ďPure Doctrine, Pure PeaceĒ
May 27, 2007
Those who care about their
relationship with God will care about what they are taught.
A solid relationship with God is not based on having an emotional
experience. It doesnít
come from going through certain religious discipline.
A good relationship with God comes from the Holy Spirit teaching
us those things that Christ teaches.
The comfort of the Comforter comes from being instructed in the
Pentecost is the celebration of
the birthday of the Holy Christian Church.
Actually, the church was born immediately after Adam and Eve fell
into sin. God gave them the
promise of a Savior. They
trusted in that promise. By
faith in the promise they became Christians and received the forgiveness
of sins and eternal life that only Christians have.
So we can speak of the church existing in Old Testament times
thousands of years before Jesus was born.
But we recognize Pentecost as
the birthday of the Christian Church because it was on that day that
Jesus fulfilled the promise he had given to send the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit has always been present with Godís people, but
on Pentecost his almighty power was displayed as never before.
He gave to the apostles the ability to speak in languages they
had never learned. All the
Jews present on Pentecost likely spoke Greek Ė as did the apostles Ė
and were also familiar with the Hebrew of the Old Testament.
They didnít need to hear the gospel spoken in their native
languages. But God had a
purpose in giving to the apostles this miraculous ability. He wanted to make a point.
You may recall how God, at the
Towel of Babel, confused the languages the people spoke so that they had
to give up their dream of building a tall tower that would reach to the
heavens. They were proud
people who thought that they could find true spirituality by raising
themselves up to God. They
wanted spiritual greatness. They
wanted to be great in the eyes of God of themselves.
But they didnít want to humble themselves before their Creator.
They thought that they had within themselves all that was needed
to find God. They thought
that they didnít need his mercy or grace.
They didnít need to rely on him for his gifts.
They trusted in themselves, not in God.
They thought that if they set their minds to it they could do it. They were very much like people today who seek the answer to
lifeís most difficult troubles within themselves. People gather together with people to pool their spiritual
resources and overcome whatever troubles beset them. Humanism parades as genuine Christianity.
God showed the people who were
building the Tower of Babel that the seed of greatness wasnít within
them at all. At that time they all spoke the same language.
God gave them many different languages so that they could no
longer understand each other. They quickly abandoned their project. They werenít as great as they had thought.
God confused the languages at the Tower of Babel in order to show
to them Ė and the whole world Ė that we cannot reach up to the
spiritual heights by joining forces with one another and relying on
human ingenuity. We must
rather humble ourselves before God.
He will raise up the humble, but those who exalt themselves will
The miracle of Pentecost
reverses the confusion of Babel. At
Babel God showed that all human efforts to find God can only result in
division. When people try
to establish their own spiritual unity, they bring about the very
opposite. On Pentecost God showed that he alone can unite people of all
languages into one. The
religion that is grounded on human works brings nothing but division.
The religion that is based on divine grace brings perfect unity.
The same gospel was proclaimed in many different languages.
Despite human differences, the Holy Spirit brings unity.
The Holy Spirit unites us by teaching us the truth that joins us
together as one. He
destroys our false faith in ourselves and guides us into the truth that
Jesus teaches so that we will learn to trust in him.
The truth that Jesus teaches
goes against the grain. St.
Paul says that the natural man, that is, the person who is not
enlightened by the Holy Spirit, thinks that the gospel of Christ is
foolishness. In his first
Epistle to the Corinthians Paul speaks of the preaching of the cross as
foolishness to those who are perishing.
For us who are being saved it is Godís own wisdom.
The message of the cross is considered to be foolish because it
rejects all human efforts to find God.
People naturally think that if we are going to find peace with
God we had better get busy in building our way back to him.
So you ask the Lodge member what
the white lambskin represents. He
is taught to reply that it symbolizes that purity of heart and rectitude
of conduct that will bring him to heaven.
You ask anyone who looks within himself for true spirituality and
you will find a similar answer. People
believe that the way to peace with God is a road that we must pave
And then there is Jesus on the
cross. Why did he die? It makes no sense. Was
it no more than a good man willing to die for a cause he believed in?
But if that were so, why would he have to be the Son of God?
Why would God himself have to become a man and as a man to suffer
and die? The Holy Spirit teaches us what this means.
Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the
Comforter. He is our
Advocate. He takes our
cause and makes it his own. He
knows we have not within us what we need for true peace.
So he gives us what belongs to Christ, the Prince of Peace. He teaches us the pure doctrine of Christ.
As Jesus promised, the Holy Spirit taught the apostles everything
that Jesus had said to them. When Jesus taught them they didnít quite get it.
How many times Jesus told them of his impending death!
But they didnít understand.
Then Jesus died. They
were destroyed. They ran
away. They hid. They
cowered in fear.
The power that turned the world
upside down and won thousands to the true faith on that first Pentecost
did not reside within the apostles.
It came to them from the outside.
It was the power of the Holy Spirit.
And we need him. We
cannot live without him. We
confess him as the Lord and giver of life.
Our lives come from being taught the heavenly teaching of the
Holy Spirit. Our hearts
will deny it. The Holy
Spirit overcomes the objections of our sinful flesh and persuades us of
the truth. He teaches us
what we will never find within ourselves.
The heavenly teaching of the Holy Spirit is always about Jesus
and it always brings us peace.
There is a popular myth promoted
by many religious people that we should be more concerned about an
authentic religious experience than we should be with the pure teaching
of Godís word. Concern for pure doctrine is denigrated.
The answer lies within you.
Thatís a lie. The problems of life lie within us. Not out there in an unfair system. Not over there in what he or she said or did to hurt me.
The problems of life lie within our own hearts.
We love ourselves so very much that it pushes out the love for
God and neighbor. If we loved God as we should and if we loved our neighbors as
we should we would certainly find peace.
Hatred, selfishness, self-centeredness, and every other
manifestation of sinful pride can only bring conflict and division. If we are to experience true peace, the peace of Jesus, we
need the Holy Spirit to bring us Godís peace.
He will set our hearts at peace by teaching us the pure gospel.
The world gives peace but it
depends on the threat of force. The
policeman carries a gun because violent men arenít going to be
persuaded to be peaceful by sweet reason.
Governments raise armies because other governments require the
threat of violent force to keep them from invading their neighbors.
Even the schoolchildren will finally settle down, sit still, and
listen only when they are persuaded that they had better do so, or else. In short, the threat of force is how the world brings peace.
Jesus brings us peace by bearing
in his sacred body all of our sins.
He suffers violence. He
suffers from the violence of men. He
faces the anger of sinners against sinners.
He faces the anger of sinners against God.
And he suffers the anger of God against sinners.
Indeed, he faces on the cross all of the conflict, the violence,
the anger, the war, and division of mankind into warring factions,
tribes, and nations. Godís
anger against sinners is taken away as Jesus bears it.
Now he sends the Holy Spirit that he may persuade us of the truth
of the gospel teaching. Our
hearts deny it. Our
consciences think it is foolishness.
But the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Pentecost, persuades us that
it is true. For Christís sake we are at peace with God.
Our sins are forgiven by his blood.
God holds nothing against us.
Jesus has given us this peace.
All of Godís anger is gone.
There are no recriminations.
As we confess our sin, God graciously and fully forgives us.
He does not withhold his grace because of the depth of our guilt.
He takes the guilt off of us.
The Holy Spirit persuades us to leave it on the cross where Jesus
took it away. In this way
Jesus gives us the peace that the world cannot give and unites us in
love for one another. Christís
pure doctrine brings us pure peace.
Our heart is neither troubled nor afraid.
Rev. Rolf D. Preus