Monday, June 5, 2017

Day of Pentecost (A) 2017

+ In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti + Amen.

Text: Acts 2:4
Theme: The Spirit’s Work

Dear friends in Christ Jesus,

God keeps His promises. If we don’t have that confidence as the core conviction of our faith, then we don’t have much that matters. God is faithful. The Scripture says, “No matter how many promises God has made they are “Yes” in Christ.”1 God is true to Himself and that means He is trustworthy in all circumstances. The Creator of the universe is not too busy to attend to your tiniest fear. He is competent to fulfill all His greatest promises. Nothing scares Him. Nothing baffles Him. Nothing discourages Him. Death cannot defeat Him.

Today is Pentecost. Today we reflect on the completion of another of Christ’s promises. The Holy Spirit was sent to the apostles and through His witness in them Christianity exploded onto the scene. More important than remembering, however, is our participation in the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in the church and in the world. There are no truly idle believers in the Christian Church because faith that is not active in love is not genuine faith. We, too, are witnesses, martyrs, as our Spirit-given faith becomes evident in deeds of love.

Today, though, is not the only day the Holy Spirit is honoured. The work of the triune God never lacks coordination. The Holy Spirit always works in concert with the Father and the Son. From the original creation, through the believer’s spiritual resurrection in baptism, to the final establishment of the new heaven and earth, the Trinity shares His life with the world. Today the reversal of the dispersion at Babel continues as the Holy Spirit gathers people from every language to Himself. At Babel God’s word of judgment brought separation. At Pentecost, His word of reconciliation brings reunion.

Reconciliation would not be needed if the relationship had not been severed. The Holy Spirit comes to sinners. Still, many do not receive Him. Rejecting His blessings, they choose their own gods. Arrogance or apathy leads the hardened heart to believe it is without sin, or not accountable for the same. That’s why the first activity of the Holy Spirit is always the working of repentance. Otherwise, the deception continues and there is no need for the gospel. Dear friends, when we lie to God we lie to the Holy Spirit. When we sin against our neighbour we sin against the Holy Spirit. When we defy our own conscience, we offend the Holy Spirit. Our sins are never simply horizontal in their complications. All sin is an offense to God first and foremost. But where the Holy spirit dwells reconciliation with God is achieved.

Perhaps you’ve wondered if the Holy Spirit is dwelling in you, if He’s working in your life? Perhaps you’ve worried about feeling His presence or sought ways to measure His activity. Don’t stress over evidence. Cling to His word. Remember, you are baptized. In that event the Holy Spirit made entry into your life. And He wasn’t just passing through. He accompanies God’s word at all times. He takes you again and again through the cleansing waters; each and every time your sins are laid at the feet of the Crucified and you receive His mercy. He continually refits and repairs your spiritual armor. He stands in front of you when Satan shoots his flaming arrows. He advocates for you when the devil makes his convincing accusations. He fortifies your conviction when Satan plants seeds of doubt into your mind. He brings joy to your heart every time you reflect upon the eternal inheritance you have been promised. For weary souls who can’t see beyond a dark tunnel of vision, the Holy Spirit beams a brilliant light upon the crucified Saviour and opens the scene to the horizon of the resurrection.

Living in this world, however, does not involve an unhindered contemplation of the heavenly future. We’re in the fray. In case you haven’t noticed, Christianity isn’t exactly in vogue at the moment. The pressures are mounting. Perhaps, in the past, it was viewed favourably to a large degree. It was seen, even by many unbelievers, as part of the moral foundation of society. Now the script is being flipped and some of those very same convictions are considered evil. For example, it’s not simply that the sanctity of marriage is being compromised because of lack of self-control- that will always be the case in this fallen world- the very definition of sexuality is being turned on its head. It’s not just the parameters for engaging in sexual activity that are being argued- whether within marriage, outside of marriage, between people of the same gender etc., - but the very identity of a person as male or female.

Christianity has no monopoly of understanding here. The biological laws of nature are fundamental to the discussion. At that level, it makes little difference if one believes, as Christianity teaches, that God created male and female, or if evolution (though a false premise) dominates one’s worldview on the matter. Either way, the complementarity of the sexes necessary for the propagation of the human race is self-evident. The case for any child having a mother and a father is deeply grounded biologically, domestically, and biblically.

Underlying these matters is the question of what is true and how value is assessed. Do humans at any place and time make a collective judgment, or is there an unalterable truth that transcends ages, epochs, and cultures? Does everything change of necessity, constantly morphing into something else? Or does the unchanging God restore to permanence and perfection that which had become corrupted? A collision of worldviews is in motion. The attendant circumstances are different, but the struggle is the same one that always confronts the kingdom of God. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.”2 The Bible promises the oppression of Christian truth, not acceptance. It speaks of persecution, not privilege. It calls for sacrifice, not selfishness. Only the narrow road reaches the destination. Living by God’s grace isn’t about popularity, but integrity. Christians aren’t defeatists, but realists.

The apostles were sent out into a world that wasn’t that different from ours. The standard of living may not have been comparable, but the moral fiber of society was. They might not have had mobile phones, but they had gossip chains. They might not have had reversible cameras for taking selfies, but they had narcissism nonetheless. They might not have had organized atheist societies or practitioners of Satanic worship in today’s sense, but they had plenty who lived in the dark about the true love of God revealed in Christ. The gospel of salvation which brings life to dying souls never becomes obsolete. The Holy Spirit doesn’t age and Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.3

The Holy Spirit comes to sinners. And He brings us into contact with God’s Son through the means He has appointed. The Scripture says, “This is the One who came by water and blood- Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.”4 In the breaking of the bread the disciples’ eyes were opened. The Holy Spirit uses communion as a sacrament of revelation as well as a way to dispense forgiveness. The unified testimony of these means of grace is the same testimony given on Pentecost: Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world. He was crucified for our sins. He lives, never to die again. Amen.

+ In nomine Jesu +

Day of Pentecost
4 June 2017
Reverend Darrin L. Kohrt

1 2 Corinthians 1:20
2 John 18:36
3 See Hebrews 13:8
4 1 John 5:6-8