SERMON FOR MAY 8, 2016
Persecution of the Comforter
Vicar Brad Akey
 
In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen

Alleluia, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed Alleluia! Dear hearers of the Word made flesh upon whom the seal of the Spirit has been placed. Our Redeemer tells us: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”


What is the world? The world is a kingdom of darkness, the devil’s paradise and house of pleasure. It is so drowned in darkness and lies that it does not see the light, nor can it hear the truth. We are not of the world, but we are in the world, some of you are about to graduate, transition from studies in the world to the full time and work in the world. With its hatred comes: suffering, torment, and persecution. It tempts and prods in order to draw you away. It shows acceptance, love, and hospitality as a lure as if to say, “look at how well everyone is over here, you must being doing something obviously wrong.” But this acceptance, love, and hospitality is not real! It is a front used to deceive!


Christ says all these things to you to keep you from falling away. Our Lord knows about the devises of the world. As our High Priest prays the night before His crucifixion, He names concrete examples of what will happen to not only the disciples, the ones He is speaking to, but to all Christians. They will put you out of the synagogues and whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.


The world does not and cannot appreciate the Holy Spirit and the office and testimony of the apostles. So it will reject you, because it has first rejected God. It does this by perverting God’s Word, attempting to force God’s Word to adapt to societal values. This is why it seeks to ban all who preach and accept the true doctrine. It burdens the faithful with every affliction and torment and at last puts them to death like heretics. Whoever is a Christian and confesses Christ freely will not have paradise here.

Peter speaks in our Epistle about the office of ministry when he says, whoever serves, be as one who serves by the strength that God supplies. Peter here is saying “let him execute his office faithfully teaching and preaching nothing but the pure and unadulterated Word of God without any addition of human doctrine.” But rather than obey Peter, the world does exactly what Peter warns against.

SERMON FOR MAY 8, 2016
Persecution of the Comforter
Vicar Brad Akey
 
In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen

Alleluia, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed Alleluia! Dear hearers of the Word made flesh upon whom the seal of the Spirit has been placed. Our Redeemer tells us: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”


What is the world? The world is a kingdom of darkness, the devil’s paradise and house of pleasure. It is so drowned in darkness and lies that it does not see the light, nor can it hear the truth. We are not of the world, but we are in the world, some of you are about to graduate, transition from studies in the world to the full time and work in the world. With its hatred comes: suffering, torment, and persecution. It tempts and prods in order to draw you away. It shows acceptance, love, and hospitality as a lure as if to say, “look at how well everyone is over here, you must being doing something obviously wrong.” But this acceptance, love, and hospitality is not real! It is a front used to deceive!


Christ says all these things to you to keep you from falling away. Our Lord knows about the devises of the world. As our High Priest prays the night before His crucifixion, He names concrete examples of what will happen to not only the disciples, the ones He is speaking to, but to all Christians. They will put you out of the synagogues and whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.


The world does not and cannot appreciate the Holy Spirit and the office and testimony of the apostles. So it will reject you, because it has first rejected God. It does this by perverting God’s Word, attempting to force God’s Word to adapt to societal values. This is why it seeks to ban all who preach and accept the true doctrine. It burdens the faithful with every affliction and torment and at last puts them to death like heretics. Whoever is a Christian and confesses Christ freely will not have paradise here.


Peter speaks in our Epistle about the office of ministry when he says, whoever serves, be as one who serves by the strength that God supplies. Peter here is saying “let him execute his office faithfully teaching and preaching nothing but the pure and unadulterated Word of God without any addition of human doctrine.” But rather than obey Peter, the world does exactly what Peter warns against.


The world tries to take hold of the office, and use it to push forward its own agenda. That is a reason why it hates Christ, who is the way, the truth, and life (John 14:6). Instead of God’s Word taught in its purity, the world wants to add in their own theology, such as: works righteousness, prosperity Gospel, and even murder for convenience.


The world even has an ally on the inside, our Old Adam. Our Old Adam falls into this false theology each and every time. It along with the world whispers in our ear that we cannot depend upon God, we must do something to earn our own way—we must be the ones to take the first steps to God—and that we cannot be forgiven, we are on our own. Here the Holy Spirit does His best work; He strengthens us so that we do not collapse under the burden of the cross, tribulation, and sorrow. It is for that whispering in our hearts that we must daily drown the Old Adam through contrition and repentance, along with all of our sins and evil desires.


This can only be done in the waters of our Baptism, the waters which the Holy Spirit has called us in and placed His seal upon us. The same Holy Spirit whom God promised in Ezekiel, when He said: I will sprinkle clean water on you… a new spirit I will put within you. The same Holy Spirit whom Christ promises here in our text. But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth… The Greek word Paraclete is translated as Helper or Comforter, and not just an ordinary comforter, but one who comforts someone before a judge. But when the Paraclete, the Comforter comes… He will bear witness about me.


Why is the Holy Spirit described in this way—Christ is warning of the world’s hatred, its persecution, its willingness to kill those of Christ, yet why is the Spirit called the Comforter? It is because He assures our hearts and weary conscience that we may believe we truly are children of God. He will remove all despair from your hearts with his assuring word. It’s as if He says, “Have faith and do not despair; do not concern yourself with the judgment of the world, nor the judgment of your own thoughts, but cling confidently to what I say.” Each time the world or our Old Adam whispers in our ear how insufficient we are, we are emboldened by the Spirit and reminded of God’s covenant with us.


We may not always feel the comfort that is being spoken here. We feel the world fighting against Christians, with the torturing and beheadings happening in distant lands and here at home, we see churches and pastors targeted for practicing the true faith. And we even see those who claim to be of the faith, yet seek to alter it in order to make it acceptable to society, faulting the faithful for not following along. Do you call that being comforted? Yes, says Christ, that means being comforted.

 

But we must differentiate correctly. The Holy Spirit is called a Comforter in the truth. The world has its own comfort, but it is not a comfort that comes from the Spirit of truth, rather it is a counterfeit comfort. Instead, the Comforter whom the Christians have, is the Spirit of truth who gives unfailing comfort to our hearts, because He takes us to the cross, where the Truth was crucified for our sin. Even more, the Comforter shows us an empty grave, because Christ is risen! Alleluia, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed Alleluia! And that same Jesus Christ ascended to the Father, true God and true man seated at the right hand of the Father and is mediating for us. What greater comfort can we see than this? What greater comfort than to receive the promise of the Father, proceeding from the Father and the Son?


While the malicious world terrorizes you, lies to you, and misleads you, you are God’s friend and dear child. That is the comfort preached into our hearts, comfort we are reassured of in our Baptism when the Holy Spirit entered into our hearts, putting His seal upon us cleansing us from all our uncleannesses. Comfort we are reassured of when we partake of our Savior’s body and blood, served to us by the Ascended Christ.


Comfort spoken to us just a few moments ago when pastor spoke the Absolution, as valid and certain as Christ dealing with us Himself. This He does not do from far off. We have not said goodbye to our Lord and Savior. Rather, He ascended to be with us, mediating for us at the right hand of God. This is comfort which the devil, the world, and even our sinful Adam cannot take away from us! Instead the Holy Spirit will bear witness within us against these tyrants, and through us to the rest of the world.


It is because of that witness of the of the Holy Spirit we can say with St. Paul Rom 8: For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Despite the world banning and cursing as it may, God will bless us. The Father has blessed us by sending His dear Son to die and pay our punishment. He will continue to bless us as the Paraclete, the Comforter, draws us to receive His forgiveness. He will, on the Last Day, also bless us with the fulfillment of His promise: eternal life in the glorious and divine presence of the Ascended One! And that is the greatest comfort that we can have, His agape love. Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
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Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a