Who is the Holy Spirit? (June 9, 2019)

Sermon Text: John 15:26-27

Pastor Daniel Schmidt

Let’s begin this morning with a quiz…

First question: Who was the 21stPresident of the United States?  I didn’t know the answer off the top of my head, so I needed to do a little research. It was Chester Arthur who served from 1881 to 1885.

Second question: Who was the president of our Wisconsin Synod during the heart of the Great Depression?  I thought I knew the answer to this one, but I still needed to do a little research to make sure.  It was John Brenner who served as the president of our church body from 1933 to 1953.

Final question: Who was the center for the Green Bay Packers during the famous Ice Bowl?  I knew that Jerry Kramer was the guard who played next to him, and that the two of them teamed up to make that block that opened just enough space for Bart Starr to jump through as he scored the winning touchdown in the closing seconds of the game.  But, I didn’t know the name of the center.  So, I had to do a little research.  I then called our resident, ultimate Packer Fan, Dan Heiden, who confirmed the research I had done: the center’s name was Ken Bowman.

Who is the Holy Spirit?  If you were to ask several different people, you might get several different answers.  So, it is good for us to do a little research.  So, we will turn to the Leaders’ Guide for the correct answer.  Today, based on God’s Word, we will answer the question:  Who is the Holy Spirit?  I invite you to listen once again to the Gospel Lesson which I read earlier from John chapter 15, verses 26-27:

26 ‘‘When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.  27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

This is the Word of the Lord.

Who is the Holy Spirit?  Jesus tells us that he is one who testifies about him.  What facts about Jesus does the Holy Spirit make known to you and me as we read our Bibles?  Is it simply that Jesus is a great man, whose example we should try to follow? Listen to what 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 tells us, “From the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit and through belief in the truth.  He called you to this through our Gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Then there are the words spoken to the crowd by Peter during his sermon on that first Pentecost, “Repent and be baptized, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.  And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  In the Good News of the Gospel, God the Holy Spirit testifies that we have the gift of the forgiveness of all our sins through our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Having faith in Jesus as our one and only Savior, enjoying the forgiveness of all of our sins, being saved, are all free gifts given to us by God the Holy Spirit.  They had to be gifts given to us, because left on our own, your sinful nature and mine want nothing to do with Jesus.  Left on our own, you and I are guilty and deserving only of the fires of hell.

It is the work of God the Holy Spirit to change your sin-filled heart and mine into hearts that trust in Jesus Christ as our only Savior from sin. And the tool that the Holy Spirit uses to carry out that work is the powerful Word of our Lord.  As Paul writes to the Romans in chapter 10, “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”

Pentecost Sunday gives you and me an opportunity to remember that it is only through the work of God the Holy Spirit that the free gifts of faith in Jesus as our one and only Savior, the forgiveness of all our sins and eternal life in heaven are yours and mine to enjoy.  It is the Holy Spirit who, at the time of our baptism, through the powerful Word of God, placed faith into your heart and mine to believe that Jesus Christ is the one and only Savior, who alone paid the price for your sins and mine. It is God the Holy Spirit who uses that same almighty Word to strengthen that faith in Jesus our Savior which he has placed into your heart and mine.  Who is the Holy Spirit?  He is the one who testifies about Jesus our Savior, and the gift of forgiveness that he won for you and me.

Who is the Holy Spirit?  Listen again to the words of our Savior: “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.  And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.”  So what would the disciples tell people about Jesus?  Yes, they would talk about how while on this earth Jesus proved himself to be true God through the many miracles that he performed: that the blind were able to see again, the deaf were able to hear again and the dead were raised to life.

But, the most important message they would share would be that Jesus is the promised Messiah and that as the Promised Messiah he offered up his life as the full payment price for all sins.  Listen to Peter proclaim the Good News about the Savior in his sermon on Pentecost Sunday: 22 ‘‘Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.  23 This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.  24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him…36 ‘‘Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

Who is the Holy Spirit?  He is the one who sends you and me out to testify to others about Jesus that he is their Savior.  So find a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker or a relative who does not yet know Jesus as their Savior.  Maybe you are afraid that you won’t know what you will say, or that you might not be able to answer every question they ask of you.  But, my dear friends in Christ, it is important to remember who it is that sends you out to testify about Jesus.  It is God the Holy Spirit.  The same Holy Spirit who used his almighty power to bring you to faith in Jesus as your Savior, will use that same almighty power to bless your efforts to tell others about Jesus.

In the history of the Church, the first Pentecost is viewed as the birthday of the Christian Church.  While we were not able to be there to witness it in person, today, almost 2000 years later, all of us in the Christian Church continue what was started that first Pentecost.  Today you and I take this opportunity to offer our thanks to God the Holy Spirit for all that he has done for us.  Who is the Holy Spirit?  He is the one who testifies about Jesus and it is the Holy Spirit who sends you and me out to testify about our one and only Savior, Jesus Christ.  We close with a prayer taken from one of the Pentecost hymns in our hymnals:

O Holy Spirit, grant us grace That we our Lord and Savior

In faith and fervent love embrace And truly serve him ever,

So that when death is near at hand We at his cross may firmly stand

And there find our salvation.

Help us that we your saving Word In faithful hearts may treasure;

Let e’er that bread of life afford New grace in richest measure.

Make us to die to ev’ry sin; Each day create us new within

That fruits of faith may flourish. In Jesus Name we pray.  Amen.