Sermon for 01.16.22 Epiphany 2 “How the Holy Spirit helps us”

*Sermon for 01.16.22 Epiphany 2 Text: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 Theme: How the
Holy Spirit helps us *

• *In the Name of the Father…Amen.*

• *The Epistle reading serves as our sermon text this morning.*

• *Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God the Father through our Lord
and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.*

• *Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:*

• *O Holy Spirit, enter in,*

• *And in our hearts Your work begin, *

• *Your dwelling place now make us.*

• *Sun of the soul, O Light divine,*

• *Around and in us brightly shine, *

• *To joy and gladness wake us *

• *That we may be *

• *Truly living, *

• *To You giving *

• *Prayer unceasing*

• *And in love be still increasing.Amen*

*Text: Public domain*

• *Introduction*

• *On December 12, 1980, a small startup company called Apple first
became a public corporation and began offering its very first shares of
stock. *

• *In the business world, this is referred to as an **“**initial public
offering**”** and requires a lot of documents to be filed with the
Securities and Exchange Commission to protect the interests of those
investing in the new company.*

• *One such document required is a full disclosure of any foreseeable
weaknesses or problems as the new corporation**’**s goods or services go to
market. *

• *Here is what Steve Jobs, one of the founders of Apple, disclosed as a
**“**foreseeable weakness**”** for the company. *

• *(Keep in mind this was over forty years ago.) *

• *“**The expansion of the personal computer market will require a
continued orientation effort directed at informing individuals of the means
by which the computer may be utilized to enhance personal efficiency and
productivity. Towards this end, the Company is committed to an extensive
advertising and promotional effort**”** (Apple Computer IPO, US Securities
and Exchange Commission, Public Domain, December 1980).*

• *Simply put, this is what Steve Jobs meant:*

qAt that time, the founders of Apple Computer, now one of the largest and
most successful corporations in the world, were concerned that no one would
have any use for their product!

qIn those early days, personal computers were considered more of a novelty
and not a necessity, and it would take many years before the world would
fully realize their potential, making them an integral component of our
human existence.

qIt is strange to consider that there was a time when our society had to be
informed as to the usefulness of something most of us would feel helpless
without today.

• *Our Epistle this morning, 1 Cor 12:1**–**11, begins with the
sentence: *

q“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be
uninformed” (verse 1).

• *Though we frequently talk about the Third Person of the Trinity, the
Holy Spirit, we may wonder:*

q“What does he really do?

qWhat does he help us achieve?”

• *Here we find one of the many texts in which St. Paul explains How
Empowered the Church Is by the Holy Spirit!**—**Without Whom We Truly Are

* I. The Spirit is at work in many **“**things**”** we may not see as
very spiritual.*

• *To begin with, 1 Cor 12:1 does not literally speak of spiritual **“*
*gifts,**”** but simply states that Paul is informing us of ton
pneumatikon, **“**spiritual things,**”** that is, the work of the Spirit in
everyday Christian life.*

qSt. Paul is informing the Christians in Corinth about the amazing
usefulness of what they have been given, through their Baptism, in the
divine person of the Holy Spirit.

• *Looking at verses 4**–**6, we find the work of the Holy Spirit rather
broadly described as gifts, services, and activities. *

qBeyond sharing the same origin, what these all have in common is that all
are the work of the Divine but are miraculously accomplished through
fragile human hands and miraculously proclaimed through imperfect human

qThis is how the child of faith thrives from day to day, loving and serving
the neighbor.

qWhether it is using wisdom or knowledge, or the healing of body or mind,
or the translation of foreign language, whether astonishing or mundane in
form or appearance, this is the work of the Holy Spirit in the daily life
of the Christian believer.

• *This is how we love our neighbor. *

• *This is the Christian vocation. *

• *Luther summarizes this in his commentary on Genesis: *

• “We all have one and the same God, and we are one in the unified
worship of God, even if our works and vocations are different. But each one
should do his duty in his station, even as Jacob is a saintly and spiritual
man meditating on God’s Law, praying, administering and governing the
church. In the meantime, however, he does not overlook lowly domestic
duties connected with the fields and the flocks, and this is set before us
as an example that we may know that all our actions in domestic life are
pleasing to God and that they are necessary for this life in which it
becomes each one to serve the one God and Lord of all according to one’s
ability and vocation” (AE 6:348).

• *Vocations are the everyday services, activities, and words of us
Christians expressed through our daily interactions with our neighbors and
given as gifts from God. *

• *Peter in his first letter writes:*

• “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good
stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles
of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in
order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1
Peter 4:10–11).

• *Sometimes our vocations seem very **“**spiritual**”** in nature from
a human viewpoint, such as evangelism, church work, or caring for the poor,
but other vocations may not appear to have any spiritual connection
whatsoever. *

• *Some vocational tasks are hard to see as spiritual, such as the
person repairing our car, the attorney in the courtroom, doing laundry, or
the parents getting completely exasperated with their child for not going
to bed when they should.*

• * The truth of the matter is that the Holy Spirit is at work through
all human actions and words, however mundane or majestic they appear to our
finite eyes. *

• *All of these services, words, and activities, assuming they do not
violate the Word of God, are part of the Holy Spirit**’**s work toward our
neighbor proclaiming that, **“**Jesus is Lord**”** (verse 3).*

* II. The Spirit**’**s work is always relational, never reductive.*

• *Unfortunately, Satan likes to deceive the human heart whenever
possible and will take advantage of every opportunity to focus our hearts
and minds on the spirit of **“**me**”** rather than the Spirit of God. *

• *In our text, St. Paul reminds us of what true **“**spiritual things*
*”** look like as opposed to empty, human effort.*

• *In several places within 1 Corinthians 12:1**–**11, St. Paul
reminds us that the work of the Spirit is always relational and is never
seen as individualistic. *

• *In recent church history, many have struggled with the concept of *
*“**spiritual gifts,**”** primarily because of an improper emphasis on
individual identity and personal attention.*

• *The temptation to be a **“**God-like**”** individual has been biting
at our heels from the very beginning. *

• *According to our current text, and the rest of the New Testament,
truly **“**spiritual**”** gifts are not focused on a particular individual*
*’**s ability, but they are instead relational, one part of a larger whole.*

q“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good”
(verse 7).

• *We see this communicated through the relational comparisons of
but one**”** in verse 5 or **“**to each but common**”** in verse 7 and
but one**”** in verse 11. *

• *The mention in verses 4**–**6 of the Spirit, Lord, and God, while
not literally using the terms Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, should at least
remind us of the distinctly three, but fully one, relational nature of God
in the Trinity. *

• *We are also told that, from the beginning, the relational nature of
God as Trinity was reflected in his creation. *

• *The first human being was incomplete while alone. *

• *We were created in and for relationship with God and one another,
originally from the dust and, later, as new creations through Baptism,
together becoming the Body of the Church.*

q “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have
the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and
individually members one of another” (Romans 12:4–5).

• *The day-to-day work of the Holy Spirit through our human hands is
not an individual effort; it is each of us playing one part of a much
greater whole. *

• *When we reduce the work of the Holy Spirit to the individual alone,
we are destined for disappointment.*

*III. And you play the part, but the Spirit provides the power.*

• *Lastly, this morning**’**s Epistle makes it very clear that you
play the part, but the Spirit provides the power.*

• *Verses 6 and 11 declare: *

q “It is the same God who empowers them all in everyone,” and “all these
are empowered by one and the same Spirit.”

q While it is true that your services, your activities, and your words are “
yours,” we must never forget that the power which accomplishes anything
through them is fully the Lord’s.

q Verse 3 tells us that even our ability to proclaim “Jesus is Lord” is the
work of the Holy Spirit as the Word creates faith.

• *(Apology to the Augsburg Confession V 4)**: **“**Therefore, when we
have been justified by faith and regenerated, we begin to fear and love
God, to pray to Him, to expect aid from Him, to give thanks and praise Him,
and to obey Him in times of suffering. We also begin to love our neighbors,
because our hearts have spiritual and holy movements.**”*

• *In distinction, verse 2 speaks of those who are being led to serve
dead idols and empty outcomes with the description **“**however you were
led,**”* *that is, by something other than the Holy Spirit. *

• *Whether it is desire, anger, envy, or some other emotional drive,
human power only produces dead work. *

• *If it is spiritual work, it must be spiritually powered.*

• *There are laws that require mothers and fathers to care for their
children. *

• *While it is true that there are sad occasions in which these laws are
invoked to protect children from parents who abandon them, is this why you
provide care for your children? Simply because it**’**s the law?*

• *Imagine the amount of psychological damage it would inflict if we
knew that the only reason our parents took care of us was because they felt
forced to do so under some law. *

qIs that the reason you feed your family?

qIs that why you overspent your budget during Christmas on their presents?

qIs that why you couldn’t sleep every time you worried about whether you
made the right parenting decision?

• *The power of parenting and every other vocation under the call of
Christ is empowered by something far beyond any earthly punishment or
reward. *

• *It is empowered by the Holy Spirit and given to us through the faith
created by the Word of God through our Baptism.*

• *Conclusion*

• *Most important, if our work is truly of the Holy Spirit, powered by
him and not ourselves, the ultimate outcome will reflect the source, that *
*“**Jesus is Lord.**”*

• *Thus the words of this morning**’**s Old Testament Reading ring

q “The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your
glory” (Isaiah

• *Do not be uninformed. *

• *The Holy Spirit is at work in all of us who believe; we are helpless
without him. *

• *But with him, serving together as the Body of Christ, we shall see
the world made new in Christ. *

• *We shall see marvelous things, both now and for eternity. In the
name of Jesus. Amen.*

• *Let us pray:*

• *Lord, Give to Your Word impressive pow’r,*

• *That in our hearts from this good hour *

• *As fire it may be glowing,*

• *That in true Christian unity*

• *We faithful witnesses may be, *

• *Your glory ever showing. *

• *Hear us, cheer us *

• *By Your teaching; *

• *Let our preaching *

• *And our labor*

• *Praise You, Lord, and serve our neighbor. Amen.*

• *The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts
and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.*

• *In the Name of the Father…Amen.*