Our mission, and you’ve heard this many times before, is to make disciples of all
nations by baptizing and by teaching everything Jesus has taught us. Does this
calling include you personally? We all wish we knew God’s Word better than we
do. We all wish we could communicate it more clearly than we do. So, since
there’s a gap between where we see ourselves and where we want to be, we might
conclude that making disciples of others isn’t for us. We especially might feel that
way, if we’ve been trying to get a friend or loved one to come around or come
back, but we keep running into brick walls. People have different ideas. People
have different priorities. So, are we really cut out to be making disciples of all
nations? And if we are, what’s our individual role?
The feeling “this isn’t for me” or “I’m not up for this” is also how the disciples felt
before felt before Pentecost. In our text this morning, Jesus comforts us that we’re
not on our own in our mission of making disciples. The Holy Spirit Is Our Ever-
present Helper. 1. To convict the world about sin. 2. To convict the world about
righteousness. 3. To convict the world about judgment.

                                  1. He convicts the world about sin.
Our text reads: But now I am going away to him who sent me, and not one of
you asks me, “Where are you going?” Yet because I have told you these
things, sorrow has filled your heart. – John 16:5-6 Convicting the world about
sin is harder, if we’re infected with worldly ideas about God. The disciples were.
In those days and this continues, many think of God as their Creator, who loves
and provides for them, and tells them how to live, and then rewards good people
and punishes bad. This is a horribly incomplete picture of God. Notice what Jesus
calls the Father in our text – not the creator, not the provider, not the judge and
jury. Jesus calls the Father, “the one who sent me.” And for what purpose did the
Father send Jesus? To let the world walk all over Him and to suffer and die for
everyone’s sins.

For many today that’s not their focus. When they come to church, they want God
to solve their money problems, or make their marriage better. Or, if they’re single,
they want God to take away their loneliness, and in general help them through
whatever troubles they’ve brought on themselves. The disciples wanted those
things too, so when Jesus told them this wasn’t happening, it says they were filled
with sorrow, as though Jesus were letting them down.
That was foolish. At this point Jesus said they should have been filled with joy,
because He was about to conquer sin, death, and hell for them. Then He would
return to the one who had sent Him, having accomplished His mission. And so,
there at the Father’s right hand, Jesus would begin ruling in all things, not to
improve this sinful world, but to prepare them for the new world. Likewise, Jesus
wouldn’t be ruling to right every wrong and make life easier. He would be ruling
to bring even people, who least deserve it, to faith, and then leading them to live
their faith.

So, how do we pack the pews, and how do we make disciples of all nations, if what
Jesus is offering in not yet what people want. Jesus answers that: Nevertheless, I
am telling you the truth: It is good for you that I go away. For if I do not go
away, the Counselor will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. –
John 16:7 The Holy Spirit is called a Counselor, because picture yourself in
God’s courtroom (which we actually are every day), and we have to give an
accounting to God for all of our thoughts and words and actions. The good news is
we have a court appointed counselor, and He isn’t just standing beside us. He’s in
our heart, and He’s interceding for us before the bench. He’s asking the Father to
forgive us for Jesus’ sake, and accept things we do as His children as perfect and
holy. In addition, what do most trial lawyers tell their clients? “Only say what I
tell you to say, otherwise keep your mouth shut.” In the same way, the Holy Spirit
is constantly reminding us, that as we stand before God, our plea isn’t to be how
well we’ve done on this or that. Our only plea is everything Jesus has done for us.
But again, how can we lead others to join us in this faith, who aren’t that
concerned about their “little” sins, because no one’s perfect, and they just want to
enjoy life? Well, a second meaning for the Greek word, counselor, is someone,
who breaks down barriers. Just as the Holy Spirit broke down the barriers between
us and God by calling us to faith, so He breaks down the barriers that may keep us
from sharing our faith or keep others from listening. We read on in our text: When
the Holy Spirit comes, he will convict the world about sin, because they do not
believe in me… - John 16:8a, 9 Every world religion including agnostics claims
to be worshiping God in their own way. Jesus says here that in reality they stand
convicted before God, because they don’t believe, or they don’t trust in the one He
sent to rescue them from their sins.

When we tell people this, they may respond in one of two ways. By the Holy
Spirit opening up their heart, they will desire God’s mercy. Then, like the thief of
the cross, they will look to Jesus for mercy, and they will receive it. In short they
become believers.

The other possible response is some will keep insisting they’re so good that they
don’t really need Jesus, and so they’ll keep on living for the things of this life.
When a person does that, when He has to answer to God, he won’t have the
Counselor beside him or in him either, because in his pride he thought he could
represent himself before God and didn’t need the counsel of God’s Word. Then
sadly, he will be convicted - not of his little sins or big sins, because they’ve all
been paid for. But he will be convicted of the only sin that can condemn anyone,
which is not trusting in the one God has sent.

Now, again, this is what God has called us to share with the world. But how can
we get people, who are focused on things, to listen to us? Well, to start with let’s
watch what we’re living for. Jesus said: Be on your guard against all kinds of
greed: a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. –
Luke 12:15. This earth is not our home. Heaven is our home. Furthermore, our
greatest treasure is our relationship with God through Christ and also our
relationship with all of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
But how can we keep this as our focus? We need encouragement! Paul writes:
May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father who loved us and by
His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your
hearts and strengthen you in every good word and deed. – II Thessalonians
2:16-17 If we’re guarding ourselves from all kinds of greed, and if we have quiet
hope Jesus, when we talk to others about what He has done for us, we’re going to
have an impact. We will be making others disciples of Jesus, who in turn will also
stop being focused on things, and will treasure Jesus – and not because we’re so
good at what we’re doing, but because the Holy Spirit is our ever-present helper.
Still, not everyone will listen. Here’s why. Guilt! Guilt can be so powerful in
person, that even hearing what Jesus did to save him, they can’t let go of trying to
feel better about themselves by what they do. Whenever we run into that, God
doesn’t call us to give up on that person, because the Holy Spirit is our ever-
present helper to convict the world because of righteousness.

                  2. He convicts the world because of righteousness
We read on in our text: When he comes, he will convict the world about
righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me.
– John 16:8, 10 The world has its own ideas of righteousness and how to
counterbalance guilt. None of it works! For example, trying harder doesn’t cancel
out or cover a single sin. Now, if we tell someone that, if we say as Paul does, that
“There is no one righteous before God, not even one”, the Holy Spirit will convict
that person’s conscience. That’s not to say he’ll repent. He may very well keep on
excusing his sins or blaming others. Or, he may so harden himself, that he can’t
even see his sins anymore, and then insist that he’s better than others because of all
the “righteous” things he is doing.

Praise God not everyone reacts that way. Some will rip off their own
righteousness like a sweaty T-shirt after cutting the crass, and then through Word
and sacrament they’ll seek to be covered with Christ’s righteousness, except this is
a righteousness that only God can see. We ourselves can only see it through faith.
As a result, when we really examine our life, we may feel all unrighteousness.
So, how do we hold on to something we can’t see and may not always feel? The
Holy Spirit is our ever-present helper and He helps us through His Word! Still, it’s
so hard to continue in God’s Word day after day and week after week especially,
when everyone else around us is chasing after material things for their happiness
and security. Solomon knew all about that. It’s how he spent much of his life, and
it almost cost him his faith. Solomon wrote near the end of his life: Whoever
loves money never has money enough. Whoever loves wealth is never satisfied
with his income. As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And
what benefit are they to the owners except to feast their eyes on them. The
sleep of a laborer is sweet whether they eat a little or much, but as for the rich
their abundance permits them no sleep. – Ecclesiastes 5:10-12

Is the Holy Spirit convincing you that chasing after American materialism isn’t a
fair trade for letting go of Christ’s righteousness, which is ours through the Word?
Notice I didn’t say riches. I said materialism. Materialism is a sin. Riches are a
blessing. Paul wrote: Command those who are rich in this present world not to
be arrogant but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with
everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good to be rich in good
deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way, they will lay up
treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they
may take hold of life that is truly life – I Timothy 6:17-19

Now, the world may say that the Christian life is not truly life, the Christian life is
for losers! When we run into that, or when our own sinful nature may try to tell us
that, here’s how we overcome. The Holy Spirit is our ever-present helper, and to
convict us because of judgment.

                          3. He convicts because of judgment
Our text concludes: When he comes, he will convict the world about judgement
because the ruler of this world has been condemned. – John 16:8, 11 The
world would have us believe that Christ has lost, and that the world’s ways, which
are really the devil’s ways, are winning. And so, here are a few examples of the
world’s propaganda: “If you want to be happy, if you want to be secure, you have
to have this, you have to buy that. What’s more if you can’t afford it all, that’s
God’s fault and you have every right to question His power or love for not making
your life easier, and so His Word can’t be true, just live for yourself?” These are
lies! The devil is not in the process of winning. He’s not even in the process of
losing. He’s already lost and stands eternally condemned. So, why would we want
to be on the devil’s side, when Jesus comes again, and …the world is destroyed
by fire and the earth and everything in it is laid bare. – II Peter 3:10

In light of everything you’ve heard this morning, do you believe you too are
personally called to make people disciples? If you’re still not sure, do you want to
be called for this? If your answer is “yes”, God is indeed calling to make disciples
of all nations. So, now the question is, what is our individual role in making
disciples? In addition to our personal witness, please stay for the Giving Thanks
2017 presentation immediately after the service, if you haven’t attended one
already. You will hear of many blessings and opportunities that God has set before
us. And then in whatever way you are led to participate, rejoice! Stay focused! Be
encouraged! The Holy Spirit Is Our Ever-present Helper. Amen.

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