Faithlife Sermons

Peace, Be Still

Notes & Transcripts

Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations 4950 If Holy Spirit Pulls Off …

“If God called his Holy Spirit out of the world, about 95 percent of what we are doing would go on and we would brag about it.”

This blunt statement about church programs by Dr. Carl Bates of Amarillo, Texas, was coupled with an equally blunt question to ministers at the annual Baptist Statewide Conference on Evangelism in Columbia, S. C.: “What are you doing that you can’t get done unless the power of God falls on your ministry?”

1. Lord God, bless Your Word wherever it is proclaimed. Make it a Word of power and peace to convert those not yet Your own and to confirm those who have come to saving faith. May Your Word pass from the ear to the heart, from the heart to the lip, and from the lip to the life that, as You have promised, Your Word may achieve the purpose for which You send it, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen
John 20:19–23 ESV
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
There are two other times in the Gospel records where “releasing (ἀφίημι) and retaining (κρατέω)” are discussed by the Lord:
Matthew 16:19 UBS4 w/Swanson
δώσω σοι τὰς κλεῖδας τῆς βασιλείας τῶν οὐρανῶν, καὶ ὃ ἐὰν δήσῃς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἔσται δεδεμένον ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, καὶ ὃ ἐὰν λύσῃς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἔσται λελυμένον ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς.
Matthew 18:18 UBS4 w/Swanson
Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν· ὅσα ἐὰν δήσητε ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἔσται δεδεμένα ἐν οὐρανῷ, καὶ ὅσα ἐὰν λύσητε ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἔσται λελυμένα ἐν οὐρανῷ.
In the first example, Jesus is speaking to one person - Simon Peter - after he confessed Jesus to be the Christ. In the second, Jesus speaks to a group - the disciples - during a time of teaching occasioned by them asking Him the question, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?’’ In both cases, Jesus uses the words “δέω,” meaning “to bind” and “λύω,” meaning “to loose.” In both cases, Jesus speaks with reference to the forgiveness of sins, and in the first case, He speaks of “the keys to the kingdom of heaven.”

Keys, Power of. This is described in Matt. 16:19; John 20:23. (Comp. 2 Cor. 10:8; 13:10.) It is the authority given the Church to absolve (see CONFESSION AND ABSOLUTION), and to excommunicate. It is a purely spiritual authority, exercised exclusively by the application of the Word of God. The agents are the ministers of the Word acting as the organs or instruments and representatives of the Christian congregation. (See Appendix to Schmalkald Articles, I. 24; II. 67, 68.) Neither the ministry nor the Church has any arbitrary or judicial power, whereby the degree of guilt may be determined and the absolution or excommunication be proportioned accordingly. Only they are absolved whom God absolves; only they are excommunicated whom God excommunicates. The Word declaring forgiveness communicates what it declares, when its conditions are observed, and only then. The excommunication excludes, from the outward fellowship, those who have already broken the inner fellowship of the Church.

The power to forgive and retain, being a gift to the entire church as opposed to the leaders only, is contained within the Lord’s Prayer in the words “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” All believers are to pray in this way, and all believers are to forgive. We are all, each and every one of us, children of God, joint-heirs with Christ. It is for this reason that the Church sees the exercise of the Keys by the pastor as representative of the Church’s authority, rather than the exercise of apostolic authority. I do not speak to you as your master, but as your servant - a called servant of the Word - when I announce to you that your sins are forgiven.
The power to forgive and retain, being a gift to the entire church as opposed to the leaders only, is contained within the Lord’s Prayer in the words “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” All believers are to pray in this way, and all believers are to forgive. We are all, each and every one of us, children of God, joint-heirs with Christ. It is for this reason that the Church sees the exercise of the Keys by the pastor as representative of the Church’s authority, rather than the exercise of apostolic authority. I do not speak to you as your master, but as your servant - a called servant of the Word - when I announce to you that your sins are forgiven.
As I am to you in the sanctuary, so you are to be to the world in the world. If I, as your pastor, represent you as I minister before the Lord in prayer and supplication, and represent Him as I minister before you in proclamation, so do you represent the world as you minister before the Lord in prayer and supplication and represent the Lord as you are His witnesses “unto the uttermost parts of the world.”
In his first epistle, John writes of this relationship between the apostolic office and the Church community:
1 John 1:3 ESV
that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
Jesus declared that there is a connection between “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” and “you will be My witnesses…to the end of the earth” (). The preaching of the Gospel conveys with it, “the forgiveness of sins.” The call to “repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand,” contains with it the promise that “if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Christ came to call, not the righteous, but sinners (; ).
Air and water share many properties. Both are clearly present, yet we cannot show the source or destination of either, both move as currents which show their power by the force they exert upon those things that they touch. Most importantly, both are images of the Holy Spirit, for Jesus’ words to Nicodemus, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God,” spoke of the essential presence of the Holy Spirit for our access into the Kingdom, and that access coming to us in the sacrament of Holy Baptism.
Truly the devil has brought great weakness to the church by deceiving those who declare that baptism has no power, but is simply a ritual that we go through. It is this falsehood that leads many to doubt their salvation and feel the constant need of signs and wonders to confirm their faith and access to the Father.
People are crushed by guilt, sometimes concerning concrete acts of omission or commission, sometimes concerning vague feelings of condemnation. In either case, we have been given authority to proclaim to our brothers and sisters in Adam that even though they are sinners, Christ died for them, as He died for us.
Christ has breathed on you, children of God. He breathed upon you in the waters of baptism; He breathes upon you as the Gospel is declared to you, and the Holy Spirit works with the Word to strengthen and confirm your faith. God has declared it; and has empowered us to share - to echo - what He declares:
Christ has breathed on you, children of God. He breathed upon you in the waters of baptism; He breathes upon you as the Gospel is declared to you, and the Holy Spirit works with the Word to strengthen and confirm your faith. God has declared it; and has empowered us to share - to echo - what He declares:
Isaiah 45:22 ESV
“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.
Only the Spirit and the Bride can say “come.” Only the Church has been commissioned to proclaim the forgiveness of sins. Not the government, neither the world, the flesh, nor the devil. They are all of the old creation, but the Church is of the New Creation:
2 Corinthians 5:17–19 ESV
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
I recently asked, How do we want this community to perceive us, the Lutheran community of Gary, IN? I do not yet know that answer, but I do know how God wants this community to perceive us, as true ambassadors for Christ, not just as a title on a marque, but as agents of reconciliation, as a bride represents her husband and her family, as children represent their parents, as a steward represents his Lord.
God is love, John wrote, and we who know love are to walk in love, which includes walking in forgiveness.
1 Peter 4:8 ESV
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
Jesus didn’t promise us that it would be easy, in fact, He promised the opposite - tribulation. But He also told us that it was OK that we go through tribulation, that we should be of good cheer “for I have overcome the world” (). In Christ, we already have the victory over sin, over the world, the flesh, and the devil. We are not running a popularity contest, we are engaged in the rescue of drowning people from a storm-tossed sea
The winds and the waves shall obey my will, peace be still Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea Or demons or men or whatever it be No water can swallow the ship where lies The Master of ocean and earth and skies They shall sweetly obey my will Peace be still, peace be still They all shall sweetly obey my will, peace, peace be still
Or demons or men or whatever it be No water can swallow the ship where lies
And let the peace of God, that passes all understanding, guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus our Lord, Amen
The Master of ocean and earth and skies They shall sweetly obey my will Peace be still, peace be still They all shall sweetly obey my will, peace, peace be still
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