Sermon Notes

Help! - May 20, 2018 – John 15:26

   The Beatles sang, “Help! I need somebody.  Help! Not just anybody.  Help! You know I need someone.”  I don’t think they had the Holy Spirit in mind, but that doesn’t mean we can’t assign that plea to the Spirit.  We know it is a prayer that will be answered because Jesus tells us He and the Father are going to send the Helper, the Spirit of Truth, to keep us connected to everything Jesus Christ has accom-plished for us. 

   “As Christ by His suffering and death won for all humanity the forgiveness of sins, life, and eternal salvation, so the Holy Spirit offers and conveys these blessings to all who believe (2 Thess 2:14; Rev 22:17).  The Large Catechism states: ‘Creation is now behind us, redemption has also taken place, but the Holy Spirit continues His work without ceasing until the Last Day.’ …Our human nature can do nothing in spiritual things of itself and by its own power (Eph 2:8-9).  The sinner is converted solely by the power and activity of the Holy Spirit (John 3:5 [Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.]; 2 Thess 2:13-14 [God chose you…to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.  To this He called you through our gospel…])”[1]  Help!  We need somebody!

   The Beatles John and Paul may have had other help in mind, but the Apostles John and Paul were thinking solidly about the Holy Spirit as our Helper.  Because the Holy Spirit connects us to everything Jesus Christ has done we confess Him as “the Lord and giver of life.” (Nicene Creed)  Help! Not just anybody!  [Caesar’s Last Breath[2] and the first breath] 

   At creation it was the Spirit (Breath) that brought life to humankind and changed a lifeless clod of earth into a living creature.  (Gen 2:7)  It will be the same Spirit who resuscitates us after death.  As we heard in our first reading: “And you will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live…” (Eze 37:12-13)

   Mixed in between that gift of temporal life on earth and the resurrected life in the world to come is our urgent need for help every day—the Someone that we need is the Holy Spirit of truth, the Helper who bears witness about Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection for the forgiveness of our sins.  Just being “spiritual” won’t cut it. Just being “religious” won’t cut it. Being kind and gentle and thoughtful is nice, even commendable—but if you are not connected to Christ through the Helper’s help you are still in your sins and your spirituality is futile.  “Therefore,” Paul writes, “I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says ‘Jesus is accursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit.” (1 Cor 12:3)

   The Spirit has always been involved in the creative and redemptive work of God, but there was a dramatic increase once Jesus had completed His work for our salvation.  The Spirit spoke by the prophets in order to help the people of the Old Testament hold to the promises of a Savior.  Once that promise was kept through the birth, life, death and resurrection of our Lord the next phase of God’s plan started.  Ten days after Jesus ascended into heaven our Lord kept His word and sent the Helper by inaugurating an outpouring of the Spirit of truth—an outpouring that continues wherever, whenever, and however the Gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed!

   That we can, at times, take the Spirit for granted is an unfortunate reality—in much the same way we can take air for granted.  “It’s worth asking yourself what you think of air because air is the single most important thing in your environment right now.  You can survive without food, without solids for weeks.  You can survive without water, without liquids, for days.  Without air you’d last a few minutes at most.”[3]  That, of course, is true in reference to our temporal life.  There is a greater truth that deals with eternal life.  We need the Helper so that it’s not just earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.  Ezekiel saw it in his vision of the dry bones when the Holy Spirit said to him, “Prophesy to the breath (Spirit); prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” (Eze 37:9) Through the Gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed in Word and Sacraments the Holy Spirit has come upon you to bring you to faith in Jesus Christ that you may call upon the name of the Lord and be saved.

[1] Samuel Nafzger, editor, Confessing the Gospel, Volume 1, Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, ©2017, page 556.

[2] Sam Kean, Caesar’s Last Breath, Little, Brown and Company, New York, ©2017 

[3] Ibid., page 14.

© 2018 St Johns Evangelical Elgin
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