The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God, and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
John 16:12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.” (NASB)
Psalm 25:5 “Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day.”
Psalm 31:5 “Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have ransomed me, O Lord, God of truth.”
Proverbs 3:3 “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.”
Isaiah 65:16 “Because he who is blessed in the earth Will be blessed by the God of truth; And he who swears in the earth Will swear by the God of truth.”
John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
John 8:31-32 “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
From Jesus’s High Priestly Prayer, John 17:16 “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”
St. Paul wrote to Timothy telling him that pastors are to “be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
From this morning’s Gospel lesson, John 16:13 “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth.”
Christians are to be people of the truth. The word “truth” in the NASB translation occurs just under 200 times in the Bible. The word “opinion,” occurs about six times in a good English translation of the Old and New Testament. It is used two times in the Old Testament and four times in the New Testament.
Here’s an Old Testament example. 1 Kings 18:21 “Elijah came near to all the people and said, ‘How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.’”
Here’s an example from the New Testament. St. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 7:25 “Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy.”
There are nearly 200 hundred declarations of or statements about the God of truth. These truth statements cover God’s words, deeds, and doctrines. God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit describes Himself time and again in the Bible as “the God of truth.” He alone is the God of truth. All other gods are false. Romans 1:25 says “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.”
Yet, the modern Christian perhaps even you have developed a propensity to treat Christian doctrine, the Law and the Gospel and the history set forth in the Bible as mere sentiment. I read this from a pastor friend’s facebook feed this morning. “We are at a point in Christianity where people don’t care if you can back it up with the Bible. Their feelings, desires, and emotions over ride what the Scripture says. They don’t follow Christ. They follow themselves.”
So why is the church is withering away in the West? It probably has a lot to do with the fact that we don’t treat the Gospel Truth as “the Truth.” People today, a lot of Christians among them don’t deal in facts, reason, theology, and truth.
But the life blood and breath of the Church is the words and deeds of God. God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Right here in 1 Timothy 2:4 (and elsewhere) God ties salvation to the truth. No truth. No salvation. If you don’t speak the truth, if the church doesn’t speak the truth, then there is no life and salvation.
The church is withering away because Christians stopped talking like Christians decades ago. Christians don’t actually speak the words of God to their family and neighbors any more. They tend to talk about how they feel comforted by their religious beliefs or the church they attend. That is not a proclamation of the Gospel. And in those rare cases when a Christian doest say something drawn from the Bible, they do so with a false sense of humility.
Dr. Robert Preus told the graduating class of 1991 that a good pastor is humble in regard to his own personage, but he is never to be humble in regard to Christ’s doctrine and God’s truth. A good pastor is to be bold, confident, and unapologetic about the words and judgments that God has given him to speak.
Christians treat God’s words as something less than God’s words. They do so for three reasons. First they follow their own feelings and desire. They simply set the words of God aside.
Second, Christians haven’t taken Christian education seriously enough to become knowledgeable in God’s word and theology. We all, pastors included fall under the judgment of Hebrew 5:11-13, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.”
Third, we all want to be liked so we are afraid to speak God’s words to others. John 12:42-43 tells us that there were some Pharisees who believed in Christ, but were not confessing Christ because they were afraid. The were afraid to tell others what they knew to be true about Jesus. St. John tells us that they “loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.”
The Gospel lesson assigned for this morning consists of two parts/two promises. The first part is the promise goes to the heart of knowing and believing in the truth. Jesus said to His disciples that “the Spirit of truth, has come, [and] He will guide [them] you into all truth…”
The context of the statement was the Upper Room on Maundy Thursday. Jesus was addressing His seminary students and was telling them that the Holy Spirit had already come and that the Spirit’s purpose was to guide them into all truth. And so He did.
They in turn, under the influence and direction of the Holy Spirit were given to preach, and teach, and write God’s words/God’s truth in what we now know as the New Testament. If you want to be guided into and come to know the truth, you need to learn how to read and study the Scriptures. You need to learn to think theologically.
After three years of seminary the disciples were still struggling to understand theology 101. They didn’t understand the events that were about to take place. They weren’t ready for everything Jesus and the Spirit had to teach them. Jesus’s crucifixion and the suffering that they would endure over the balance of their lives for the sake of the Gospel, didn’t fit into their view of the promised Messiah. But in the Gospel lesson, Jesus assured them they wouldn’t be left alone. “the Spirit of truth will guide [them] into all truth.”
Notice Jesus did not promise that the Holy Spirit would bring them a new doctrine. He did not tell them that the Holy Spirit would bring them success and wealth. He did not tell them that the Holy Spirit would approve or bless them in the pursuit of they desires and feelings.
Jesus tells them that the Holy Spirit will guide them into the truth that Jesus had already taught them. That’s verse 13-15. The Holy Spirit “will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.” It is all about Jesus.
All three Persons of the Holy Trinity are of One mind. The Holy Spirit does not speak anything to anyone, be he layman or Apostle by His own authority. He “speaks” what Christ had already taught the disciples. He speaks through their preaching, teaching, and writing.
When Jesus told the disciples in the Upper Room that the Holy Spirit was guiding them into all truth, He was not saying that they were going to be having come kind of inner or out of body spiritual enlightenment apart from and above what He Jesus had already said, done, and taught. He was telling them what Hebrews 1:1-2 says. “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.”
Listen to Ephesians 2:19-21. “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone….”
Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will take what is His and declare it to you. Luther wrote of this: “In this way Christ sets bounds for the message of the Holy Spirit Himself. He is not to preach anything new or anything else than Christ and His Word. Thus, we have a sure guide and touchstone for judging the false spirits.”
The Holy Spirit came to the aid of these witnesses. He kept their memories sharp. He helped them understand what they had witnessed and came to under the scrolls of the Old Testament. Jesus and the Holy Spirit opened their minds so that they understood that all of the Old Testament was about Christ. The Holy Spirit gave them courage when they needed an extra measure of it. They had the truth and they knew it. They were able to place the witness of their testimony into a written form that will be with us forever. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35)
You now, as Christians and members of Christ’s body have the same truth. It was given to you in the waters of your Baptism. It is given to you in the speaking of God’s Word in the liturgy, biblical hymnody, readings, sermons, and in class.
All of this God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit has done and given to you so that you would live in and benefit from the Gospel truth. For your sins are forgiven and that’s not just an opinion.
May the peace that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen