The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Jesus Prays


Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said . . . John 17:1a

 

Of all that Jesus did there was only one thing His disciples asked Him to teach them about, His prayer life. “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1ff.). The disciples didn’t ask Jesus how to teach or clue them in on the finer aspects of hermeneutics. They didn’t ask Jesus to teach them how they could do miracles or walk on water. They didn’t ask Jesus how to defend the faith. They didn’t ask Him how to conquer the world. No, they asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. There was something extraordinary and attention getting about Jesus’ prayer life. Of all that Jesus did, and all they could have asked Him to teach them, they chose to ask Him to teach them to pray. Wouldn’t you want to pray like Jesus?

We are about to look into the prayer closet of Jesus. We are about to examine the holy ground of John 17. We need to continue to keep in mind as we enter this chapter that the context is Jesus’ definitive teaching on the Holy Spirit (John 14-17). We need the Holy Spirit to understand this chapter and to apply it to our lives. Do you have the Holy Spirit within you? Have you been born again?

When Jesus responded to His disciples request to teach them how to pray, His teaching culminated with saying, “If you then being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13). If you aren’t sure you are born again or have the Holy Spirit, our Helper, indwelling you right now, then by all means pause right now and prayerfully ask God the Father in Jesus’ name to forgive your sins and give you spiritual life by indwelling you with the Holy Spirit. You aren’t His unless the Holy Spirit is indwelling you (cf. Romans 8:9-10; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Pause now and settle the issue. Simply ask His forgiveness for your sins based on your trust in Jesus redemptive work on the cross. The debt of sin is death. Bu the free gift of forgiveness and salvation from sin is through faith in Jesus (cf. Romans 6:23). Salvation from sin is right here for you now. God offers you spiritual life; eternal life right now. All you have to do is receive this wonderful gift; now. Then you’ll be able and suited for the journey of eternal life with Jesus.

Maybe you do know the Lord and have been born again but feel dry and distant from God. If you’re dry and running on empty ask the Father in Jesus’ name to refresh you in the Spirit. Ask His for personal revival. Ask Him to point out anything that is hindering your walk with Him and then repent where needed. Then move on in a Christlike prayer life. Lean on your Helper the Holy Spirit to teach you and lead you and empower you to enjoy a dynamic prayer life; one like Jesus has. We need the Holy Spirit to help us pray. Wouldn’t you want the Holy Spirit to teach you and help you to pray? Pause now and ask Him in prayer.

In the book of Romans, chapter 8 is the pinnacle of that book and perhaps the entire Bible. At the heart of that great chapter of the Bible Paul teaches us that it is the Holy Spirit who will help us in our prayer lives. He says, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercessions for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27). We need to the Holy Spirit to help us to pray.

The best way to learn something is to live it out. Jesus taught His disciples powerfully because He lived out His messages with them. They saw His teachings come to life each day. Throughout the gospels Jesus called people to  Follow Me” (Matthew 4:19; 8:22; 16:24; 19:21, 28; Mark 1:17; 2:14; 8:34; 10:21; Luke 5:27; 9:23, 59; 18:22; John 1:43; 8:12; 10:27; 12:26; 21:19, 22). It is one thing to tell someone how to do something. It is another thing to show them how it’s done. That is what Jesus does here in John 17. Here we see Jesus praying personally. Jesus said He was giving the disciples an example to follow when He washed their feet (John 13:15). Can we think He is doing anything less as He prays in the presence of His men? John the apostle said we should walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6). Peter said we are to follow in Jesus’ steps (1 Peter 2:21). Both John and Peter were there when Jesus prayed His prayer in John 17. This prayer is recorded in Holy inspired Scripture for us to see and imitate. Jesus’ John 17 prayer is an example of how to follow our Savior Jesus in our own personal prayer lives.

Haven’t you ever wondered how Jesus prayed? Haven’t you ever wondered how Jesus approached His Father in prayer? What did Jesus say and do behind the closed doors of His prayer closet? Let’s pull back the veil of His holy room. John 17 is an open door into the prayer life of Jesus. Here we will see Jesus, God in the flesh; the Word made flesh, the Creator of the universe, our Savior and Lord, pray. It is with this great expectation that we approach this incredible chapter.

“Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven,” (John 17:1a). Jesus prays with His focus on the Father. Don’t miss this. The first thing John is inspired to reveal is his personal recollection of how Jesus prayed. Jesus has spoken to His disciples about the Father throughout John’s gospel. Now He turns to talk in prayer to the Father.

We often focus on our position in prayer; kneeling; standing; head bowed; hands clasped. But Jesus “lifted up His eyes to heaven” when He prayed. This is significant but not because we see a physical position of Jesus. It’s important because when Jesus lifted His eyes to heaven we see He is focused on His Father in heaven. His looking to heaven communicates “I’m looking to You. I’m focused on You Father.” That is more a position of the heart than a position of our body. Remember that, our prayers should begin with our focus needing to be on the Lord. When we pray we should direct our prayers to the Father in the name of Jesus as directed by the Holy Spirit.

The account continues, “and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You,” (John 17:1b).  Jesus prays with an objective to glorify God. Yes, Jesus prays and asks the Father to glorify Him. To be glorified in this sense means to fulfill His heaven sent purpose of paying the death penalty for the sins of the world; paying the price of redemption for sin on the cross. The Father is glorified as the Son Jesus fulfills His mission of redemption. God is always glorified when we fulfill our heaven sent missions.

Jesus transcendent objective is to bring glory to the Father. In what sense is the Father glorified here? It is the Father who is giving His Son. It is the Son Jesus who is giving Himself. And it is the Holy Spirit who is enfolding and unfolding this grand glorious God ordained plan of redemption for humankind. Similarly we belong to the Father. We are not our own. We have been bought with the blood of Jesus (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  God gives us to be spent in this world for the lost. Our sacrifice is His sacrifice. We are not the Son of God; only sons and daughters of God. But it costs the Lord to give us in ministry. He loves us. It hurts Him when we suffer or go through trials in this life. God is not emotionless or without affect. God is “merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Exodus 34:6-7). “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Do you think God doesn’t grieve when He sees one of His children tortured, bludgeoned, beheaded? Do you think the One who says, “weep with those who weep” does not weep when we weep? (Romans 12:15). Ever think of that, really ponder and meditate on that? As we cooperate with His mission abiding in God’s love and living in His presence by prayer the Triune Godhead is revealed in and permeates our purposes. We become an “epistle”; the words and life stories in a living love letter from God to this lost world. God is glorified in us in this way; as we learn Him in prayer and live in His love. This glorifies God. At the end of your life will you be able to look back and see a life lived for the glory of God?

This puts a pure perspective on prayer. Someone has said, “Prayer is not the way to get God to do our will in heaven. Prayer is the way to get man to do God’s will on earth.” [1] That’s how Jesus prayed; to fulfill God’s will on earth. That’s how we should pray; to get people (including ourselves), to do God’s will on earth. If we do that, we will glorify God.

Jesus continues, “as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him” (John 17:2). Jesus prays in the authority given Him by the Father. Just as Jesus operated in the authority of the Father we operate in the authority Jesus gives us. Jesus emptied Himself when He came to earth so that He would give us an example of how men might live (e.g. Philippians 2:1-11). And now Jesus has commanded us to go and complete the “greater works than these” to fulfill the heavenly mission (John 14:12-13). Jesus has commanded us to go into all the world in His name in His authority and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20); disciples known by His love (John 13:34-35). He has sent the Holy Spirit to empower us to do that (e.g. Acts 1 and 2). When we pray we pray in the authority of Jesus; we pray in His name.

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3). Jesus prays for the eternal life of others. That eternal life is described by Jesus as a personal relationship with God. “That they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Eternal life is not just forgiveness for sins so that a person can get into heaven. That is a necessary part of it. But there is a greater broader deeper definition of eternal life and that is knowing God and Jesus.

The word “Know” (Greek ginosko) means to have an awareness of, to feel, to perceive, to understand, to be sure, to speak to, to have knowledge of and/or be conscious of. This is a word that implies an experience and relationship with someone. You are aware they are present, you feel for them, you perceive their feelings, you understand what they are about, you interact and speak with them, you are conscious them. Do you know God and Christ? That is what eternal life is. Do you know what gives Jesus pleasure, what brings Him joy, what grieves His heart? Do you know what is important to Him? Do you know the things He wants to be a part of? Do you know the things he doesn’t want to be a part of? Do you know how He would do things? Do you know how He loves? That is what our objective should be for ourselves and for others in our prayers.

I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:4-5). These verses reveal the perspective Jesus had in prayer. Jesus prays from a position of victory. Jesus had yet to go to the cross but He prayed as though he had already gone to the cross and completed His mission. That is an important perspective to adopt for our prayers. We don’t fight for victory; we fight from a position of victory. The end result is secure in the Lord. Jesus had a rock solid confidence and trust in His Father and the Spirit that He would accomplish that for which He was called to do. That should be our perspective in prayer too. God will do in and through us what He has purposed to do.

This is what the apostle Paul meant when he was inspired to write that Christians are “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37-39). How is that so? By faith in God; Jesus trusted in the Father and the Spirit to empower Him to complete the most difficult part of His mission; the cross. We too must trust the Lord; that the Holy Spirit will empower us to complete the life tasks He sets before us and calls us to do.

There is an aspect of Jesus’ prayer which we cannot apply to ourselves. We are not God incarnate. We are not the Second Person of the Trinity. So we do not pray for the Father to glorify us like we were glorified with Him before. When we pray we pray only for the Lord to be glorified. In everything we do we should do it with the purpose of glorifying God (e.g. 1 Corinthian s10:31; Colossians 3:17, 23-24).

Jesus prayed from a point of completion of His mission. Jesus prayed from a point where He finished the work He was assigned. A lot of times we start out with a commitment to God but then don’t finish it. Jesus finished what He came to do. We’d still be lost if He left the cross an unfinished loose end. He came to go to the cross and to the cross He went. He came to rise from the dead and from the dead He rose. Have you finished those things you’ve set out to do for the Lord? Have you finished what God has called you to do? (cf. Ecclesiastes 5). When we finish our God given mission tasks it brings glory to God.

Have you completely dealt with an area of sin in your life that the Lord has been talking to you about? Or have you done only a haphazard incomplete job of dealing with it; putting it to death? In the Old Testament King Saul was instructed by the LORD to wipe out the Amalekites. He disobeyed and let some live. It was an Amalekite that killed him in the end (1 Samuel 30). It was an Amalekite that almost annihilated Israel through a plan of genocide (Esther 3:1). If you leave loose ends it will come back to bite you. Finish what God directs you to do.

“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. (John 17:6-7). Jesus says, “I have manifested Your name.” Jesus prays for those He has invested in relationally. The word “manifested” (Greek phanero) means to shine forth. The idea is not, “so much declaration as it does illustration. . . . [not] “I have preached about it verbally,” but rather, “I have lived it out observably.”[2] Jesus prays for those He has lived and spent time with. We can pray with greater wisdom and knowledge when we pray for those we have interacted with. Relationship preceded effective praying. Praying edifies and enhances relationship. Relationship and prayer are a symbiotic relationship; both feed off each other.

Jesus prayed for others with an awareness that they belonged to God. The disciples belonged to the Father and to Jesus. No one belongs to us. When we pray we need to understand that we are praying for people that belong to God and are under His sovereign watch. We never pray for people as though they were our property. We intercede on behalf of others from the perspective that they belong to God.

For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me. (John 17:8). Jesus prayed for others to receive the right words at the right time. Jesus said the disciples had received His words and that they had believed that the Father sent Him. Jesus got His words from the Father; “which You have given Me.” This is something significant to recognize.

The word “words” is translated from the Greek term rhema. Rhema means a word spoken and implies an appropriate word. Rhema is a word from the Lord; the right word from the Lord at the right time. Rhema is a word directed by the Spirit to address a particular situation with a person. Jesus spoke a rhema word to the woman at the well when He informed her she had not one husband but five and the one she was living with was not her husband (John 4). Jesus spoke a rhema word to the Pharisee Nicodemus when Jesus told him “You must be born again” (John 3). Jesus spoke a rhema word to the woman caught in adultery when He said to her, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more” (John 8).

The only way we can speak a rhema word is by the enabling and leading of the Holy Spirit who helps us to do so. Jesus said, “But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you” (Matthew 10:19-20). That is the idea of a rhema word.

When “Christians” shout offensively at people caught up in sin they aren’t doing God’s work or fulfilling God’s will. They are merely venting their own petty angers. Whatever we speak and especially when we speak the truth of God’s word, we are to speak it in love. There is no other way to speak for God than to speak what He gives us in His love to others (cf. Ephesians 4:15).

When we pray we should pray that the Spirit helps us and others to receive God’s scriptural word. But we should also pray that we and others receive a rhema word or a word from the Spirit that is right for the moment and circumstance; the right words at the right time to people. And we should pray that the words received would lead people to a belief in Jesus.

“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.  (John 17:9). Jesus focused His prayers on His disciples. When Jesus says He doesn’t pray for the world it doesn’t mean He never prays for the world. He came to save the world (e.g. John 3:16). This prayer contains prayers for people in the world (John 17:23). So what does Jesus mean?

 

The term “world” (Greek kosmou) can refer to planet earth, or humanity, or a world system. When Jesus says He doesn’t pray for the “world” here He is saying He doesn’t pray for a world system. Jesus didn’t pray to change a system of government in the world. Instead He prayed for those who have answered God’s call to exit world systems and live the life of a disciple. We may live in such systems of government, but we are not of them; we live by God’s higher standard; by God’s word. Our citizenship is first and foremost in heaven (cf. Philippians 3:20).

 

Jesus priority is to bolster with prayer those who have followed Him and are His disciples. We should not neglect praying for those who have accepted the Lord as though everything that needs to be prayed for them has been accomplished. Those who follow Jesus still face temptations and the attacks of the enemy. We need to pray for one another in the body of Christ. Anyone who knows Jesus knows this to be true.

 

And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them.  Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.”

(John 17:10). Jesus prays for the unity of believers. Jesus prays to the Father on behalf of His disciples who will be left in the world behind Him. He prays to the Father to “keep through Your name those whom You have given Me.” Then Jesus prays to the Father that His disciples would “be one as We are.” One of the greatest concerns of Jesus for believers in the world is unity. This is the first thing Jesus prays for on behalf of His disciples. The history of schism and conflict within the church throughout history shows us why Jesus included this petition in His prayer. The church historically is too often more carnal than spiritual. Historically the church is more Corinthian than crucified with Christ (cf. Galatians 2:20). Jesus taught, “A house divided against itself will fall” (Luke 11:17). The enemies’ most effective tactic is to divide and conquer. Are you praying for the unity of believers? You should be. The unity of believers should be one of our top prayer priorities.

 

While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.  But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves” (John 17:12-13). Jesus prayed that His joy would be fulfilled in His disciples. Joy is the assurance and stabilizing comfort that no matter what trial, source of confusion or calamity one is experiencing, God is still in control. God has a plan and He will complete that plan. That is good to know when all hell is breaking loose around us. Pray for others that their joy would be fulfilled in a close deep abiding saving relationship with Jesus by the Holy Spirit.

 

Judas chose to become “a devil” (John 6:70). It’s not likely Judas was ever saved. He walked in the group of Jesus disciples, but he was never one of them. Just because you come to church or hang out with Christians or disciples of Jesus doesn’t make you one. You may spend time with Christians, but are you one? Do you “know” Jesus? That is what eternal life is.

 

I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:14-16). Jesus didn’t pray for His disciples to be taken out of their difficulties, He prayed they would be protected through them. Difficulties and trials are the instruments through which a strong faith is built (e.g. 1 Peter 1:6-9). Therefore Jesus doesn’t pray for His people to be removed or spared difficulties and trials, only that they would be kept safe from the evil one who tries to use the circumstances of life to destroy faith and life. Next time you are going through a difficulty don’t forget to pray for God’s will to be done; for His purposes to be fulfilled in and through whatever He has ordained to happen.

 

Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth” (John 17:17-19). Jesus prayed for His disciples to be sanctified in the truth of the word of God. Sanctify” (Greek hagiadzo) means to make holy, purify, consecrate, sanctify, to make distinguishable from the common, and /or to set apart for service. Jesus’ ministry and this prayer are filled with references to the use of the word of God in His disciple’s lives.  Jesus prays to the Father for His disciples to be helped to apply the Holy Bible to their lives. He prays for God’s word to distinguish them from the world just like Jesus was distinguished from the world. Jesus was sanctified. His disciples should be too. The best definition of what it means to be sanctified is “that you love one another; as I have loved you” (John 13:34). Pray to God for your own sanctification.  Pray for others to be sanctified in the word of God.

 

The term translated “word” (Greek logos) means simply statements, words, message, declaration, etc. But Jesus identifies this word as “Your word” or God’s word; the written word of God; the Bible. Jesus particularly referred to God’s word as “truth.” “Truth” (Greek aletheia) means free from error, dependable, integrity, and true. God’s word, the Bible is free from error; it is inerrant. The Bible is our source of truth: “Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your law is truth. . . . The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever” (Psalm 119:142, 160). The truth of God’s word is the scalpel with which the Spirit performs spiritual surgery on us. The truth-full word of God is our manual for life. And that word will go with us into eternity. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33).

 

Jesus died so that we might be sanctified. Jesus died to make us individually holy – “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Eph. 1:4). We are righteous through faith in Him (2 Cor. 5:21). When we put our faith in Jesus as Savior our sins are forgiven and Christ’s righteousness is put to our account. But because we are spiritual birthed when we accept Jesus as Savior (e.g. John 3; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Titus 3:5-7), we are to put off the “old man” of sinful ways and put on the “new man” of Spirit led ways (e.g. Ephesians 4:17-24; Colossians 3:12-17). Once we are saved from sin there is a new continuing Christlike walk in the Spirit that we are called to live (e.g. 1 Peter 2:21; 1 John 2:1-6). This is a new way of life, a life set apart for God’s use, is the sanctified life.

 

Jesus died so that corporately we would be a glorious blemishless church bride. No pock marks on this bride. “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that he might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27). Jesus died to make us “holy, and blameless, and above reproach” (Col. 1:22). The blood of Jesus scrubs us clean of sin (Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 1:18-19). If Jesus shed His precious blood to cleanse us and free us from sin, then we ought to seek living the sanctified life that fulfills His purposes in us.

 

Remember, Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as “the Spirit of truth” (John 16:13). God’s word is full of His truth because God the Holy Spirit inspired it through holy men of old (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21). The Holy Spirit is the One who uses the truth-full word and works this sanctification in us. That is why He is called “the Holy Spirit.” There is a “sanctification of the Spirit” that we are to surrender to and seek to have worked in our lives (1 Peter 1:2). “Sanctification by the Spirit” is something that is done through “belief in the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13). Living holy involves growing in the fruit of the Spirit which is love (Galatians 5:22-24). The Holy Spirit pours His love into us when He enters us at our spiritual birth (Romans 5:5). The maturing of the Spirit’s love in us is the best definition of sanctification (1 Cor. 13:4-12).

 

Therefore, to be sanctified means to be sided with the truth of God’s word in contrast to falsehood that opposes God’s word. To be sanctified means to have a Biblical world view. It means to look at the world through the lens of scripture. God’s word helps us make sense of this fallen world. God’s word gives us direction and purpose in life. We have meaning and worth based on God’s word. The word of God is the determining factor in what is sanctified and what is not sanctified. You can’t discard God’s word and be acceptable to God.

 

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;” (John 17:20).  Jesus prays for you and me and all those who believe in Him through the historical ministry of His followers. Jesus prays for you and me. He is praying for our sanctification and preservation. He is praying for you and me right now – as you read this. “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercessions for them” (Hebrews 7:25). Just think of it, right now, Jesus is praying for you. That should be a great comforting thought. Have you come to Jesus? Have you repented of your sins and asked the Father’s forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ? Have you been born again? Have you received spiritual life? Does the Holy Spirit live in you enabling you to closely abide in Jesus? Jesus has a perfect plan for you. He wants you to spend eternity with Him. The life in Christ is a wonderful life. What are you waiting for? Jesus is praying for your salvation right now. And if and when you do know Him He will continue to pray you through to eternity with Him. When you feel all alone or are tempted to despair, always remember, Jesus is praying for you!

Jesus continues, “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:  I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me” (John 17:21-23). Jesus prays for all Christians in all ages to be united and that the world would believe in Him through the testimony of that unity. Unity is so important in Jesus’ prayers. He emphasizes it by repeatedly mentioning it in His prayer. The unity of believers is one of Jesus’ greatest concerns. That’s because the world will come to know Jesus through the testimony of the unity of the church. IN the church there should be unity; no racial, cultural, ethnic, economic, intellectual, gender or any other division. We are to be one in Christ. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave or free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

In our brittle fragmented world the church should be a shining example of how people can come together into one God’s family united and abiding in the love of Jesus. The united church is a POWERFUL instrument of God in a fragmented fighting world. It’s no wonder that the unity of the church has been so persistently and unfortunately effectively attacked by the enemy. Whenever there is disunity in the church amongst believers it takes away from the churches effectiveness to reach the lost and tarnishes the name of Jesus. What a tragic and stupendous lost opportunity when the church is divided or bigoted in some way. Pray for unity in the body of Christ.

Please don’t mistake what I mean when I speak of unity in the church. I am not saying the church should overlook or condone sin. The church should not overlook or turn the other way when willful rebellious sin tries to establish itself within its walls. Paul dealt firmly with such situations (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:9-12). There is no place in the church for the ordination of immorality. The standard of the church is the word of God. What the word of God calls sin the church must call sin. To disregard scripture and follow sinful secular trends is offensive to God. But just as Paul advised to welcome back those who repented of their sin so should the church (2 Corinthians 2:6-9). The goal of the church should always be reconciliation and restoration (cf. Galatians 6:1).

Love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). But love does not overlook sin. Love speaks truth (Ephesians 4:15). It was Jesus who told the sinful woman to “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11). The church reaches out to the sinner with a powerful gospel that provides forgiveness for sin as well as changed lives with the power to overcome sin (Romans 1:16-17). The power of the gospel of Jesus Christ enables “fornicators . . . idolaters . . . adulterers . . . homosexuals . . . sodomites . . . thieves . . .  covetous . . . drunkards . . . revilers. . . [and/or] extortioners” to have said of them, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). To those we say, no matter the background, praise the Lord and welcome to the family of God.

Grace is extended to those caught up in sin and struggling with it. The church ministers to those in the battle against the flesh and sin. The church needs to disciple and help people to live Jesus’ abundant life. The end product and aim of the church is for its members to come to a life of victory in Christ. Unity should never cost complacency or condoning sin. That is to cheapen what the church is. No, unity is made up of those who like Paul say, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

“Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. 26 And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:24-26). Jesus concludes His prayer in worship. Jesus ends His prayer in a final petition that His followers would one day be with Him in glory and see His glory. And Jesus prays and associates that glory in the love between Him and the Father. Jesus exults in the Father’s love. Jesus proclaims the righteousness of the Father. He worships and requests that people would come to know the love of God. That is how we should conclude our prayers.

 

When we end our prayer time with God we shouldn’t just get up and leave. We should end our prayers in worshipping the Lord for His love and grace all to His glory. Maybe we should get into a holy habit of ending our prayers with a time of worship singing something like the Doxology, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow; Praise Him all creatures here below; Praise Him above the heavenly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” Or maybe we could praise Him with words like the Gloria Patri, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Amen.” If that is too formal or conjures up dark religious memories, then maybe as we close in prayer we should pause and ask the Spirit how we might bless Him with worship. Why not ask Him to bring to our mind and heart a song that would please and bless Him. Whatever you do, end your prayers like Jesus did, in worship.  

 

Jesus prays. Do you pray? How do you pray; like Jesus? What do you pray for; what Jesus prays for? How do you end your prayers; like Jesus did? Is the Holy Spirit in you guiding you in prayer? Have you been born again? Jesus lived a wonderful and glorious prayer life. Such a prayer life attracted the attention of those around Him. Let’s seek the Lord to help us pray like He prays. Let’s pray to the glory of God.

 



[1] Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (p. 572). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
[2] Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (p. 573). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Stumble Proof Your Life


These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble.” – John 16:1

 



We live in very confused and violent times. Just like the days of Noah. Evidence for confusion is seen in the gender related battles. People in the world are so confused that they are promoting the idea that there should be no definite or permanent definitions of gender. They contend that allowances should be made for people who wake up one day feeling like a woman and other days feeling like a man. Marriage, the very fabric of an orderly and child-healthy family and society is being ripped apart. Marriage is being redefined in a way that will in reality dissolve any meaning to “marriage” as anything other than just another contract. The definition of “morality” has become as shady as smoke. In this social climate can anyone give a solid definition of what is “moral” is anymore? Walk through a major city and you’ll almost certainly see a naked cowboy or cowgirl or some other indecent exposure of some kind. And on top of all of this it seems there is a daily shooting, riot, new war, atrocity, natural disaster or some other upheaval on the news. What’s a follower of Jesus to do in such times?


It would be easy to pick up some of this muck and mire. As you plod through the days filled with such sinful gum it wouldn’t be surprising to see some of it tracked into your home. It’s not uncommon to see believers tripped up and entwined in the entangling tentacles of temptations. What can we do? The night Jesus would be arrested, falsely convicted, spat on, beaten, abused, mocked, and the next day crucified He shared some precautionary words with His disciples. Jesus shared instructions that would serve to protect them from stumbling when faced with the upcoming confusion and difficulties. And those words are helpful to us too. These words of Jesus can help us to stumble proof our life.
John 16 contains the opening words of Jesus who says, “These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble” (John 16:1). As we look at Jesus’ words to help us not stumble we need to keep in mind that John 14, 15, and 16 are Jesus most detailed teaching on the Holy Spirit. He refers to the Third Person of the trinity as “the Helper.” And so we must keep in mind that it is the Holy Spirit, the Helper, who will help us implement His instructions. So how can we stumble proof our life?

Stumble proof your life by listening to Jesus’ word. The word “stumble” (Greek skandalizdo) means to entrap, trip up, to entice to sin, apostasy, offend, displeasure. We get the English word “scandal” from this Greek term. A scandal is something that exposes a shameful breach in behavior. A scandal also involves a lapse in integrity and character; it’s something a person does that is contrary to what is expected. It’s offensive and displeasing to God and those who follow Him. Such stumbling is the result of the entrapment and enticing of the devil, this world and our flesh and it often involves apostasy or false teaching and false sinful behavior.

What Jesus is now sharing with the disciples is to help prevent them from being tripped up by the events that were to soon unfold. Jesus was going to be crucified. He was going to die on the cross. He was going to be placed in a tomb. For three days for all intents and purposes Jesus would be dead to the disciples. But the third day Jesus would rise from the dead. The third day He would defeat death; the final enemy (1 Cor. 15:55-58).

There is no substitute for God’s word, Jesus’ words, when it comes to stumble-proofing your life. In His word God says, “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble” (Psalm 119:165).  Jesus gives us His word to keep us from stumbling in our faith. Saint it is so important that you read and study and dig into and familiarize yourself with God’s word. Someone has said this word will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this word. The choice is yours.

They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service

Stumble proof your life by being ready for hard times. The synagogue system of gathering for worship was a network of meeting houses created to weather the storm of the Temple’s destruction, the nations defeat and the captivity of God’s people. Synagogues were created so people removed from their land could continue to meet and preserve the Faith of the Old Testament. After God’s people were allowed to return to their land the synagogues remained in the land and people would meet there instead of only going to the Temple. The synagogue was integral to the faith and community of God’s people. To be put out of the synagogue, their place of worship was a tremendous blow to their identity as a Jew and their worship of the Lord. Jesus is saying, “Get ready for attacks from the religious community.” We see this today as apostasy is creeping into the church and those who hold to a Biblical world view are being marginalized even by other segments of the church.

Jesus also spoke of those who would kill His followers and think they were doing God a favor to do it! This is what the apostle Paul did; he pursued and persecuted Christians before God knocked Him off his high horse (cf. Acts 8; 9; 1 Tim. 1:12-17). In our day there are those who murder Christians and think they are doing “God” or “Allah” a favor. This was true in New Testament times. It has been true throughout history. It will continue to be true up until the return of Jesus.

 And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me.

Religious persecution and murdering Christians in particular is all a product of not knowing God. And when in history “the church” murdered and pillaged in the name of Jesus understand such people did not know God or Jesus either. 

But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them. “And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.

Jesus told the disciples of what was to come so that they would remember what He said to them and what the final outcome would be. Going through persecution and trials in life are hard and test our faith. But if we know what Jesus said about persecution and trials and see that come to pass, we can be just a certain and hopeful that the victory he speaks about after the trials will come to pass.

“But now I go away 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 depart, I will send Him to you.

 

Stumble proof your life by appreciating what Jesus has done for you. It seems the disciples were dumbstruck by what Jesus was saying to them; as though they didn’t want to know or couldn’t receive any more of these difficulties Jesus was predicting.

 

But even though what lay ahead was difficult to receive, Jesus said it was to their advantage. Note this – sometimes difficulties are a necessary part of God’s plan. Such was the case here. It was hard to see Jesus go away. But unless Jesus left, unless He went to the cross, died, was buried, then resurrected, and then ascended to the Father, the Holy Spirit could not come in His power to all of them. When things look bleak or we can’t understand God’s plan, we need to trust Him. Trust Jesus in the dark times and His promise is that you will enjoy Him when His light shines through.

 

We also see that the Holy Spirit’s coming is something Jesus does. He sends the Spirit. Again we see how the Triune God is alluded to by Jesus. God works in perfect fellowship with Himself.

 

And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

 

Stumble proof your life by realizing the work of the Holy Spirit in the world. Earlier in Jesus’ conversation with the disciples he said the Holy Spirit was “with” them and would be “in” them (John 14:16-17). The Holy Spirit is “with” a person before they are born again leading them to repentance and faith in Christ so that they would be born again. The Holy Spirit is the Agent of the Triune Godhead who goes before and draws people to God through faith in Jesus. This drawing is an example of God’s prevenient grace; the grace that goes before. We are sinners lost in sin with no idea of our need of salvation or how deeply our sinfulness has offended God. God demonstrates His love to us in that while we were rebellious unrepentant sinners He sent Jesus to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins (Romans 5:8). He is still graciously going before us while we are still sinners and by the Holy Spirit working in us to expose our sin and lead us to repentance and saving faith in Jesus.

God the Holy Spirit initiates the saving work in us. We deserve none of what He does. That is why we say salvation is not a work we do but a work Jesus has done for us. That is why salvation is a gift of God’s grace not something we work for. That is why salvation is by grace through faith and not a work we do; we have no reason or basis for boasting or taking credit for our salvation.

Generally speaking the Holy Spirit works in this world as a Restrainer. Things are not as bad as they would be if humanity were left to its own devices. Things are not as bad as they could be because the Holy Spirit through the church is restraining evil in the world. The apostle Paul speaks of this when he writes, “And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.”  (2 Thessalonians 2:6-7).

“He who now restrains” is s reference to the Holy Spirit and His work in the world. The Holy Spirit creates an environment where evil is checked enough to allow a person to exert free will to make a decision regarding salvation.

Here in John 16:8-11 Jesus teaches us that the more particular work of the Holy Spirit is as a Convictor of the sinful unbeliever. The Spirit convicts the unbeliever of their need of a Savior. The Holy Spirit “convicts.” The word “convict” is translated from the Greek term elegcho which can be defined as to expose a fault in a way that admonishes, convicts, convinces of a need to rectify or resolve, rebukes, or reproves. Jesus uses this word when He states, “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed(John 3:20).  And when He writes to the seven churches of Revelation, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent” (Revelation 3:19; cf. also Ephesians 5:11; 1 Timothy 5:20; James 2:9; Jude 14-15).

What is it that the Holy Spirit convicts the world of or exposes to the sinner? The Holy Spirit convicts the unsaved world of three things.

First, “of sin because they do not believe in Me.” Jesus paid the penalty (death) for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2). The sin that dams to hell is rejecting the Spirit’s plea to accept Jesus as Savior (Mt. 12:31 – also called the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit). A persons’ eternal destiny is determined by whether or not they believe or trust in Jesus and Jesus alone as their Savior and Redeemer. There are not many roads up a mountain to heaven. The only way we get to heaven is through relying on Jesus and His singularly satisfactory and atoning work on the cross. This is what the Spirit convicts the world of.

Second, “of righteousness because I go to My Father.”  Jesus died for the sins of the world and was raised from the dead. His resurrection indicates God was satisfied with His atoning sacrifice for sin. Jesus then ascended to heaven and was seated at the right hand of God demonstrating that He is the standard and only acceptable means by which a person can enter heaven (Mark 16:19; Acts 2:33; 7:55-56; Romans 8:34; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 10:11-18; 1 Peter 3:22). The Spirit convicts the world that any human efforts or works are inadequate to make one righteous. Works are of no help to gain access to heaven because the standard of righteousness is Jesus; nothing less will be acceptable. If you want to work your way to heaven you’ll have to be sinless and as perfect as Jesus (e.g. Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 1:18-19). Nicodemus was a very religious man but Jesus said he needed to be born again (John 3). The Holy Spirit exposes the futility of trying to do religious works to make oneself acceptable before God.

Third, “of judgment because the ruler of this world is judged.” The Holy Spirit convicts the world that the god of this world Satan was judged on the cross of Christ (Colossians 2:13-17). The hold of Satan on the unbeliever can be broken when a person accepts Jesus as Savior. Jesus in the heart of a person is greater than Satan (1 John 4:4).

That is the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the unbeliever. And it is a powerful work the Spirit does. Just think, if you have been born again it was because of the work of the Holy Spirit with you to draw you to see your sin, see your need of a Savior, see how you could only be saved from your sin through faith in Christ, see how your salvation is a gift of God’s grace not your works, and see how you can experience a saving eternal personal abiding relationship with God in Christ. Thank You Holy Spirit!

 

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.

 

Jesus would give more details of the ministry of the Spirit after He had risen from the dead.

 

13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

 

Stumble proof your life with the guidance of the Holy Spirit of truth. The Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of truth” (John 16:13a). The Holy Spirit does not lie. If you need the truth in a situation seek the Spirit’s illumination.

 

The Holy Spirit “He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13b). The Holy Spirit is the great Bible teacher. He is the great Revelator. He is the great Illuminator. He is the great Expositor. And when you have been born again the Holy Spirit with all His truth guiding ways is in you. Remember that the next time you sit down and begin to study the Bible. You are not alone. The Holy Spirit is there to help you understand!

 

The Holy Spirit “will not speak on His own authority; but whatever He hears He will speak” (John 16:13c). The Holy Spirit speaks in agreement with Jesus and the Father; they never contradict one another. The Bible was inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Therefore, the Bible is a product of the Triune God. When you read your Bible it is God in His fullness speaking to you.

 

The Holy Spirit is prophetic; “He will tell you things to come” (John 16:13d). Sometimes people look at prophecy as impractical. They see it as more a novelty than noteworthy. But the Holy Spirit inspired almost one third of the Bible with prophetic content (approximately 27%). If the Spirit felt prophecy was important enough to devote nearly a third of His inspiration to, then we out to accept that and determine to know it as much as possible. Prophecy as “things to come” are for the purpose of our preparation. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Don’t neglect this work of the Holy Spirit. Study and examine what the Spirit says in the Bible about things to come.

 

The Holy Spirit, Jesus said, “He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you” (John 16:14 and 15). When the Holy Spirit is working it’s easy to tell; Jesus will be glorified. If a person other than Jesus is focused on or being given credit apart from Jesus, you can be sure it is a product of the flesh and not of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit points people to Jesus. The Holy Spirit steps behind Jesus and puts Jesus in the forefront. If you want to have the Holy Spirit involved in what you are doing, just glorify and exalt Jesus and the Spirit will make His powerful presence known.

16 “A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father.”

Stumble proof your life with the understanding that Jesus has a beneficial plan He is carrying out. Jesus is referring of course to His crucifixion – “A little while, and you will not see Me” and then His resurrection – “a little while, and you will see Me.” It’s insightful that Jesus saw the crucifixion and resurrection in terms of going to His Father, “because I go to the Father.” When you know you’re going to the Father you can face anything.

The disciples were grief stricken that Jesus was leaving. That’s really all they could focus on. But Jesus tells them even though He will leave them for a time, He has a plan and would return to them. Jesus is reassuring His disciples that He has a plan and that plan involves reuniting with them. And here is a great truth for us to grasp. Even though Jesus appears to be leaving and out of the picture, He is working with purpose to fulfill a greater plan. And that plan will benefit us. His plan of the cross worked our redemption. For that we praise Him. Jesus is always working for the redemption of the lost. He prays constantly for the salvation of the lost and for the sanctification of His followers (Heb. 7:25). That is stumble proofing information.

17 Then some of His disciples said among themselves, “What is this that He says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’; and, ‘because I go to the Father’?” 18 They said therefore, “What is this that He says, ‘A little while’? We do not know what He is saying.”

 

The disciples are still confused. They do not as yet have the Holy Spirit indwelling them to help them understand.

 

19 Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, “Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’? 20 Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.

 

Stumble proof your life with the understanding that Jesus is able to turn your sorrow into joy. Jesus was always willing to patiently explain Himself to the disciples. And Jesus did not hold back. He honestly told them some tough times lay ahead. He said they would “weep and lament.” “Weep” (Greek klaio) means literally sob, wail aloud. “Lament” (Greek threneo) means bewail, mourn, to sing a dirge, deplore a lost loved one. We sometimes try to spare people grief by not giving them all the details. But Jesus here shares the details of their upcoming sorrow in order to help them be prepared.

 

Jesus said, “but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful.” What causes Jesus’ followers sorrow is a cause of rejoicing for the sinful world. “Sorrowful” (Greek lypeo) means to be in distress, sad, grief, heaviness of heart, full of sorrow, sorry. The world just doesn’t understand the burden of eternity God’s people often bear.

 

Along with the truth about their upcoming sorrow Jesus shared the hope that, “but your sorrow will be turned into joy.” Joy” (Greek chara) we have seen previously (John 15:11) and it means the same here, a steadying stabilizing comforting awareness and assurance that God is in control and working out his eternal plans. There is a great important truth here; sometimes darkness precedes the dawn in the workings of God. Sometimes it can seem that all hope is lost. But with Jesus there is always hope; living hope (1 Peter 1:3-4). That is a gloriously blessed hope.

 

21 A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

 

Stumble proof your life by seeing it as a pregnancy; your pain will be overshadowed by what God births through you. I have been blessed to experience by the side of my wife the birth of my three children. The birth of a human being is an incredible experience. I remember the birth of our first child, how it was all new and uncertain. We didn’t know what to expect. And in those later stages of the pregnancy when the labor pains were coming it was a hard time. But you know what? When that little girl came out and they handed her Mom for the first time, all the pain was forgotten and our joy was so full!

 

My wife and I had issues with infertility when we first tried to have a child. So when my wife did get pregnant and did deliver we tried for another soon after. And God blessed us with another child, a boy! We waited awhile to go for three. When my wife was pregnant we had a routine in place and felt like we knew what we were doing. Only at 12 weeks my wife experienced a placental tear; we thought we lost the baby. But God was merciful and the pregnancy, with bed rest, continued.

 

When the due date for our third child came and passed we wondered what was going on. It was a particularly hot year and my wife was BIG with child. We couldn’t understand why this baby wouldn’t come out. Finally it did come time to deliver him and when he came out it wasn’t long before we discovered there was a problem.

 

My third child was born with a heart defect. After four hospitals, three ambulance rides, an air ambulance ride to Boston, and a heart surgery, we discovered that the extra time in his mother’s womb allowed our child to put on mass that helped him survive his heart defect. At 10 pounds and an ounce my son was the largest infant (can you call a kid that size and “infant”) the surgeons had every performed such a heart surgery on.

 

I share all this to make the point that God knows what He is doing. When Jesus was telling His disciples all of what was going to happen and then He was being beaten, spit on, viciously scourged and violently crucified, I’m sure it shook them to the core of their faith. At that point all they had to hang onto were the words and memories of Jesus. But Jesus did rise from the dead, just as He said He would. Jesus ALWAYS comes through like He says He will. He knows what He is doing. Jesus is in control. No matter what you are going through or how much you don’t understand keep your eyes on Jesus! Remember that next time things aren’t working out the way you thought they would or you face a situation you just don’t’ understand. Be joyful; rest in the steadying stabilizing unshakable assurance that Jesus is in control. Ride out the storm in the helpful hold of the Spirit, in the comforting arms of Jesus.

 

23 “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

 

Stumble proof your life with confident praying in Jesus’ name. The time was going to come when the disciples wouldn’t have to ask Jesus anything; the Spirit would be informing them. When Jesus fulfilled all He spoke to them about it would transform their prayer lives. When they saw Jesus fulfill all His words and rise from the dead they would have a newfound holy boldness to pray to the Father in Jesus’ name, receive their requests and live in the fullness of Jesus’ joy.

 

25 “These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but I will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; 27 for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God. 28 I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.”

 

Jesus has spoken to the disciples about Him being the vine and they being the branches. He has spoken to them about childbirth. But it wouldn’t be long before Jesus words would be plainly understood by them. It wouldn’t be long before the disciples grasped the relationship Jesus has with the Father and the significance of that relationship of Jesus with the Father.

 

29 His disciples said to Him, “See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech! 30 Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God.”

 

The disciples are beginning to understand but without the Spirit they still have much to learn. They would soon go to the school of life in Christ with the Holy Spirit as their Teacher.

 

31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.

 

Stumble proof your life by understanding you are not perfect. Maybe the disciples were getting a little cocky. Jesus kept them humble with the news they would all leave Him alone. We are not perfect. There are times in life when the variables in our life circumstances will lead to us giving into temptation. That doesn’t have to be, but that likely will be. God always provides a means of escape when we are tempted (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:13). We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit and overflowing if we are to live victoriously in this life. But if we fall, remember, you are human. We will grieve with those who grieve and mourn with those who mourn. We are not emotionless automatons. We are humans, living in a fallen world with a sinful nature that lurks in the shadows looking to rear its angry evil head at every opportunity. That is why we need to be consistent and persistent in our devotional life and personal relationship with Jesus. We need to walk in the Spirit. We need to follow in Jesus’ steps who told the disciples He was not alone but the Father was always with Him.  

 

33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

 

Stumble proof your life by understanding in the world you will experience tribulation but Jesus has overcome the world. When we understand by the Holy Spirit the relationship and closeness of Jesus we can experience, no matter what we encounter in life we can know and experience “that in Me you may have peace.“Peace” (Greek eirene) is a quiet restful sense of wellbeing. The peace of Jesus surpasses understanding (Phil. 4:6-9). His “peace” is like nothing you can find in the world (John 15:27). This “peace” is rooted in the deep assurance that we can “be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Jesus informed the disciples, “in the world you will have tribulation.” “Tribulation” (Greek thlipsis) refers to pressures of life, affliction, anguish, burdened, persecution, trouble, tribulation. The disciples and we can expect difficulties in this world. These difficulties are not to be confused with the tribulation that comes on the earth during the seven year Tribulation period of The Time of Jacob’s Trouble in the End Times. That seven year period will be a time of tribulation that results from God’s outpoured righteous wrath (e.g. Revelation 6:16-17; 11:18; 14:10, 19; 15:1, 7; 16:1, 19; 19:15). Christians are saved from God’s wrath (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9). The Christian will be raptured by Jesus out of this world before that Tribulation hits (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:13 – 5:10The tribulation the Christian experiences in the world is generated by sinful man and ultimately the devil (e.g. James 1:20; Revelation 12:12). 

But we need not fear or tremble at the wrath of man or the devil. Jesus says, “Be of Good cheer” (Greek tharseo) means courageous, confident, comforted, and cheerful with expectation of a good outcome. Why does Jesus say we should take courage and expect a good outcome? Because “I have overcome the world.” At this point Jesus hasn’t gone to the cross, but He has resisted every temptation of the devil to this point. And we know Jesus will be victorious up to and including the cross. The Holy Spirit will communicate to the world in a mighty conviction that Jesus has gone to the Father in triumph and that “the ruler of this world is judged” (John 16:11). That is more than enough to fuel our courage. 

These are confusing times, these are violent times, these are times that have the potential of causing us to stumble. The only way we can walk a steady secure walk through this pre-Tribulation stuff is to rely on the Holy Spirit’s help and stay close to our Lord Jesus. I pray you heed His words and stumble proof your life. Difficulties are increasing. They will only get worse. But you don’t have to stumble. You can walk courageously and surely with the help of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Stay with Me


“Abide in Me” – John 15:4a

 

Ever have a problem with a relationship? Maybe you just aren’t a people person. Maybe you are in a fracturing relationship; a breaking marriage; a conflict with the kids; a problem with your parents; or maybe you’re having a falling out with someone at work or a neighbor. If any of this describes you, help is available. In John 15 Jesus speaks of relationship and how the Holy Spirit, the Helper, helps us with those relationships.

In John 15 we see that the Holy Spirit helps us to have a good relationship with Jesus (15:1-11). Then we see that the Holy Spirit helps us to have a good relationship with other believers (15:12-17). The Holy Spirit helps us in our relationships with those in the world (15:18-25). And lastly we see that the Holy Spirit and His help is a promise from the Father we can rely on (15:26-27).

The most important relationship for anyone is a relationship with Jesus. If that relationship is in order then all others relationships will fall in line. As we examine this chapter in the gospel of John you will see the blessed truth that Jesus wants us to stay close to Him. He’s not just looking for people to serve Him; He’s looking for friends. It’s not that He needs us. It’s that He loves us. What a wonderful Savior we have; One who seeks us out and holds us close. The Holy Spirit helps us to stay close to Jesus. The Helper helps us be held close to Jesus. Let’s looks at His welcoming words.

The Holy Spirit Helper helps us in our relationship with Jesus.  “I am the true vine and My Father is the vinedresser” (John 15:1). This is the eighth “I am” statement of Jesus. And in this “I am” statement Jesus introduces the importance of a person’s relationship with Him. Like a branch that gets its life from the vine it is attached to, so too the follower of Jesus is alive and well only in that they are attached to Jesus.

This is a relationship that needs regular care. As Jesus refers to the Father as the vinedresser and at the end of the chapter refers to the Holy Spirit as the One He will send from the Father, we see the fullness of the Triune God at work in our relationship building. The first relationship, our relationship that must take priority over all others is our relationship with Jesus. Apart from Him we can do nothing.

Pruning involves taking away dead parts, propping up sagging branches and generally caring for the branches. Sometimes a branch laden with fruit is so heavy laden it is bent down almost to the point of breaking. If you’ve ever planted tomato plants you know a time comes, when the tomatoes are getting big that you have to put a stick in the ground next to the tomato branch and tie it with strings to the stick in order that the tomatoes don’t bend the branch down and break it. Similarly the Lord our vinedresser provides a support for us the branch so that we won’t break. “A bruised reed he will not break” (Matthew 12:20). The vinedresser keeps a watchful eye on the vine and its branches and provides loving care so it will produce a good harvest of fruit.

“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:2). A healthy branch is fruitful and growing. We are the branches. A branch is attached to the vine and becomes a part of the vine. If a branch is not producing it means it isn’t connected properly to the vine. There may be something hindering its receiving the nutrients it needs to grow. But unfruitful branches are dead. A branch that is not producing fruit prevents the vine from growing and producing properly. A dead branch is therefore removed or pruned so that a healthy fruit producing branch can grow into its place and the vine can produce a harvest.

You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” (John 15:3). A branch needs regular washing. Here Jesus speaks of the importance of the His word to the health of the branches. Branches are endangered by insects, dirt and pollutants. Such things need to be washed off the branch if it is to remain healthy. Branches need watering for nutrients as well as for cleansing. Fruit needs cleaning before it can be eaten. Jesus tells us the health of a branch is dependent on the washing. For us the branches, that washing is done with the water of the word of God (cf. also Eph. 5:26). We need to be regularly in God’s word to protect us from contaminants that would infect us and deter our spiritual growth. If we want to be clean and fruitful, if we want our relationship with Jesus to grow, we need to be washed regularly in the word of God.

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4).  We need to “abide” in Jesus if we are to be fruitful. Jesus illustrates what He means by “abide” (Greek meno to stay in a given place, to continue in, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, and tarry) with the reference to the vine and its branches. A branch is a part of the vine; you can’t get closer than that. A branch is as close to the vine as it can possibly be. The idea is to be at home with; a branch is at home in the vine. Jesus is saying, “Stay close to Me; make your abode with Me.” How close are you to Jesus?

A branch that abides in the vine gets its nourishment from it. A branch also reproduces according to the nature of the vine to which it is attached. A healthy branch reproduces. We can also say that the vine holds onto the branches. It is from the vine that the branch is produced. There is an attachment to Jesus the follower has. But there is also an attachment Jesus says He has to us. The only way we can be fruitful followers of Jesus is through our abiding attachment to Jesus.

Jesus is speaking about relationship. And it is the Helper, the Holy Spirit who attaches or helps us to abide to Jesus in relationship. Our abiding relationship with Jesus is one where we walk with Him, talk with Him, and regularly consult Him throughout our day and our lives. It is only through this living Holy Spirit produced relationship with Jesus that we can grow in our faith and be fruitful. 

And Jesus has referred to “My word.” We abide in Jesus as we regularly meet with Him in devotions prayerfully taking in His word. We abide in Jesus as we get our reproductive DNA. We abide in Jesus as we are nourished from our attachment to Him. We abide in Jesus as through the Holy Spirit we remain in an ongoing conversation with Jesus throughout the day.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit;” (John 15:5a).  We can’t do anything without Jesus. A branch removed from the vine dies. Nothing of eternal worth or significance can be accomplished without Jesus. We abide in Jesus and become fruitful in and through Him as we consult Him in prayer, obey His word, and then give Him glory for fruitful results.

 

What “fruit” are we to bear? What are we to be producing in our lives as we abide in Jesus? The Bible defines fruit as: Winning souls – John 4:27-38; Fellowship – Romans 1:13; Living a holy life – Romans 6:22; Giving – Romans 15:28; Serving and helping others practically – Colossians 1:6, 10; Praising and worshipping God – Hebrews 13:15; and Love – Galatians 5:22. How fruitful are you?

 

Jesus then points out, “for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5b). That done without Jesus has no eternal value. Just as that done without love has no eternal value (1 Corinthians 13:1-3), that done without Jesus has no eternal value. Something done in Jesus’ name means it is done for Jesus glory and the way Jesus would do it. If you leave Jesus out of the equation, what you do is worthless.

 

If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” (John 15:6).  Abiding in Jesus is essential to spiritual life. Those who don’t abide in Jesus, who choose to walk an alternative route to heaven other than Jesus, those people wither spiritually. “Wither” (Greek xeraino) means to shrivel up, to dry up, pine away, be past ripening. There is no spiritual life apart from Jesus.

 

If you’re feeling spiritually dry or shriveled up, maybe it’s because in some way you’re not abiding in Jesus. But there are those who never abide in Jesus. Those will be removed and cast out into the fire; a symbol of eternal fire (cf. Rev. 20).

 

But there are also times of “the dark night of the soul.” There are times when we become dry or feel distant from God simply because of our humanness. These are times when the Lord allows a darkness and distance between the believer and Him in order to build our faith and better appreciate His presence when we do enjoy it. The dark night helps us not take God’s presence for granted. The dark night provides an opportunity for our faith to be built not on feeling but simply on the word of God and trusting in His faithfulness; who He is.

 

How do we know whether or not we have distanced ourselves from abiding in God or are simply experiencing a dark night of the soul? Only through walking in the Spirit and meditating on His word can we discern what we are going through.

 

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” (John 15:7). Jesus target is our heart. Jesus wants His word to abide in us. But where does He want them to abide in us? Not merely our head, but in our heart. Salvation is in the heart and our heart is where His words need to abide. Our mind is too cool and calculating. It is our heart that is capable of getting a passionate grip on things.

 

There is a big difference between understanding Jesus with your head and holding on to Him with your heart. Our mind changes its view on things repeatedly. But the heart holds on. Ever date someone you knew wasn’t right for you or that wasn’t good for you? You may have known in your head that the person wasn’t the Lord’s will for you or was not right for you, but it was still hard to break up because the heart holds onto things; onto people.

 

It is in the heart that God works: “Thy word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not win against You” (Psalm 119:11). “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). “That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Eph. 3:17). Jesus wants us to abide with Him with our heart; He wants us to take His word into our heart, because the heart is where we hold onto things, onto people, onto Him. The heart is the instrument of abiding.

 

Pray with your heart. The word of God and our relationship with Jesus abide in our heart as we prayerfully meditate and contemplate the word and Jesus. As we use our minds to think about the word and Jesus the word and Jesus slowly sink deeper into us and get planted in our heart. Make Jesus the focus of your thinking and He will soon become your abiding Lord. Focus on, memorize and study the word of God and it will soon be embedded in your heart in an abiding way. When Jesus and His words are abiding in us our prayers will be right on target and we can ask and receive freely.

 

By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (John 15:8).  Fruitful disciples glorify God. Examples of fruitfulness would be sharing Jesus with other, winning souls, making disciples, sharing His word with others, and living in the love of Jesus; being a disciple. When we do that we bring glory to God. This is a work of the Spirit.

 

A “disciple” (Greek mathetes) is a pupil, a learner, a student. By referring to His followers as disciples Jesus is implying there is learning involved in following Him. A disciple lives a vibrant alive life of growing in their abiding relationship with Jesus. And all of this begins when one is born again by the Holy Spirit our Helper (cf. John 3). 

 

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love” (John15:9).  Disciples of Jesus abide in His love. Jesus again emphasizes the Father’s love for Him and His love for His disciples. And He then He says “abide in My love.” “Love” (Greek agapeo) means to welcome, to love dearly, to love socially and morally. Love as Jesus loved is to love in a self-giving way. Disciples of Jesus stay attached to and live in the love Jesus modeled to them.

 

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10). We abide in Jesus’ love through obeying His word. Jesus modeled obedient love through His obedience to the Father. Jesus’ disciples must now follow in His steps by obeying His words as the expression of their love to Him. There is no love without obedience.

 

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:11). All of this produces joy in the disciple of Jesus. Joy” (Greek chara) refers to cheerfulness, calm delight, a settled assurance based on faith in Jesus that He is in control. When we express our love through obedience to Jesus’ word and are fruitful in the process, it leads to us having a joyful settled assurance in life. The one who trusts in Jesus and abides in Him by the Holy Spirit is the one who will have a settled not rattled outlook on life.

The Helper helps with our relationship with fellow believers.  This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). With their relationship with Jesus in place, the disciples are to turn to their relationship with other disciples. Disciples are to love one another as Jesus has loved them. There is no such thing as a disciple of Jesus who does not love. A person may claim to be a disciple of Jesus, but if they aren’t loving and growing in love they are making false claims. To abide in Jesus’ word is to abide in His love.

Jesus commands that we love. Love is not optional as far as Jesus is concerned. But love by nature is volitional; you have to choose to love. Machines can’t love. Love must be something agreed to in the heart. We decide whether to obey or not; we decide whether or not to love. Love is an action to take. Love is a matter of faith that works. Love is not a mere feeling. We don’t love or not love based on what we feel. Love is an action to be done in faith. Love transcends feelings. When we love we love regardless of whether or not we feel like it.

Feelings follow acts of faith. If we only acted on our feelings we would do a lot of wrong sinful things and probably neglect what is good and holy and loving. If we only loved those we felt like loving we’d probably not love as many people as God would have us love. But here’s the thing, feelings follow acts of faith. When we take a step of faith and love because Jesus us commands us to love, the feelings usually follow. If a couple has supposedly fallen out of love with each other, if they take a step of faith and act lovingly toward each other their feelings of love for one another will be rekindled. So next time you don’t feel like acting in love just remember, Jesus commands us to love; love is not an option; love is an action commanded for us by Jesus.

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).  The greatest and most accurate expression of Jesus’ love is in laying down our life for others. Greater” (Greek meizon) means larger, matured, and stronger. Love is mature and full when we lay our life down for others. Love by nature is counter to the flesh which is consumed with serving self. If the greatest love is defined and expressed by laying down one’s life for others, then the cross of Christ is the greatest expression of God’s love for us in eternity.

When England was in the throes of debauchery and a corrupt church, John Knox prayed, “Lord, give me Scotland, or I die.” That is a popular cry referred to when we want to emphasize the passion needed to win the lost. But what is not often included in John Knox’s cry is what John Know wrote of God’s answer to His prayer. Knox wrote that after He made His plea God told him “First die, then I’ll give you Scotland.”[1] Are you willing to die for the Lord? Are you willing to die for others? Are you willing to die to see your enemies come to salvation in Christ? That is what Jesus’ brand of love is all about.

You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14).  You can’t claim friendship with Jesus and then disobey our live counter to all He represents. Two can’t walk together unless they are agreed (e.g. Amos 3:3). “Friends” (Greek philos) are people we are actively fond and associate with in order to wish them well and support their welfare. A friend is someone who encourages another to attain their best. A friend is one who desires God’s best for another. In that case, Jesus is our best friend; He is always looking out for our best interests.

Is Jesus your Friend? Jesus said the disciples were His friends. They were flawed in many ways and yet Jesus befriended them. We are flawed in many ways, and yet Jesus befriends us. Jesus doesn’t call us friends because we are smart or part of the “in” crowd. He befriends us because He likes us, He loves us. He enjoys us. We are a pleasure to Him. Have you befriended Jesus?

No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15).  There is a relationship with Jesus that is greater than a servant relationship. We are called to be servants of Jesus. Jesus modeled service to us (cf. John 13). But Jesus is speaking about a relationship with Him that is greater than a servant relationship; a friendship.

Servants” (Greek doulos) are a slave, one in subjection to, bound to another. Jesus points out that He doesn’t look at His disciples as merely hired hands to be ordered around. Jesus partners with us in friendship. A servant is someone the Master says, “Go do this for me” to. But a friend is someone Jesus says, “Come on, let’s do this together” to.

Therefore we minister with Jesus and we minister together with Jesus too. We all abide together in Jesus the Vine. As we abide in Jesus together we are brought together as friends.

A “servant does not know what his master is doing.” Servants simply obey at their master’s instructions. But a friend is someone who is clued into the why of what they are doing. As “friends” of Jesus, He gives us insight into ministry and our working with Him in life. Jesus doesn’t just command us to do things without giving us some sense of “why” He is asking us to do it. True ministry is done with Jesus. True ministry flows out of our informed friendship with Jesus.

As friends of Jesus we are given insight into the purposes of what He calls us to do. That doesn’t mean we will have all the answers and information in all our ministry situations. It does mean that Jesus will be with us as we minister, directing us along the way. We are co-laborers with Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 3:9).

You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you” (John 15:16).  This is similar to what Matthew records in his gospel account when Jesus is recorded to have said, “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 20:16; 22:14). The gospel is offered to many people and a good number respond in faith and become born again believers in Jesus. God desires none would perish (2 Peter 3:9). Reality reveals that not everyone accepts Jesus as their Savior. But of those who do answer Jesus call to repent and be saved through faith in Him, only a few answer the call to discipleship and ministry service. This is the big problem with the church of our day. We live in a lukewarm Laodicean church age where the church is filled with Christian couch potatoes who do little more than attend services. That only leads to spiritual constipation; people constantly taken in spiritual information but hardly ever applying in life; the result is Christians bound up and immature in their faith.

Jesus chooses us.  Jesus “chose” (Greek eklegomai to select, choose, make a choice) the disciples. They didn’t choose Jesus. Jesus walked by them and called to them to follow and they chose to respond to His call by following. Jesus initiated their lives as disciples. The fishermen, tax collector and others were all busy with their daily work and lives. But Jesus took the initiative to break into their lives and invite them to follow Him. And they chose to answer that call and respond to follow Him.  Jesus calls us to follow Him. Will you follow Him?

Jesus appoints us. He “appointed” (Greek tithemi advise, appoint, commit to, conceive, lay down, ordain, set at a purpose, sink down) them to be apostles (i.e. sent ones). Jesus appointed the twelve and then seventy other disciples to go out into ministry. Of the general population of His followers he called or appointed twelve to be leaders. Of the twelve it appears peter, James, and John were then appointed to be three who were with Jesus on particular situations (e.g. transfiguration; Gethsemane). To be appointed is apparently to be selected for a task or position. When Jesus chooses and calls you to follow Him, will you then obey and do what he appoints you to do?

Jesus produces through us. Jesus’ purpose of choosing and appointing us is to bear lasting fruit.  One plants, another waters and the increase comes from Him (1 Cor. 3:7). Jesus chooses and appoints disciples to bear lasting fruit. Fruit is lasting that is reproducing and eternal in nature (e.g. souls saved, disciples made). Our lifeline to bearing lasting fruit is prayer. Jesus says the ones He chooses and appoints for the purpose of bearing lasting fruit are also those who “ask the Father in My name” – that is prayer. Notice how Jesus alludes to and interweaves prayer throughout His words in this chapter. Lasting fruit is a product of prayerful dependence on the Father in the name of Jesus.

That which is done “in My name” is done as Jesus would do it. When we do something in Jesus’ name it must take on the nature of the One named; Jesus. Jesus didn’t cut corners or bend the rules. Jesus was without sin and righteous. That is how that done in His name should and must be done.

If I write a check for a million dollars and sign my name it wouldn’t be worth the paper it was written on. But if I present a check for a million dollars on it and it is signed by Donald Trump, that check is worth something. Similarly when we present a check to God in prayer and it bears Jesus’ name in its intent, purpose and request, that check is worth something. Ask in Jesus’ name and your request will be granted. And it is the Holy Spirit who helps us in this prayer life (Rom. 8:26-27).

What is the nature of doing things in Jesus’ name? Jesus said again, “These things I command you, that you love one another” (John 15:17).  Ministry done in Jesus’ name is done in and through love. Again Jesus emphasizes that in all our work with other disciples and all our work done period, it must be done in Jesus’ love. Jesus keeps bringing the disciples back to His love.

The Helper helps us in our relationships with unbelievers. “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19). Jesus now swings the disciples to their relationship with those in the world. We should not be surprised if the world rejects and hates us. The world hated Jesus and ultimately cooperated in His crucifixion. Because we are not of the world anymore once we turn from our sin to follow Jesus as His disciples, we can expect that the world will hate us like it hates Jesus.

The world loves its own. If the world loves you, maybe you’re too close to being of it instead of being of Jesus. If you fit right into the world you’re probably too close to it. Jesus chooses us “out of” the world. That doesn’t mean we no longer interact with the world. It does mean that while we still live in the world we are not like the world; we no longer have the same interests and priorities of those in the fallen world. Does the world love you? Do you love the world?

“Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.  But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me” (John 15:20-21). The response we should expect from the world is that the world will treat us like it treated Jesus. How do we know we have the right relationship with the world? We have the right relationship with the world when we see it treating us like it treated Jesus. Does the world persecute you like it did Jesus? Does the world keep your word like it kept Jesus’ word? Does the world know the Father?

If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’ (John 15:22-25). The world is without excuse. Jesus spoke a clear message to the world. He did mighty works that testified of who He was and is. But the world turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to Jesus and instead hates Him. Because of this the world of the lost is without excuse. No one will have an excuse for not following Jesus when they stand before God on Judgment Day. Jesus response to those attempting to excuse themselves will be “They hated Me without a cause.”

The Helper is the fulfillment of the Father’s promise. “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning” (John 15:26-27).  Jesus is speaking of Pentecost here when he says, “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father.” The ministry of the Spirit in and through the follower of Jesus is essential to experiencing all that Jesus is speaking about here. That is why at the end of the gospels Jesus instructs His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they are empowered by the Spirit who will come upon them (e.g. Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

The Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of truth.” Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44). The Holy Spirit is the revealer and illuminator of truth. If you want to know the truth about something seek the illumination of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:9-14). God’s word is inspired by the Holy Spirit and is filled with truth (John 17:17; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). Go to God’s word.

The Holy Spirit “He will testify of Me.” The Holy Spirit doesn’t bring attention to Himself; he shines the light on Jesus. The Holy Spirit works in the background. He always directs people toward Jesus. You know the Spirit is in a work when Jesus is exalted and lifted up. You know the Spirit is working in and through you when “you also will bear witness” of Jesus.

All of what we see Jesus sharing in this chapter is a work of the Holy Spirit in and through His disciples. Is the Holy Spirit in you? Is the Holy Spirit helping you? How are your relationships? Are you relying on the Holy Spirit’s help? Jesus is calling you to a close abiding relationship with Him. Will you answer His call?



[1] Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (p. 566). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.