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A Living Hope

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LSB p. 323 - The Small Catechism, “The Creed,” the Third Article: Sanctification
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, one holy Christian church, the community of the saints, forgiveness of sins, resurrection of the flesh, and eternal life. Amen.
What is this? (Answer:)
I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, or come to him; but the Holy Spirit hath called me through the gospel, enlightened me by his gifts, and sanctified and preserved me in the true faith; in like manner as he calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and preserves it in union with Jesus Christ in the true faith; in which Christian church he daily forgives abundantly all my sins, and the sins of all believers, and will raise up me and all the dead at the last day, and will grant everlasting life to me and to all who believe in Christ. This is most certainly true.
Blessed Lord, You have caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning. Grant that we may so hear them, read, mark, learn, and take them to heart that, by the patience and comfort of Your holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life. … through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
Blessed Lord, You have caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning. Grant that we may so hear them, read, mark, learn, and take them to heart that, by the patience and comfort of Your holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life. … through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
Robert Kolb, Timothy J. Wengert, and Charles P. Arand, The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2000), 355–356.
Blessed Lord, You have caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning. Grant that we may so hear them, read, mark, learn, and take them to heart that, by the patience and comfort of Your holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life. … through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
Acts 2:12 ESV
And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”
Today, we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost. According to the Lutheran Cyclopedia: As Easter is a memorial of the feast in which the firstfruits of the harvest were consecrated in the temple as well as the celebration of the resurrection of Christ, the firstfruits from the dead, and also of our redemption, of which the deliverance from Egypt was a type; so Whitsunday is both a memorial of the Hebrew feast of the completed harvest, celebrated in the actual beginning of the Church the fruit of redemption, and also answers to the giving of the Law on Sinai, which occurred on the fiftieth day after the Passover.
Edward T. Horn, “Church Year,” ed. Henry Eyster Jacobs and John A. W. Haas, The Lutheran Cyclopedia (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1899), 110.
Many look at this day but focus on the effect rather than the cause. Like the Jews who gathered together as they heard the sound of that first Christian Pentecost, there are those Christians who give more heed to the sign of the Spirit’s witness than to the actual witness itself. So enamored of the sound of the wind, they fail to take heed to the Word witnessed by the Spirit.
As a result, the Helper is presented as the Author and Finisher of our Faith, while Jesus Christ the Crucified becomes an afterthought, not to be often mentioned until the Advent season returns. It is no longer “on Christ the solid Rock I stand;” instead the words, “thank you Jesus” become a magic phrase that, repeated endlessly like the words of the prophets of Mt. Carmel in , seeks, not the presence, but the evidence of the Holy Spirit, in unknown words that profit neither speaker nor the hearer.
1 Corinthians 14:6–9 ESV
Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air.
Our Gospel text records the promise of Christ to the remaining Apostles. In (ESV), Jesus says to the remaining Apostles,
Our Gospel text records the promise of Christ to the 11. In (ESV), Jesus says to the remaining Apostles,
26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
Jesus further describes the work of the Spirit as being the one who convicts the world “concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” He sums up today’s pericope by telling us that the Holy Spirit will not glorify Himself; but instead, (ESV)
14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
Our Old Testament reading from shows prophetically how the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit operates in concert with the declaration of God’s Word of promise.
Ezekiel 37:9–10 ESV
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.
The rest of that reading explains the meaning of the vision, summed up in v. 14:
Ezekiel 37:14 ESV
And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.”
Ezekiel 37:14 ESV
And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.”
The “breath” in this passage translates, in the Tanach, the Hebrew word “ruach” and, in the LXX, the Greek word, “pneuma.” These two words are used to describe the Holy Spirit. Like those dry bones in the valley, our carnal nature can respond to God’s Law and arrange itself to be more orderly, but we are still dead in trespasses and sins until the Spirit blows upon us with the preaching of the Gospel. Only then are we able to, in the words of the Paul, in the equally military image of (ESV)
The words “breath” and “Spirit” in this passage translates, in the Tanach, the Hebrew word “ruach” and, in the LXX, the Greek word, “pneuma.” These two words are used to describe the Holy Spirit. Like those dry bones in the valley, our carnal nature can respond to God’s Law and arrange itself to be more orderly, under the 1st Use of the Law, but we are still dead in trespasses and sins under the 2nd Use of the Law, until the Spirit blows upon us with the preaching of the Gospel.
14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints....
The world thinks that God has no power today, and enthusiasts seek for signs and wonders from the hidden will of God, but we are called to “trust in the Lord and do good.”
The words of Ezekiel resonate with those of us who look upon our situation here in Gary and hear in our spirit, “son of man, can these bones live?” (v3). As the Lord commanded Ezekiel the prophet/priest in that prophetic hour, so the Lord now calls out to His royal priesthood today, “prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord” (v9).
As we fulfill the purpose of the Father, being led, shaped, equipped, and empowered by the Word and the Spirit, though the unbelieving world opposes us, we have God’s warrant to sustain us:
(ESV)
1 Peter 2:9 ESV
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
1 Peter 2:9 ESV
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
God empowers His people, but with great power, comes great responsibility:
Hebrews 2:3–4 ESV
how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
As Confessional Evangelical Christians, we confess the faith once for all delivered to the saints, and we proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to all those who have looked to, and been disappointed by, the promises of men. The Lord who told us, “with man, this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible” (), showed us by His resurrection from the dead on Easter morning, and by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. Each was a fulfillment of the Divine Promise, and God is faithful. He fulfills His promise today as He did then, using the people whom He has redeemed by the blood of His Beloved Son to proclaim His excellencies to those still trapped in this present darkness.
Will you hear God’s Word to you today?
Who has all power, Jesus or Satan?
Can God do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think, according to His power that is at work in us?
Can God use you, people of St. John’s, Our Savior, and Good Shepherd, along with your sister congregations in the region?
Did God bless you with your homes and families in this community?
Then today, we will fight the good fight of faith, and we will win, because the Lord is with us, the devil is defeated, and we are blessed.
Today we cast down fear and foolishness, we reject the devil’s claim that he is to big to fail, or that we need the programs of the world, or the resources of the world, or the approval of the world, to do the will of God.
Today we cast down fear and foolishness, we reject the devil’s claim that he is to big to fail, or that we need the programs of the world, or the resources of the world, or the approval of the world, to do the will of God.
Because the Lord is with us, the devil is defeated, and we are blessed!
Today we offer the peace of God to our neighbor, to those who have fallen away and need restoration, to our family and friends, and to our community.
Because the Lord is with us, the devil is defeated, and we are blessed!
So let the peace of God, that passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds today, through Christ Jesus our Lord, Amen.
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
6 Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? 7 If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? 8 And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? 9 So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air.
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