The Feast of Pentecost
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time
The Hymn # 236 Creator Spirit 1:9
The Confession of Sins
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #237 All Glory Be 1:12
The Work of the Holy Spirit
The Communion Hymn # 341 Crown Him 1:70
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #261 Lord Keep Us Steadfast 1:93
KJV Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. 7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? 9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, 10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. 12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? 13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.
KJV John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. 25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. 27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. 30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. 31 But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.
O Lord Jesus Christ, Thou almighty Son of God: We beseech Thee, send Thy Holy Spirit into our hearts, through Thy word, that He may rule and govern us according to Thy will, comfort us in every temptation and misfortune, and defend us by Thy truth against every error, so that we may continue steadfast in the faith, increase in love and all good works, and firmly trusting in Thy grace, which through death Thou hast purchased for us, obtain eternal salvation, Thou who reignest, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, world without end. Amen.
The Work of the Holy Spirit
John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My Name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
There are many ironies in the Christian Church today, and the Day of Pentecost is a good way to remember them.
The Pentecostals do not recognize this day. It is a Jewish holy day. It was then and remains so today. Therefore it is Biblical to recognize the Day of Pentecost in the Christian Church, but the Pentecostals do not honor the day when the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles. That would be Catholic, in their opinion.
The Baptists have an interesting name, because that implies they have a high opinion of baptism. But they do not. They consider baptism symbolic, an ordinance, and not the work of the Holy Spirit.
The Lutherans should have this right, but they do not. The Holy Spirit works only through the Word and never apart from the Word.
Therefore, only God-pleasing work will be done with the Word and nothing worthwhile can be done apart from the Word.
Lenski said many years ago, “Fads come and go, but only the Word will build up the Kingdom.”
If people had confidence in the Holy Spirit working through the Word, they would rebel against all the bad ideas foisted upon them. For example:
1. The entertainment model has been the focus of church fads for 30 years or more. The result is more bizarre efforts and worse results. They do not worship God but man, so their work is all man-centered.
2. People are sure something is wrong if the Word of God brings the cross, God said, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, and My ways are not your ways.” Isaiah 55.
3. Everyone forgets that people abandoned the Lutheran Reformation in droves, as soon as things got rough. Did that make it a failure, based on numbers? Why are people trying to subject the invisible church to Frito Lay marketing standards?
Holy Spirit Equals the Word of God
Many times the Scripture names the Father/Son relationship without mentioning the Holy Spirit. That is implied because we can substitute the Holy Spirit for the Word or the Word for the Holy Spirit in almost all cases.
Another way of expressing this is to say, If you want God to act, you need the Holy Spirit, that is, the Word of God. If you want God to be more effective, then the purer the Word, the more God’s wisdom and power are involved.
Too many want a Methodist style of Lutheran doctrine – gentle, irenic, never mentioning differences, full of love, absent of Law. Condemnation of false doctrine is always Law teaching, so many people say – “No more teaching against false doctrine.”
The most indolent parent will say, “Look both ways before crossing the street and don’t be careless (Law). I love you and worry about you (Gospel).”
All Gospel (which is really no Gospel) would be, “I love you, so you can do no wrong.”
Merging everything together is popular and bound to bring about praise and glory. I have college students who imagine that any sincerely held belief is valid. So I asked them, “Are you parting with – No one comes to the Father, except through Me?” and “By no other Name is anyone saved”?
Once someone enjoys the tepid waters of universal religion, Islam is just like Christianity (heard it in class once) and someone can be a Zen Christian (famous basketball coach).
Clarity – The Documents
We have this great privilege of listening directly to God speaking.
Jesus promised the apostles that the Holy Spirit would come to “teach all things and to bring all things to remembrance.”
The apostles lived in an era where most things were committed to memory, because the printed book was yet to be invented. Written documents were very expensive and quite rare.
They had sharp memories, but that was enhanced by the Holy Spirit’s work in keeping Jesus’ teaching fresh in their minds and clear in His intention. That is why Paul spoke of “no other Gospel.”
Whatever we read in the Bible is God speaking to us directly. That is also true of the liturgy, which is from the Scriptures, and faithful hymns, which are often confessions of faith during a time of crisis.
God saw to it that His Word and will were directly communicated to His people, from Old Testament times on. The New Testament is from the same era as the apostles, and many documents are eye witness accounts:
1. The Gospel of John – written by Jesus’ favorite disciple.
2. Paul’s letters – written during his missionary journeys and from prison.
3. Luke’s Acts of the Apostles, including his travels with Paul.
Trivial things show how precise the Word of God is. For example, there are many historical details which had no evidence behind them until recently. Then, when evidence was dug up, it matched the Bible exactly. That is true, even down to such obscure things as “missing cities” named in the Old Testament. Invented by man? No, discovered by man again when the Ebla tablets – a lost civilization – were dug up.
Noah’s Ark has been found – again. I think this is the tenth one. There must have been a fleet of them. Perhaps it is. We do not need the timbers of the ark to prove it happened. Genesis tells us it did.
This certainty is important because God tells us that, through Christ, our sins are forgiven. Trust is everything. Someone can hear that message and not trust it.
“But in addition to what is thus preached, something else is needed; for even though I hear the preaching, I do not at once believe. Therefore, God adds his Holy Spirit, who impresses this preaching upon the heart, so that it abides there and lives.” Luther, Pentecost Sermon.
The Holy Spirit is the source of that divine energy which opens our hearts to trust in the Gospel promise of forgiveness. Truth itself does not convert people. If it did, the intricate structures of the cell, revealed by a scanning electron microscope, would convert every scientist to Creation. And they would wage war against evolution. But that does not happen. Nor will logic make people believe in Creation or the Trinity or the Sacraments.
God has bound His work to the Holy Spirit working through the invisible Word of preaching and teaching, the visible Word of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion.
We are surrounded by heathen, and not all of them are ordained ministers. Therefore, the evangelism programs make me smile a bit because the opportunities present themselves without a program, without an outreach chairman.
The Gospel necessarily bears fruit, so any contact between faith and unbelief is itself a witness to God’s work in Christ. For example, I asked one apostate (CG guru) – “If an evangelism program fails to bring about visible results, is it because it was done wrong?” He immediately said “Yes!” and he was joined by the district VP, agreeing with him. Both were corrected at once, and the VP stuttered his continued confusion.
Therefore, the Word of God confronted two apostates who placed their trust in man’s alleged wisdom instead of God’s revealed wisdom. The Word can either convert or harden, enlighten or blind. Kindly old Methodist-Lutherans want to offend no one, but showing up the Shrinkers will offend the hardened hearts of unbelievers. That is an effect. The Word is effective and often brings hatred and revenge. But it also works to convert, as shown by the example following:
The Holy Spirit works through the Word at His own pace. Here is a good example. Two Hong Kong natives went to my church in Midland. Both of them went to a private Lutheran school in Hong Kong, because the Lutheran school was considered the best there. They had to take religion class, so they did, but hid comic books in their religion textbooks. They mocked Christianity the whole time in school. First the husband (before they were married) and then the wife went to a Billy Graham Crusade there in Hong Kong. They were individually converted and remained faithful Christians after that, even though their families thought they had turned their backs on Buddhism. That is a very big concern in Asia - the family. Leaving Buddhism meant they left the family and shamed them.
They realized afterwards that they were absorbing lessons about the Christian faith even while they were mocking it. They were the kindest people and very attentive during the sermons. They nodded when I talked about the inerrancy of the Scriptures. Two council members frowned during those same passages. Was the Word effective? You betcha.
The couple doubtless chose the Lutheran church first because they went to a Lutheran school. Their families had intended a first-class education, and the result was God working through the Word, first to annoy and amuse them, later to convert them.
Many people invoke the Holy Spirit without the Word. They are the Enthusiasts, who ascribe all kinds of activity to the Holy Spirit, apart from the Word and Sacraments.
1. He has declared the sins of the world forgiven (where is this recorded?) – UOJ.
2. He drifts in and out of the church’s work, sometimes helping a sermon and sometimes not – Calvinism.
3. He is only present when people speak in tongues, dance around, and fall off their chairs laughing – Pentecostalism.
4. He works through marketing methods – Church Growth.
5. He may not accomplish anything, but it is important to be radical about trying – Emerging Church.
KJV John 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. 9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.
This passage shows how the Holy Spirit works through the Word. Those who abide in the Word and Sacraments are fruitful. The only way we can abide with Jesus is through His Word, because He comes to us only through the Word.
A short time ago I planted fragrant rose bushes. I dug a hole and planted them. It rained two days, helping them get started. Rosemary B. asked, “Why is that one slanted?” I said, “Because I planted it that way and couldn’t straighten it out.” She thought it was some special secret. I was racing against the thunderclouds.
We have had consistent rain, so I watered only once. The result from two bushes is four roses in bloom and two more ready to bloom.
The rose bushes were fruitful, so I pruned them. That will promote more growth on top and additional root growth. Roses love to be pruned. The more they are pruned, the more they want to grow and be fruitful.
Grapes are the same. When the fruit is pruned away, and the deadwood removed, they grow even better. Grapes only grow on the vine, and God-pleasing results only come from the Word.
It may be God-pleasing to divide a congregation or a synod. The issue is not the results but the method. The only God-approved method is applying the Word. The cost of not applying the Word, not remaining with the True Vine, is deadwood, which will be thrown away, withered, removed, gathered, and burned.
This image from Luther should always be remember about the Means of Grace.
The Word conveys Christ to us, whether in preaching, teaching, or the Sacrament. When Christ is brought to us, we are also brought before Him. Each one of us has a Christian name, a believing soul. Is it possible to come before the King of Kings and not be changed by that experience? Is He not even more aware of us when we meet Him through the Means of Grace?
That is the great work of the Holy Spirit in the Word. He conveys Christ to us, creates and sustains faith in us, and daily forgives all our sins through the Gospel.
"The purest and best part of the human race, the special nursery and flower of God's Church, is tender youth. Youth retains the gift of the Holy Spirit which it received in Baptism; it learns eagerly the true doctrine about God and our Redeemer, Jesus Christ; it calls Him God with a chaste mind and with a simple, pure faith; it thanks Him with a quick and joyful heart for the blessings received from Him; in its studies and the other parts of life, it carries out the duties commanded it; and it obeys God and parents reverently. Particularly God-pleasing, therefore, are the studies of one's earliest age: prayer, obedience and praises which honor God, regardless of how weak and stammering its voice may be."
David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith (1568), trans., Richard Dinda, Decatur: Repristination Press, 1994. p. 9.
"Emphatically does Scripture state that the action of the Spirit covers the whole life from first to the last. He is the Spirit of Life for regeneration (John 3:5, 8): the Spirit of Sonship for adoption (Romans 8:15): the Spirit of holiness for sanctification (Romans 8:5): the Spirit of Glory for transfiguration (2 Corinthians 3:18); the Spirit of Promise for the resurrection (Ephesians 1:13). Only through the Holy Spirit are men drawn to the Author and Finisher of their salvation." Arthur H. Drevlow, "God the HS Acts to Build the Church,"
God The Holy Spirit Acts, ed., Eugene P. Kaulfield, Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 1972, p. 15. John 3: 5,8; Romans 8:5; Romans 8:15; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 1:13
"On the contrary, with the Anabaptists and the Reformed Church in general, the Mennonites are Enthusiasts, lay great stress on the immediate working of the Holy Ghost, who is said to 'guide the saints into all truth.' In his Geschichte der Mennonitengemeinden John Horsch, a prominent Mennonite, states that the Holy Spirit is the 'inner word,' who enables Christians to understand the Scriptures. Without the inner word, or the light, the Scripture is a dead letter and a dark lantern."
The. Engelder, W. Arndt, Th. Graebner, F. E. Mayer, Popular Symbolics, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1934, p. 260.
"It is God the Holy Ghost who must work this change in the soul. This He does through His own life-giving Word. It is the office of that Word, as the organ of the Holy Spirit, to bring about a knowledge of sin, to awaken sorrow and contrition, and to make the sinner hate and turn from his sin. That same Word then directs the sinner to Him who came to save him from sin. It takes him to the cross, it enables him to believe that his sins were all atoned for there, and that, therefore, he is not condemned. In other words, the Word of God awakens and constantly deepens true penitence. It also begets and constantly increases true faith. Or, in one word, it converts the sinner."
G. H. Gerberding, The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church, Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1887, p. 145f.
"It is indeed a precious truth, that this Word not only tells me what I must do to be saved, but it also enables me to do it. [enables me to do it in italics] It is the vehicle and instrument of the Holy Spirit. Through it the Holy Spirit works repentance and faith. Through it He regenerates, converts, and sanctifies."
G. H. Gerberding, The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church, Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1887, p. 132.
[The popular idea about the Word] "He sees that he must repent and believe, but by his own reason and strength he cannot. He learns further, that he needs the Holy Spirit to enable him to repent and believe, but, according to the current opinion, that Spirit is not in the Word, nor effective through it, but operates independently of it."
G. H. Gerberding, The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church, Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1887, p. 131.
"The same divine Saviour now works through means. He has founded a Church, ordained a ministry, and instituted the preaching of the Word and the administration of His own sacraments. Christ now works in and through His Church. Through her ministry, preaching the Word, and administering the sacraments, the Holy Spirit is given. (Augsburg Confession, Article 5.)
G. H. Gerberding, The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church, Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1887, p. 30.
"To the Lutheran the sermon, as the preached Word, is a means of grace. Through it the Holy Spirit calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth. It is a constant offer of pardon; a giving of life, as well as a nourishing and strengthening of life. In the Reformed churches the sermon is apt to be more hortatory and ethical. It partakes more of the sacrificial than of the sacramental character. The individuality of the preacher, the subjective choice of a text, the using of it merely for a motto, the discussion of secular subjects, the unrestrained platform style, lack of reverence, lack of dignity, and many other faults are common, and are not regarded as unbecoming the messenger of God in His temple. Where there is a properly trained Lutheran consciousness such things repel, shock, and are not tolerated."
G. H. Gerberding, The Lutheran Pastor, Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1915, p. 278.
"Even though the water which is used for holy Baptism continues to retain its natural essence and natural attributes after Baptism, it is nevertheless not just lowly [plain] water, but it is formulated in God's Word and combined with God's Word. Thus it is a powerful means through which the Holy Trinity works powerfully; the Father takes on the one who is baptized as His dear child; the Son washes him of his sins with His blood; the Holy Spirit regenerates and renews him for everlasting life."
Johann Gerhard, A Comprehensive Explanation of Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper, 1610, ed. D. Berger, J. Heiser, Malone, Texas: Repristination Press, 2000, p. 56.
"For just as we are born again through the Sacrament of holy Baptism, so also we are nurtured for eternal life through the Sacrament of this holy Supper. Just as we were taken into God's covenant of grace through the former Sacrament, so also through the latter Sacrament we are preserved in the very same covenant of grace. Just as the Holy Spirit awakens faith in us through the former, so also He strengthens and increases it through the latter. Just as circumcision typifies the former, so the Passover [paschal] lamb of the Old Testament typifies the latter."
Johann Gerhard, A Comprehensive Explanation of Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper, 1610, ed. D. Berger, J. Heiser, Malone, Texas: Repristination Press, 2000, p. 209.
"The efficacy of the Bible is that property by which the Bible has indissolubly united [Romans 1:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:13] with the true and genuine sense [Ephesians 3:3-4; Acts 8:30, 31, 34] expressed in its words the power of the Holy Spirit, [Romans 1:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:5] who has made it for all times the ordinary means by which He operates [Psalm 19:8; Psalm 119:105, 130; 2 Peter 1:19; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17] on and in the hearts and minds of those who properly hear and read it [Revelation 1:3; Ephesians 3:3-4; John 7:17].
A. L. Graebner, Outlines of Doctrinal Theology, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1910, p. 12. Romans 1:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; Ephesians 3:3-4; Acts 8:30f; John 7:17.
"The New Testament is the inerrant record of the revelation of Jesus Christ in word and deed, and of the truths and principles proceeding, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, from that revelation. The Old Testament is in like manner an inerrant record, having the express and often repeated testimony and authority of Christ, of the preparatory and partial revelations made concerning Him before His coming. Hebrews 1:1."
Henry Eyster Jacobs, A Summary of the Christian Faith, Philadelphia: General Council Publication House, 1913, p. 3. Hebrews 1:1.
"What testimony is given to the presence of the Holy Spirit in and with the Word? The words of Scripture are repeatedly cited as the words of the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:16, 28:25; Hebrew 3:7; Psalm 10:15."
Henry Eyster Jacobs, A Summary of the Christian Faith, Philadelphia: General Council Publication House, 1913, p. 288f.
"Is it the office of the Word simply to afford directions that are to be followed in order to obtain salvation? It is more than a directory and guide to Christ. It does more than 'give directions how to live.' It brings and communicates the grace concerning which it instructs. It has an inherent and objective efficacy, derived from its divine institution and promise, and explained by the constant presence and activity of the Holy Spirit in and with it. Romans 1:16; John 6:63; 1 Peter 1:23; Matthew 4:4; Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12; Romans 10:5-10; Isaiah 55:10."
Henry Eyster Jacobs, A Summary of the Christian Faith, Philadelphia: General Council Publication House, 1913, p. 288.
"Thus the Holy Spirit works only through the Word. But the Word of the Gospel comes to man in two different modes."
Henry Eyster Jacobs, Elements of Religion, Philadelphia, Board of Publication, General Council 1919 p. 161.
(1) "He that believes and is baptized Shall see the Lord's salvation; Baptized into the death of Christ, He is a new creation. Through Christ's redemption he shall stand Among the glorious heavenly band Of every tribe and nation. (2) "With one accord, O God, we pray: Grant us Thy Holy Spirit; Look Thou on our infirmity Through Jesus' blood and merit. Grant us to grow in grace each day That by this Sacrament we may Eternal life inherit."
Thomas Kingo, 1689, "He That Believes and Is Baptized" The Lutheran Hymnal, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941, Hymn #301. Mark 16:16.
"The Holy Spirit works through the Word and the Sacraments, which only, in the proper sense, are means of grace. Both the Word and the Sacraments bring a positive grace, which is offered to all who receive them outwardly, and which is actually imparted to all who have faith to embrace it."
Charles P. Krauth, The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology, Philadelphia: The United Lutheran Publication House, 1871, p. 127.
"This Word works in the Thessalonians what Paul states in 1:3; it came to them with the power of the Holy Spirit and much assurance (1:5); it turned them from the idols to the living God, to Him who raised up Jesus from the dead, the Savior from the wrath to ccome (1: 9, 10). This effect, wrought by the Word, convinces all believers, all who experience this blessed effect, that this is, indeed, God's Word."
R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of Thessalonians, Columbus: The Wartburg Press, 1937, p. 261. 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:5, 9, 10