Sermon title:  THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

John 16:1-17

Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, April 5, 2020

 

 

Our Scripture reading for this morning

begins in John Chapter 16, Verse 1,

where Jesus is speaking,

and he says,

 

1 “All this I have told you

so that you will not fall away.

 

2 They will put you out of the synagogue;

in fact, the time is coming

when anyone who kills you

will think they are offering a service to God.

 

3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.

 

4 I have told you this,

so that when their time comes

you will remember that I warned you about them.

 

I did not tell you this from the beginning

because I was with you,

5 but now I am going to him who sent me.

None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’

 

6 Rather, you are filled with grief

because I have said these things.

 

7 But very truly I tell you,

it is for your good that I am going away.

 

Unless I go away,

the Advocate will not come to you;

 

but if I go, I will send him to you.

 

8 When he comes,

he will prove the world to be in the wrong

about sin and righteousness and judgment:

 

9 about sin,

because people do not believe in me;

 

10 about righteousness,

because I am going to the Father,

where you can see me no longer;

 

11 and about judgment,

because the prince of this world

now stands condemned.

 

12 “I have much more to say to you,

more than you can now bear.

 

13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes,

he will guide you into all the truth.

 

He will not speak on his own;

he will speak only what he hears,

and he will tell you

what is yet to come.

 

14 He will glorify me

because it is from me

that he will receive

what he will make known to you.

 

15 All that belongs to the Father is mine.

 

That is why I said

the Spirit will receive from me

what he will make known to you.”  

 

May the Lord    add his blessing

to the reading of his Word.

---------------------------------------------------------

 

 

 

On that original Palm Sunday 2,000 years ago,

our Lord Jesus was welcomed to Jerusalem

by crowds in the streets waving palm branches.

It was a joyful time of celebration

for Christ’s disciples

who rejoiced with the welcoming crowds.

 

But, less than a week later,

crowds in the streets were calling for Jesus to be crucified.

 

And the disciples’ hearts were filled with grief.

 

We today, too, have experienced

a similar reversal of circumstances.

 

The economy was booming,

so many jobs were available

that there were “Help Wanted” signs everywhere,

and there seemed to be plenty of everything

to go around.

 

Now, just a few days or weeks later,

we’ve faced shortages and rationing of essential items,

people everywhere are out of work,

fearful for their lives

and wearing masks and gloves

to ward off a horrible and deadly disease.

The words of Jesus that we’re looking at this morning

are words he spoke to his 11 faithful apostles

between Palm Sunday and Good Friday—

between their joyful triumph of Palm Sunday

and their painful grief of Good Friday.

 

Just as his words helped those Apostles back then,

so they can be helpful to us

in the changed circumstances we’re facing now.

 

Christ knew the disciples had some dark days ahead of them

and we today

appear to have some dark days ahead of us,

so Christ’s words here

should have special meaning for us today.

 

Jesus spoke comforting words—

at John 14:27, he said

 

“Do not let your hearts be troubled

and do not be afraid.”

 

And he also spoke words of warning:

 

I have chosen you out of the world.

 

That is why the world hates you.

 

But, interwoven with all of that,

our Lord spoke many words about the Holy Spirit—

more about the Holy Spirit

than had ever been revealed before

in all of God’s dealings with mankind.

 

Christ spoke to the apostles about the Holy Spirit,

because he was about to go to the cross the next day.

 

So, he would be leaving them.

 

But the Holy Spirit would come to them.

 

At John 14, he said,

 

16 And I will ask the Father,

and he will give you another advocate

to help you and be with you forever—

17 the Spirit of truth.

 

God’s Holy Spirit had inspired the ancient Hebrew prophets.

 

But now the Holy Spirit

was going to take on a much bigger role

in the lives of the apostles and disciples—

and in the lives of all Christians from then onward.

At John 14:17 Jesus said,

 

But you know him,

for he lives with you

and will be in you.

 

The Holy Spirit would come to live in them.

 

God would come to live in them.

 

Christ would come to live in them.

 

Christ was already living with them,

but by the Holy Spirit,

Christ would now come to live in them.

 

It’s a mystery, how the Father is God,

the Son is God,

and the Holy Spirit is God,

and yet there is only one God.

 

And, when we are in Christ

when we are part of the body of Christ—

Christ is also in us.

 

At John 14:20, Jesus said,

 

you will realize that I am in my Father,

and you are in me,

and I am in you.

 

We realize it,

but we can’t fully wrap our heads around it.

 

It’s a mystery that we can’t fully understand.

 

you will realize that I am in my Father,

and you are in me,

and I am in you.

 

Christ would be in us by the Holy Spirit living in us.

 

The English language is inadequate to explain it.

 

No human language is adequate to explain it.

 

The Father is in heaven, and Christ, the Son, was born as a man.

But, at John 14:23 Jesus promised something miraculous:

 

He said,

“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.

My Father will love them,

and we will come to them

and make our home with them.

 

It’s a mystery how that could happen.

 

But God would accomplish that

by the Holy Spirit coming to live in each one of us.

 

Colossians 1:27 calls it

this mystery, which is Christ in you.

 

So, that’s what Jesus is promising his disciples

here in the passage of John Chapter 16

that we just read this morning.

 

He’s promising that,

even though he will go to the cross and leave them,

he won’t leave them for long,

because he will return to live in them

when the Holy Spirit comes to live in them.

They will go through tough times,

but it will all be worth it.

 

2 They will put you out of the synagogue;

in fact, the time is coming

when anyone who kills you

will think they are offering a service to God.

 

But it will all be worth it.

 

It will all be worth it,

because of what Colossians 1:27 calls

   the glorious riches of this mystery,

which is Christ in you,

the hope of glory.

 

And that’s what makes all of our suffering

 worth it to us.

 

We’ve all gone through tough times.

 

And it appears that we have some tough times ahead.

 

But Christ has come to live in each of us believers,

by his Holy Spirit.

 

And the Holy Spirit living in our hearts

assures us of the promise

of everlasting life in glory.

 

As believers in Christ, we possess

the glorious riches of this mystery,

which is Christ in you,

the hope of glory.

 

Jesus warned the Apostles of the suffering

they would go through here on earth.

 

4 I have told you this,

so that when their time comes

you will remember that I warned you about them.

 

I did not tell you this from the beginning

because I was with you,

5 but now I am going to him who sent me.

 

None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’

 

6 Rather, you are filled with grief

because I have said these things.

 

The disciples were about to lose their beloved teacher,

the Son of God who lived among them

and tenderly taught them.

They were “filled with grief

at the thought of losing him.

 

He was about to go away to heaven.

 

They would see him die on the cross.

 

His body would be buried in a grave.

 

On the third day, he would rise again.

 

The risen Christ would appear to them

over several days,

but then he would leave them and go to heaven.

 

They would see him rise bodily into the air,

as we read in the First chapter of Acts,

and they would see him disappear

behind the clouds of the sky.

 

They would grieve his loss,

when they saw him die on the cross

on the day we call Good Friday.

 

But he would rise again on the third day,

the day we call Easter Sunday.

 

They would feel his loss

when they saw him

rise into the clouds of the sky and disappear,

but he would come to them

in the person of the Holy Spirit

and live in them—

and to live in each of us believers, too:

 

the glorious riches of this mystery,

which is Christ in you,

the hope of glory.

 

After spending more than three years with Jesus,

walking with him,

sharing meals with him,

listening to his teaching,

and feeling his love,

they didn’t want to see him go away.

 

Still, Jesus explained to the Apostles at John 16:7,

 

very truly I tell you,

it is for your good

that I am going away.

 

Unless I go away,

the Advocate will not come to you;

but if I go,

I will send him to you.

 

God is still with us.

 

God was with mankind in the person of the Son.

 

The Son ascended bodily into heaven,

but God came down to mankind again

in the person of the Holy Spirit,

the Advocate, the Comforter.

 

Jesus first sent the Holy Spirit upon the disciples

on the Day of Pentecost,

50 days after he spoke these words.

 

And he sends the Holy Spirit to live in each of us

when we become believers.

 

Colossians 1:27 calls it

“this mystery, which is Christ in you.”

Ephesians 3:17 says

“that Christ will live in your hearts by faith.”        

 

We are born again

when we trust in Jesus

to save us from our sins

and we commit ourselves to obey him. 

 

God then adopts us as his children,

sending his Holy Spirit into our hearts.

 

Galatians 4:6 describes it this way:

 

“To prove that you are sons,

God has sent into our hearts

the Spirit of his Son,

crying ‘Abba! Father!’”

 

None of this would be possible,

if Christ hadn’t died on the cross.

 

He died that Friday long ago,

rose bodily from the grave that Sunday morning,

and went to heaven,

returning to the Father who sent him.

Then, from heaven, he sent the Advocate, the Comforter,

the Holy Spirit

who comes to live in us,

giving us new birth as children of God

and giving us new life

with supernatural power within.

 

And the Holy Spirit does much more.

 

Jesus continues speaking about the Comforter he is sending:

 

8 When he comes,

he will prove the world to be in the wrong

about sin and righteousness and judgment:

 

9 about sin,

because people do not believe in me;

 

10 about righteousness,

because I am going to the Father,

where you can see me no longer;

 

11 and about judgment,

because the prince of this world

now stands condemned.

 

The Holy Spirit would accomplish all this.

The Holy Spirit “will prove the world

to be in the wrong

... about sin,

because people do not believe in Christ.

 

Not believing in Christ is a sin in itself.

 

But not believing in Christ also LEADS TO

every sort of sin imaginable,

because we are aiming for the wrong things.

 

Our aim is in the wrong direction.

 

The aim of our life should be to become like Christ,

and when it isn’t,

we fall into all sorts of bad and hurtful things.

 

And the Holy Spirit makes that known

to the disciples

and to the whole world.

 

The Holy Spirit will “will prove the world

to be in the wrong

... about righteousness,

because I am going to the Father,

where you can see me no longer.”

The world condemned Jesus as a criminal,

a blasphemer, a wrong-doer,

but they were wrong.

 

He is proved righteous

when he rises from the grave

and ascends to the Father in heaven.

 

The Holy Spirit reveals

that he was not a blasphemous criminal.

 

Rather, he was the most righteous man who ever lived.

 

And the Holy Spirit makes that known

to the disciples

and to the whole world.

 

The Holy Spirit will “will prove the world

to be in the wrong

... about judgment,

because the prince of this world

now stands condemned.

 

the prince of this world”

is Satan the devil,the invisible “ruler of this world.”

And Satan “now stands condemned

because Christ won the victory.

 

Jesus resisted the devil’s temptations.

 

Jesus destroyed the works of the devil.

 

Jesus set free people who had been enslaved by the devil.

 

Jesus proved the devil to be a liar and a murderer.

 

So, Satan “now stands condemned

because Christ won the victory.

 

And the Holy Spirit makes that known

to the disciples

and to the whole world.

 

The coming of the Holy Spirit

reveals all of this.

------------------------------------------

 

But there is even more

that Jesus does not yet tell the disciples.

 

He continues in Verse 12,

 

12 “I have much more to say to you,

more than you can now bear.

 

13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes,

he will guide you into all the truth.

 

The Holy Spirit inspired the writing

of the whole New Testament.

 

So, we have not just Jesus words in the four Gospels,

but also all the rest of the New Testament.

 

We have “all the truth.

 

At that point, on the night of the Last Supper,

Christ’s Jewish disciples were not yet ready

to bear the news

that Gentiles would soon join them in the Church.

 

They were not ready yet to bear the news

that Christianity would replace Judaism

as God’s way of dealing with mankind.

 

There are some people today

who call themselves “red letter Christians”

because they ignore most of the Bible

and believe only the words spoken by Jesus—

the words that appear in red letters

in some Bible versions.

 

But they are false Christians,

because they don’t really believe Jesus’ words, either.

 

Jesus said here, on his last night with the Apostles,

 

12 “I have much more to say to you,

more than you can now bear.

 

13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes,

he will guide you into all the truth.

 

That “much more” that Jesus had to say

is found in the rest of the New Testament

and was inspired by “the Spirit of truth,

the Holy Spirit.

 

The Holy Spirit inspired the writing

of the books of Acts, Hebrews, Revelation,

and the letters of Peter, Paul, James, Jude and John

that fill the rest of the New Testament.

 

Jesus goes on to talk about

the Holy Spirit inspiring all of that information

that was “more than” the Apostles could “now bear.”

 

Jesus says of the Holy Spirit,

 

He will not speak on his own;

he will speak only what he hears,

and he will tell you

what is yet to come.

 

14 He will glorify me

because it is from me

that he will receive

what he will make known to you.

 

15 All that belongs to the Father is mine.

 

That is why I said

the Spirit will receive from me

what he will make known to you.”  

 

So, those words in the rest of the New Testament

are not printed in red letters

but they are still words that come from Jesus.

Christ said, “it is from me

that he will receive

what he will make known to you.

 

... the Spirit will receive from me

what he will make known to you.”

 

So, we should treasure all the words of Scripture.

 

And we should be guided by all the words of Scripture,

since the Holy Spirit received those words from Jesus

and gave those words to us.

==========================================

 

When the Apostles were about to lose their Lord,

that knowledge filled them with grief.

 

Today, we too have some dark days ahead of us.

 

We watched with horror from a distance

when the plague of wildfires

burned up the countryside in California and Australia.

 

And we watched with horror from a distance

as the plague of locusts

began to sweep across Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

But now the whole world

is enveloped with this plague of the coronavirus,

and the grief has come home.

 

In the days and weeks ahead,

we may lose friends, neighbors,

and even some of the dear loved ones

in our families and in the church family.

 

Some of us may be taken home, ourselves,

to be with the Lord.

 

Christ’s disciples were filled with grief

at the thought of losing their Lord

and at the thought of facing the persecution

and death themselves.

 

But Jesus spoke all of these words

to prepare them

and to strengthen them

and to comfort them.

 

And he promised to send them the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.

 

Now is the time for each of us

to immerse ourselves

in the Holy Spirit-inspired words of Scripture.

 

And now is the time to immerse ourselves in prayer.

 

It’s through that sweet communion with our heavenly Father,

through prayer and reading his Word,

together with Christ living within us,

that we will find the strength

to endure the trying days ahead.

 

And we have the blessed assurance,

that just as Christ rose from the grave

and ascended to heaven,

we, too, will join him

in everlasting peace and happiness.