The Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel…Sermon on Luther’s Small Catechism, 3rd Article of the Apostles’ Creed
January 30, 2013
St. Peter Lutheran School Matins
St. Matthew 3:13-17
Hymn: 693 “O Holy Spirit, Grant us Grace” (Ringwaldt)
What is the 3rd Article of the Creed? I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen. What does this mean? I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, or come to Him, but the Holy Spirit has called me by the gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian Church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the last day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.
Dear Christians of St. Peter School:
Last time I was here we did the First Article of the Apostles’ Creed.
The next article of the creed is the 2nd, which is about “Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.” But pretty soon it will be Lent, and during Lent we read the story of Jesus’ suffering to take away our sins. So since we’re going to hear about the 2nd article of the creed all through Lent, today we’re going to talk about the 3rd article of the Creed and the third person of the Holy Trinity. What is His name?
What does the Holy Spirit do?
God the Father is “the maker” or Creator; God the Son is the Redeemer; and God the Holy Spirit is the “sanctifier.” What does “sanctify” mean?
Maybe an easier way to remember it is like this: what kind of Spirit is He?
Right. He is the Holy Spirit. He makes us holy. That’s what sanctification is—to be made holy.
What does “holy” mean?
Yes, holy definitely means that you don’t have any sin. But it’s more than that. “Holy” means “set apart.” God is Holy. He is good and righteous and He is clean and pure and things that are not that way cannot come near Him or they will be destroyed or die.
God is holy and set apart, and if you are going to come near Him you also have to be holy and set apart or you will die.
Notice what it says on the green fabric on the altar? What?
We will sing those same words later. Those are the words that people who saw a vision of God in the Bible heard the angels sing as they flew around Him. “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of Sabaoth.”
Why does it say that on the altar?
From the altar we receive Holy Communion. We receive holy things. What are they?
If we are sinners, how can we come up here and receive such holy things if sinners die when they come into the presence of God?
Yes, Jesus’ body and blood were given to take away our sins, so they make us holy. But the people are already holy before they come up to the altar. How are they holy even though they are still sinners?
The Holy Spirit makes us holy. He comes to us and makes us believe that Jesus’ body and blood were given for us. The person who believes this is clean and holy through Jesus’ death for their sins. That’s all it takes. It seems kind of easy, doesn’t it?
But the truth is that it’s not easy. First it’s only easy because Jesus stood in our place. He became a man and took the punishment for our sins. What should we get from God because of our sins?
How did Jesus make it so that we don’t get that?
Right—He traded places with us. So it’s easy because He did it, not us. But if He hadn’t done it, what then?
Here’s the other thing. It seems easy to you to believe that Jesus died for your sins because you are still children—even the oldest ones (but just barely). And Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven belongs to little children.
But it really is impossible for us to believe that Jesus took away our sins. We are so sinful and far from God by nature that we don’t even have the ability to believe that Jesus paid for all of our sins. We are naturally God’s enemies and don’t want to become His friends. So the Holy Spirit has to turn us and give us faith in Jesus so that we receive the forgiveness of sins and the holiness that He died to give to us.
Then He has to work in our hearts so that they become better and start to want to do what God’s commandments say, like pray and trust God and listen to parents and teachers and love other people instead of calling them names, making fun of them, and breaking their stuff.
How does the Holy Spirit work in us to believe that Jesus’ suffering and death has made us holy?
The Holy Spirit “called me by the Gospel.” The Holy Spirit causes us to believe in Jesus through God’s Word. Through the Bible, and people teaching the Bible, and preaching that comes from the Bible. When your teacher says “Jesus died for your sins and you are going to heaven” that is not just the teacher talking but who?
The Holy Spirit comes through the Word and gives us faith. That can be through a sermon or reading the Bible, but also in Baptism. What is combined with the water in Baptism? [What is Baptism? Baptism is not just plain water, but it is the water included in God’s command and combined with God’s Word. Where is this written? Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Matthew: ‘Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.]
When Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended on Him. He already had the Holy Spirit before, but this was so that everyone would see that the Holy Spirit comes to us through Jesus.
But then Jesus ascended into heaven. What did He tell his disciples would happen to them?
Yes, they would have the same thing happen to them as Jesus. They would be baptized in the Holy Spirit.
Then they went and preached Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection. And they baptized the people who believed the Gospel. Then they received the Holy Spirit too.
The Holy Spirit comes from Jesus to us, and He takes everything that Jesus did and offers it to us through His Word. Then at the same time He works in us so that we believe that Jesus death really means that God has taken away our sins. That makes us holy.
We are able to come into this place and receive holy body and blood of Jesus, and we don’t die even though we still have a sinful nature. Why? Because the Holy Spirit promises that our sins are forgiven through Jesus death. He promises us that when He baptizes us in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is saying, “You are holy, your sins are washed away, and it is just the same as when Jesus was baptized—the Holy Spirit descends on You and the Father calls you His well-beloved Son.”
And He promises it every time we hear the Bible or a sermon that is preached correctly. He tells us “the forgiveness of sins is yours. Your sins are taken away through Jesus’ death on the cross.” He presses this good news into our hearts so that it becomes ours.
So, do you believe your sins are completely taken away by Jesus’ death on the cross?
Well, that means that the Holy Spirit has given you eternal life and made you holy. He has made you a holy child of the Father. Because we would never believe that on our own. But now the Holy Spirit has made you holy and snatched you away from Satan to live in God’s house forever.
For that we have to go into His house with the holiness of Jesus that has been given to us to wear and thank and praise Him with the angels, archangels, apostles, martyrs, prophets and the whole company of heaven. Let’s go do that right now. We sing the Te Deum Laudamus.
The peace of God, which passes understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Soli Deo Gloria
- Crawl to the Cross. Septuagesima Sermon (Matt. 20:1-16), Jan. 27, 2013 (deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com)
WA 15, p. 696. Sermon on the 19th Sunday after Trinity (1524)
p. 709 Vom frembden glawben. (Concerning alien faith)
Now shall/should we also alien faith and concerning the authority to forgive sins deal with a little. I have also said it before (vorhyn), that it is an error that one should baptize the little children in the faith of the church and have preached the same way [gleichsam] about them being baptized without faith. This error now goes in/enters in [geht herein] with authority/power [Gewalt], because the devil does not sleep. He means for there to be no faith. The Pope with his also has held it up until now, that the children have no faith, rather they are laid in the womb [Schoss] of the Christian church, and one baptized them in the faith of Christendom [Christenheit]. These new [ones? Diese newe] also say, that the children have no faith, like the Pope, but instead that one should wait until they are grown, etc. We also say that alien faith does not help when [??] This child is
was not born for me, also he will not die for me. It has had its own death and birth. Shall/should I then [den] live and from death become free [lofs? Loss], so must I also through the faith in Christ come home. But we pray for the children, as also for all unbelieving and preach, pray, and work [erbeyten? Arbeiten? Erbitten?] to this end [dahin], that the unbelieving also come [home to Christ] [herzukommen]. Therefore also we live. So/also these [friends] have had faith, not the paralytic. But he must receive it, otherwise their faith had helped him nothing. But they him their faith brought (?)[badten] Christ [dem] about one’s [einen] own faith [brought him to Christ, Who gave him his own faith]. So through alien faith, I help him to get faith. We do not know, whether one believed or not. If I am right old and come to the baptism, and say, “I believe;” How can you know whether I believe or not? How do you know that? What if I’m lying? No one can know whether he comes at the prompting of his own word and mind. If you say it’s true, it’s true. [ists recht, so ists recht.] The child must not stand on my faith. I have little enough faith for myself. I should not lay it in the womb of Christendom only, rather lay [the child] in the word of God, where He says, “Let the little children come to me, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.” Here I bring to you, Christ, a little child, that you have called me to bear to you. Here I have done my work. Christ will also do His. So I baptize the child not in my faith or in the faith of Christendom, rather my faith and the faith of Christendom brings the child here [to baptism], for this purpose, that He give it its own faith, and believe as I believe. And in the word, which Christ has given to me, I do not baptize
on it, [as though] it [the child] has no faith, as the Bohemians reckon/mean, that, when it is grown, it shall receive faith. The Word of God speaks over the child: to you shall your sins be forgiven, and shall the child still the word not believe, call you [heisst] that not word of God tightened.? [heist das nicht Gottes wort geluegen strafft? ] [You aren’t saying that the Word of God is bound [limited], are you?] I can well help another through my prayer and faith, so that he also believes.
St. Peter Lutheran Church
St. Matthew 20:1-16
January 27, 2013
“Crawl to the Cross”
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The law makes sin known
And strikes down the conscience.
Then the Gospel comes to help
Revives the sinner, and says,
“Just crawl to the cross
The law gives no rest or quiet
No matter how many works you do.”
That’s a more literal and less poetic version of one of the stanzas of the hymn for this Sunday, “Salvation unto us has come.” That hymn was in the very first hymnal published for use in the churches of the Gospel in 1524.
On the face of it, it is kind of dry as far as the words go. Later German hymnwriters taught sound doctrine while at the same time managing to write poetry. “Salvation unto us has come” sounds like someone took the Augsburg Confession or the Catechism and put it in rhyme and meter. On the face of it, it isn’t a heartwarming hymn. Not even in German, when you compare it to the hymns of Paul Gerhardt, who wrote “Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me”, or Philip Nicolai, who wrote “O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright”.
But it was not written by a theologian in a university, by a nitpicker who wanted to make sure people in the pews weren’t making theological mistakes. It was written by a man named Paul Speratus in 1523, a year before its publication. He was in prison. He was waiting to be burned at the stake as a heretic. The year before he had been excommunicated because he preached a sermon in which he rejected his vows to be a monk, saying that those vows were against the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Condemned to burn to death in earthly fire, and condemned to burn forever in hell’s eternal fire by the pope, who claimed to be the head of the church by Christ’s will, Speratus wrote a hymn that teaches the difference between faith and good works. Waiting for death, he writes a dogmatic hymn about the justification of the sinner before God through faith in Christ alone. The justification of sinners through faith in Christ alone apart from works was not just dogma.
It is[God’s] salvation that has come to us
Out of His grace and great kindness
Works can never help,
They cannot protect us.
Faith only pays attention to Jesus Christ
Who has made satisfaction for us all
He has become the mediator.
It was not just dogma, this right distinction between faith and works. For Speratus it was the very salvation of God that had come to him out of God’s great goodness and mercy alone. That’s why he wrote a hymn explaining it in plain prose as he waited to be burned at the stake.
Learning doctrine is not a work you have to perform. Pure doctrine is not something the Lutheran Church emphasizes because it is legalistic or old-fashioned. It is because the pure doctrine Jesus entrusted to the disciples, the pure doctrine taught by the Holy Spirit, gives us the righteousness that will stand before God. It gives us certainty and a peaceful conscience. It makes a new heart in us that loves our neighbor and begins to do the will of God. It makes us able to face hatred, mockery, persecution with a peaceful conscience that does not respond in hatred toward our persecutors. It makes us stand when the devil sifts us and threatens us with hell, tempting us to find relief from His accusations in our works instead of Christ’s work.
When doctrine is not kept pure, these things are lost. People become uncertain of their salvation. Or they become self-satisfied, self-righteous, and secure, like the workers hired at the beginning of the day in Jesus’ parable. That is why it is no small thing when false doctrine is taught or tolerated in the church, or when those who speak or proclaim the Word of God wrongly apply it and do not properly distinguish the law of God and the Gospel of God, faith in Christ and good works. Tolerance of false doctrine does not hallow God’s Holy Name, but blasphemes it. It also robs people of the certainty of the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. It prevents good works (even though it usually claims to promote them).
False doctrine is like dandelions, crabgrass, or creeping Charlie. I’ve never heard of anyone planting dandelions or crabgrass. I never planted them in my yard and yet every year they threaten to take it over.
That is the way false doctrine is. It doesn’t take work for false doctrine to appear. It grows naturally and vigorously in the soil of human hearts. Human hearts by nature are “good soil” for false doctrine. Why? Because they are naturally self-righteous. They are naturally completely corrupt, full of lies and hatred of God. Your heart and mine.
That’s why the disciples were so slow to learn what Jesus taught and so quick to believe a different gospel about Jesus, which led to them abandoning Him when He was crucified. That’s why the Church so quickly began to tolerate and embrace false teaching. Within a few centuries after the Apostles the Church was permitting or encouraging prayer to the mother of God and the saints as mediators, teaching that by taking monastic vows we become more pleasing to God.
In the parable of the workers in the vineyard, Jesus is warning the disciples about this—about putting confidence in our flesh and its works instead of relying on grace.
+++The first will be last
++Ch. 19—Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Disciples: Who can be saved? Jesus: With man this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.
+Peter: We left everything to follow you. What will we get? Jesus: You will sit on 12 thrones…and everyone who forsakes family, home, etc. for me will receive a hundred times more and eternal life. But many who are first will be last and the last first.
+After this parable, Jesus explains that He is going to Jerusalem and will be mocked, flogged, and crucified.
+Then James and John want to sit at his right hand. Jesus: whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant, and whoever wants to be first will be your slave. For even the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
+The parable says, Do not think your labor or good works or suffering earns you anything; don’t put your trust in those.
++We owe God perfect obedience
+We don’t want to work, love, or suffer unless we get something out of it
++To enter into the kingdom of heaven is to enter work, like laborers in vineyard; the greatest in the kingdom is the biggest slave
+The burden of the day
-Hearing and confessing the word
-Bearing with the weak in the church
-Helping those in need (not only monetarily).
-Speaking the truth in love (in kingdom of the world as well as the church) (abortion, homosexual marriage, freedom of religion)
+The scorching heat
– We can’t do much for others because we’ve spent so many years selfishly
-Disciplining the flesh (Lent, 1 Cor)
-What sins should we confess (catechism) (Here consider your station in life according to the ten commandments)
-Persecution and suffering…that’s what comes as a result of speaking the truth in love. Not gratitude or honor, but being cast out, rejected, despised.
+Those who compare themselves to others will fall.
-This is what we feel like doing: see how much I’ve suffered! See how much harder I’ve tried than these others! And no one stood with me!
-Then if they get the same reward we are angry. This is covetousness.
-Eph. 5:5 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
-To be in the kingdom working is grace. It was earned for us by Jesus’ suffering.
– Looking at the law, comparing yourself to others, you add sin to sin.
– grumblers cast out.
Theme: Crawl to the cross. Jesus has made satisfaction for your sins there. He has done enough (genug tun).
+++The last will be first.
++We cannot keep the law or find rest there.
It was not possible for our corrupt nature
To free itself by its own power.
The more it tried,
The more sin increased.
God damns this hypocritical work
The shame of the sin in our flesh
Clings to every one of our works.
++The Triune God is always working for our good.
+Jesus became man and bore all the burden and heat; He labored for our salvation and accomplished it.
+God the Father keeps giving us daily bread and preserving our lives, and now His heart is turned toward us. He is reconciled.
+The Holy Spirit testifies and consoles us in the Gospel that Jesus has satisfied the Father’s wrath against our ungodliness.
++Through the forgiveness of sins earned by Jesus, the Holy Spirit gives us new hearts that desire to keep the law.
+Why we don’t want to labor and suffer out of love—original sin
+The Holy Spirit renews our hearts. We begin to desire to love and suffer for our neighbor’s good and the honor of Christ.
+But that is not why we are righteous.
+The Holy Spirit urges, Crawl to the cross!
+Faith looks only to Jesus; only pays attention to Jesus.
-And since it [the Law] is now fulfilled through Him
Who was able to keep it
Thus now a Christian learns
The right order and pattern.
No more then [do I rely on my works], dear Lord of mine
Your death has become my life.
You have paid for me.
++He has made satisfaction for our sins and turned away the Father’s wrath.
+He is not idle and lazy. His heart is full of love toward me.
+He treats us as brothers and wants to treat us as if we had done all the work that HE did
+He went to the lowest place, became the servant of all.
+He left bliss to suffer hell for our sakes; He did this because He loved you.
+Now the Father loves you in Him
-Not because of your renewal, but because of His suffering
-Crawl to the cross with your helplessness in sin.
++ He gives us to drink of the wine of the vineyard while we are still laboring.
+His blood in the Sacrament of the Altar, which cleanses us of sin
+Infuses His life into us
+The blood that beat in His heart which was and is so full of love for sinners.
The peace of God, which passes understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Soli Deo Gloria.
- Prayer for Septuagesima. Ev. Luth. Gebets-Schatz. (deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com)
- The Father is Well Pleased with the Cross of Jesus. Transfiguration/ Life Sunday Sermon (deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com)
- If Jesus Had Been There. Funeral Sermon (deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com)
- “I Only Believe The Red Letters!” (Part 2) (testifyingtograce.wordpress.com)
- What the Gospel Is, and What It Is Not (airocross.com)
76. Prayer on Seputagesima Sunday
Lord God, heavenly Father, through Your dear Word You have called us into Your vineyard. We implore You, pour Your Holy Spirit into our hearts, that we may faithfully labor in Your vineyard, vigilant against sin and all causes of offense, attending diligently to Your Word and will. Yet in our work may we set all our hope only in Your grace, which You have richly revealed to us in Your Son Jesus Christ, and thus be saved and blessed forever. Amen. Johannes Eichorn, 1511-1564
- Prayers for the First and Second Sundays in Advent. Gebets-Schatz. (deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com)
- Prayer on the Third Sunday of Advent. Johannes Eichorn. (deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com)