Oh, the Riches, Wisdom and Knowledge of our Triune God!


The Church eternal proclaims the trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The trinity is clearly taught in the bible, and yet, it is a mystery to us. We know God; he tells us who he is—3 in 1—yet we can’t begin to explain it fully. This keeps a Christian’s faith child like as we understand that God is greater than us. Yet, he comes to us and reveals in Scripture that we are able to call on his name rightly! 

Romans 11:33-36

33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and[a] knowledge of God!
    How unsearchable his judgments,
    and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
    Or who has been his counselor?”[b]
35 “Who has ever given to God,
    that God should repay them?”[c]
36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.
    To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Full Service – June 7, 2020 (Trinity Sunday)


The Church eternal proclaims the trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The trinity is clearly taught in the bible, and yet, it is a mystery to us. We know God; he tells us who he is—3 in 1—yet we can’t begin to explain it fully. This keeps a Christian’s faith child like as we understand that God is greater than us. Yet, he comes to us and reveals in Scripture that we are able to call on his name rightly! 

Romans 11:33-36 (NIV)

33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!

        How unsearchable his judgments,

        and his paths beyond tracing out!

34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?

        Or who has been his counselor?”

The Blessing of Our Triune God


Trinity Sunday
Numbers 6:22-27

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God our Father, and the fellowship of God the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. In the name of Jesus our Savior, dear fellow redeemed by the blood of Jesus, do you know what a “cliché” is? I’m going to guess that everyone here except maybe the children have heard the word “cliché” but do you know what it means? Cliché is actually a French word that described the sound that a printing plate cast of moveable type made in printing. The plate itself was called a “stereotype” because back in the printing press days instead of rearranging the moveable letters on a plate all the time, certain phrases that were used repeatedly were cast into a single metal plate. But the word cliché describes an expression or idea or phrase that was originally creative or artistic but has been so overused that it has lost its original meaning or effect, even to the point of becoming rather trite or even irritating. A “cliché.” “Time flies, avoid it like the plague, at the end of the day, like a kid in a candy store.”

Has our text for this morning become like a “cliché” to you? The words of our text that we use at the end of almost every worship service go back thousands of years. In fact, around 3,500 years. We can’t even imagine how long a time that is. The OT people in the synagogue services used these words, the NT churches used this, and if you’re older you’ve probably heard these words thousands of times. But because they are so familiar to us perhaps we sometimes forget what they really mean or we don’t appreciate them as we should.

The first thing that we notice about these Words is the name Lord. You will also notice that it is in all capital letters. When you see that name – as we saw last week – it’s a special name for God, pronounce “Yahweh” in the Hebrew. And whenever it occurs God wants us to think about what it means. In fact, God gave a sermon on his name when he told Moses, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious  God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin” (Exodus 34:6). He is the LORD, the God of free and faithful grace. And we notice that His name is repeated 3 times. That isn’t a coincidence. One name, repeated three times. This is the blessing of our Holy Triune God. 3 persons, one God. And each phrase highlights the main work of each person of our Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each of whom is the LORD.

The LORD bless you and keep you.” Here is the work of the first person of our Triune God, God the Father. What is it talking about? What does it mean to be “blessed”? What are “blessings”? We talk about that quite a bit, don’t we? “I’m so blessed. I have so many blessings. Count your blessings.” What do you mean when you say that? Blessings are everything that God has given us and done for us. God our Father not only has given us life, but has given us everything that we need for life. God our Father has given me body and soul, eyes, ears, all my parts, my mind, all my abilities, clothing and shoes, food and drink, property and home, everything that I own. Everything that you have, everything that you are is a blessing, a gift from God.

As Americans we can be very individualistic and begin to think that we are who we have made ourselves to be. But the reality is we had very little to do with very little of who we are today. Think about all the things out of your control: you didn’t pick the family you were born into, you didn’t pick the place where you were born, the country you were born in, the time you were born, the physical health you were given, the innate abilities and talents that you have, and a whole bunch of other things. Each of us could have easily been born into a different family, with a different circumstance, in a different country at a different time. Everything that you have and are is a gift, a blessing from God your Father. “The LORD bless you.

But God the Father doesn’t stop there. “The LORD bless you and KEEP you.” What does that mean? The word means “watch over, protect, preserve, take care of.” God our Father is constantly and zealously working day and night preventing problems and dangers from overwhelming us, He’s constantly keeping Satan and his temptations away from us. And even when God our Father allows trials and difficulties He gives us the strength to endure them and promises the outcome of being able to sustain them. And most of all God our Father promises to KEEP us faithful to the Gospel until that day when He finally delivers us from this world of sin and problems to perfection in heaven. “The LORD bless you and keep you.

The LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.” Here is the work of the 2nd person of the Trinity, God the Son. This is astounding. This is not what we deserve. We were born into this world in rebellion against God. Our sins are a filth, stench, they wreak to God. If God should give us what we deserve, his face would never, ever shine upon us, it would never beam on us, he would turn his face away from us in anger, hide his face from us, reject us. But instead of anger and wrath God’s face shines on us. Why? Because He is gracious to us. He covers all our sins with the precious blood of Jesus. He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities, rather, as far as the east is from the west so far has he removed our sins from us. As you go about life, your Savior Jesus goes with you, showers you with His forgiveness all the time, promises his gracious presence so that no matter what you face, with him- his love and grace- you have everything you need. Because of Jesus God’s face shines on you. I’ve visited quite a few new moms in the hospital – some of you more than once – and every time, every time the new mom is beaming, her face radiating and shining. Because of the work of God the Son, that’s how God looks at you and me. “The LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.”

The LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”  Here is the work of the 3rd person of the Triune God, God the Holy Spirit. He looks at you and gives you peace. It is God the Holy Spirit who gives us real, lasting peace. How so? By giving us faith. It is the work of the Holy Spirit who takes rebels and enemies of God, like you and me, and brings us to faith in Jesus as our Savior and makes us God’s own children. He takes us people blind in the darkness of sin and leads us to see Jesus the Light of the world. He takes people who are dead in their transgressions and sins and brings us to new life. It is the Holy Spirit who gives us the peace that transcends all understanding. The Holy Spirit comforts us and convinces us that through Jesus we have the forgiveness of sins, we have life eternal. So no matter what happens, whether we live or die, we know we are the Lord’s. “The LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

How can God bless us and keep us, make his face shine on us and be gracious, lift his face on us and give us peace? As sinners we deserve the worst possible from God, we deserve his abandonment, we deserve his anger, we don’t deserve his protection, blessing or peace. We deserve just the opposite. How is it that God then can bless us like this? It’s because someone else lost all of this so we wouldn’t have to. Why can we trust God’s protection for us? Because Jesus lost God’s protection. He was delivered into the hands of sinners. Why can we trust God to be gracious to us when we deserve His judgment? Because God wasn’t gracious to Jesus, God gave to Jesus the punishment that we deserved. Why does God give us peace? Because Jesus lost His peace for us. Jesus cried out on the cross in absolute agony, and agony none of us could fathom, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” He lost His peace so we could have God’s peace forever. He was cursed so we may be blessed, blessed forever.

Because of Jesus you have a God who blesses you and keeps you, who makes His face shine upon you and be gracious to you, who looks on you and gives you peace. How’s that going to affect your week? Two people board an airplane. One sits down puts his seat back, reads a little bit, calmly puts his seat back and falls asleep. The other person sits next to him, shaking, nervous, anxious, scared, grips the arm rests, sweating bullets the whole flight. There’s turbulence, maybe a rougher landing. But both arrive at their destination safely. What’s the difference? When you ride in an airplane you have no control, if the plane goes down, you’re going with it. You can either relax and trust the plane and the pilot or be full of fear and fright and anxiousness. Well, that’s kind of how it is with life, isn’t it? God’s flying the plane. As a believer in Jesus you’re riding on that plane. The difference is how are you going to ride? Are you going to be full of fear and fright, nervous and anxious? Or are you going to relax, be still and trust in God?

You’re going to hear this blessing of the Triune God once again at the end of the service. Don’t let it be a cliché. Take it to heart. Your Triune God goes with you with His blessing, His protection, His grace, His forgiveness and His peace this week and always. Believe it, treasure it, relax in it. Amen.

Whose Child are You?

Holy Trinity Sunday
Romans 8:14-17

The grace of God the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of God the Holy Spirit be with you all! Amen. In the name of our Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit dear friends in Christ: Does this happen in your home? Or did this happen at some time in your home? One of our children will do something odd or strange or wrong and either my wife will say it to me or I’ll say it to my wife, “Do you know what YOUR child did today?” “I can’t believe what YOUR child just did.” “You better talk to YOUR child.” Have you ever spoken those words or heard those words? It’s almost as if there are times when we try to separate ourselves from our children, because, after all, MY child would never do such a thing! I can kind of see it in other aspects too. At times my children can be incredibly stubborn and I jokingly tell my wife, “That must come from the Myers side of the family, definitely not the Nitz side. J Does that ever happen in your home?

Now, I’m a sinful human parent and I can even recognize the bad and wrong things that my children do and it can be at times embarrassing- that’s MY child!?! Maybe there can even be times when I’d like to pretend that the child isn’t even mine, maybe when you’re in public somewhere and your child begins to cry and throw fit right in front of people, are there times when you want to at least pretend that this child isn’t mine? And we’re sinful humans. What would it be like to be a perfect parent with sinful children? How easy would it be to admit that these sinful children are yours? God is totally perfect and totally holy and yet, what is amazing, is the incredible way that God pictures our relationship to Him in these verses.

Let’s first consider for a bit who God is. Who is your God? God is eternal. He views everything in a never changing present. God is all present. God penetrates everything everywhere. God is at the same time right here and yet at the same time God is across the globe in China, if you go to the moon, God is also there. God is also all-knowing. God knows all things completely and perfectly, God not only knows everything that has happened or will happen but he knows everything that could happen. God is also all-powerful. He has unlimited power and can do whatever he pleases. He has unbounded strength and can do more than we could imagine. God sustains all things. The fact that our earth remains in orbit and doesn’t jettison into oblivion is because God is keeping it in orbit around the sun.

In fact, God is so big, so grand, so magnificent, so far beyond our comprehension that we’ve actually had to make up words to describe Him. We call God the Triune God or the Trinity. The fact that God is triune means that He is one God and yet three persons in that one God. The Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God, yet they aren’t three Gods, they are one God. The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not the Father. He is Triune. Literally, the three-one. How? It goes beyond our minds, beyond our comprehension, beyond our imagination. In other words, God is WAY bigger than you and I.

So, if God is so huge and awesome and incredible, it would make sense that we would always honor God, always listen to Him, always be ready to bow in amazement before Him, if God is all-powerful and powerfully sustains all things it would make sense that we would always trust His control and rule over this earth, if God is all-knowing and all wise, it would make sense that we would always trust His wisdom and His plans for our lives, right?

But is that what happens? Does God get every part of our trust? Unfortunately, we often fail to stand in amazement of Him, fail fully trust Him, fail to love Him. And that means that on our end, the very thought of who God is ought to frighten and terrify us.  It ought to make us cower in fear of Him. What right do you and I have to stand before such an awesome God when we’ve failed to honor and love Him? And this also means that from God’s end, He ought to disown us. What is possibly the worst thing or at least one of the worst things that a parent could do to their child? Isn’t it to disown their child? To say, “You’re not my child, I don’t want you, I disassociate myself from you.” But shouldn’t God say that about each of us? Shouldn’t He say to us in anger, “You’re not MY child, I don’t know you, you’re not associated with me, I disown you.” God is holy and perfect, and us? We’re full of sin! We have no right to be God’s children.

But notice what God says to you in this text. He doesn’t come to us with anger like we deserve. He doesn’t cause us to be afraid of Him. He doesn’t disown us. He does just the opposite! “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but your received the Spirit of sonship!” It’s as if God is saying to each of us, “I don’t want you to be afraid of me, I don’t want you to cower in fear before me as you deserve. I want to deal with you like a father and a child.” And it goes even further, “And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” “Ab” is the Aramaic word for Father, “Abba” was an extension of that term, it was something that even little children would say to their father, “Abba, Abba.” In other words, we can come before God like He’s our dear Father and call Him, “Dad, father, daddy.”

Think about that, before this almighty, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present, all-encompassing God, who’s magnificence is totally beyond our comprehension, who’s transcendence is beyond our imagination, we can come before Him and call Him not, “Oh Powerful One, O Incredible One, O Almighty One,” but rather, “Oh Father, Oh Dad.” Is that not incredible love and grace?!

But why? Why are we part of God’s family? Why can we approach God as our dear Father? We can approach God the Father because of the 2nd person of our Triune God, God the Son. Jesus who is God for all eternity, in time took on our human flesh, became our brother fully and completely. He came to live as our perfect brother keeping all of God’s commands 100% of the time. And how should he feel about us? His wayward brothers and sisters? Shouldn’t He disown us, have nothing to do with us? Not only did He NOT disown us, but actually came to live as our substitute and die as our substitute. He came to shed His blood on a cross to save our souls. All so that now, God can look at you and me and say, “You’re mine! You’re my son! You’re my daughter! You’re part of MY family!” What grace!

And not only that, but notice what else God calls us, not only are we God’s children, but, “Heirs- heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.” Co-heirs with Christ!?! Think about God as our Dad and He’s passing out the inheritance. Here’s your inheritance, here’s your inheritance, here’s your inheritance, Jesus, here’s your inheritance, etc. Can you imagine? He puts us on the same level as His Son Christ Jesus Himself and says that we get what God the Son gets: THE inheritance, glory in eternal life forever! That’s amazing!

And there’s NO WAY we would ever believe any of this if it wasn’t for the 3rd person of the Triune God: the Holy Spirit. We’re told that the “Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” God the Holy Spirit used the Gospel to create faith in your heart, to convince you that Jesus’ payment for sins applies to you, that your sins are forgiven, if it wasn’t for the Holy Spirit, you’d never believe any of it. Thank the LORD for the work of the Triune God!

And does this mean that everything is going to go great for us? We are children of the God of all, right? Well, how did life on this earth God for God the Son? Yep, He suffered, was crucified, and died. But how did God use it? How did it turn out in the end? He rose, He ascended and now He sits in glory ruling all things for the good of God’s people. That’s God’s promise to you: He will use even our sufferings to keep us focused on Him, His grace, His love, His mercy, all in order to lead us to THE inheritance in eternal life with Him forever.

It is our distinct privilege in life to live as God’s beloved children. To live in this world in such a way that people see us as being different, unique, so loved by our Triune God that we display that peace, that joy, that love in our day to day lives. Parents have a profound influence on their children either positively or negatively. Parents who not only love their children but also show that they love their children by their actions have a huge impact on their children. The opposite is also true in a hugely profound way. Children whose parents love them and show it generally have way more joy, peace, security, contentment, they know who they are, confidence, etc. While the opposite is also true.

So, when people see you, do they know whose child you are? Can they tell that you are a child of God? Can they see in your life and in your actions that God is your Father who loves you more than you will ever know and that He doesn’t only tell you He loves you, His love for you led Him to sacrifice His own Son to win you the forgiveness of sins and eternal life and He sent His Spirit into your heart to convince of His love for you and assure you that you ARE His child? Do people see that?

Look at the reality! God isn’t lying when He tells you that YOU are His child, you not only inherit heaven, you are a co-heir with Christ, what more do you need? What more reason do you need to live life free from fear, anxiety, worry, anxiousness, and insecurity? What more do you need to live life with joy, peace, contentment and security? You are the Triune God’s child, that’s whose child you are. Amen.

What a Relationship!

Trinity Sunday
Matthew 28:16-20

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all!  Amen.  In the name of our Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, friends in Christ,

We have all sorts of relationships in life, don’t we?  Some relationships are important others perhaps not so much.  Some relationships are close, some are not.  Some relationships are significant, others not so significant.  We have all sorts of relationships in life: today especially we focus on the relationship of fathers with their children, but we have all kinds of other relationships: with our spouse or with our children or with our family or with our siblings or with our friends or with our coworkers or with our fellow church members or with the person we strike up a conversation with at the store.  And two of the over-arching needs that every human being has in life are having not only good relationships with other people, but having a good relationship with God.  In order to have a good life every person needs those relationships.

So, here we are on Trinity Sunday and we’re focusing on that relationship that we have with our Triune God.  So since the most important need humans have in order to have a good life is a good relationship with God, how many of us considered the enormity of the fact that God is Triune this past week?  How many of us used that word “Triune” or “Trinity” in our discussions this past week?  I’m guessing that “triune” or “trinity” don’t make it into our regular vocabulary.  So it’s with great wisdom that the church for centuries has set aside one Sunday a year to focus on our Triune God and our relationship with Him.

We see it here in our text.  Here Jesus is getting ready to physically and visibly leave His disciples presence and He directs them on what they were to be doing.  Specifically one of the things they were to be doing was making disciples of all nations by baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  And that makes perfect sense.  Since the Father is God, it makes sense that they were to baptize in the name of God the Father.  And they were to baptize people in the name of the Son.  And that makes sense because Jesus, the Son, is God.  And they were to baptize people in the name of the Holy Spirit.  And that makes sense because the Holy Spirit is God.

So the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God.  Three very distinct persons, each of whom are clearly referenced in the Bible as being “God.”  Yet, the Bible is also very clear that there aren’t three Gods.  The Bible is crystal clear that there is only one God, in Deuteronomy God says, “Hear O Israel the Lord is one” and in 1 Timothy “There is one God…”  So the Bible is crystal clear that there is only one God.

And so, we’re faced with two crystal clear truths of God’s Word 1. There is only one God, 2. There are three distinct persons each of whom is God.  And what happens?  Basically, we throw up our hands and with some degree of confusion and say, “God, you are way too big for me to understand” “God, you are way to huge for a simple mind like mine to grasp.”  And so we coin terms like “Triune” and “Trinity” in order to describe God’s person.  But the terms are really non-sense terms.  Triune is a combination of the prefix Tri (which means 3) and Une (which means 1).  So, literally, it means “the three one.”  And Trinity which is the combination of tri and unity means “the three-one-ness.”  Real helpful, right?  Actually by confessing that God is triune we are confessing that we sinful human beings cannot wrap our minds around the entire truth of God.

But there’s also something wonderfully comforting in confessing this truth.  It means that your God is huge, it means that your God is awesome, it means that your God can do absolutely anything!  God is so huge that we can’t even come near to understanding His essence.  Which is comforting!  God has the ability to help you and me.  He has the ability to make things work out no matter what.  He has the ability to make things work out in the best possible way for the most amount of people.  He has the ability to do whatever needs to be done in order to make sure that things will work out according to His plans.  God has that ability and we confess it when we confess that He is Triune.

So, think about it, if our God is really that huge, that awesome, that magnificent, do you and I really have anything to fear in life?  If our God is that huge, that awesome, that amazing then why in the world would any of us be anything but always completely confident in life?  If God is that huge then why in the world would we do anything except what He’s told us, like here in our text “obey everything I have commanded you”?  Remember, that’s our huge, almighty, amazing God speaking!  How could we even ever think about neglecting worshipping God, or studying His Word, or telling others about him?  How could we, as fathers, ever neglect our number one duty as fathers to bring our children up in the training and instruction of the Lord?

And notice what else God says here, “Surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.”  That means that awesome, huge, incredible, majestic God sees it all.  He’s seen everything that you and I would love to forget about.  He’s been there every time we’ve purposefully sinned against Him.  He knows every shameful thought, every careless word, every detestable act that we’ve ever made.

And that Triune God, that huge, awesome, incredible, mind-boggling God is also all-powerful.  And as such not only does He have every right to judge us He also has all the power in every universe to give us what we rightfully deserve to condemn us, to squish us, to destroy us forever.  Ouch.

And the same is true for these disciples in our text.  They’re no different than you and I.  This was written not just for them, but also for us.  Though it’s only the eleven disciples that are referenced here it’s quite possible that this is the time that is referenced in 1 Corinthians as the time when Jesus appeared to over 500 believers at once in Galilee.  And it says that “when they saw him, they worshipped him.”  But then it goes on, “but some doubted.”  Really?  Doubted?  How could they do that?  After all that they had seen?  After all the miracles that Jesus did?  They saw him go to the cross, die on the cross, and then appear before him alive!  They had the witness testimony of Mary Magdalene, the women, the Emmaus disciples, the other disciples, Peter, John.  How could they doubt??  We’d almost expect Jesus now to finally lose his patience with them, tell them He’s through with them, and find some other disciples.

But notice how Jesus, how the Triune God, deals with them.  Not harshly, but graciously.  First, He tells them “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him.”  All authority, power, and might has been and always will be our God’s.  Need there be anything to fear in life?  Then he commissions them for the work that he wants them to be doing, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”  In other words, He tells them, “We’ve got work to do –together, we’ve got a wonderful message of sins forgiven to share with the world.”  And he doesn’t even just let them go and figure it out themselves but he gives them the very tools to do this most important work – the word of God and the powerful washing of baptism.  Baptism where God takes people who are outside of him, people who are his enemies, and he brings them “into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”  Makes people his own dear children.

And he gives them a powerful promise: his permanent presence with them.  He knew their failures, their foibles, their mistakes, their doubt, but He doesn’t leave them.  He knew they would often disappoint him and fail him, but he would fail them.  He – the awesome, huge, amazing God – would go with them.  So how does God deal with his people?  With wonderful grace, mercy, and forgiveness.  He deals with us as his children, children who bear His name.

How do we know that?  We know that by our baptism.  When you were born you were born into a relationship with a father and a mother.  And if you had a good father, a father who loved you, cared for you both physically and spiritually, you were proud to call him father, proud to bear his name.  But whether or not you had a good father, you have an infinitely better Triune God.  At your baptism He wrote His name on you.  You were baptized into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Think about what you write your name on.  You don’t write your name on something that doesn’t mean much to you.  You don’t write your name on a orange peel that you throw in the garbage.  You don’t write your name on a piece of junk mail that gets thrown in the recycling.  You write your name on something that is important – maybe the title for your house, title for your car – you write your name on things that are yours, that you don’t want to lose, that are important to you, that are valuable and special to you.

In your baptism, the awesome, HUGE, powerful, triune God came to you and … He placed His name upon you.  What was/is God saying?  He’s saying, “You’re special … to ME!  You’re so special to Me that I do NOT want to lose you!  You’re so valuable to Me that I’m going to place My name upon you so that everyone knows that you belong to ME, that you’re MY child!”  Can you imagine?  The triune God – the God who’s essence is so beyond our understanding – that God, that three-in-one, perfect God – He’s placed His name upon you.  Which makes you what?  It makes you to be a child of the Almighty!  A child of the Triune!  A child of God!  The AWESOME God!  The All-Powerful God!  The Huge God!

And just how – do you think – will that awesome, all-powerful, HUGE, loving, forgiving God take care of those precious children of His?!?  Graciously, mercifully, faithfully lovingly!   What a relationship!  Amen.

Better than seeing Jesus?

Pentecost Sunday
John 16:5-11

Come Holy Spirit!  Fill the hearts of your faithful people and kindle in us the fire of your love.  Amen.  In the name of Jesus, who promised and fulfilled the promise to send the Holy Spirit, dear friends in Christ,

A classic and well-loved set of novels for children are the Laura Ingalls Wilder collection.  It’s based on the life events of Laura’s family as they lived and moved around in the Midwest during the 1800s.  Through the books you gain a certain appreciation and amazement for how they lived simply and through some very difficult times where you worked hard just to survive.  Well, at my house my wife has been reading through the Laura Ingalls books to our children during their reading time and I will sometimes be in and out and catch bits and pieces.  I remember hearing one sad event that took place when there were swarms of locusts that came and ate all their crops and laid eggs so that the following year they were even worse.  Well, in such conditions, Pa, the father, had to go to extreme measures to provide for his family.  So, one summer he had to walk some 200 miles away in order to find work and provide for his family.  Leaving a wife and young children behind was certainly not easy and must have been extremely difficult.  Andy you can imagine what’s going through the children’s minds as he’s leaving,  “Pa is leaving??!  And his leaving is for our good?!  How can this be?”

Well, Jesus said something similar to his disciples in our text.  First, we need to rewind ourselves a bit to understand the context of what Jesus says here.  It’s Maundy Thursday evening, the evening before Jesus’ death on the cross, the disciples don’t know or understand what’s all going to take place in the next 24 hours.  Jesus, however, knows.  Jesus knows that He is about to complete His work of winning salvation for the human race.  He knows that soon He will die, and then rise, and then ascend to the Father’s right hand in all power and glory and majesty.  So He told the disciples, “Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’”  Jesus has already told them that He’s leaving and He’s ready to give them comfort about His leaving to fill them with joy, peace, and confidence, He’s ready to answer their questions…but…instead of asking questions, they’re just immediately filled with grief and sorrow.   Remember that they had been with Jesus for the past 3 years, seen him do wonderful things, they had watched as he rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, but now, he’s leaving??

But then Jesus even goes further: “But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away.  Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you.”  It’s actually a good thing that Jesus was going away??  Yes, because Jesus’ going away would mean that He has completed the most important work of all time, He has done what is most important – it is completed and finished.  And once Jesus’ work of winning salvation for the human race is completed He will then send the Counselor.  So who is the “Counselor?”  The Greek word that is translated “Counselor” is actually a pretty interesting word.  It’s literally someone who is called to help, summoned to give assistance and from that it became used for someone who would be an advocate in court, who would testify and speak up for someone else in court – even pleading their case for them.  Here, this Counselor, Advocate, Helper is the Holy Spirit.

So, let’s review, who is the Holy Spirit?  The Holy Spirit is God.  He’s just as powerful as God the Father and God the Son, He’s everywhere (just like the Father and the Son), He knows all things (just like the Father and the Son.)  Sometimes the Holy Spirit is called “the quiet member of the Trinity,” because the Holy Spirit’s job is to point away from Himself, and to point us to Jesus.  In short, we generally credit God the Holy Spirit for working faith in our hearts.

And that’s why the Holy Spirit is so important for you and for me!  God says, “No one can say that Jesus is Lord, except by the HS.”  If you are sitting here today because you believe in Jesus, that’s proof positive that you’ve been given the gift of the Holy Spirit.

But unfortunately there’s a lot of different ideas in the world about what it means to have the Holy Spirit living inside of you.  Some say that when you get the Holy Spirit you can really feel it.  And maybe you think, “Hmm, I don’t think I’ve really felt anything special, do I really have the Holy Spirit?”  Or some people will say that if you have the Holy Spirit you’ll be able to do some crazy things like speak in tongues or something.  And maybe you think, “Hmm, I’ve never done that, do I really have the Holy Spirit?”

But here in our text Jesus focuses us on what the Holy Spirit actually does for people and for us.  And He focuses on three things the Holy Spirit does.  Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will “convict” the world.  What does that mean?  Well, there’s actually a bit better of a translation than the word “convict.”  When we hear the word convict we’re immediately drawn to a courtroom.  When a criminal is convicted of a crime it means that it has been proven from evidence that he or she did the crime.  And so convict, even in English, can mean something like “expose” or “prove” or “demonstrate by evidence” or “convince.”  And, really, here “convince” would probably fit better.  So what does the Holy Spirit convince the world?

First, He convinces the world of guilt in regard to sin.  In many ways the world in which we live is a very tolerant world.  The moral principles of our world haven’t evolved over a long period of time, the difference between right and wrong isn’t a moveable line depending on the majority opinion, you can’t determine moral principles by a majority vote.  God has established the difference between right and wrong- he’s written it in the hearts of all people and written it clearly in His Word.  I heard of a pastor who was preaching at a funeral that happened to be very large and there we many visitors at this funeral and he spoke a simply about death being the wages of sin and how all people are sinful and there were people in the service who were shaking their heads angrily “No.”

You see, part of the depravity of our sinful condition is that in spite of the clear and obvious reality of sin in the world, we sinful humans don’t want to admit it.  We don’t want to admit that those words that we speak are wrong and sinful.  We don’t want to admit that those thoughts that we think are wrong and sinful.  We don’t want to admit that those things that the world laughs at and even encourages are wrong and sinful and damning.  We want to think that God’s perfectly ok with our sinful behaviors, we want to think that God just smiles at us like an old Grandfather who won’t hold anyone accountable for their sinful actions.  We want to think that we’re generally good people, we want to think that the human race is improving, that we’re masters of our own destiny.

So what do we need?  We need the Holy Spirit to convict us, to convince us, to expose our sins.  And He does.  He convinces us that the words we speak are NOT ok, that our thoughts are NOT good, that our actions are NOT pleasing to God.  And when He does, it doesn’t create a nice ooey-gooey feeling inside of us, it produces guilt.  Just like what happened at Pentecost when Peter told the people: God made this Jesus, whom YOU crucified, both Lord and Christ.  When the people heard this they were cut to the heart.

And that leads to the 2nd thing the Holy Spirit does.  He convicts, convinces the world of righteousness.  God’s standard is 100% perfection, complete righteousness to get to heaven.  And what do we humans do?  We think we can do it ourselves!  We hear it all over the place in the world – “there’s nothing you can’t do,” “the sky is the limit,” “never say never,” “never say impossible.”  Certainly God wants us to use our talents and abilities to the best of our abilities, but there is something that’s impossible.  When it comes the spiritual and eternal stuff, if we were left on our own, we’d be doomed.  Because we can’t please God, we can’t do what God demands, we can’t be perfect.  And the Holy Spirit convicts us of that.

But it’s also vitally necessary, because when we see our weakness, see the utter impossibility of our own efforts to please God, it’s then that we’re ready to hear that in the Gospel a righteousness is revealed which is by faith from first to last!  In other words, when I throw up my hands in despair, I’m then ready to hear, “But God has saved you!”  When I realize that I CAN’T do it on my own, it’s then that I’m ready to hear, “Jesus has lived the perfect life which you need.  And, He’s proven that it worked, because – look! – He’s gone back to the Father, who has welcomed Him in!”  And so the very fact that we CAN’T see Jesus becomes wonderful encouragement for us, because it tells us that the righteousness which we need HE has won for US!

And that leads to the final thing the Holy Spirit convicts us of: judgment because the prince of this world has been condemned.  When Jesus died and rose the devil was defeated.  Jesus showed that when He descended into hell to proclaim His victory over the devil and parade through hell and the devil couldn’t touch him.  Our #1 enemy in life has been defeated.  And that gives us security and confidence.  When we consider the final judgment when Jesus will come we need not fear for Jesus died and rose for us and since He did we know God has forgiven us and has opened heaven for us and we are God’s own children.

So, do you believe all those things?  Do you believe that you are sinful and need a Savior?  Do you believe that you fail to meet God’s righteous demands of perfection?  Do you believe that Jesus has met all those demands and proven it by completing His work on earth and going to the Father?  Do you believe that Jesus has defeated the devil and the devil has been judged?  If so, then you have the fullness of the Holy Spirit!  The Holy Spirit has done in you exactly what God has promised!  You don’t need an ooey-gooey feeling or being able to do some crazy thing.

Some have described the Holy Spirit like God’s engagement ring to you.  You have been engaged to your God.  The Holy Spirit living in you is God’s seal that He WILL make good on His promise to return to take you to be with him forever at the marriage feast of the Lamb in heaven.  Yes, we don’t see Jesus physically, but He has given us something even better: the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the Counselor, the Advocate, who lives in us, strengthens us, empowers us, motivates us and assures us that one day when Jesus will return to take us home with Him forever.  That’s even better!  Amen.