“The Spirit Wires You In” by Pastor Steve Sommerer
The Day of Pentecost May 31, 2020
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
40 days after His Easter resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven, telling His 11 disciples, “It’s better for you that I ascend to the right hand of the Father.” Pentecost was God’s answer to the question: How can it be better that Jesus leaves us? Pentecost shows Jesus ascended to be present always, and to pour out His Holy Spirit in amazing ways in the lives of His Church. Pentecost proves it’s better for Jesus to send His Holy Spirit as 3000 believers were baptized and added to God’s Church. Pentecost celebrates the gift of God the Holy Spirit without whom no one would care about Christmas or Easter. Pentecost is the day God the Holy Spirit is poured out to give us faith to love and trust in Him above all things. Without God the Holy Spirit pointing us to the Heavenly Father who loved us enough to send His Son to die and rise from the dead, it would all be for naught.
Now, if it’s true that Pentecost is so important then you should all be able to answer the question: What’s the Holy Spirit’s job? What’s the Holy Spirit do? One answer that ought to be easy to remember is: The Holy Spirit’s job is to make you holy! The Bible uses an even fancier word that means the same thing: The Holy Spirit sanctifies you or makes you holy in two ways. First, The Holy Spirit creates faith in your heart by which your sins are forgiven – you are declared righteous or justified. Secondly, the Holy Spirit makes you holy by sanctifying your life in service to God.
You didn’t choose God. Despite all the uninformed Bible talk out in the religious air: you didn’t decide for Jesus or invite Christ into your heart or make Him your Lord and Savior. “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God, not by works,” Paul wrote. “No one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit,” 1 Corinthians 12 teaches. Contrary to many a television preacher, Jesus said, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to bear fruit.” It feeds our sinful vanity to think ourselves smart enough to pick God like one picks through the meat at a butcher shop… but it’s just the other way… God chooses, calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies. That’s the Holy Spirit’s thing!
Think of it like an electrician. I can’t flip a switch at my house to wire myself into Ameren, someone’s got to connect me before the power flows into my dead home. And you can’t flip the switch of faith. You can’t decide for Jesus. Ephesians says, “You were dead in your trespasses and sins.” A dead home doesn’t choose to be wired in. God wired you into Christ in Baptism’s watery Word. Your faith is God the Holy Spirit’s work. Faith is always a gift of the Spirit. James 1 says, “God chose to give us birth through the Word of Truth that we might be a kind of first-fruits of all He created.”
The Bible tells how the Holy Spirit “wired you in” to Jesus. John 3 says, “No one can enter the kingdom of God, unless he is born again of water and the Spirit.” “Water and the Spirit” is Baptism. The Holy Spirit joined you to God’s forgiving love by creating faith in your heart through the waters of Baptism. The second way God the Holy Spirit “wires you in” is through God’s Word – of which the Holy Spirit Himself is the true Author. This is also why it’s so important that God’s children don’t cut their connection to the Word of God after Confirmation… It’s simply a tragedy that so few people care to sit together in the study of God’s Word… or regard it as important only for their children.
It is simply a lie and my wife would know it to be so, if I told her I loved her but never came home to her, or spent my time talking to other women. Just so, if you have no use for studying and reading God’s Word in your life, dear friend, you may ask if you truly love your Savior. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice.” If you long ago stopped hearing the voice of your Savior and are more concerned that church be short than that you’ve heard the Word, repent before it’s too late. Don’t shrug it off or rationalize how busy you are. Repent or die eternally in hell’s fiery flame. This is the moment, the morning, to set your house in order and ask God’s Spirit to let God’s Kingdom come through our hearing and growing in God’s Word. And if that’s truly your prayer, God forgive us, help us to love you by loving your Word… we praise God this day, that this, too, is the Holy Spirit’s doing and work in us.
In John 7:37-39, Jesus promised the gift of “living water flowing within us.” Living water is refreshed and moving, as opposed to a mud puddle… water that’s fed and replenished – not like a stagnant swamp – the old is constantly flushed out and the new, healthy water takes its place. That’s a cool image for the work of the Holy Spirit! By constantly driving you to repentance and washing away the stagnant, swamp-like filth of our sinful lives, God the Holy Spirit continually brings Jesus, flooding the old away and re-filling you with the pure grace that flows from Jesus’ death and resurrection for you.
But that’s not all… Ephesians 2 says, “You were created in Christ Jesus to do the good works which God prepared in advance for you to do.” God’s got a plan for you to serve Him and to do His will and work in the world. Right where you are God wants to use you as His hands and feet and lips to serve Him. If you are useless and ineffectual in God’s Kingdom and all you do is serve yourself, repent. If your priorities don’t include God’s Word for yourself or your family or being a disciple, don’t die. Repent. Your life isn’t some accident, the Holy Spirit puts you in the circumstances with people and places to witness to God’s love in Christ. You aren’t saved to be a bump on a log, but to “live under Christ in His kingdom, serve Him in everlasting righteousness and blessedness.”
If you have gifts, God gave them for His purposes in your life. If you are selfish with God’s gifts, you invite Him to take it all away. Your time, talents, and dollars are for you but also for your family, but also for the work of His Church and the spread of the Gospel. God doesn’t want you to become a miasmatic swamp wafting up the odors of a dead faith. He doesn’t want you to worship yourself and the “almighty dollar.” The Holy Spirit has gifted you for service in God’s Kingdom, to let the free-flowing waters of God’s grace flow through you as you use your gifts for the sake of God’s Church.
2 Corinthians says, “Now it is God who makes us stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” Thank God for the Holy Spirit. He brings you to faith. He strengthens your faith. He keeps you in the faith. And He makes your faith bear fruit in lives of love and service to God and to your neighbor.
God the Holy Spirit has claimed and called you into His family, wiring you in to the healing grace of God that flows from Jesus cross and empty tomb. The Holy Spirit isn’t a free agent… out for His own glory. The true Holy Spirit always points us to our sins and then splashes us with the Gospel of God’s redeeming love in Jesus. You are His child, declared righteous by grace, not by your works, but His grace alone. You are baptized by the Spirit to make a difference in this desert wilderness; to give your family a steadying anchor in life’s stormy seas; to support your church and invite your friends and family; to serve your neighbors. As you serve God, let it all be joined with fervent prayer to God the Father in Jesus Christ. Ephesians says, “Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”
Dr. Luther wrote one of the most beautiful confessions of the great saving work of the Holy Spirit. Learn these beautiful words and let’s confess them together. Turn to page 323 in the front of your hymnals as we confess together the work of the Holy Spirit.
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 has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way, He calls gathers enlightens and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one, true faith. In this Christian Church, He daily and richly forgives the sins of me and all believers and on the last day He will raise up me and all the dead, and give unto me and all believers in Christ eternal life. This is most certainly true.” Amen.
And now may the peace of God which surpasses human understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.