Lessons: Genesis 11:1-9, Acts 2:1-21, John 14:23-31
Hymns: LSB 768, 497, 503, 498, 496
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Life is full of changes. Society is constantly shifting—on the go. Public attitudes are changing quickly. Some changes are good. The Internet allows people who live thousands of miles away to see each other and visit with each other. Advances in medicine have significantly improved many people’s lives.
But not all changes are good. The Internet also is used to spread false information and immorality. We’ve witnessed a militant march allowing transgender people to use restrooms that match their “gender identity” or pick their preferred pronouns. Marriage and sexuality are being turned upside-down.
It’s another assault on God’s Word. It’s another assault on family. Many Christians feel helpless as they watch society go crazy. And many who consider themselves Christian are jumping on the bandwagon, figuring God has nothing to say about these matters.
Even Christian denominations are throwing in the towel, succumbing to the whims of culture. The ELCA is one of the leaders who has rejected the Bible’s teaching concerning marriage, family, sexuality and the sixth commandment. The United Methodist Church will likely split over the matter.
Why do some churches so readily depart from the Bible? Well, some churches feel that if they vote on a doctrinal issue, the Holy Spirit is guiding them through that vote—even when their vote contradicts the Bible. You see, many churches think the Holy Spirit is guiding them to depart from Scripture and adopt new teachings.
But the Holy Spirit has never promised to guide people away from the Sacred Scriptures. In fact, St. Paul wrote in Galatians 1:6-9, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” Also, in today’s Gospel, Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me” (John 14:23-24). What this means is that we—as the Church—as God’s people—have no right to tamper with the Word of God. If we think we can depart from Scripture, then Jesus warns us that we don’t love Him. That actually makes sense, for if we did love Him, we will listen to Him and want to keep His Word, even when we can’t. For when we can’t, we turn to Him in repentance.
And we can’t get all philosophical or theoretical about it, saying, “Well, I can believe what I want, and I still love Jesus.” No, Jesus’ words are clear, “Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.”
So, why, then do some churches gather in convention and vote on matters already decided by Holy Scripture? Or why do some voters’ assemblies disobey God’s Word and do what they want? Does it mean they don’t love Jesus? Well, that’s what Jesus says. It could mean they do not take the Bible seriously or that they genuinely feel the Holy Spirit is guiding them to new truths—which, of course, are wrong.
Does the Holy Spirit really lead churches to depart from Scripture and adopt teachings which contradict the Bible? The answer is simply, “No!” The Holy Spirit does not guide anyone to abandon the Bible’s teachings. Instead, the Devil, the world, and our sinful nature all work to deceive us and mislead us into false belief.
We, as God’s children, are to resist these temptations and cling to the truth of God’s Word. So if the world has gone awry, we remain faithful. If everyone else has adopted strange new teachings, we still keep the truth of God’s Word.
And in doing so, we are allowing the Holy Spirit to do His work. You see, those who claim they are allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to them as they depart from Scripture aren’t actually listening to the Holy Spirit. They are listening to the devil, the world, or their sinful nature. They will accuse us of stifling the Holy Spirit by clinging to the Bible’s teachings, for they have pit Scripture against the Spirit. But the Bible is inspired by God the Holy Spirit, as we learn in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
Also, the Spirit had just come upon Peter at Pentecost and what does Peter do? Peter quotes the Scriptures as divine truth! As we heard in Peter’s sermon on Pentecost, Peter quoted the prophet Joel, and later he quotes the psalms. That’s how God the Holy Spirit guided Peter! To teach and preach straight from the Bible!
That’s how proper preaching is to be done to this day. Jesus sends Pastors to preach God’s Word—not man’s word. Jesus sends pastors to preach divine truth—not man’s opinion. Jesus sends pastors to show the way of everlasting life—not affirm man’s sin.
So even though the world is changing all around us, the message of Christ has not changed. The way of salvation has not changed. The forgiveness of sins earned by Jesus on the cross has not changed. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper have not changed. For “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever,” as Hebrews 13:8 teaches.
Peter preached of our unchanging Savior at Pentecost. As a result, 3,000 began to believe in Christ that day and were baptized into Christ.
Just consider what took place that first Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came as Jesus promised. There was a rushing mighty wind, indicating the arrival of the Holy Spirit. The apostles could speak in other languages they had not learned. There were tongues of fire alighting them.
Some mocked them saying, “They are filled with new wine” (Acts 2:13-15). Yet, they were not drunk. It was 9 in the morning. No way could some drunks possibly stage such a miraculous event.
Clearly the events going on that Pentecost were the very acts of God. The preaching was inspired by God the Holy Spirit. Hear some more of Peter’s sermon on Pentecost: “Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it… This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing… Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:22-36).
That’s who Jesus is and what He did for you! And that’s who you are supposed to hear when you go to church. You are to hear all about what Jesus did for you and for your salvation. You need the Law of God to convict you of your sin and show you your need for a Savior. Then you need the Gospel of Christ to teach you of your Savior and grant you the gifts of Jesus earned by Him on the cross.
Jesus was crucified to take away your sin. Jesus rose from the dead as the victor over sin, death, and the devil.
These wonderful words are yours to hear. In these words, you have eternal life. As it is written, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” That’s why we heard in Acts 2:6, “Everyone heard them speak in his own language.”
Speaking and hearing. That is how the Holy Spirit operates. So, do you want faith—faith which is able to save your body and soul? Then listen to the Word of Christ.
God speaks, we listen. Pastors preach, the people listen.
Remember, through Peter’s preaching on Pentecost, thousands came to faith. They listened to what God had to say through the mouths of weak, sinful men. That is how God has chosen to continue growing and expanding His Church—through sinners redeemed by Christ who preach the Word of God. Sinners, in need of forgiveness, gather in God’s house to hear salvation earned by Jesus on the cross.
You have come to hear the wonderful works of God.
And as you hear the Word of God, the Holy Spirit is at work. He is calling, gathering, enlightening, and sanctifying His Christian Church on Earth. The Holy Spirit is directing you to our Savior Jesus. And Jesus is giving you access to your Father in Heaven.
Such blessings you have in Christ!
You are indeed blessed. God the Holy Spirit has come to guide you into all truth. You are baptized into Christ. You have the unchanging Word of God proclaimed faithfully each week in your own language. You have the Lord’s Supper offered to you every week. In these blessings, God is granting you saving faith. And with saving comes eternal life and salvation.
Thanks be to God the Father for planning your salvation and never wavering from His divine plan. Thanks be to God the Son for earning your salvation on the cross. And thanks be to God the Spirit for delivering this salvation to you through the Word and Sacraments! Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus to life everlasting. Amen