Sermon for Cantate based on John 16:5-15
Dear possession of God: grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
Jesus told His apostles that it is to their advantage that He goes away because He would send them the Holy Spirit who would guide them in all the truth. This explains to us how the timid and fearful men who fled at the arrest of Jesus were later preaching publicly, even amidst opposition and threats, that He is risen from the dead. It explains to us how these men who struggled to understand much of what Jesus taught them while He was with them were able, by the inspiration of the promised Holy Spirit, to write the inerrant words of holy Scripture. The Holy Spirit guided them in all truth. They did not write man’s word, but God’s Word as directed by Him.
It is worth pointing out also that Jesus did not say that the Holy Spirit would guide them in some of the truth, but that the Holy Spirit would guide them in all of the truth. Everything we have in the Bible is the truth. Not just a version of the truth, as if there are other versions of the truth, but the Bible is all of the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
The Bible is thus reliable for us as we learn the truth. All our doctrine therefore must be from the Bible since that is how the Holy Spirit now guides us in all the truth.
Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit comes, He will convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment.
What is sin? The world says sin is being judgmental, intolerant, or unaccepting. The world accepts and praises every depravity and perversion, and thinks Christians sin if we stand up for the truth of God’s Word or say that their depravities and perversions are sin. The world will accept every idea, lifestyle, and religion, so long as it is not from the Bible, the only source of truth.
The world also has its own ideas about righteousness and judgment. They justify their every selfish behaviour as if they are righteous. They don’t believe judgment in hell exists. Everyone just goes to heaven. Except maybe people like Hitler, but certainly, they do not believe hell is something the average person needs to worry about, even though Jesus says, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matt. 7:13-14)
Those who find the gate to eternal life are few because they prefer to follow the world’s definitions of sin, righteousness, and judgment, not God’s definitions as He gives us in His Word.
God defines sin as that which breaks His holy commands. God’s Law does not tolerate sin, but judges sin. God’s Law commands you to love Him with all your heart, soul, and mind, and your neighbour as yourself. Because you are sinful, it is not possible for you to fulfil these commands. You do not live for God because you want to live for yourself. You do not live for your neighbour because you want to live for yourself. God’s Law condemns the entire human race. We are all guilty of sin, which means we are sinful not righteous.
Yet, we must understand that even though our unrighteousness is found in our failure to love God and our neighbour, our righteousness is not to be found in fulfilling the command to love God and our neighbour. Righteousness is not to be found in doing good works. Righteousness is not to be found in giving generously to charities or helping your neighbour. Our righteousness is found only in Christ. He is our righteousness. His blood covers our sins. We must be covered by Christ’s righteousness if we are to appear righteous before the judgment seat of God.
Note carefully who Jesus says is judged. He says that when the Helper comes, He will convict the world concerning judgment “because the ruler of this world is judged.” The ruler of this world is Satan, and he has been judged guilty and condemned of being a liar and perverter of the truth. Those who follow his lies are thus condemned along with him, that is why Jesus says that the world is convicted of sin because the ruler of this world is judged. They are convicted because they reject the truth of God’s Word and follow their own hearts, which are of one mind with the devil.
Those who follow the truth of God’s Word, even though we are convicted by the Law as sinful, are convicted that we are not righteous, and are convicted that we deserve judgment, nevertheless do not despair because we trust in Christ. Christ has taken our sin. He is our righteousness. He was judged in our place.
Thus, we do not seek righteousness in what we do. We do not think that we are right in God’s eyes because we help our neighbour, give offerings at church, or visit the sick. We are right in God’s eyes because Jesus’ righteousness covers us. Because Jesus’ righteousness covers us and we were purchased by His blood, we belong to Him. It is not some kind of part-time ownership or timeshare. First Corinthians says, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.” (6:19)
You belong to God. All of you – your heart, mind, body, and soul; your time, your money, your possessions. So, when you consider how you should use any given hour of the day, remember that the hour belongs to God. When you consider how you should use any given dollar, remember that the dollar belongs to God. When you consider how you should use any possession, remember that the possession belongs to God.
Also remember that your use of God’s time, money, or possessions will not give you any merit or worthiness in His sight. The only merit and worthiness you have is Christ’s. Everything that you think, say, and do is covered by Christ’s righteousness and thus forgiven. Yes, I dare say that even if you squander all of God’s time, all of God’s money, and all of God’s possessions that He has entrusted to you, for the sake of Christ, God will not condemn you.
That is the freedom of the Gospel. The free forgiveness of sins frees you from doing what you are commanded to do. You are then free to use God’s time, money, and possessions in a God-pleasing way – not because you must in order to be saved, but because you want to. You have been freed from the slavery of sin and from the condemnation of the Law, and have been promised eternal life in the new heavens and the new earth.
Eternal life is, in the end, all that matters. Time, money, and possessions will all be burned and they have no future. You have been freed from the slavery to these elementary principles and have been granted freedom in Christ who gave His life for you on the cross to pay the price of your sins and rose from the dead to secure your resurrection to life everlasting.
Cling therefore to the eternal truth of the Word of God. Cling to God’s definition of sin, righteousness, and judgment, because your sin is forgiven, you are declared righteous on account of Christ, and the ruler of this world has been judged and cast out, and you have the promise of eternal life. Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.