Monday, June 13, 2011

Pentecost 2011

Pentecost Sunday
John 14:23-31
Bror Erickson

[23] Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. [24] Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.
[25] "These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. [26] 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 that I have said to you. [27] Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [28] You heard me say to you, 'I am going away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. [29] And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. [30] I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, [31] but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here. John 14:23-31 (ESV)

“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 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 that I have said to you.” Bring to remembrance all I have said to you.

Pentecost Sunday, A Holiday to remember the event recorded in our reading from Acts this morning. The Birth of the Church, a birthday marked with the gift of the Holy Spirit given to the disciples, to whom he was promised in our Gospel lesson, and for good reason. The Holy Spirit was sent to them that they would remember the words and teachings of Jesus, so that they would teach the church properly so that loving Jesus we would keep his word.
It bothers me today, that people often seem to think there is a dichotomy between loving Jesus and keeping his word. Or that some how you can love Jesus without taking his word seriously. It happens to me often enough when I am speaking to people from other Christian back grounds about things such as what the Bible says about Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, The Holy Trinity, and Salvation in general.
In these conversations I’m often told one of two things, sometimes both. One that we can’t know with certainty what Jesus taught concerning these things. I’m often invited to believe that there is a difference between what Jesus taught and what the disciples wrote. Second, I’m told that none of this really matters but what matters is love. Now, admittedly I can be a little of what us theologians call polemical when it comes to discussing these matters. Dishonesty and indifference to God’s word tend to trigger it. I do try to reign it in at times, but I have little sympathy for positions that ignore scripture and rest on shoddy reasoning. It’s at this point that I’m told it doesn’t matter, what really matters is love.
“If anyone loves me, he will keep my words… whoever does not love me does not keep my words.” And when it comes to the Christian concept of Love it is impossible to love anyone if you do not love Jesus. Jesus is our salvation. Jesus gave his life for the world that we might live. Jesus is the way the truth and the life apart from whom none come to the Father. And only in knowing him and keeping his words do we know love. And it is the highest expression of love then to share his word, his gospel, his salvation with others who are lost without it. And this includes baptizing infants. It also includes taking seriously Christ’s admonitions given through Paul concerning the Lord’s Supper and how it is to be received and who should take it. It is unloving to deny those children the Grace of God offered in Baptism, and it is equally unloving to ignore the doctrinal differences that separate communions, and to allow people who know not what it is to commune. I know that isn’t popular. I’m not sure I like it anymore than anyone else. Problem is like hell, I believe it despite my preferences.
And that is the Holy Spirit. This is why Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to his disciples and to the church. He gives us the Helper, the Holy Spirit, to help us keep his word. He gave the Holy Spirit to the disciples so that there would be no doubt that what they wrote was his word. He gives us the Holy Spirit also. We are given the Holy Spirit in Baptism, we are given the Holy Spirit through his word so that we can believe, so that we can keep the words and teachings of Jesus and have salvation. For we believe that we cannot by our own reason or strength believe in the Lord Jesus Christ or come to him, but the Holy Spirit has called us by the Gospel, sanctified us with his gifts, and keeps us in the one true faith. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s entire job is to keep us focused on Christ and his work.
The Holy Spirit seldom calls attention to himself, when he does do so, his primary objective is still to teach Christ and his word, apart from whom there is no salvation. His job is definitely not, as it has been taught in ever heresy since the early church, various forms of gnosticism, Arianism, Islam, Mormonism, Unitarianism, and the new teachings of the liberal Protestantism that no longer believe God’s word at all, justifying their embrace of same sex marriage and other aberrations on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it is not his job to lead the church into new teachings.
But his job in the church, and the reason he is given to us, is to give us faith and keep us in Jesus Christ apart from whom no one comes to the Father, apart from whom there is no salvation, no forgiveness of sins, but in whom we find forgiveness even for our failed attempts to love others as he has loved us, and to keep his words he has given it to us.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understand you keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord, Amen.

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