John 15: 26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—He will testify about Me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with Me from the beginning.
John 16:12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify Me because it is from Me that He will receive what He will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is Mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from Me what He will make known to you.”
How many of you can remember the parade which was held here a few years ago when Dolly Parton’s wig flew off and she was completely bald? Or what about that time when our Mayor stood up on the dais to speak and his pants fell partly down exposing a bright red pair of shorts? Who here can recall that day when WW2 ended and the whole town came out and hugged each other and all the pastors got together and sang the National Anthem? Now hold these questions for just a few minutes.
There is a whole lot in our text and as you know me, I do not exposit every word and thought but try to find one thought, one idea and share that with you. So, the central part of our text I will omit just looking basically at the beginning and the end.
As I looked at last Sunday’s lesson it struck me as how the way the Holy Spirit inspired St Luke to describe how Phillip spoke. It said there, “Phillip open his mouth and he began to speak.” We also see this in the Gospels. Our expression is, “Think before you speak.” However what Phillip did was to open his mouth and allow the Spirit to do his thinking for him.
That is very much in line with what Jesus said, “Make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.”
Now the Bible does not contradict itself when it seemingly says also the opposite. From St Paul, we learn, “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman who need not be ashamed.” And from St Peter, we learn, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
Now realize that these two verses do not contradict what Jesus said, but rather must be taken in context. Jesus also said, “I will send you the Holy Spirit and He will bring into your remembrances, all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” The key word is “remembrances.” How can you remember anything that you haven’t already been exposed to?
Let’s say that I am going to visit a prospective member whom I believe has a hang-up about baptism. So, I study that issue until where I can effectively share it. Case No.1. He really isn’t wanting to talk about baptism but some other issue of which I am not prepared. Now what? Case No. 2. He does want to talk about baptism but the conversation takes a turn and raises a question I am not prepared for. Now what?
The answer to both questions is that we do our part and the Holy Spirit takes over. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth.
“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—He will testify about Me.” There’re many things in the Bible which we could talk about and some of these things in depth. Some of these things might be very interesting and some may not be. And as we discuss religion with others, some subjects may come up which we wonder about- why do we believe the way we do and why do they believe the way they do?
But notice carefully what Jesus says, “He will testify about Me.” What about the Rapture? What about Pre-,post- and mid- Millennialism? How many angels were really at the tomb? What was the hidden message in the empty tomb behind the linen cloth folded instead of just lying there? These are side issues which do not directly matter in terms of the Gospel- which has as it center, Jesus!
There are those who like to argue about peripheral things, but the real issue is Jesus. A couple of years ago when I was at Staples I used my tax empty card to buy office material and the clerk asked me if I happened to be a pastor. I answered in the affirmative and he said he was one too. Then he asked me if I was aware that Adam actually had two wives. He went off on some tangent that didn’t even begin to make any sense. That is what was really important to him.
At other times I have been asked, as first importance upon just meeting another pastor or some key laymen, what I thought about this, that or the other. The Saturday Sabbath, Jesus coming in a short time, speaking in tongues, wearing a beard or a mustache, drinking alcohol and a host of other things. Not really testifying about Jesus as Lord.
On the other hand, I have been very blessed to meet other Christians, including pastors, who rejoice in the idea that we are all Christians who, despite our differences on minor doctrines, have the same faith and Lord. While I have been in some Circuits of our Church (roughly 10 congregations) and have enjoyed my fellow LCMS pastors, I have also been in places and situations where it was the pastors of other denominations who were my closest brothers and friends. The same Spirit in them was in me, testifying of the same Lord Jesus.
Now getting back to my strange introduction: My point was we cannot remember what we haven’t witnessed. And we cannot remember what never even happened. (I made up the story of Dolly and our mayor and WW2 celebration here!) My point is, you cannot remember Scripture verses you have never learned. You cannot give an account of the faith that is within you if you are not prepared.
Now the Holy Spirit could put verses into your mouth to repeat, verses you have never read or heard, but He hasn’t promised to. The promise is what? He will bring into your remembrance all things whatsoever I have commanded you.
Our text goes on with Jesus saying, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.” He said that to them before the Day of Pentecost. He would say that to us if we had just been converted. But- we have been converted a long time ago. We have been confirmed and we are seasoned Christians. Now the word given to us is again, “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman who need not be ashamed.” And, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
And then there is this, “Then we will no longer be infants,
tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body
of Him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”
Therefore in studying to show ourselves approved unto God workmen who need not be ashamed, and being able to give an account of the faith that is within us and in growing up in Christ, we will be enabled to “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” And to that, we say, “Amen!”