Feast of Pentecost + John 14:23-31 + June 4, 2017

Order of Holy Communion - Pg. 15
Hymn # 235 O Holy Spirit, Enter In
Hymn # 224 Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord
Hymn # 236 Creator Spirit, by Whose Aid 

THE SPI- - || rit of the Lord | fills | the | world. | - *
            Alle- | lu- | ia!
|| Let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice | be- | fore | God; | - *
            Yes, let them rejoice exceedingly. Alleluia! Alle- | lu- | ia! (Wisdom 1:7a; Psalm 68:3)
|| Let God arise, let His ene- | mies | be | scat- | tered; *
            Let those also who hate Him flee be- | fore | Him.
|| Sing to God, sing praises | to | His | name; | - *
            Extol Him who rides on | the | clouds.
|| The Lord | gave | the | Word; | - *
            Great was the company of those who pro- | claimed | it.
|| He sends out His voice, a | might- | y | voice. | - *
            The God of Israel gives strength and power to His | peo- | ple. (Psalm 68:1,4,11,33,35)
|| The Spirit of the Lord | fills | the | world. | - *
            Alle- | lu- | ia!
|| Let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice | be- | fore | God; | - *
            Yes, let them rejoice exceedingly. Alleluia! Alle- | lu- | ia! (Wisdom 1:7a; Psalm 68:3)

Collect for the Feast of Pentecost

O God, Who taught the hearts of Thy faithful people by sending to them the light of Thy Holy Spirit, bring us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things and evermore to rejoice in His holy comfort; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who with Thee and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Joel 2:28-32
Acts 2:1-13
John 14:23-31 

Grace and peace be unto you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

1)         Jesus tells us, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come and make our home with him.” This is a great and precious promise for all who believe in Christ. It is extraordinary to think that God would dwell with man. The incarnation of the second person of the Holy Trinity is unfathomable to human reason, that God would assume human flesh, become fully man and yet remain fully God. In the incarnation Jesus dwelt with humanity to teach them the Word of the Lord, to heal the diseases of sinful humanity, and most of all, to make atonement for the sins of the world. The incarnation is necessary for the purpose of our atonement. If only a man were to die for the sins of the world it would be of no effect “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Yet it is impossible for God to die. So God must assume human flesh and dwell with sinful man so that He might die for the sins of the world, to atone for them before the holy throne of God the Father. The incarnation is the chief mystery of the Christian faith. But today we have a promise from the lips of Jesus that is just as unfathomable and unreasonable to the human mind. “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come and make our home with him.” God the Father and God the Son will dwell with man individually. Our hearts become His abode, His mansion, His home. We must add God the Holy Ghost, for He too makes the heart of man His dwelling as St. Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:14. The Godhead, the creator of all things, the Savior of all men from sin, and the Comforter all dwell within us. This is a mystical union for in this union the Triune God is as close to us as we are to ourselves. In this promise Jesus fulfills His name, “Immanuel” which means “God with us” as well as His promise before His ascension “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

2)         But what does this mean? How does God dwell with us and make His home with us? And how does this presence manifest itself in our lives? The answer is found in the first part of Jesus promise, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word.” The key to understanding this mystical union of God and man is the Word. Where the Word of God is truly taught, understood, believed, and treasured, there the Triune God. It is by faith in His Word, keeping and treasuring His Word, that God dwells with us. God is never separated from His Word. We must keep this truth close to our hearts at all times for this is exactly where the Devil, the world, and our sinful nature seek to lead us astray. The human heart does not like to accept this truth. The sinful mind wants to separate God from His Word. The sinful heart wants to make up its own Word of God and usually the heart’s version of the ‘word of God’ contradicts the written and spoken Word of God. God does not say one thing to us in His Word and then speak another thing into our hearts. He is not duplicitous or fork-tongued. He is the only One who speaks truth all of the time. He will not tell us something in the Scriptures and then speak something different into our minds. Those contradictions come from our own flesh and sinful nature that cannot stand to keep the Word of the Lord pure and unadulterated.

3)         Let me give you a few examples. The Lord says in His Word that Jesus is the only way to the Father. Yet when we have loved ones that depart from the faith, our hearts reason that perhaps Jesus is not the only way to the Father, that God will “grade of a curve” as they say, or that perhaps God can convert people in ways apart from His Word of Law and Gospel. But this person has created a new Word and a new god for themselves because the truth stings the flesh.  Another example: A man goes to confession so that he can hear the Absolution spoken directly to him. That absolution is the spoken Word of God since Christ tells the apostles, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20:23) and He says in Luke 10:16, “Whoever hears you hears Me.” But once the man leaves the confessional the Devil plants seeds of doubt in His heart so that that man begins to think the must do all sorts of good works in order to make up for his sin which God has already absolved. He is making up a word of God in His heart that contradicts the Word of God spoken to Him by His pastor. He has separated God from His Word and created a new Word and a new god for himself. Any form of this mysticism is dangerous, narcissistic, and does not lead to peace of conscience and joy. Any example we can give, or that you can see in yourself, splits God from His Word. Any example is also an example of how NOT to view the dwelling of God within us. God, having made His abode in us, will not lead us in ways contrary to His Word.

4)         Rather, the Word of must be kept. But what does this mean? How does one keep the Word? “Keep” has such a brought field of meaning in English. You can keep a piece of junk in your garage. You can keep your wedding vows. You can keep a secret. You can keep someone close to you. So we ought to narrow the field. Jesus does not want us to keep His Word like we keep our high school diploma, thinking, “It’s somewhere around here, perhaps on that shelf or in a box in the attic. I know it’s here and I have it if I ever need it.” This is not the proper “keeping” of God’s Word. We are to treasure the Word. We are hold fast to the Word. The Word of God is to be our most precious possession. Perhaps this was easier to communicate when Bibles were scarce and the only ones that existed where in churches. The accessibility of the Scriptures does make it more difficult to treasure, doesn’t it? Familiarity breeds contempt, does it not? It is the same with the spoken Word of God in the Absolution spoken by Christ through His called and ordained servants. It is easy to think little of that word, despise it, and tread it underfoot simply for the reason that it is spoken by a man and often the Word contradicts our own feelings of guilt, shame, inadequacy, regret, and remorse.

5)         How do you hold fast to the Word of God, written and preached? By believing it. By confessing it. By loving it because by the Word of the Lord your sins are forgiven. By hearing the Gospel and believing it you are justified before God in heaven. By hearing the absolution and believing that is not just the word of man but that is truly the Word of Jesus, your guilt is removed and you are released from the wrath of God and eternal damnation. That Word of Jesus removes your sins as far as the “east is from the west.” (Psalm 103:12) By faith in the Words of Jesus recorded by the Evangelists we come to know Jesus and that truly He is a God who is “merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.” (Psalm 103:8) The Word of the Lord tells us that, having been absolved, we are children of God the Father and so thus we may pray to Him as a dear children ask their dear Father for every good thing. It shows us our sins so that we may daily repent of them. It shows us our Savior, Jesus Christ, and His great salvation He gives us all who believe. Faith is how you keep these Words of the Lord written, read, and heard from your pastor. The heart is to believe no other word, no self-made word, neither are you to believe any conscience-crafted word in your mind that contradicts the Word of God. The Psalmist teaches rightly when he says, “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” (Psalm 19:7-10)

6)         We are to hear the Word in faith, believing and not doubting what God gives us there. That lands us back to today, the Feast of Pentecost, specifically that feast of Pentecost that occurred 50 days after the Resurrection of Jesus. On this day we remember the day the Holy Ghost was poured out on the Apostles in the form of tongues of flame on their heads and tongues of language in their mouths. The Holy Ghost is active but even in this miraculous event there is the Word, the Gospel. Tongues of flame and language serve the spread of the Gospel to all nations. The Triune God saves a mighty host through the preaching of Christ, for God is never to be separated from His Word. But the Holy Ghost descends upon the crowd as well, for it is only by the working of the Holy Ghost that anyone is able to keep the Word of the Lord, that is, to believe it and treasure it. For so St. Paul says in Ephesians 2:8 when He writes, “By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” The gift of faith is the work of the God the Holy Ghost, working there, and here, in the preaching of the Word of the Lord. So our salvation, from beginning to end is gift. The incarnation and atonement are gift. The faith to believe the Gospel is gift. It is by the Holy Ghost’s working through the Word that we grow to love Jesus and in that love, keep His Word, treasuring the Gospel as the very Word of God to us sinners, that our sins are absolved, that our sins can harm us no longer, that the devil has no power over us, nor can death swallow us and snatch us from the jaws of eternal life. This is a most excellent comfort on this Pentecost Sunday. That the Triune God dwells with us by faith through the Word of the Lord. Treasure the Gospel. Hold fast to it in every dark time. Keep it in faith though the world and your own flesh tell you otherwise. For where the Word is there is the Triune God will all His blessings.

May the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

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