Exaudi (Easter 7), Sunday after the Ascension of our Lord
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Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
June 1, 2014
Central Passage
John 15:26 - 16:4
Description

In the name of the Father and of the X Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is the premier preacher of the Christian Church. You might say that He is the only preacher of the Christian Church. That’s what Jesus says when He says that the Spirit of truth that He sends from the Father will bear witness about Him. That’s what a preacher does: he bears witness about Christ. So Jesus also says of His apostles that they will bear witness about Him. The office of the apostles, the apostolic office is the office of the Holy Spirit. It is the preaching and teaching office. When you come to church – to the divine gathering where God serves you – you should come expecting to hear and preparing yourself to hear the Holy Spirit. Now that might sound rather self-aggrandizing on my part, being the preacher, but it’s not self-aggrandizing. It’s the truth handed to us by the apostles in the Bible.

There are self-aggrandizing preachers. They fill their sermons with you, the hearer. We all love to talk about ourselves, and preachers know this. So if I talk about you the way you want to be talked about, then I am self-aggrandizing because I know I will be loved for what I say. But this isn’t about you or me. And it most certainly isn’t about my family or kids or some story about a dog I read on the internet. This is about the holy life of Christ lived among His people for their salvation and eternal good. This is about Jesus. It’s all about Jesus. And if ever it becomes something other than about Jesus then it’s no longer the office of the Holy Spirit who bears witness to Jesus.

So pay attention to the Holy Spirit who preaches to you. He preaches to you from the pulpit, font, and altar. He preaches through the apostles. That’s what Jesus says. “He who hears you hears me,” and “as the Father sent me so I am sending you,” and also, “receive the Holy Spirit,” and similar things.

Next Sunday is Pentecost when the preaching office was established and the Spirit was poured out on all flesh. But today is Exaudi Sunday: The Sunday of the Promise of the Spirit. Here our Lord cautions His would-be preachers that there will come a time when they will be thrown out of the synagogues and even killed by those thinking they are doing a service to God. Now who kills thinking they are doing a service to God? Certainly many religions – even some in the name of Christ – have killed the infidel thinking that they are protecting the truth and advancing the reign of some god. But the apostles never did that. No, the only way they advanced the kingdom of heaven and served God was by preaching, teaching, and suffering by the sins of others.

The kingdom of heaven grows when it is watered by the blood of martyrs, those that bear witness to Christ even to the point of shedding their blood. Now you have not come to this point. You have not struggled against sin to the point of shedding your blood (Hebrews 12:4). And you may never. But that doesn’t mean you don’t struggle against sin. I’m not talking about your sins but the sin of false teaching. That’s the sin that sheds the blood of martyrs. That’s the sin that will shed your blood or – God forbid – kill your faith.

The Lord Jesus condemns false preachers and teachers with greater condemnation than any other sinner. In fact, you might say that He only condemns false preachers and teachers because they blaspheme the Holy Spirit who preaches the truth. There’s no such thing as redeeming a lie. There is only shining the truth on a lie so that the lie dies and the truth abounds.

So it’s important that we preach and teach the Scriptures and not anything but the Scriptures. Not our personal ideas on God or our own thoughts on what God is like or not like. But the Spirit’s ideas on God and what He says God is like and not like. Now this is easy – or should be easy – when it comes to big things like abortion or adultery or sodomy, which is what the LGBT crowed is campaigning for. But what about women’s ordination? What about closed communion? What about those things the Scriptures teach that we ignore or even teach against because we don’t like them or because they make us uncomfortable? By teaching against the Scriptures we kill the faith of others, but more tragically by teaching against the Scriptures – by ignoring them – we profess a lie to be the truth.

It is the god of the times that always threatens the faith of the faithful. The god of the times preaches whatever is necessary to turn hearers away from the Spirit of Truth and embrace lies and deceit. And it doesn’t start with rejecting Jesus. It starts with promoting sinners.

Be careful what you listen to Christian, it is either the Holy Spirit or it is the spirit of this world. And they don’t preach the same thing. That is why we must know the Scriptures and submit to them. They weren’t written in a by-gone era, tainted by the societies of men. They’re not ancient books for ancient people. The Scriptures are the witness of the Holy Spirit for God’s people of all times and places. What they say is not suggestive but prescriptive.

But there is glory in submitting to the Scriptures. In submitting we die to self but we are raised by the Holy Spirit to the life of Christ. In submitting to Christ, which is to hear the Spirit and abide by His word, we learn that we are truly free. Free from the wage of sin, free from the power of the devil, which is the power to accuse us before God; Free to call God our Father.

Remember these things, the things of Jesus that the Spirit preaches – the birth, life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus – call them to mind and surround yourself with them so that when the hour comes for you to give witness to the truth you will give bold witness, perhaps even being blessed to shed your blood in witness to the truth of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

+ In Nomine Iesu +