The Spirit as Teacher

Rev. Deacon Allen J. Batchelder

Trinity Church
Waltham, Massachusetts
May 26, 2013 – Pentecost I
Trinity Sunday – Memorial Day Sunday

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31; Psalm 8, Romans 5:1-5, John 16:12-15

From the book of Proverbs:
Does not wisdom call; does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud: “To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the sons of men.”

From St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans:
And hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.

And from the Gospel of St. John:
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

Let us pray:
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, O God, our Rock and our Redeemer, our Strength and our Salvation.

What is truth?

Truth is most often used to mean in accord with fact, reality, sincerity or honesty. The concept of truth is discussed and debated in several contexts, including philosophy and religion. Many human activities depend upon the concept, which is assumed rather than a subject of discussion, including science, law, and everyday life.

There are differing claims on such questions as what constitutes truth: what things are truth-bearers capable of being true or false; how to define and identify truth; the roles that revealed and acquired knowledge play; and whether truth is subjective or objective, relative or absolute.

We have heard in the news lately, several scandals involving our Federal Government.

The first one involves the terrorist attack on our diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya back on September 11, 2012, where four Americans were killed and many wounded. The concern has been that the American people and the world were told that the attack was a “spontaneous” protest brought on by an anti-Muslim video and not a terrorist attack by Muslim extremists. After several weeks, this narrative was found to be not true. The other accusation was that there may have been military forces available that could have come to their rescue, but were told to “stand down.” It has now been eight months. What is the truth?

The second scandal involves the Justice Department seizing emails and phone records of news organizations, such as the Associated Press and Fox News and their reporters, thus violating the First Amendment of the Constitution, which is Freedom of the Press. Supposedly, it was done to find out, who had leaked information, but instead of looking on the government side, they looked at the press, with a far reaching scope. Were they looking for the truth or was it intimidation? What is the truth?

The third scandal involves the IRS, where the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups such as the Tea Party. The IRS delayed or didn’t process their application for non-profit status. They also obtained donor lists of these organizations and then conducted audits on the donors, to intimidate donors not to give. Some of Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney’s donors were also targeted for audits. Congress has just started to hold hearings on this matter. What is the truth?

There are other scandals that people have probably forgotten about: voter intimidation by the Black Panthers in the 2008 Presidential election, where the case was dropped; and Operation Fast and Furious, which was gun-running operation where a border patrol agent, Brian Terry was killed and numerous Mexicans as well.

What is very disturbing is that when our government officials are asked to tell the truth, they refuse; they withhold information or mislead the people. All the American people want is to be told the truth. If mistakes were made, fine. Correct them so that they don’t happen again. If people broke the law, then they should be prosecuted. Just don’t lie to us; tell us the truth.

What is this teaching our children about our government; about right and wrong; about telling the truth; and are there consequences for not telling the truth?

Let us remember our brave American men and women on this Memorial Day weekend; many whom have given the ultimate sacrifice, so that we may live in peace and freedom; away from the tyranny of government.

When Jesus was betrayed in the Garden of Gethsemane and arrested, he eventually was brought before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor. Pilate asked Jesus a number of questions to determine His guilt or innocence. One of the questions that Pilate asked Jesus was: “What is truth?”

Jesus not only told Pilate of His origin, that His kingdom was not of this world; He also explained His ministry: to bear witness unto the truth. His was a spiritual kingdom of truth; and He won people to His cause, not through force, but through conviction and persuasion. He spoke the truth of God’s Word, and all who were His people would respond to His call. Rome’s weapon was the sword; but our Lord’s weapon was the truth of God, the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17).

Our Lord was always careful to give His disciples the right amount of truth at the best time. This is always the mark of a great teacher. The Holy Spirit is our Teacher today, and He follows that same principle: He teaches us the truths we need to know when we need them, and when we are ready to receive them.

The Holy Spirit would remind the disciples of what Jesus had taught them; this gives us the four Gospels. The Spirit would also “guide” them into all truths; and this would result in the epistles, St. Paul’s letters. “He will show you things to come” refers to the prophetic Scriptures, especially the Book of Revelation.

In St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, he talks about “justification by faith.” What does this mean? Justification means that God declares us righteous, which is a declaration of peace, made possible by Christ’s death on the cross. “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other (Ps. 85:10). But when you are justified by faith, you are declared righteous and saved, and the Law cannot condemn you.

Through Jesus Christ, we now have access to God. Before Christ’s death, the Jew was kept from God’s presence by the veil in the temple; and the Gentile was kept out by a wall in the temple with a warning on it that any Gentile who went beyond would be killed. But when Jesus died, He tore the veil and broke down the wall. In Christ, believing Jews and Gentiles have access to God (Eph. 2:18); and they can draw on the inexhaustible riches of the grace of God (Eph. 1:7). We stand “in grace” and not “in Law.” Justification has to do with our standing; sanctification has to do with our state.

“Peace with God” takes care of the past: He will no longer hold our sins against us. “Access to God” takes care of the present: we can come to Him at any time for the help we need. “Hope of the glory of God” takes care of the future: one day we shall share in His glory!

Justification is no escape from the trials of life. “In this world ye shall have tribulation” (John 16:33). But for the believer, trials work for him and not against him. No amount of suffering can separate us from the Lord (Rom. 8:35-39); instead, trials bring us closer to the Lord and make us more like the Lord. Suffering builds Christian character. As we go through trials and tribulations, and depend on God’s grace, the trials only purify us and help to get rid of the sin.

Jesus has promised us that one day we will share in His glory, but as we wait for this hope to be fulfilled, the love of God is “poured out into our hearts.” Before we were saved, God proved His love by sending Christ to die for us. Now that we are His children, surely He will love us more. It is the inner experience of this love through the Spirit that sustains us as we go through life’s tribulations.

Faith, hope, and love all combine to give the believer patience in the trials of life. And patience makes it possible for the believer to grow in character and become a mature child of God (James 1:1-4).
The book of Proverbs is a guide to attaining wisdom and truth, but here and there King Solomon points out several important characteristics of the wise man. Of course, the first step toward wisdom is saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Wise people listen to wise instruction, especially the Word of God. Wise people pay attention to spoken instruction as well as to the written Word of God as His Holy Spirit teaches us His will. Jesus warns us to take heed what we hear (Mark 4:24) and how we hear (Luke 8:18).

This means that we must diligently spend time reading and studying the Word of God, appropriating its truths into our hearts, and obeying what God commands (Prov. 2:1-9). It isn’t enough to own a study Bible and read books about the Bible, helpful as they are. It’s one thing to know about the Bible and quite something else to hear God speak through His word and teach us His wisdom so that we become more like Jesus Christ.

People today have numerous translations of the Bible to read and to study. They have a church fellowship, and can look back at centuries of faith as recorded in church history and the Bible. Yet many refuse to believe or they are just not interested.

It is essential that we see that the work of the Spirit of God is never divorced from Jesus Christ or the Word of God. “He will bear witness to me” (John 15:26); “He shall glorify me” (John 16:14). Jesus is the truth (John 17:17), and the Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of Truth.” Where the Holy Spirit is at work, there must be truth.

The teaching of the Spirit through the Apostles was not different from the teaching of the Spirit through Jesus Christ. The same Holy Spirit communicated the truths found in the four Gospels, the epistles, and the Book of Revelation; and He also wrote the history and doctrine found in Acts.

It is the ministry of the Spirit to enrich us with the treasures of God’s truth. He enlightened us with God’s truth and enriches us with God’s treasures. The Word of God is a rich mine of gold, silver, and precious jewels (Prov. 3:13-15). What a joy it is to have the Spirit illumine His Word.

We do not study the Word of God in order to “argue religion” with people, or to show off our grasp of spiritual things. We study the Word to see Jesus Christ, to know God better, to glorify Him in our lives.
As we witness in this hostile world, the Spirit uses the Word He has taught us; and we share Jesus Christ with the lost. It is our job to witness; it is the Spirit’s job to convict.

As we study God’s Word, we need to allow God’s Holy Spirit to work through us and teach us the will of the Father and to become more like His Son, Jesus Christ.

Let us pray:
Almighty and everlasting God, who hast given unto us thy servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity; We beseech thee that thou would keep us steadfast in this faith and worship and bring us at last to see thee in thy one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son, and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, forever and ever.

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