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Posts Tagged ‘Paraclete’

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” St. John 14: 18 

The one of most famous orphans in fiction is Oliver Twist. What does an orphan want more than anything else in the world?  To be adopted. This is the refrain of Oliver Twist.  Jesus will not leave His disciples as orphans.  He sent the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, as the Lord taught.  The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of adoption,

 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8: 15

 Slave of sin is not a son or daughter of God.  We need not fear we if we are adopted.  As sinners, off on our own, far away from our Father’s home, He seeks His offspring to make them His own.  Sinners need the Lord’s adoption.  The Law can only help us adapt.   His Gospel is to adopt.  In the Holy Spirit, through the Son, we know God the Father, adopted.  Jesus is saying, I have called you but I will not you leave orphaned, I will adopted you as my brothers into My Father’s family,  the Spirit, the Comforter, the Paraclete.  Adoption is comfort as a child is adopted into a good home.  The Lord’s House is our good home. 

Galatians 3 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Note what it says in the written Word:  “heirs according to the promise”.  Heirs, inheriting the Lord’s treasures of faith, hope and love, the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Heirs, not according to the Law, by what we have done, but according to what we have done deserving nothing but God’s wrath, justly according to His Law. This is the Spirit of truth. We do not deserve the Lord’s inheritance, but the Lord alone knows fully we need His inheritance.  According to the promise, that is what Christ Jesus has done, baptizing you, making you His own, forgiving you, sealing you with the Holy Spirit, by, through, with and under His death and resurrection.

And again in the next chapter of Galatians, it is written:

 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Galatians 4

 Whose we are is who we are.  No longer orphans in the world.   Jesus will not leave the disciples as orphans.  He does not leave us as orphans.  The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of adoption.  Jesus gladly tells them you will be adopted.  He tells them who their true Father is. 

 I speculate that back in the 1st century, and probably in the 19th century and the centuries before there were more orphans because of higher early mortality rates.  In fact the Lutheran Church had a notable orphanage in Roanoke, begun in 1888.   Yet there are today  many orphans, spiritual orphans. Children orphaned by parental abuse, emotional, physical and sexual. Children orphaned by their parents’ divorce wars.  Children prevented from coming to Jesus by them not being baptized, and a generation of those baptized, then hardly ever brought again to God’s House.  It is spiritual child abandonment.  Living in a culture in which children act like adults and adults act like children, that is, childish.  With the desire to be like children, the love of children becomes perverted. Children aborted as a diabolical perversion of ‘mercy’. Children orphaned by tyrannical wars, as in Syria.  Jesus is clear, that, “….whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”  He sends out His Apostles, breathing on them the Holy Spirit, to retain the sins of the unrepentant and to forgive the repentant in His mercy shed in His blood for all orphans.  He sends out His Apostles out to teach and baptize.

 Earlier in John’s Gospel, in our Lord’s conversation with Nicodemus, He taught that unless one is born above or water and the Spirit, one can not see Kingdom of God.  Baptism, wrote the Apostle Peter, saves.  Baptism saves. It’s so plain, Baptism saves.  Baptism has Christ’s command and promise behind Baptism, in Baptism, through Baptism. In Baptism He has put His Name:  Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Consciences washed clean, raised by the Lord’s resurrection.  Baptism is Biblical, not only the act, but the effects of the Lord’s Word of Promise.   Baptism is the Lord’s own way  that the orphans of this world see His reign of grace, mercy and peace. The world only sees in Christians adherents of a suspect religion. The world does not know nor gets the Holy Spirit nor His work and the world doubts, at best, our adoption but we will gladly say it, “I am baptized into Christ, I’m a child of paradise.” (#594, Lutheran Service Book)  This is our witness to Jesus Christ:  our Baptism.  The Apostle Peter wrote that we are to be prepared to give a reason for the hope that is in us when asked, and to do so with “gentleness and respect”.  Our defense and witness is NOT how good we are, but how good God is in His grace in Jesus Christ for us sinners.

  The Lord’s Church is an orphanage and more than an orphanage: adopted in Holy Baptism, given the family Name, the Holy Trinity. Jesus taught that the world cannot receive the Holy Spirit.  The world seeks only it’s own glory, fame and power.  It is self-seeking and self-destroying.  The gods and goddesses, known and unknown, that the Apostle Paul saw that day in Athens, are demons, projections of the Old Adam writ large in lust and power. We do not have idol statues on the streets.  They are on TV now seeking human hearts. The gods are twisted and twisting.  The Holy Spirit seeks to find those lost in Athens.  The Lord, the Holy Spirit brings them into His good home, by the Office of the Holy Spirit, preaching and teaching Jesus Christ. Remember that Jesus knew the joy of being adopted on earth by Joseph.

Professor Naomichi Masaki, Concordia Seminary, Ft.Wayne said it well:    “When the Holy Spirit is doing His job, all we see and hear of is Jesus. When you clearly hear and see Jesus then you know that the Holy Spirit is at work.” The Church is living her vocation when all we see and hear of is Jesus.  Then you know the Holy Spirit is at work.  Living as Baptized children of God is not necessarily comfortable that is cushy and easy living as sons and daughters of the King, growing into full adulthood as the Lord’s sons and daughters, in this world.  The disciples were overcome with doubt and dark the night in which Jesus was betrayed.   The Lord is the Paraclete, and that word is translated as Helper, Comforter. The word Paraclete is related to the Greek words for encouragement or comfort.  Encouragement is comfort.  It literally means to stand along side of and the Holy Spirit dwelling within, our bodies temple of the Holy Ghost. Not comfortable but comforting in His forgiveness which He gives through His means of grace, the means of the Holy Spirit:  Baptism and the Sacrament of the Altar. His Word is His promise.  He fights by our side with weapons of the Spirit, as it is written in Ephesians 6, “… the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”

 In the Name of the Father and of the  +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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Introduction to Hebrews:

About our study: Hebrews is the appointed Epistle lesson this Sunday, Pentecost 19 and for 4 more Sundays in the three-year Lectionary.

Hebrews is part of the General or catholic (universal) Epistles.  These are all addressed to larger church/churches and not individuals.  Hebrews heads up this section.   The following is from the introduction to Hebrews in  The Lutheran Study Bible, page 2103, published by Concordia Publishing House.

 “The Epistle to the Hebrews is actually a sermon (“word of exhortation”; 13:22) with a brief  letter attached (13:20-25). The writing describes the temple sacrifices as though they were still in use (cf 9:6-10) and describes a persecution, which may be Emperor Nero’s persecution of Christians at Rome (cf ch 12; 13:24). The sermon-writer’s name was not provided, nor was his name recorded by early Christian historians…

The writer of Hebrews, or his scribe, had an excellent education in classical oratory. Recent study of Hebrews has demonstrated that it is written in high Greek style, which distinguishes it from Paul’s more common Greek style. The writer’s doctrine depends on the apostles (2:3) and has important connections to Paul’s use of the OT (cf 10:38; Rm 1:17; Gal 3:11) and John’s theology of the Word (cf Jn 1:1- 2; 10:30; 14:11; Heb 1:3; 7:3; 13:8). But the writer includes many unique insights and shows an interest in the priesthood that is not found in other apostolic writers.”  

I think Hebrews demonstrates itself as a thoroughgoing Christian sermon also in these ways:

1)      The preacher puts himself in with his congregation by the use of “we” and “us”, e.g. “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”  As Jesus Himself  shared our flesh and blood ( Hebrews 2:14), to make holy sinners by faith in Him, the Preacher is the same as his congregation.  Since Jesus is not ashamed to call them “brothers” (Hebrews 2:11), the preacher should not be as he is part of the brethren for whom Jesus died and rose again, the pioneer of Faith. Using cliché verbiage: the preacher identifies with the Lord’s people in their suffering and resultant flagging zeal for the Gospel and knows the inherent dangers in the possibility of even more severe persecution: see Hebrews 12:4 .

2)      He uses questions to engage his hearers in the sermon, e.g. Hebrews 3: 16-18. 

3)      A preacher quotes Scripture to attest to the truth of the message, as a preacher should.  The Preacher of Hebrews has copious Biblical citations: some 27 quotations in 13 chapters. Note that the 1st chapter employs many of the Scripture quotes as questions!

4)      The Preacher makes comparisons.  This is a clean rhetorical device for a speaker to make his case.  So in Hebrews these are the comparisons: 

      (a)  Angels and Jesus: Chapters 1-2: 4

     (b) Angels and Jesus and humankind: 2: 5-16

     (c)  Jesus and Moses: 3:1-4: 13

              1) rest in the wilderness wanderings/rest in Christ

     (d) The Sermon’s Central Sermonic Comparison: Old and    New Covenants: 4:14-10:16                                           

  1. Jesus the Great High Priest/priests:  4:14-5:10

  2. Melchizedek, the priest/Levitical priests: 7:1-8: 13

  3. Temple/tabernacle of Israel/heavenly Temple:  9:1-10

  4. Blood of sacrificial animals/Blood of Christ:  9: 11-20

Repetitive sacrifices in the Temple/One and For all Sacrifice: 10:1-16

Interspersed in the comparison sections  above are the exhortations.  He prefaces each with the “indicatives” of  “such a  great a salvation” (2: 2), then exhorts.  It is like a father saying to his child, “I love you” and she knows it.  Then, “You can do better in school”.  It never should be or implied to be by a mother or father the following: “Do well in school, then I will love you.”  

The word translated “exhortation” in this verse is in Greek, paraclesis.  Paraclesis is normally translate “encouragement”.  Please note it is related to a Name for the Holy Spirit:  Paraclete which is variously translated as Advocate, Counselor.  Paraclesis flows out of the Gospel of “so great a salvation”.

The Epistle for the 19th Sunday after Pentecost:  Hebrews 2: 1-18

Note:  These study questions are cited and adapted from a downloadable Bible Study from Concordia Publishing House:  A Longer Look at the Lessons: Year B – Pentecost II (Downloadable)

Study Questions

  1.  What is an angel?  Take the new and improved Angelic Quiz below!
  2. Which verses are the first exhortation section? Which verses is the basis of this first exhortation? What is the Preacher’s encouragement to the congregation?
  3.  What was the message declared by angels? How seriously binding was it?
  4.   Why is response to and faithfulness to “such a great salvation . . . declared at first by the Lord, and . . . attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will” of far greater importance? (See John 3:34–36.) The writer quoted Psalm 8, applying its statements about mankind to Jesus.
  5.   For what surprising purpose was the Son made “lower than the angels”?
  6.  How was “the founder of their salvation [made] perfect through suffering”?To emphasize the Son’s full identification with our humanity as Jesus, the writer said that both Jesus and we have one ___, and that Jesus is not ashamed to call us ___. To back this up, he quoted from Psalm 22: “I will tell of Your name to ___” and “in the midst of ___ I will sing Your praise.”
  7.  As the author of Hebrews used these quotes from the Old Testament, who did he say said them?   We might expect the text to read, “He shared our flesh and blood humanity to live with us.” Instead, it focuses immediately on the supreme evidence of His complete, redemptive identity with us, His death.
  8.  What is it about the death of Jesus that destroyed the one who holds the power of death? How does the death of Jesus free us from slavery under the fear of death? (See 1 Corinthians 15:50–58; 2 Timothy 1:8–10.) For what does the death of Jesus free us? (See 2 Corinthians 5:14–15.)
  9. The  emphasize that the destruction of the one who holds the power of death and the freedom of those who were slaves under the fear of death is not just some spiritual imagery, the writer states that it is not ___ that the incarnate Son of God helps, but it is ___.
  10.  Why did Jesus have to be made like us in every respect to be our merciful and faithful high priest and make propitiation for the sins of the people? What comfort is there for us when tempted in the fact that Jesus shared the full human experience, including temptation, and overcame? What encouragement does it give us?

 Angelic Quiz

  1. The most reliable source about angels is Jewish folklore. 
  2. The word “angel” literally means a woman with wings.
  3. Angels are created.
  4. Angels sing.
  5. Angels are ministering spirits sent to serve us.
  6. Human beings can “earn their wings” and become angels.
  7. Angels are dumb.
  8. There are ranks of angels, kind of like in the army.
  9. Lucifer, or the devil, is a fallen angel.
  10. We are to pray to angels because they are heavenly beings.
  11. Angels are spiritual beings.
  12. There was war in heaven.
  13. We know the name of some of the angels.
  14. There are guardian angels.
  15. Angels usually provoke fear in people.
  16. Jesus was made lower than the angels yet He is superior to them.
  17. The angels’ favorite musical instrument is the harp.
  18. This is the best quiz on angels I have ever taken!

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