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Maundy Thursday - April 18, 2019

Sermon by Rev. David Kahle

Good Friday (Tenebrae) - April 19, 2019

Sermon by Vicar Mark Kranz

Palm Sunday - April 14, 2019

Sermon by Rev. David Kahle

Lenten Midweek 5 - April 10, 2019

***Due to winter weather, we were unable to record the sermon. Below is the manuscript.***

Sermon by Vicar Mark Kranz

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

            Last week we learned of the Person of the Holy Spirit. At the Baptism of Jesus, we see that the Holy Spirit is distinct from the Father and the Son. Then at the conclusion of Matthew’s gospel, in the baptismal formula (in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit), we see that the Holy Spirit, while distinct from the Father and the Son, is also just as much God as the Father and the Son. In the words of the Athanasian Creed, we worship Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity, neither confusing the Persons nor dividing the Substance.

            The conclusion of this series on the Apostles’ Creed with take up the work of the Holy Spirit. I promise this topic is more familiar to many of you and will be easier to understand than last week. We could examine each phrase of the Third Article, but that would take much longer than we have this evening and it is not necessary. The end of the Third Article [I believe in] the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting is a summary of the work of the Holy Spirit. So then, what does the Holy Spirit do?

            The Holy Spirit builds the Church. If the Church is the congregation of saints gathered to hear the Word of God and receive his gifts, then it is the Holy Spirit who calls people into the Church. This means he is active in conversion. It is impossible for a man to sit alone, with a copy of the Bible, and through his own reading, come to faith in Christ. This is for three reasons: Man is 1. spiritually blind; 2. spiritually dead; 3. and an enemy of God.

           1. First, man is spiritually blind. Reason is a precious gift of God. By this gift, someone could read the Bible and gain much knowledge concerning the history of the people of Israel, of a man named Jesus, and of the movements of the men who followed him. But by reason, man cannot understand the spiritual truth of Scripture. Man cannot figure out that he is sinful by nature in need of a Savior and that this Savior came in the Person of Jesus the Christ.

           2. Man is spiritually dead. To come to Christ and believe in him is a spiritual act, not a physical one. But man is conceived in iniquity and born in sin. Sin is lawlessness and death. So man is born in death, that is, dead to the things of God. The common phrase, ‘as soon as you’re born, you start dying,’ isn’t quite right. As soon as you’re conceived, you are dead. Without God, you may be walking and breathing, but you are as good as dead. Just as Lazarus was helpless to raise himself from the grave, so too are we helpless on our own.

            3. Man is an enemy of God. Natural man, that is unbelieving man, is an enemy of God. There is no sitting on the fence in relationship to God. A man cannot serve two masters, but he must serve one. The house that is left standing empty is soon filled with seven more spirits than before. As an enemy of God, natural man does not want to switch sides, nor is he able. Rather, like a dog returns to its vomit, we return to our sins on our own.

            For these three reasons, (man is spiritually blind, spiritually dead, and an enemy of God), man is incapable of arriving at faith by himself. Even with the Bible in hand, a man cannot come to faith on his own. The only way the heart of man is converted is by the calling and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.

            Thy Word is a lamp to my feet and a light unto my path (Ps 119:115). The Holy Spirit is the one who lights this lamp. The Holy Spirit enlightens our hearts and minds to be able to understand the Scriptures. He causes the Word of God to convict us of our sins and seek forgiveness from the only place it can be found – in Jesus Christ.

            How then does the Holy Spirit do this? It may sound like I’m teaching you to seek the Holy Spirit somewhere other than the Scriptures. Far from it! The Holy Spirit works faith in the hearts of man through the Word of God. St. John records these words of our Lord: But the Comforter, 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 (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit is promised to teach the church through bringing to remembrance all that Jesus has said. Therefore, we say it was the Holy Spirit who inspired the human authors of Scripture. He brought to their remembrance everything Jesus said. Everything Jesus said is the Word of God by which faith is wrought in man.

           We who are dead in our sins, blind to the things of God, and enemies of the Almighty Creator of the universe, are made dear children of the heavenly Father by the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ died for the sins of world, making atonement for our sins. It is then the Holy Spirit who delivers this promise of forgiveness to each Christian. It is the Holy Spirit who turns a heart of stone into a heart of flesh. He works faith in us, that we would receive the gifts of God in faith.

            But the Holy Spirit isn’t done with us once we have faith. He isn’t done once we have been converted or confirmed. The Holy Spirit continues to gather the church in the name of Christ. He calls us to that place where we receive the Holy Body and Precious Blood of Christ together with all the saints. He enlightens our hearts to serve our neighbors and guides us in the works which have been prepared before. He also causes us to seek the forgiveness of sins, constantly working on our hearts so that we would know we are sinners in need of salvation.

            The Holy Spirit also sanctifies us, makes us holy. This means he places the robe of Christ’s righteousness upon us. That the Holy Spirit sanctifies us also means that we are now to follow in the example of Christ. We are to flee from sin and lead holy lives. By the direction of the Holy Spirit, we can change the channel after dark, forgive our spouse, and suffer the persecution of others. When we fail, the Holy Spirit calls us to repentance and keeps us in the faith.

            Only if we abandon the Holy Spirit himself will he depart and leave us to our own depraved minds. This is the only action we are capable of on our own. But like the gardener who pleads with the vineyard owner for another year before destroying the fig tree, the Holy Spirit will fight against our sinful natures on our behalf to the very last moment. He fights for us against our Old Adam.

            The Holy Spirit calls us to faith in Christ. He gathers the saints into the Holy Christian Church where we commune with all the saints of God and receive the forgiveness of sins. The Holy Spirit sustains us to the resurrection of the body, drowning our Old Adam and sanctifying us in holy living. And the result of the work of the Holy Spirit is life everlasting.

          In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Fifth Sunday in Lent - April 7, 2019

Sermon by Rev. David Kahle

Lenten Midweek 4 - April 3, 2019

Sermon by Vicar Mark Kranz

Fourth Sunday in Lent - March 31, 2019

Sermon by Rev. David Kahle