Title: How to Become More Pentecostal than a Pentecostal - The Office of the Holy Spirit
Grace and mercy to you from God our Father and the Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
The text is John 14:26-27 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. (KJV)
Thus far the text. Let us pray: Creator Father, you have sent the Holy Spirit to us in Jesus’ name, grant to us that the Holy Spirit teach us all things which You have given Jesus to have said and bring to our remembrance all the things which Jesus did, so that we may be comforted in our afflictions. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
Most of the Church Fathers were more Pentecostal than today’s Pentecostals. How is that? Martin Luther was more Pentecostal than today’s Pentecostals. Is that proper to say?
Pentecostalism has spread like wildfire in the last century. Holiness groups such as the Nazarene and the Assembly of God denominations swept through 19th century America and continued through mission societies throughout 3rd world countries. To the young men and women who are college bound this fall, I predict with your first month at college you will be contacted by one of the pentecostal leaning Christian groups on campus such as Campus Crusade for Christ (now called Cru); or The Navigators; or Intervarsity Christian Fellowship; or Young Life; or World Student Christian Federation; or Campus Outreach; or many more. (This does not include pagan sects such as the Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, or the Pagan Student Alliance.)
But do not point a finger at the Pentecostals or Campus Ministries for the same pentecostal teachings are within Lutheran churches and even have had organized societies with our own LCMS such a RIM but now underground. The teachings are probably held by some of you. The problem is the loss of your comfort in the midst of affliction.
This Pentecost Study I challenge you to become more Pentecostal than the Pentecostals. I’m not going to point you to the traditional marks of Pentecostalism such as speaking in tongues, or a rebaptism in the Holy Spirit, or even how to become a prayer warrior to claim whole families and cities for God.
I’m going to point you to a work of God that is even more powerful and given with a clear promise to those who have the faith of Jesus.
The Holy Spirit is given to do two works among us.
First, the Holy Spirit is to teach us all things of your heavenly Father.
Second, the Holy Spirit is to help your remember all that Jesus did.
The Holy Spirit’s goal in teaching and reminding is to bring you such a comfort in your affliction that you even despise death. That facing death, you rest in a peace that comes only from being taught and reminded of Christ your Savior.
Some will say, if only my poverty would be turned to riches, I would have peace. But, such peace God does not give.
Others will say, if only my physical or mental illness were healed, I would be comforted. But, such peace God does not give.
And other will say, if only my approaching death were turned to life, will I ever be comforted. But, such peace God does not give.
Martin Luther had this to say about the work of the Holy Spirit:
“Such peace Christ does not give. He allows the affliction to remain and oppress; yet He employs different tactics to bestow peace: He changes the heart, removing the heart from the affliction rather than the affliction from the heart. This is the way it is done: When you are sunk in affliction He so turns your mind from it and gives you such consolation that you imagine you are dwelling in a garden of roses. Thus, in the midst of dying is life; and in the midst of trouble is peace and joy. This is why it is that St. Paul declares to the Philippians (4:7) a peace which passes all understanding.” Thus far Luther.
How do you life as if you have just entered a garden of roses in the midst of your daily afflictions? Well, you can’t enter it. Access to this garden was barred from sinners after Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden. However, the Holy Spirit will escort you into living as if you are in a rose garden.
The Office of the Holy Spirit is to teach you and remind you. The Holy Spirit has recorded the Father’s invitation to you in Holy Scripture in order that you may be taught and reminded of Jesus. This written word is Holy Spirit filled. This Holy Scripture and the Holy Spirit are so closely associated the what the Father has had written in Holy Scripture is delivered by the Holy Spirit.
So, how do you live as if you are in a beautiful rose garden? Jesus gives you His faith by means of what the Holy Spirit wrote! It is written, “For in the Gospel the righteousness of God is revealed by faith alone; as it is written, "The just shall live by God's faith." (Romans 1:17, Habakkuk 2:4b). This is the verse that sparked the Reformation of the church.
Luther continues, saying, “Christ gives this faith to you. He says to you: just pass down into the valley of death, yes, it will be sweet for you. There the Holy Spirit will come to you and make you so courageous and joyful that you will not know death, yes, it will be sweet to you. The reason for this peace (continues Luther) is that the Holy Spirit teaches one to know the great goodness and grace of Jesus Christ, making those who believe in Jesus lords, just like Jesus, over sin, death and all things. Therefore a Christian must be possess this teaching and remembrance, which is the work of the Holy Spirit, to be joyful in good and in evil fortune, whether it be bitter or sweet. (and just a little more Luther) Some possess this teaching and remembrance in greater degrees than others, for we are not all perfect, in fact, no one will be so perfect as to never again experience struggle and affliction.” Thus far Luther.
Christians do not openly oppose the Office of the Holy Spirit in theory, but in practice many will seek the work of the Holy Spirit apart from the Holy Scriptures (such as praying in tongues or, among us, church growth strategies) or many will deny what is written in the Holy Scriptures (such as a rejecting infant baptism, or believing prayer chains are more effective than individual prayers of one Christian, or deny that Satan is a real person or that hell is a real place, or believing that all religions are the same.)
No, Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified died and was buried, descended into hell, on the third day Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God SO THAT the He could send the Holy Spirit to you who is promised to be your Comforter through the means of grace; through Word and Sacrament.
The result being that even now you may begin to despise death. Cling to the teaching God has given in your Holy Bible and your Small Catechism. The Holy Spirit will continue to teach you and remind you of what you have in Jesus. In the midst of affliction and death turn to the Scripture and Catechism to be taught and reminded of Jesus and you will begin to live more and more as if you were dwelling in a Garden of Roses. And you too will become more Pentecostal than a Pentecostal for you will begin to despise death and receive comfort in your affliction.
A final reminder, if you had no affliction caused by God’s good Law, you would would have no need for comfort. Comfort implies affliction that has taken away your comfort and if you had no need for comfort you would have no need for the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.
This whole passage in the Gospel of John is about the Office of the Holy Spirit, who is comforting you by teaching you from Holy Scripture and reminding you that you are baptized in Jesus death and you are invited to eat and drink Christ’s very body and blood for the forgiveness of all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God, which passes understanding, guard and keep you in body and soul through Jesus Christ your Savior. Amen.