life to the fallen, resurrection to the dead, and faith to the unbelieving. The Spirit alighted on Jesus as a dove in His Baptism in the Jordan by John. He gave up His Spirit to the Church when He died on the cross of Calvary. The resurrected Jesus breathed on His disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” in John’s Gospel. And in Acts, His Spirit came upon the Apostles as they breathed with tongues of fire, boldly proclaiming the truth to those who crucified Jesus, repenting them and directing them to the forgiveness of sins in Holy Baptism.

That’s not abstract, religious mumbo-jumbo. That’s the God’s-honest-Truth of real history. It happened, and those who saw it testify that it is true. And today, you witnessed the Spirit rush upon Amalia Renee to make her God’s child, dwell within Her by the ongoing ministry of Jesus’ Word, and give to her faith in God’s promises to her. What you heard and saw was really real, one of the most true things you will ever witness. And as she grows in wisdom and stature before God and her fellow mankind, you will continue to witness that God is faithful to His Word. She is now a child of God, reborn from above by water and the Word. God the Spirit will use you to testify to her of all Truth as He reveals it in the Holy Scripture.

“Out unclean spirit and make room for the Holy Spirit!” This is the Spirit’s work today, exorcizing you of lies, liars, and lying. He convicts, that is, convinces you of your sin. He convinces you of your rebellious will that does not believe in Jesus, the Truth. And He convinces you of righteousness, namely Jesus, the righteous one. He delivers the goods to you. Jesus’ blood-bought forgiveness is yours in your baptism, just as you heard the truth proclaimed to and for Amalia. Jesus, for His own name’s sake, never stops forgiving the sins He exposes by His Word. 

And if you thought it too little, His Spirit convinces you there is ongoing, real, and true forgiveness in His body and blood under bread and wine, as His Word of promise declares. “For you! For the forgiveness of sins!” And if sin is forgiven, then death is defeated and this world’s prince has no claim on you. The Spirit convinces you that the ruler of this world is judged and defeated.

 Never tell a lie. Always tell the truth. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, alleluia. You are forgiven. You are God’s child. Nothing—not even death, devil, and hell—stands in the way of Jesus, the Truth, and His Spirit, the Helper working all things for your salvation. Amen.

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

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