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.16:1 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. (John 15:26-4)
“But when the Helper comes… the Spirit of truth. He will bear witness about me, and you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.”
Jesus promises the Holy Spirit for a third time. He calls him the Spirit of truth yet again. And then he says he will bear witness about me. The Spirit of truth bears witness about Jesus because Jesus is the truth. Jesus and the Father send him because God desires that all men come to the knowledge of truth and are saved. (1 Tim. 2:4) And this knowledge of truth, is knowledge of Jesus Christ, his death and his resurrection for the forgiveness of sins, for your justification. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, your salvation, your sanctification, your knowledge of the truth.
Jesus promises the Spirit first and foremost to the disciples. They are the ones being addressed here. They have an impossible task before them. They are to build the church by bearing witness to Jesus. This cannot be accomplished if it is the work of men alone. Jesus tells them why he is telling them all of this, “So that they do not fall away.” He wants to strengthen their faith for what is to come. Jesus is about to be handed over, about to be crucified. He believes it a very real possibility that the disciples will fall away. So he promises the Holy Spirit, the helper, the Spirit of truth who alone can make us holy, who alone can bring us to faith, who alone can sanctify us in truth, and who alone can keep us with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. And he does it by pointing us to Christ.
Today the church floats treacherous waters. It is an odd thing because it is the Holy Spirit who guides us through the rapids, even if today the rapids are caused by false ideas about the Spirit. People expect to meet the Spirit and feel the spirit. Many are led to fall away from the faith, to leave the church, because they don’t “feel” the Spirit. This would be a valid argument if the Spirit was here to testify to himself. As it is, he bears witness to Jesus, not to himself. The Spirit sanctifies you by pointing you to the justification Jesus accomplished for you on the cross. But people are rarely satisfied with that. In fact they would never be satisfied with that if it wasn’t for the work of the Holy Spirit.
It is in its own way a persecution of the church that such doctrines are taught and used against believers. It is in its own way a persecution that believers are told they are inferior because they don’t speak in tongues, because they don’t feel elation, when they are told that the Spirit does such and such and he hasn’t so you don’t have him and are not a true believer, or a Christian in any real sense. The Spirit bears witness to Jesus Christ, who died for you, who suffered for you, who justified you and rose victorious over death from the grave for you, who promises you salvation, who promises you new life in baptism, who promises you forgiveness of sins, strength, rest and respite in the Holy Supper. And it is the Spirit who works in all of these things sent by the Father and the Son, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, and so you have the Spirit, because the Father and the Son sent him to you in baptism. Believe and be baptized every one of you and you will receive the Holy Spirit, this promise is for you and for your children. (Acts 2:38-39)
This is why we baptize our children, because the Holy Spirit has been promised to them in baptism. This is a gift our Father in heaven desires to give them. Who would we be to disobey him and refuse to give them the gift he has given us to give to them? Yes, he has given us to give to them, for we are his church, we are his disciples having been baptized in his name, and God works through his church, whom he has sanctified in the washing of water with the word. He works through us. It isn’t the Spirit alone who works, but he works through us, through his church as he works through the means of grace entrusted to his church, His word, His baptism, his Holy Supper. Through these things given to his disciples, given to his church he works grace and salvation in all who believe bringing men to the knowledge of truth, to salvation because he desires all men to be saved. All men. There isn’t a one of you that God has forsaken. No men can forsake God, God does not forsake man, his son shed his blood for them, each and every person that has ever lived and ever will live. This means you. This means your children. This means your father, and your mother, your neighbors and coworkers, this means the mormons and the pagans, the immigrants and the bluebloods. And this means you.
It is for this reason that Jesus sends the Spirit from his Father, because he desires your sanctification, that is your faith that Jesus has done it all for you on the cross, regardless of what you feel or don’t feel, regardless of your success in life or unsuccess. No, this world wears us down. Kids get into trouble. Parents get angry. Bank accounts dry up. We don’t always have it together. We sin in thought word and deed. We find reason enough for guilt if we look for it. And it can be a good exercise to do, to read through the ten commandments, I recommend every morning, and to consider how it is you break these in your daily life. But just then when we feel guilt, just then when we begin to think we are worthless and hopeless. When I think of all the times I have botched bearing witness to Jesus, failed to tell a friend, or told him in a way that he could not understand, was to worried about proper protocol or not worried enough. And man are those memories depressing. But then the Holy Spirit, the helpe, the Spirit of truth points us to truth, he points us to Jesus and says: there is your salvation, there is your hope because he did not find you worthless but poured out his blood for you on the cross, now go, eat and drink and be forgiven, you are his.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.