The Delivery of Deliverance
Thursday after Pentecost
8 June 2017
The Holy Spirit uses external means to deliver God's grace. Those external means are Word means: preaching of the Word of God and administration of the sacraments: baptism and the Lord's supper. These means of delivery are God's way of giving in visible and tangible forms to what cannot be seen. In the New Testament the Lord accompanied the preaching of the Word with visible and outward manifestations of His Spirit, as at His baptism, to confirm the validity of that preaching and to build the ancient church (Mt 3:16). Miraculous actions, like the ability to speak in not yet learned languages on the mission frontier, manifested themselves (Acts 10:46-48). These things confirmed the validity of the apostolic preaching among unbelievers and buttressed the explosive growth of the ancient church.
Once the Word of God was inscripturated and the church well established those miraculous signs began to recede into the background in favor of the quieter means of the Spirit, the very Spirit-established Word and Sacraments that the miraculous gifts highlighted in the early church. The "perfect had come" (1Co 13:10) in the churchly means of grace tied as they were to the eternal Word of God. What was now made complete in the economy of God's will for His blood-bought church came into the full possession of those whom the Lord possessed fully (1Pt 2:9). The Spirit created the church with the church's own Spirit-given gifts.
These means delivering God's grace have a uniquely gospel function. To reject the means is to reject the gospel they convey is like ordering a load of steel I-beams for a construction project and then refusing to let the delivery truck onto the construction site. If the delivery is unable to be made the steel is of no value. No delivery. No gospel. There is no separating the means of delivery from the gospel itself. Through these means the Son of God has established the presence of the His Spirit in our hearts as St. Paul says (Gal 4:6). When these things deliver the Spirit into our hearts, how we can have anything less than all the other gifts which the Spirit brings with Him, the holy church, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting, as the Creed says? So to see the Spirit among us, we need only listen to the Word, baptize, and feed upon the body and blood of the Lord. This delivery will deliver us from our sins.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
"The Holy Spirit is sent in two ways. In the primitive church He was sent in a clear and visible form. Thus He descended upon Christ at the Jordan in the form of a dove (Mt 3:16), and upon the apostles and other believers in the form of fire (Acts 2:3). This was the first sending of the Holy Spirit. It was necessary in the primitive church, which had to be established with visible signs on account of the unbelievers, as Paul testifies: 'Tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers' (1Co 14:22). But later, when the church had been gathered and confirmed by these signs, it was not necessary for this visible sending forth of the Holy Spirit to continue.
"The second sending is that by which the Holy Spirit, through the Word, is sent into the hearts of believers, as is said here: 'God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts' (Gal 4:6). This happens without a visible form, namely, when through the spoken Word we receive fire and light, by which we are made new and different, and by which a new judgment, new sensations, and new drives arise in us. This change and new judgment are not the work of human reason or power. They are the gift and accomplishment of the Holy Spirit, who comes with the preached Word, purifies our hearts by faith, and produces spiritual motivation in us. Therefore there is the greatest possible difference between us and the enemies and perverters of the Word. We, by the grace of God, are able to declare and judge with certainty, on the basis of the Word, about the will of God toward us, about all laws and doctrines, about our own lives and those of others....But without the Word it is impossible to form any sure judgments about anything."

Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 4.6

2 Timothy 4:1-13

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
Do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. 
Lord Jesus Christ, send Your Holy Spirit among us through the preaching of the Word and the delivery of the holy Sacraments. Keep us centered on the delivery point that the gospel might always be the power in our churches. Amen.
For Pastor Charles Wokoma, that he might receive the wisdom of God the Holy Spirit as he serves the people of Nigeria as a theological instructor at Christian Ekong Memorial Lutheran Seminary
For President Matthew Harrison, of the LCMS, that God the Lord would strengthen him in body and soul for the service to the church that is owed by all overseers
For all those suffering from cancer, that God the Lord would grant healing according to His good and gracious will
For the upcoming Vacation Bible School of Memorial Lutheran Church, that teachers and helpers would deliver the gospel grace to the little children so they might know and believe that Christ delivers them from sin
Art: DYCK, Sir Anthony van Pentecost (1618-20)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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