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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
April 14, 2019
The Ministry of the Holy Spirit
Today is known as Palm Sunday, which in liturgical churches is the celebration of the day that Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. His entry into the city on the back of a donkey while the people were laying down palm leaves and branches before Him and shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is He who come sin the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!” was an exciting and special day. (See: Messiah’s Public Acclamation). But the events of that week passed quickly and the crowd changed from shouting Hosanna to shouting to crucify Him by Friday. We have been studying the events of that week since last July, and for the last seven weeks we have been examining the Upper Room Discourse which took place Thursday evening of that week at the conclusion of Jesus and the disciples celebrating the Passover.
Jesus had already done many things during the course of the meal including *rebuking them for their pride and reminding them that greatness in His kingdom would be marked by humble service, after which He washed the feet of the disciples as a very practical example; (See: The Final Passover, Part 1). *revealing there was a traitor among them, though the disciples still did not believe it was Judas even after he left to betray Jesus; * instituted the ordinance of Communion using some of the elements in the Passover meal to represent Himself and the sacrifice He was about to make in order to free them from the bondage of their sins. (See The Final Passover, Part 2)
The disciples were troubled by the thought of Jesus going away from them, but Jesus had already told them many things to comfort them. He promised them that He would be preparing a place for them in His Father’s house and would return again for them that they might ever be with Him (14:1-4). He had further explained their relationship to Him and therefore also with the Father. (See: The Promise of Heaven) . Jesus also gave them several promises concerning answered prayer and the coming of the Comforter.(See: Comfort for Those Who Believe, Part 1 & Part 2). He promised them they would have His peace and His joy if they would abide in Him and demonstrate their love for Him by their obedience. (See: Abiding in Christ). He also gave instruction on what they were to do and how they were to treat one another. (See: Loving One Another). He warned them about the hatred the world would have for them, but even in that there would be comfort for such hatred was really directed at Jesus. When they received such persecution, it would be confirmation that they were becoming more like their master. (See: Persecuted by the World).
Troubled Disciples – John 16:4-6
Now the idea of being persecuted is not something that thrills anyone, and so Jesus continued on in bringing them comfort in John 16. As I pointed out in the first few verses last week, Jesus had warned them of persecution so that they would be kept from stumbling when it came. They would not be caught unaware. He also explained at the end of 16:4, “And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.”
The persecution that had come up to that point had been directed at Jesus. Now that He was going away, the persecution would be directed toward Jesus’ followers. In addition, while Jesus was bodily with them He could bring personal comfort to them as they faced various situations. Since Jesus would no longer be physically with them, where then would they receive comfort? Where would they receive direction? How would they know what to believe and to do?
John 16:5-6 speak of the sorrow that filled the hearts of the disciples as they thought about this. 5“But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ 6 “But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.”
If the disciples had thought about it, they should have been glad for Jesus for He was going to return to His Father (John 14:28), but they had turned inward and were only thinking about how Jesus’ departure would affect them personally. I think we can all understand that because such news about what they would suffer as detailed in John 16:2-3 about becoming outcasts and having people trying to murder you in the name of God is very sobering.
There are harsh realities to striving to live for the true God in an unrighteous society. The statement in 2 Timothy 3:12 “that all who strive to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” is very sobering truth. But remember, that the Christian life is about truth and not about your comfort and success according to the world’s standards. The focus of life for the godly is holiness and not happiness which is dependent on favorable circumstances. Christian joy is dependent on pleasing the Lord and being used for His glory and is therefore present regardless of circumstances even if difficult or worse. The health, wealth, prosperity gospel is a lie. Yes, God does graciously grant such things to Christians and non-Christians. There are also natural physical and material benefits to living a holy life, but a very godly Christian may also live in poverty and/or with poor health. Christians do suffer at the sinful hands of those that do not know the true God (John 15:3). The Christian life centers on eternal truth regardless of temporal consequences.
The Advantage of Jesus’ Departure – John 16:7
Jesus was compassionate toward their sorrow and in verse 7 begins to explain to them that despite the hardships they would have in the future, it was to their advantage that Jesus would accomplish His mission and go away, for then the Holy Spirit would come. He then goes on to explain the Holy Spirit and His ministry. This is the most detailed passage in all of scripture dealing with the Holy Spirit. Look at verses 7-15.
7“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. 8 “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you no longer behold Me; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. 12 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear [them] now. 13 “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 “He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose [it] to you. 15 “All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said, that He takes of Mine, and will disclose [it] to you.”
The advantage to the disciples of Jesus’ departure is that the Holy Spirit would then come and do His ministry among them. Jesus is direct here that unless He left the Holy Spirit would not come, but He does not explain why that is true. While we cannot be dogmatic on this since He does not explain it, I do think there are some good reasons that have been suggested. One reason is that until Jesus completes His work on the cross and is raised from the dead, there would be nothing to merit the Holy Spirit to be able to bring about the adoption of men as sons of God. (See Romans 8:11; Galatians 4:5-6). On what basis could the Spirit bring about conviction of salvation in the righteousness in Christ when the payment for sin which would bring about such righteousness had not yet been made? The coming of the Spirit in the manner described was predicated upon the atonement having taken place. Also, it would be in the “last days” that the Spirit would be poured out upon men in fulfillment of the new covenant (Acts. 2:17, etc.).
Jesus’ departure would not only be an advantage to them in eternity since He would be preparing a place for them in His Father’s house, but it was also an advantage in the temporal realm. It would only be after the coming of the Holy Spirit that the disciples would be able to do the greater works Jesus spoke of in John 14:12. It would only be then that they would be drawn into a greater understanding of the relationship between the Father, the Son and themselves (John 14:20). This would be part of the work of the Spirit in their lives.
Notice as well here the perfect cooperation within the triune Godhead. The Helper, the Holy Spirit, would not come prematurely, but precisely when the Son would send Him, and Jesus said in John 14:26 that the Father would send the Spirit in Jesus’ name. All three members of the triune Godhead work in perfect cooperation with one another. They have always done so.
Let me give you a few of examples of all three persons of the eternal Godhead at work in harmony with each other. First, all three are involved in creation: Genesis 1:1 – ” In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Colossians 1:16, states in reference to Jesus, “for by Him all things were created, both in the heaves and on the earth . . .” Genesis 1:2 states that it was the Spirit of God that moved over the face of the waters, and Psalm 33:6 states that it was “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host.” Creation is the work of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Second, all three are involved in Jesus resurrection from the dead. God raised Jesus from the dead according to Acts 2:24; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 2 Corinthians 4:14 and Ephesians 2:4-5. John 2:14 records Jesus telling the Jews that were seeking a sign that if they destroyed this temple, referring to His own body, He would raise it back up in three days. Jesus also said in John 10:18 that He had authority to lay His life down and take it up again. Romans 8:11 refers to “the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead.” Jesus’ resurrection was the work of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Third, all three work in harmony in bringing a person to salvation. It is the Father that must grant and draw a person to the Son according to John 6:37,44 & 65. It is the Son who atoned for sins and redeemed man so that he could be made righteous through faith (Rom. 3:21-26), and no man can come to the Father except through Him as Jesus unequivocally proclaimed in John 14:6. As we will see in a few minutes in John 16:8-11, it is the Holy Spirit that convicts of sin, righteousness and judgment, and according to Romans 8:11 and Titus 3:5, it is the Holy Spirit that makes alive, regenerates and renews your spirit, and Ephesians 1:13 adds that He is the seal of the promise of the gospel of salvation. Your salvation from sin is dependent upon the work of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The members of the triune Godhead work in harmony with each other for while each is a distinct person and deity, they are together only one eternal God. There are some groups that deny the deity of the Holy Spirit, but to do so is to deny Scripture. Throughout the Old Testament He is referred to as the Spirit of the Lord or Spirit of God. In the New Testament both of those titles are used for Him as well as Spirit of Christ, Spirit of Jesus and Spirit of Truth. Peter specifically equates the Holy Spirit with God in Acts 5:3 when he tells Ananias that he had lied to the Holy Spirit and then in verse 4 states that he had lied to God. The Holy Spirit is the third part of the triune Godhead – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
Jesus’ promise was that when He went away He would send the Holy Spirit to them. He then explains in verses 8-15 the ministry of the Holy Spirit in convicting, guiding, glorifying and disclosing.
The Convicting Work of the Holy Spirit – John16:8-11
The convicting work of the Holy Spirit takes place in three areas – sin, righteousness and judgment. The first convinces a person of transgression of God’s holy laws and need of His mercy and forgiveness. The second confirms that the only means of forgiveness is through the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ being imputed to the sinner. The third is a warning that God is just and will judge the world and condemn all that do not repent and believe.
The word convict here (ejlevgcw /elegch ) means to bring to light or expose error often with the idea of reproving or rebuking. It brings about knowledge of believing or doing something wrong, but it does not mean that the person will respond properly to that knowledge. Our usage of the English word, convict, is similar.
You might talk to someone about something wrong they are doing and they become convicted that it is wrong and turn from it. That is what Paul referred to in 2 Corinthians 7:10 as sorrow according to God. It is conviction that leads to repentance. You can also expose a person’s sin and they feel sorry, but they do not turn from it. That is what Paul called the sorrow of the world. They are sorry they got caught, and they might even be remorseful about the consequences to others about what they have done, but there is not repentance or seeking forgiveness. That was the response of Judas after He betrayed Jesus. The response of the sorrow of the world can vary from embarrassment to hostility.
The emphasis in this passage is on the Holy Spirit revealing the truth and not on the response of the individual to whom it has been revealed. Much like a defendant in a court case, when the truth has come out in court and he is found guilty, he is convicted regardless of his own feelings, thoughts or response. The Holy Spirit brings out the truth and exposes the person’s sin and guilt while calling them to repentance. Some will heed the call and be converted to find peace with God. Others will defy the call and be hardened in their sin while trying to find alternative ways to handle their guilt ranging from denial to blame shifting to striving to escape it through various means including drugs, alcohol, work, entertainment, etc., to efforts to make up for it by religious activities or good works. Then there are those that develop psychological problems. The particular response by the individual only reveals the heart and whether it is repentant or hard.
The Holy Spirit will use a variety of specific means to bring this about, but all of those means can be reduced down to bringing the truth of the word of God to bear upon the individual. The Holy Spirit may start the process in many ways, but the end of the process will be exposure to the Scriptures. It may happen directly as a person reads the Bible or a Bible tract for themselves and the Spirit brings them understanding of the truth for the first time. It could be through the faithful testimony of God’s people in both living in righteousness and proclaiming the Scriptures to others. It could be through cultural practices that can be traced back to Biblical truth or even the conscience which still bears witness of basic truths of God. The Holy Spirit can use these to bring about guilt that the person is desperate to relive which prods them on the journey to truth and the Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit has worked in such different ways in the lives of the people in our own congregation, but He always accomplishes the same thing. He brings the truth to light and thus exposes the evil in their hearts. He convicts of sin.
Notice in verse 9 that the conviction of sin is in relationship to believing in Jesus. Conviction of sin brings about the need for a savior. Those that turn from their sin to faith in Christ are saved from it and its consequences. Those that do not will be condemned for their disobedience to repent (Acts 17:30) and not believe the gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). They will be judged by their own deeds, and since their names are not written in the book of life (Revelation 20:11-15), they will be cast into hell which was prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). This judgment is not on the basis of the good out weighing the bad. That is not justice. It will be on whether the person has kept God’s law or not. It is their own sinful deeds that will condemn them. So it is that the Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin upon those who do not believe in Jesus that they might turn and believe in Him for salvation.
The Holy Spirit also brings about conviction of righteousness. Verse 10 states that this conviction with respect to righteousness is in relationship to Jesus going to be with the Father. The religious leaders were going to crucify Jesus the next day claiming that He was an unrighteous blasphemer, and on that cross Jesus would bear the sins of mankind. The disciples would no longer have Jesus physically with them. But Jesus would not stay dead. It would be Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to be with the Father that would prove His righteousness. He was rejected by the world, but received by the Father, and it is God the Father that sets the standard and decides who is righteous and who is sinful. Jesus’ departure to be with the Father proves His sacrifice for sin was worthy and accepted thus proving His own righteousness and the basis for offering salvation from sin to all who will believe in Him. It also brought about the conviction of the world of its unrighteousness in putting Him, a righteous man, to death.
The Holy Spirit would also bring about conviction in respect to judgment because, as verse 11 states, the ruler of this world is judged. The cross was not a triumph for Satan, but the means of His own condemnation. The sentence of the devil’s judgment will be carried out on the last day when he is thrown into the eternal lake of fire and brimstone as stated in Revelation 20:10. The Holy Spirit warns those who reject Christ that they will receive the same judgment as the devil. The fear of condemnation to hell is a powerful motivator for people to seek to get right with God. The denial of the existence of Hell and lack of fear of God that has become common in our society is a quenching of this aspect of the Spirit’s ministry to the great detriment of those taken in by the lies. Since Jesus spoke of heaven and hell in the same passage in Matthew 25:31-46, either both exist or neither exists which would make Jesus a liar.
The disciples, and we who have followed after them, have been given the task of proclaiming the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. The Holy Spirit uses this to convict the world with respect to its own sin for not believing in Jesus, with respect to the righteousness of Jesus because He was fully vindicated when He was received by God the Father, and in respect to the judgment of God upon the devil and those who follow him.
The Guiding Work of the Holy Spirit – John16:12-13
In verse 12 Jesus tells them“I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” Jesus knew they were at their limit of what they could handle. This may have been due in part to their own weakness, but it was also due to the fact that the Holy Spirit would not come upon them until after the resurrection. They would be able to bear more in the future, and that revelation would come through the ministry of the Holy Spirit as seen in verse 13. “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”
Notice the Spirit is again called the “Spirit of truth” with Jesus adding that the Spirit would guide them into all truth. The idea of guiding is “leading the way.” The Holy Spirit does not drive, but exerts His influence upon the regenerated mind of the believer to lead them to understand the truth. In the specific case of the apostles, this resulted in the epistles which expand and make application of what Jesus had taught them. As 2 Peter 1:19-21 points out, prophecy, scripture, “did not come by an act of the human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (See also 1 Cor. 2:13).
This ministry of the Holy Spirit as the One who guides in truth is still active in believers today for 1 John 2:27 points out, it is the Spirit that teaches us. The canon of Scripture is closed and no one is writing Biblical epistles (though some falsely claim to be doing so), but the Holy Spirit leads us to understand truth and error, right and wrong, good and evil, and to apply the word of God and its principles to life.
The Spirit of truth guides to truth, and truth is always in keeping with what the Father speaks and it is embodied in Jesus who is the truth. Again, we find the harmony and cooperation between the members of the triune God. The Holy Spirit does not act on His own, but is sent by the Son and speaks only what the Father has said. That is the same thing Jesus said of Himself (John 12:49:14:10).
Let me quickly point out here that the Holy Spirit is a person. The Greek word for “spirit” (pneu:ma / pneuma) is neuter. For that reason some groups have tried to make the Holy Spirit an “it” instead of a person. But throughout the text the pronouns used are masculine, which in Greek, attributes the idea of masculine to the noun it is used with and thus personhood. But the case for the Spirit being a person is much more strong than just this for He has all the attributes of personhood. He has a mind: 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 speaks of the Spirit of God knowing the mind of God, and Romans 8:27 specifically refers to “the mind of the Spirit.” He has emotions: Ephesians 4:30 warns, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.” He has a will: 1 Corinthians 12:11 states regarding spiritual gifts, ministry and empowerment, “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.” Those who reject the personhood and thus also the deity of the Holy Spirit are in grievous error and dishonor God.
The Glorifying Work of the Holy Spirit – John 16:14
Verse 14 points out that the work of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Jesus –“He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.” This is an important point to understand about the Spirit. The Father glorifies the Son and the Son glorifies the Father as stated in John 17:4-5. Both the Father and the Son are glorified by the Spirit. We do not find the glory of the Spirit spoken of in the same way.
The reason that I mention this is that we live in a day when in some circles of Christianity an unusual, and I might add, improper emphasis is given to the worship of the Spirit. As a member of the triune Godhead, the Spirit is worthy of our worship, but we do not find that to be the emphasis within the Scripture or even in keeping with His ministry. His purpose is to glorify the Son and the Father. I believe that we go against that purpose when we take away that emphasis and place it on Him. This is simply a note of caution to ourselves that we should be careful to follow the Spirit’s example in this area as well as all others.
The Spirit glorifies Jesus by taking what belongs to Jesus and discloses it to the disciples. As verse 15 points out, “All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.” Jesus had this ministry of telling His disciples what the Father had said during His ministry on earth (John 15:15). That ministry would in the future come through the Holy Spirit. This ministry involves both the leading into all truth as mentioned in verse 13 and the disclosure of additional truth.
The Disclosing Work of the Holy Spirit
This disclosure or revelation is mentioned in verses 13,14 & 15. In verse 13 it refers to this as disclosing what is to come. It is a reference to the “more things” Jesus had to say to them but which would have to wait for a future time. Jesus would reveal those “more things” through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. For the most part the teachings of the epistles are clarifications, applications and expansions of what Jesus had taught and the principles based on that. But there are also areas in the epistles that do give additional revelation of how God wants things to be. There is also the prophetic elements such as the book of Revelation in which Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, discloses for the disciples, and we who follow them, an understanding of things yet to come.
The Holy Spirit is the third person in the triune Godhead and His ministry is very important. It is because of His ministry that we can have confidence that the Bible is faithful and true to what God has said. It is through His ministry that people respond to our proclamation of the gospel.
Perhaps that is a good place to conclude this morning. We don’t save anyone. It is God that saves them. Our part is to pray and witness. His part is to convict, quicken and draw them to Himself though the ministry of the Holy Spirit. That removes the pressure and gives us confidence to tell the gospel.
Sermon Notes – 4/14/2019
The Ministry of the Holy Spirit – John 16:4b-15
It only took a __________for people to change from crying out “Hosanna” to Jesus to “Crucify Him.”
After Jesus instituted the _________of Communion, He comforted and taught His disciples important truths
Troubled Disciples – John 16:4-6
The _________________ that had been directed at Jesus would shift to His disciples after His departure
The disciples’ hearts were filled with __________ at the prospect of Jesus leaving and coming persecution
The focus of a life lived by the Holy Spirit is God’s glory and ___________and not personal happiness
The Advantage of Jesus’ Departure – John 16:7
The coming of the Holy Spirit was the _______________ gained by Jesus’ departure to the Father
The Holy Spirit’s increased ministry would begin _________Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection and ascension
The Holy Spirit’s coming would be a ________to them in both the temporal realm and the future in eternity
Each person of the triune God works in perfect ____________with each other
The Holy Spirit is _________- Acts 5:3-4 (called Spirit of: the Lord . . . God . . . Christ . . . Jesus . . . Truth)
The Convicting Work of the Holy Spirit – John16:8-11
___________(ejlevgcw /elegch ) = to bring to light, bring about knowledge; to expose error – to reprove;
Conviction may or may not bring about _____________- 2 Corinthians 7:10
The Holy Spirit reveals _________, exposes sin & brings about guilt – a person’s response reveals their heart
The Holy Spirit uses many means to bring about conviction of ________- all trace back to Biblical truth
Conviction of sin reveals the need of a _______- repentance & faith brings salvation, unbelief will condemn
Conviction of righteousness is related to Jesus’ going to the ____________
Jesus’ resurrection & ascension proved His _____________with His sacrifice confirmed worthy & accepted
Conviction of judgment is in respect to the ____________being judged – condemned by Jesus’ resurrection
Denial of Hell & lacking fear of God does not remove the __________or danger of both – Matt. 25; Rev. 20
The Guiding Work of the Holy Spirit – John16:12-13
The disciples’ limits in bearing up were due to their own weakness and the Holy Spirit not yet __________
Current believers are taught by the Spirit to _________righteousness and truth and apply God’s word to life
The Spirit of truth guides to _______which is embodied in Jesus (John 14:6) and originates from the Father
The Glorifying Work of the Holy Spirit – John 16:14
The Father and the Son glorify each other & both are glorified by the ________- who does not seek glory
Among the ways the Spirit ________Jesus is by taking what belongs to Jesus & disclosing it to the disciples
The Disclosing Work of the Holy Spirit
Jesus would reveal the “______________” through the Holy Spirit – resulting in the Epistles & NT prophecy
The ministry of the Holy Spirit gives us ____________that the Bible is faithful and true to God’s revelation
We ________the Gospel – but it is the Holy Spirit who convicts, regenerates & draws to Christ and salvation
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times the word “Spirit” is used 2) Talk with your parents about who the Holy Spirit is, what He does, and your relationship to Him.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What is the context of John 16:5-15? What is Jesus seeking to do for the disciples? Why were their hearts full of sorrow? What is the proper focus of life for a godly person? How does that help overcome adversity? Why was it an advantage to the disciples that Jesus would go way? What are some of the things in the Bible that only God can do that are attributed to all three persons of the Godhead – Father, Son and Holy Spirit? How else do we know that the Holy Spirit is deity, a third member of the Godhead? What does it mean that the Holy Spirit will convict? What does this conviction of sin concern? What does this conviction of righteousness concern? What does this conviction of judgment concern? What are the two possible responses to conviction and their results? What is the difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow? What role can you play in the salvation of another person? Why could not the disciples bear at that time the rest of the things Jesus had to say to them? When would He say those things to them? What is truth? What evidence is there that the Holy Spirit is a person and not just a power or force? How did the Spirit guide the disciples into all truth? How does His ministry of teaching function in our own day? How does this ministry parallel the ministry Jesus had among the disciples? Who does the Spirit glorify? Who does Jesus glorify? Who does the Father glorify? What is the Holy Spirit’s ministry of disclosure? How do you see the Holy Spirit working in your life?
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