The Feast of Pentecost, 2011
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time
The Hymn #231 We Now Implore 3:38
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 #246 Holy, Holy, Holy 3:35
The Holy Spirit and the Word
The Communion Hymn #294 O Word of God 3:31
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 # 283 God’s Word 3:90
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 Holy Spirit and the Word
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.
Man’s eternal quest has been communion with God and peace of mind. Both are clearly revealed in this Gospel.
My Father will love him
Every passage in the Bible is connected with all others, so any given verse is explained many times over in other parts of Scripture.
“If a man love me…” How does it happen that someone loves God? The Gospel alone produces that love, so we have the inspired Word planting faith in God through the Gospel and producing love, which is the first fruit of the Spirit.
This is always a Spirit/Word effect. The Holy Spirit works only through the Word, and the Word is never without the power and effect of the Holy Spirit. If someone says, “I do not feel God’s love” or “I do not seem to love God,” the answer is the same – “Abide in the Gospel and you will experience God’s love, which will make you respond in love.”
This does not happen because of man’s will or virtue, but solely because of the Word. Even though man may obstinately refuse to hear the Gospel, the Good News always has an effect. For many, years of refusal are accompanied by an agitation from the Word. Compelled to study what bothers them so much, they are converted by the Word.
Still, it is not God’s fault when people hear the Word and reject it from their hardness of heart. We can see that effect in mainline theologians, who reject the basic articles of the faith but blame the extreme radicals for making matters even worse (Carl Braaten blaming Seminex for ruining his seminary, LSTC!)
Hypocrisy also hardens the heart. One man used to be profoundly grateful for the Gospel whenever his heart threatened to stop working altogether. The closer he was to death, the more he loved the Word and pastoral visits in the hospital. But the healthier he became, the colder he was toward the Word. At home, still on disability, he wanted nothing to do with the Gospel.
Also, we have to wonder about those who rightly ascribe nothing to man’s virtue, will, or merit, but never stop telling us how long they have been in the same synod or who their parents and grandparents were. Pedigrees are impressive – in pets and horses – but not so much in humans. “To this man will I look, who trembles at my Word.”
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.
There are two themes in this verse, and both are important. One is the relationship between loving Christ and keeping (guarding) His Word. The other is the relationship between the Father and the Son. Hearing the Son means hearing the Father, loving the Son means loving the Father.
Those who profess to love the Gospel of the Son are also constrained to tell the truth. Many in the visible church will argue that they must manipulate and lie in order to protect Holy Mother Synod from harm and bad PR. But we should not worship the visible organization and despise the Word.
One of my favorite books described the relationship between the Holy Spirit and the Church in John Calvin’s writings. The author (Benjamin Milner) was a friend of my advisor (Hommes) in the program at Notre Dame. For Luther, the relationship was Holy Spirit and Word. We can see that emphasis in the Book of Concord and later generations as well.
A common fallacy today is this obsession with the visible church, whether the congregation or the larger structure. The obsession is measured in business terms – money owed, balanced budgets, and PR. The Evangelical Lutheran Synod did a self-study which predicted that the Little Sect on the Prairie will be no more than a historical footnote in 20 years. Because of tiny parishes and an elderly population, the ELS will cease to exist, fairly soon. The answer – “We have a new program to solve that problem.” Doubtless the new program is the old program, all based on business rather than the Word.
The Festival of Pentecost is one where the Holy Spirit’s work through the Word is emphasized, not the charter membership of First Lutheran Church in Jerusalem. The Church does not create the Word: the Word creates the Church.
The true Church is invisible and exists wherever the Word is proclaimed in truth and the Sacraments are administered faithfully. A visible structure does not produce the Word of God. Unfortunately, in these dark times, the organizations suppress and persecute the Word.
Nevertheless, the Word produces faith, believers, and pastors. I have told many men that – you do not need a synod. Start a Bible study if and when you are kicked out. That will lead to a congregation and you will have a church.
The Word preached and taught will gather people, convert people, and make some people madder than wet hens.
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.
How do we know this Gospel is true? Because God Himself inspired the Word and caused the disciples to remember and write down what was necessary for salvation.
The entire Bible teaches the same story with various writers, and yet there are no errors or contradictions. That alone illustrates the divine nature of the Bible, unique among all books, religious and secular.
Paul reminded his members that the Word was more than that – it was effective in converting them. They knew that the Gospel produced faith and gave them forgiveness. They experienced that themselves.
In English class we would write down, “Best poem in Eng lang.” That praise did not move us necessarily. “I stood tiptoe on a little hill” is not a poem for most guys.
Or – “MD considered best novel ever in Am.” I hated Moby Dick as a student but came to appreciate its weirdness much later in life. All the praise in the world did not make me like MD in class.
In contrast, the Gospel moves people and they cannot deny this. I had two Hong Kong members who laughed at the Gospel all through school, mocking it as they read the comic books inside their textbooks. But all that study, created by a private Lutheran school, led to their conversion. Their Asian, pagan families felt utterly rejected because this couple became Christian and loved the Gospel. The couple could not deny the power of the Word, because the Word overcame their resistance.
So why have ministers moved from the assured effectiveness of the Gospel to the shortcomings of entertainment and marketing? They have removed themselves from the Means of Grace, despised the Means of Grace, and hardened themselves against the Gospel. They really give themselves away when they plagiarize the false teachers they admire, denying what can be so easily proven in these days of the Net and Google.
The divine nature of the Word alone should make us cherish every phrase in the Scriptures, because God Himself is speaking to us. If God Himself would appear at the nearest store, would people show up to hear Him? They would block traffic for miles around. And here is God speaking and showing us His Word in this passage.
Would people like to meet and hear Jesus, the Son of God? That would create a bigger sensation. Instead of “God To Speak at Walgreens,” put up a few posters that say, “Jesus To Appear at Neighborhood Drugstore.” That part of town would be mobbed and come to a standstill. But that is true any time the Word is heard, read, or remembered. The Holy Spirit and Word are never separated. What we hear about Christ and from Him are Spirit-inspired, true, faithful to the facts, and powerful in effectiveness.
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.
This verse should be inscribed on every confirmation Bible and on every Thrivent trinket given as a confirmation gift.
The peace given by Christ is eternal, just the opposite of the world’s peace. The peace given by Jesus is accompanied by the cross, His cross, so people are tempted to lay both down – the cross and salvation.
It does not matter who you might be – the Word brings the cross, often through the same people who claim to be believers. This comes in various doses and measures, depending on the person.
Luther said something so profound and simple about this that I created a graphic for it. God does not take turmoil from your heart; He takes your heart away from the turmoil. The turmoil still exists, but God turns it into a paradise so that we think we are in a rose garden.
I know many who have experienced it from their new-found love of the Book of Concord, Luther, and the Word. Only conflict and turmoil can produce that reaction.
Jesus says, “Do not be troubled, nor let it be afraid.” Faith is the opponent and the antidote to fear and anxiety. That is because faith is trust in God, in His power and compassion. His Promises, blessings, and forgiveness change troubled hearts even though opposition and turmoil continue.
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.
All these things came true, so the disciples were confirmed in their trust of Christ. He rose to heaven on Ascension Day and sent the Holy Spirit, as He promised. These were astounding events which they witnessed and experienced.
Once again we see in this Gospel that believing is good. Everything has happened so that we believe in God, that we see Him in Christ, and know the Holy Spirit is at work in the Word.
The Gospel is Christ crucified for the sins of the world. This Gospel treasure is distributed through the Means of Grace, the Word and Sacraments. Those who deny this are enemies of the Word, no matter how saintly their appearance.