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Category: Holy Spirit

John 14:25-26 We are Holy

The WORD

25“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). ([reftagger title=””]John 14:25-26[/reftagger]). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

 

This is truly a very comforting verse, one that should be noted well. Earlier we heard the same thing: “He will be in you and will dwell with you forever.” Thus Christendom has the promise of the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in its midst. But not only this. He will also teach the Christians and call all Christ’s words to their remembrance until the Last Day. Thus we confess: “I believe in the Holy Spirit and the holy Christian Church.” With these words we affirm that the Holy Spirit dwells with Christendom and sanctifies it, namely, through Word and sacrament, through which He works faith in it and the knowledge of Christ. Those are the tools and the means through which He continuously sanctifies and purifies Christendom. This also makes Christians holy before God, not by virtue of what we ourselves are or do but because the Holy Spirit is given to us. This we shall hear later.

Christians need this comfort, lest they doubt that the Christian Church will remain in the world in the midst of all the unbelievers, Turks, heathen, Jews, heretics, and sects, as well as the devil and his angels. For here is the promise, which neither lies nor deceives: The Holy Spirit “will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” Now we can be sure of this and joyfully glory in it; we can wager everything and live and die on our possessing the Holy Spirit if we have and believe Christ’s Word. Then we can conclude with certainty: “Let the devil, death, and sin be against me! I am holy nevertheless. I believe in Christ and have learned to know Him; I understand and use the Word and the sacraments aright—all this I owe to the Holy Spirit, not to my own brains.

A Christian, however, can glory truthfully and with good reason, and he can say: “I believe in the Holy Spirit, who makes me and all believers holy. Therefore I am a member of a holy order, not that of St. Francis but that of Christ, who makes me holy through His Word and sacraments.” “May God preserve me,” say those monkish saints, “from such presumption! I am a poor sinner.” All right, then go to Rome, to Jerusalem, and through all the orders and cloisters, and see whether you become holy! The truth, however, is this: If you yourself were holy, then you would not need the Holy Spirit at all; but since we are sinful and unclean in ourselves, the Holy Spirit must perform His work in us. He gives us the Word of Christ the Lord, Baptism, and His power, not only that you may be in a holy order, but also that you yourself may be holy. But He does so in such a way that you say: “I am not holy through myself but through Christ’s blood, with which I have been sprinkled, yes, washed in Baptism, and also through His Gospel, which is spoken over me daily.” Thus there is nothing laudable about that stupid, false, and harmful humility which makes you want to say that your sins prevent you from being holy. That would be a denial of Christ’s blood and Baptism; that would deny that you have the Holy Spirit and are a member of the Christian Church, in which we are to assemble for the Gospel, for Baptism, and for the Sacrament.

We must, however, distinguish between two types of holiness; or let us say that the word “holiness” must be understood in two different ways. In the first place, there is the holiness from and through ourselves. The monastic orders and self-chosen spirituality fall into this category. This amounts to no more than the word or name “holiness.” Basically, however, it is falsehood and fiction, and nothing but sin and stench in the eyes of God. For in us and from us grows nothing but unholiness and uncleanness. Whether I become a barefoot friar or a monk and work-righteous person of a different order, I remain a condemned sinner just as I was born from Adam. Therefore I will not call myself holy, neither of myself and for my own sake nor because of any other man; nor will I boast of holiness. I am holy because I can declare with unswerving faith and with an undaunted conscience: “Even though I am a poor sinner, still Christ is holy with His Baptism, Word, Sacrament, and Holy Spirit.” This is the only genuine holiness given to us by God.

You ask: “But how do I attain this? And what does the Holy Spirit have to do with me?” Answer: “He baptized me; He proclaimed the Gospel of Christ to me; and He awakened my heart to believe. Baptism is not of my making; nor is the Gospel; nor is faith. He gave these to me. For the fingers that baptized me are not those of a man; they are the fingers of the Holy Spirit. And the preacher’s mouth and the words that I heard are not his; they are the words and message of the Holy Spirit. By these outward means He works faith within me and thus He makes me holy.”

Here he employed the word “saints” freely with reference to all Christians. And in the early Christian Church it was long customary for its members to call one another saints. This custom should still prevail. For it is not arrogant on the part of Christians to call one another holy because of Christ; it is glory and praise to God. For by doing so we are not praising our own stinking work-righteousness; we are praising His Baptism, Word, grace, and Spirit, which we do not have out of ourselves but which have been given to us by Him.

Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 24: Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 14-16. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 24, pp. 168–171). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

John 14:17 Where true courage comes from

The WORD

17“Even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him.”

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). ([reftagger title=””]John 14:17[/reftagger]). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

 

The Holy Spirit is not only a Comforter, who makes Christians defiant and courageous in the face of all kinds of terror; He is also a Spirit of truth, that is, He is a true and reliable Spirit, who does not deceive you or fail you. It is also part of a Christian’s character to become bold and intrepid. I do not mean that he should be imbued with a foolhardy courage, boldness, and defiance such as reckless soldiers and daredevils display when they charge fearlessly into swords, spears, and guns. To be sure, this may also be termed fearlessness; but it is a false comfort and defiance, for such a man either relies on his own strength or is actuated by vainglory. Thus there may be a spirit there, but it is not the proper and true spirit.

For the evil spirit can also puff people up and make them bold and brave, as is evidenced by his tyrants and schismatic spirits, who are far too rash and defiant, though not with the valor and the defiance approved by God. Christ, on the other hand, promises a Spirit who fills us with a courage that is called a divine, holy, and bold defiance. Therefore this must be called a genuine, true comfort, a courage that is not false or futile; for it does not rely on anything uncertain but is thoroughly reliable and puts its trust in things that do not fail or deceive.

Christians have nothing to rely on but Christ, their Lord and God. They willingly surrender all things for His sake and say: “Before I deny or forsake my Christ, I will bid farewell to neck and belly, honor and goods, house and home, wife and child, and everything!” Therefore this courage cannot be a sham or a delusion; it must be genuine and real. Its comfort is not rooted in earth’s temporal or transient things, for the sake of which it would be willing to suffer this. No, it pins its hopes solely on the Lord Christ, who was crucified and died for us. In keeping with His promise Christ certainly must say: “Since you confess Me, you enjoy this advantage and comfort; and you can boast that your defiance and courage will not mislead you. For He is called a Spirit of truth.” All other defiance and pride stems from a spirit of lies or a pseudo spirit, which cannot be pleasing to God. But whatever a Christian does and suffers in faith in the Lord Christ is absolute truth, proper, and right; and he can boast truthfully and joyfully that it is approved by God and all the angels. A Christian is sure of his position and fears neither the devil nor the world; neither is he intimidated by any threat or terror.

Therefore let this be no small comfort for you, for there is nothing else on earth that can comfort you as much in the hour of need as a confident heart. As long as it harbors doubt and is uncertain, it is incapable of defiant courage. But here the consolation is sure; whatever I suffer is not due to my misdeeds or to any worldly things from which I hoped to derive goods or honor or praise. The only charge against me is that I believe in the Lord Christ and am determined to confess His Word.

Therefore I cannot fear these people, but I must despise them and say: “Go ahead and rage if you will. If you do not choose to smile in God’s name, then be angry in the name of all your masters. And the more you fume and rage in your ire and malice, the happier I shall be, and the more I shall laugh.” For I am convinced—also from their own admission—that they are attacking us for no other reason than this, that we preach the Gospel. Since all this befalls us for Christ’s sake, He also gives us the Spirit—as He has promised—who does not deceive but is sincere and abides forever before God and everyone.

Thus we have the comforting promise and the firm confidence that whatever we speak, do, and suffer as Christians must be the truth and proceed from the Spirit of truth. Conversely, all that is done, spoken, preached, and undertaken in opposition to this must be falsehood and lies before God, though it may seem ever so fine and be proclaimed as the pure truth, the greatest holiness and intellectuality, and though the world may contend for it with all its might and blaspheme and rage against us most violently. For, after all, our doctrine and our actions are not based on ourselves, nor are we involved in this; but all this has to do with this Christ, from whom we have everything and for whom we preach, live, and suffer. And since all this is done on His behalf, we also let Him worry about it. He says that He will see it through and will give the spirit and the courage for it to endure; and whatever He does through His Christians is to be completely true and certain.

Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 24: Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 14-16. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 24, p. 120). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

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God of Comfort

The WORD

16“…and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,”

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 14:15-16). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

 

What are the devil, death, and all things over against the eternal, almighty majesty of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who want to be and are our Comforter? For if He who is sent is called a Comforter, then both He who sent Him and He by whom He is sent must be the same Comforter. Then there is surely no God besides Him who is a Comforter. And henceforth he who wants to know God aright and name Him appropriately must call Him “Comforter” or, as St. Paul terms Him in [reftagger title=””]Rom. 15:5[/reftagger], “the God of Comfort,” namely, for those who are frightened and have no other comfort. They must not conceive of God otherwise than as a Comforter of the wretched and troubled. They must give the lie both to the devil, who threatens with God’s wrath and with hell, and to their own heart, and say to the devil: “You are a false spirit of lies!” and to their heart: “You are a false, foolish heart!”

Thus the prophet David declares in [reftagger title=””]Ps. 42:11[/reftagger]: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted in me?” As though he were to say: “Why do you torment me without cause?” And then he quickly shakes off his dejection, takes comfort, and says: “Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my Help and my God.” “Your notions,” he wants to say, “are falsehood and lies; for you transform God into a terrible judge or jailer for me, while, as a matter of fact, He is a friendly Father and a consoling Lord. Away with your anger and terror! Go to the ungodly tyrants and others who are so smug that they do not care about God! That is your proper place. Do not confuse me; for I believe in my Lord Christ, who died and rose again for me and who both asks for and sends me the Holy Spirit and Comforter from the Father. Therefore be undaunted, no matter what happens. Even though everything were to collapse, though lightning were to flash and thunder to crash, let it all fall and tear and crumble. Where my Lord and God stays, there I, too, will abide.”

Blessed is he who knows and can do this. But here there is still a deficiency. The devil is too powerful among us, the world is too strong, and we see so many obstacles and temptations before us that we forget and cannot comprehend the comfort God sends into our hearts. We feel only that which hurts us. It is so strong that it fills man’s whole being and erases these words from his mind. Therefore Christians should rise above all fear and sadness, all anxiety and woe, and say with the prophet: “Why are you so sad?” Christians know how to do this. Christ says: “I know this very well, and for this very reason I am telling you about it in advance. You should not be guided by such feelings or believe your own thoughts; you should believe My Word. For I will ask the Father, and as a result of My plea He will surely give you the Holy Spirit to comfort you. Then you can rest assured that I love you, that the Father loves you, and that the Holy Spirit, who is sent to you, loves you.”

Your heart will counter: “You have not been living right; you are full of sin.” Unfortunately, this is all too true. What is the result? “Oh, you must go to hell!” says the devil. No, that is not the will of God. Begone, devil, you and the evil world; for my Lord Christ says no to you, He tells me that the Father is not angry with me but will give me the Comforter, who will come to me in answer to His prayer. They concur in this, that they do not want me to be frightened and sad, much less rejected and condemned, but comforted and happy.

Behold, that is why Christ befriends His Christians so faithfully and diligently. It is His desire to give them the firm conviction that they will have comfort in abundance, and to acquaint them with His and His Father’s heart and intention. They should have no other purpose and should wish for nothing else from Him than that they be comforted. He tells them that the work and office for which He has been sent by the Father is nothing else than to comfort them and bid them be unafraid. And when they are comforted through God’s Word, they should regard and accept this as comfort that surely comes from the Holy Spirit and is also comfort from God the Father and the Lord Christ.

Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 24: Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 14-16. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 24, pp. 113–115). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

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John 14:16 Another Helper

The WORD

13“…and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,”

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 14:15-16). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

 

The world lives freely, smugly, and riotously, without fear and anxiety, and heeds neither God’s wrath nor His grace. Besides, it is giddy and reckless, and does not stand in need of comfort. But the few who are called to believe, are baptized in Christ, and remain loyal to Him are in dire need of a Comforter to strengthen and preserve them, that they may be able to endure and bear all things.

“Therefore since I am about to depart from you,” says Christ, “and can no longer be with you visibly, and since your sufferings will now begin, I will not leave you forsaken and without comfort. Until now, to be sure, you have joy and consolation in Me, but this has been only physical and temporal comfort and had to end anyhow. For I cannot remain with you forever this way if I am to enter into My glory and spread My kingdom through you. And in order that this may happen soon, it is necessary for Me to die, ascend to heaven, and leave you behind. But you shall not be forsaken; you shall take comfort in the knowledge that I will ask the Father to give you another Comforter, who will remain with you not only for a time, as I am doing, but will stay with you forever and will comfort you far more effectively than I have done by My physical presence. And this shall begin soon after My death and resurrection, and it shall not cease until I take you to Myself.”

Thus Christ now begins to preach about the Holy Spirit, who is to be given to Christendom and will preserve it until the Last Day.

We must learn to know and believe in the Holy Spirit and as Christ depicts and describes Him, namely, that He is not a Spirit of anger and terror but a Spirit of grace and consolation, and that the entire Deity reflects sheer comfort. The Father wants to comfort, for it is He who grants the Holy Spirit; the Son likewise, for He prays for this; and the Holy Spirit Himself is to be the Comforter. Here, therefore, there is no wrath, threat, or terror for Christians; there is only a friendly smile and sweet comfort in heaven and on earth.

Why is this? “You already have hangmen and jailers enough who terrify and harass you,” Christ wants to say, “simply because you believe in Me, proclaim and profess Me. The devil will not desist from frightening and plaguing you. The world will also take a hand in this, seize you by the throat, and assassinate the one and exile another. You will have devils enough even without all the devils and the torments of hell! In addition, you will have your own heart and your conscience, which will lie prostrate and groan: ‘Alas, I am a poor sinner, and I did not live and act as becomes a Christian!’ These I will not give you, nor will I pray for them. On the contrary, I will pray that an eternal Comforter, who is to be the Holy Spirit Himself, may be granted to you against all this, to strengthen and aid you in all your sadness, fear, and need, so that you may overcome this and be delivered from it.

“This is what you are to look for and expect from the Father and from Me. If, as Christians who believe in Me and hold to Me, you suffer or are assailed, whether it be by the devil or by your conscience, then the Holy Spirit will be your Comforter and will address Himself to your heart as follows: ‘Be unafraid, and do not fear; for you are baptized, and you believe in Christ. Therefore you need not be frightened either by the devil with all his angels in hell, by your own thoughts, or by your anxiety about your relation to God. No, do not think otherwise than that God’s anger and all hell are totally extinguished. For that is surely true for believers, even though they still feel sin and weakness.’ ” It is for this very purpose that the Comforter is promised and sent to them, to fortify them against such terror and fear.

Neither should you fear the world, tyrants, and all who want to rob you of honor and goods, and even of your life, because of Christ. For even if they do deprive you of all this, here you have a greater treasure, which the devil and the world will never take from you. And since this Comforter, together with the Father and Christ, is yours, you have all you should desire. Therefore let your heart be of good cheer. Despise boldly everything that assails you, and say: “I will remain undaunted even if the devil and all the world were far worse than they are.”

Christians must be proficient at this, for this message is addressed to them alone. As to the others—the coarse and malicious multitudes who disregard God’s Word or persecute it with malice aforethought and, on top of this, are smug—it would be better for them if they were frightened enough to flee from a rustling leaf.

“Just hold firmly to Me with your faith and confession; remain My beloved disciples, and you will suffer no want. I will comfort you abundantly. If sin, death, hell, the devil, or the world confront you, I will attend you with the Holy Spirit, who will adequately comfort you.”

Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 24: Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 14-16. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 24, pp. 110-113). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

John 14:15-16

The WORD

13“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,”

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 14:15-16). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

 

These are all words of Him who is about to depart from His disciples and now bids them farewell. He gives them comfort and exhorts them not to be frightened and saddened by His departure. As though He were to say: “I must now go from your sight. Therefore I tell you this as My farewell and Godspeed. You must not become afraid and fearful; but believe in Me, and take to heart what I am telling you. For I will not leave you without comfort and help, even though you find no comfort and help in the world. Yes, I am going to the Father for this very reason, to assume My power and My reign and then to manifest these in you. And though I depart from you physically, I shall send you another Comforter from the Father. He will always remain with you, for I know that you cannot abide in the world without a Comforter.

“Until now I, through My bodily presence, have been your Comforter. You have taken delight in Me and have felt secure and fearless, and you would like to remain with Me. But now that you hear that you are about to lose this comfort, you are cast down and troubled. Yet My departure shall not harm you. Just remain My disciples and hold to Me, and I will compensate you richly for the loss. For I Myself will ask the Father to grant you the Comforter, who will stay with you forever; and neither the world nor the devil will deprive you of Him, no matter how they rant and rave. He will strengthen you and make you courageous and bold, far better than I can now do by My physical presence. Moreover, He is wiser and more learned than all the world. Therefore you will not lack for comfort, strength, courage, and wisdom.”

That is the comfort. But Christ advisedly prefaces it with the words: “If you love Me and keep My commandments.” The dear Lord definitely foresaw that unrest would be afoot in Christendom after His departure, particularly among the preachers and teachers. He knew that they would not remain in agreement but would be split into schisms and factions. He completely abolished Moses for His Christians, and now He does not want us to be encumbered again with the intolerable burden of the Law. For we invariably find that where laws rule, especially over the conscience, there is no end of commands and precepts. One law leads to a hundred new ones, and these hundred multiply into a hundred thousand. “Therefore,” Christ says, “I do not impose anything else on you. I ask and demand no more than this one thing, that you faithfully preach about Me, watch over My Word and Sacrament, show affection and harmony among one another for My sake, and patiently bear the adversities that this entails for you.”

These are the brief commandments which Christ calls “My commandments.” “And these,” He says, “I impose on you only if you love Me and gladly keep them for My sake. For I do not want to be a Moses, who drives and plagues you with menace and terror; but I give you commands which you can and will surely observe without coercion if you love Me at all. If love is wanting, it is useless for Me to give you many commandments; for they would not be observed anyhow. Therefore if you want to keep My commandments, see that you love Me, and think of what I have done for you. It is proper that you should love Me, who am about to give My life for you and to shed My blood for you. Do this for My sake. Live in harmony and friendship with one another. At the same time adhere steadfastly to Me in your preaching, bear with one another in love, and do not introduce schisms and factions.

“For I have richly deserved your loyalty. It is hard for Me to accomplish your redemption, and it costs Me My life. I am hurling Myself into death and into the jaws of the devil to deliver you from sin and death, to destroy the power of hell and the devil, and to present you with heaven and all that I have. I will gladly pardon you if you err and sin at times, even if you fall grossly, also if you are weak and frail, but only if you return to Me, manifest your love again, and also forgive one another, as I do you, so that your mutual love will not be destroyed.”

Christ begins this admonition here; but later He will extend it and stress it more, in order to impress this on their minds for the hour of His departure. For He knew very well, as I have said, that there would be many who would adorn themselves with His name and boast of being His disciples and preachers of the Gospel but would set their own reputation, glory, and honor above Christ’s blood and death. They would not esteem Christ’s grace and ineffable love and all that He did to accomplish our redemption highly enough to jeopardize or surrender their own pleasures or honor or power for it. They would not deprecate their own knowledge and cleverness, because their reputation for smartness, wisdom, and learning is of greater consequence to them than Christ and the pure doctrine of the Gospel.

Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 24: Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 14-16. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 24, pp. 101–103). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

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