Sermon – Day of Pentecost – June 9, 2019
John 14:23-31 ‘A Dwelling Place’
CT: The Holy Spirit is God abiding in us that He might counsel, comfort, help, and advocate for us through His lasting Word of Jesus Christ, His Son.
Intro: “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” These are the familiar and comforting words that begin the 14th chapter of John. Some of you may be more familiar with the King James version: “In my Fathers house are many mansions.” The Greek literally says, “many abiding places.” It brings to mind that hymn, “Abide with me, fast falls the eventide; the darkness deepens, Lord with me abide.”
Abiding: But then Jesus took this thought of an abiding place with Him and turns it on its head; He abides with and in us! Jesus said that our love for Him and His word and the Father’s love for us are all tied together. And indeed it’s the Father’s love for us that makes our love for Jesus possible. As John wrote in his 1st letter, “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) And out of this relationship of love are people who become mansions, dwelling places for the Father and the Son. Jesus said, “We will come and make our home with him.” As Joel the prophet spoke: “[God] will pour out His Spirit on all flesh.” And The Apostle Paul wrote that the body of a Christian is a temple of the Holy Spirit. (cf 1 Corinthians 6:19) The disciples’ fear of living without Jesus was great, but Jesus promised to abide with them in an even greater way, for the Father will send the Holy Spirit in His name, bringing about a closeness and clarity of Jesus’ person and work beyond their expectations.
A New Presence: The disciples along with us have every reason to rejoice, because Jesus returned to the Father in whom there are no limitations. Jesus’ earthly life was one where He emptied Himself of His heavenly glory that He might take on the form of a servant. Fully human and veiled in our flesh He “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of the death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name….” (Philippians 2:7-9) Now that Jesus has ascended the Father sends in Jesus’ name “the Helper, the Comforter, the Counsellor; different translations use different names, but the word is” Paraclete,” quite literally, “the Advocate,” known as the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ leaving was in their and our best interest.
Confused Christians: This promise of the Holy Spirit is a wonderful but mysterious one. In our Lutheran Church, we tend not to overemphasize the Holy Spirit. But there’s good reason for that; The Holy Spirit does not draw attention to Himself, but works to keep our eyes fixed on Christ. To be certain, what some churches teach about the Spirit, like speaking in tongues, healing, new prophecies, and even dancing in the Spirit, may appear to be more appealing. But such teachings lead people to look for outward manifestations of the Spirit in their lives, rather than to their Baptism and the cross for the assurance of their salvation. But spontaneity, inner feelings, or spiritual highs are not completely in line with what the Bible teaches about the Spirit. There is no promise that the Holy Spirit will work in our lives in those ways, rather, the Spirit’s work is always tied to revealing Jesus Christ as the One who lived, suffered, died, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven for you. I hate to break the news to you, but Bible never says that the Holy Spirit will give you an emotional high every Sunday, nor is He truly worried about where your pastor will fish tomorrow. But He is intensely focused on giving you much more; a living faith that you believing would have life in Jesus’ name.
Spirit Work: Jesus said the Holy Spirit would teach the disciples all things and bring to their remembrance all He had told them. Think of how we received the New Testament, all those letters and the four Gospels telling of God’s greatest work among us. Because of the Spirit’s work we have the confidence that “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:6) And that no Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation…or produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 2:20-21)
Our reading from Acts today is not about the disciples proving they were followers of Jesus; they were speaking in different languages that others would hear of the mighty works of God. And by the Spirit, Peter was able to boldly declare that this was foretold in Scripture. The fact that the crowd was hearing from them was God’s work, not theirs. As Peter’s 1st sermon continued, he proclaimed to them who Jesus is and that they were as much responsible for crucifying God’s anointed One as the soldiers who nailed Him to the cross. But that this was all in accord with God’s plan and from Scripture showed that it was written that He would and did rise from the dead. The Holy Spirit worked through the Law in the ears of those people to convict them of their sin and their need for a Saviour, and the Holy Spirit called them through the Gospel where He enlighten them with His gifts, sanctified them and kept in the one true faith till life everlasting. This is what the Holy Spirit is about; this is what He does!
And when Peter pointed them to Baptism for the forgiveness of their sins, he told them that they too would receive the Holy Spirit, and that this promise was for them and their children. Like God, the Spirit is not bound to any place, yet Scripture always binds the Holy Spirit to the Word and your Baptism. Even the mighty outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost was according to Jesus’ word of promise.
The Blessings: And this same Spirit is at work in you; He abides in you by grace through faith. We should with awe live our daily lives as Christians, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13) That is a staggering thought, but your abiding place is in Christ, and His abiding place is in you that you might find your rest in Him. The Father and the Son have sent the Spirit to not only bring you to them but to be with you to keep you in the one true faith till life everlasting.