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Well, good morning. I invite you to turn with me in your Bibles today to John 14. John 14. We are going to be reading together verses 15 to 31, and before we read that together and pray, just want to thank you for your warm welcome. Be patient with us as we try to get to know you and remember names. There’s many, many of you and had that, that feeling this week as I’ve been in the office, saying there’s a lot of layers to this church and a lot going on. But we are blessed to be here. We are thankful for your call. We are eager to get to know you and to minister among you and praying that God will bless that richly as we serve here.
John 14, verses 15 to 31. Let’s read this together, then we’ll pray after that. Remember as we read this that this is God’s Holy Word.
Jesus said, “‘If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.'”
‘”I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see Me no more, but You will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in the Father, and you in Me, and I in you. Whoever has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.’ Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, ‘Lord, how is it that You will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?’ Jesus answered him, ‘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. Whoever does not love Me does not keep My words. And the word that you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.'”
“‘These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.'”
Let’s pray together. Lord Jesus, as You promised the Holy Spirit in this text, we pray for your Holy Spirit to fall and rest upon us. We pray that Your Spirit would take Your Word and drive it deep into our hearts. We pray that Your Holy Spirit would accompany us so that we are not only hearers of Your Word, but that we would be doers of it as well. We’re thankful, Lord, that we not only celebrate today the promise of Your Holy Spirit, but as New Testament Christians we are also able to give thanks for the outpouring of Your Holy Spirit, and so teach us now. We wait upon You. We pray these things in Christ’s name. Amen.
Well, dear people of God, a period of leaving is always a painful time of life. A leaving means loss and that stings, whether that be the death of a loved one or you’re sending your child off to college or kindergarten, or you’ve lost your health or your job… All of these kind of events, all of these leaving events, they bring uncertainty, they bring vulnerability, they bring pain into our life. When you’re separated or you leave something, it hurts. And you know that grief comes along with that.
I wanted to say this morning that it’s wonderful to be with you as our new church family, but I think you’ll understand that with coming here to a new church family, there’s also been a leaving of an old church family, and so there’s grief. There’s pain. Don’t misunderstand me. We love being here with you. We feel called by God to be with you. But that grieving, that, that loss, is going to linger for a while, of what we have left on the other side.
When Kevin assigned me to preach this passage, I think he assigned it because it’s next in line, but as I was thinking about it, I was thinking, “Lord, You knew what You were doing. You need me to hear this passage, just as well as the people of God at Christ Covenant.”
Remember where we are in John’s Gospel. We’re in the upper room with Jesus and the disciples. It’s the night before His crucifixion, His hour was drawing near. The next hours were going to be the painful drama of a trial, denial, betrayal, the garden, and ultimately Calvary. All of this was facing Jesus and the disciples. Jesus would be taken away from His disciples in death, He would be separated from them as their closest friend, and with all of that in front of them, here in the upper room Jesus promises the Holy Spirit.
Why talk about the Holy Spirit here? Why talk about the Holy Spirit now? I mean, after all, Pentecost is some 50 days away, and Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit here because He knew that the promise of the Holy Spirit would mean comfort for their hurting and troubled hearts. And what a gift the Holy Spirit is to us.
Four things that Jesus emphasizes here with regard to the promised Holy Spirit. Number one: He promises His own presence to be with the disciples as the Spirit comes. Jesus is leaving, but did you notice that Jesus promised His disciples here that they would not be alone, He would not leave them alone. He promised to make His presence known through the coming of the Spirit. And so He says, verse 16: “I will ask the Father and He will give you another helper to be with you forever, the Spirit of truth.”
Jesus had been their helper, but now He promises to them another helper, the Spirit, sent from the Father. Not an it, but a person, the third person of the Trinity.
And Jesus goes on there, verse 17, “You know Him for He dwells with you,” and then notice these words, “and He will be in you.” He will dwell with you and He will be in you. This is not just a companion but an indwelling. Talk about intimacy, or closeness. He will live within, your heart will be His dwelling place.
This may be the difference between a guest or a resident. I am so thankful my son Nathan and daughter-in-law Sarah have taken me in, but I’m a guest. So you can pray for that home for Sheri and I where we’ll be residents.
What Jesus was saying here was nothing other than His own personal presence by His Spirit with would be the disciples. How we wish sometimes Jesus were living with us. We might want to talk with Jesus about this or that, to have Him alongside of us, maybe especially when we’re going through hard times. And don’t you think the disciples wished for that kind of presence? As Jesus spoke about Himself going away, wanting to hang onto Christ, and Jesus says here, “I will be with you and in you by My Spirit.”
Derek Thomas says that in Ireland there’s an expression in prayer that goes like this: “I will be closer to you than breathing.” And that’s what Jesus was promising here by His Spirit: I will be closer to You than breathing.
Jesus, who was at the right hand of God, is not far away. He’s with us here. He’s in us, by His Spirit.
J.I. Packer in his book, Keep in Step With the Spirit, talks about the Spirit’s work and uses these words. He says, “The Spirit is about power, it’s about performance, spiritual gifts, purity or holiness, presentation,” but he says, “Presence is the essence of Pentecost. The Spirit who makes known the personal presence in and with the Christian and the Church, the Jesus of history who is the Christ of faith.”
Brothers and sisters, all of this made possible, of course, by what Jesus was about to go through in the next few hours. As He would leave the upper room, as He would make His way to Calvary, the promise of the Spirit based upon what Jesus was going to experience and accomplish for us in His redemptive work, and that’s why Jesus not only speaks here about the Spirit, he also promises His own presence. He says in verse 18, “I’ll not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.” And He’s not speaking there about the Spirit, He’s talking about Himself, about His own personal physical coming, His appearance, His coming that is going to happen after His resurrection: “I will come to you.” It’s tied into those words of Jesus, verse 19, “because I live, you will live.” A resurrection is coming and I’m going to come back.
And He also promises the presence of the Father. 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.”
The point is this: That the promised Holy Spirit is connected to the redemptive work of Christ that He is about to accomplish in His death and resurrection, and we cannot separate Jesus’ promise of the Spirit from His redemptive work. It’s because He was about to suffer death and be raised that the promise of the Spirit is possible.
And so in all of our troubles and our pain, we need to remember where Christ is. Physically, at God’s right hand. But with us by His Spirit, so the promise of His presence, first of all.
Secondly, perspective. The Spirit, in other words, teaches us truth. Verses 16 and 17: Jesus promises this: “‘I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him.”
This is way Jesus would go on to describe the Spirit multiple times in this upper room discourse. And so later on in chapter 15, verse 26, and chapter 16, verse 13, Jesus describes the Spirit the same way, the Spirit of truth. The Spirit’s ministry, in other words, is to reveal truth to us. His ministry is a ministry of instruction. It is a ministry of teaching or education. The Spirit is our teacher. He leads us into the truth and not just any truth, but particularly the truth of the Gospel. That’s what the Spirit does in our hearts and lives.
Later on, still in the upper room, in verse 17, Jesus prays to the Father and prays on behalf of the disciples and says, “Sanctify them, Father, in the truth, Your Word is truth.”
You see a connection here, don’t you? We see this connection between the Spirit of truth and the Word of truth. And it reminds us that the Spirit always works in conjunction with the Word of God. The Spirit never works contrary to the Word, but works in tandem with the Word.
The Spirit helps us understand the truth of the Bible. It should never be the case in our life where we might say, “Well, I feel the Holy Spirit leading me into this,” when this or that is contrary to the Word of God. The Spirit works in conjunction with the truth of the Word. The Word is Word of truth, the Spirit is the Spirit of truth.
And the Spirit particularly helps us understand the truth about Christ, the truth of the Gospel which is at the center, of course, of all the Scriptures. Jesus says that here in verse 26: “The Spirit will teach all things and He will bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
The Spirit brings to our attention, to our minds, to our understanding, what Jesus has said. What Jesus has said in the Word, what Jesus has said in the Gospel, and we see then that the core of the Spirit’s teaching is Christ Himself.
It teaches us, for example, the truth about who Jesus is. Jesus reveals that here, back in the text that you were studying last week. Philip asked that question, “How can you say, Jesus, show us the Father?” and Jesus speaking there, “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? And on that day you will realize that I am in the Father.” In other words, the Spirit points out that Jesus is the Son, that Jesus is the Christ, and how much the Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father.
It not only teaches us about who Jesus is, it teaches us the truth about what Jesus came to do, that Jesus came to bring us peace, peace with God through the cross and through the resurrection of Christ. Jesus ministers peace to us by the Spirit. We remember that peace as a fruit of the Spirit’s work.
And He also teaches us the truth about our need of Jesus, and the blessing of that great truth of our union with Christ, that comes by faith, as Jesus says in verse 20, “On that day you will know that I am in My Father and you in Me and I in you.” This union that we have with Christ.
And so the ministry of the Spirit is the spirit of bringing the presence of Christ to bear in our troubles. It’s also a ministry of presentation of bringing the truth of Christ, perspective rather.
And then third, preservation, help. Verse 16, Jesus says, “I’ll send you another helper.” Or as some translations put it, another counselor. It’s a word that can mean advocate, or a legal defender. Literally, somebody who is called alongside of.
In John 16, Jesus is going to expand upon that idea, the idea of a defender, of an advocate, as He describes the ministry of the Holy Spirit. But here, people of God, I think we need to think in broader terms or more general terms, that when Jesus talks about the Spirit as a helper, it’s someone who comes alongside to assist us. The Spirit comes to strengthen us. The Spirit comes as our encouragement. The Spirit comes as an aid to us. Somebody who is going to help us in our time of need.
It kind of reminds me of an experience that I had some years ago, when I was doing a bit more running than I’ve been doing these days, but I ran a 25k race in Grand Rapids. And I was running along and I had made it maybe 12, 13 miles and I started to walk a little bit. I just wanted to keep going, but couldn’t keep running. And I was walking along, a woman from my church came. She had been behind me but she came up, saw me, and she said, “Pastor Tom,” she said, “come and run alongside of me, and I’ll help you keep going.” So I began to run and got going again and the two of us finished the race together. There she was alongside of me, coaxing me, encouraging me, helping me, strengthening me, inspiring me to keep going.
And Jesus says here, “I’m going to send you another helper, someone who’s going to come alongside to strengthen you, to help you.”
Think of what the disciples were in need of here, and what we need. Jesus was going away. They’re going to be separated from their best friend. They did not need so much a legal defender at this moment as much as they needed a friend who would advocate for them with the Father. Someone who would strengthen them, someone who would counsel them, someone who would come alongside of them to comfort them.
And people of God, Jesus was saying. “That is what you’re going to receive as you get the Holy Spirit, as I send the Holy Spirit to you.”
Friends, I’m wondering if you’re in need of that kind of help, or encouragement, today. I don’t know you yet. I don’t know what you’ve brought with you on your heart to worship. What’s consuming your thinking? What are the things that might be troubling you right now? And Jesus reminds us this morning that there’s a best friend who knows, a helper for us who advocates someone who can speak for us. Remember how Paul said that in the book of Romans.
But sometimes we don’t know what to pray. Right? We get in these places in life, these situations we don’t know what to pray. It feels like there’s a ceiling, there’s a, maybe a roof on our prayers. We pray and they’re not going anywhere, or we don’t even know what to say, or we are unable to get it out, and the Bible reminds us that the Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. When we are unable to find the words, the Spirit carries our heart groans to the Father for us. Our helper. He binds up our broken hearts and our broken spirits, He carries back to the promises of God.
In all that God has said He would be for us in Christ, it brings to our minds all that Jesus has said. And so the Spirit prompts our minds to think about the promise and words of God. The Spirit prompts our minds to think on what God has said about His sovereignly and our sufferings. Prompts our minds to think about His promises and our pain. That all of the promises of God are yes and amen in Christ for us. It reveals the Word of God to us, it brings to our attention, brings to our mind, all that Christ has said to encourage, to help us, to come alongside of us, to help us in our need.
And then Jesus also emphasized one more thing here, as we spoke about the promised Spirit, and that is power. Jesus promised that the Spirit would come to sanctify us and help us live a life that pleases God. This is what Jesus was talking about when He talked about the theme of love with the promised Holy Spirit. Notice Jesus begins that way in verse 15: “If you love Me, then you will keep My commandments.” He carries that on in verses 23 and 24: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My Word.”
And people of God, where do we get the power to do these kinds of things? Where do we get the power to love as we ought to love, to love Christ, to love His commands, to love His Word. We all understand and know that it isn’t from ourselves. We fail miserably in this. But it’s from the power of the Holy Spirit within us.
This is, I think, what Jesus was talking about at the end of the previous passage that you looked at last week, when He says, verse 12: “Truly, truly, I say to you, however believes in Me will also do the works that I do and greater works than these will he do because I am going to the Father.”
Jesus was speaking there about what would happen to His followers when He would leave and send the Spirit. It isn’t that we’d be greater than Christ, but Jesus is talking there about what’s going to happen when the Spirit comes. What’s going to happen in the lives of God’s people? What is going to happen through the people of God by the power of the Holy Spirit? And He’s saying there that will be a transformation through the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, that the Spirit is going to some and shape the hearts of God’s people and transform us into the image of Christ. And then use us to carry the Gospel to places and people that had not been reached before.
And what a powerful transformative work was created in the hearts of the disciples, wasn’t it? As the Holy Spirit came. The world was turned upside down through the ministry of the Spirit through the apostles.
I think for example this morning, just about one man, Peter. Before Jesus’ death and resurrection and Pentecost, bold and brash and quick to talk, often not having the mind of Christ: “Jesus, I’m never going to let them come and take You away and crucify You, and You’re not going to suffer and be raised three days later. That will never happen to you, Jesus.”
And think about his denial, three times: “I’m not a follower of Christ, I don’t know Him, I’m not associated with this Jesus.”
And then comes the resurrection and Jesus restores him after that. And then comes Pentecost and what a changed man Peter became, as he preaches and he heals and he suffers, and he says “it’s a privilege, it’s a blessing to suffer for the name of Christ.” And he and the other apostles carry the Gospel out.
This is the power of the Holy Spirit in them, you see. And that’s what the power of the Holy Spirit can do to any man, any woman, any boy, any girl. Here Jesus emphasizes the power to love by keeping God’s commands and His Word. Jesus promised His Spirit so that more and more our hearts can be freed from selfishness and hate and vindictiveness, to boldly, to selflessly love as Christ called us to love.
And people of God, if you’re in need of that kind of transforming power, and you are and I am, then praise Christ for His promised spirit and ask for a greater working of the Spirit in your heart and life.
We said early on that leaving is hard, and separation stings. The disciples are hurting at the thought of Jesus going away, and then through these four dimensions of the Holy Spirit’s work, He meant to bring them peace, that’s what He intended to bring. We see that at the end, don’t we? Verse 27: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you.” This is not as the world gives. Friends, this is not a worldly kind of peace. This is nothing that the world can offer us. This is not the kind of peace that the world even comprehends or understands. This is peace with God, this is peace with others, this is a transforming peace that comes upon our hearts and overwhelms our lives. This is the kind of peace that Jesus came to bring, and He came to bring it through His Spirit.
Matthew Henry says this: “When Christ was about to leave the world, He made His will.” So just like when somebody is ready to die they leave a will, when Christ was about to leave the world, He made His will. His soul, Henry says, He committed to his father. His body He bequeathed to Joseph. His clothes fell to soldiers. His mother He left to the care of John. But what should He leave to His poor disciples who had left all for Him? Silver and gold He had none, but He left them that which was infinitely better, His peace.
He left us with His peace.
Friends, I’m wondering, do you have the peace of Christ today? Which comes by the history? Do you have the peace of Christ that comes by the Spirit through faith in Christ Jesus of your sins forgiven, of the hope of eternal life, the joy of belonging to Jesus? Do you have that kind of peace? Do you have the kind of peace that comes in the middle of pain, when the Holy Spirit comes to be your helper, you know that Christ is with you, and yes the pain is still there, if it comes from separation or something else, the pain is still there, but in the middle of all of it, you have the peace of God which stands as a foundation for your life. Peace in the midst of all these things because of the promised Spirit’s presence, perspective, preservation, and power.
This morning, we not only can thank God for this promise of the Spirit, but remember we’re on the other side of Pentecost. We thank God for the outpouring of the Spirit. Not just the promise, but the fulfillment, the fulfillment of all that Christ said here, as the Holy Spirit has been given to us.
Let’s pray together. We do thank You, O God, for Your promised Spirit and for the poured out Spirit. We thank You for the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the ministry of conveying to us the presence of Jesus Christ, that Christ is with us. The ministry of the Holy Spirit, of teaching us truth and we pray, God, as a church that You would lead us into truth more and more and more by Your Spirit so that we would know Your Word and love Your Word and live by Your Word. And thank You for the ministry of the Spirit that comes as our helper, comes alongside of us to help us in our time of need and carries our prayers to the Father and binds up our broken hearts and our broken spirits, and with thank You for the power of the Spirit, the power of sanctification to shape us into the image of Christ, to help us to love more, to love God, to love His commands, to love His Word, and to love others. Holy Spirit, come and fall upon us in power. We pray that more and more we would be marked as the people of Christ and the part of the Spirit of God, and others would see it and be drawn to Jesus. And we pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.