225. Sixth Sunday after Easter. I.
Lord, let the Comforter come and bear witness in us. Amen.
Gospel Lesson, John 15, 26–16, 4. But when the comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.
Jesus Christ is to be preached in the world. The holy Ghost shall testify of him. The world shall have testimony concerning Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost is the witness; for he is the truth. His testimony is so convincing that even they who deny the truth of the Christian religion feel the sting of the truth in their hearts. He testifies through the written word, but also makes use of the faithful as his servants down through the ages in the office of bearing witness. The holy apostles, who were with Jesus from the beginning, are eyewitnesses. They speak that which they have seen, and which their hands have felt; and their testimony is mighty to put down all false
hood. The truth of the statement which Jesus makes, that, even as the Comforter testifies of him, so shall the apostles also bear witness, comes right home to us; for we ourselves hear them testify, and we feel the power of their testimony, and it has to us a value beyond price. Yet it is not the apostles only who bear witness by the Holy Spirit; but the same is true of all believers. The glory and affliction of being a witness belong to every Christian. He that believes in Jesus knows him; and shall testify of him to others by leading a Christ-like life. He is to be the image of Christ, his living and true presentment by the Holy Ghost. The Lord himself says: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may glorify your Father which is in heaven.” And again: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love to one another.” And the apostles exhort the saints to shine as celestial lights among the world’s children of darkness. The Christian church shall fulfil its office as a witness, in part by a faithful administration of the means of grace, and in part by the saintly lives of its members.— Let, then, everyone who by the grace of the Holy Spirit knows the Son and the Father testify at all times and places concerning that which he has experienced, and in his every word and deed confess Christ. Our likeness to the Savior is as yet far from being perfect, but if we are his disciples, the resemblance cannot fail to be plainly visible; even an unfinished portrait by a master will clearly reveal the original. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Let the Spirit of God permeate your whole life and govern your conduct even in its minutest details. You shall live in holiness, suffer with patience, and not allow yourself to be led astray from the path of self-denial, though all the world entice and threaten you, and rob you of all that you have. This is not the old commandment which is weak through the flesh, but “the new commandment, which is true in him and in you; for the darkness is receding, and the true light shines already.”
Heavenly Father, strengthen thy weak children. Give us life and grace to bear witness. Give us the great honor of being among Christ’s witnesses, and of suffering for his name’s sake. Keep us from all manner of hypocrisy; let our lips and our lives preach truth from the heart, and do thou bless the testimony to the coming of thy kingdom. Amen.
O Holy Spirit, enter in,
Among these hearts thy work begin,
Thy temple deign to make us;
Sun of the soul, thou light divine,
Around and in us brightly shine,
To strength and gladness wake us.
Where thou shinest,
Life from heaven
There is given:
We before thee
For that precious gift implore thee.
226. Sixth Sunday after Easter, II.
Lord, give us thy Spirit. Amen.
Epistle Lesson, 1 Peter 4, 7-11. But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another, without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
The Comforter, who glorifies the Lord Jesus, is the Spirit of love; and love is the life of the church of God. Love, however, rejoices in well-doing; it seeks not its own, but the happiness and welfare of others. The whole life of Jesus is love, and so should our life be. Then we would be truly happy! This is the will of God; and that we may lead such a life, he has bestowed upon each of us his gift of grace. In this life love must express itself through various services for the upbuilding of the whole church and its individual members. You must be actuated by love; the Spirit must lead you, or that which you do is nothing but dead works, which may have a form of godliness, but will be found mere hay and stubble in the fire of the coming day. — Minister one to another in fervent charity with the manifold grace of God! This is the sum and substance of the apostle’s admonition in our epistle lesson. You and all that you have are the Lord’s, as are also your brethren in Christ; and he has brought you together, that you may minister one to another and be of mutual assistance in working out your salvation. If you have a call to speak in the congregation, speak “as the oracles of God.” Bear in mind always that the gospel which you speak is God’s own word; teach it in its purity, according to the scripture; divide it rightly, according to the behoof of the souls; preach it with full confidence in its truth and effectiveness, and present it in a form worthy of its sacred character. Speak the word of God, and speak as the oracles of God. — If it be some other office which you have in the church or in the household, do your duty faithfully, and remember that it is the Lord whom you serve when you minister to his members. Do your work with the zeal of love, that God may thus be honored in all things. Never forget that as a Christian you are called to devote yourself to the exercise of charity throughout your whole life. While the world must hate and quarrel and tear asunder and cause all manner of sin, because it is in the service of the wicked spirit, you shall all the time love, bless, cover a multitude of sins, and call forth charity, thanksgiving and praise, for the glory of God and the happiness of man. The life of the church of God in the Spirit is beautiful and rich; but to the flesh, how bitter! It is nothing but self-denial, and cross and death.
Pour out this Spirit into our hearts, O God, that while we live we may lead a holy life in ministering charity, feel the comfort of life in the midst of our many afflictions, and rejoice in the knowledge that the end of all things is drawing nigh. Amen.
Grant that our days, while life shall last,
In purest holiness be passed;
Our minds so rule and strengthen
That they may rise o’er things of earth,
The hopes and joys that here have birth;
And if our course thou lengthen,
Keep thou pure, Lord,
Heart and senses;
Bid us thus true life inherit.