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Posts Tagged ‘Work of the Holy Spirit’

I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.-St. Matthew 1:  8

 As Advent progresses, one typical question of the season:   Are you ready for Christmas?  Are you prepared?  It’s kind of scary as the mind races through the mental checklist:  gifts for family members and friends, office parties, wrapping, tree and decorations, baking and cooking, dinner and/or houseguests, traveling, cleaning the house etc. etc. etc. It amounts to what I am supposed to do, that is, what I owe.  Just not enough time!  Only 18 more days to shop before Christmas!  Then on top of it all the banks and credit cards want people to go into debt so we owe twice:  by what we have not done and by what we have done. 

 We prepare as Christians and the Church in the Way that is already been prepared:  As the Lord said, “I am the Way, the truth and the life, no one comes to Father except by Me”.  The highway to heaven is first the highway from heaven. Prepare ye the way of the Lord. 

 The Messiah is the office of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit does not push nor sell the Messiah, the Christ, Jesus with coercion . He teaches.  The Holy Spirit does not process words, but proceeds from the Father and the Son to teach us the Word, the Word of Christ.  The Holy Spirit teaches the pages of the Holy Scripture, the written Word in the spoken Word of the Church to proclaim the incarnate Word Jesus Christ.  The Holy Spirit’s will, desire and work is to fill the Lord’s people with the Word of God, Word of Christ Jesus in the grace, mercy and peace of Christ Jesus for His forgiven people.  The Lord has baptized us into His Church, His body.  All offices in government and business, and education have parameters. When government oversteps its parameters and interferes in the lives of law-abiding citizens to “make them better”, it is illegal and outside the supreme law of the land, the Constitution.  The office of the Messiah’s parameters is all the human race, all flesh shall see the glory of the Lord. The office of the Holy Spirit will never step over the bounds of the Decalogue, the 10 Commandments.  The office of the Messiah, of Jesus is to step into our lives to redeem them, our hearts, souls and minds. He has.

 We confess in the Nicene Creed that the Holy Spirit spoke by the prophets:  from Moses to Malachi.   Moses was a prophet and is attributed with writing the Torah, Genesis through Deuteronomy, commonly called, the 5 books of Moses.  Many prophets’ sermons, sayings and deeds,  such as Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, Nathan etc., were not recorded in  books bearing their names.  Yet  their words and deeds are recorded in 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles.  Put all that together with the books bearing a prophet’s name:  the Major Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel and the 12 Minor Prophets, prophets wrote most of the Old Testament or are about them. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth.  God does not lie. “The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy.” (Rev. 19: 10)  The testimony of Jesus, from His conception to His Crucifxion, to His Resurrection, His Ascension and His promise to come again.  All Scripture, Old and New Testaments,  is inspired, God breathed.

 John speaks of two baptisms:  one of the Law and the one to come, the Gospel promise fulfilled in work and word of Jesus.  The first baptism was for the confession of sin and the second, for remission of sin, now the one Baptism into Christ (Romans 6:1ff).  It is the baptism of the Holy Spirit, in God’s Name, His Holy Name in the water: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

 All Scripture is divided into Law and Promise.  People were flocking to the Jordan for baptism, “confessing their sins”.    The phrase used many times in the Old Testament is “The word of the Lord came to…”.  The Holy Spirit taught His Word to the Lord’s chosen prophets as He did through John (Luke 3: 2).  John came to preach repentance and a baptism into repentance. Today is also the Commemoration of  St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, a faithful preacher of the Gospel in the 4th Century. At his congregation a young troubled man came to Mass. He was an adulterer and a pagan philosopher.   His name was Augustine and through the preaching of the Gospel, by Ambrose, came to faith.  Ambrose preached the following on John the Baptist and the Word:

The Son of God, being about to bring together His Church, first works through his young servant: and so it is well said: The Word of the God came to John (Luke 3:2), etc., so that the Church has its beginning not from man, but from the Word.  

  There were many baptisms, ritual ablutions and such in the Temple.  But in God’s Word, the baptism by John, was one size fits all for all are not fit, for we sin.  All Judea and all Jerusalem came to the Jordan.  They knew by the preaching of the Law, they were sinners. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.   John preached the Word and the Word of repentance in the baptism of repentance to prepare the way of the Lord. They were dumping their sin into the Jordan River water where the Word of Law was comprehended in John’s prophetic preaching.  Immediately following today’s lesson, Jesus Himself comes to be baptized into the Baptism of repentance, He who need no repentance, but did so to fulfill all righteousness.  He bore our sin, He was drowned in it and died and breathed again and still does, He breathes the Holy Spirit into our lifeless bodies, through His Word of eternal life, Jesus, and so we live.

 John’s Baptism was a one shot deal back then. Baptism into Christ, in the Name of God, is also one time event, but unlike John’s baptism, the Lord’s baptism, baptised into Christ  is also an everyday deal, His means of grace for faith in His Word. We are washed in Christ’s blood, His forgiveness.

 The Holy Spirit’s Office of the Word, preached and taught and prayed,  is two fold: 

  •  His strange or alien work rebukes sin and sinners that they might know God’s anger toward sin.  It is alien as any father and mother should know, that they do not want their anger over their children’s misdeeds to last long. This is the word of the Law. He convicts of sin according to His 10 Commandments. Still does.  
  •  The Holy Spirit’s second work, His proper work is Christ Jesus and His blood shed for sinners administered in the Baptism into Christ.  This is the word of the Gospel. His grace, mercy and peace seeking us daily that in daily repentance the New Man is fortified in faith through His grace towards us all. Any sin, however seemingly trivial, is confronted by the enormity of Christ Jesus’ blood on the Cross for confession and forgiveness.  Overkill?  Yes! When the Apostle wrote of Baptism into the death and resurrection of Christ, he immediately exhorts to walk in the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit hovered above the face of the deep, the depths of sin and sorrow. Walking in the Holy Spirit is walking in our Baptism, “…be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.” 

 When the worldly Christmas replaces the actual Christ Mass, His Nativity and Advent as time of prayer and Scripture things get all bollixed. Look at it  this way:  When worldly Christmas supplants the real Christ Mass, then the Office of the Holy Spirit is forgotten.  For instance, we have not seen a Christmas card with the icon of John the Baptist on it, complete with his head on a platter…

 

 …with the caption, Prepare ye the way of the Lord!  He wore camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waste.  Not exactly Santa Claus.  When King Ahaziah of Israel heard a prophet was speaking against him, he asked his messengers:  

 “What kind of man was he who came to meet you and told you these things?” They answered him, “He wore a garment of hair, with a belt of leather about his waist.” And he said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.” (2 Kings 1)

Elijah prepares for the Messiah as foretold.  John prepared the Way.  He is a prophet of the Word of God but when the actual Word of Law and Promise  is replaced by sentimentality and nostalgia at Christmas, we see Christmas cards like this one:  

I found one such card with this poem on it:  

“Sweet as a song may Christmas prove, and one by one, as they depart, May all its hours be words of love set to music of your heart”

Nostalgia and sentimentality replace the Word and as in the poem above, the last thing Old Adam should do is to set words of love to your heart.  As the Lord tells us look at what comes out of the heart: theft, murder, adultery, evil thoughts etc.  Don’t trust your heart, trust God’s Word for He knows you better than you do.  When we follow hearts, then the word of God is not heard and hearts are so hard they are cruel, or so soft, men and women stand for nothing and fall for everything.

The question was asked, Where is the Lord’s coming?  The Apostle Peter answered as in today’s Epistle reading:

 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.   

 The word “patience” has also been translated, “long-suffering”. As in 1 Corinthians 13, Love is long-suffering.  God has all the time, His long-suffering, patience toward us and yet we do not have all the time in the world. 

  We live in a  fast-paced, achievement-oriented world entering the third millennium, when the spirit of the age tempts churches and Christians to look for quick and impressive results, when short-tempered anger is literally  the rage,  it is salutary to reflect on the Lord’s long-suffering love for us, a love that can wait on the Lord and each other.  His long-suffering love bore our wrong and hurt.  His long-suffering, His forbearance is our salvation.  We are admonished in Holy Scripture to walk in the Holy Spirit, walk in faith, walk in love, not three walks but one walk, one pilgrimage according to His Word, His Law a lamp unto our feet and the Lord Himself the light, in holiness and godliness., Law and promise.  This is walking wet in baptism.   The question is not how many days toward Christmas, but today is the day of His Word, not just Sunday but everyday. Everyday pray. Pray the Word. Pray the Psalms  For us and for our salvation He came down from heaven, still does in His Word, until He comes again in glory, 1 Peter 3: 15:  

 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation

 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think,according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. (Ephesians 3: 20-21)

 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” St. John 14: 18 

The one of most famous orphans in fiction is Oliver Twist. What does an orphan want more than anything else in the world?  To be adopted. This is the refrain of Oliver Twist.  Jesus will not leave His disciples as orphans.  He sent the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, as the Lord taught.  The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of adoption,

 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8: 15

 Slave of sin is not a son or daughter of God.  We need not fear we if we are adopted.  As sinners, off on our own, far away from our Father’s home, He seeks His offspring to make them His own.  Sinners need the Lord’s adoption.  The Law can only help us adapt.   His Gospel is to adopt.  In the Holy Spirit, through the Son, we know God the Father, adopted.  Jesus is saying, I have called you but I will not you leave orphaned, I will adopted you as my brothers into My Father’s family,  the Spirit, the Comforter, the Paraclete.  Adoption is comfort as a child is adopted into a good home.  The Lord’s House is our good home. 

Galatians 3 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Note what it says in the written Word:  “heirs according to the promise”.  Heirs, inheriting the Lord’s treasures of faith, hope and love, the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Heirs, not according to the Law, by what we have done, but according to what we have done deserving nothing but God’s wrath, justly according to His Law. This is the Spirit of truth. We do not deserve the Lord’s inheritance, but the Lord alone knows fully we need His inheritance.  According to the promise, that is what Christ Jesus has done, baptizing you, making you His own, forgiving you, sealing you with the Holy Spirit, by, through, with and under His death and resurrection.

And again in the next chapter of Galatians, it is written:

 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Galatians 4

 Whose we are is who we are.  No longer orphans in the world.   Jesus will not leave the disciples as orphans.  He does not leave us as orphans.  The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of adoption.  Jesus gladly tells them you will be adopted.  He tells them who their true Father is. 

 I speculate that back in the 1st century, and probably in the 19th century and the centuries before there were more orphans because of higher early mortality rates.  In fact the Lutheran Church had a notable orphanage in Roanoke, begun in 1888.   Yet there are today  many orphans, spiritual orphans. Children orphaned by parental abuse, emotional, physical and sexual. Children orphaned by their parents’ divorce wars.  Children prevented from coming to Jesus by them not being baptized, and a generation of those baptized, then hardly ever brought again to God’s House.  It is spiritual child abandonment.  Living in a culture in which children act like adults and adults act like children, that is, childish.  With the desire to be like children, the love of children becomes perverted. Children aborted as a diabolical perversion of ‘mercy’. Children orphaned by tyrannical wars, as in Syria.  Jesus is clear, that, “….whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”  He sends out His Apostles, breathing on them the Holy Spirit, to retain the sins of the unrepentant and to forgive the repentant in His mercy shed in His blood for all orphans.  He sends out His Apostles out to teach and baptize.

 Earlier in John’s Gospel, in our Lord’s conversation with Nicodemus, He taught that unless one is born above or water and the Spirit, one can not see Kingdom of God.  Baptism, wrote the Apostle Peter, saves.  Baptism saves. It’s so plain, Baptism saves.  Baptism has Christ’s command and promise behind Baptism, in Baptism, through Baptism. In Baptism He has put His Name:  Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Consciences washed clean, raised by the Lord’s resurrection.  Baptism is Biblical, not only the act, but the effects of the Lord’s Word of Promise.   Baptism is the Lord’s own way  that the orphans of this world see His reign of grace, mercy and peace. The world only sees in Christians adherents of a suspect religion. The world does not know nor gets the Holy Spirit nor His work and the world doubts, at best, our adoption but we will gladly say it, “I am baptized into Christ, I’m a child of paradise.” (#594, Lutheran Service Book)  This is our witness to Jesus Christ:  our Baptism.  The Apostle Peter wrote that we are to be prepared to give a reason for the hope that is in us when asked, and to do so with “gentleness and respect”.  Our defense and witness is NOT how good we are, but how good God is in His grace in Jesus Christ for us sinners.

  The Lord’s Church is an orphanage and more than an orphanage: adopted in Holy Baptism, given the family Name, the Holy Trinity. Jesus taught that the world cannot receive the Holy Spirit.  The world seeks only it’s own glory, fame and power.  It is self-seeking and self-destroying.  The gods and goddesses, known and unknown, that the Apostle Paul saw that day in Athens, are demons, projections of the Old Adam writ large in lust and power. We do not have idol statues on the streets.  They are on TV now seeking human hearts. The gods are twisted and twisting.  The Holy Spirit seeks to find those lost in Athens.  The Lord, the Holy Spirit brings them into His good home, by the Office of the Holy Spirit, preaching and teaching Jesus Christ. Remember that Jesus knew the joy of being adopted on earth by Joseph.

Professor Naomichi Masaki, Concordia Seminary, Ft.Wayne said it well:    “When the Holy Spirit is doing His job, all we see and hear of is Jesus. When you clearly hear and see Jesus then you know that the Holy Spirit is at work.” The Church is living her vocation when all we see and hear of is Jesus.  Then you know the Holy Spirit is at work.  Living as Baptized children of God is not necessarily comfortable that is cushy and easy living as sons and daughters of the King, growing into full adulthood as the Lord’s sons and daughters, in this world.  The disciples were overcome with doubt and dark the night in which Jesus was betrayed.   The Lord is the Paraclete, and that word is translated as Helper, Comforter. The word Paraclete is related to the Greek words for encouragement or comfort.  Encouragement is comfort.  It literally means to stand along side of and the Holy Spirit dwelling within, our bodies temple of the Holy Ghost. Not comfortable but comforting in His forgiveness which He gives through His means of grace, the means of the Holy Spirit:  Baptism and the Sacrament of the Altar. His Word is His promise.  He fights by our side with weapons of the Spirit, as it is written in Ephesians 6, “… the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”

 In the Name of the Father and of the  +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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Lessons:

Exodus 19:1-9

Psalm 113

 Romans 8:12-27

St. John 14:8-21

GRADUAL:   Acts 2:17b, Rom.10:10

I will pour out my Spirit I on all flesh,*and your sons and your daughters shall I prophesy. With the heart one believes and is I justified,* and with the mouth one confesses I and is saved.

VERSE: Alleluia. Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love. Alleluia.

Intro:  Pentecost is the third, but by no means the last, of the Three Great Holy Days of the Christian Church year.  Each day, and its season, corresponds to the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity.

  • Christmas, originally Christ Mass, is the celebration of God the Father.  God the Father in the fullness of time sends His Son to be born of the Virgin Mary and He is the Word made flesh.
  • Easter, or Pascha, is the celebration of God the Son, Who after His earthly ministry and then sufferings, crucifixion, rises again on the Third Day.
  • Then Pentecost, 50 Days after Pascha, on , the Holy Spirit is publically pored out upon the 120 (Acts 1: 15) gathered together and they begin to speak of wonderful deeds of the Lord He accomplished in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  

As the Holy Trinity is one so are the 3 great feast days of His Church.

Reflection:  The word “spirit” in Biblical Hebrew is “ruah”.  Spirit in Biblical Greek is “pneuma”.   Our English word, which is from the Latin, “spirare” translates well both Hebrew and Greek: all three words can also be translated as “breath” or “wind”.  So our Lord uses these different definitions in a word play  in John 3.  Scripture reports in Acts 2 that the descent of the Holy Spirit was like a “mighty rushing wind.”

Now our English word “spirit” and it’s Latin original “spirare” is also the second syllable of these following words and taken together form a whole Bible study of the work of the Holy Spirit.

  • expire
  • respire
  • inspire
  • conspire
  • transpire
  • perspire
  • aspire
Expire:  literally without breath .The “s” has dropped out in our pronunciation.  We were dead in our trespasses, spiritually dead, expired.  In sin we are spiritually in the tomb with Lazarus until the Lord calls out by His Word: Come out!   When we sin again we are without breath till repentance and forgiveness.
Respire:  literally, to breathe again. The Holy Spirit performs resuscitation in the work and word of Jesus Christ so we  can breathe again.
Inspire:   breathe in.  All Scripture is inspired by God, God-breathed.  He breathes in the Word and makes it alive as Jesus Christ is alive.  Scripture is also for the Holy Spirit to rebuke sin and reconcile us once again to the Lord.  Every Word of the Bible, either Law or Gospel, is inspired.
Conspire:  literally breathe together.  The Holy Spirit builds us up in Christ to the glory of God the Father, a holy conspiracy, His Church so that the Word is preached, taughted, administered, served, confessed and believed upon in the world.
Transpire:  literally breathed across, as in the whole history of Israel culminating in the 3 great feast days of the church and in the Church today till the day when forgiveness will no longer be needed: Come, Lord Jesus, come. The Spirit and the Bride say come!
Perspire:  literally breathe through, that is sweat! The Holy Spirit works and man sweats, when we know the depth of our wrong and nothing we can do to extricate our selves from it.  We sweat and panic and the Holy Spirit blows upon us the Word of Christ to soothe,cool, heal…forgive.
Aspire:  to breathe towards, to want to do better.  We can not aspire and be saved on our own, we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ.  But once baptized and forgiven, we aspire to be made holy in our lives through faith, the fruit of which is love, joy, peace, etc. by walking in the Spirit, feeding on His Word and Sacrament day by day, for as branches are to the vine, we can do nothing without Him.
All of these words describe the work of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is not an independent operator but works in perfect sync with the Father and the Son, who is forever to be worshiped and glorified in His Church, one God, one Lord,  both now and forever. Amen!
Almighty and ever-living God, You fulfilled Your promise by sending the gift of the Holy Spirit to unite disciples of all nations in the cross and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ. By the preaching of the Gospel spread this gift to the ends of the earth; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.                                   (Collect of the Day)

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