December 14, 2016
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
INI + AMEN.
What do you think about the Holy Spirit? It’s a little bit of an odd question for us Lutherans. From the outside we don’t appear to talk about the Spirit much. Now, there are those out there who want to only talk about the Spirit, and if you’re not talking about the Spirit, well, there’s something not right. He’s where it’s at. Yes, Jesus is important, but the Spirit! You’ve got to find Him, feel Him, and so on.
But we take our cue from Paul and the Scriptures. We don’t deny the Spirit. We confess Him. We know He’s at work. So what does Paul do, the other Apostles? Well, if you look in Acts, it confirms what Paul says here in 1 Corinthians. He says, “I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
Tonight, we’ll be looking at the rest of what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2, and how it fits together with preaching Jesus. They do fit together. They’re not opposed. We don’t have to stop focusing on Jesus Christ our redeemer at all. Focusing on Jesus doesn’t deny the Spirit’s work, but it actually confirms the Spirit’s work!
((3. What do we know of the Spirit?))
So, what do we know about the Holy Spirit? Well, we know that He’s God. The Father’s God. The Son’s God. The Holy Spirit’s God. Yet we don’t have three God’s but one God. Like we’ve singing, ”Trinity blessed, Unity unshaken.” “The Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.” There’s nothing outside of what the Spirit penetrates and knows, even God. He plums the depths, even the very nature of God because He Himself is God.
Now, the Spirit is ”the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified,” as we confess in the Creed. Because of this He makes God known. That’s what Paul says: ”The Spirit is from God, that we might understand the things gifted to us by God. And we do not speak this in words that teach human wisdom but that teach the Spirit’s wisdom.”
Now, the Spirit must do this because we are truly helpless. We can’t do anything unless enlivened by the Spirit. That’s also what Paul says, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”
Without the Spirit working, enlivening, we cannot hope to receive anything from God. Or to put it another way: ”I believe that cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to Him. We believe we can’t believe. The only way we believe is the Spirit works, putting our natural self to death and continually raising up a new man in Christ.
((2. How/where does He work?))
So, God the Holy Spirit’s at work in revealing God to us, so how does He do it? Well, He’s not big and flashy. That’s not the Spirit’s main way of operating. Sure, He worked miracles among the Apostle’s from time to time in order to confirm the message they preached. Just as Jesus’ miracles confirmed His message. But that wasn’t all the time. That’s what we find out from Paul here in 1 Corinthians. “I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
Nothing flashy, just Paul preaching Jesus Christ crucified and raised. And that’s where the Spirit was working—in the preaching of Jesus. We naturally think that there must be great power, great wisdom, something flashy, and then we’ll know God’s at work, but not so much. We need to repent of such things!
Our faith rests on “the power of God,” and that is nothing other than the Gospel. That’s what Paul says, “The Gospel is the power of God.” What’s the Gospel? That Jesus was crucified and raised for you. It’s why He “was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.” ((Psalm 45)) So that He could die and rise for you.
But the Spirit’s not quite done in the Word of the Gospel. He’s got more up His sleeve. He’s in Jesus’ gifts, too. Paul says, “The Spirit is from God, that we might understand the things gifted to us by God.” What things? Forgiveness of sins. Salvation. Eternal. Forgiveness for our natural inclination to want big things instead of the “still small voice” of the Gospel. Salvation from ourselves, who are completely lost in and of ourselves. But in great kindness and mercy, the Spirit has delivered Jesus’ cross and empty tomb salvation to you.
And it’s a great benefit being Lutheran, because, as the Scriptures declare in many places, salvation is delivered in the waters of Holy Baptism. Holy Baptism, water with Word, is the “washing of rebirth.” That Baptism is not just water, but that water is just like the waters of the first creation. When God created the heavens and the earth, the Spirit was fluttering of the waters in order to give life. So also in the waters of Baptism the Spirit is there giving new life, drawing even infants to Jesus, who, left to themselves, would not and could not do so. That’s the how gracious God the Holy Spirit is! He delivers infants into Jesus’ resurrected new life in Holy Baptism.
((1. Why is He so close to Jesus?))
Now, why is the Spirit so closely tied to Jesus? Well, “He proceeds from the Son,” but also because He points to Jesus. That’s His job, so to speak. It’s really a Trinitarian conspiracy of salvation.
When the Son (Jesus) is about His business of redeeming the world, He reveals that He’s been sent by the Father. Jesus also reveals that the Spirit comes from Him and the Father, and that the Spirit’s job is to deliver Jesus’ Word and Gifts.
This is why whenever Jesus’ death and resurrection is preached, the Spirit’s at work. The Spirit doesn’t have to be mentioned to be working. Jesus is the revelation of God, and the Spirit points us to that, delivers Jesus to us.
It’s not flashy. But that’s just how He works. And when He doe sHis work, He gives us “the mind of Christ.” What’s that? Well, it’s the life of faith. Okay… Well, that’s having complete trust in the Father who’s redeemed you in the death and resurrection of the Son, a trust worked in you by the Spirit through Jesus’ Word and Gifts. The life of faith is also true, heartfelt love for your neighbor.
((IN THE PREACHING OF JESUS CHRIST CRUCIFIED, THE HOLY SPIRIT IS AT WORK TO SAVE YOU.))
Yeah, we take our cue from Paul. “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” But in that preaching, the Spirit’s at work to save you.
INI + AMEN.