Description / Transcription
Our gracious heavenly Father, we pray that You would extend Your kingdom and Your Spirit would be at work in this room. We pray that Your Spirit would be at work to anoint the preaching of Your Word and to give to Your people ears to hear. We pray that we would see our sin, be convicted of our sin, and turn to the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. We ask that we may not be trifling with holy things, and so we pray, Father, together with Your Son, to send Your Spirit to work in a mighty way through the preaching of Your Word for the glory of Your name. We pray in Jesus. Amen.
Please turn in your Bibles to John, chapter 16, the second half of verse 4 through verse 15, page 902 if you’re using one of the pew Bibles. If you don’t have a Bible of your own, you’re welcome to take that home. If you are new to Christ Covenant, we hope that you’ll get in the habit of turning in our Bible or turning on your Bible when we come to the preaching of God’s Word so you can follow along. The authority that I have is in so far as I am speaking from this book, and every week we hope that you understand more of this book and meet Christ in this book.
Follow along then as I read from verses 4 through 15:
“‘I did not say these things,'” Jesus is speaking, “‘ to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you. And when He comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see Me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.'”
“‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for He will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that He will take what is mine and declare it to you.'”
We’ve been working our way for a couple of years through John’s Gospel and this also is the second weekend of our Missions Week, and this passage in John and our thinking together on missions certainly coincide, for the work of mission is nothing less than the work of the Holy Spirit. And the work of the Holy Spirit in the world is in large part that missionary enterprise to convict people of sin and to throw a spotlight upon the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In this upper room discourse, Jesus speaks often of the Trinity and here in chapter 16 in particular of the work of the Holy Spirit. As we’ve noted before, surely there is something significant and surprising for us that as they come to the cataclysmic moment of their lives and in the universe, as they anticipate that Jesus is about to be betrayed, and that the world as they know it is crashing down around them, in this last evening together, what does Jesus feel burdened to speak to them about?
Is that what you would think? As you have one evening left with your disciples or with your loved ones and you have one last opportunity to set them on a sound footing for the work and for the mission that is to continue, would you think, “Well, surely we want to spend our time talking about the Trinity and the work of the Holy Spirit,” and when Jesus in John 17 prays, it is largely a trinitarian prayer about He and the Father being one.
So this is a word about the Holy Spirit. We are going to think together about the person and work of the Holy Spirit.
One of the most influential theologians of our day, Obi-Wan Kenobi, said in the first episode, and by that I mean episode 4, we don’t count episode 1 through 3 as existing, but a new hope, he says to young Luke, “The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.”
I hope that your theology of the Holy Spirit is not shaped by Obi-Wan’s understanding of the Force, but unfortunately I fear that if you were to ask many Christians in many churches, “Describe the Holy Spirit,” the would describe Him as an “it” and some sort of impersonal force.
It’s no secret that George Lucas was influenced by many Eastern ideas and, indeed, the Force is pulling together in a, you know, science fiction sort of way ideas of this impermeable, extended being that surrounds us and fills us all and is created by all living things, some sort of pantheism or perhaps panentheism, but it is not the doctrine that the Bible has of the Holy Spirit.
The word for spirit is “ruach” in Hebrew and “pneuma” in Greek. Both are translated as spirit and both can be translated as “wind” or “breath.” The word “holy” designates that this spirit is a divine spirit. The Holy Spirit is God’s power and presence among His people. God’s power and presence among His people.
We see the person of the Holy Spirit at work in both the Old and the New Testaments. That word “ruach” is used roughly 90 times for the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, more than you might realize. The Spirit is present at creation, from the very beginning, where we see that God created the heavens and the earth without form and void and this Spirit of God hovering over the face of the deep. The Spirit orders and brings together what the Father has purposed and planned.
The Church father Irenaeus said that the Word and the Spirit were the right and the left hand of God at creation. The Spirit there brooding over the water and God creating by speech, word.
Isaiah 64 tells us the Spirit was instrumental in leading God’s people out of the exodus. We see Bezalel and Oholiab were men gifted by the Spirit for the craftsmanship of the tabernacle. In a number of places we see the Spirit will come upon people for a special act of speaking or action. The 70 elders in Numbers 11, Balaam in Numbers 24, Gideon, Jephthah, Sampson, Amasai, Azariah, Jahaziel.
In the Old Testament, the Spirit may rest upon someone at a time and then depart, like it did with Saul, or as David prays “that Your Spirit would not depart from me.”
The Spirit is active, present in the Old Testament, but the Old Testament also looks forward to a time when the Spirit’s work will be brought to its full and promised completion.
There are three main prophecies about the Spirit in the Old Testament. One is Joel chapter 2, that the Spirit will come upon all people. That’s the prophecy. The Spirit will come upon all people. Second, and we’ve read part of it already, Ezekiel 36 and 37, that the Spirit would dwell within God’s people personally and permanently.
So Joel 2, that the Spirit would come upon all people; Ezekiel 36 and 37, the Spirit would come personally and permanently; and then Isaiah 11 prophesies the Spirit anointed branch from the stump of Jesse, there will be an anointed Messiah christened by the Spirit who will come.
Those are the three main prophecies concerning the Spirit. The same Spirit at work to order and complete in the New Testament what has been purposed and planned in the Old. We see then more clearly in the New Testament, some 90 cases of ruach in the Old Testament referencing the Spirit of God, more than 250 uses of pneuma for the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, which is not surprising. 2 Corinthians 3 tells us that we are in the age of the Spirit.
And we see all three of those major Spirit prophecies fulfilled, so that Spirit is now upon all God’s people, Joel 2, the Spirit now indwells God’s people, Ezekiel 36 and 37, because the Spirit-anointed Messiah has come, Isaiah chapter 11.
How are we to understand that Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is not an “it,” He is a person. When we speak about the persons of the Trinity, we are first of all speaking about the person as a relation of the essence of God. So God’s being, God’s essence, the God-ness of God. Three persons share that one God-ness. They are equal in rank, in power, and authority; equally to be worshipped. They are persons in that there is a Father and a Son and a Holy Spirit, and they relate to one another as a Father and a Son and the Spirit of the Father and the Son.
We also refer to the Spirit as a person because we see Him doing personal sorts of actions. He grieves, Ephesians 4:30. He intercedes, Romans 8. He testifies, John 16 here. He cries, Galatians 6. He speaks, Mark 13. He creates, He has a mind, He can be blasphemed.
And He is referenced here, in John 14 and 16, with the personal pronoun “He.” If you see that in John 16, verse 13, “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth.” Verse 14: “He will glorify Me.”
Sometimes you will read and there is some confusion in how we understand the revelation of the Spirit as He with the grammar of “ruach” or “pneuma.” “Ruach” is usually grammatically feminine, though sometimes grammatically masculine, and “pneuma,” that word in Greek is grammatically neuter. But grammatical gender is not the same thing as person gender. In English, we don’t designate words in the same way like many languages do, with a masculine, a feminine, or a neutered ending, but if you’ve other languages, you know many of them do. But a grammatical gender is not the same as personal gender.
Now strictly speaking, the Holy Spirit does not have a gender, not as we know gender. We don’t say God is a boy and not a girl. God has revealed Himself to us with masculine terms, as a Father, not mother; as a king, not a queen. Now Jesus was a boy, is a physical man in His incarnate state. The Spirit, then, is not male or female as we understand male or female, but yet revealed to us as a him with masculine terms, masculine titles. A he, not a she or an it.
The Holy Spirit is fully God, divine. He demonstrates the power of God. He does God-like things. We see that He’s used interchangeably with God.
Acts chapter 5, Ananias and Sapphira, at one point says, “You lied to God” and then in the next breath it says, “You lied to the Holy Spirit,” because the Holy Spirit is God.
Or 1 Corinthians 3 and 1 Corinthians 6 can use interchangeably God’s temple and the temple of the Holy Spirit. “Christians, you are God’s temple and you’re a temple of the Holy Spirit.” They can be used interchangeably because the Holy Spirit is God. He is equal the Father and the Son, yet a distinct person. To be baptized, as the Great Commission tells us, into the triune name Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
And we see all throughout the New Testament these patterns.
1 Corinthians 12: Spirit, Lord, God.
2 Corinthians 1: God, Christ, Spirit.
The benediction in 2 Corinthians 13: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Spirit.
So we look at the person of the Holy Spirit.
And then the work of the Holy Spirit. And that’s what I want to spend the remainder of our time thinking about from John chapter 16.
There is much that we could say about the work of the Spirit. In fact, sometimes it’s easier to understand the doctrine of the Holy Spirit by focusing on His work. He converts, He applies, He sanctifies, He equips, He promises.
And this morning I want to look at two aspects of the Spirit’s work in particular. He convicts, or we could say He awakens, and He glorifies.
So first, look at the awakening or the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. That’s in verses 4 through 11, the first paragraph. Remember, we are between the Lord’s Supper, the last supper, and Judas’ betrayal the next morning, and Jesus here in this upper room discourse five times He promises the coming of the Holy Spirit. Chapter 14, verses 16 through 17, and then in verse 26, and then in chapter 15, verses 26 through 27, and then the fourth and the fifth promises are in our text this morning, verses 4 through 11, and then verses 12 through 15. So five times in these three chapters He promises the Spirit’s coming.
And here in verses 4 through 11 He promises the coming of the Spirit to be a convicting, or an awakening, Spirit.
Now look at what Jesus says in verse 6. It seems strange at first. He says, “It is good that I go away.” Now how can that possibly be true?
Husbands, try telling that to your wife when you have to leave on your next business trip. “It’s good that I would go away.” Now, it may be if it means that her mom is going to come and stay with her, ’cause that’s usually a net positive help. You leave, mom comes, that’s more help.
So Jesus says, “It’s good that I would go away, because unless I go away the Holy Spirit,” the Helper, the paraclete, “cannot come.”
Now why does Jesus say that? Is it like, you know, in the United States you have the President and the Vice President are not supposed to fly in the same plane together, they can’t be both in the same place like that at the same time? It’s a danger? No, that’s not what Jesus is saying.
The “will not” or the “can not” is because the new age of the Spirit cannot begin until Christ completes His work through His death, resurrection, ascension, and exaltation. In other words, the inauguration of God’s reign begun by Christ will be completed by the Spirit, but only after that work of Christ on earth is finished.
So He says, “Once I go, once My work is done, then My Spirit can come.” In a paradoxical way, then, it’s better off that Jesus has left.
Now that was hard for the disciples to understand. “Wait a minute, you’re our Messiah, you’re our rabbi, you’re our Savior. There’s nothing worse than that You would go.”
And frankly, it’s hard for us to sometimes, “Really? Is that better?” Sometimes people say, “If only, if only Jesus were here. If I could see Him. If I could touch Him. If I could sit down and have a meal with Him. If only I could walk with Him, like they did in the first century. Then I would believe!”
Wait a minute. How many of those people really believed? When they had Jesus to see, to touch, to share a meal with? No, actually to see Him they did not believe in Him. They were scandalized by Him because He looked so ordinary. He was another man, he was another first century Jew, and there were plenty of them around, with a normal name “Jesus.” Here He was. He surely couldn’t have been the Messiah. They rejected Him.
And if most of us have lived in first century Palestine, we would have rejected Jesus, too.
But on the other side of Pentecost, now Christ can be everywhere by His Spirit and we can actually have more grace than to simply walk physically next to Him. He can dwell in us. The Holy Spirit does not supply the Son’s absence; He completes the Son’s presence.
The Holy Spirit does not merely supply the Son’s absence, “Well, Jesus is gone, you get the Spirit.” He completes His presence.
Don’t think of the Holy Spirit as Jesus’ understudy. Now the understudy is very important if somebody gets sick and somebody can’t fulfill their responsibility in the play, then they have the understudy. But if you’re in London or Broadway seeing a show, you feel disappointed if it’s the understudy.
I think when I was visiting my wife when she was studying in England and we saw Les Mis in London, they announced at the beginning, “and the part of Fantine will be played by such and such understudy,” now there the quality is so massive you probably don’t notice, but nobody says, “Oh, great, the main singer’s not here.”
Now don’t think of Jesus sending the Spirit as a kind of understudy. “Well, Jesus got a cold, Jesus can’t be around, but, well, the Spirit’s there.”
Think of it, here’s a homely analogy. All analogies break down, but think if it rather as perhaps the difference between the Library of Congress and the Internet. The Library of Congress in the United States is supposed to have the collection of every book that is published and is given some Library of Congress or ISBN number, there you can find any book. Well, you have to go to D.C. You have to get a badge. You have to go in. You have to look. You have to find it. It’s there in one place versus in your pocket right now. Most of you have access to all of that information, almost, and more so. So the Holy Spirit with us, in us, Christ with us, in us, to download Him, upload Him, hyperlink to Him, by the Spirit.
Remember, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ.
Romans 8:9 refers to the Spirit as both the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ.
And Jesus makes this point over and over again in the upper room discourse. This connection between the Son and the Father and then the Spirit and the Son, that the Father is completing His work through the work of the Son, and the Son will then complete His work through the work of the Spirit.
John 15:26: “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness about Me.”
So the Spirit is sent from the Father, but then we also read in verse 7 that He is sent from the Son: “If I go, I will send Him to you.” So the Holy Spirit is sent from the Father and from the Son.
If you want a little historical theological parenthesis here, when we from time to time will recite the Nicene Creed and it has a language there that the Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son. It’s a Latin word “filioque,” “filio” meaning “son,” “q-u-e” meaning “and the son.”
There was a division between the Eastern church and Western church in the 6th century over the addition of that little word in the Nicene Creed, “and the Son,” because the church in the East thought the Spirit only proceeds from the Father, and the church in the West that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, and there were deep theological issues and instincts on both sides. And you sort of sympathize with both sides, but we do believe that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, and we recite that in the Nicene Creed.
And we see hints of it here that just as in an earthly temporal way the Spirit comes from the Father and sent from the Son, so that’s a reflection of an eternal procession whereby the Son is begotten of the Father and the Spirit proceeds, is the Spirit of the Father and the Son. So the Son and the Spirit are identified, not in terms of their persons, but in terms of their shared redemptive activity.
Think of this this way. When you turn to the Lord Jesus, as most of you in this room have done at some point, you turn to Christ, “Forgive me for my sins, You died for me, I want to follow You.” When you turn to Jesus, you were not aware of it perhaps at that time, but you only were able to do that by the work of the Spirit in your life. And when the work of the Spirit is truly operative in your life, you turn to Christ.
Shared redemptive activity. Jesus is the Truth, John 14:6. And here we read, in verse 13, “The Spirit will lead us into all truth.” Jesus came to bear witness to God the Father and the Spirit comes to bear witness to Christ the Son.
The world did not receive Christ, and John 14:17 says, “The world will not receive the Spirit.”
John 14:16: “I will ask the Father. He will give you another Helper,” paraclete, “To be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth.”
So think about what an amazing blessing this is, which we tend to overlook. You don’t have to ever go on a trip to Israel to know Jesus. Now, there’s benefits for doing those trips and some of you have had them and it puts into picture and perspective where Jesus walked, they can be edifying for sure. But you don’t have to go there to find Jesus. You don’t like a candle to be spiritual. The Spirit is available to everyone, everywhere, and He reveals the Son who is the exact imprint of the Father. “It’s better,” Jesus says, “that I go away, because then I am not, I am not confined to one local presence.”
The work of this Spirit is explicitly, in the first paragraph, to convict of sin.
“And when He comes,” verse 8, “He will convict the world.”
The Greek word “elegcho.” It’s used in John 3:20: “For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light lest his works should be exposed.” There’s the same word translated “exposed.”
So when you think of convict, think of exposed. Your sins will be exposed.
In fact, what we see here in John 16, the work of the Holy Spirit in both of these paragraphs, is a light. The work of the Holy Spirit is a giant spotlight. First of all throwing a giant spotlight on you, on me, to show you your sin, the dark places of your heart, and then a giant spotlight that we may look upon the glory of Christ.
You know when you have, we have a room in our house that gets the afternoon sun. It’s, it’s my little study there at home. And when you have a real clear beam of sun, afternoon sun, coming in through the window, aren’t you sometimes amazed to see all of the dust particles dancing in the air? Or perhaps on your television and mantel and various parts of your house? You are existing perfectly fine not knowing that any of that was there, and then when there is a such a piercing, direct light, you see what you didn’t see before.
And so the Holy Spirit shines into our dark places. Where we had convinced ourselves there was no sin, the Holy Spirit says there’s sin.
It’s like if your, your teenage son says, “Mom, the room’s clean,” and you walk in there and then you turn on the light. Oh, not quite as clean as we might have thought, is it?
The Holy Spirit shines a light to convict, to expose, and look at three things, sin, righteousness, and judgment.
Sin, because they did not believe in Jesus. Which means at the heart of sin is unbelief. Yes, sin is to break the laws of God. It’s lawlessness, 1 John, but here we see the heart of it. It’s unbelief. To refuse to recognize Jesus. You may think that your sin is not really connected to Jesus, it’s just you just wandering a bit, but you still love Jesus, but you realize when you choose sin, it is tantamount to unbelief. It is in your heart an expression “I do not believe in this moment Jesus is who He said He is and I do not believe He has final authority over my life.” And so you sin.
Think about how serious their sin was in Jesus’ day, to reject the Messiah. Imagine if you’re married, and your husband is lost in battle, and he comes back two years later and he has a real manly beard, you know, and you hardly recognize him. He’s a little emaciated. And he tells you, “It’s me, I’m he, your husband, I’m the one you’ve been waiting for.” But you don’t believe it. It’s not like what you thought he would be. And eventually you mock him, you despise him, you run off with another man besides him, you don’t pay any attention to this man, you deride him.
What is the root of that sin? It is your unbelief. You do not believe he is who he says he is, and everyone would recognize what a grievous sin that is.
The Holy Spirit reveals to us the sin of our unbelief.
And then righteousness. What does Jesus mean concerning righteousness, verse 10, “Because I go to the Father, and you will see Me no longer”? What, what does it mean when Jesus goes to the Father? He ascends after His resurrection, He goes to the Father that He might be glorified with the Father. That act of ascension signifies, and in His exaltation, the completion of His work. In other words, to go to the Father is that final vindication that Jesus was who He said He was.
He, didn’t He keep saying, wasn’t He continually saying, “I’ve come from the Father, I’ve come from the Father, I’m sent by the Father, I’m the righteous one, the righteous Son sent from the Father.”
Then when He goes to be again with the Father, it is vindication He truly was the Son of God. He was the righteous One. That’s Jesus’ point. That the Spirit will convict the world that they missed who Jesus was. They have misappropriated His identify. He truly was the Son of the Father.
Sin, righteousness, in verse 11, concerning judgment because the ruler of this world is judged. He means Satan, the evil one, the god of this age.
The Spirit will convict the world that it killed the wrong man. It worships the wrong ruler. They murdered the Son of God and they followed the evil one, when they should have fought against the devil and bowed the knee before the Son.
So Jesus explains that the cross was the death blow to Satan, a precursor to his final defeat that is still to come. He is a dog on a leash being sent to the pound. Sorry, we love our dogs, I know.
This means, that if the Spirit convicts of sin, righteousness, and judgment, we can never be without hope in the cause of evangelism and global mission, because the Spirit is still at work in the world to do these things. You may think about people in your own life, maybe a son, a daughter, husband, wife, maybe an unreached people group, maybe the streets of Glasgow or Charlotte, and you think that they cannot see, they’re eyes are blind, the people I talk to, they don’t think they’re following the devil, they don’t fear judgment, they don’t hate sin, they don’t see any of this.
That’s true. Which is why the Father and the Son together sent the Spirit. His work is to open blind eyes, to expose evil deeds, to shine light into the dark places of our planet, and in the dark places of our hearts.
Did you know this is the only place in the New Testament where the Holy Spirit is said to do work “in the world”? Otherwise, it’s, it’s work in the believers’ hearts, it’s the work in the Church. Here’s the only place where it says the Spirit is doing work in the world. What is the singular work of the Spirit in the world? It’s not to revitalize cities, it’s not to lower unemployment, it’s not to get preferred candidates elected… The singular work of the Spirit in the world is to convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment.
The Spirit is at work when we see that we’re not just imperfect people, but we’re fallen people. We don’t just have regret for our mistakes, we have repentance for our sin. The work of the spirit is manifest when men and women and children cry out like David in Psalm 51, “Against You only have I sinned and done what was evil in Your sight.”
No grown man or woman is a Christian who has not had the Spirit show them their sin, lead them to hate their sin, as an offense against almighty God.
What should you pray for when you think of your evangelism? What should you pray for in missions around the world?
Well, there’s 10,000 things you could pray for, but, but here’s one that ought to be central in our prayers, and it’s very simple: Pray for awakening. That is, pray for blind eyes to open.
Almost everything you say when you want to evangelize your neighbors is going to be seed falling on stony path until there is conviction of sin. It’s all very interesting, it’s perhaps stimulating in an intellectual, philosophical sense. Okay, there’s a God and He’s like this and there’s remedy and there’s a cross, and there’s a bridge diagram and I see how that, that theoretically you’re a sinner and you have a savior, and it all makes sense, but it doesn’t really make sense until the Spirit works to show him or her you are a sinner, you have sinned. Not just as we all can feel, “Well, I’m not perfect and I wish I could be better,” every, that takes no work of the Spirit to acknowledge. That, no, a deep, pervasive sense that we are not the people we ought to be.
Here’s how Jonathan Edwards describes this work and the distinguishing marks of a work of the Spirit of God. He says, “The Spirit that is at work takes off persons’ minds from the vanities of the world and engages them in a deep concern about eternal happiness, puts them upon earnestly seeking their salvation, and convinces them of the dreadfulness of sin and of their own guilty and miserable state as they are by nature. It awakens men’s consciences, makes them sensible of the dreadfulness of God’s anger and causes in them a great desire to obtain His favor.”
Does that describe the work of the Holy Spirit in your life, in my life?
Friends, are you becoming more sensible of the things that concern eternal salvation? More sensible that you and I will die and that life is short, and that there is, as Edwards says, “a great sin-hating God and we stand in need of a great savior.”
Do we see evidence of this Spirit’s work in our midst? Are elders confessing sins to one another, as we meet monthly? Is anyone in your small group repenting of wrongdoing? Are there any women in the women’s ministry who have been prompted by the Spirit to go and ask forgiveness of another that they have wronged? Are we becoming increasingly aware of our besetting sins and of our spiritual blind spots? That will be evidence of the Spirit’s work in our midst.
And will you pray for this awakening power? Will you pray for this power, exposing power of the Spirit, that UNCC, at our public schools, at our Christian schools, at our own school, will you pray for it? At every level of our government, in the worlds of media and entertainment, in the academy, in your workplace, in your family… The Spirit has power to expose sin, in our midst, in your midst.
Do you believe that He can make dry bones live? Bring sinners to faith and repentance? Is it possible that even someone in this room has been cowering in the dark places, and the Spirit keeps flashing a burning bright light in your heart and you keep burrowing deeper into the covers. Perhaps you have not known the true freedom that comes by walking in the Spirit because you have been hiding that sin. It’s not that every sin needs to be known to every person. Private sins are known privately to others, public sins confessed publicly before others.
Do you believe in the awakening, convicting power of the Spirit? The Spirit is every bit as mighty and majestic as Christ, for He is the Spirit of Christ, to throw a spotlight upon sin.
And then He throws a spotlight on Christ. Much more quickly here. Look at the second paragraph. I said the Holy Spirit here is a searchlight, first on us and our sin, and then to throw one of these big, huge lights that I have right in my eyes to put upon Christ. He glorifies Christ by revealing Christ to His disciples.
Now remember, verses 12 through 15, are first of all instructions for the 12, or now the 11, disciples, only secondarily then for us. So when we read that “The Spirit will guide you into all truth,” verse 13, you have to remember Jesus’ audience. Thinking of the disciples in the upper room, they are the one who will be lead into all truth. People misapply this and say, “The Spirit’s gonna tell me all truth, the Spirit’s gonna, you know, I don’t have to study for my test, woooo, Spirit,” or “Spirit’s gonna tell me who I should marry, or what house I should buy ’cause the Spirit leads me into all truth.”
No, this is a promise, a unique promise, for the disciples, that the Spirit will take what He knows from Christ, hears from Christ, and will bring it to mind to complete the, the work of Christ in their minds and hearts,
Have you ever stopped to think why is it that this bumbling group of disciples become such expert theologians on the other side of Pentecost? That they start boldly witnessing for Christ when here they’re clueless and they flee at the, the sound of a servant girl. It’s because of the Holy Spirit.
When He says that He will illuminate the things that are to come, this doesn’t mean that we can rely on the Spirit now to predict for us the future, but rather it meant for the disciples the Spirit would unpack the significance of the events yet to come. Namely, Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension. He will unpack this Christ revelation to His followers. It means the Spirit is responsible for the truths that the apostles preached and which in turn they wrote down and which have now been handed down to us in the Bible.
We trust the Bible because they apostles, and those under their umbrella, wrote it prompted by the Spirit. So all of the letters ought to be red letters.
Now I know you may have a red-letter Bible and that, that’s fine, you don’t have to throw those red-letter Bibles away. I have some myself where they, they show you the words of Jesus in red letters, just so you understand theologically they’re all red letters. Because the Spirit is the Spirit of Christ who led the disciples into all truth so that everything that they wrote down was from Christ. These are all the words of Christ. So don’t let anyone say to you, “Well, but, but, what do we find… You’re just… That’s what Paul said. You’re just.. You guys are all into Paul. Let’s see what Jesus really said,” as if you could pit one part of God’s revelation against another. And it sounds very spiritual because if you’ve gotta choose Jesus or Paul, you’re gonna choose Jesus.
But Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Spirit, was penning for us the very words of Jesus, prompted by the Spirit of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is a serving spirit.
Look at verse 13: “He speaks only what He hears.”
Verse 14: “He declares only what He is given.” And the beginning of verse 14: “His mission is to glorify another. He will glorify Me.”
Now I said earlier, all three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are equally and fully God. Yet, in the divine economy, the Son makes known the Father, He is the exact representation of the Father, and the Spirit glorifies the Son.
You don’t have the language of the Son coming to glorify the Spirit. The Spirit comes to glorify the Son who is in turn the exact representation and the glory of the Father.
So there is a reason, if you look around this room, cross, cross, cross, big cross, cross, cross, cross, out there more crosses, windows cross, cross… There’s a lot of crosses. Someone might say, “Well, why are you neglecting the Holy Spirit? Why don’t you have a dove?”
Well, it wouldn’t be wrong to have the Spirit’s symbol, the dove. And yet there would be something theologically misplaced if the focus of our attention was on the dove, because we read here the focus of the Spirit’s work is not to draw attention to Himself, but rather to throw a spotlight upon Christ.
So you are not in danger of somehow ignoring the Spirit when you look fully upon the face of Christ. Now you may be ignorant, we may need more teaching on the Spirit, but when you are drawn to Christ, it is because of the Spirit in your life. We cannot worship Christ without the work of the Spirit and the Spirit does not want to be magnified except in so far as He points to Christ. He speaks what He hears, He declares what is given, and His mission is to glorify another. Which is why the focus of the church is not on the dove, but on the cross, which is precisely how the Spirit would have it.
Let me then, as we close, give you four things you can ask, as we think about the work of the Spirit, in our life, in our church, in the mission of the church.
Number one, ask yourself, “Have I truly been born again by the Son of God? Have I truly been born again by the Son of God? Is this work evident in my life, of the Spirit?”
Second. Ask God to show you your sin. I have found it to be the one prayer in my life that God always answers. So be careful, but pray it. Just, just, it would be not a test of the Lord, we don’t do that, but it would be a worthwhile experience to then share with a small group or someone in your life, pray every day for a week, “God, would you reveal to me my sin?” You can do this if you’re 8, if you’re 80, whatever, however you are, you can pray this, “God, would you reveal to me my sin,” and see if at some time in that week He doesn’t reveal to you, through others, through the Word, through a sermon, through the inner testimony of the Spirit, to convict you, to throw a spotlight upon your sin. Ask God to show you your sin.
Three, ask God to show you the excellency of Christ. You want to walk in step with the Spirit, pray, “Father, send Your Spirit to show me my sin and to show me the glory of Christ, that I might see more of him.”
And then fourth, ask God specifically for more of the Holy Spirit in your life. Remember what Jesus says? “If we are who evil know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more will our heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.” Have you ever asked your Father for more of the Spirit in your life? Are you praying that? The Father’s greatest gift to you, what greater gift is there than the Spirit of the Father and the Son at work in your life? And so ask God, and He will surely grant you your request.
Let’s pray. Heavenly Father, we thank You for the person and the work of the Holy Spirit, to awaken us to our sin and to show us the glory of Christ. May His work be evident. We pray now, Father, in the name of the Son, for a mighty outpouring of Your Spirit at Christ Covenant and through this church to our neighbors and to the nations, for the salvation of souls, and for the glory of God. Amen.