Sermon on John 15:26&27
Text: “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.”
Today is Pentecost Sunday. It is a special day in the church year on which we focus our attention on the work of the Holy Spirit. The idea behind Pentecost is 50 days. Normally, we think of this day as being 50 days after Easter. There was, however, an Old Testament Pentecost, as well. The 50 days were figured from the Passover. For the Old Testament Jew, it was a time to commemorate the giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai. It was also a festival of thanksgiving for the harvest, when two loaves of bread, made from the firstfruits of wheat, were offered to the Lord. It was because of this festival that so many foreigners were in Jerusalem on that day when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples in such a spectacular fashion. This day is often called the birthday of the Christian Church. It was a festival of harvest, not of an earthly harvest, but a harvest of souls, as 3,000 people were baptized.
On Pentecost we focus our attention on the work of the Holy Spirit. In keeping with that thought and the account of the first Pentecost, we pray ‘COME, HOLY SPIRIT, COME!” 1. Testify To Us About Christ. 2. Testify Through Us To The World.
Jesus spoke these words to his disciples in the Upper Room on Maundy Thursday evening. We have been reading selections of this discussion for the past several weeks. Just prior to our text, Jesus warned his disciples that the world would hate them as they testified about Jesus. He reminded them that this should be no surprise. Look at the way they have treated and will treat Jesus.
So that they would not feel overwhelmed at this prospect, Jesus promises to send help: “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you.” The word “counselor” in the Greek has to do with the giving of help or aid as needed. Who would this “counselor,” the helper be? Jesus says that he is the “Spirit of truth.” This, obviously, is referring to the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity. Jesus fulfilled his promise to his Church on that day we commemorate today. The Spirit was sent to the disciples.
Jesus also told the disciples how he, the Counselor, would help them. He said, “he will testify about me.” The Holy Spirit would call to mind and give meaning to all that Jesus had said to them and done among them. He would strengthen and deepen their understanding of what Jesus had done for them.
We, too, have received the gift of the Holy Spirit. When we were baptized, the Holy Spirit entered our hearts and created faith. What if you had been baptized later in life? When did the Holy Spirit enter your heart? He did so as you heard and learned the Word of God. By means of the Word, he created a saving faith in your heart. His work, like that of the Father and the Son, is essential for your salvation. By nature, we are spiritually dead. We cannot make a decision to come to Christ. As Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 12:3, “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord.’” However, he finishes the sentence with the words, “except by the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit makes us spiritually alive. He creates the saving faith in our hearts.
The Holy Spirit continues to testify about Jesus. First of all, he reminds us of our need for a Savior by pointing us to the Law. There we are reminded of the fact that we have sinned, even in our thoughts and desires. There are certain things that God has placed off limits. These things belong to someone else. Yet, we really want them. This desire leads us to sin by acting out on that desire. Even for these evil desires, we deserve to be put into hell. Even our very thoughts condemn us.
The Holy Spirit then draws our attention to the Gospel. He shows us our Substitute, Jesus Christ. As we read God’s Word, the Holy Spirit shows us how Jesus lived in complete and perfect obedience to the Father in our place. The Holy Spirit takes us to the foot of the cross and shows us the Sacrifice made once for all people. He takes us to the empty tomb, where we are assured that Christ’s payment was accepted on our behalf and that we, too, will rise from the dead on the Last Day. The Holy Spirit continues to testify to us about Jesus as he strengthens our faith through contact with God’s Word and as we receive the Lord’s Supper.
Note that he is called “the Spirit of truth.” Have you considered what a blessing that is? We do not even have to wonder is this is correct or not. We do not have to worry is this is the way that we are saved, or if there might possibly be something else that we need to be doing. What he teaches, what he tells us is the absolute truth. You can put your faith in it. It will happen just as he said. The Spirit continues to testify to us about Christ. Come, Holy Spirit, come!
What if Pentecost came and went and that was the end of it? The disciples went back to their jobs and life went on. We thank our God that they did not. They realized that God had given them work to do. After telling them that the Holy Spirit would testify about him, Jesus then told his disciples, “And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.” They were to go and tell others about Jesus.
Testifying or being a witness is what Jesus has called his followers to be. In a court of law, when one is testifying, they tell what they have seen or heard. Jesus reminds his disciples that, from the day he had called them to follow him, he had been preparing them for this work. He said, “you have been with me from the beginning.” They had heard Jesus preach and teach. They had seen many of the miracles that he had performed. In a few short hours, they would watch as Jesus was arrested, put on trial, mistreated and, finally, crucified. They would also be eyewitnesses of the fact that Jesus rose from the dead. They were properly prepared to testify about Jesus.
Jesus also comes to us modern-day disciples and tells us, “you also must testify.” We might think that the original disciples had better training than we do. They actually saw and heard Jesus with their own eyes and ears. They had been with him “from the beginning.” In one respect, perhaps, we have it better, because we have the full record of what Jesus did for us recorded for us in the Bible. They were living it day to day. They had to wait to see it all unfold. We have the whole salvation history written for us in God’s Word.
We, too, must testify. But, is there really a need for it? After all, a USA Today poll of a number of years ago proclaimed “More are curling up with the good book.” The top five publishers said that sales of Bibles were up 30-40%. In a survey of 1,000 adults, they found that 91% of all households owned at least one Bible.
However, listen to these telling numbers. Only 38% read the Bible in a typical week. In other words, they own the Bible, they just don’t use it. In spite of the fact that so many own a Bible, Bible ignorance is rampant. For example, 12% of the people thought that Noah’s wife was Joan of Arc. 80% of those surveyed thought that the Bible specifically said, “God helps those who help themselves.”
Even more disturbing is this statistic. 56% of these people say that a person can earn their way into heaven. Over half of the people surveyed missed the central message of the Bible that Jesus has done everything for their salvation. Scriptures tell us so clearly that there is nothing that anyone can add to what Jesus has done for them. If these people continue on this path, they will be lost for all eternity.
In addition, these statistics were just of 1,000 people. What about the thousands of others? They, also, need the message of Jesus Christ and him crucified. Without it, they will surely die. If you knew of a lifesaving cure for a disease that someone is suffering from, you would tell them about it. You do know of a lifesaving cure. You know the cure for sin, which leads to eternal death. It is and always has been Jesus Christ.
Perhaps, you feel that you wouldn’t know what to say or how to say it. That is why we pray that the Holy Spirit would come and testify through us. Let us speak the faith that is in our hearts, the faith which the Holy Spirit created and sustains. We are also told that when we don’t know what to say, the Holy Spirit will give us what we are to say. Jesus says to you and to me, “You also must testify.”
We pray that the Holy Spirit would continue to testify to us about Christ. We also pray that he would testify through us to the world. “Come, Holy Spirit, come!” Amen.
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