“God’s Guide”  John 16:12-16

The Holy Spirit tells us, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  (Romans 12:2) 

Pentecost  May 18-19, 2024

“God’s Guide”  John 16:12-16

Rev. John R. Larson  Ascension Lutheran Church  Littleton, Colorado

             What would you like your family or friends to know about you, or about them, either before you die or after you die?  I’m speaking about much more than who gets your favorite rocking chair.  What personal words will you share with your beloved? 

            A number of years ago when I visited one of our homebound, Sandy Otte, she handed me 6 letters.  I was to give them to her two children and her four grandchildren following her funeral service.  Those letters were the last words that she wanted her family to receive from her.

            Sandy died in December and on the Easter weekend we had her committal service.  After the service I told the family I had one more thing for them – the letters.  I could tell that they were moved with the personal words they had received from their mom or grandma.

            The words of Jesus, in our reading from John 16, can be seen as His final words, His letter, to those who were His.  He says, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.  But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.”  (John 16:12-13)  These words, part of what is called the Farewell Discourse of Jesus, was spoken on Holy Thursday, the day before Good Friday, and they were intended to prepare His followers for His death and then His ascension into heaven.  These are the words about the work of God’s Holy Spirit in their lives.

            Do you have any idea what the Holy Spirit does?  Do you know His importance in your life?  The Holy Spirit is God living in you.  The Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth.

            The Holy Spirit will be honest with you in letting you know that you don’t belong to the ways of this world.  You don’t fit in.  You are not part of the filth, or the lies, or the deception, in this world.  Part of this long teaching of Jesus are these words, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to the world, for I have chosen you out of the world.  That is why the world hates you.  Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.  If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.’”  (John 15:18-20)  The Holy Spirit tells us, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  (Romans 12:2)  Maybe you don’t fit in at work, or at school, or with certain friends.  What they do or say, or encourage you to do, is not who God has made you to be, or what God wants you to do.  The Holy Spirit is God’s guide in our life.

            The Holy Spirit brings God’s hard truth into our lives.  Do you find yourself on the wrong side of God’s will?  You know you made a choice that was the wrong choice.  You know you took a path that was weak and did not honor the will of God in your life.  Do you know who stirred up your conscience?  (No, it wasn’t your mother!!)  It was God’s Holy Spirit.  He can cut all the way down to the heart.  Jesus spoke to His disciples about the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (which we celebrate today!) and what that Spirit would do, “Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.  When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.”  (John 16:7-8)  When John the Baptist came, he said, “I baptize you with water for repentance.  But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”  (Matthew 3:11)  Fire – burning up everything in our life that shouldn’t be a part of our life.

            The Holy Spirit will speak a word of hard truth to us.  Good.  We can handle the truth, right?  But He gives us more than the hard truth – He gives us the beautiful truth. 

            A few sermons ago I told you about the personalized license plate that I saw.  Remember?  NTGUILTY.  Not guilty.  I was wondering if it was some person who had been brought to trial and the jury gave those acquitting words of not guilty and this person was announcing that to the world.  “I told you, I have always been innocent.”  Well, I found out the story behind the plate.  The person I had gone to see that day was Barb Williams.  Her husband, Gregg had just died.  It was the neighbor across the street who had the license plate that had caught my attention.

            At the funeral reception I sat down next to two ladies and we began a conversation.  I asked if they were family or friends of Gregg or Barb’s.  “We are neighbors, we live across the street.”  That’s where the license plate was.  So, I had to ask.  “I saw a car there when I visited Barb.  BMW.  Black license plate – NTGUILTY.”  “Do you anything about it?”  “Oh, that’s my son’s car.  He’s a lawyer.”  Some people have advertisements on the side of their cars or trucks.  He had it on his license plate.

            The work of the Holy Spirit is much like that of that lawyer.  You may know that there is an adjective used to describe the work of the Holy Spirit, in Greek it is paraclete.  In John 14:26 and 15:26 Jesus says, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”  (14:26)  “When the Counselor 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.”  (15:26)  Some translate that word paraclete, Comforter, Helper, Strengthener.  But some say that Holy Spirit, the paraclete, is one “called to the side of another”, “counsel for the defense”.  Advocate is what I saw in one commentary.  One guy said about calling the Holy Spirit our Advocate, “The idea of pleading, arguing, convincing, instructing, is prominent in every instance…In short, He is represented as the Advocate, the Counsel, who suggests the true reasonings to our minds and true courses for our lives, convicts our adversary the world of wrong, and pleads our cause before God our Father.”  (The Gospel of John, Leon Morris, Eerdmans, page 665)  Defense Attorney.  Speaking for us.  On our side.  The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God speaks the beautiful truth to us.

            I know why the Holy Spirit is often the forgotten person in the Holy Trinity.  We don’t have a holiday for Him.  Christmas and Easter talk about the birth of Jesus and the resurrection of Jesus, God’s gift to us.  But no presents today, on Pentecost.  No candy.  No family meals.  But that is how the Holy Spirit wishes it to be.  He does not exist for self.  He exists to reveal Jesus and His eternal salvation and His teaching to us.  Jesus said, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.  He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is to come.  He will bring glory to me by taking what is mine and making it known to you.”  (John 16:13-14)  Do you know Jesus?  Do you trust in Jesus?  Do you know who created that saving faith?  The Holy Spirit.  He led you to repentance.  He led you to Jesus.  He worked in your Baptism.  He opens your heart to know that you receive God’s gifts at the Table of our Lord.  Paul would say, “Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus be cursed,’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.”  (I Corinthians 12:3) 

            The Holy Spirit brings the beautiful truth.  Not just to us, one by one, but the beautiful truth applies to our congregation and the entire Holy Christian Church.  I need to be reminded of that.  I worry.  About you.  About us.  About problems in the world.  I even worry about the Broncos.  God, the Holy Spirit tells me that God is in control.  Always has been.  Always will be.  Jesus speaks about this Holy Spirit when He says, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.  The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him.  But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”  (John 14:16-18)

            If you write notes to each of your family or friends before you kick the bucket what will you say?  Words of caution and warning and concern?  Words of hope and appreciation and love?

            Jesus speaks the day before crucifixion and gives words of life.  He gives words about being immersed in God’s Holy Spirit.  May God’s Spirit fill us fully with faith and a blessed life.  Amen!!                    





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