Philip Casmer

Tell Abroad His Glory

by Philip Casmer on May 19th, 2024
John 15:26–27; 16:4b-11

I hope, so far in this service today, you have felt the double-invitation. You said it in the Dialogue at the beginning and you said it again when we acclaimed the Gospel, “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful people, and kindle in them the fire of your love.” That’s an invitation to the one we read about – the Spirit who powerfully gives life to the spiritually dead; the promised Spirit, who was poured out on normal men so they spoke with convicting power. So, rightly and characteristically, our Prayer of the Day (p.6) expressed what that invitation means to us. When that Spirit comes with his “sevenfold gift of grace” and kindles the fires of his love in our hearts, it’s so that… “in a true and living faith we may tell abroad the glory of our Savior, Jesus Christ.” That is what this day is for… As Jesus speaks to his disciples in John 15 & 16, and promises what was fulfilled in Acts 2, he also invites you to Tell Abroad His Glory.

To do it, Jesus sends his Spirit for your comfort. In v.26 he’s called “the Advocate”, someone who stands at your side, like in a court room perhaps, but at least a friend, someone who stands by you and speaks for you. Another way to translate that name would be Comforter. Which probably isn’t the best way to translate it, but is a useful way… because that’s exactly the kind of Spirit Jesus is promising – one who comforts you to tell…

Listen to who Jesus says this Comforter is in v.26, “[The One] I will send to you from the Father”. So, presuming that Jesus will be there with God and be able as God – even though he’s about to die a bloody death – he will send the Spirit. And a few words after that, “[this Comforter] goes out from the Father”. So, “goes out from” the Father is, perhaps, that he is totally in line with the Father’s will and purpose and even has the same power – as the Father and the Son… You could maybe say that he “proceeds from the Father and the Son”… Which ought to sound familiar… You’re going to confess it in a few minutes: “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son…” 

Why do we do that? Say what we believe? Isn’t it partly because we struggle to believe it? And so we need to say it – and hear others say it too – to remember it ourselves? Because our lives are full of confessions of our own weaknesses and calls for us to believe that other powers are greater? And we need to declare whom we believe in, whose power is greatest, whose work saves us… In that way, consider this Comforter: the very Spirit of God, in all the three-in-one nuance of Almighty God in majesty and mystery, him Jesus (who has been here and lived this) sent… What power is greater than that? What comfort can be greater than that?

Well, Jesus does also add this: this Comforter is “the Spirit of truth who…will testify about [Jesus].” The Spirit brings, has, is, tells the truth. Of what? Of how things are in Jesus Christ – that’s who he testifies about. He tells sinners of a Savior from sins. He says to your hearts, “By Jesus’ work, I forgive you all your sins…” And they are. He kindles in your hearts the fire of God’s love for you. Because it’s the truth…

That’s good, because this world has lost its way with the truth, hasn’t it? Things we used to hold in common with the world – marriage, male, female – are no longer so clear. The way our faith is viewed and received has changed too. Atheists call us ignorant and anti-science; protestors denounce us as hateful and homophobic or advocates of patriarchy and white supremacy. Those are the words of the world and the ways of the world – some of the more overt ones anyway. Throw in all the other subtleties of your friends and family who hold parts of the same – who believe any of those are the truth – and it’s daunting to even think about it: “you also must testify…” 

We all have this fear to some degree or other based on who we are…in relation to who all those people out there are… You know, whenever I preach, almost any time, I fear that you won’t believe it. Not because you’re wicked, but because I have things to worry about – whether I’ve well reasoned it or articulated it or argued you into it? And, don’t you fear the same thing? Yours not from an ambo but on the phone with your daughter. Not wearing a stole but business casual. Not from a chancel but in your daily lives. Don’t you fear – wherever abroad you are – that it won’t work when we testify? We’re not prophets of old… We’re not Peter, converting thousands… We’ve just got these broken words of ours. Right? 

I just finished my Spring semester class in the coursework I’m taking. One of the last topics we discussed was “the Word of God.” Which immediately makes us think about this, right? And what we read on pp.7-10? This Bible is God’s Word! But, did you know dogmatically there are three forms of God’s Word? There’s the personal Word of God – that’s Jesus – as John calls him, “In the beginning was the Word…” And there’s the written Word of God – that’s this – “These words are written that you may believe…” But there’s also the spoken word – “I forgive you all your sins…” or “May the true body and blood of Jesus Christ strengthen you…” or “I baptize you in the name of…”  And, that’s very nice… now you have a new category perhaps. But it isn’t just those formulas. It’s also God’s Word when Phil or Nathaniel preaches. And it’s God’s Word when you tell your friend the Story of Everything. And it’s God’s Word when you forgive somebody their sins… What you testify is what the Spirit tells; when you testify, the Spirit does too – through you… 

Jesus applies this comfort to you – the very mysterious and majestic Spirit of God himself Jesus sent to testify to your hearts what you believe about Jesus so that you can testify too – to Tell Abroad His Glory. As you consider that, consider also this: that Jesus sends his Spirit with conviction for you.

Look at vv.8-11… Where it says there, “[the Advocate] will prove the world to be in the wrong…” That’s true. As you live the Word of God and as you speak the Word of God, that Spirit stand beside you and convicts THE WORLD: that it is wrong in its unbelieving sin: Jesus isn’t just a guy or some prophet or a myth – he is the Son of God with power (verse 9); that it is wrong about what’s right and good – Jesus – who did what is right in God’s sight – has been vindicated by His Father, raised from the dead, and revealed to be the Savior of all (verse 10); that it is wrong about who reigns: Jesus has defeated Satan and he rules over all things (verse 11) and the world can do what it likes with all its power to you or me, but the world will lose. 

You could also translate that phrase like this: the Holy Spirit “will convict the world” of all these things. I kind of like to think of conviction there, because conviction is important to testimony – for sure on the receivers’ end, but also on yours. The Spirit works as Advocate FOR YOU, to speak to your own hearts and minds the conviction of your faith. To help you see these things for yourselves. The Spirit, your Advocate, comes and speaks to your hearts. When you come to church, you hear these things preached. When you open the Scriptures, you understand these things in what you read. When you speak with other Christians, you hear these things confessed in your conversation. And, even when you speak to others who know nothing of this – many are convinced with you. Why? Because the Spirit is at work. Our Advocate is offering us these truths and working with these truths. 

Pentecost is full of this kind of promise. The Spirit comes – he comforts you that the very power of the mighty God testifies when you testify. The Spirit comes – he advocates for you and tempers your hearts like steel to believe God and to face the world knowing that Spirit will convict them too – of wrong, to believe what’s right, finally with judgment. 

Isn’t that what Peter and the disciples found on that first Pentecost? Peter spoke the Word of God – Peter, who had denied the Lord himself – he testified before thousands that Jesus Christ, who they killed, is Savior of the world. And the Spirit of truth was at work in what Peter spoke. On that day, many disbelieved it and turned away and called disciples drunkards. And many others were convicted in their hearts – to know that righteousness had been among them in Jesus and that he is the only way to God – and they heard the Word of God, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” They repented and believed.

The story isn’t meant to show you what kind of miraculous things God once did. It’s meant to remind that that Spirit-filled testimony is ours too. Let’s continue to pray that our Comforter and Advocate would fill us with a fire to tell abroad (wherever we are and whatever we do) his glory (that Jesus Christ is Savior of the world) ours and theirs too.

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