“The Peaceful Doctrine of Christ”
May 15, 2005
This morning I will ask the confirmands if they
believe that the teaching of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, drawn from
the Bible, as they have learned to know it from Luther’s Small
Catechism is the true and correct one.
They will say yes. I
will also ask them if they intend to continue steadfast in this
confession and to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it.
They will say, “I do so intend with the help of God.”
These young people will not be confessing merely a generic one
size fits all brand of Christianity as their faith.
They will be confessing specifically that what they have
memorized from Luther’s Small Catechism is the teaching of Christ that
the Holy Spirit taught to the apostles and that the apostles wrote down
in the New Testament. The
teaching of the Catechism is the teaching of Christ and His Church.
Our church does not claim to have its own unique
doctrine. We claim to have
the same teaching that our Lord Jesus entrusted once and for all to the
apostles. If it weren’t
Christ’s teaching it would be wrong for the pastor to ask the
confirmands to pledge themselves to it and be willing to die before
giving it up. These young
people will not be promising their devotion to a sectarian creed, but to
the truth by which Christ has set them free from their sins and has
granted them eternal life. The
Comforter is the Holy Spirit. He
is the Spirit of truth. He
comforts us by means of teaching us the truth.
He teaches us the teaching of Christ, who is the way, and the
truth, and the life.
Doctrine is usually thought of as something
constructed by men. We
learn in school about various social and political doctrines.
Remember the Monroe Doctrine?
You don’t? Don’t
worry. It’s doesn’t
matter. It’s not that
important. Human doctrine
never is. It’s
interesting, but you can live without it.
But God’s doctrine is different. God doesn’t teach us things just to satisfy our curiosity.
In fact, many things about which people are naturally curious are
never even addressed in God’s word.
The teaching that comes from God is always centered in Jesus
Christ. The Father sends
the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ name. The
Holy Spirit comes talking about Jesus.
If it’s not Jesus that the spirit is talking about he’s not
the Holy Spirit. There are
plenty of false spirits out there and they don’t teach Jesus’
doctrine but their own. The
Comforter, the Holy Spirit, reminds the apostles of what Jesus taught
Jesus’ words recorded in our text were first
addressed to the eleven apostles. Jesus
promised them that the Holy Spirit would teach them all things.
Jesus keeps His promises. The
Holy Spirit taught the apostles all the things that Jesus wanted taught.
The Holy Spirit reminded them of everything Jesus had taught
them. They wrote it down.
We have that teaching of Christ in the Holy Scriptures.
This is why we treasure the Bible so much.
If you want to know about Jesus read the Bible.
If you read the Bible, expect to learn about Jesus.
If you read the Bible and don’t learn about Jesus you are
reading with blinders on. Only a sinner who knows his need for a Savior can understand
the Bible because the Bible was written to lead us to Jesus our Savior.
And if you want to find Jesus but neglect, refuse, or deny the
teaching of the Bible you won’t find the real Jesus.
You will find a fake Jesus.
The true Jesus is the biblical Jesus.
The reason God caused the Bible to be written was so that we
would know Jesus by knowing His teaching.
All false teaching has two features.
First, it disagrees with the Bible.
Second, it leads us away from Jesus.
Jesus and the Bible go together.
Jesus and the Holy Spirit go together.
When Jesus received His human nature from His mother, Mary, He
was conceived by the Holy Spirit. When
Jesus was baptized, the Father spoke from heaven and the Holy Spirit
descended upon Jesus like a dove. Just
before Jesus ascended into heaven, He promised to send the Holy Spirit.
On Pentecost, Jesus fulfilled the promise.
The Holy Spirit filled the apostles and gave them the ability to
preach God’s word in languages they had never learned.
Pentecost means fifty days.
It was an Old Testament festival that commemorated the giving of
the law on Mt. Sinai fifty days after the original Passover. In the New Testament Pentecost commemorates the outpouring of
the Holy Spirit fifty days after Jesus rose from the dead.
The Passover was fulfilled in Christ’s crucifixion because
Jesus is the Passover Lamb who has taken away our sin.
The Exodus that freed Israel from slavery in Egypt was fulfilled
in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead because His
resurrection sets us free from the bondage of our sins.
The Law of Moses has been fulfilled in Christ.
The law that promises us grace and every blessing
if we obey it also threatens to punish all who transgress it. That threat brings no peace.
It exposes every sin we think, say, and do. The law accuses us, tries us, and condemns us.
In Deuteronomy chapter 27 Moses listed sin after sin that called
God’s curse on those who committed it and after every curse the people
were commanded to say, “Amen!” The law doesn’t judge us unfairly, the way we judge one
another. It is perfectly
fair, just, and right when it condemns us all as sinners.
And all we can do is to say “Amen,” because we know the law
judges correctly. Do you
think God is wrong to forbid hatred, lust, envy, greed, and every other
kind of evil desire? Is God
wrong when He requires us to conform our lives to the Ten Commandments?
What is wrong with the Ten Commandments?
There’s nothing wrong with God’s law.
There’s something wrong with us.
This is why every effort to find peace with God by
obeying His law will fail. It
makes sense to believe that we will find true peace with God by doing
those things that God wants us to do.
It is reasonable to assume that genuine spiritual peace will come
to us only after we have done what makes for peace.
It is reasonable to believe that the way to peace with God is
paved with our sincere efforts to do our part in bringing that peace
about. But what is
reasonable is wrong. We
cannot make peace with God by anything we do. We
need the peace that Jesus gives. When
the Holy Spirit teaches us the teaching of Jesus He brings us the peace
of Jesus. This is a peace
that we cannot know by our own reason or strength.
It comes only by the Holy Spirit.
As you know, Jesus was promised in the Old
Testament. Abraham called
Jesus “Shiloh”, the man of peace.
Isaiah called Jesus the Prince of Peace.
After promising the apostles that the Holy Spirit would teach
them everything, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give
to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be
troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
The peace of this world is established by imposing
the law. The law keeps an
outward peace by making potential lawbreakers afraid to break the law. The law doesn’t make bad people into good people.
It only keeps bad people in line.
The peace that Jesus brings does make bad people into good
people. It doesn’t depend
on the power of force. It
depends on the power of Jesus’ holy precious blood and His innocent
suffering and death. There
is where Jesus made peace between sinners and the holy God.
Jesus did more than promise a peaceful feeling for those who
receive His teaching. Shortly
after giving this promise to the disciples He went to the cross where He
offered up to God His spotless obedience, His moral purity, His pure
love, and His holy suffering. This
was our offering to God because Jesus offered Himself as our
representative. By that precious exchange, where Jesus gave up His life for
us all, He turned away God’s anger from us and established permanent
peace between God and us.
This is the peace that the Holy Spirit gives to us
and confirms in our hearts. This
is the peace that passes all understanding.
It is the peace of sin forgiven and of knowing that God regards
you as fully righteous and innocent because He has reckoned to you the
righteousness of Jesus Christ. You
know this and you believe this because the Holy Spirit has taught you
this. He has established in
your heart true faith.
Outward peace is a gift of God. We should thank God for the privilege of living in a free
country where we can enjoy the peace established by law and custom.
But to have a conscience set at peace is far greater.
We can endure war, want, and violence of every description and
still be at peace with God. This
is what Jesus gives us by the teaching of the Holy Spirit.
“Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Jesus has taken away all reason to be afraid of anything at all.
If your Father in heaven is at peace with you then you have
everlasting peace because God is both willing and able to keep you in
the true faith you confess this morning.
The Apostle Peter concluded his sermon on the first
Christian Pentecost by saying, “Therefore let all the house of Israel
know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both
Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:36) The
people who heard his sermon were cut to the heart and asked Peter and
the other apostles, “Men and brothers, what shall we do?”
Peter answered by saying, “Repent, and let every one of you be
baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you
shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)
You have been baptized in the name of Jesus Christ
for the forgiveness of sins. You
have received the gift of the Holy Spirit.
He has taught you the teaching of Christ that brings you peace.
Today you are promising that you will, by God’s grace, keep
confessing the truth the Holy Spirit has taught you.
It is more precious than anything else in your life.
Money, popularity, physical strength, talent, and whatever other
earthly blessings you value can and will be lost.
But in your baptism God gave you forgiveness of sins, He
delivered you from death and the devil, and He gave you eternal
salvation. God’s not
fickle. He doesn’t change
His mind. He won’t back
away from the promises He gave you in your baptism because when He makes
a promise He stays with it. I
can’t convince you of this, but the Holy Spirit can and He will and
this is why you will always need to be taught by the Holy Spirit.
His teaching defies the wisdom of this world and keeps you in the
truth faith. It comforts
you in every sorrow. It
fills your life with peace. It
confirms you in the grace of your baptism for the rest of your life and
leads you to heaven on the day you die.
It is the one thing in life you need, so be stubborn about
receiving it. Christ
Himself promises you the crown of life.
So hold on to His words that you have learned and hold on for
Rev. Rolf D. Preus