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Fifth Sunday of Easter (1880)

John 16:5-15

I.
The entire work of our salvation must be accomplished by God. Beginning,
middle, and end is in God's hand. The salvation, through which a man is saved, is
therefore called the salvation of God, i.e., it is put into effect by God and brought to an
end.
1
The decree of redemption is conceived from eternity by God, before we were
born
2
; God has carried out this decree in time through His incarnate Son
3
while we were
still His enemies.
4
But even with the acquisition of salvation through Christ, it was not
enough. If we should truly acquire salvation, then it must be appropriated to us by God
the Holy Spirit.

The sending of the Holy Spirit: An absolutely necessary blessing of the grace of God
for our salvation.

We recognize this when we consider
1. on what it is based,
a. not on any merit on our part. Before the Holy Spirit works in our hearts,
we are indeed enemies of God
5
,
b. but on the atoning death of Christ.
6
Christ has not merely earned
salvation itself with His death, but also the appropriation of salvation.
7

Gerhard: "The grain of wheat falling into the earth has also brought us
among other fruits even that of the Spirit
8
, as a sign of this Christ
breathed on the apostles after His resurrection and said: Receive the
Holy Spirit"
9
;

1
Psalm 98:3, 50:23 passim.
2
Ephesians 3:9.
3
2 Corinthians 5:18-19.
4
Romans 5:8.
5
Romans 8:7-8.
6
John 16:7.
7
See Galatians 3:14.
8
John 12:24.
9
John 20:22.
c. if the sending of the Holy Spirit is based on the atoning death of Christ,
then it must be absolutely necessary for our salvation. What is
purchased for so dear a price
10
must be absolutely indispensable for us;

2. what it works,
a. among mankind in general.
11
The Holy Spirit convicts mankind through
His working in the Word
. concerning sin,
. what sin is meant here in particular. The sin of not
believing in Christ;
. why the Holy Spirit must now convict mankind of this
sin. This sin is unknown to man by nature, the greatest,
the sin inevitably plunging mankind into eternal doom.
[Augustine: "He makes this sin considerable before other sins, as if it was the only
one; because if this sin remains, then the others are retained; it this gives way, then the
others are forgiven." Luther: "Therefore all our salvation and condemnation now lies on
whether we believe or do not believe in Christ, and the verdict is already finally
delivered which locks up heaven and denies everything, so would neither have nor
accept this faith in Christ. For that disbelief retains all sin, that it cannot be forgiven,
even as faith cancels all sin."]
. concerning righteousness,
. what kind of righteousness is meant here. The
righteousness of Christ that He acquired through His
going away to the Father and has brought to light, not for
Himself, but for mankind
12
,
. why the Holy Spirit must now convict mankind of this
righteousness. This righteousness is unknown by nature
by every man.
13

[Luther: "This righteousness, however, is completely concealed, not only from the
world but also from the saints. It is not a thought, a word, or a work in ourselves, as the
scholastics fantasied about grace when they said that it is something poured into our
hearts. No, it is entirely outside and above us; it is Christs going to the Father (that is,
His suffering and resurrection or ascension).... This is a peculiar righteousness; it is
strange indeed that we are to be called righteous or to possess a righteousness which is
really no work, no thought, in short, nothing whatever in us but is entirely outside us in

10
1 Peter 1:18-19.
11
John 16:8-11.
12
Jeremiah 23:6; Romans 4:25; Hebrews 9:12ff.; Isaiah 53:11.
13
Romans 3:21 ("revealed").
Christ and yet becomes truly ours by reason of His grace and gift, and becomes our
very own, as though we ourselves had achieved and earned it."]
. concerning judgment,
. what is meant by this judgment. The judgment handed
down about the devil by Christ's death and resurrection
14
,
. why the Holy Spirit must now convict mankind of this
judgment. Mankind would otherwise not recognize that
they serve a lord already awarded condemnation and are
in danger to be condemned with him if they do not flee
his kingdom. Even those who have become believing
would still be afraid without reason before the
vanquished, of whom one little word can fell;
b. what it has worked among the apostles in particular
15
,
. the apostles had still not understood all doctrine before the
sending of the Holy Spirit, rather, they were still caught up in
some error
16
;
. through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit they were infallible
witnesses of the saving truth for the church until the last day.
Their testimony, as it exists in Scripture, is infallible, because the
infallible Holy Spirit himself has spoken through them. Their
testimony is sufficient, so that we do not rely on so-called
traditions, because the Holy Spirit has led them into all truth.
The testimony of the Holy Spirit by the apostles is the glorification
of Christ. So we immediately recognize as error every doctrine
which will glorify he merit of the saints, Mary, the Pope, human
wisdom and human virtue instead of Christ.
Franz Pieper


14
John 12:31.
15
John 16:12-15.
16
Acts 1:6; Mark 10:35ff.
II.
Distress in earthly things, lack, poverty, disease, insult of honor, etc. hits men of
the world and children of God. The latter hasten to their God and find consolation in
Him. But even the world knows to give a kind of comfort to their own as well
sometimes through assisting with earthly means, often through sinful pleasures. But
there still is another distress, a far larger and heavier one, the distress of the soul,
spiritual distress. Among men there is no counsel, no comfort, no help. If they want to
help in such distress from their own reason and strength, then they can only deceive,
defraud those who are in distress, and thereby lead him into eternal perdition, in that
they instruct him to recklessness or his own works.
But is it because there is no consolation? Praise God, yes! God Himself, the Holy
Spirit will be their Comforter there. Our Gospel shows us this, etc.

The Holy Spirit, the true Comforter in spiritual distress;

we see in this connection:
1. that He only comforts those who are capable of His comfort,
a. i.e. not those who then live recklessly, without inquiring about God and
their salvation, those who do not care for Jesus, or really happy, if He
withdraws His nearness, if one hears nothing about Him and His Word;
in contrast to the disciples (the disciples are sad about the fact that their
Lord will go away),
b. but only those who are really in need of comfort in spiritual distress; i.e.
He comforts
. the faithful who find themselves in distress and temptation
through lack of knowledge
17
, like the disciples who believed in
Jesus as the Savior, as such knew Him, but still did not
comprehend His work of redemption. Thus He also now
comforts those who get into spiritual distress about any teaching
of Scripture;
. but also those whom He has made sad about their sin, whose
heart he has thereby broken and smashed, that He reveals to
them their entire state through the preaching of the Law, it lets
them feel that they must be eternally lost by their sin, and shows
them that their unbelief, in which they have further pushed
themselves away from Him, is the chief sin.
18
They are in
spiritual need and receptive to his comfort. Even a preacher, who

17
John 16:5-6.
18
John 16:8-9.
should be the instrument of the Holy Spirit, should therefore
bring only such comfort;

2. but that He also gives the most all certain comfort,
a. what this certain comfort is that He brings such spiritually sorrowful,
. he works in them the divine conviction that Jesus is going to the
Father for them, and thus has acquired an accomplished
righteousness for them by His redemption, with which they are
able to stand before God.
19

. He convinces them that the prince of this world, who brings
them through temptation into distress, is judged by Jesus, their
Savior, therefore they should gain the victory with their Lord
20
,
. He makes them certain that He will lead them gradually into all
truth
21
(John 16:12, the disciples had the Holy Spirit even before
that), so that they would then have ever fuller comfort from the
knowledge of the divine will,
. He glorifies Christ more and more in them that in His light the
darkness of their sadness must vanish;
b. how He proffers this consolation; through Christ's certain Word: He
shall not speak of Himself etc., but what He hears from the Father and
the Son, from Whom He proceeds.
22

C.C.E.B.

19
John 16:8, 10.
20
John 16:8, 11.
21
John 16:13.
22
John 16:13b, 14b, 15.