Sermon for Sunday June 9th, 2019, the Festival of Pentecost, or Whitsunday

 

The Lessons: Acts 2:1-21; Psalm 104:24-36; Romans 8:14-17; John 14:8-17

The Text: John 14:15-17

The Topic: The Holy Spirit, the Comforter and the Spirit of truth

INTRODUCTION

Gordon Brownville’s Symbols of the Holy Spirit tells about the great Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, the first to discover the magnetic meridian of the North Pole and to discover the South Pole. On one of his trips, Amundsen took a homing pigeon with him. When he had finally reached the top of the world, he opened the bird’s cage and set it free.

Imagine the delight of Amundsen’s wife, back in Norway, when she looked up from the doorway of her home and saw the pigeon circling in the sky above. No doubt she exclaimed, “He’s alive! My husband is still alive!”

So it was when Jesus ascended. He was gone, but the disciples clung to His promise to send them the Holy Spirit. What joy, then, when the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost! The disciples had with them the continual reminder that Jesus was alive and victorious at the right hand of the Father. This continues to be the Spirit’s message. [1]

The Holy Spirit came upon the Church to be the Church’s and every believer’s Helper and Comforter, who brings them into God’s presence daily and reminds them of all that God has done in Christ, filling them with boldness to bear witness to Christ and to his Gospel.

JOHN 14:15-17: THE HOLY SPIRIT AS COMFORTER

“Another Comforter” is how Jesus describes the Holy Spirit in John 14:16. The word “Comforter” translates the Greek word “Paraclete,” which can also mean “Advocate.” The essence of this word combines the functions of intercessor, counsellor, friend and helper. The Lord Jesus Christ is the first Paraclete, and the Holy Spirit, as the other Paraclete, represents Jesus Christ to God’s people here on earth and forever.

While the Apostles and first disciples had the company of the Lord Jesus on earth, they were guided, trained and equipped by his prayer, counsel, teaching and preaching, until even after his resurrection. After his ascension, however, they waited on God in prayer until the Day of Pentecost, when the Church, gathered in the upper room, received the Holy Spirit. Emboldened and empowered by the Holy Spirit, as well as being led by Him, they went out to preach the Gospel, beginning in Jerusalem, but proceeding into the lands of the Mediterranean, and their successors have proclaimed the Gospel around the world.

THE HOLY SPIRIT: GOD’S PROMISED GIFT TO THE CHURCH

The Lord had already explained to St. Philip that knowing Him meant that he also knew God the Father, since the Father and the Son of God share in the same divine nature and characteristics. Now before the Lord Jesus returns to the Father, he gives the Apostles the promise of the Holy Spirit. First, he says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15, KJV). The path to a clearer, deeper love and knowledge of God is by keeping his commandments, by obeying him. Such obedience shows the love for God which will lead to the Spirit’s coming. A little further on in this chapter, the Lord Jesus explains what will result from love for him and obedience to his word:

 

If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

 

(John 14:23b, KJV)

Obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ is evidence of a Christian’s love for him, and this evidence will lead to the Father and the Son living with the Christian, and where the Father and the Son are, there the Holy Spirit will also be. Every Christian should be living his life in the presence of, and by the guidance of, the Holy Spirit as Comforter and Counsellor, for ever since Pentecost, the Holy Spirit abides with the Church. He is our eternal Companion, Counsellor, Advocate and Guide. As Comforter, he strengthens us to do God’s will and to endure trials and hardships for the sake of the Gospel, and he intercedes for us, helping us in our weakness (Romans 8:26). The Holy Spirit leads us to pray, to praise God and worship him, to trust and obey him, and to continue to hope in him, as St. Paul bears witness:

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

 

(Romans 5:5, KJV)

THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH

The Holy Spirit is also called by Jesus Christ “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:17a), and the Spirit guides every believer, as well as the Church in all the truth (John 16:13b), and in John 14:26, the Holy Spirit is declared to be the one who teaches the faithful all things and reminds them of everything that Jesus has said to them. Because he is the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit guides us in all the truth, and matures us to develop “a right judgment in all things” (Collect for Whitsuntide, p.180, Book of Common Prayer, 1928). The Holy Spirit, acting through the written and spoken word of God, which is His sword (Ephesians 6:17b), examines all our motives, to see if they express obedience to God, and leads us into the truth about ourselves, the sinful world in which we live, and, it may be, the truth about others, and what really motivates them. This is not so that we can contradict them or show wise we ourselves are, but so that our own thinking, words and actions, may conform the more to God’s will, and reflect Christ’s character more fully.

CONCLUSION AND APPLICATION

Do we, I wonder, perceive the implications of the Spirit of truth living in each one of us? Are we prepared to let him challenge and purify all of our thinking, all of our attitudes and habits, and direct our lives according to God’s counsel and will?



[1] p. 438, Robert J. Morgan: Preacher’s Sourcebook of Creative Illustrations. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2007.

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