Easter 5—Cantate 2017 (Jn 16:5–15)

May 14, 2017
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!



((5. Oops!: The Spirit convicts concerning sin.))

The Spirit convicts. He convicts about sin. He convicts the world. Now, we read this as finger pointing, but the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, doesn’t just convict what’s out there in the world. He convicts us, too—that part of us that likes parts of the world, the part of us that’s actually ok with the things and actions of the world.

When the Spirit convicts sin, He’s not convicting behavior. That’s what we’d want. The world promotes, establishes, defends X,Y, and Z behavior, lifestyle, and choice. We point fingers at somethings and others we put on our mantels, we make a priority. And since we don’t think they’re icky, it’s ok.

But the Spirit convicts because of a lack of faith. What causes our sins? A lack of faith. “Concerning sin because they don’t believe in Me.” We treat God and His judgment over sin like running from a bear. I don’t have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you. So we boil it down to behavior.

But the conviction over sin isn’t just over gross and manifest sins—sins that are clearly against God’s Word of Law. No, it’s about lack of faith which produces all sorts of sins, even things we don’t want to admit are sins.

What does that mean? Well, everything that doesn’t flow from faith is sin. If it flows from our own desires (to get what we want, to put ourselves first), that’s sin. From trying to get the upper hand in a deal, to trying to be more accepted than someone else.

The Holy Spirit’s conviction of sin and unbelief has no limits. If there’s unbelief, there’s the Spirit saying, “Condemned!” If there’s lack of faith and sins that flow from that, He also says, “Condemned.”

((4. Ugh!: The Spirit convicts concerning righteousness.))

The Spirit doesn’t just convict concerning sin (not just the world’s, but our own sinfulness, too). He also convicts, as Jesus said, “Concerning righteousness, because I am going to the Father.”

It’s not just evil works that are condemned but even the best works! Even things that are good are truly beneficial are evil before God. The Spirit convicts of such things because “whatever does not flow from faith is sin,” as Paul says. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Without faith even “good works” are evil.

This is just plain offensive. It’s offensive to the world. It’s offensive to our own natural way of thinking! But the Spirit is in the business of casting down false righteousness, the righteousness of works, and convicting it, condemning it.

It doesn’t matter before God how much good you do (though you should do it). But we want it all to be by works. It’s why we point the finger at others. We’ll tritely say, “Well, when you point at someone else you have four pointing back at you.” But we’re always boiling it down to works. What I do. What they do.

We ought to love our neighbors as ourselves, but no amount of food given or clothing donated or time offered or houses built is pleasing before God’s judgment throne. There’s no other righteousness that endures the Spirit’s condemnation than the one Jesus has before the Father.

Good works are pleasing to God only because of Jesus. He doesn’t receive them as some credit, He gives praise for them because of Jesus. Jesus’ blood covers our works and makes them good.

Righteousness doesn’t come through good works. The Spirit condemns that sort of righteousness. If He doesn’t, then why did Jesus have go to the Father? Because His righteousness alone, His death alone, His resurrection alone withstand the judgment. All other things fall down flat, and to everyone who wants to lay claim to those sorts of things the Spirit says, “Condemned!”


But the Spirit doesn’t just condemn. That’s the not His only work, His best work. No, THE SPIRIT CONVICTS, BUT HE ALSO LEADS TO THE TRUTH. He leads to Jesus, “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” He’s the one who’s gone to the Father. His righteousness alone avails. Yes, all are consigned to judgment, that He might have mercy on all. This is the TRUTH that the Spirit leads us to. Yes, THE SPIRIT CONVICTS, BUT HE ALSO LEADS TO THE TRUTH. The truth that Jesus and Jesus alone is the Truth and the Salvation freely offered and given to sinners who rightfully stand condemned.

((2. Whee!: The ruler of this world has been “judged.”))

This is so because the truth is “the ruler of this world has been judged.” Jesus, the Son of God, judged him through His own Work. By His becoming man, by His suffering and dying, by His rising again, the devil who “rules all the kingdoms of this world” and who offers “all their glory,” stands judged and condemned. Your flesh, too, has been cast down by Jesus’ work. He died for your transgressions and was raised so that your standing with God is good and holy and perfect.

Jesus’ judgment, the “It is finished” judgment, the empty tomb judgment, is rendered and given now to you. It’s FOR YOU and for all. It’s in God’s Word of the Gospel—that Jesus died FOR YOU and for all. It’s in Jesus’ Gifts. There Jesus’ salvation is delivered freely, fully, and continually to you.

((1. Yeah!: Jesus leads us into the fellowship of the Holy Trinity.))

But that’s not all! The Spirit through this very proclamation, through the Word of the Gospel, through Jesus’ Gifts lead you to the Truth, and Jesus in turn leads you into the fellowship of the Holy Trinity. You have access to the Father—to His very tender heart-felt love for you. You have the Spirit, too! You’re His temple.

It’s all realized and received in the Gifts. In Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution, the Holy Supper, the Holy Spirit, “The Spirit of Truth,” leads you, pulls you into holiness and forgiveness. He leads you out of condemnation and the world’s righteousness. He’s clothed you with Christ’s righteousness at the Font, making you a Son of the Father. He declares: “Condemned!” But He also declares, “I forgive you all your sins in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The Final Judgment heard ahead of time. He draws you to and makes you yearn for Jesus’ body and blood. In the Supper He leads you into the Truth. By receiving Jesus’ body and blood you dwell in Him, and He’s the Truth. By receiving Jesus’ body and blood the Truth dwells in you, and He will raise you up on the Last Day.

THE SPIRIT CONVICTS, BUT HE ALSO LEADS TO THE TRUTH—to Jesus. He glorifies Jesus, and He’s doing it again, today.

Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!



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