For our Theology Thursday, I recommend this recent episode of Ask Pastor John. In this short talk, John Piper attempts to answer the question, “Where was the Holy Spirit during the crucifixion of Jesus?”
For our Theology Thursday, I recommend this recent episode of Ask Pastor John. In this short talk, John Piper attempts to answer the question, “Where was the Holy Spirit during the crucifixion of Jesus?”
Led by the Spirit
Text: Romans 8:14-16 7/2/2017
Main Point: The Holy Spirit leads Christians.
There is unfortunately a great deal of confusion in the church regarding the Holy Spirit. There is also a great deal of false teaching regarding the Holy Spirit and these errors often cause great personal turmoil. What is speaking in tongues? Should I speak in tongues? Am I less than Christian because I don’t speak in tongues? That one is easy, 1 Corinthians 12:30 tells us that not everyone speaks in tongues. The difficult passage is our passage today, Romans 8:16, and the promise that the Spirit will testify with our spirit that we are children of God. This is a universal witness and if you don’t have it then you are not a Christian. Let’s stop worrying about tongues and start worrying about the witness of the Spirit.
Stop sitting in silence playing some spiritualized form of duck, duck, goose. Maybe today the Spirit will tap me on the head, say goose, and then I’ll get to run around like a Christian. Romans 8:16 does not promise an internal warm fuzzy. Instead, because of adoption and justification, expect the Spirit to convict you of remaining sin while also encouraging you to cry out to your heavenly Father who loves you.
Expect the Spirit to lead you to put sin to death because you are a child of God.
Expect the Spirit to lead you to see and savor the great work of Jesus Christ securing righteousness and forgiveness so you can be a child of God.
Do not look for some second blessing. Instead, read and pray, expecting an ever deepening and satisfying appreciation for Christ’s righteous life, atoning death, and victorious resurrection. The testimony of the Spirit can only be heard beneath the cross.
You can listen to this sermon here
Have you ever asked for something good and been given junk? Have you ever purchased something which was described as good but in reality it was bad? Maybe you paid someone to do a job, they promised to do a good job, and in the end you were stuck with a terrible job?
There are days coming (if they haven’t already come) when you will be tempted to think God has done a terrible job. You asked God for something good and he gave you junk. You are a good person. You live a good life. You even prayed about it but God didn’t deliver. In fact, you think God has done a terrible job. Now you don’t want to pray. Why pray? God isn’t listening and if he is he can’t be trusted.
When you begin thinking this way where should you turn? Turn to Luke chapter 11 and Jesus’ teaching on prayer. While it is important to know how to pray, it is more important to know the God to whom you pray. Disciples need to know how to pray but most importantly disciples need to know the God to whom they pray.
Read Luke 11:1-13
Notice first with me
The Jesus who commands us to make disciples is the Jesus who made disciples. Jesus is the power and pattern for our lives. So what do we see in this text? Verse 1, “Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’”
Jesus was showing them how a disciple lives by living as a disciple. There is a place for classroom style teaching. Jesus did that too. But before, after, and all around those focused times of teaching Jesus taught by example. What I’m saying is Jesus didn’t take them to a prayer seminar. Jesus prayed and they saw him praying. I wonder what it was like to see Jesus pray. However it looked, the disciples saw him praying and said, “Teach us to do that.”
Jesus lived out the command to “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Mt 5:16). But notice Jesus wasn’t show-boating. Jesus was doing his thing as the Son of God and others noticed and wanted to do it too.
There is a danger of praying to be seen and be praised by men. Jesus warned against it in Matthew 6. But that doesn’t seem to be our struggle. For many of us the struggle is one of hiding our prayer light under a basket so no one ever sees, no one ever asks, and we never make disciples.
What I’m saying is we need to pray with people. When people ask you to pray for them then do it right then and there. It may be over time someone asks you, “Will you teach me to pray like you?” Living faithfully as a disciple often leads to opportunities to make disciples.
Let’s turn our attention now to the structure of prayer. How should we pray and how should we teach others to pray?
Notice first off
Muslims believe there is power in the simple speaking of scripture. Christians do not. This belief in the speaking of the Koran is what leads Muslims to learn how to pronounce the Arabic words but not necessarily know what the words mean. To the Muslim the meaning doesn’t matter. The words themselves are what matters. This is not the biblical understanding of prayer.
We know prayer is about more than saying the right words because the two accounts of the Lord’s Prayer are so different. Compare Matthew 6:6-14 with Luke 11:2-4. You’ll find some differences. Why? The disciples understood Jesus wasn’t teaching a prayer to be repeated verbatim. Jesus was laying down a structure for prayer.
Here is the basic structure for prayer: Prayer is first about God then prayer is second about you.
Luke 11:2, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.” When you are praying start with God. We are asking God to make his name great. Now we aren’t asking for God to make his name great because his name is lame. We are asking God to make his name great because we do not see it as great.
I am an individual who is not sold out on the greatness of God. I am part of a family who treasures so many other things alongside and over God. I am a part of a church made up of sinners who doubt the goodness of God. I live in a community infatuated with shallow things. Father, show us your glory.
Another way of saying start with God is start with worship. Read your bible looking for something praiseworthy about God. Once you find it mull it over. Meditate on this great thing about God. When you see the greatness of God ask for more of it.
Pray, “Your kingdom come.” In this we are praying for Jesus to return but we are also praying for the kingdom to expand and grow until Jesus returns. We’re asking God to rule in our anxious lust filled hearts. We’re asking God to show up and change our families. We’re pleading with God to change our communities. Your kingdom come. Don’t dive off into your needs and wants. Healthy biblical prayer starts with God. Prayer is first about God then
The reason prayer is first about God and second about us is because we are tempted to turn God into our errand boy. The prayer list way of praying is dangerous because it can easily make praying about me instead of about God. I don’t exist for God and his purposes, God exists for me and my purposes so let me get to telling him what to do. Starting with worship gets your heart in the right place and often quiets your mind. Then you are ready to ask.
Jesus instructs us to pray for the physical needs of the day. Verse 3, “give us this day our daily bread.” In many cultures this is the exact prayer of God’s people. My family and my church family do not have any food. Crops have been washed away by floods or withered away by drought. There are no opportunities to work. Give us this day our daily bread.
Often in our culture the prayer “give us this day or daily bread” has more to do with doing our jobs well. I believe it was Calvin that said we should be praying for just and fair markets so that good work is answered with a fair wage. Give us this day our daily bread is praying for a job, it is praying for the ability to do the job, and it is praying for customers who will support the work and pay for the groceries.
If you are on social security you realize how praying, “give us this day our daily bread” can easily lead to praying for our government to be wise and faithful in it’s dealings. When I pray “give us this day our daily bread” I’m praying that God will stir your hearts to give generous offerings. We could go on about praying for relational needs and health needs. They would fit in this physical needs category.
Next, Jesus instructs us to pray for the spiritual needs of the day. Verse 4, “forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” God we have doubted your goodness and your ability to provide our daily needs. Please forgive us our sins. Instead of giving others what they need we have wasted time and money on selfishness. Forgive us our sins.
This type of prayer is infused with grace. I am a person who wrongs God and I am a person who is wronged by others. Strengthen me to forgive others and strengthen me to live a faithful life. Church, especially here let me remind you of the need to start with God in prayer. When you start with God’s holiness and graciousness it leads to repentance toward God and graciousness towards others. But if you start with yourself then prayer becomes a gripping session about how hard your life is. Basically prayer becomes your way to telling God he is doing a terrible job. Starting with God’s mercy and kindness leads another direction.
Also, starting with God infuses your prayers with peace. You have these great struggles against sin. You have these great difficulties with your spouse, your children, your coworkers, and others. How are you going to make it? Well, you have already been rehearsing the faithfulness of God and the greatness of God. Celebrating who God is and what God has done is supposed to produce peace.
This is why Paul tells us, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say; Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:4-7).
That is the basic structure of prayer. And notice Jesus doesn’t stop there. He goes on to tell a parable because he understands it is not enough just to tell us to pray. We need to know the God to whom we pray.
Look back at verses 5-8
Jesus calls the neighbor “friend” three times in these verses. But notice why the “friend” finally gives over the dough, verse 8, “I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.” The neighbor gives what was asked because the one asking was rude and annoying. Like the unjust Judge of Luke 18 there is no hint of a relationship here. There is no friendship, love, or concern for the other. Like a troll, he simply wants the nuisance to go away. Jesus is making the point that God is not a troll. So what is he then?
He is not a reluctant giver telling us no until we beat him down. God is a cheerful giver. Look with me at verses 9-10.
Ask for three loaves and God will give it. Seek his help and he will give it. Knock on his door at midnight and he’ll open it up and welcome you in. Verse 10 is a wonderful verse encouraging us to pray, “For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” God is not a neighbor-troll he is a cheerful giver. Ask Him. Let’s continue with verses 11-13.
The basic understanding of these verses is God doesn’t give junk. If earthly dads with all their hang-ups and sin issues are able to give good gifts how much more is your heavenly father able to give good gifts?
Okay now let’s get honest because when we are honest with the text and honest with ourselves we gain the greatest good. There are situations in your life where you think or once thought that God has gypped you. You prayed for something, we’ll call it a fish, but God gave you a serpent. You asked for God’s help and things grew worse! So you tried again. You asked for an egg and this time God gave you a scorpion! What in the world!?!
Remember, Jesus wants you to know how to pray. Start with God in worship and then bring him your requests. When you are out of food, when you have sinned, or when you have been sinned against talk to God about your needs. He’s not a reluctant troll. God is a cheerful good gift giver. So what should we do? We should ask our heavenly good gift Giver, our loving compassionate Father, for the Holy Spirit. Here is why.
We’re going to do some helpful practical theology here. Sin has effected everything including our desires and our ability to interpret our circumstances. Because of sin we are more likely to doubt the goodness of God than trust that God is good. This means we want the wrong things, we misinterpret our circumstances, and we turn away from God. For these reasons and more Jesus tells us to ask for the Holy Spirit. Here’s why you need to ask for the Spirit
Romans 8:14 states it plainly, “all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” True believers are characterized by Spirit led repentance of sin and growth in godliness. By the Spirit Christians put to death the deeds of the flesh. So if the Spirit is not leading you then you are following someone other than God proving you are not a child of God.
Test #1 Does the Spirit lead you to hate your sin and trust Christ for faithful living?
Now this is really scary because it means you submit your past failures and your future plans to God. Remember we’re talking specifically about when you asked God for a fish and he gave you a serpent or when you asked God for an egg and he gave you a scorpion. Should I trust God? Yes, you should ask for the Spirit. Why?
When God doesn’t give us what we want we are tempted to think God doesn’t love us. Because if God loved me He’d give me what I want. Let’s continue in Romans 8:15, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba, Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”
Since sin has defiled to the core of who you are as a person, when the Spirit leads you to put those sins to death it is going to be very personal and often very painful. You thought God was going to do wonderful things in your life and here he is doing painful things in your life. It’s scary. You want to draw back in fear. You want to turn back. You need the assurance of the Holy Spirit.
In times of struggling prayer we need the Spirit to bear witness to our spirits that we are in fact children of God. We need the Spirit to press us on toward loving trust because we want to draw back in fear. We are tempted to curse God as a tyrant we need the Spirit to assure us that God is good and we are loved.
Test # 2 Does the Spirit bring you comfort when life is hard?
Again, this is why prayer must start with God. We need to be reminded that suffering with God for righteousness and suffering with God because of our sinfulness is part of what it means to be an heir of Christ. To put it another way, you don’t need the Holy Spirit to bear witness to your spirit if God is going to give you everything you ask for. You need the Holy Spirit to bear witness with your spirit because God is not going to give you everything you ask for. Friend, you are going to suffer. Ask for the Holy Spirit.
And there is more. We still need more of the Spirit.
Romans 8:26-28 say, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Test # 3 Does the Spirit comfort you when you pray because He’s got this?
When we are stunned by suffering or shocked by unanswered prayers what are we to do? Rest in the presence of God knowing that the Spirit inside of us is praying deeply and powerfully according to the will of God. We can trust and rest in difficulty because the Spirit is at work. This is going to work out for our good because the Spirit is at work in us leading, assuring, and praying. This is going to work out for our good because the Father and the Son and the Spirit are conspiring together for our good.
The wisdom of the Spirit is not the simple theological truth that what my Father gives is good. The wisdom of the Spirit goes deeper leading us to trust that what the Father gives is good. The wisdom of the Spirit goes deeper assuring us that the Father is after our good. The wisdom of the Spirit goes deeper protecting us with his powerful prayers. So when Jesus tells us to ask for the Spirit he is inviting us to ask for the help and correction and assurance we all need.
Test #4 Do you feel your need for the Holy Spirit?
Now you’ve been given some instruction concerning the structure of prayer and the God to whom we pray. There is nothing left to do but to do it. Let’s pray to the Father, through the Son, and by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Main Point: Your union with Christ and indwelling by the Spirit should determine what you do with your body.
A sweet little often repeated phrase at the Duncan house is “she took my ___________!” You can also hear such delightful statements as “that’s mine” and “give that back”. At the root of all these heart-warming pronouncements is the question of ownership; to whom does that object belong?
1 Corinthians 6:12-20 raise this question: To whom does your body belong? The answer is quite simple yet very profound and the implications are numerous. You, which includes your body, have been bought with the price of the life of Christ. You were once a slave to sin but God bought you. Now you belong to him. You have been joined to Christ. Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. You are God’s property. You are not your own.
We talked last week about sinful lifestyles. What we are meant to understand this week is that the Christian lifestyle is more than a private “inner” state. The unseen spiritual reality of your union with Christ is demonstrated in “bodily” action and behavior for all to see (Thiselton, Pastoral, 94). In other words, what you do with your body is a reflection of your spiritual state. Your union with Christ and indwelling by the Spirit should determine what you do with your body.
So this morning from one perspective we are going to unpack a biblical theology of the body. We’ll answer this question: What does God think about my body anyway? From another perspective we are going to be challenged to live according to the wisdom of the One who owns us. You were bought with a price. Therefore glorify God with your body. Let’s learn how to do just that.
1 Corinthians 6:12-20
When you think about all that you can do with your body keep this first truth in mind:
I. Do not become enslaved to freedom (v12)
One of the things we despise the most is when someone tries to take away our freedom. We live in a free country and that freedom was bought at a great price. When it comes to our nation we are quite proud of our freedom.
We also have been set free in Christ Jesus. 2 Corinthians 3:17 says “where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.” Jesus said in John 8:36, “if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed.” Romans 8:32 says, “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Freedom means first:
In Christ Jesus we have been set free from the punishment demanded by the law. The law demands death as payment for sin. Jesus has paid our death-debt. We also are no longer bound to keep the law as a means of gaining righteousness. What I mean is that you don’t get a gold star by your name if you cast all the leaven out of your house around Passover or if you slaughter a lamb at twilight as commanded in the law. We are free in Christ because he has met all the requirements.
But here is where things get dicey. If we are free to no longer do those things that the law requires are we also free to do what the law forbids? 1 Corinthians 6 gives us a basic rule concerning freedom.
Verse 12, Some in Corinth claimed, “All things are lawful for me.” By that some meant they were free to sin. But others meant they were free to do things once forbidden namely eat food offered to idols and drink wine. Those who meant they were free to sin where wrong. Those who meant they were free to eat food offered to idols and drink wine were correct. But notice the wisdom of this verse that keeps freedom from becoming harmful. Verse 12, “but not all things are helpful.” Everything that you can do isn’t good for you and others. Paul faithfully applied this truth in chapter 9 regarding eating meat when he wrote, “Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.” Is he free to eat meat? Yes. If it offends his brother will he gladly stop eating meat in order to build up his brother? Yes. Christian you are free to do what is helpful but don’t be enslaved to your freedom.
Verse 12 goes on, “‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be enslaved to anything.” It’s not hard to think of things that we are free to do but soon those things enslave us. You are free to use technology but don’t become a slave to checking your email, facebook page, or fantasy sports leagues. You are free to spend money but don’t be enslaved to debt. Instead of using your freedom for selfish ends use your freedom to meet needs, advance the kingdom, and enjoy friends and family. Use your freedom. Do not become enslaved to freedom.
How we use our freedom can be a sticky issue unless we understand the nature of our freedom and how that freedom effects how we should live. We are given our next truth in response to those people who think the body doesn’t matter and we’re free to do with the body whatever we want; even sin.
II. Your body matters to God (v13-14)
Your body is significant to God. Therefore,
There is a logic in verses 13 and 14 that we need to pay attention to. God created food for the stomach and God created the stomach for food. Food and stomach go together and when both are used properly they advance God’s purposes for his creation. But what does verse 13 say God is going to do to food and stomach? God will destroy both one and the other. Food as we now have it and stomach as we now have it will be destroyed. Since what is material will one day be destroyed some people are tempted to think that what we do with what is material doesn’t matter. The next step in this wrong thinking is to believe that since food and stomach don’t matter then the body as a whole doesn’t matter either. This way of thinking tries to make sexual immorality acceptable; do whatever you want with your body because your body is temporary. But notice what the end of verse 13 says, “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”
God has a specific purpose for your physical body. Your body is for the Lord and the Lord is for the body in the same way that food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food. Your body serves the Lord’s purposes and the Lord serves the body. The specific way that the Lord serves the body is through the resurrection.
Verse 14 says, “And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.” This body, this vehicle for the spirit, will not be destroyed but will be transformed. So verses 13 and 14 prove that our bodies matter to God in two ways.
First, your body was created for the Lord’s purposes not so that you can do anything you want with it. Second, your body will be transformed at the resurrection. There is continuity between what your body is now and what it will be. God has committed to resurrect us by his power. God is committed to the transformation of these physical bodies. We must be committed to using these physical bodies for the Lord’s purposes. Think about it this way: the commitment to raise these bodies from the dead gives “meaning, responsibility and significance to bodily existence in the present” (Thiselton, 465). What you do with and to your body should be done for Christ and according to God’s purposes. Your body matters to God.
III. Your body is one of Christ’s members (v15)
Verse 15 introduces our next “do you not know” basic truth of the Christian life. Look with me at verse 15, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?” Your body right now, your existence right now, is intimately connected to Christ. Here is the best way to put this idea
If you are a Christian you now exist as an extension of Christ. We must be careful here that we do not take this too far as in thinking that you and I are Christ when we are only members of his body. We must also be careful that we go far enough. Christ views you as an extension of his body in every sphere of life. Everything that you do you do as a part of Christ. Every place you go you are going as one who is fundamentally connected to and a member of Christ’s body. You do not just belong to Christ you have been united to Christ.
This reality of you becoming a part of Christ’s body makes sexual immorality utterly unthinkable. Look at verse 15. Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! God forbid! That is unthinkable and blasphemous!
Christian, your salvation has monumental implications for everything that you do. When you were born again you were joined to Christ in the most intimate and fundamental ways. The hope of the resurrection is ours not because of some prayer but because we have been joined to Christ. If you view your Christianity as only a matter of life after death I fear that you may not be a Christian. Without a real union with Christ you have no hope of eternal life. Only because you have been made a member of Christ’s body do you have any hope at all. We’ll get to unpack this more in our next truth.
IV. You are united to Christ (v16-18)
Verse 16 gives us our next basic truth of the Christian life. “Do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, ‘The two will become one flesh.’ But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.” The key word in these verses is the word ‘join’. It’s the word that is translated as clinging or cleaving. It’s pictured in gluing two pieces together so that they become one piece. Recently one of my cabinet doors was broken. It was obvious when you looked at it that there were two separate pieces. So I put wood glue in the break, clamped the two pieces together, and left the door to dry for a day or two. When I went back and removed the clamp what was once two pieces had become one piece. You can’t see the break anymore. The two are joined together clinging so tightly to one another that there is no visible division between the two; they have become one.
When God wants to describe your unity with Christ this is the image that He uses. Verse 17, “But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.” This means
In salvation your body becomes an extension of Christ’s body so that what you do with your body matters. And in salvation you are joined spiritually to Christ. This is the work of the Holy Spirit as verses 19-20 make clear. Thinking clearly about the Trinity helps us think clearly about our spiritual unity with Christ.
How many God’s are there? There is only one God. How many persons are there in the Godhead? There are three persons. Their unity is a matter of essence or being and relationship. Unity is not the dissolving of personality. Your spiritual unity with Christ is a small reflection of the unity of the Godhead. The Christian is united with Christ to such an intimate and fundamental extent that God says we become one spirit with Christ. This unity is a matter of relationship and being but it doesn’t dissolve your personality.
This spiritual unity is what Paul had in mind in Ephesians 2 when he stated that we were made alive together with Christ, raised up with Christ, and seated in the heavenly places in Christ (Eph 2:5-6). Because of your faith connection to Christ what is true of him becomes true of you. Church our great heritage of salvation by grace through faith has preserved this great truth for us. What we must return to is the product of this unity with Christ. Because what is true of him has become true in you, you must now live like Christ would live.
If you are united by faith to Christ, if the Spirit has joined you to Christ, then when the Father looks at you he sees Jesus. If you are united by faith to Christ, if the Spirit has joined you to Christ, then when the world looks at you it sees Jesus.
If you are a Christian when your coworkers look at you they see Jesus. When your spouse and your children and your grandchildren look at you they see Jesus. When your neighbors and the waitresses and the checkers at the grocery see you they see Jesus. If this isn’t true you probably aren’t joined to Christ; you haven’t become one spirit with him. You are not a Christian.
This spiritual union with Christ is fundamental and this union governs all other unions, all other relationships. Because you have been joined to Christ verse 18 tells you to “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.”
When a man and a woman come together sexually a bond is formed; the two become one flesh. Verse 16 tells us that this union is not reserved only to marriage but is a union produced when a man joins himself physically to a woman; even to a prostitute. Now verse 18 tells us that the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. If you join your body to another in a sinful act you are sinning against your own body. You are joining your body to another in a way contrary to God’s good purposes.
Because of your union with Christ you must flee sexual immorality. You must run from and tenaciously guard against creating any union with any one contrary to the purposes of God. The physical joining of a man and a woman is an act reserved only for the marriage relationship. The marriage relationship is the only relationship that provides the commitment and security necessary for such an intimate act.
And let us be ever biblical. The union between a man and woman is a physical one. The union between Christ and Christian is a spiritual union. These two forms of coming together, physical and spiritual, share the similar levels of intimacy and exclusive commitment but they are not identical.
Christian, do you not know that you are joined to Christ? Also, do you not know that
V. Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (v19-20)
It is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that makes our spiritual union with Christ possible. It is the work of the Spirit to make us one spirit with Christ. Notice what the text says in verse 19, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?”
The Holy Spirit is not your conscience. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Godhead; the very spirit of God. God’s Spirit comes and fills you the exact same way that the glory of God filled the temple of God in the Old Testament. God resides in you in the person of the Spirit and this is the doing of God. The Spirit is the sovereign gift of the Creator God by which God gives himself to you in order to unite you to himself. The Holy Spirit makes your physical body the place of God’s presence on this earth. This means
Verse 19 says, “You are not your own for you were bought with a price.” This is verbiage from the slave market. God did not set you free from slavery to sin so that you can then turn and enslave yourself to freedom. You are not your own man free to do your own thing. You are not your own woman free to do whatever you wish. You are the very property of God. You are the place where God’s glory interacts with the rest of creation. You are as free to do with yourself as you wish as the Old Testament Jews were free to do with the temple as they wished.
Everything that you do you do as the temple of God. Everything you do you do as an extension of Christ. Therefore,
Stay at home moms are the temple of the Spirit created to display the glory of God in the home. Oil field workers are the temple of the Spirit created to display the glory of God in the oil field. Every Christian is the temple of the Spirit created to display the glory of God in every avenue of life. Do not put a cover over your light thinking that there is some mysterious separation between the sacred and the secular. It is impossible for the Christian to leave Christ at home or in private.
Now you can leave your religion at home. You can leave your rituals at church on Sundays. But if your body is a member of Christ’s body, and if you are one spirit with Christ, and if you are the temple of the Holy Spirit then there is only one option for you: glorify God in your body.
But what if you haven’t? What if you have joined yourself to someone who is not your husband or not your wife? Don’t lose sight of 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, “Do not be deceived, the sexually immoral…will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God.”
There are fresh starts in Jesus and by the Spirit. Go to him by faith repenting of your sins and trusting in his sin cleansing work on the cross. He will wash you cleansing you from the filth of sin. He will sanctify you making you holy and setting you apart for God’s purposes. And he will declare you not guilty. God is able right now in Christ and by the Spirit to remove your sin as far from you as the east is from the west. If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1Jn 1:9).
You are not your own. You are not your sins. You are a member of Christ’s body and the temple of the Holy Spirit. Go and live every aspect of your life for the display of God’s glory.
Main Point: We understand the wisdom of God by the Spirit of God
Are you familiar with the idea of “talking past” someone? Two people think they are talking about the same thing and in agreement but they aren’t. You’re speaking English and they are listening but they just don’t understand. You’re not talking “over their head” using complicated word and ideas. You are speaking plainly but it just doesn’t register. This happens to me sometimes when Angela is talking. I know she’s speaking English and I’m listening but what she’s saying I just don’t understand. A lot of that has to do with the fact that I am a man… and I’m dumb. She “talks past” me. I don’t have what it takes to understand her. I need help.
Any time you share the gospel with a natural person you are talking past him/her. The unspiritual will not appropriate the power of the cross because they just don’t get it. The concepts and information are simple enough on their own but you can see in their glassy-eyed indifference or angry rejection that they don’t understand. In 1 Corinthians 2:6-13 Paul explains why it is that some people understand and live according to the wisdom of God revealed in the cross while others reject it; even hate it.
Here’s the main point of the passage, you must bear this in mind, the key to understanding the wisdom of God decreed in the gospel is the Holy Spirit. You cannot get to God on your own. The Spirit must give understanding. Or as Jesus said, “The Spirit gives life, the flesh is no help at all” (John 6:63).
Let’s read our text: 1 Corinthians 2:6-16
I. We do impart wisdom (6-8)
After stating that the wisdom of this world is absolutely worthless when it comes to knowing and following God we need to be clear that we do have wisdom. We do impart wisdom. Our wisdom, however, is of a completely different kind than the world’s wisdom.
Verse 13 says that we speak this wisdom in words taught by the Holy Spirit. Verse 7 says that we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God. Now we could take that phrase to mean something like we speak in a foreign language that is not yet known. Or we speak in riddles that you have not yet figured out. But as we continue through this passage we’ll see that this wisdom that we speak is not of this world. We speak the hidden wisdom of God.
Since the beginning of this letter the Apostle Paul has been describing and defending his message. And what is it that Paul preaches? What is his testimony, his word, and his message? It is the gospel (1:17), the testimony about Christ (1:6; 2:1), the word of the cross (1:18), and Christ crucified (1:23; 2:2). God’s wisdom is spoken in a mystery.
Think about it: it is wise to fix what is broken. It is wise to justly punish all sin. It is wise to secure forgiveness for those in need. But to do it through the cross, to do it through the death of your very own sinless Son; indeed this is a mystery.
But the gospel is not a new mystery in the plan of God. It is new to mankind but not to God. Verse 7 tells us that this mystery that we proclaim was decreed by God before the ages for our glory. This word translated ‘decreed’ in the ESV is translated as ‘ordained’ in the KJV and ‘predestined’ in the NASB. The word means to decide beforehand. God decided before the ages to display his wisdom through the cross. He predestined this before the ages. That means the redemption of man by way of the work of Christ is not plan B. God predestined the gospel and he did it for our glory.
In the wisdom of God the good of mankind is tied directly to Jesus Christ the Lord of glory. 1 Corinthians 15:43 tells us that these bodies sown in dishonor through burial will be raised in glory at the resurrection. In 1 Corinthians 15:52 Paul writes, “Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” At the resurrection when we see Christ we will be made like him (1 John 3:2). We will put on immortality! And where did this amazing promise of resurrection and immortality come from? It came from the mind of God who decreed it before the ages for our glory.
Leon Morris wrote, “Divine wisdom brought about Christ’s saving act in the cross” (TNTC, 52). The greatest good for mankind has come through the greatest sin of mankind; the crucifixion of the Son of God.
Paul is not saying that he preached two gospels: one to the immature without the cross and the other to the mature with the cross. What he’s saying is that discipleship, moving spiritual infants to maturity, focuses on appropriating the wisdom and power of Christ’s cross. Jesus said that when he was lifted up he’d draw all men to himself (John 12:32). The mature are those who are convinced that God’s glory is displayed and enjoyed at the cross of Christ. So, according to His righteousness, power, wisdom, and joy we pick up our crosses daily and follow Christ. Our greatest good and God’s greatest glory come through the wisdom of daily dying to self and following the Spirit.
The rulers of this age did not understand what God has decreed concerning the redemption of man through Jesus’s death and resurrection. Had they known that the crucifixion of Christ would produce the greatest glory for God they would have never crucified the Lord of glory. This world sees the cross as weakness but it is a mysterious display of strength. The world sees the cross as foolishness, but it is the wisdom of God. Had the rulers of this age known that the crucifixion would secure their defeat they would have never done it. Praise be to God that our salvation does not depend upon our wisdom but it has been predestined by God.
Now before we get too judgmental about the rulers of the age who crucified Jesus let us be mindful of this next point.
Romans 3:11, speaking of all mankind, says plainly, “no one understands, no one seeks for God.” Humanity is not capable of grasping the wisdom of the cross. When Peter declared that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God what did Jesus say to him? “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father is in heaven.” In John 6 as Jesus is preaching about the life and satisfaction that only he can provide the people grumbled. All they saw was a young man from Nazareth. What did Jesus say, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (6:44). Later when Jesus declared plainly that he is bread from heaven and his blood secures life his disciples grumbled about it. And what did he say, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all.”
Christian you do not cherish Christ because you are smart and had good parents who took you to church. You understand the mystery of redemption through the cross of Christ because the Spirit revealed it to you. God drew you to Christ. If he hadn’t you would have never come.
II. The Spirit gives understanding (9-12)
Concerning these verses David Garland writes, “Paul shifts his focus to the means by which God reveals heavenly truth that is naturally unknowable. How can something that has no place in the human heart be made known? How do humans cross the divide between the world and God? These can happen only through God’s Spirit, who searches all things, even the depths of God. Human creatures do not have access to these things and do not even have the grammar or vocabulary for them until it is graciously bestowed by God’s Spirit (BECNT, 98).
No eye has seen how good it can be in Christ. These eyes are not capable. No hear has heard of the things God has prepared for those who love him. These ears are not able. The heart, mind, and desires of man cannot reach the exalted heights of the Lord of glory. We are blind, deaf, and dumb.
But these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. God has bridged the chasm of our inability with the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of his Holy Spirit. Church we must return to a biblical understanding of salvation. There are two things that must occur if any soul is going to be converted. The gospel must be proclaimed and the Holy Spirit must overcome our inability to understand. Without the gospel there will be no salvation. Without the Spirit there will be no salvation. We must faithfully proclaim the mystery of the cross as we whole heartedly depend on the Spirit to work.
Do you look at your friends, your children, your coworkers, and neighbors and understand that what they need is for the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth of Christ to them through your proclamation of the gospel? Your testimony doesn’t cut it. Your simple biblical gospel presentation doesn’t cut it. Every person requires the powerful revelation of the Spirit.
And we can trust the Spirit to do the job
The reason God reveals these things to us through the Spirit is because, verse 10, “the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.” The Holy Spirit has a 100% accurate understanding of God. The Spirit knows what God is doing and why God is doing it. Because the Spirit searches everything and knows the thoughts of the Father He is able to reveal the gospel to us. So as you and I declare what is unknowable the Spirit reveals the mystery and makes it known.
Here’s an illustration of how it works, verse 11, “For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him.” Think about your mind. Scientists may be able to see that there is something happening in different parts of your brain at different times but science cannot reveal our thoughts. Studies can show that we are thinking but science cannot reveal what we are thinking. You have to tell your thoughts for someone to know them. But do you have to tell yourself your thoughts? No, your spirit knows your thoughts.
What is true concerning your spirit knowing your thoughts is true of God’s Spirit knowing His thoughts. Now, your spirit is not a separate person like God’s Spirit but the point still holds true. God’s Spirit knows God’s thoughts. Now verse 12, “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.”
The Spirit of God proceeds from God and is poured out by Christ on us. How do we receive the Spirit? We receive Him by faith; by believing what He is teaching. But we see in this passage that the Spirit is doing more than teaching. He is enabling understanding; enabling receiving. Like the wind blowing we don’t know where it comes from or where it goes we just see its effects. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit (John 3:8). We do not know exactly how it is that God overcomes our spiritual inability to understand the gospel. We just know the Spirit does it. We go from rejecting the Spirit and spurning the gospel to receiving the Spirit by God’s sovereign work.
Now why do we receive the Spirit? Verse 12, the reason we must receive the Spirit is so that we can understand the things freely given to us by God. The reason you understand Christ is because the Spirit has enabled that understanding. The reason that you set your mind on heavenly things (Col 3:2) is because the Spirit has enabled you to understand that heavenly things are more valuable. The reason you focus on eternal things instead of the transient painful things of this world (2 Cor 4:18) is because the Spirit has enabled your eye to see.
Church, it is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh is no help at all. We must return to that place in life where we acknowledge our complete inability to understand the things of God and cry out to the Spirit. May the Spirit even right now convince you that you do not have what it takes to understand God’s plan for your marriage. Please God may the Spirit convince you that you do not have what it takes to raise kids or be a true success at work. May the Spirit convince our young people before school starts that they do not have what it takes to accomplish anything good this school year. And may we be a people who cry out for the help of the Spirit.
One of my biggest sins is going through the responsibilities of each day convinced that I’ve got it under control. God I read my bible today so I know what you want. I’ve got this. I’ve studied what you said about parenting, marriage, relationships, the church, and work. I’ve got it from here. No I don’t!
I need the Spirit to lead me according to the wisdom of the cross through each aspect of life. I need the Spirit to give me understanding and strength so that I do God’s thing for his glory and not my thing for myself. I need the Spirit to help me understand the wisdom of the cross and trust the power of the cross for every detail. When you and I become convinced that we don’t have what it takes then we will be a people desperate to find the God who gives us everything we need in Christ.
Now as we correctly exalt the necessary work of the Spirit to overcome man’s inability to understand the plan of God we will be tempted to think that you and I have no responsibilities. After all, it’s the Spirit who gives life, the flesh is no help at all, so I’m going to stay at home and watch TV, or play on the computer, or read some systematic theology while the Spirit does His thing.
The Spirit doesn’t work that way.
III. We interpret the wisdom of the cross by the Spirit (13)
Verse 13, “We impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit.” We speak the mystery of God. The Holy Spirit doesn’t speak the mystery of God. The Holy Spirit teaches people to understand the mystery of God that you and I speak. So, the reason I talk about the gospel with my children is because God has told me that the only way my children are going to understand the cross is by the Spirit teaching them as I talk to them. This is why I have insisted on curriculum in our Sunday School classes that is big on the gospel. This is why I read the Gospel Story Book Bible and Long Story Short with my kids. This is why I pray for their salvation. I want to see the Spirit teach as we speak.
Our last phrase in verse 13, though a bit mysterious in itself, drives home the necessity of the Spirit: “interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.” That means
Paul opened this paragraph by stating, “Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom.” Next week, Lord willing, we’ll see from chapter 3 that there are baby Christians, infants in Christ, who are not being spiritual. They are not mature. They have been born again by the power of the Spirit but they have not yet learned to walk according to the Spirit. Baby Christians are those people who have not learned what it is to trust the power of the gospel at school, at home, at work, or even in the church. They haven’t yet realized that picking up their cross and dying to self everyday is the path to the greatest joy and good. There are infants and the mature.
The mature do not move on past the cross. The mature are led by the Spirit to understand the wisdom of the cross and rely on the power of the cross for every aspect of life. One writer said, “The entailments of the wisdom of the cross are ever-more-deeply appropriated by Christian openness to the work of the Holy Spirit (Thiselton, NIGTC, 266).
Christian, you will not grow if you are not listening to the Spirit according to the Word. Our calling is to speak the deep things of God and listen to the Spirit as He guides us to apply the wisdom of the cross to life. This is Spirit-filled discipleship. And Spirit-filled discipleship cannot be done in one sermon. Spirit-filled discipleship is done through sermon after sermon. Spirit-filled discipleship is done as you sit down with another believer and prayerfully study God’s word and seek the Spirit’s help to live according to it. You are not meant to teach yourself. I’m not meant to teach myself. Together we impart this wisdom by the Spirit. We combine spiritual things with the spiritual.
So what is the conclusion? What is the take home? It’s two-fold
IV. Our two-fold application
You and I have to tell our friends at school, our children, our neighbors, and our coworkers exactly who Jesus is and what he has done for us in the cross. God has placed you where he has placed you so that you will be a light. Satan wants you to be quiet and just be a good example. God has placed you there so you will graciously and lovingly open your mouth. Simply preach the gospel and preach the gospel simply.
And do it in the Spirit’s power. What does that mean? It means you must devote yourself to prayer and you must reject every form of manipulation. Plead with God to open up hearts to pay attention to what you are saying. He did it with Lydia in Acts 16:14. Pray that the Spirit will enable people to understand what you are saying. It’s His job. Depend upon him to do it. Share the gospel. Do it without manipulation as you trust the Spirit.
Second, you and I must seek to
Who is helping you appropriate the gospel at school? Who is helping you work out all the implications of the cross in your relationships? Who are you investing spiritual truth in? Has your life become so busy that you do not have time for others and you don’t have energy to grow yourself? Quite possibly you are living according to this world’s wisdom and it’s time for you to repent.
So, if I haven’t been talking past you this entire sermon it’s time for you to act. More specifically it’s time for you to trust the wisdom of the cross for your next move. If you know what the move is then pray the Spirit will give you boldness and do it. If you don’t have clarity on how to handle what you know you need to do then I want to invite you to pray. Ask God for wisdom. I’m here to pray with you. You can pray where you are or come get on your knees in humility before God. The Spirit will make it clear. He will teach us. He will reveal God’s things to us. He will focus us always on the Son. Let’s listen to our Teacher.
Text: John 15:18-6:4 4/10/2011
Thesis: Jesus chose us to be like him not like this world.
Today we continue to look at God’s word written in John 15. The last two Sundays have been dedicated to John 15 verses 1 through 17. There we see the amazing picture of what the Christian life looks like. Because we are connected to Jesus and because we depend on Jesus we live fruitful lives. Jesus said in verse 5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” The Christian life is a fruitful life. God uses us to rescue and redeem others from sin and death.
We also saw that as Jesus’ disciples we are greatly loved. Jesus said in verse 9, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” This is simply too great to comprehend. The depth and strength of Jesus’ love for you and me is equal to the depth and strength of the Father’s love for his only Son. You and I are greatly loved. Abide in that love; rest in that love. Find your identity and joy in that love. You Christian are greatly loved.
And as we abide in Christ and abide in his love we will obey his commandments. We’ll walk with him and do what he did. Namely, we will love others for God’s glory and their good. As we abide in Christ, abide in his love, and obey his commandments we will realize another great blessing. In verse 16 Jesus repeats this great prayer-promise, “whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give it to you.” Christians bear fruit, love others, and find answers to prayer.
Isn’t it great to be a Christian? Aren’t you glad you are chosen by God? Isn’t it amazing that the Father and Son love you? Doesn’t it make you smile to know that the Spirit has been sent to help you? There are so many great blessings. And we must remember that these great blessings are for a purpose.
You have been chosen by God in order to change the world. You have been chosen out of the world in order to bear fruit in the world. You exist in order to change the world through the power of the gospel. If we are going to change the world we must abide in Christ and abide in his love.
But do not think that all these blessings mean life will be all daisies and ease and appreciation and fruitfulness. In our passage today Jesus unpacks the hard truth that makes abiding necessary. You are not of this world and that means the world will hate you. Buckle up. Jesus was not of this world and the world hated him. The great blessings are necessary for the great struggle each of us will face. Because God chose us and loves us we are not of this world. And because we are not of this world the world will hate us. It’s time to prepare our hearts and minds for the work that lies ahead of us.
Read John 15:18-16:4
The great blessings of verses 1-17 are not given to us so that we can sit in comfortable pews until we die. We have the blessings of the love of Christ, answered prayer, and fruitfulness because we need them for this life. In chapter 16 verse 1 Jesus explains to his disciples why all this is so important, “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away.” That means the message is necessary for our salvation. What is it that could rattle us to the extent that we would want to throw faith into the trash? What would make us want the Father to cut us off and throw us away? It begins in verse 2, “They will put you out of the synagogues.” You will be cut off from community and the worship gathering as you know it. You will lose friends. And Jesus goes on in verse 2, “Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.” Jesus wants us to be prepared for the day when religious people will kill Christians because they think it honors God.
What could make you want to give up on Jesus? Loss of friends, being cut off from your community, death threats, and even attempts will rattle you and make you question your faith. Look down at verse 4, “But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.” Jesus is preparing us. He wants you to realize that following after him will cost you everything. Abiding in Jesus, abiding in his word, and bearing fruit that lasts may cause you to lose friends. Your family may cut you off. People may try to kill you and all because you follow Christ.
In the book of Acts we see the persecution and murder of Christians in the name of God. Think of the beatings inflicted on Peter and the apostles in Acts 5. Think of the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7. The hour of persecution has begun. On March 21, 2011 Muslims in Pakistan opened fire on a prayer meeting. Two men, Younas Masih, 47, and Jamil Masih, 22, were killed, and two others, Sadiq, 45, and Ishaq, 20, were injured.
Those who abide in Jesus and bear much fruit will encounter persecution (2 Tim 3:12). Jesus tells us this truth so we will be ready. Stand firm Christian. Prepare yourself to bear much fruit in spite of persecution. Prepare yourself to love sacrificially in the face of death.
Let’s unpack all that Jesus has for us as we prepare for whatever the future may bring.
Here’s a reminder from chapter 14
Jesus said in 14:21, “he who loves me will be loved by my Father and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Then in verse 23, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”
Those who love Jesus experience the love and presence of the Father and the Son. Remember Jesus’ prayer in chapter 17? He wants the world to know that the Father loves Christians even as He loves the Son (17:23). When you love Jesus you are loved by the Father.
If you love Jesus and abide in his love then the world will hate you. Don’t be surprised by this. Jesus said in verse 18, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” Jesus told his brothers in John 7:7, “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that it works are evil.” In John 3:19 Jesus said, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and the people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed”
The world is wrapped up in, enslaved to, and in love with darkness. Darkness, wickedness, and sin make a brutal task master who only abuses and exploits. Jesus, who is the light, came to expose this twisted love for the darkness and break this brutal slavery. Jesus came to set the captive free. But the captives hate their rescuer. Those of the darkness crucified the light. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before you.” Jesus wants us to understand that hatred for the light is nothing new. The darkness has always hated the light. When you abide in the light you will be hated. You will be hated on account of Jesus’ name.
Church we must count the cost. We must choose. We cannot serve two masters. Do we want to experience the love of the Father? You will be hated by the world. Do you want the love of the world? You will be cut off, gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
Know this. Nail this down. Walk in the light of this truth. The love of the Father for you will always be greater than the hatred of the world for you. The capacity of the world for hatred is nothing compared to the capacity of the Father for love. In the face of the world’s hatred Jesus promises that his joy will be in us and our joy will be full (15:11).
Who will you love? Will you love Christ and abide in his love or will you love the world? You cannot have both.
In verse 19 Jesus says, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
The world’s hatred is directed towards those who are not of the world. So what does that mean? To be of the world means to love what the world loves, talk like the world talks, spend like the world spends, and hate what the world hates. If you walked in step with the world then there would be no problem; the world would love you as its own. But since Jesus called you out of darkness and into his marvelous light you are different. You don’t love what the world loves, you don’t talk like the world talks, you don’t spend like the world spends, or hate what the world hates. Because Jesus chose you and cleaned you and because you bear fruit the world hates you.
This gets at the heart of our mission as Christians. We are called and equipped to act like Jesus. With love and boldness we expose sin while preaching the gospel. It is sin that separates us from God. That sin must be exposed and removed. When we no longer act like the world but abide in Jesus and obey his commands it will make the world uncomfortable. When we call on our coworkers and our neighbors to confess their sins to God and place their faith in Jesus for salvation and joy there will be those who do. We will bear fruit. But be prepared. There will also be those who hate us because we do not do what they do. Hatred will come when we call the world to repentance and faith.
The world will hate you because you are different. So the question is does anyone hate you or are you just like the world?
Next, as we think about why the world hates Christians we need to understand that
Jesus said in verse 20, “remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.”
Jesus is telling us here that the ultimate reason why the world hates us is because it hates Jesus. We should not expect to be treated any different than Jesus was treated. Please understand how dangerous and unbiblical the prosperity gospel is. Jesus didn’t say that if you had enough faith you wouldn’t suffer. Jesus is telling us that if you have faith you will suffer. Are you any better than Jesus? Is the servant better than the master? Do you have some get-out-of-persecution-free card?
The people around us will treat us the way they would treat Jesus. If they persecuted him they will persecute you. If they listened to him they would listen to you. If you are a Christian you are inseparably linked to Jesus. That is for good: love, joy, answered prayer, and bearing much fruit. And it is for difficulty: hatred, persecution, and even martyrdom.
It is time to stop hiding our Christianity by keeping our mouths closed or by avoiding the world. Jesus is calling us to abide in him, abide in his word, and bear much fruit come what may. So we must understand that the world persecuted Christ so the world will persecute followers of Christ.
We saw in verse 19 that the world hates us because we don’t act like them and through the preaching of the gospel we expose their sin. Now in verse 21 we go deeper into why the world hates and persecutes.
Look at verse 21 and the role of ignorance in hatred, “But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.” And then chapter 16 verse 3, “And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me.”
You hate because you are separated from God; you do not know the Father and you do not know the Son. The cure for your hatred is reconciliation with God. Do you want to be set free from your slavery to hatred? Abide in Jesus, abide in his love, abide in his word, and as you obey his commands you will find your hatred decreases and your joy increases.
What is the cure for the hatred all around us? Reconciliation with God through faith in Jesus Christ; hatred is removed as the gospel is proclaimed and believed in the world. Hatred is caused by ignorance and ignorance is cured through faith in Jesus Christ crucified, buried, and resurrected the conqueror of sin and the grave.
This is precisely why
If knowing the Father and the Son whom he has sent is the cure for hatred then seeing the Son and hating the Son is utterly deplorable. In verses 22-25 Jesus exposes the grossest of sins. He came to his own and he spoke to his own but his own did not receive him (1:11).
Think about this: if you hate someone you do not know, if you hate someone without reason, then you are just plain stupid. But it is utterly wicked to hate someone you know is good. Jesus said that he came to them and he spoke to them. He did miraculous works and they saw him. Yet they still hated him. They hated the Son and they hated the Father. The word written in their law was fulfilled: ‘They hated Jesus without cause.’
Jesus is not saying that the people had no sin until he came and they hated him. And Jesus is not saying that if they had never seen or heard him they would have lived forever. When Jesus says, “they would not have had sin” in verses 22 and 24 he is demonstrating the gravity of their hatred. Nothing they had done or said compares to the horrendous sin of seeing the glorious Son of God and hating him.
The world will hate you if you are different. The world hated Jesus. People will hate you because they don’t know God. And some will even hear the gospel and still chose to hate God. How then do we overcome this hatred?
Verse 26 gives us all we need to continue in spite of persecution and continue for the transferring of souls from the domain of darkness and into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son. We need the Holy Spirit. Again, in verse 26, Jesus calls the Spirit the Paraklete. He is the helper; the one who does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. This Helper has come and you received him by hearing the gospel and believing the gospel. So you are equipped.
You know you are equipped because Jesus says that the Helper will be sent to you. Look closely at verse 26 and be amazed at the gift of the Spirit. He is sent to you from the Father. He is the Spirit of truth. And he will bear witness about Jesus.
James 1:17 says every good and perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of lights. So this Helper sent from the Father is a good and perfect gift. I like those gifts. He is the Spirit of truth. It is the Helper’s job to expose lies and lead us into the truth. Truthfulness is one of his characteristics. It is impossible for the Spirit of truth to tell lies. That is a good gift. And this Spirit of truth proceeds from the Father. To say that the Spirit proceeds from the Father is the equivalent of saying that the Son is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature (Hebrews 1:3).
The NIV has a good translation here by saying that the Spirit of truth goes out from the Father. The way a river flows out from its headwaters is the way the Spirit proceeds or goes out from the Father. There is no better witness to the Son of God than the Spirit of God. And this Spirit has been given to you. We have all we need to overcome hatred caused by ignorance. The Spirit will bear witness through us. We are necessary.
Jesus said, “And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.” Do you want to bear fruit that lasts and so prove to be Jesus’ disciple? Then join the Spirit of truth as he bears witness to Jesus. Open your mouth concerning who Jesus is, what he has done, and what he has said.
In the margin of my bible I have written, “The silent either don’t have the Spirit or aren’t following the Spirit.” I think that is good application of these two verses. You and I will proclaim the gospel to our neighbors and the nations to the extent that we have and follow the Spirit. Bearing witness to Jesus is what the Holy Spirit sent to you does.
So one reason you and I don’t share the gospel with our neighbors and the nations is because we haven’t been born again. You don’t tell your friends and coworkers about Jesus because you aren’t a Christian.
Or you and I don’t share the gospel because we are scared of persecution. We know that Jesus has promised persecution even death for some who abide in his word and obey his commands and that’s honestly a bit scary. We’d rather just remain quiet and comfortable.
We have everything we need to bear witness to Jesus and overcome the ignorance that causes hatred. So here is what you must do:
He was persecuted and he tells us to expect the same. They hated him and they’ll hate you. They insulted him and they’ll insult you. They beat him and they’ll beat you. They killed him and they’ll kill you.
Jesus experienced all of these precisely because he was loving and obeying the Father. The world is at odds with the Father. The world has declared itself to be an enemy of the Father. So do not be surprised when your love and obedience is thrown back into your face. Think biblically about the Christ you follow.
Hebrews 12:2 tells us to run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Abiding in his love, abiding in his word, and obeying his commandments will provide a far greater joy than avoiding persecution. Remember, this light momentary affliction is preparing for you an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison (2 Cor 4:17).
We must walk by faith in the greater joy than by sight in this present difficulty. Jesus did it. Jesus experienced joy and he promises that even in suffering his joy will be in you and your joy will be full (John 15:11).
The devil says “if God loves you then you won’t suffer” and Jesus says “if you abide in my love you will be hated”. Before we enter into difficulty and persecution it is a priority that we nail down this biblical truth: faith in Jesus Christ does not equal ease in this life. Instead all those who desire to live godly lives in Christ will be persecuted (2 Tim 3:16).
Therefore it is necessary that we dive deep into the word of God and think deeply concerning the love of God for us. The fuel for joy is meditation on the cross. Abide in his love and obey his commandments. Don’t stop even when its hard.
Step back and think about this message in John 15. When we fear persecution we do nothing, we do not bear witness, and we do not bear fruit. Jesus tells us that all those who do not bear fruit God takes away and throws into the fire.
It is not time for a healthy fear of persecution. It is time for a healthy fear of God. Pray with me that we would not fear those who can only kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather let us pray that we would fear the one who can destroy both body and soul in hell (Mt 10:28).
 http://www.persecution.com/public/newsroom.aspx?story_ID=MzUy accessed 4/7/2011
Text: John 14:12-17 3/6/2011
Thesis: Jesus’ work continues through believers by the Holy Spirit.
This morning we’re going to look at three amazing promises that Jesus makes to anyone who believes in him. Jesus promises that whoever believes in him will do greater works than he did. Jesus promises to do whatever we ask of him. And Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit; our perfect helper.
This is what I am praying happens because of this sermon: I hope this sermon causes you to do some serious thinking concerning the life you are living. Why are you doing what you are doing? Why are you not experiencing Jesus’ promises? I hope this sermon causes you to devote yourself to prayer. I hope this sermon causes you to think more clearly concerning what is important, what is true, and what actually has been promised.
You see, with these great promises there is also great danger. The great danger is that we will forget Jesus for all his promises. If you want to be frustrated then do this simple thing. If you want to not have your prayers answered or if you want to accomplish nothing with all your hard work then do this simple thing. If you want to not experience the help of the Holy Spirit then do this simple thing. You ready for it? All you have to do is treat Jesus as only the way to the promises. Put your faith in Jesus, repent and believe, then he’ll make you successful, he’ll give you whatever you want, the Spirit will help you no matter what; that is just plain old fashioned wrong.
Jesus’ promises and presence are always connected to his mission. We must fight to keep these glorious promises in their right place. All of these promises are because of and for the advance of Jesus’ mission. And what is Jesus’ mission? His mission is to glorify the Father by the redemption of His people from every tribe, tongue, and nation.
So the place for these promises is in the continuing mission of Jesus. Jesus is working. Jesus is working right now and every great work, every answer to prayer and especially the gift of the Holy Spirit is because of Jesus’ continuing work to fulfill the Father’s mission of redemption. So let’s see what Jesus is doing and what he promises us so that we can be a part of his great work of redemption.
Read John 14:12-18
Jesus begins, in verse 12, with the emphatic ‘truly, truly’ or ‘amen, amen.’ This is foundational. If you miss this you will mess up. What is it? Whoever believes in Jesus will also do the works that Jesus did. Jesus expects you to do what he did. We know he expects this of all of us because he says “whoever believes in me”. Whoever claims to be a Christian will do what Jesus did. Whoever claims to be saved, born again, a child of God, a follower of Christ, or a plain ole Christian will act like Jesus. Jesus doesn’t limit this promise to those first 11 disciples or the apostles. Jesus is talking about you. He’s talking about me. He’s talking about us. We, because we are attached to Jesus by faith, will do what he does.
That is very clear. So, we have to ask, “what did Jesus do?” Maybe we can start a massive movement with bracelets, t-shirts, and bumper stickers. We’ll abbreviate the question “what did Jesus do” with just the letters “WDJD”. Do you think it will catch on?
Seriously, we can’t ask what would Jesus do if we don’t know what he did. Jesus promised that we will do what he does. So what did Jesus do? What are his works? The nearest reference to Jesus’ works is found in verse 11, “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.” So what were these works that caused people to believe in Jesus? The works were the miracles; the signs that Jesus performed. Jesus expects us to do the miraculous.
It’s important for us now to ask, “Where did those works come from?” Before you answer let me read John 5:19-21 for you. Remember, we’re asking, “what did Jesus do” and “where did the works come from.” John 5:19-21:
Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing on his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.
What did Jesus do? He did what he saw the Father doing. Where did the works come from? They came from the heart or mind of the Father; Jesus was only doing what he saw his Father do. Let’s make the connection. Believers will do the works that Jesus did. Jesus did the works he saw his Father doing. We will do the works that the Father did. Let’s just pause for a moment and be amazed at this promise. You, me, and any other messed up sinner who repents of his sins and puts his faith in Jesus Christ will do the same amazing works as Jesus. We are not just meant to be redeemed. The Father’s plan is to use each of us in his great work of redemption. It’s not enough for you just to be saved; that’s too small a thing. Jesus promises that you’ll be a part of God’s work to save others.
Believers will do what Jesus did and
If that first part wasn’t hard enough Jesus goes on to say, “and greater works than these will [whoever believes in Jesus] do.” Jesus is promising you that you will do not just what he did but you’ll do greater works than he did. The word “greater” occurs in our passage and I’m sure you heard it in the John 5 passage, “And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.”
Remember, we must fight to keep Jesus’ promises in the proper place as a part of Jesus’ mission. From John 5 what are the greater things that will cause us to marvel? These marvelous greater works are a product of the Father raising the dead and giving them life. These greater works are the Son giving life to whom he will. The greater works that Jesus promises you will do are the works that cause the dead to hear the voice of Jesus and rise again.
Jesus is promising us that we will proclaim the gospel and people will be born again. I’m not saying that we won’t see people physically healed. I think we should expect to see people healed when we pray for them. But we must never ever ever think that a physical healing miracle is bigger or more important or more necessary than the spiritual healing miracle.
I know things must change in this church because when we gather to pray we spend more time and energy trying to keep Christian out of heaven than we do trying to get lost people into heaven. We should pray for physical healing. As an elder of this church it is one of my responsibilities. But the desire for physical well-being in our selves and in our neighbors must always be kept subservient to the desire for spiritual well-being in our selves and in our neighbors.
The greater works that we will do and that will cause us to marvel are the works of physical and spiritual resurrection. We’ll marvel at physical resurrection when Jesus returns and we’ll marvel at spiritual resurrection every time we preach the gospel and a person is born again.
Let’s look at the last phrase in verse 12 and let Jesus drive this point home
Why is it that we will do greater works? What is the “because” at the end of verse 12? “Greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” The greater works we do are 100% the product of Jesus’ completed work. Because Jesus lived a righteous life, died a substitutionary death on the cross, rose victorious from the grave, and went back to the Father’s right hand you will do greater works than him.
Should we expect to raise someone from the grave after they’ve been dead 5 days? Should we expect to give sight to someone who has been blind since before birth? That’s not the point. The point is you and I are meant to be a part of the Father’s work of redeeming his lost sheep by proclaiming the powerful resurrecting gospel of Jesus Christ. Sometimes this work will be accompanied by signs and wonders. As we do what we have seen the Father and the Son do we’ll see the miraculous. But don’t trade what is lesser for what is greater. Don’t settle for earth when God’s desire is to give heaven.
Here is our first great promise: you will do greater works than Jesus. Here’s our first question: what are you doing for the goal of seeing the dead raised?
If you knew your friend or family member was physically sick you would do something. If you knew that kid you work with in AWANA or in the youth was sick you’d do something. If you found out that your neighbor has some terrible illness you would jump into action. All around us people are sick. In fact, because of sin they are spiritually dead. You have the gospel. You have the means of resurrection. You have the power of God. Are you attempting great works because of Jesus’ finished work?
Because Jesus worked believers do greater works.
Look at this next promise in verse 13, ‘Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.” Jesus promises to answer our prayers. Remember, we must fight to keep these promises of Jesus in their right place: in the mission of Jesus.
Jesus promises in verse 13 that whatever we ask in his name this he will do. Jesus isn’t promising us a blank check; like he’ll heal every disease if we tag “in Jesus’ name” on the end of the prayer. Jesus certainly isn’t saying he’ll give us whatever we ask in his name even if it’s contrary to the Father’s will. The promise here is amazing, “whatever I ask in Jesus’ name he will do.” That’s good news. Jesus commits himself to fulfilling his mission through me. He stands ready to answer as I ask in his name.
In Jesus’ name, those are the boundaries that we play in. Asking in Jesus’ name means our asking is in line with his purpose and persons. Jesus would ask for the things we’re asking. In his name also means you are depending on him. You’re depending on his work in order to be heard. You’re depending on his continuing work in for your prayer to be answered. Asking in Jesus’ name is asking for what lines up with Jesus’ person and purpose; you’re depending on him for everything.
Jesus tells us that he will do whatever we ask. Jesus doesn’t promise us an angel. Jesus promises to personally do whatever we ask. That is the commitment of Jesus to the fulfillment of our mission on this globe. Do you think of Jesus in these terms? Do you pray with the conviction that Jesus is the one who personally answers your prayers? This is how Jesus says we should pray. Are you praying that way? Are you praying knowing that Jesus is committed to personally doing what you ask? It’s what Jesus promised. But here again, we must be careful. Why will Jesus answer our prayers?
Verse 13, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” The reason for your request should be for display of the glory of the Father through the finished work of his Son.
I think there are two main reasons Jesus doesn’t answer some of my prayers. First, I’m really not asking so that God would be glorified I’m asking so that my life will be easier. I’m asking for God to make the hard narrow road the wide easy road. When I ask for what is against his will I should not expect him to answer. If the answer goes no further than me and my little claustrophobic world it generally doesn’t get answered.
Let’s think now about the second reason Jesus doesn’t answer some of my prayers. Jesus doesn’t answer some of my prayers because they’re not really for the glory of the Father through the Son. I want a good marriage, and good children, and a growing church, and a healthy body so that people will think I’m something special. The request is right but the motive is wrong. It is not always the case but it is certainly within the revealed nature of God to not answer because I ask for good things with ungodly motives. So here’s how we should ask:
It is not my desire to squash your asking or to preach in such a way that you pray less. The point is to pray more. In verse 14 Jesus repeats this amazing promise, “If you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.” Here’s what’s amazing: the more we line our lives us with Jesus’ life the more we will pray. And the more we line our purposes up with Jesus’ purposes the more we will pray. And the more we depend on the work of Jesus to accomplish our works the more we will pray. And when we pray this way, when we pray in Jesus’ name, he will do it.
We must work the works of him who sent Jesus while it is still day (John 9:4). That means we must pray. And we must pray knowing that Jesus is ready to personally answer. That is amazing. What greater incentive do we need? Pray. Jesus will answer.
Now Jesus is ready to interrupt all these amazing promises, the promises of greater works and answered prayer and the Holy Spirit, with a reality check. Here it is:
Jesus says in verse 15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
Get the order right- love leads to obedience. We will do greater works and pray and depend on the Spirit because we love Jesus. We’ll engage the good works he has prepared for us because we love him. Here is the gospel fuel for obedience. When you know he loves you, you will love him, and when you love him you will obey him.
Wives, answer me. When you know your husband loves you is it easier to love him? When you know he loves you and you love him is it easier to submit to him? Covenant keeping love is the foundation for marriage.
Look at Jesus’ promises to you today. He promises you these things because he loves you. He’ll make it so that you do greater works than he did. He’ll listen to you when you pray and he’ll do whatever you ask. He’ll ask and the Father will send the Holy Spirit to be with you forever. Jesus loves you. Do you know his love? If you know his love you will love him and if you love him you will keep his commandments.
The reason you and I disobey is because we doubt Jesus’ love. We don’t think he can be trusted. We don’t think he can keep us. We don’t think he will come through. We don’t think he is after what is best for us. When we doubt Jesus’ love for us we won’t love him, we’ll love ourselves and disobey him.
Here’s the reality check: all we need is love. All we need is God’s great love. In response we’ll love him and obey him. To the next promise
In verse 16 Jesus makes it clear that he will ask the Father, and he will give us another Helper. Helper is the word Paraclete. Some translations use the word comforter. Comforter is fine but it doesn’t go far enough. In old English ‘comforter’ carried the idea of one who gives strength. Today a ‘comforter’ is someone who sympathizes and soothes. The Holy Spirit does that but more than that he stands up for us. He advocates for us. He doesn’t advocate for us against the Father. Notice it’s the Father who sends this helper. Think more about the Holy Spirit fighting for you. He strengths, helps, guides, comforts, and fights for us. Jesus knows we need this and so he asked and the Father sent him.
The Father and Son together sent the Spirit at Pentecost. You can read Acts 2 for more information. And if you are a Christian the Helper has been sent to you. He dwells in you because you are insufficient for the task. But he is your perfect Helper. Jesus knew I needed this Comforter, this Advocate, and so he asked and the Father answered. Notice this also:
Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever.” How long did Jesus ask for the Holy Spirit to stay with you? He will stay forever. You can quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19) but you can’t lose the Holy Spirit. Today, if you are a child of God you cannot shake the Holy Spirit and you didn’t shake him. He’s in you for the completion of Jesus’ mission. He’ll always be there. He’s for your good.
Jesus goes on in verse 17 to define who this Helper, Paraclete, Comforter, or Advocate is: he is the Spirit of truth. Jesus said in John 14:6 that Jesus is the truth. Jesus tells us in verse 17 that the Helper is the Spirit of truth. That could mean that Jesus is saying that the Helper is the Spirit of Jesus. Romans 8:9 says: “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” So to say that the Helper is the Spirit of truth meaning the Helper is the Spirit of Jesus who is the truth is true. But I think there’s more here in verse 17.
As the Spirit of truth the Holy Spirit always does what is in accordance with Jesus who is the truth. In John 16:13 Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will guide God’s people into all the truth. In the same way that Jesus only says what he hears from the Father, so also, the Spirit only speaks what he hears from the Son and from the Father. This is what it means for him to be the Spirit of truth: the Holy Spirit will never contradict Jesus. The Holy Spirit who inspired the Scriptures thus making them true will never contradict himself. He will never go against what the bible stays. He is the Spirit of truth. That’s our helper.
What is the devil the father of? The devil is the father of lies. The devil, who rules this world, has nothing to do with the truth. So it goes to show that the world who is following after the father of lies cannot receive the Spirit of truth. The world doesn’t see the Spirit of truth because the world is blinded by the father of lies. And the world does not know the Spirit of truth because the world of its self cannot know the Spirit of truth. Again to quote Romans 8, this time from verses 7-8, “the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
God in his grace according to the finished work of Jesus and by the power of the Spirit must overcome our opposition to the truth. God must cause what cannot to be able to. And how does God change one who cannot receive the Spirit to one who is born of the Spirit? By the Spirit-empowered preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Let’s close with the glorious truth concerning this promised Spirit
Jesus said of the disciples, “You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” Remember, this is before Pentecost, before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This is before the Holy Spirit comes to be with each individual believer for ever. Because of their proximity to the Spirit, because the Spirit has descended upon Jesus the disciples knew the Spirit. Because the Spirit was with the disciples they knew the Spirit. Knowledge of the Spirit comes through bible saturated experience. That was true then and it’s true today.
The disciples were waiting for the indwelling of the Spirit. At this time, because Jesus was not yet glorified (Jn 7:39), the disciples were experiencing the help of the Spirit from the outside. Think about the world of knowledge that is outside of you. It is a huge blessing and you can access it here and there. But imagine if that world of knowledge that is outside of you could become inside of you. That would be so much better. The Spirit was with them but the Spirit was not yet in them. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ the Spirit is in you. The Spirit is your Helper. The Spirit is guiding you into the truth. The Spirit is praying for you. The Spirit is lining you up with the plans of the Father. The Spirit is transforming you to look like the person of Jesus.
The greater works that you and I are promised are works that complete the mission of Jesus by the power of His Spirit inside of you. Christian, you have everything you need. Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God (William Carey).