2 Corinthians 4:13-18
“Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. 7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
Brothers and sisters in Christ,
Who would have thought that the Bible and its saving message would continue to spread after being hidden for so long? Who would have thought that, at just the right time, Johann Gutenberg would invent the printing press and that Martin Luther would translate the Bible into the language of the German people? Who would have thought that this Bible would get in the hands of the German people who never had the opportunity to read it before? Who knew that this would mean the Word of God would be in the hands of people all over the world – in their languages? God did!
Who would have thought to enlist a group of 12 men to proclaim the saving message of the Messiah? Who would have thought to send the Holy Spirit to these men – and to many people who would follow in their footsteps – to empower them to keep the Gospel going? God did!
Jesus’ disciples needed hope and comfort and encouragement after Jesus told them he would be leaving them. They were unsure of themselves and lacked complete understanding about all Jesus said he would be doing – like being betrayed, being denied, dying, rising again, and leaving them [going to the Father].
Jesus knew that. That’s why he promised to send the Holy Spirit to help them understand; to strengthen them in their faith; to encourage them in their ministry; to assure them of his eternal presence; and to empower them to keep the Gospel going, so that all people would believe in Jesus and be saved. It would be that message of sacrifice and salvation that people would need to hear. Jesus knew that, and that’s why he was preparing his disciples to serve the world after his Ascension into heaven.
That is why it is so necessary to KEEP THE GOSPEL GOING, not just for our benefit, but for the benefit of the whole human race. When the Gospel takes front and center, the Holy Spirit is working . . . working to fill human hearts with joy because of the Good News through Jesus. Faith can only exist in a heart that is convinced of its sinfulness and the guilt that goes with it. Faith can only exist in a heart that is repentant and healed by God’s Gospel promise. Faith can only exist in a heart that believes all that Jesus did to save every person from Satan, sin, and eternal death. That is why this is so important. It is just as important to God as it ever was.
That task still needs to be done – by us. It’s important for us to KEEP THE GOSPEL GOING! The same Holy Spirit that Jesus sent to his Apostles is the same Holy Spirit he sends to us.
So, what happens when the Holy Spirit empowers us with the Gospel of salvation? The first thing he does is he convinces the world that sin stands in the way of their salvation. One thing is certain: every human being is conceived and born in sin. The Bible says so. Listen to King David when he wrote: Surely, I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me (Ps 51:5). The Apostle Paul reminds us: The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so (Rom 8:7). Paul also says: All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one (Rom 3:12).
So, unbelief is to be expected in a sinful environment like we live in. There isn’t a sinful thought, word, or action that we haven’t been guilty of. Sin grows and it crowds out spiritual growth. Therefore, faith in the true God cannot exist for long, if at all, in the presence of a defiant, disobedient, sin-filled life.
The second thing the Holy Spirit does is convince the world of righteousness – of Jesus’ righteousness. The miraculous arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was God’s announcement that Jesus’ work was completely successful. The Messiah was victorious over sin, death, and Satan himself. By means of the Holy Spirit’s power, the Apostles could KEEP THE GOSPEL GOING on a world-wide scale. God would lead them to travel the then-known world, proclaiming salvation through Jesus Christ alone. The Holy Spirit would enable them to explain how Jesus’ righteousness belongs to everyone who believes in him alone. Self-righteousness would prevent anyone from having an eternal relationship with Jesus. But the Holy Spirit would convince people that Jesus’ righteousness is ours by his grace. And his righteousness has triumphed over mankind’s wickedness. Now, the Bible says, we wear his righteousness like we do clothing.
The third thing the Holy Spirit does is convince the world of God’s judgment. There is no doubt about it, the judgment against Satan is confirmed – he stands condemned. This means that all who refuse to believe in Jesus will share in Satan’s condemnation. This means that those who refuse to repent of their sins and trust in Jesus will share Satan’s condemnation. This also means that those who seem like believers but teach otherwise are false prophets and will share in Satan’s condemnation.
The birth of the New Testament Church began on the Day of Pentecost – just 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection. On that day and in the days to come, Peter and the other Apostles boldly proclaimed the Gospel of salvation through Jesus death and resurrection.
Nothing has changed: The Church’s mission is still the same; the Church’s message is still the same. You and I simply take over where the Apostles left off. We need to KEEP THE GOSPEL GOING because there are still unbelievers out there and the Gospel still needs to be proclaimed to them. The Holy Spirit lives in us and continues to empower us to do this work – joyfully and faithfully.
Plus, we have the privilege to train others to carry on after we’ve gone. We do that in our homes with our children; we do that through a Christ-centered education in our Lutheran Elementary School, our Wisconsin Lutheran High School and Wisconsin Lutheran College; we do that through our teacher and pastor training schools – at Luther Preparatory School, Michigan Lutheran Seminary, Martin Luther College, and Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. We do that through continuing Bible instruction at Mount Calvary in its various forms. All of us need to participate and grow in the knowledge of God’s truth so we can KEEP THE GOSPEL GOING!
Thank you, Holy Spirit, for your work in us and through us. Amen.