SCRIPTURES – Psalm 104; Genesis 11:1-9; Acts 2:1-21; John 14:23-31
“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 things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.”
The recent births in our congregation of Kaitlyn and Marco to Jill and her sister Kelly made me think of a little girl who was born long ago. Born to loving parents and into good home, she had everything she needed. But, as she grew she didn’t appreciate any of this. She became an angry, violent child, constantly kicking and screaming and throwing tantrums to get what she wanted. She didn’t respond to the love of her parents, or of anyone else. Frankly, she didn’t even seem to know what love was.
You see, at 19 months of age this girl contracted a disease that destroyed her vision and her hearing. Blind and deaf, she was cut off from her world. She understood and appreciated little, and could respond only in the most brutish of ways. “I felt as if invisible hands were holding me,” she later wrote, “and I made frantic efforts to free myself. I struggled—not that struggling helped matters, but the spirit of resistance was strong within me; I generally broke down in tears and physical exhaustion.”
Helen Keller was like an animal, for she was locked in a dark, angry, and turbulent world. Years later, she wrote: “Have you ever been at sea in a dense fog, when it seemed as if a tangible white darkness shut you in, and the great ship, tense and anxious, groped her way toward the shore with plummet and sounding-line, and you waited with beating heart for something to happen? I was like that ship… only I was without compass or sounding-line, and had no way of knowing how near the harbor was. “Light! give me light!” was the wordless cry of my soul.” Her life seemed hopeless.
And then… her parents brought to her a teacher, Anne Sullivan. “The light of love shone on me in that very hour.” As Anne taught Helen how to communicate and understand her world, she not only gave her knowledge; she above all gave her love: the ability to know it, receive it, and give it.
This is what your Lord gives you with His gift of your Teacher, the Holy Spirit. This is what we celebrate on this Pentecost Sunday.
THE HOLY SPIRIT IS GOD’S GIFT OF LOVE
For the Holy Spirit brings us God’s love in Christ. “The Holy Spirit will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you,” Jesus promised His apostles. He gives us Christ’s words, and by them gives us Christ.
We all forget things. By this afternoon you will forget much of what I am saying to you now. So, how can we be sure of what Jesus said and did, seeing as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John did not write these things down in their Gospels until some 25 or more years after Jesus ascended into heaven? “The Holy Spirit will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” The Holy Spirit enabled them to accurately remember and record what they saw and heard from Jesus, so that we might know our Savior!
Without God’s Words, as far as knowing God we would be like Helen Keller: blind and deaf, ignorant of His love and mercy and the good He gives us in Jesus, anxiously groping toward Him with no certainty of ever finding Him. Helen herself was like this with God, in fact, and Anne Sullivan knew this. And so, soon after Helen learned to communicate through words spelled out in her hand, Anne called upon Phillips Brooks, the famous Boston preacher and author of the hymn, “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” to teach her about Jesus. With Sullivan interpreting for him, he told Helen about Christ. A smile lit up her face, and through her teacher she said, "Mr. Brooks, I have always known about God, but until now I didn't know His name."
The Holy Spirit gives God a name; a face; an identity. It is Jesus, the Son of God and Son of Mary, who was born, suffered and was crucified for our sins, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven—all for us! The Holy Spirit uses the Bible to shine the light of God’s love in Christ upon us and drive away the dense fog of our sins and ignorance. The Holy Spirit leads us to Jesus, and, through Him, to His eternal home with His Father in heaven.
This is why you must hear and learn and hold to the words and teachings of the Bible. Don’t be fooled by those who don’t accept what the Bible says and, in their desire to discover the “real” Jesus, come up with new ideas about who Jesus was and what he did and said. This is not from the Holy Spirit, and is not prompted by love for Jesus, for He says: “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.” In rejecting the Bible and advancing their own ideas such teachers only hide God behind a dense fog of uncertainty and confusion. The end result of this is becoming blind and deaf to God and drifting far from Him.
“These things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name” the apostle John wrote at the end of his Gospel. Thanks be to God for the Holy Spirit’s gift of the writings of Christ’s apostles! By them the Holy Spirit teaches you and gives you life – a whole new life! – in His name!
Helen Keller knew the joy of a new life. She used Biblical language to describe the great change in her life that occurred when Anne Sullivan taught her sign language and gave her the ability to understand and communicate: “Then I came up out of Egypt and stood before Sinai, and a power divine touched my spirit and gave it sight, so that I beheld many wonders. And from the sacred mountain I heard a voice which said, ‘Knowledge is love and light and vision.’”
This is above all true of the knowledge of God in Christ that the Bible gives. In Jesus is the wondrous peace of knowing that the eternal God knows you, loves you, forgives all your sins by Christ’s death for you, and gives you a new life. God is at peace with you, and so you can now be at peace in your heart! No matter who you are or what your situation is in life, no matter what others may think of you, in Jesus God is with you. Jesus promises, “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.” You are not scattered or separated from God. Not now; not ever. He lives within you who love Jesus!
Contemplating this, Martin Luther wrote: “Heaven itself will not have the glory that a Christian now has. Just consider this: God in heaven does not say that He wants to dwell there but rather that heaven will be His throne and earth His footstool. But a Christian’s heart will right now be the dwelling place wherein God wants to live... If a person’s heart delights in the man Christ Jesus, it truly then becomes God’s temple and dwelling place.”
Thanks to the Holy Spirit and His bringing Christ to us through His words, we are not deaf and blind to God and dependent upon our own failing efforts. We are not adrift at sea, lost in the fog of ignorance. We are at home with God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for He is at home with us! We pray, then: Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful. Kindle in us the fire of Your love! Amen.