daily biblical sermons


The Christian life is not one of all smooth sailing, but involves conflicts with worldliness, error, and false teaching
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Monday, Sixth Week of Easter, May 10, 2021
Acts 16:11-15, John 15:26-16:4a


Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted

 

 

 

“But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning. I have said all this to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do this because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you of them. I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you” (John 15:26-16:4).

 

 

Today Jesus promises his apostles that he will send them another Counsellor, the Spirit of truth, “who proceeds from the Father” (John 15:26). The reason that Jesus will send the Holy Spirit to us from the Father is to console and strengthen us to bear witness to him in the world, where we will experience much opposition for what we preach about Jesus.

 

 

First of all, we note that it is Jesus who will send us the Holy Spirit, in other words, the Holy Spirit comes to us by being sent to us by Jesus, the Son of God, and Jesus is sending him to us from the Father. “When the Counselor comes, whom I shall send you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me” (John 15:26).

 

 

Jesus has also told us that the Father will give us the Holy Spirit, when Jesus prays to the Father that he give us the Holy Spirit, “And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16-17). So, we see that is clear that the Holy Spirit comes from the Father through the Son. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father. “Even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father” (John 15:26). The Father gives us the Holy Spirit because the Son asks the Father to do so. “And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16-17).

 

 

This has been a great dispute between the Eastern and Western Church to the present day. But if you base yourself on the Scriptures themselves, it is clear that the Holy Spirit comes from the Father, but is sent to us through the Son, or at the request of the Son, or by the Son. Scripture itself resolves this problem. The origin of the Holy Spirit is obviously the Father, but he is sent to us through, by, or at the request of the Son. This is an example of the type of conflict that Christians will get into over the truth of what God has revealed in his word.

 

 

Next Jesus tells us that his apostles and all who believe in Christ will experience conflicts in the world because of our faith in Christ. We will be persecuted for preaching the truth that God has revealed in his Son, and sometimes the persecution will be done by people who have a religious motivation. They will think that they are opposing something evil, false, and harmful in our faith. So, we will experience times when people, who think that they are on God’s side, consider us evil and do all they can to oppose us. They will think that they are serving God in doing so and are gaining merit with God for opposing what they think are God’s enemies.

 

 

This is what Jesus says today, “They will put you out of the synagogues, indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God” (John 16:2). But Jesus tells us that these people who persecute Christians are badly mistaken. They do not know either God or Christ, “And they will do this because they have not known the Father, nor me” (John 16:3).

 

 

Jesus tells us this to prepare us, lest we be shocked and scandalized when this persecution begins, and when we are reviled as evil for preaching Christ. If Jesus had not prepared us for this, perhaps many Christians would fall away, thinking that somehow this is not the path for them. They might have thought that believing in Christ would give them inner peace, tranquility, and deep spiritual happiness, and that they would live in harmony and love with all people. So, when they find themselves persecuted, reviled, and laughed at for their faith, they may think that Christianity is not what they thought it was going to be and give up their faith. So, Jesus tells us, “I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you of them” (John 16:4).

 

 

So being forewarned is being forearmed. “Forewarned, forearmed! They [the apostles] must not look for a smooth course and a peaceful journey. They must make up their minds to battles, conflicts, wounds, opposition, persecution, and perhaps even death. Like a wise general, He did not conceal from His soldiers the nature of the campaign they were beginning. He told them all that was before them, in faithfulness and love, that when the time of trial came, they might remember His words, and not be disappointed and offended” (JC Ryle, 1816-1900).

 

 

But the Holy Spirit will give us consolation. We will often be opposed by the world for its false worldly values, when we preach true Christian values to them, but we will be sustained and filled with joy by the Holy Spirit if we remain faithful to Jesus, while we are being opposed by the world.

 

 

Here is an example of a conflict that a Christian may get into in the world. There are many voices in the world today telling us that all religions, despite their many differences, are basically all leading us to the same divine goal of union with God. There are even voices within the Church today, since the Second Vatican Council, that try to smooth over the differences in doctrine and morality of the various religions and want each religion to learn from the other religions and live in peace and harmony with them and be enriched by them.

 

 

Some voices within the Church even go so far as to falsely assert that we Christians are saved by Christ, and Hindus are saved by their asceticism and contemplation, and Buddhists are saved by the teaching and example of the Buddha, who taught us that we must stop craving unnecessary worldly pleasures that distract us from our divine goal of union with the higher power, and so Buddhists can be saved through their belief in the teaching and example of the Buddha.

 

 

Such voices within the Church can create conflict for a Christian, because Jesus tells us in no uncertain terms, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). In other words, no one is saved through the Buddha, or through Hindu asceticism and contemplation, or through praying to the spirits in the trees of the Amazonian rain forest, or through the example and teaching of Mohammed. “No one comes to the Father, but by me,” Jesus said (John 14:6).

 

 

If this weren’t clear enough, we have the saying of St. Peter in front of the Sanhedrin, that Jesus of Nazareth “is the stone which was rejected by you builders, but which has become the head of the corner. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:11-12).

 

 

If we base ourselves on divine revelation in the Scriptures, it is clear that there is only one Savior who died for our sins. There is only one Savior sent to the world by God to suffer our death sentence for our sins for us, when we put our faith in him. That one Savior is Jesus Christ the divine Son of God made man. No one else saves us from our sins by suffering our punishment for them for us. Therefore, without this Savior and without faith in him, we owe God eternal death in hell for our serious sins, and after our death we will have to begin paying it.

 

 

But God in his mercy sent us one – and only one – Savior and asked us to accept him and believe that he saves us by his death on the cross in vicarious punishment for our sins. Those who do so are justified by God, which means that God declares and thereby makes them – although they were ungodly sinners – righteous and reckons to them his own righteousness so that they shine with the righteousness of God himself. Only one Savior does this. Only one Savior saves us. Therefore, Christian missionaries are sent into the whole world among Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, and Jews to proclaim the one and only Savior that God sent to planet Earth for people of every religion, race, culture, and language.

 

 

If we proclaim this truth, we will surely be opposed by the world and even by many voices within the Church herself. But this is precisely the type of conflict that a Christian will be involved in for his faith.

 

 

But what about those who, through no fault of their own, have never heard of Christ and what he has done for us? Personally, I think it is better not to ask this question, because there is no clear positive answer to it from divine revelation. Apparently, God did not want to reveal to us a clear answer to this question. Why didn’t he want to reveal to us an answer to this question? Who knows? God knows, but we don’t know. Perhaps the reason is that he doesn’t want us to have an excuse that would relieve us of the responsibility of preaching the gospel to those who have not yet heard it.

 

 

It would be a clear mistake, though, to assert, without any biblical basis, that everyone can be saved by their own religion. There is no support whatsoever in revelation for such an assertion. It would be much better to spend our energy preaching the gospel to those who do not know it than to try to rationalize and justify and speculate theoretically about salvation through other religions and excuse ourselves by these speculations from any responsibility for spreading the gospel and supporting world mission.

 

 

I suppose, though, that there will always be people who are going to speculate anyway about these things, but in that case, it is best to consider such speculation as just that, merely human speculation without any biblical basis, without any claim to be divine revelation.

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