Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sermon May 26-27, 2012

Title: God’s Spirit points to Christ!
Text: John 15:26-27 (ESV)

26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

Dear friends,

On this Memorial Day weekend when we think about those who have protected us and given their lives, so that we might all live and worship freely, we celebrate and remember another very memorial day; the day of Pentecost. It was only a short while ago that Christ ascended back to His Father in Heaven, and we celebrated this event at last weekend’s services where Jesus spoke to His Apostles this promise in the last Chapter of the Luke:

46 … “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

On this day of Pentecost, God’s Spirit descends in power upon the Apostles and we are told:
…there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

What an utterly amazing thing!

God, by the power of the Holy Spirit fills each of His Apostles with the ability to proclaim the truth about Jesus’ sinless life, His vicarious death - which means he died in your place – and His resurrection from the dead, assuring us that we who hope and trust in Christ will too rise from death and live with Him forever. But there is an amazing thing going on here:

6 … and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? We hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”

God’s Spirit points to Christ!

Having just completed another year of teaching Sunday school and preparing to start my next class at the Seminary called, “Teaching the Faith” I am reminded of what Martin Luther has to say about the Holy Spirit in his Small Catechism:

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true.

In bondage to sin we have no ability to come to Christ and believe in Him. And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, we are told in the Ephesians 2, confirming our inability to do anything about our sinful condition of being dead to Christ. But by the hearing of the Gospel message that Jesus Christ has come and made satisfaction for our sins, we are told by the Apostle Paul that the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience and that God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved (Eph 2:1-5)

God’s Spirit points you to Christ!

A few weeks ago I finished my class on Baptism and I’m reminded of the Baptisms that we have all seen here at Peace when the font is placed in front of the Chancel steps for all to see as parents and godparents gather together with family and friends bringing their infant child to the waters of Holy Baptism.

Following the baptism of the child in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit Pastor Merrell continues:

“The almighty God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has given you new birth of water and of the Spirit and has forgiven you all your sins, strengthen you with His grace to life + everlasting.”

God’s Spirit points to Christ!

On the day of Pentecost God in His mercy sent His Spirit, in a powerful way, to speak the Good news of redemption in Christ by tongues of fire, proclaimed and heard in different languages through the Apostles, bringing by the power of His Spirit and giving faith to those whom our Lord and God would call to believe.

But, this blessing is no less powerful for you and me. We can, by the simple act of proclaiming the truth about Jesus, free those in bondage to sin, death and the devil, and by the power of this same Holy Spirit, work forgiveness and bring to faith all who would believe.

Freedom is not free … and we all understand its cost, especially on this Memorial Day weekend. Many here have loved ones who served and fought and made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom … so that we might be able to live and worship in a free society and freely speak the truth about Jesus … who He is … and what He came to do for those that will hear this message.

Our freedom from sin also required a price to be paid and that price was that the very Son of God laid down his life, in your place, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you might be brought to faith and believe.

Rejoice, because God’s Spirit points to Christ and Christ dwells in sinners!

There is a story told that illustrates the meaning of redemption. Many years ago there was pastor of a church in Boston, who met a young boy in front of the sanctuary carrying a rusty cage in which several birds fluttered nervously. The pastor inquired, "Son, where did you get those birds?" The boy replied, "I trapped them out in the field." "What are you going to do with them?" "I'm going to play with them, and then I guess I'll just feed them to an old cat we have at home."

The pastor offered to buy them but the lad exclaimed, "Mister, you don't want them, they're just little old wild birds and they can't sing very well." Well, the pastor replied, "I'll give you $10 for the cage and the birds." "Okay, it's a deal, but you're making a bad bargain."

The exchange was made and the boy went away whistling and happy with the deal that he made. The pastor walked around to the back of the church property, opened the door of the small wire coop, and let the struggling creatures free to soar into the blue, redeemed from their bondage and the certain death of being fed to an old cat that was waiting at home.

Christ's coming to seek and to save the lost from the bondage of sin, death and the Devil and paying for them with His holy precious blood is the gift that the Holy Spirit points you to. You and I, though held captive to sin, because of Christ are free.

God’s Spirit points to Christ!

Richard Kirtland was a sergeant in the Second Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers. The day after the great battle of Fredericksburg, Kershaw's brigade occupied the road at the foot of Marye's Hill.

One hundred and fifty yards in front of the road, on the other side of a stone wall, lay Sykes's division of the United States Army. Between these troops and Kershaw's command a skirmish fight was continued through the entire day. The ground between the lines was literally covered with dead and dying Federal soldiers.
All day long the wounded were calling, "Water! water! water!"

In the afternoon, Sergeant Kirtland, a Confederate soldier, went to the headquarters of General Kershaw, and said with deep emotion: "General, all through last night and to-day - I have been hearing those poor wounded Federal soldiers out there cry for water. Let me go and give them some."

"Don't you know," replied the general, "that you would get a bullet through you the moment you stepped over the wall?"

"Yes, sir," said the sergeant - "but if you will let me go I am willing to try it."

The general reflected a minute, and then answered: "Kirtland, I ought not to allow you to take this risk, but the spirit that moves you is so noble I cannot refuse. Go, and may God protect you!"

In the face of almost certain death the sergeant climbed the wall, watched with anxiety by the soldiers of his army. Under the curious gaze of his foes, and exposed to their fire, he dropped to the ground and hastened on his errand of mercy. Unharmed, untouched, he reached the nearest sufferer. He knelt beside him, and poured the cooling life-giving water down the parched throat. This done he then turned to another sufferer.
By this time his conduct was understood by friend and foe alike and the firing ceased on both sides.

For an hour and a half did he pursue his noble mission, until he had relieved the wounded on all parts of the battlefield. Then he returned to his post uninjured.

God has given you the Spirit that points to Christ. In Him you have freedom from sin, death and the Devil and too are motivated to acts of mercy and kindness in His name, fearing no foe because God’s Holy Spirit point you to Christ and His mercy for you and all believers as He took your place under the wrath of God’s judgment at the cross.

By the power of the Holy Spirit in us He will point you and me to Christ’s finished work and will see us all to eternity now and forever.


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