May 01, 2016

Pastor Mark F. Bartels

Historic Lesson; Acts 14:8-18

Epistle Lesson; Revelation 21:10-14

                          Revelation 21:22-23

Sermon Text; John 14:23-29

Four days from now is what we call Ascension Day. It is the day that Jesus, forty days after He rose from the dead, ascended into Heaven. It is the day He visibility left His disciples. And so, it is appropriate on the Sunday before Ascension Day, to prepare for Jesus' departure. In fact, that is exactly what He does in today's scripture reading. He is preparing His disciples for His departure. This happens as He is speaking these words on Maundy Thursday. He is preparing them for His death, His resurrection, and then His ascension into Heaven, when He will depart from them visibly.

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me. These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, 'I am going away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.

These are your words, Heavenly Father. Lead us in the way of truth. Your Word is truth.


On the basis of this text today, I want to do three things.

       -Number One, I want to talk about Jesus' farewell to His disciples. In this farewell, He is going to make the transition from what we call, 'Salvation Won', to 'Salvation Distributed'.

       -Then, I am going to talk about how critical The Word of God is, when it comes to Salvation Distributed.

       -Finally, I want to talk about the peace that is conveyed by the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God.

When Jesus spoke these words to His disciples, they were spoken, and within 24 hours after Jesus spoke these words, (He spoke them on Maundy Thursday evening), within 24 hours the most, earth-shattering, heaven-shaking, rock-this-world event that would ever happen, had happened.

       -Within those 24 hours, Jesus literally won the salvation of all people!

       -Within those 24 hours, Jesus literally paid for the sins of the entire world!

       -Within those 24 hours, Jesus, literally had made it so that God had reconciled the world to Himself, in Christ, not counting men's sins against them!

So, salvation was won, completely and totally won, for all mankind!

Having completed His work of salvation, now Jesus is about to depart from His disciples, visibly depart. There is some sadness in their hearts, as He departs from them. However, He prepares them by telling them He is going to send the Holy Spirit. Salvation has been won by Christ for everybody, and Jesus wants it to be distributed to each one of you. Jesus wants the salvation that was won to be individually taken, and delivered to each one of you. So, Jesus promises He is going to send the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, or the Helper.

The role of the Holy Spirit is to take what Jesus did, the salvation He won, and distribute it to you, personally, so you cling to it, and you believe it. The Bible says,

“Faith comes from hearing the message,

and the message is heard through the Word of Christ.”

It says,

“No one can say, 'Jesus is Lord',

except by the Holy Spirit.”

So, Jesus tells His disciples He is going to send the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will remind them of everything Jesus said, and teach them all things.

So, the Holy Spirit then inspired those holy apostles to write The New Testament. He reminds them of everything Jesus said. The Bible tells us,

“Prophesy never had its origin in the will of men,

but holy men spoke from God,

as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

The Holy Spirit has recorded the very words of Jesus, the very actions of Jesus. Everything Jesus has done is now recorded in scripture.

Scripture is the true Word of God.

And so, the Bible tells us that through this Word, the Holy Spirit takes what Jesus did, and He conveys it to you. It is like the transportation that brings it to you, and delivers it to you. Which is why, in today's scripture, Jesus said,

“If anyone loves me,

he will keep my Word,

and my Father will love him,

and we will come to him

and make our home with him.

Whoever does not love me,

does not keep my words.”

Why is it so important for us to keep Jesus' Word? The word there for 'keep', the Greek word 'teresae' doesn't necessarily mean, 'I am going to obey it'. I can try to obey it, but I can't perfectly obey God's Word. The word ' teresa' actually means more like 'keep it like a treasure'. 'Hang on to it'. 'Cling to it'. “I am not going to let it go. I am going to guard it, and protect it.”

Why is it so important for someone who believes in Jesus to treasure The Word, to keep The Word in that way? We know that through The Word, everything Jesus has done for us, everything He has won for us, is conveyed to us, and it becomes ours by faith.

You know, my sinful nature, (and I know you are the same way), my sinful nature doesn't love The Word. My sinful nature doesn't want to go to church. My sinful nature doesn't want to read the Bible. My sinful nature doesn't want to listen to some things that are in scripture that are hard to listen to. My sinful nature doesn't want to speak to others about The Word. My sinful nature does not love The Word.

Which is why it is so important for us, as Christians, to cling to The Word, to treasure The Word. We treasure The Word, because it shows us just how deeply we have fallen.

I need to know that.

I need to see that.

Unless I know how deeply I have fallen,

I won't see how much I need a Savior.

And so, The Word convicts me, but then, through that, the Holy Spirit comforts me. He assures me that all of my sins are forgiven.

Which gets me to the last thing I want to talk about today. That is the comfort the Holy Spirit conveys into our hearts, through The Word of God. Did you ever think about all of the different ways in the Bible that the Bible talks about what Jesus has done for us? It is kind of like a diamond that has many, many different facets. Sometimes, we talk about how Jesus paid for our sins. Sometimes we say, “He saved us”. Sometimes we say, “He redeemed us”. Sometimes we say, “He liberated us”. Sometimes we say, “He cleanses us”. Sometimes we say, “He washes us”. There are many, many different ways to explain the beauty of what Jesus did for us, when He won salvation for us on the cross.

Did you ever wonder, if you could ask Jesus, “Jesus, of all of those ways of explaining what you did for us, which is your favorite”?
I wonder what Jesus would say. Here is what I do know. I do know that in my own mind, I have thought, “After Jesus paid for our sins, He rose from the dead, and then appeared to His disciples for the first time, what would you think He would say to them, for the very first time, having won their salvation, having risen from the dead?” You would think He would walk into the room, and say to them, “Your sins are forgiven”. Or, He would walk into the room, and say, “Your sins have been paid for”. Or, He would walk into the room, and say, “You are washed clean by my blood”. But, the very first thing Jesus said, when He walked into the room for the first time, where the disciples were (and these are such important words) was,


be with you.”

That was the very first thing Jesus said. Then, throughout the days He was with His disciples, after His resurrection, He continued that phrase, over, and over, and over, again.


be with you.”

That phrase so well summarizes everything Jesus did for us.

Why do I want my sins forgiven? I want my sins forgiven so that I can be at peace with God. I don't want God to be angry with me, or upset with me. And so, when Jesus announces, “Peace be with you”,

He is telling me

my sins are forgiven.

Why do I want to have a clean conscious? My conscious can bother me, and trouble me, and make me restless. And when Jesus tells me, “Peace be with you”,

He is assuring me

I can be at peace with my conscious,

because my sins have been removed

as far as the east is from the west!

Why, as a Christian, if there is one thing I want besides the forgiveness of sins, it is to know God is with me? There are so many things that can make me worry. I can worry about money. I can worry about health. I can worry about relationships. I can worry about all kinds of things. And so, when Jesus says, “Peace be with you”, “Peace be with you”, it is the assurance that because of what happened on the cross, I can be at peace. I can be at peace with God. I can be at peace no matter what happens in this life. Why? I know God loves me absolutely, infinitely for Jesus' sake. I know He is all-powerful. I know He is all-knowing. And so, scripture says,

“Don't be anxious about anything.

But in everything,

with prayer and supplication

let your requests be made known to God

and the peace of God,

which passes all understanding,

will keep your hearts and minds in

Christ Jesus, our Lord.”

Jesus came to win peace!

       -Peace between us and God,

       -Peace with our conscious,

       -Peace knowing God is going to work out everything for my good.

Talk about peace!

There is an interesting historical document that was written in the 200/300AD. It is one of the first documents of the early Christian Church. It historically tells what they used to do as congregation. It is a writing called The Didache. There was something very interesting they used to do in the early Christian Church.

First, I am going to go back a second, and talk about how often in our liturgy, we use the word 'peace'. There is a reason we do that.

       -Do you remember when we celebrate Advent, we are talking about the coming of the 'Prince of Peace'?

       -Then, when we celebrate Christmas, we celebrate the words of the angels, who said, “Peace on earth good will toward men”.

       -Then, when we get to Lent, we talk about “the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him”.

       -Now, when we get to post Easter, it is the conveying of that peace to each one of us. “Peace be with you.” What Jesus won is now conveyed to you.

       -In our Liturgy, for example, before we go to Communion, we say, “Christ, Lamb of God, grant us your peace”.

       -After Communion, we say, “Lord now let your servant depart in peace.”

       -Finally, the last thing we say, as you leave church is, “The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace”.
Well anyway, in this historic document, one of the things they did in the early church was, before they communed, they would do what is called, 'The Passing of the Peace'. So they would look at one another before Communion, and they would say, “Peace be with you”.

But then, they would do something else. They would 'Pass the Peace' by giving a person a kiss on their cheek. So, the first person would go to the next person, say, “Peace be with you”, and give them a kiss on the cheek. That person would then turn around to the next one, say, “Peace be with you”, and give that person a kiss on the cheek. And, that 'peace' would be passed around the whole church.

One day, that was going on in a congregation, and 'The Peace was being Passed', when all of a sudden, it stopped. There were two guys looking at each other. They would not kiss each other on the cheek, and they wouldn't say, “Peace be with you”. The whole church service stopped.

The pastor walked into the congregation, walked right up to those two men, and through the use of The Word, and the power of the Holy Spirit, those two were reconciled.

Then, the one turned to the other, and said, “Peace be with you”, kissed him on the cheek, and then, 'The Peace was Passed' around the rest of the church.

Finally, they came up to The Lord's Supper.

Those of you who are coming to communion today, as you come up here, you are praying, “Christ, Lamb of God, grant us your peace”. Here at this table, that peace that was won on the cross, and literally, literally, is going to be given to you. It is going to be distributed to you, because you are going to hear through The Word of God,

“This is my body given for you,

my blood shed for you,

for the forgiveness of your sin”.

Now, whoever has their sins forgiven is at peace with God, and reconciled with God. That is why often, as communion ends, and your table is dismissed, the pastor simply says,

“Go in peace”.

       -You are at peace with God.

       -God is at peace with you.

And we go, having been filled by the Holy Spirit, knowing, “I have God's peace. I am taking my Lord Jesus with me, as I go. He is going to be with me, and work out everything for my good. I have that peace, no matter what happens in my life.”

And, through the peace that is conveyed to us, He also transforms us. He transforms us to want to live at peace with one another. It is that 'Passing of the Peace', when we look at one another and say,

“Peace be with you”.

I don't know if you came to church fighting with your spouse, or fighting with your children, or struggling with a relationship you have with someone, but scripture tells us,

“As far as in you lies,

as far as in you lies,

live at peace with one another.”

The Lord Jesus has conveyed to us,

Peace with God!