From the Pastor's Desk
Jesus the Conqueror
week, we talked about joy. Joy is not a
uniquely Christmas word or ideal, but it seems to get used a lot more around
this time of year. That's in so small part
to the popularity of the song "Joy to the World." We defined joy as "a good feeling in the
soul, produced by the Holy Spirit as He causes us to see the beauty of Christ
in the word and in the world."
is a feeling; it is an emotion. It is
not something that we can produce or manufacture on our own. True Christian joy is not dependent upon
outward circumstances or pleasant situations.
True joy is produced by the Holy Spirit working in and through our lives
regardless of what we're experiencing in life.
is part of Christ's focus as He spends His final night with His remaining
disciples. The imminent death of Jesus
would bring joy to the world at the same time that it was bringing grief to the
disciples. The world's joy wouldn't last
long, however. The world's joy would
soon turn to dismay, at the same time that the grief of the disciples was
turning to joy. The dark shadows of
sorrow and grief cast by the cross fled before the brilliant, glorious light of
the resurrection. The Spirit would come
and illuminate truth to them and help the disciples develop a proper
perspective towards the cross, making it an unending source of joy for them.
we slowly work our way through the gospel of John, we are getting closer and
closer to the account of His death and resurrection. As that event approaches, Jesus gives more
and more last minute instruction and teaching to His closest earthly
companions. One of the most important
truths that He's trying to communicate to these men concerns the work of the
hearts were heavy with grief and they were having trouble understanding all of
what Jesus was saying to them. But one
day, and it wouldn't be too much farther down the road, the Spirit would come,
the Counselor, the Helper, and He would give them comfort; He would guide them
into all truth; He would help them understand what is going on and give them
guidance and direction for their lives and ministries.
This morning, we're going to finish
John chapter 16 before we take a few weeks off from our series on this gospel
and do some Christmas and New Year's stuff.
Let's now read John 16:25-33.
much of His ministry, Jesus used figures of speech and metaphors and parables
to teach the disciples and the crowds. There
were many times when the disciples would ask Him to explain something because
they didn't understand what He was talking about. He wouldn't give the crowds detailed
explanations, but He would give the disciples special insight.
see that especially during His time with the disciples on the night before the
cross, He used a lot of figurative speech.
He spoke that way when He washed
the disciples' feet. John 13:7-11. He didn't come right out here and tell them
in plain language what He was doing and why.
It wouldn't be until later that they would understand.
spoke figuratively when speaking of the way
to the Father. John 14:3-6. He told
the disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them and that they knew
the way to where He was going. Thomas
speaks up and said, "No we don't."
That's when He said, "I am the way, the truth and the life, no one
comes to the Father except through Me."
At the time, that no doubt sounded like gibberish to these men.
when we get around to chapter 15,
He speaks figuratively about the vine
and the branches. Then just last
week, we actually looked at two different aspects of Jesus using figurative
speech to explain something to these men.
He said that in a little while
they would no longer see Him and then in a little while they would see
Him. He also compared their sorrow to a woman giving birth. John
16:21. The point that Jesus is
making in today's passage is that yes He had spoken to them in the past using
figurative language. But the time was
soon coming for plain speech.
Jesus goes on to once again refer to prayer.
26-28). After His death, resurrection and exaltation,
the disciples would no longer have access to His physical presence. Up to that time, they were able to ask Jesus
whatever they wanted face to face, but that was going to change. That didn't mean, however, that they would no
longer be able to access the Father; it only meant that the relationship was
going to be different.
men no longer having direct physical access to Jesus was not a loss for
them. That's because they would have
direct access to the Father. They would
not need Jesus to ask the Father on their behalf. That doesn't mean that Jesus was no longer
going to intercede for the disciples. He
intercedes for all believers. But He's
telling them that they were not going to rely solely on Him praying for them,
they were going to have to and they were going to be able to pray themselves.
was all based on love. Jesus tells them
that the Father loved those men and He loves us, because we love Jesus and
believe that He came from God. Loving
Jesus is like loving the Father; those two things go hand in hand. Because they loved Him and believed in Him,
the Father also loved them.
Belief is a key aspect to our spiritual
lives. But we just can't believe. James
2:19 tells us that even the demons believe and they shudder. The demons obviously don't have a saving kind
of belief, so the kind of belief that Jesus is talking about goes much deeper
than that. We need to have saving belief
in who Jesus is. We just can't have
orthodox doctrine. Knowing the facts and
having all your "i's" dotted and "t's" crossed isn't going
to get you to heaven. Even the demons
are orthodox in the sense of knowing and acknowledging truth about God.
fact, here are some doctrines that the demons would believe. They are monotheists. They know and believe there is one true God;
they are aware that Scripture is God's Word; that Jesus Christ is God's Son;
that salvation is by grace through faith; that Jesus died, was buried and
raised to atone for the sins of the world.
They know there is a literal heaven and a literal hell. They know the truth about God, Christ and the
Spirit, but hate it and them.
doctrine is better than heresy for it is true and points toward God and the way
of salvation. But mere assent to it as
true cannot bring a person to God and to salvation. Shudder
means "to bristle and tremble." It was commonly used of the trembling
associated with great fear. Demons at
least have the sense to shudder at God's truth in a state of fear; for they
know that eternal torment awaits them in hell.
In that regard they are much more realistic and sensible than those with
false faith who think they will escape God's judgment by their shallow and
Jesus speak this way, the disciples liked
what they heard. (vv. 29-30). They believed that Jesus' promise to speak
plainly to them had already been fulfilled.
As far as they were concerned, there was no more need to ask Jesus
anything to test His knowledge or to determine who He was.
response to their statement was far from enthusiastic. He basically asks: Do you now believe? Their belief was shallow at best and needed
to be questioned. Whatever the nature of
their belief, it was not enough to sustain them in the time of crises that was
about to overtake them.
we come back to what we just talked about concerning belief. That's the fundamental point in Jesus'
message: people must believe in
Him. We really don't know what kind of belief
we have until we get into difficult situations and times of crises. When our backs are against the wall, how will
we respond? When the chips are down,
what are we going to do? When things
don't go our way, how are we going to react?
who has shallow, superficial belief in God doesn't do well at all during the
tough times of life. They respond with
anger and resentment and bitterness.
They attack God and blame Him for their troubles; they attack other
godly people and try to bring them down as well. They may even end up leaving the church and
abandoning their so-called faith. Those
types of reactions are evidence that someone doesn't truly know the Lord.
we are truly born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, however, we will
respond differently. When life hits rock
bottom, Christ's light still shines from within us. That light shines through as we humble
ourselves in confession and repentance for our sins. A godly person will look inside during the
tough times to make sure their mind and attitudes and motives are right with
God. They will examine their heart to
make sure they are right with one another.
you don't have to wait until life is falling apart in order to make sure you
are right with God. Today is the day of
salvation; now is the time for us to respond to God's working and to His
prompting in our life. If there are
professions you need to make; if there are decisions you need to share, now is
the time, today is the day and this is the place to do that. Don't delay, you don't know how much time you
have to respond to what the Holy Spirit is doing in your life.
reveals to them just how shallow their belief at that point was by giving them
a glimpse into how they were about to respond
to events. (vv. 31-32). He tells
them that they would all scatter to their own homes and leave Him alone. No doubt they didn't want to hear that; no
doubt they didn't believe it. But at
this point, they didn't respond or defend themselves in any way. Even though Jesus was going to be deserted by
His disciples, the Father would stand by Him through all His trials.
course, it's true that when Jesus was hanging on the cross, taking upon Himself
all of the sins of all of mankind, it says that the Father turned His back on
His one and only Son. Jesus cried out,
"My God, My God, why have your forsaken Me?" God had to turn His face from sin at that
moment. But other than that, God was
with Jesus through all of His trials, through everything else that He endured
during that night and day. And Now Jesus
is sitting at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for us.
is the ultimate conqueror. (v.
33). He has overcome, conquered
and defeated the power of darkness and all of the work of the enemy through His
death and resurrection. He also showed
through the way He lived His life that He has power over everyone and
everything else. He healed people of
physical illnesses; He drove out demons; and controlled and ruled the forces of
nature. Jesus makes this claim here in
verse 33 as though it has already happened because He knew that it was as good
as done because the Father willed it.
is another in a long list of exhortations that Jesus is giving His disciples in
order to help them cope with the problems and difficulties they were soon going
to be facing. The disciples were full of
grief and sorrow already, and Jesus wanted to give them peace. Peace in Christ is
the only true peace and in Him alone believers can experience peace. Micah
5:5. Through Christ we have
peace with God; peace with others and peace within ourselves.
peace that Jesus is talking about here is not peace with God, although that is
important and Jesus does provide that for us through His death and
resurrection. It's also not a peace with
our conscience, although He does provide that as well. This is more a peace of mind; a quiet serene
calm that comes from the fact that we know we won't be troubled and disturbed
spiritually because nothing can trouble or disturb us spiritually.
can also look at peace this way: it is
the possession of adequate resources. In
Jesus Christ, we have all the resources that we need in life. That can help give us some peace. But peace also depends on appropriate
relationships. What that means is that
in ourselves, we have nothing; in Christ, we have all that we need.
all desperately need peace in our lives because we live in a dual existence. We are in Christ and we are in this
world. When we are in union with Jesus
we are able to experience peace, but the world is constantly actively seeking
to exert hostile pressure on us to conform to their ways.
world and the world system that we live in is always seeking to influence us
away from the things of God. Churches
don't preach the truth because people might be offended by it. So instead, they tickle ears and say things
that people want to hear; they say things that are only positive and uplifting
and encouraging, while ignoring any truth that offends. That's why we don't speak out on social
issues because someone's feelings might get hurt. That's why we back off from speaking out
against sin, because we don't want people to feel bad about themselves.
is not the example that Jesus shows us; that is not the way that He
preached. He wasn't worried about being
politically correct; He didn't back off from engaging social issues no matter
how controversial they might have been; He didn't shrink back from calling out
sin when He saw it. He was always
faithful to God's Word and to God's truth.
That is the only way that we can be today. We need to be committed to God's Word and to
God's truth. We need to never back down
from what God has to say about things; we should never apologize for speaking
the truth in love; we should always deliver God's Word the way God wants His
guess it depends upon what our goal is as a church. If our goal is to increase numbers, bring
more people in and increase the offerings so we have plenty of money (we
certainly do want more and more people to be coming to our church); but if
that's our goal then we need to change what we're currently doing. However, if our goal is to glorify God and to
be faithful and true to the truth of His Word, we need to keep on doing exactly
what we're doing and simply trust God to take care of the outcome and the
results of His Word being faithfully and truthfully proclaimed.
stated mission statement is to go and make disciples. I think the biblical basis for our very
existence as a church is to do all that we can to make disciples. We are not called to change God's Word; we
are not called to soften the message; we are not called to tickle people's ears
to give them what they want to hear. We
are called to preach the truth; we are called to be bold in our proclamation of
the gospel; we are called to present the gospel so people can be convicted of
their sin and saved.
we have peace, because we have Jesus living and dwelling within us, we can be
and we are over-comers. We overcome because Jesus is the ultimate
conqueror of all. But as His children,
we are also conquerors. He has overcome;
because of that we also can and will overcome.
That is an awesome promise that He gives to us here. It's not just that overcoming is a
possibility for our lives; it's that overcoming is a guarantee outcome for our
overcome as soldiers, fighting under
Christ, who is the captain of our salvation; His victory is our victory. 1
John 4:4; 5:4-5. There was
certainly a time when it appeared that Jesus was not victorious; that He hadn't
overcome. As He hung there on the cross,
it looked like the world and Satan were the victors. Where's the victory in dying on a tree? Jesus overcame because all that were opposed
to Him did not succeed in turning Him aside from what He came to do. He came to reveal the truth about God and the
human condition and to give His life that the world might be saved.
will and can overcome when we don't allow the world or the world system that we
are living under, to deter us from the work God has called us to do. We don't do the same thing that Jesus did, of
course, but we still have a calling to fulfill and God's will to carry out in
has called us to love Him and follow Him wholeheartedly. He wants us to love others as ourselves. We can't hold feelings of bitterness or
resentment or hatred in our hearts. We
need to forgive and reconcile when appropriate and possible as much as it is up
to us. We need to do our part to spread
the good news of the gospel message. We
need to serve and minister to others whenever and wherever we have opportunity
and resources to do so. Let your light
shine, that's what God wants from us.
let anyone or anything keep you from fulfilling God's call upon your life. Don't let the world beat you into submission;
don't let church bullies make you back down from what you know God wants you to
do and from who know He wants you to be.
Don't let the government silence your voice of witness; don't let others
you know make you back down from being a good witness for the Lord.
Every believer is either overcome or an
over-comer. 1 John 5:4. The world
wants to overcome us. Satan uses the
world to persecute and pressure believers into action and silence. The world doesn't want us to be different
from them. When we yield ourselves to
Christ and trust Him, He enables us to be over-comers. We must claim our spiritual position in
Christ and believe Him for victory.
Be courageous He says. Other translations say be of good cheer. That is one of Christ's repeated statements
of encouragement. We can be of good
cheer in our lives because we know that He has already overcome and is already
victorious. Since we belong to Him we
can overcome and be victorious as well.
Make sure that you daily live your life with that truth firmly attached
to your mind and fully being lived in through your heart.
our singers and musicians come now, I would like to ask you this: are you overcome or are you an
over-comer? We invite you to start
living like an over-comer. If you need
to make any profession this morning or share with us anything God is doing in
your life, we invite you to do that now as we stand and sing.
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