Monday, June 1, 2009


Pentecost Sunday
John 15:26-27 16:4b-15

[26] "But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. [27] And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. John 15:26-27 (ESV)
"I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. [5] But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' [6] But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. [7] Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. [8] And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: [9] concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; [10] concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; [11] concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
[12] "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. [13] When 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. [14] He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. [15] All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. John 16:4-15 (ESV)

“He will glorify me! For he will take what is mine and declare it to you, all that the father has is mine therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

He will glorify Me. Of course it is Jesus Christ who says these words, and He is speaking of the Holy Spirit, or the Helper, whose coming upon the disciples in tongues of fire we celebrate today, Pentecost. We celebrate Pentecost 50 days after Easter, and ten days after the Ascension. We do so because the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples during a Jewish feast called Pentecost that happened fifty days after the Passover when Jesus was crucified. And it was on Pentecost that the Holy Spirit rushed into a room filled with scared disciples, quite possibly the same room in which Christ appeared to them twice, and finally sent them out with the Gospel, the word of Jesus Christ. He took what belonged to Christ, to Jesus, and declared it to them. He will glorify me.

I once got harangued by a man who maybe should have known better than to harangue me with a theological point. I like. No, I love to argue and debate. And a good haranguing just opens up an opportunity for that side to come out, and I don’t lose easily. Most often I am thankful though to the person who has offered me the opportunity to debate. The problem is hard feelings can often develop in the course of the debate. So this guy harangued me. “Bror, good sermon. Only one problem.” “ And what is that?” “You didn’t talk about the Holy Spirit.” I remember thinking wow, I mean there are a lot of things I didn’t mention. Quite a few things that weren’t mentioned in the text. The Holy Spirit was one of those things. But I answered, “Hmm” and why was that important. Then He quoted a book called “The Half Known God” that talks about how Lutherans don’t talk enough about the Holy Spirit.
Now that is just a silly title, though. “The Half Known God.” seems to me that if the Holy Spirit is the only one being left out of the sermons, it should have been called the, “Two Thirds Known God.” We do believe in a Triune God, don’t we? More on that next Sunday. Thing is, this man’s concern was not isolated, it is shared by many in and outside of Lutheranism. Even knew a Nazarene once, who would derided Lutherans and being lukewarm because we didn‘t talk about the Holy Spirit they way he did. These concerns about Lutherans and the Holy Spirit blossomed twentieth century with the charismatic movement, one can hope will die in the Twenty First.
The twentieth century seems to be one that has celebrated the Holy Spirit far more than any other century, at least in America, and really put an inappropriate emphasis on Him. Not inappropriate in that it emphasized the Holy Spirit. But inappropriate in that the Pentecostal fury of the twentieth century, which actually has its roots very early in American ecclesiastical history, loaded thought about the Holy Spirit with quite a bit of false doctrine. The twentieth century Charismatic movement was and is perhaps still more dangerous in that it went beyond the tent revival and infected otherwise stalwart denominations, even such conservative institutions like the Catholic Church, and the LCMS. It also equated having the Holy Spirit with all sorts of rather ridiculous things, unintelligible speech, the inability to stand, or the ability to swoon, emotional highs, euphoria, mass accumulation of wealth, and funky clothes. Sometimes, it even claimed that if you did not have these things you did not have the Holy Spirit. The poor man just doesn’t have faith. What the Holy Spirit seems not to be associated with in this movement is a glorification of Christ. “He will glorify me. He will take what is mine and declare it to you, all that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that He will take what is mine and declare it to you.”
You want to know if you have experienced the Holy Spirit? I’ll give you one sure sign that says you have been touched by the Holy Spirit. You heard about Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. You heard the word of God proclaimed in all its veracity. You heard Law, and you heard Gospel. You heard Christ, and Him crucified. “He will glorify me,” Jesus says. Not Himself. I’ve noticed in the past few years that among the majority of protestants the Holy Spirit has taken the place of Christ on the cross. At least I think that is what the dove on all those Precious Moments type crosses is supposed to represent. Can you imagine Precious Moments doing a crucifix? You know a depiction of Christ bleeding, suffering, head hung low circled in thorns. That was though a precious moment, possibly the most precious moment the world has ever had because there at that time, that moment God died for the sins of all mankind. That is the glory of Christ, His triumph over sin, death an the power of the devil. And when the Holy Spirit glorifies Christ He highlights Christ Crucified. He doesn’t take His place on the cross. It used to be that the cross and crucifixes adorned churches, that is what churches are supposed to be about, the forgiveness of sins Christ won for us on the cross. Now that is lost, and everywhere are doves where crosses used to be. A church that removes the cross removes the Holy Spirit, no matter how many doves decorate that church. For when the Holy Spirit has ceased to glorify Christ, it has ceased to be the Holy Spirit. Now that would be an impossibility for the Holy Spirit to cease to be. The point is, if the spirit in question is glorifying anything but Christ it is not the Holy Spirit you are dealing with. The Holy Spirit isn’t there to draw attention to itself, with obnoxious displays of disarray. He is there to call us by the gospel, enlighten us with His gifts, sanctify and keep us in the one true faith. Because we cannot by our own reason and strength believe in Jesus Christ our Lord, (the focus of our faith), or come to Him. Those words sound familiar?
They come from Luther’s explanation to the third article of the Apostles Creed. It’s not that Lutherans don’t know the Holy Spirit, or teach about Him. We have the most solid biblically based doctrine of the Holy Spirit you will find in all of Christendom, and it has been drummed into us if not from birth, from confirmation on. So we know not to equate the Holy Spirit with emotions, or wealth or anything but the glorification of Christ. We know it was, and is the Holy Spirit who calls us by the Gospel, washing our sins away in baptism, softly cooing in our ear “this is true” when we hear that our sins are forgiven. We know that if we have faith in the death and resurrection of Christ, if we look to the cross and the cross alone for our salvation we have been enlightened with the Holy Spirit’s gift of faith, and perhaps we have other gifts like the gift of administration that ranks higher on Paul’s list of gifts than tongues, or the gift of discernment, or the ability to speak the word of God, and proclaim the gospel publicly or other gifts that help the church glorify Christ. That is what the other gifts the Holy Spirit gives is for, glorifying Christ. And we know that we have the Holy Spirit guiding us, and keeping us in the one true faith as long as our sins are daily and richly forgiven in the one Holy, Apostolic Church that looks to Christ and Christ alone for her salvation. Faith equals the work of the Holy Spirit, faith in Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.


Steve Martin said...

"The Holy Spirit isn’t there to draw attention to itself, with obnoxious displays of disarray."

The Holy Spirit always points to Christ.

Nice one, Bror!


Bror Erickson said...

Grabbed my favorite sentence out of that piece. knew I liked it for some reason.