Observe the Holy Spirit

June 12, 2019

Pastor John Hering

When the Advocate 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. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

John 15:26

A few years back it seemed that I was being summoned to be on jury duty about once a year.  Recently I haven’t received a summons.  Have you ever been selected to be on a jury?  You sit waiting to hear if you’re being picked.  And when I was picked, I was kinda looking forward to hearing both sides of the case, to be objective, to deliberate and hopefully come to a consensus with the other jurors.  Perhaps more than serving as a juror I had one occasion when I was asked to be a witness.  I was asked questions and then could testify, “Yes, I saw this happen.” It is quite different from what you see from Hollywood—the typical plot of a key witness that the mob doesn’t want to talk because their testimony would put them behind bars for a long time. They hire a hitman and the witness is put in witness protection program.  Actually, when I was a witness, I could see the judge’s laptop and he was playing Free Cell during my testimony!

In the gospel today, Jesus tells us that we are witnesses of the truth.  However, we have a mob larger than the Al Capone or someone from the Soprano family after us.  The WORLD and their Kingpin, Satan, doesn’t want us to testify.  Therefore, we are in need of security in God’s protection plan.  Especially if you lack the confidence to be a key witness to the truth, Christ encourages us to

Observe the Holy Spirit

The Spirit of Truth
The Spirit of Power

The Spirit of Truth

Listen to the two verses: “When the Advocate 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. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.”  When you hear this Word of God do you ask yourself the question, “Why?”  Why did the disciples even need a Counselor? They had the Son of God, the King of Kings right there, yet he tells them they need a Helper!?  Jesus says this to his disciples on Maundy Thursday evening and the disciples were about to see some things:  Judas would betray Jesus.  Peter would deny him.  They all would run away.  They would be a witness to Jesus’ horrible crucifixion on the cross.  They would see put into the tomb.  Observe a large stone rolled over his grave.  They needed to hear these words from Jesus!  He was preparing them for these events of his death, and of their life as his disciples.  Remember, Jesus also told them, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (John 15:18), “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me” (John 16:19).  Jesus was informing them of his death, and also what to expect after he ascended into heaven.

The disciples knew the enemies of Jesus all too well. They heard their rude comments on Palm Sunday, knew their self-righteous attitude that refused to believe that Jesus had something better to offer people than they did—full and free salvation!  No, their stubborn hearts wanted to earn salvation and didn’t want any help from a carpenter from Nazareth who claimed he was the Messiah.  Their hated for Jesus led to their plot to murder him.  The disciples were all eye-witnesses of these facts.  They would know the hatred of the world for speaking the truth about Jesus.  During their ministry the enemies of Christ would throw Jesus’ disciples in jail, beat them, crucify them, skin them alive, sliced them into pieces with the sword, all because they witnessed to the truth—Jesus the Savior!

Then they would recall the words of Jesus who promised to send someone to help them—the Holy Spirit!  The Holy Spirit would give them the strength to endure these hardships and even face death.  The price the disciples would pay for being his witnesses of the truth was high, but the rewards were eternal!   They would fight against silence, fear and doubt because they had the Spirit of Truth on their side!

This past Thursday we observed the 75th anniversary of D-day.  You probably saw some of the footage of this invasion, or have seen movies that tried to portray then events of this heroic day.  If you watched a movie like “Saving Private Ryan” you probably had tears running down your face as you watched a screen!   Our brave soldiers sacrificed their life.  They are heroes!   It begs the question of our iPad generation—I wonder if I would be as brave as these soldiers?  Or in the face of such danger would I run away?

Dear Christian friends, the emotion of war to set people free from oppression touches our hearts.  How about the emotion of saving souls?  You do realize that their eternal damnation in hell is worse than war!   So, take God at his Word!  Jesus promises a Counselor, a Helper; someone who will always stand by our side.  The Spirit of Truth will not go against his Word.  He will be by our side as we witness the truth to the world.  He will give us the right words to say from his Holy Scriptures.  He will use the words we speak to convince stubborn hearts and turn them to Jesus.

I know, we hear these promises and are safe in this building, but when we get out there in our lives we all too often waver.  We run and hide like cowards.  We abandon our posts.  We disappoint our Commander in Chief.  Too many times we have promised ourselves, “Yes, I’m going to talk to my friend, relative, acquaintance or neighbor about Jesus,” but when the time comes we run away.   You’re like me!  We don’t like confrontation.  We fear rejection and humiliation.   Then we might as well tell the Spirit of Truth, “Sorry, but I don’t think you can use the simple Gospel of Jesus to change hearts.”  Then we deserve to be put on trial for our godless attitude and failure to be Jesus’ bold witnesses to the truth.  Jesus has every right to sit on this heavenly throne and condemn us.  For this and all our sins of lying, sinful thoughts, unfaithfulness and godless behavior we deserve the verdict of death in hell.

Yes, just like the disciples we need the help of the Counselor promised by Jesus!  And the Counselor of truth will point us to Jesus!  Jesus did not run away from the mission of his Father in heaven.  Jesus did not fail to stand boldly on an unjust trial.  Jesus did not run away from the weapons fired at his from his enemies.  Jesus spoke the truth and held his ground perfectly for all for you.  The disciples were witnesses of Jesus’ perfect obedience to his Father.  They saw his suffering and death, and they also saw him alive after his resurrection.  They saw all this and the Holy Spirit inspired them to write down the truth in Scriptures so that you and I might also hear the truth and today Observe the Truth of the Holy Spirit and be convinced that his Word is filled with the

The Spirit of Power

Tell me this didn’t happen to you today as your soul was being fed the Word of God and you were convicted by God’s law of your sinfulness.  Jesus’ message of condemnation pricks our hearts so that we say, “Yes, Lord, I am a guilty sinner.  I have neglected your invitation to be your witness.  I have run away from the opportunities I had to share your Gospel with someone.”  Then Jesus’ message of forgiveness for this and all our sins touches our hearts when we hear Jesus say, “You are forgiven.  I paid the penalty of all your sins.”  Believe it.  God the Father looks at you for Jesus’ sake and declares you not guilty of all your sins!  This is the Powerful Gospel used by the Holy Spirit so we confess with St Paul says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16).  This is the Spirit of Power testifying to you every day through God’s Word!  It is this same Word connected to the water of Baptism that brings this same forgiveness, eternal life and deliverance from the devil for Austin today.

Dear Christian friends.  A witness of truth is a witness of great power.  Think about it.  In the courtroom the testimony of a witness can sentence a man to death…. Or set a man free.  This is also true concerning the Powerful Word of Jesus Christ!  The “Wages of sin is death” the law convicts us.  And then miraculously we are set free: “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom 6:23).  This is the Power of the Holy Spirit working through the Word to set our souls free from our well-deserved punishment.  This is the Power of the Spirit!

The disciples witnessed this power at work at Pentecost.  Just 50 days after Jesus’ Ascension the Holy Spirit made his power known just as Jesus promised.  Peter and the disciples proclaimed the Word to the crowds in Jerusalem and the truth worked.  “We are all witnesses of it” (Act 2:32), “This man was handed over to you ….; and you….. put him to death by nailing him to the cross…But God raised him from the dead” (Act 2:23, 24).  The disciples saw the Spirit’s power at work that day when through the Means of Grace 3,000 people became children of God and heirs of eternal life!   That’s the Power of the Spirit at work through the proclamation of God’s Word.

That same power is at work today!  Do you believe it?  Or maybe you’re being tempted to think, “I could never be a witness like Peter, I even get embarrassed when I’m asked to read a passage in Bible Class!  We get it.  Some get super nervous to give a presentation at work, or really disliked speech class, and think you could never be qualified to speak to people about Jesus!  Dear Witnesses of the Truth, you need a confidence boost!  Observe the Spirit of Truth and Power!  First, you are qualified because you can say, “We all deserve to be punished for our sinful life, but Jesus paid the penalty of all our sins when he died on the cross.”  That’s it.  You are simply giving testimony to what you have seen and heard.  Secondly, the Holy Spirit is the one who works through the Word that you share.  Let’s not rob the Holy Spirit of what he has promised to do—let him do his job!  Thirdly, you are seeing and hearing right now.  You can tell someone what you have seen and heard today.  Guess what.  You are already by being here.  As you sit here in church you are giving testimony to who you are!  Your identity is with Jesus just like the people next to you, because you believe that you are a blood bought soul of Jesus.  You also have given testimony to your family, your neighbors who saw you leave for somewhere dressed up to go to church and heard the usual Sunday morning slam of your car door.  Or think about the relationships that you have with family who isn’t going to church, or on your street, at work, on the golf course, …. Use those relationships.  Remember the Holy Spirit’s promise to be with you.  Share Jesus’ words of truth that are powerful because the Holy Spirit is standing behind the Words you proclaim.

Because I mentioned that I haven’t been summoned for jury duty in some time, I’m sure one will show up in the mail soon. LOL!  If I get picked to sit on a jury I wonder if their testimony would convince me one way or another?  Would it be the truth or a lie?  Dear Witnesses of Jesus!  You never have to wonder this when you give testimony to Jesus’ Word.  You rest secure in Jesus’ love and hope of eternal life.  Therefore, Point people to Jesus and observe the Spirit of truth and power at work.  Amen!

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