John 16:4-15 | The Ministry of the Holy Spirit | Andrew Gutierrez
Topic: Worship Gatherings Passage: John 16:4–16:15
I invite you to open to John 16. Our text for the morning is John 16:4-15. For those of you who are new with us, we’re going verse by verse through the gospel of John, and we find ourselves really in a place that we don’t want to leave—the upper room where Jesus speaks to his disciples in such intimate ways and warns them of things, tells them some things that cause them sorrow, promises them some things, tells them about the gifts that he’s given or will be giving, namely, the best one—the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
So this is a wonderful section of Scripture, and we find ourselves this morning in verses 4-15 of chapter 16. Please follow along as I read. Starting at the second part of verse 4, Jesus speaking to the disciples says this:
I did not say these things 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.
I’ve entitled this message “Jesus Continued – The Ministry of the Holy Spirit.” Now, everybody knows a sequel to a movie is not as good as the original. Case in point: Grease 2. That’s not really on the list of classic American movies, is it? Grease is, not Grease 2.
You see, the idea that a sequel is not as good as the original was the same idea that the disciples would have had at this point in the upper room. Jesus saying that he’s leaving and that he’s going to leave a helper. They would have thought that a helper would not be as good as Jesus himself. But ironically in verse 7 of chapter 16 Jesus says this: “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.”
Jesus doesn’t view the ministry of the Holy Spirit as some second-class ministry. The ministry of the Spirit is where Jesus and the Father, you see in previous verses, would give the Holy Spirit, not just to be with the disciples and believers throughout the rest of the generations of Christian history, but that he would give the Spirit, not just to be with, but to indwell us. Jesus inside of us is what he’s giving. And he doesn’t view that as second class in any way.
But before we get to the outline itself and we look at the ministry of the Spirit, let’s look for a little bit as to why they needed the ministry of the Spirit. You see this in verses 4-7. Jesus says this, “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.” He’s telling them that he’s going to leave, and he’s just told them in the previous section that they’ll be hated, and as he says that, you can almost see their heads go down.
He says, I didn’t say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. Translation: I was the one taking the abuse. I was the one taking the hatred. I was receiving all of that. Now I’m telling you that as I leave, you’re going to be the one receiving all of that. So that’s why I’m telling you these things now.
Then he shows or he indicates that they’ve been thinking wrongly about his message of leaving them. Verse 5: “But now I am going to him who sent me [the Father], and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’” So Jesus is going to be exalted by the Father for his work, for his righteous life, and he’s going to the cross to redeem a bride, to bring sinners to God the Father in reconciliation. He’s done all that.
He’s been righteous, he’s going to the cross to unify man to God, and he’s going to receive his reward. And he indicates here that none of them ask about where he’s going or why he’s going. Their focus is on their sorrow, not his glory. That’s really the indictment here. That’s really the rebuke that Jesus is levying.
Now, they did previously ask about where he was going, didn’t they? You remember that from chapter 13:36. Peter asks, Lord, where are you going? How are we going to know the way? But the rebuke here from Jesus seems to indicate that Jesus is saying, you’re asking because you’re worried, you’re sorrowful. You’re not asking knowing about why I’m going. You’re not asking with heaven in mind, my glory in mind. You’re asking because you’re sad.
I want you to think of why I’m going to the Father. This is huge news for you, guys. This is huge news for you, disciples. You need to grasp why I’m going to the Father. I’ve accomplished my work. I’ve been righteous, going to the cross, going to unite sinners to God. I’m going to receive glory. That’s what all of history is aimed at. That’s what you should be asking about, but you’re not.
But because I said these things, the fact that I’m leaving and you’ll be hated, but because I’ve said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. If you remember why I’m going to the Father, to be exalted and then to come back for you while you in the meantime bring my gospel to the world, if you would think that way, you wouldn’t be sorrowful. But now because I say I’m leaving, you’re sorry.
Verse 7: “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.” He knows they’re sorrowful and he teaches them in these following verses about the ministry of the Holy Spirit for them while he is physically apart from them. He gives them great comfort as to what the Spirit will do while he’s physically gone.
Now, this idea here that it’s to their advantage that he goes away, they might not have appreciated that for what he meant. They might not have really bought into that right away. It’s kind of like when you tell a little kid to eat their brussels sprouts because they’re good for you. You know, the “because they’re good for you” is a true statement, but it really doesn’t win the day. It really doesn’t convince the kid. Oh, well, they’re good for me. Well, let me shovel them down. That’s never happened in the history of kids. Okay?
This is kind of the idea here. It’s to your advantage. I don’t know if they immediately believed that. So he goes on and he teaches about the ministry of the Holy Spirit and teaches what the Spirit does.
A. Why is it better for Jesus to depart and to leave his Spirit?
Now, let me ask you this: Why is it better for Jesus to depart and to leave his Spirit? Is it really better that that would be the case? Here are a couple reasons why it’s better for Jesus to be in heaven and the Spirit to be in us.
1. The Spirit indwelling us makes us spiritually stronger than Jesus being outside of us.
The Spirit indwelling you is literally the power of Jesus himself inside of us as we live. That’s better for the disciples of Jesus Christ than Jesus simply being next to them. They could now be like Christ with the Holy Spirit indwelling them.
2. It makes us more dependent and grows our faith.
Here’s another reason: When you have Jesus, their Lord, their beautiful Savior who was with them for three years, leave, it makes them dependent in a way where maybe they weren’t before, and that’s good. That’s good. It stretches their faith. It grows their faith.
3. Trouble in this world while remaining faithful to Christ directly relates to our enjoyment of heaven.
Another reason: Trouble in this world—according to the New Testament—trouble in this world while remaining faithful to Christ directly relates to our enjoyment of heaven. 2 Corinthians 4:17: “For this light momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” You see that? The trouble we have in this world in the name of Christ, because we are Christ-followers, the trouble we have is related to the glory that we’ll enjoy in heaven.
And it says, 2 Corinthians 4:17, preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. It can’t even compare. The challenges you go through today as a follower of Christ might seem huge to you. In the future, in heaven, we’re going to look back and say that didn’t even compare to what I have now. The two are related. The level of difficulty because of your professing Christ is related to the reward and the glory we receive in heaven.
4. Being engaged in the word of Christ brings about great blessing.
Another reason it’s good to have the Spirit in us while Christ is away: Being engaged in the word of Christ brings about great blessing. So you see Jesus Christ did most of the preaching when he was on earth, and the disciples were kind of behind him. That’s why Mark 9 and 10 are so fascinating. Mark 9 and 10 he kind of sends them out on a short-term mission trip. Guys, you’re going to go and announce the kingdom of God, and I’m not going to be with you.
And you see him training them for that mission. They go out and they do it. Well, now he’s just getting them ready for their full-time evangelistic work while he goes back to heaven. And doing that evangelistic work brings much joy.
Have you ever been a means that God has used to see someone won to Christ? If you have, you know that there is nothing like it. Daniel 12:3: “And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” Bringing people to Christ is one of the greatest privileges in life.
And so when Jesus leaves and says my Spirit is going to be a witness for me, and you, disciples, will be a witness for me—and those two things go hand in hand—the Spirit witnesses through the disciples of Christ. The Spirit of Christ witnesses through the people of Christ. Those two things go hand in hand.
When we witness for Christ, there’s great blessing and great joy that comes to our life. We wouldn’t understand that in the same way if Jesus was still here doing all the ministry and we were just kind of standing back watching him do it.
So Jesus is giving the church and the disciples a great blessing even though it will be very hard. So in light of all this, as we live this life while he’s in heaven promising to one day come back for us, but in the meantime leaves us his Spirit to be his witnesses in Prescott, Yavapai County, Arizona, United States, wherever we may be, as we are his witnesses, how does the Holy Spirit continue the ministry of Jesus Christ while he’s physically gone? Three ways. Three ways the Spirit advances the work of Christ.
B. Three way the Holy Spirit advances the work of Christ.
1. The Holy Spirit advances the work of Christ by preaching sin, righteousness, and judgment to the world.
First, verses 8-11 show us that he the Spirit preaches sin, righteousness and judgment to the world. He the Spirit preaches sin, righteousness, and judgment to the world. You can go through the gospel of John alone, which we’ve done, and you can see that Jesus comes and he preaches sin. Jesus comes and preaches righteousness. Jesus comes and preaches judgment.
What this is simply saying is that when he goes to heaven, the Spirit continues that same message. Not a different message, the same message. Verse 8 is kind of a summary statement of that. “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” Verse 9, he starts to go through them one by one: “concerning sin, because they do not believe in me.”
(i) The Holy Spirit preaches a message of sin (the sin of unbelief).
So when the Holy Spirit comes, he’s going to preach a message of sin, and it’s not just a message about all sins. Yes, he does that, but here namely, the Holy Spirit’s preaching a message about the sin of unbelief. When he comes he will convict the world concerning sin, concerning sin because they do not believe in me. This is the type of sin that he’s highlighting. Failure to believe in Jesus Christ, failure to trust in him makes one guilty.
This is really a contrast between the Jews of the day who trusted in their own righteousness to make them right before God. And so they did not need Christ in that sense. If you would have told the Jew of that day you need Jesus Christ to make you right before God, they would have rolled their eyes at you and then probably kicked you out of the synagogue, which they regularly did.
But he says those who do not believe are guilty of sin, and the Holy Spirit continues to preach that message, has for 2,000 years. Listen to John 3:18. Just two verses after that wonderful invitation about God’s love for the world. John 3:18: “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” The Spirit preaches that to reject Christ is to be under the condemnation of sin.
(ii) The Holy Spirit preaches a message about righteousness.
The Spirit also preaches a message about righteousness. Notice verse 10: “concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer.” Now when you read that and you read that the Spirit is going to preach a message of righteousness because Jesus goes to the Father and you’ll no longer see him, how do those things connect? Righteousness and Jesus going to the Father.
Well, remember, Jesus going back to the Father to receive glory was his reward for his righteousness. And remember this, Jesus makes it clear earlier in John that no one ascends to heaven on their own. You know what you need to get to heaven? Perfection. Oh, come on, I mean, I’m kinder than my neighbor, so maybe I’ll be in heaven. I mean, look at him, look at me. No. Perfection is required for heaven. Complete 100% righteousness is required for heaven.
That’s why Jesus says no one ascends to heaven, no one goes to heaven on their own. So the Holy Spirit here preaches a message about righteousness. Jesus Christ is righteous. That’s why he’s going back to heaven, going to the Father. He’s earned heaven in that sense. And the Father rewards him for his righteousness.
Look over to chapter 17. Here’s a sneak preview for what’s to come, as long as we’re on the movie theme. Chapter 17, verses 4 and 5, Jesus praying this to the Father: “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” I’ve done what you said. Now it’s time for me to receive glory.
And you can read Philippians 2 and read that because he not only did what the Father said, but the fact that he went to the cross and suffered on the cross; therefore, God has highly exalted him above every other name on earth.
So how are righteousness and Christ going back to heaven related? Because Christ accomplished what he was supposed to accomplish, he’s receiving reward in heaven, and the Spirit is preaching that message to the world. The Spirit is preaching, you must trust in Christ. He’s the only one who can receive or accomplish heaven—righteousness equaling heavenly standing.
He’s the only one; therefore, you must connect your life to him. You must be united to him. You must have his righteousness to get to heaven. You can’t keep trying to get there on your own. You might be better than everybody else in the world but still sinful compared to a holy God. And the Spirit is preaching that message.
Now, the fact that Jesus is righteous and therefore goes to heaven, just that alone might not be comforting to you. What’s that mean for me? I’m not righteous. I can’t accomplish heaven. And if that’s the thought that only Jesus is righteous so only Jesus receives heaven, you know exactly what it’s like to be Martin Luther before he was converted. That was Martin Luther’s problem.
Actually, Martin Luther says this, speaking of the righteousness of Christ, he says the phrase in Romans 1:17, the righteousness of God is revealed, was a phrase that he hated. Now, Luther’s teaching the Bible during this time as a Catholic monk. He’s teaching Ephesians and Romans, and the teacher of Romans to theological students is saying he hated the term “the righteousness of God.” Why? Because he felt like he could never achieve that, and he hated that. He was condemned. He was guilty. He was frustrated. Luther says this:
I hated that word, righteousness of God, where God is righteous and punishes sinners.
But then he says this:
But after meditating on the context [of those words in Romans 1:16 and 17], there I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith.
And Luther says this:
And this is the meaning [this is what it means], the righteousness of God is revealed by the gospel. Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates. There a totally other face of the entire Scripture showed itself to me.
Here’s what Luther is saying. I heard that term “righteousness of God,” and I thought I can never achieve that. I hate the way I feel. I hate that term. But then as he read what Romans 1:16 and 17 was actually saying, he realized that it’s saying the righteousness of God has been revealed from heaven as a gift for those who obtain it by faith. The righteousness of God being revealed from heaven, yes, is Jesus Christ, the righteous one; but it’s also saying that you can have that righteousness as a gift from heaven by having faith in Jesus Christ.
This is heaven giving us a gift of perfection in the eyes of God. That’s what the gospel does. Please read the first three chapters of Romans and don’t stop at 3:20. You have to read to the end. Romans 1, from 18 on, you hear about how the world is just in utter chaos. People are sinful, this and that. And you get the moral person reading Romans 1 and nodding their head, yep. Look what they do. Look what they do over there. Look what those gang members do. Look what those liberals do. Look at that. Yes, they prize all of these things. Oh, they’re horrible.
And then in Romans 2 Paul says, and you’re just like them. Oh, okay. Romans 3, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And he shows how all people everywhere, Jew, Gentile, moral, liberal, horrible—all of them are the same before God. All have sinned. No one seeks God. The poison of snakes is on their lips. They speak horribly to one another. He shows that to be true. He’s almost pronouncing the sentence on the world where everybody’s in sin.
And then he gets to Romans 3:21, and there’s a pregnant pause in between everyone’s sinful and the next verse. He says this, Romans 3:21: “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law.” God has brought his righteousness down to earth, and you don’t get it by obeying the law. That’s what this is saying.
“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the law and prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ” (Romans 3:21-24).
This is saying the whole world is sinful, even you really, really, really, really, really moral person. You’re sinful too. But now the righteousness of God has been given to the earth and obtained by your faith in Jesus Christ. Not obtained by you obeying the law. Not obtained by you being better than your neighbor. Not obtained by your doing more good than bad. You don’t obtain righteousness that way. You obtain righteousness to get into heaven by having faith in Jesus Christ.
And I believe that that’s a part of the gospel that’s not taught well enough today. People all throughout the world who know Christians that are not Christians themselves hear you say all the time Jesus died for your sin. Okay, whatever, big deal. But the gospel is more than that. That’s only half of the good news. Jesus died for your sins, takes away your sin, but he also gives you his righteousness. Righteous standing before God forever.
That’s the doctrine of justification—being right before God because your sins are forgiven, and you have the righteousness of Christ. God looks at every believer as being perfectly righteous all the time. Now, are we actually, in a day-to-day way, righteous all the time? No, that’s the beauty of the gospel. We get credit for something that we never earned.
I wonder if there are people in here who are not Christ followers or who think they are and maybe you’ve been frustrated because you’re trying to be better in the eyes of God. You’re constantly trying to be better in the eyes of God. Let these passages warm your heart. The Holy Spirit is here to preach, yes, that Jesus Christ is righteous and that you can have his righteousness by faith in him.
(iii) The Holy Spirit preaches judgment.
The Spirit reveals and preaches sin, the Spirit preaches righteousness, and finally the Spirit preaches judgment. Verse 11: “concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” So the Holy Spirit testifies today that judgment is coming. He’s testified that all the world is in sin. He’s testified that Jesus Christ is righteous, and you can have his righteousness. And if you reject that, the Spirit preaches that judgment is coming.
Concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. So when Jesus died on the cross, he obtained victory for sinners and crushed the head of the serpent. Jesus took a people who were enslaved to Satan and his work and freed them by paying the penalty that they owe, and he gave them perfect righteousness. Satan can’t do anything about that. So Satan was defeated on the cross. The sentence was pronounced on the cross. We sang about it. It’s finished. The gavel came down and the victory was declared.
Satan and those who are held by him are therefore now under condemnation. That’s what the Spirit is testifying today. Jesus is saying that when I leave, part of what the Spirit will do, he’ll keep preaching the message that Satan has been defeated. And not just Satan, those who also reject Christ and therefore do the things that Satan would want them to do. 1 John 3:8: “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil.” John links a person who makes a practice of sinning, who rejects Christ, and links them to the devil. “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.”
The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. So the fact that John even wrote that years after he was with Jesus, years after Jesus went back to heaven, is proof that the Holy Spirit will keep preaching that message of judging Satan and all who follow him.
So the Spirit advances the work of Christ by preaching his message. He preaches sin, he preaches righteousness, he preaches judgment.
2. The Holy Spirit advances the work of Christ because he guides the disciples into all truth.
Secondly, verses 12-13, the Spirit advances the work of Christ because he guides the disciples into all truth. The Holy Spirit guides the disciples into all truth.
Now, picture this: You’re a disciple with Jesus. Jesus is turning your world upside down. You see a Samaritan pass by you on the road. You and Jesus are—you know, you’re a disciple back in the first century; you’re with Peter, James, John, Andrew, you’re with that group; and you’re going to lunch with Jesus, walking down the road. You see a Samaritan, and you roll your eyes at the Samaritan, and you tell Jesus, hey, look at that Samaritan. I mean, you know, we don’t want to go by them. And he totally rocks your world and says, no, I came to save people like that.
I mean, Jesus was always teaching his disciples things that they weren’t used to hearing—caring for the poor, loving your enemies. He’s been rocking their world for three years, and then he says I’m leaving. One of the things they would have been missing and sad about was the fact that, but you’ve been teaching us all these things. There’s evidently more for us to learn. Jesus indicates here that the Holy Spirit will guide the disciples into all truth. You’ll keep learning because I’ll keep teaching through my Spirit.
He’s speaking to a sorrowful and fearful group. He promises the Spirit will guide them to understand and carry out exactly what they need to know. Verse 12, he says this: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” So they weren’t in a frame of mind to hear everything that Jesus had to say to them. We know this because in just a few short hours Peter will deny him because he fears man, fears the men and women who identify him as a disciple of Christ. Christ has since been arrested. Peter denies Christ. He’s not strong enough yet.
When Christ went to the cross his followers who were female were around. John was around. The other disciples—gone, afraid. They’re not strong yet. “I still have many things to say to you, but you can’t bear them now.” You can’t handle them now. They’re weak, but they will be strong.
Verse 13: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” That’s why Acts 2 is such a beautiful thing to read regularly as we’re going through the gospel of John. These men who fled the cross after the ascension—Jesus says go to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes, and I mean you can’t shut them up. You know, a Roman soldier is kind of there with his sword, jingling it like, hey, quit talking, look at this or else you’re dead. I don’t care. I gotta preach the gospel.
I mean, Peter, who denied Christ, wasn’t even there at the cross, all of a sudden is bolder than all get out, and so are the rest of the disciples. Why? The Spirit of truth came and he’s guiding them in truth, teaching them. That word “guide”, by the way, is more than just teach and lead. It’s also motivate. The Spirit will come and guide you into all truth. He will motivate you to say the things that need to be said about Christ who’s been crucified, resurrected and is in heaven.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he’ll guide you into all truth because he will not speak on his authority. He doesn’t come with a different message. He comes saying the same thing the Father and the Son have said, and he comes preaching that message to the world. Whatever he hears he’ll speak, and he’ll declare to you the things that are to come. The Spirit is one with the Father and the Son and speaks the message that they give.
The Spirit would teach them what to say and what was going to happen in the future. So the Spirit is going to communicate to the disciples what to say in a hostile world, and by the way, that’s the same thing he does for us. What to say in a hostile world and what’s going to happen in the future. That’s the ministry of the Spirit.
So the disciples will be equipped with all the information they need, and we’re the same as they are. In this sense, at this point, we’re no different than the disciples. Jesus is in heaven. We are in a world that hates us because it hates him. We are meant to be witnesses of a particular message. We need to know what’s going to come in the future, and the Spirit is the one that teaches us all of these things.
Imagine you’re a citizen of a great nation, the greatest nation to ever exist, and the greatest king rules over that nation. And you are placed into a foreign land. And in this land, you’ve got a message to declare to the citizens of that land. The message is, leave your land, come to our land, come to the king who reigns and rules over our land. Leave your land, come to our land.
Now, there’s only one problem. The people that you’re preaching that message to hate your king. They hate his rules. They hate what he stands for and they love their own way. It feels like an uphill battle, right? Now, you’re placed in that land to preach that message to a people that hate the message and the king that you represent, and you don’t even know where to start. Well, the king then sends some men, sends some guides, sends some people who write you a message from the king. How to operate, how to love the people that hate you, what to say, what to pray, how to live while you’re in this foreign land.
That message from the king is called the New Testament epistles. That’s what we’ve been given. The writers of the epistles—the apostles—write, and their fulfillment of this verse: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and declare to you the things that are to come.” The Spirit gave the apostles the understanding to write the epistles, and the epistles are written for the New Testament church, for us. We are the recipient of what the Spirit does for the apostles who write these things to us. We receive that.
We know how to fight the fight of faith. We’ve been told how to represent the king. We’ve been told about the difficulty of the battle and the victorious future. We’ve been told about the end—what’s going to happen in the end. We know all we need to know. We’ve been guided in that sense like the apostles into all truth. We know. We know how to live in this foreign land. This is the ministry of the apostles to us by the Spirit.
3. The Holy Spirit advances the work of Christ by declaring Christ’s message.
Now, there’s one more way that this passage says the Spirit continues the work of Christ. Verses 14 and 15. The Spirit glorifies Christ by declaring Christ’s message. This is so important. The Spirit glorifies Christ by declaring Christ’s message. He not only continues the message, but he’ll see to it that Christ is made much of.
So the idea here could be, and a lot of people might have thought this, Jesus is healing the sick, proclaiming this message about the kingdom, people are following him and then he leaves. Well, end of the movement. No. In fact, think about this. Evidently more people came to faith in Jesus Christ by the preaching of the disciples than the preaching of Jesus. That’ll blow your mind.
Well, does that mean the disciples were more important than Jesus or better gifted than Jesus? No. The Spirit of Jesus was in them preaching that message. Verse 14. The Spirit will see to it that Jesus’ message that he preached is preached while he’s gone. Verse 14: “He [the Spirit] will glorify me [he’ll make much of me], for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”
He’ll take what is mine. The Spirit will take the things that I’ve been teaching, and he’ll teach you (implication) so that you’ll teach it. And that’s how he’s going to teach it, through you. The Spirit’s going to take what I taught and he’s going to teach it. He’ll declare it to the disciples, to you. John 14:26, we studied this a little earlier: “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.” And when he did that, the disciples wrote it down for us.
Verse 15: “All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” So look at the chain here. All that the Father has is mine, the Son’s; therefore I said that he, the Spirit, will take what is mine and declare it to you. You see the chain here? The Father gave the Son a message. The Son preached that message and gave the Spirit the same message to preach. The Spirit preaches that message to the followers of Christ.
What do we do? Change the message, right? You with me? No, don’t change the message. It’s gone from the Father to the Son to the Spirit to the apostles to the followers of Christ, which we are. What’s supposed to continue? That same message to the people that we come across. The Spirit of Jesus Christ will make sure that that message stays intact. We’ll have to contend for it, fight for it. The epistles tell us that, but it will stay intact and the gates of hell will not stand against the kingdom of God.
That’s where we come in. The Spirit is going to see to it that that message is proclaimed. Again, look over to chapter 17, verse 20, Jesus’ prayer to the Father. Notice what he says. This is the transition part. Jesus has been praying for his apostles, and now he starts to pray, get this, for us. 17:20—chapter 17, verse 20, is where Jesus starts praying for us, with us in mind, and here’s how he identifies us. John 17:20: “I do not ask for these only [the apostles], but also for those who will believe in me through their word.
Do you see what’s happening here? Jesus is saying that we’ve believed—21st century Prescottonians, Christians—have believed through, not the word of God, not the word of Christ, not even the word of the Spirit, through their—the apostles’—word. Why can he say that? Because the apostles’ word is the word of the Spirit, which is the word of the Son, which is the word of the Father. Unbroken message. The gospel message has gone from the Father to the Son to the Spirit to the apostles and to us.
All that the Father has is mine, therefore I said that he, the Spirit, will take what is mine and declare it to you. And when the Spirit does this—it’s been 2,000 years—the gospel is still being proclaimed. Our high school students went to a camp in New Mexico last week. Guess what message was proclaimed. The gospel message. Coincidence? No, the Spirit has seen to it that the gospel will continue to be proclaimed even when Jesus is in heaven. This is the ministry of the Spirit. What I’m doing today is a ministry of the Spirit.
The Spirit is stronger than any false gospel. The Spirit endures throughout generations. The Spirit will see to it that the message, the beautiful message of Christ, who reconciles sinners to the holy God, that beautiful message will be proclaimed to the glory of Christ. The Spirit glorifies the Son primarily through making his message and his work known.
Now, we finished going through the 15 verses (verses 4-15) today. Where do we come in? Great, go Holy Spirit. Do your thing. Yeah, gospel, I’m all for it. We come in to play somewhere here. I’ve got three pastoral implications. Three implications for us.
C. Three pastoral implications:
1. Understand the help that the Spirit offers.
First, understand the help that the Spirit offers. I’ll explain what I mean by that. Understand the help that the Spirit offers. Here’s what I mean. Sometimes I think that we think of the Spirit more as a kind grandmother who pats us on the back when something doesn’t go well. We treat the Holy Spirit as our own personal genie or our own personal life coach. Hey, do better! Ministry of the Holy Spirit. No.
The primary ministry of the Holy Spirit is to see to it that the mission of God to redeem sinners from all over every tribe, tongue and nation is still intact and still happens and it’s still functioning. And he uses the disciples of Jesus in that time, us today, to carry out that mission of God. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is primarily evangelistic in that sense, primarily about the mission of God.
Even when the Spirit ministers to us (Galatians 5) and changes us to have the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, etc.—even when he does that, it’s for evangelistic purposes. It’s so that we would be different. We would represent God. We would give glory to God. People would see us as different and come to know Christ.
In these passages, in John 13-17, the Holy Spirit is here to make sure that the mission of God still continues through us. But we kind of make it where he’s our own personal buddy helping me out. It’s bigger than that. The Spirit is much bigger than that. He is glorifying Christ in our lives by changing us and in getting the message out about Christ.
So understand the help the Spirit offers. If there’s a person who thinks very little of the mission of God—hey, I’m saved, I’m happy, I just kind of want to, you know, live my life and go to heaven one day. I could really care less about the lost and the glory of Christ being received by redeeming lost people. That’s for people who are in to missions. Me, I’ve got other things going on. If that’s your view, you will not appreciate the passage we just walked through. But if you realize—I want Christ to be glorified; I want his work of redeeming lost souls to continue, to continue, to continue, to continue until he comes so that he receives much glory and we receive friends into heaven—if that’s your heartbeat, this passage is very encouraging to you.
Understand the help that the Spirit offers. If these aren’t lining up excuses for reasons that you won’t evangelize, you don’t understand the beauty of the Holy Spirit. Well, I’m a little too fearful. The Holy Spirit can fix that. I don’t know what to say. The Holy Spirit can fix that. Ohhh, I can’t make them believe. That’s right. The Holy Spirit can fix that.
Know the ministry of the Spirit and love it. Embrace it.
2. Don’t change the message.
Number two: Don’t change the message. Friends, brothers and sisters, do not change the message from a message of you are in trouble with a holy God, but God has sent his Son to die for you, to give you his righteousness if you would embrace him by faith, but you must repent and embrace him by faith or else he will judge you.
Don’t change that message to, hey, do you want to have a fulfilled life? Repeat this after me. It’s bigger than that. The world is at enmity with God and they must know that and know that God who has been offended has sent his only Son because he loves the world. But they must acknowledge their guilt and turn to the Son. They must believe that he died and rose again on the third day and trust him with their lives.
Don’t change that message. The Son didn’t change that message when he received it from the Father. The Spirit didn’t change that message when he received it from the Son. And the apostles who were just as fearful as you and I did not change that message when they received it from the Spirit because they received it with power.
We cannot change that message to make it more palatable. If we change it to make it more palatable, we change it and we strip it of its power, and we make a bunch of false converts—people who say, I want to be more fulfilled, but who won’t acknowledge their sin. We change the message; we take the power out of it.
Yeah, but if we preach that message about sin and repentance, no one’s going to listen to us. Do you believe in the power of the Holy Spirit? Do you believe that Jesus said I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it? Do you believe in this passage that we’ve just studied today? Oh, yes, they will. We need to be faithful to preach the accurate message.
So, don’t change the Spirit’s message.
3. View the New Testament epistles no lower than the gospels.
Third, view the New Testament epistles no lower than the gospels. View the New Testament epistles no lower than you do the gospels. Now, if your neighbor (or you) has a red- letter Bible, don’t elbow them and frown at them. Okay? It’s okay. It’s fine. I’ve got red-letter Bibles. The letters in red are not more important than the other letters in the Bible. The Holy Spirit inspired all of them. God inspired all of them. God, here says the Holy Spirit leads the disciples to communicate, to guide them into all truth, to guide them in the truth that he’s still going to preach from heaven through the Spirit, through the apostles, down to us. All of these carry weight, every one of them.
Now the epistles do teach about what Christ taught. They make clear what Christ taught in the gospels. They do that, but they have the same authority. All from God. It’s what B. B. Warfield said: “When the Bible speaks, God speaks.” All 66 books, not just four of the 66. When the Bible speaks, God speaks.
The New Testament epistles are such a gift to the New Testament church. It takes what Jesus taught the apostles, and they digest it for us. Here’s what it means for you, New Testament believer, waiting for the Lord to reappear, to come again. Here’s what it means for your life and how to live. Jesus sent the Spirit to do that, to preach that message. These are Jesus’ words as well in that sense—the New Testament epistles.
So love the treasure you have in the New Testament letters. It’s every bit as from God as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
So the Spirit advances the work of Christ by preaching sin, righteousness and judgment to the world. He advances the work of Christ by guiding the disciples into all truth and advances the work of Christ by glorifying Christ by declaring Christ’s message.
Now, as I mentioned, the work that we have to do, the evangelistic work that we have to do, the work that the Spirit does in proclaiming the message, is a big work. It’s a big task. But when you embrace that work that we have to do, you will be ministered to by the Holy Spirit in such sweet ways.
Listen, when you teach on evangelism and teach about the fact that we are his witnesses, it creates some fear. The disciples, Jesus told us in this passage, they’re afraid. They’re sorrowful. They’re worried. So Jesus ministers to them by talking about the Holy Spirit. They’re nervous.
He told them earlier that they’ll be hated. That doesn’t launch us out into the streets. It causes fear a lot. But that’s why this teaching is so valuable. This is Jesus himself saying my power is with you even when you’re hated. Know that I am working through my Spirit, and by the way, I’m working through you as you walk by the Spirit.
Remember chapter 15, verses 26 and 27, Jesus said this: [W]hen 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.” Great! Holy Spirit’s going to bear witness while Jesus is gone. Verse 27: “And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.”
Jesus means today, July 9th, 2017, for the Spirit to speak in the world through the people of God who have the Spirit inside of them. And that often brings about fear and discomfort.
I want to read to you a journal entry from a young girl who wrote this in her journal the night before she died. This is Brittany Bevin. She was the daughter of the current governor of Kentucky. If you go to Southern Seminary and go to their missions department, this journal entry will be on the wall.
She was killed in an auto accident right outside Southern Seminary. She was gripped by the fact that people needed Christ in the world, and she wanted her life to count for him. This is what she wrote the night before she died, not knowing she would go to be with the Lord the very next day. She said this in her journal:
You hold the only peace that can fill the deepest hole, but how do I get it? You said, ask and you shall receive. I’m asking, and I know that you will give it to me. Every week you bless me so much and teach me lessons after lessons. I know that once again you are showing me your love. I can’t fathom how much you feel when one of your children suffers, but I’ve had a glimpse of your heartache. Please fill me with your wisdom that I won’t just watch others suffer but that I’ll be able to say what they need to hear. As a new week approaches, my dangerous prayer is that you’ll place brokenhearted people in my path [and notice this] and fill me with you, so that I can let your love heal their pain.
That’s a girl who gets it. My prayer for this church who we love is that we would get it. Get what the Spirit is here to do for and through us, to the glory of the Son.
Father, we are grateful, so grateful that you sent your Son. Lord Jesus Christ, we are so grateful today that you sent your Spirit, and we’d ask that you would allow him to live mightily through us. Strengthen us, make us more holy, make us more bold, make us more courageous, make us more heartbroken, give us more pity and compassion as opposed to anger at the lost.
Holy Spirit, work in us not to see the world as our enemy but as our mission field. Let us see the lost how you see them. Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit, for the glory of Jesus Christ open our mouths, open our hearts, keep us faithful to the message. When we want to compromise it, and it will come, we want to soften it, we don’t want people mad at us, do not let us change the message that has saved millions of souls throughout the ages. Give us confidence in the gospel.
Father, let each of us from the heart say, I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for salvation for all who believe. Father, glorify your Son in this world. We pray this in his name. Amen.
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