(A pastoral sermon, meant for pastor and congregation alike)
“If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever: even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me. These things have I spoken unto you being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost [K.Js Ghost, taken from German Gheist: Spirit], whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.” [Comment: At this point (in verse 31) where he said “Arise, let us go hence” they all arose from their Passover Seder meal and headed for the Mount of Olives. The following chapters 15-17 took place on the way and while at the Mount of Olives in the Garden of Gethsemane.]
“Good morning. Happy new year. I hope the Lord blessed your Christmas holiday. I know, my family, we had a blessed time. Even though it snowed and we had to go out and shovel, at least I did. In fact, it took me hours to shovel out that snow that had accumulated. My father-in-law even called from California, he lives in San Diego. So we got the Christmas call, and we were talking, and I told him it was snowing, and of course the gloat-phone, he reminded me it was 70 degrees and he was in shorts. [laughter] But I told him, ‘We have a white Christmas. You don’t have a white Christmas.’ In fact, when I lived in San Diego, I thought it was hokey that they put the Christmas lights on palm trees, I always thought that was just strange looking, it just didn’t seem right. Well we are in John chapter 14, as you turn there, just a couple reminders as far as the announcements. This year we’re going to change the Bible reading a little bit. And you can see it transition as you go through the bulletin there on the back. Starting on January 1st, Mike noted it earlier, there’s now two Bible readings for each day. One from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament. The reason why we do that is, it’s just important to me, and I want to encourage you to read through the Bible. And a couple years ago we started to put it in the bulletin, I know some churches put it in the bulletin because they need something in the bulletin, we do it because we really want to exhort you to read through the Word of God. You will find as you’re reading through the Word of God, you’re going to grow spiritually, you’re going to grow closer to the Lord, more than you will in any other way. That’s just being in the Word and reading through the Word. It’ll really make a difference in your life…But anyway I noticed last year we wanted to read through the Bible in one year, and some of you guys just fell behind and gave up, it was too much. So there’s two Bible readings. If you’ve never read through the Bible, you can read through the Old Testament, maybe pick that Old Testament reading and read through the Old Testament if you’ve never done that. Or you can pick the New Testament reading and read through the New Testament, if you’ve never read the New Testament. Pick one or the other, or pick both and read through the entire Bible. But I’d just again like to encourage you. You will find that as we read through the Bible, the leadership in the church, we read through the Bible together, and that’s how God leads this congregation and speaks to this congregation. So as you individually read through the Bible, you’ll also find that you’re more in tune with what the Lord is putting on the heart of the leadership in this church. The Lord just speaks in that way. So consider doing that if you’ve never done it before, you certainly won’t regret it. Also, we’ve set up in the back there in the fellowship hall kind of a book table. We have one set up downstairs on the second floor, we have a Pepsi machine and things, a little coffee house setting that we’re setting up on Wednesdays nights. And I’ll be honest with you, we’re doing it cautiously, I mean we don’t want to set up the church and have, you know, Jesus came into the temple there and cleaned house because they were making a business out of the church, and we’re not trying to do that either. Our goal is to get resources into your hands, material, books that you can read and grow through. So we’ve brought it up here, upstairs, and we’re just kind of getting organized, then we’re bringing it downstairs, and we have things besides books also, and you’ll see as it grows there will be books and T-shirts and things like that. And most of that is just to have fun with, but also it helps kind of bring in some extra means to buy other books, so you can buy books and read books and grow in the Lord too. So just, you can note that as you walk out. That’s why some of those things are there…
Well we are in John chapter 14, we are going to pick up where we left off two weeks ago, that is with verse 15, and of course as Pete had noted, we’ve come to our last service here in 2002, and this gives us an opportunity to look back over the last year, but also to look ahead to the future to this new year, 2003. And I’ll confess to you, I really enjoy this time of year, listening to the pastors on the radio and other Bible teachers like Chuck Smith and Jon Courson, some of these guys come up with what they call these Prophecy Updates. Throughout the year they’re looking into current events, and have different resources that they can learn about what’s happening on the global scene, and they give these great updates. Let’s pray, let’s just say a word of prayer. ‘Lord, it’s so important that we get into your Word and hear your voice, and I know there’s things on my heart that you burden my heart with. And I pray God that you’d keep away distractions so that we can seek your face, and not have anything Lord, it’s so vital that we hear from you, Lord. It’s so vital individually, and also as a congregation. It’s so important that we know what you require of us, what you want to do in our lives. So I ask Holy Spirit, even now, you’d open our hearts to you, and focus us upon you, help us to hear your voice. And we ask you this Lord, in Jesus name, Amen.’
You know these Prophecy Update messages, I really enjoy listening to, they’re a lot of fun, and certainly when I hear Chuck Smith and Jon Courson exhort and share these things…But anyway, these Prophecy Update messages. I really like them, and that was my point, and maybe you too, and it’s exciting, and the reason why I’m saying that is I’m not going to do that this morning. Because, to be honest with you, it takes a lot of work, and it takes the entire year, and I just haven’t got the resources some of these guys do. But at the same time, the reason why I’m saying that, I do believe the Lord has something he wants to say to this congregation. And yet it’s simple, and it’s familiar, but it’s so vital. Maybe you enjoy listening to these Prophecy Updates, and you were hoping I’d talk about what’s going on in Israel, talk about what’s going on in Sudan, talk about what’s going on in Iraq. I’m not going to do that, I’m going to just talk to you about what God requires of us individually. And as we look to the year 2003, we have no idea necessarily what’s going to take place, and all the different events with Iraq, whatever, how is that going to fit into the prophetic picture, only God knows, ultimately. But what I do know, is the Bible talks about how I’m supposed to live, and the life I’m supposed to live. And that is absolutely so vital to us as we come into this new year 2003. So I’d like to talk about that. There’s some things that have been on my heart. And there’s a simple outline, and I was seeking the Lord about this message, and was going to find maybe a topical text that I could just go through with this message, and then I looked at where we left off in John chapter 14, and I said, ‘You know, I see the same points here in this text, so I’m going to take this text and use it as an opportunity to also exhort you with just a simple outline that’s on my heart. And here’s the three points, and they’re familiar, and we’ll talk about them in different ways. 1. One is holiness, so vital for us as we look ahead to this next year. 2. The second is the Holy Spirit, so important to us individually. 3. And the third is harmony. So lets say a word of prayer again, and we’ll get started. ‘Lord, thank you for getting rid of that annoying buzz in the PA system, and now focus our hearts, Lord. I thank you, your Word is, man I think of Job, he’s talked about your Word, to him it was better than food, and he just clung to it, and he abided by it, and he obeyed it. So, even now give us that heart as we look at your Word. In Jesus name, Amen.’
Verse 15, Jesus says, “‘If you love me, keep my commandments.’” ‘If you love me, keep my commandments.’ You maybe remember two weeks ago, our last study in John chapter 14, as we were stepping through this chapter, we were considering six assurances, six wonderful assurances that Jesus shares with the disciples. And of course he shares the same with you and I. We looked first at three assurances two weeks ago, assurances that can lift any heart, encourage any heart when they are troubled, and the assurances were as follows: First of all, we have an eternal home, we have an eternal home. Secondly, we have true knowledge of the Father. This is for those who are in Christ. And thirdly, we have prayer. Well we’re then going to consider the next three assurances when we picked up with this chapter, and we’re going to still note those as we go on this morning. But we’re going to look at this text now from a different angle, because of what is on my heart as we now are ready to begin a new year. But why is Jesus seeking to encourage the disciples through giving them these assurances that they have in him? Why is he seeking to do that? Well if you remember, in the very first verse in the chapter, Jesus started off with the words, “Let not your heart be troubled.” And he said that to them because of course, their hearts must be troubled, and it’s probably due, and it seems fairly certain due to the things that he just told them. Of course there’s things going on all around them that have been escalating that have been troubling to them. But Jesus just mentioned to them that he was going to be departing from them shortly. But then he also mentioned that Peter was going to stumble, and other things he mentioned. So there’s a heaviness, they’re troubled, there’s an anxiety in their hearts. So he begins “Let not your heart be troubled.” And he begins to share with them these various assurances. He directs them first to their heavenly [or eternal] home that’s awaiting them, then to their relationship with God the Father, and then to the incredible privilege and power of prayer. And now in verse 15, as we note, he says “If you love me, keep my commandments.” This brings me to my first point, and that is holiness, holiness. Now when I refer to holiness in this study, I mean it in the ordinary Christian sense of the word. I mean it in the sense of what Paul says in 2nd Corinthians chapter 7, verse 1, “Therefore having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” He says ‘Put off that, and perfect holiness, grow in holiness, grow closer to the Lord, set aside your lives, set apart your life, and devote it more to the things of the Lord.’ And this is in the sense of holiness that I mean here. And Jesus says “If you love me, keep my commandments.” When I think of holiness, I also think of heart, I think of the two, one to me leads to the other. And I see that noted here in verse 15. ‘If you love me, heart, your heart, if you love me, keep my commandments, holiness, obeying the Lord, following the Lord, seeking the Lord, abiding by his Word, holiness. If you truly have a heart that loves me, set yourself apart from the rest of the world, and obey my Word.’ So, Jesus says the one who loves him proves that they love him by obedience to his commandments. And the result is a life that is different, different from the rest of the world, set apart from the rest of the world, a holy life, a life that is akin to the life of Christ. And John later, we’re going to study 1st John when we’re done with the Gospel of John, John in his epistles says in chapter 2, verse 5, “But whoever keeps his Word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in him.” And holiness, he says “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Holiness, it’s such an important thing in the Church today, such an important thing for this congregation as we look out to the year 2003. The greater our personal holiness, the greater the North County will see the life of Christ reflected in us. Holiness is so important. As noted by Pascal, “The serene silent beauty of a holy life is the most powerful influence in the world next to the might of the Spirit of God.” A holy life. A holy life, holiness in the congregation, so powerful, such an effective instrument that God uses in a community, as a light, as influence in a region. When we speak of a holy life, I am not speaking of legalism, I’m not speaking of do’s and don’ts, a religion of do’s and don’ts, nor do I mean holiness in the sense, well you know you think of some goofy groups that you need a strange haircut, you need to dress up in a funny way and grow a funky little goatee or whatever. I’m not speaking of holiness in that sense of what not to do or what you need to do. Rather I think of one Bible teacher who put it this way, “Holiness does not consist in doing uncommon things, but in doing everything with purity of heart.” I like that statement, doing everything with purity of heart, holiness in heart. “If you love me,” Jesus has said, “keep my commandments.” [Also, we find, cross-referencing Scripture here where Jesus gave commandments, Matthew 5:17-48, what has been called the “Law of Christ”.] A heart that loves Jesus should naturally result in a life that obeys Jesus’ commands. So the heart of Job, in Job chapter 23 wonderfully depicts this. He says “I have not departed from the commandment of his lips. I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.” He says, man, I haven’t for a moment gone away from the word of the Lord, because I have treasured the words of God.’ That’s a heart, man. And with that we know Job certainly led a holy life. Now we may not be up to speed with what’s on the global scene, we may not know about if or how the war in Iraq is going to work it’s way, maybe into the Biblical-prophetic picture. And the truth is, again, we don’t even know what next year holds. But I know this for the year 2003, it is vital for me individually, it’s vital for my family, it’s vital for this congregation that we grow in holiness, that we grow in holiness. Jesus says “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Interesting to me, anyway, when I looked at last years New Year’s message and noticed what I was teaching through and wondering what to do, I was teaching through James, I just decided to continue with the book of James, and the title of my study last New Years, same Sunday as this Sunday, was “Get Rid of the Hypocrisy”. As James boldly exhorts in James chapter 1, verse 21, “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” So James says ‘Put off that stuff, and obey the Word.’ Don’t just listen to it, go and do it.’ It’s a holy life. You know, as I look at the ministry over the years, here in this town, I confess there’s been seasons in the ministry where, you know, God has been blessing, and the blessings seemed to, it seems he starts to withhold his blessing. It seems that there’s then this sense of ‘Well, we’ve come up against a wall.’ And I began to wonder ‘What’s going on?’, there’s just a sense of heaviness and hindrance in the ministry. And so often, when those seasons come, I can trace it back to eventually, when it’s all through, when it’s worked its way through, I can trace it back to a lack of holiness, a lack of holiness in the ministry. Just consider the story of Achen, in Joshua chapter 7, the people of Israel had responded to God’s leading and promises and had entered into the Promised Land, stepped forward in faith and seen God miraculously tear down the walls of Jericho, and then as you remember in Joshua 7, they go against a much smaller community called Ai. But there they suffer quick defeat. 36 soldiers, Israelite soldiers die. Now you’ve got these widows and orphans suddenly in the Israelite camp. There’s tremendous dismay, there’s tremendous grief with the people of Israel. There’s confusion, and it’s certainly understandable. Things haven’t gone as expected. God has led them, God was with them, God was blessing. And now it’s as if the blessing has been removed. What in the world is going on? Well, the Bible even says, that their hearts melted and became like water. But why did God’s blessing depart from them? Why was there the lack of victory? Why was there defeat in a key battle? And as you remember in the story of Achen it was a lack of holiness in the camp of Israel. A serious transgression had taken place, there was a man named Achen, Achen secretly stole some of the accursed things from Jericho, and he hid them under his tent. [I just got through reading that chapter and chapter 8 in my morning Bible study this morning, just before I started transcribing right here. I wondered why the war plunder for the next town captured and all the others, God allowed the Israelite soldiers to keep. The plunder was all the metals, precious metals all the way down to iron, from gold to iron. Well, Jericho was the first city overthrown, and thus the plunder in Jericho was the firstfruits for the plunder, and firstfruits belong to God. Read one chapter back, where the Lord says that the precious metals from gold to iron were to go into the sanctuary treasury. Thus, the plunder was God’s, Yahweh’s property. Stealing it was like going into God’s treasury and robbing it. Achan was stealing from God and the temple funds, its treasury. Read Joshua 6 through 8 to gain the context of the whole event.] Well, God wasn’t going to allow that type of sin to be hidden. So in a drastic way, man, he gets everybody’s attention so it can be dealt with. I believe the same with the Church, God works in the same way. I mean, God is a God to be feared. He’s a gracious God, he’s a merciful God, he’s a forgiving God, but he’s yet a God to be feared. And when he looks at this ministry, man, holiness is important. And especially with those that are ministering, especially with the leadership. Holiness is important to the Lord. [For a complete treatment of this subject of holiness see http://www.unityinchrist.com/whatisgrace/holiness.htm.] I believe, as with the story of Achan, the same can happen in the church. I think of one pastor, I was at a conference, and he was sharing this same experience, you know, God was blessing, things were moving, and suddenly things stopped, and why did things stop? And he said, you know, it was like I was beating my head against the wall, I mean, it was like ‘What was going on in the church?’. Well, it turned out in that particular ministry there were some significant things going on, significant sin in the worship team, and God exposed it, and of course there was the restoration and the pastors working with the people and dealing with the issues. But with that was restored blessing. And I tell you, I’ve seen the same happen here in this congregation. And so we look out to the year 2003 in holiness. Holiness, it’s important. It’s important in this congregation, it’s important in every way. You can pray for this church in that way, ‘God make this church holy.’ I pray sometimes ‘Purify the church, purify the church, make us holy.’ I mean, we’re sinners, and it’s part of the grace of God [that we’re here], ‘But yet if there’s any significant thing going on, so that you’re withholding your blessing, because you want to get our attention, because you want to, I mean, you’re a righteous God, you know, if there’s anything Lord, please work with that issue and deal with the issue and address the issue.’ And of course, God says to address the issue according to Galatians 6:1, and that is of course with the heart of restoration [not a legalistic condemnation]. Galatians 6:1,7, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou be tempted…Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Well, at the same time, a lack of holiness among the leadership, a lack of holiness just in general in the ministry. You know, you think of your drainpipe at home in one of your sinks. Holiness is similar to that, and I don’t mean this in a dogmatic way, but there’s this principle, you know. If my pipe, my drain in my sink in our kitchen is nice and clean, man, the water just flows. But if there’s debris that starts to build up in it, it doesn’t work as effectively. And the same works in my life individually, the same works in my family. The same is true in the church. It’s the vessel, God works powerfully in hearts and lives that are set apart for him. Jesus says to his disciples, he says this before he is about to depart, he says this to us as we go into next year, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” And he goes on to talk more about that. And we’ll see that as we go on.
2. The Holy Spirit,
the ministry of the Holy Spirit
Verses 16-18, “And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Helper, that he may abide with you forever, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you.” Well the next way in which Jesus seeks to encourage the disciples for such a critical hour that they were facing, was to share with them about the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He calls him, the Holy Spirit, the Helper [King James: the Comforter], or the Comforter, in another translation, the Encourager---the Helper, the Comforter, the Encourager. Wonderfully Jesus here promised this, promises, though he’s soon to depart from his disciples, he’s not going to leave them alone as orphans. And of course that’s troubling their hearts. ‘You’re the Messiah, you’re the Master, man, you’re everything to us, and you’re gonna leave??’ Well he says, ‘I’m not going to leave you as orphans, the Holy Spirit is going to come, the Holy Spirit, the Helper.’ Now the Holy Spirit, when he says the Holy Spirit, he means the third person of the God-head. You notice there when Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit, he’s not talking about a force, some impersonal force, he’s talking about a person, he uses the word “him”, he uses the word “he” repeatedly, he’s talking about the third person of the God-head, a person, God the Holy Spirit. When he says “another”, he says “I will pray the Father and he will give you another, another Helper”, that word in the Greek is interesting. The word translated “another” literally means “another of the same kind, another of the same kind”. So he’s promising another of the same kind as himself, that is “God the Holy Spirit”. It’ll be as if Jesus is with them, in the fact that both the Holy Spirit and both Jesus are God. So Jesus the Son of God is going to leave, but now the Holy Spirit, God the Holy Spirit is going to come. So God is still going to be with them. Up to this point God is with them through Jesus, and now he’s going to dwell with them through the person of the Holy Spirit. But what’s even more significant is noted in those verses that we read, verses 16 through 18, not only will the Holy Spirit be with them, but he will also be “in them”, as you see there. “That he may abide with you”, and then he goes on to say, “that he will be with you, and he will be in you.” And of course that’s very significant. In John chapter 16 Jesus will say of the Holy Spirit, “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.” So Jesus actually says “It’s to your advantage” later, “It’s to your advantage that I leave, because when I leave the Holy Spirit will come. And not only will he come to be with you, he will also be in you.” And it’s one thing to have God with me, it’s even another thing to have God actually dwell in me. Jesus refers again to the Holy Spirit as the Helper, as the Comforter. The Greek word there is Parakletos [Strongs #3875: parakletos: advocate, comforter.] Kletos means “to be called”, and para means “alongside” or “with”. So you put the word parakletos together, it means literally “One who is called to come alongside.” So he says “I’m going to send you the Parakletos, “One who is called to come alongside you.” Now in our English language we don’t necessarily have a good word, we use the word “Comforter” or “Helper”, but we don’t really have an exact word for this word parakletos. It was used in the Greek when you got into trouble, and would call for an attorney, you would call for a parakletos. You would call for someone to come alongside of you to help you. And we don’t necessarily have an exact English word for that. But Helper and Comforter and Encourager is a pretty good word in saying the heart of what Jesus is saying here. So with all that, Jesus says to the disciples ‘Be encouraged, it might not look very easy for you right now, things may look tough ahead for you right now. But understand the great Comforter, the great Encourager, the great Helper is shortly on his way.’ And that brings me to my second point for this next year 2003, we have holiness, and now we have this word “Holy Spirit.” Holy Spirit, man, what an important word, an important thought, an important subject as we start this next year. Holiness is so vital to this congregation [or any congregation, for that matter], so vital to the life of this ministry. But also so vital is the work of the Holy Spirit. [i.e. without the Holy Spirit, true holiness is impossible. So actually, you need the Holy Spirit to help you achieve true holiness, cf. Jer. 31:31-34; Hebr. 8:6-13.] I’m going to quote to you from F. B. Meyer when he taught at D.L. Moody’s Conference Center in 1897, just down the road from here in Northfield, Massachusetts. He at that conference said this, “There is a great difference between possessing the Spirit and being possessed by the Spirit. Was there not a difference between the apostles before and after the Pentecost? Before they were full of rivalry and jealousy, weak in confessing their Master and quick to misunderstand him. But after, they were as bold as lions, intelligent, loving, spiritual. Chronologically”, F.B. Meyers says, “we are living on this side of Pentecost. But experientially, mentally, many of us are living on the other side.” So, the Holy Spirit, how about you? Are you living on this side of Pentecost, according to F.B. Meyer? When F.B. Meyer there is speaking, he is referring to when the Holy Spirit comes “upon you”. As believers in Jesus Christ, of course, we possess the Holy Spirit, man, he’s working in all our lives. When I became a Christian the Holy Spirit sealed me, the Holy Spirit now resides in me, he dwells in me [often called “indwelling a believer”]. But there is no doubt, as F.B. Meyer notes, there is a difference in the disciples after the Holy Spirit came upon them, as noted in Acts chapter 2. They possessed the Holy Spirit, we already know that, we’re going to see that in John chapter 20, they already possessed the Holy Spirit [from John 20 onward]. But then after Pentecost, man, you could say the Holy Spirit had possession of them. And what a difference, man, that makes, to me and my life, what a difference that makes in my family, and what a difference that makes in this ministry, when the Holy Spirit’s got a hold of us. When my heart is such a way that I’ve yielded myself, opened myself to the Holy Spirit, he’s the Comforter, the Encourager, he’s the Helper. But man, when he takes hold of my life, it’s tremendous what happens in my life. Man, I begin to see the fruit of the Holy Spirit, I begin to have this boldness. Just read through the Book of Acts they’re studying in the home fellowships. You see, you see the reality, you see the power there of the Holy Spirit as he works through lives and through vessels that are completely yielded to him. Well, the question then, we’ve talked about holiness, here we talk about the Holy Spirit, does the Holy Spirit possess you? As a believer in Jesus Christ, you have the Holy Spirit in you, he is in your possession in the sense that he dwells in you. But does he possess you?... [For more resources on the Holy Spirit, log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/TheHolySpirit.htm.]
3. Harmony, unity in the Body
So we have holiness, we have the Holy Spirit, now we go to our third point. Verses 19-24, “‘A little while longer, and the world will see me no more. But you will see me, because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him, and manifest myself to him.’ Judas, not Iscariot, said to him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us and not to the world?’ Jesus answered him and said to him, ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words, and the word which you hear is not mine, but the Father’s who sent me.’” Well, Jesus as you see there, he shares with his disciples ‘In a short time I’m going to depart from you. But in a short time, the world isn’t going to see me anymore either.’ And of course we know the very next day he’s crucified…[tape switchover, some text lost.]…also have victory over the grave, and are going to be raised from the dead, he says, because he lives and is going to rise from the dead, they also are going to live. And I read that, and I thought of this hymn, you know, growing up in a Baptist church, there was this wonderful hymn we used to sing, and I’m going to quote it to you the best I can from my memory. “Because he lives, I can face tomorrow. Because he lives, all fear is gone. And I know, I know, who holds the future. And life is worth the living, just because he lives.” So he says ‘You’re going to see me. But also because I live, you’re also going to live.’ Now as he says these things, we’re told Judas speaks up. Of course, John notes, this is not Judas Iscariot, I mean, he’s already left the scene, and he’s gone off to the religious leaders, and he’s now working to have Jesus turned over to them, he’s kind of working that out. So he’s not referring to Judas Iscariot [Hebrew: Judas ish Kiriot (Judas man of Kiriot], he’s referring to another Judas. This Judas is Thaddeus in Mark chapter 3, also referred to as Lebbaeus (whose surname was Thaddeus) in Matthew chapter 10, and in Acts chapter 1 he’s referred to as Judas the son of James. He’s referred to in different ways. So this is that Judas, and anyway he speaks up, and he says ‘How can this be, Jesus? How can you manifest yourself to us individually, but not to the world? I mean, you’re the Messiah. And we’ve been following you. We expect you to come and now establish your kingdom. So how are you going to just reveal yourself to us individually?’ Well in verse 23 Jesus responds, but he doesn’t necessarily respond directly Judas’ question, but he responds in that way of this spiritual manifestation. ‘What I’m referring to is spiritually, I’m going come and manifest myself to you, I’m going to reveal myself to you, so is the Father going to reveal himself to you. We’re going to come to you and make our home with you. And of course, that’s going to be very important to you, and it’s going to make a tremendous difference in your lives.’ Well, this truth is true of all of us as Christians. Just as he says, if anyone loves me and keeps my word, my Father is also going to love him, they’re going to experience my love, and in that special way they’re going to experience the fellowship of God the Father and God the Son. What a sweet experience we have indeed in Christ. But as I think about this, this leads me to my next point, again he says “If anyone loves me, he’ll keep my word.” ‘And then, therefore, he’s going to experience the love of God and the fellowship of God.’ As I think of this, loving God and keeping his Word, I think of what Jesus said in John chapter 13 just a little bit ago. He said this, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. As I have loved you, that you also love one another.” So he says “I give you this commandment, love one another, as I have loved you, love one another.” And then he says here ‘If you love me, keep my commandments, and if you love me and keep my commandments, you’re going to experience this presence, this love of God, this presence of God in your life.’ Well that leads me then to this next point, and that’s why I stated it that way. And this is something that’s really been a burden on my heart. And as I read the passage I said, I can even share it here from John chapter 14. We have holiness, we have the Holy Spirit, but there is also this point of harmony. That’s so important for this congregation as we look out to the next year, so vital for the life of this congregation. He says ‘If you love me, and keep my commandments,’ when he says that, you could say this, ‘If you love me and love others, keep my commandments, if you love others, you’ll experience the love of God, the presence of God.’ And I think of that principle and that way, in the sense of harmony, man it is so true. Harmony is so key to this ministry, if we are going to see God’s blessing, if we’re going to see God working in our midst, it is vital that there is harmony, harmony one with another, unity in the body, walking in love towards one another. When that exists in the congregation, you can be sure that the Holy Spirit is comfortable, the Holy Spirit is working in power, man, when there is harmony, when there us unity, when there is love. When it doesn’t exist, you can be sure that the Holy Spirit is grieved. Isaiah 58, man, the Holy Spirit just moves out, you know, in the sense of in the congregation. When there is a lack of love, there is a lack of harmony, then there is a lack of unity. Now when I speak of harmony, there’s two other words that come to my mind: honor and humility. That is honor in a sense of honoring another above myself. And of course, that requires humility, true humility in my heart. So where there is harmony, there’s also honor and there’s also humility. And I tell you, man, may through the grace of God that be true all the more of this congregation, humility in hearts, and love in the hearts, that we honor one another, and that there is harmony. And when there is harmony, it’s sweet. When there isn’t, man, then there’s just confusion and hindrance of the work of the Lord. Now again, we’re going to study 1st John next, and John just really goes into these thoughts in his first Epistle. He says in chapter 5, verse 2, we’ll see this in a little while. So we’re starting here, we’ve got a few more chapters in this Gospel, these things will get repeated, and then we get to study it in depth in 1st John. But John says in chapter 5 of 1st John in verse 2, he says, “By this we know that we love the children of God,”---how do we know?---“when we love God, and keep his commandments.” Interesting he says it that way. “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.” Keeping his commandments, again, that thought of holiness. So holiness leads to harmony [and the Holy Spirit is key in the middle of that though, for true holiness is impossible without him]. Holiness in my own life leads to harmony in the church. It does, because it leads to the type of heart that honors one another, that loves another. And I think of one writer who talked about holiness in this way, “Real holiness has love for its essence, humility for it’s clothing, the good of others as its employment, and the honor of God as its end.” So again, back to holiness. Holiness leads to, it leads to harmony in the church, and it leads to with that, the Holy Spirit working in power. We could say it that way. I don’t mean to be dogmatic, and I wouldn’t say this is doctrine, but I think you can say this, ‘The greater the holiness at this church, the greater the result in harmony, and therefore the greater result and work of the Holy Spirit. I’m not saying anything about works, the work of the Holy Spirit is all about faith, but yet it’s true. [James said he proved his faith by his works, and that ‘Faith was dead without works.’ There are almost as many interpretations for law and grace as there are denominations, just have to go by yours or your own Christian conscience based upon what you read and how you interpret the Scripture. This site goes by a middle of the road interpretation. See the various links at http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/1.htm.] The greater the holiness, the greater the harmony, and the greater the work of the Holy Spirit. So, harmony. Harmony is vital. That’s part of keeping the commands of the Lord. That’s this life of holiness. It’s vital for this church, holiness with one another. But there’s another aspect of harmony, there’s two other aspects I’d like to refer to also that have been on my heart. And I’ll note those in the next two verses.
The Holy Spirit: “He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said to you”
Verses 25-26, “‘These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you…” So Jesus now tells the disciples that he’s going to send the Holy Spirit, whose going to come and be their teacher. He’s going to come and be their teacher. He’s going to teach them all things. In fact, the Holy Spirit will come and bring to remembrance all the things that Jesus has said to them during the last three and a half years. And of course, you know, Paul, who has this vision of Jesus, is actually able to sit down and pen Epistles that are part of the Word of God that are inspired by the Holy Spirit. I mean, the Holy Spirit just reveals all these tremendous truths. In fact, when Paul writes his Epistles, he says ‘These have come to me by revelation’, meaning the Holy Spirit has revealed these truths. And what a blessing that we have the Holy Spirit in our lives, this great Teacher, God the Holy Spirit comes and gives me light, gives you light, comes and gives us understanding in the Word of God. [Comment: The Holy Spirit brought those three and one half years the disciples spent with Jesus back to memory so the four writers of the four Gospel accounts could accurately remember and then write the four Gospels. Also the Holy Spirit inspired new doctrinal understanding through the apostle Paul as he wrote his Epistles, especially Romans, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians and Ephesians. That totally fits what Jesus stated in verses 25-26 of John 14. See also John 16:13-14, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you all things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”] And when the Holy Spirit is operating in my life, the Word of God is just alive, it’s vibrant. When I’m grieving the Holy Spirit, because of a lack of holiness in my life, then sometimes, you know, the Scriptures are just not hitting me in the same way. But when my heart is open, man, is open to hear and respond to whatever the Lord says, there is just, man, the Holy Spirit just blows my mind away as he reveals the depth and the truth of the Word of God. So, the Holy Spirit, our Teacher, what a blessing. You don’t even need any other teacher, you just need the Holy Spirit. Of course, God raises up teachers in the Church to exhort, and to build up the Church [as a whole], but ultimately the Holy Spirit is what we all need. And Jesus refers to, back in verse 17, when he refers to the Holy Spirit, interesting, in verse 17 he says “The Spirit of truth”, “the Spirit of truth.” He gives light and understanding to God’s Word, he never leads us contrary to the truth of the Word, he always gives just the truth, ‘This is what it means, and this is the truth.’ There’s never any confusion with it, when the Holy Spirit is leading and teaching. He is the Spirit of truth, he always teaches the truth. So, as Jesus says in verses 25 and 26, the Holy Spirit is going to come and minister to them. And you can be assured as we study there in the Book of Acts, as disciples together seeking the heart of the Lord, and being open to the work of the Holy Spirit, man, there would be consistency in understanding the Word of God. I mean, the Holy Spirit’s the Teacher, he’s the Spirit of truth, he’s going to teach them, and there’s going to be this harmony in doctrine, and that’s the next point I’d like to make. [One important point I wish to re-emphasize, the Holy Spirit will never teach anything that runs contrary to the Word of God, the Bible.]
Harmony in doctrine
It’s important that there’s harmony with one another in this church, but also it’s important that there’s harmony in doctrine. And we have the Holy Spirit, and there should be harmony if the Holy Spirit is working. There should be harmony in doctrine and understanding the Word of God. But it’s also vital for this congregation and the life of this congregation. So I’d like to note it as we end one year and start another year, as we look out to 2003, this issue of harmony in doctrine. As a ministry, maybe you’ve been here awhile, maybe you’ve heard the teaching for awhile over the radio. We clearly have a certain doctrine, we have a certain understanding of the Word of God, it just comes through the pulpit, it comes through the home fellowships, it comes through the teaching on the radio, as a Calvary Chapel ministry we have a certain doctrine. Of course we don’t overemphasize our doctrine, we don’t want to divide the Church as a whole [i.e. the greater body of Christ], meaning, you know Wednesday mornings I get together with pastors from other churches, other backgrounds, other denominations. In some cases we have different doctrines, but we love each other. [What the pastor is getting at, is every different denomination, they all share in the central doctrine of salvation, but do differ in secondary doctrines which have nothing to do with the gospel of salvation.] We just love each other, I love these pastors. So we don’t overemphasize doctrine to the point of division. But at the same time, harmony in this congregation with doctrine is absolutely vital. It’s vital that we’re together on the same page [and he’s talking about secondary doctrines]. And it’s vital as you come to this congregation and you hear me teach the Word, that you go, “I agree with that, I agree with that.” Now of course, there are grey areas in the Scriptures, I mean, they’re not really grey, they’re grey to us because we don’t understand them, they’re not grey to God, they’re grey to us. We say ‘Well, what does that mean?’. There are Scriptures like that where we wrestle, ‘What does he mean by that?’. [And other denominations may and do come up with other interpretations in such grey areas as interpretations in prophecy, baptism necessary for salvation verses altar calls, any kind of doctrine which if held doesn’t seem to interfere with being born-again, being sealed for salvation and having the indwelling Holy Spirit. That’s why it’s so essential for you to find a denomination that agrees with your personal interpretation of Scripture in the secondary areas, so this harmony the pastor is talking about can exist for you, and so that your spirit will not be grieved by fellowshipping in a congregation where you are at odds with their interpretations in these grey areas, or secondary areas of interpretation. I know how this feels in a deeply personal way, because I am currently in this boat.] There’s grey areas. And maybe there’s minor issues too that we can agree to disagree on. However, in a general sense, there should be harmony. Now there are people, for seasons, that have come to this congregation, and have a different understanding of doctrine, and that’s OK too, you can come here and have different beliefs, if you come here to learn. But there has to be an understanding there’s only one doctrine that’s taught here, and it’s doctrine consistent with what you hear from the pulpit. That has to be understood in this congregation. [And I would say that is true of most denominations.] And there can’t be material that’s being passed around that teaches other doctrine, because that creates confusion in this church. And you can know, as leadership in this church, we don’t look lightly at that. There is a certain doctrine that we adhere to. And that’s what this denomination is all about, Calvary Chapel [and this principle holds true for all other Holy Spirit indwelt parts of the body of Christ]. Now, you can disagree with that, and attend, and just say ‘I’m not gonna say anything, I’m just going to learn with them,’ that’s fine. But understand, nothing else can be taught and create confusion in this body. If you have a different desire, if you have different convictions of doctrine, that’s fine, there are other churches [denominations], and no one’s going to judge you if you say ‘Well, I don’t really agree with that, I’m going to go to another church.’ God bless you, God’s blessing and working in other churches [and denominations. There are many parts to the entire body of Christ. Jesus is using them as a part of his massive army of God to take the Gospel to the entire world, and each serves a different function in that overall goal (Mt 24:14; Mt 28:18-20)]. But it’s vital for this church that there’s harmony, unity with one another, but that there’s also harmony in doctrine, that there’s one doctrine. [I would say this is vital for all the differing parts, denominations, within the greater body of Christ. He’s talking about that there’s one doctrinal understanding for the entire Word that they teach, except for those miniscule grey areas. Don’t forget this also, what is a grey area in one denomination isn’t necessarily grey for another.] And I say that because at different times, you have to deal with it. And we might as well just state it as we get started into the new year, harmony in doctrine. And I tell you, I love the people that come here, it’s always a bummer when somebody leaves and goes to another church, but sometimes it’s good when somebody does, if this just isn’t their church, if they just don’t agree with what’s taught, if they’re just looking for something else. That’s fine. God bless you. May the Lord bless your life. But understand that it’s highly unlikely you’re going to change this church, it’s highly unlikely. And if you try to, it’s only going to hurt people. It’s only going to cause disunity. And it’s going to create a significant issue with God. So harmony is key, it’s unity in heart and love, but it’s also harmony in doctrine. [Comment: That is why it is so essential that you fit in doctrinally, in the sense of secondary doctrines, with the congregation you attend. If you don’t fit, shop around for an alive Holy Spirit filled congregation that matches your secondary doctrinal beliefs. Remaining where you do not fit spiritually can grieve your spirit, and if you’re vocal about the differences in belief you hold, that can be somewhat divisive to the congregation you’re with. This form of achieving harmony in the secondary beliefs is more important than most realize. Secondary beliefs that don’t run contrary to the primary gospel of salvation, in the end, won’t amount to a hill of beans at the 2nd coming of Jesus, because he’ll straighten out that whole mess at his return. Right now I attend a Calvary Chapel, even though my secondary beliefs vary a lot from theirs in some areas of prophecy, and preference in days of worship. But I love these people, their teaching in the Word is exemplary (as evidenced by these sermons), and primarily, I’ve learned that until I find that fellowship that fits my secondary beliefs, I keep my mouth shut with other members about what I believe. I don’t sow discord, but unity and harmony by agreeing where I can agree, and shutting up where I don’t. What are my beliefs that are so different in the secondary areas? See http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch4.htm. If you need to find a congregation that fits your beliefs, check out http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/choosingachurch.htm. This is a true spiritual principle amongst the various parts of the body of Christ, for the Lord has given us freedom of belief in the secondary doctrines, cf. Romans 14 (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/romans/romans12-14_2.htm.) But when our secondary beliefs don’t match the congregation we’re attending, we have no right to push them on them. We have the freedom to find another congregation that matches our secondary beliefs. That’s what Roman’s 14 is saying.] And we can go one step further, one step further. And that is harmony in vision.
Harmony in vision
Here, the Holy Spirit, he says the Holy Spirit is going to come and teach them, and bring all these things to remembrance, and with that I can step just a little further back and note that the Holy Spirit will also, he leads us in truth, but he’ll also lead a congregation in vision. And there is a specific vision to this congregation, and it’s not necessarily the same vision that’s part of other churches. And that’s fine, God is working in different ways in different places, and that’s just the way he is and the work that he has. But it is important in this church that there’s harmony in vision. And the vision in this church, if you’re around here long enough you’ll hear it, the vision is “Win, Disciple, Send”. There is an emphasis on evangelism, that’s why I give altar calls. That’s why we do certain things evangelistically. [That is the core vision of this website, UNITYINCHRIST.COM, why? Because it is the central commission and vision of Jesus Christ himself. Look up and read Matthew 24:14 and 28:18-20. All the other local visions are based on this major one. How Jesus is accomplishing that vision, within all the differing parts of the body of Christ will be different. The Church as a whole, and all believers, are God’s soldiers, airmen, navy, whatever, and we’re fighting an information war against the devil. The central commission given by Jesus within those two verses can and does get carried out differently, as Jesus inspires through the Holy Spirit, within the different denominations that make up the whole body of Christ (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/evangelism1.htm). This website seeks to try, in the big areas of international evangelism, to get the whole body on the same page through a very simple plan that can be implemented by individuals throughout the body, across denominational lines (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/missionstatement.htm). Participation in that $5.00 a week plan will not in any way, shape or manner, interfere with the vision within your own local church congregation or denomination. This harmony in vision across denominational lines will become more and more important as time goes on, you just wait and see, if you don’t believe me. But the major focus of the believer is to support his local church’s vision. It’s like your pastor is a company commander or maybe for a smaller congregation, a captain, or even a platoon sergeant. His orders for you are determined by what you face in this evangelistic information war, and not necessarily what the other churches face. So local vision and denominational vision are critically important.] That’s why we do certain things evangelistically [that other churches and denominations don’t do]. Some people prefer a different approach for that. But our vision is “Win, Disciple, Send”. Also there is an emphasis on discipleship, so it’s expository teaching. [That is another major part of Jesus’ 1st commission to the church found right within that same set of verses in Matthew 28:18-20. “Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (verse 19)---that’s the first part, evangelizing the world, all nations, and then baptizing those who respond favorably, obviously. The second part of the great commission of Jesus Christ is in verse 20, which states “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…” That is discipleship, nourishing those who do respond, nourishing them in the Word of God. That is the other central purpose of this website, to give that nourishment across denominational lines, and even help those pastors who want to learn to preach this way, by providing information on how to give a “connective expository” sermon.] You won’t hear topical studies, you won’t here pop psychology, it’s expository teaching. The Word of God just makes disciples. There’s the home fellowships, it’s expository teaching. It’s verse by verse through the Word. Our vision is Win, our vision is Disciple, and our vision is also Send, meaning we are a missions church. Missions is important to this congregation. We want to see other churches started. We want to support other missionaries. We want to see people sent to other places in the world. We have a missions vision. That may not be your vision. That may bother you that we have that vision. And that’s something you need to consider. It’s important that there’s harmony in this church. Unity. Harmony in doctrine. But also harmony in vision. [Using the military analogy again, you may not like being a ground-pounder, a soldier, you may want to be in Jesus’ Army Air Corp, or Navy, each has it’s own specific vision and mission that directly ties into the main vision or commission of Jesus found in Matthew 28:18-20. The choice is yours, join the group that you want to be a part of. You will be able to serve better if you’re happy with your church or denominations’ vision for evangelism and discipling. Don’t stay where you don’t agree or fit.] And sometimes God will put something on my heart and the leadership, and it becomes part of the vision of this church. Sometimes somebody else will come to me and say “I’ve got this burden [on my heart for this…]”, and a ministry will get started, and it’ll become part of the vision of this church. And we all individually have things that God is leading us to do individually, and I’m not speaking of that. But I’m speaking as a general ministry, this church’s ministry. You walk through the door, you know what we’re about. And that’s what we’re about. And a lot of us say “Praise God, I love it, that’s what I’m a part of, that’s what I am.” But at times there’s some that say “I don’t like it, I don’t want to be part of that, let’s change that.” You know, I’ll just say to you, it’s highly unlikely that the vision of this church will change, it’s highly unlikely. Because it’s what God started us with, Win, Disciple, Send, and that vision will become more and more what we are. So as we start into the next year you’ll see that, you’ll see that in the year 2003. And it’s important that it’s also a part of our heart. And you know, it’s possible God may have a different, you may desire something different as far as a ministry. That’s fine too. And again, we don’t want to see anyone leave, but if it’s for the better, man, praise the Lord. Now I want to say, I’m not trying to scare anyone away either. And sometimes I give a message like this, and people come up to me “Oh I’m sorry Steve”, and I’m like “I’m not even thinking about you”, but it’s just in general, these three things are so vital for us next year, holiness, the Holy Spirit, and harmony. So let’s all agree.
The peace of God
Verses 27-31, and we’ll kind of move on here to the end. Now Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you…” He says this to a troubled heart. “Peace I leave with you”, this is supernatural peace he’s referring to. “My peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. You have heard me say to you I am going away, and coming back to you. If you loved me, you would rejoice because I said I’m going to the Father. For my Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it comes to pass, that you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in me. But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here.’” Well he promises again these trouble-hearted disciples supernatural peace. Paul says about this peace, it’s peace that passes understanding, it is completely from God, it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. As the Holy Spirit is working in me, and overflowing in my life, I have the peace of God. And I should have the peace of God. If I do not have the peace of God, Paul says to the church in Colossi, “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts.” ‘Let the peace of God umpire in your hearts.’ If you’re not in the peace of God, then there must be a reason, God is getting your attention. As the Holy Spirit is overflowing, there should be the peace of God. And he says to his disciples, ‘Man, you’re trouble-hearted, you’re looking out and thinking, ‘Man this is going to be tough.’ He says, ‘Man, I’ve got peace for you, it’s going to blow your mind.’ I was talking recently to Don McGrath, and if you’ve been here a few years, you know of Don McGrath, he was part of the ministry here, one of the leaders. He’s now pastoring Calvary Chapel in Springfield. Well, you know, I love Don McGrath, and I think of the word “peace” with this little guy, he’s shorter than I am, so I can say that. [laughter] He’s, the peace, this guy is so peaceful, man. And anyway, we’re talking on the phone, I called him because I had heard, man, they were going through some tough times. He started to tell me about the difficulties, you know, the car caught fire, and church, the church had to move twice that week, they had a building, their lease came up, they thought they had another place, that fell through, so they moved up there, and they had to move back. I mean, moving a church a couple times in a week is quite a thing to do, you know, you can just imagine how that would be stressful, not knowing where you’re going to meet. They finally end up in a space that was less than ideal, was something he was hoping to avoid. And then all kinds of physical afflictions going on, just some real challenging afflictions physically for him and his family. And so we’re talking about this, and my heart’s going out to Don, and he said this, right in the middle of the conversation, he says “You know, throughout it all I’ve had the peace of God, I’ve had the peace of God.” And that’s what Jesus is saying here. “I give you peace.” ‘Troubled heart, I give you peace.’ Now, this peace is something that’s in my life individually, is in our lives individually when the Holy Spirit is overflowing. But I believe it also can be said, as the body, the body as a whole, the peace of God can be present in a church as a whole. And I think, too, going back to our three points, when there is holiness, when there is harmony, and the Holy Spirit is at work, you can be sure there’s that sense of the peace of God in the congregation. And when we walk through the door, and there’s a lack of peace, then the Holy Spirit’s getting our attention. There should be that sense of peace, and when there is that sense of peace, also with that I sense freedom and just the blessing of the Lord. I remember back in 1998 we had a bumpy time in this congregation, disunity and confusion in it. Eventually it resulted in a division, and some families left the congregation, you know, God blessed them, but that’s just what happened then. And during that season, man, the last thing at this church that was going on was blessing, I want to tell you man. Heartache after heartache is what it was. But when it ended, the peace of God, with the group that was left, there was such harmony, the peace of God came into this church in such a way, it was sweet. And I could come up and teach the Word like I could never teach the Word. I felt like I could be a total goof and no one cared, there was just love in the church, peace in the church, harmony in the church, holiness in the church, and the church then quickly grew. It’s never, percentage wise, grown so quickly. In a very quick time it grew and doubled, maybe tripled in size, an exciting time in the church. Some of the heart and the sense in the congregation today is from that season. He says to them, ‘Maybe it looks like a difficult road for you, but I’ve got peace, Holy Spirit’s coming, he’s the Comforter, the Helper.’ And the fruit of the Holy Spirit is peace, it’s supernatural peace. May it be in our lives individually, but may it also be in this congregation next year. It’ll come as there’s holiness, as there’s harmony, and the Holy Spirit is working in our midst.
Now just a couple points, as we’ve looked at these verses, verse by verse. He says ‘If you loved me, you would rejoice,’ there, he says that in verse 28, ‘you heard me say I’m going away and coming back’, he says ‘if you loved me you would rejoice, because I said I am going to the Father.’ They’re troubled hearted, ‘But you should be excited, I’m going to be with God the Father.’ In fact, he’s going back to where he came from. He’s put aside his glory to become a man [he was Yahweh. Yeshua is his Hebrew name, which is a contraction of Yahweh-shua]. He’s now going back to being seated by God the Father as God the Son. And he says ‘You should rejoice, I mean, how can you be heavy-hearted about that? Look where I’m going.’ And some preachers note at this point, it’s true, when we lose a Christian loved one, of course it is very difficult. At the same time there’s that joy, because they’re with the Father. They’re in heaven, and that’s what he’s saying, ‘I’m going to be with God, you should rejoice, I’m going to be with God the Father. Now he says in the same verse, he says “For my Father is greater than I.” And I mean, he’s God the Father. Now what does he mean when he says “My Father is greater than I”? Of course, this is one of those texts that’s brought in some theological debate, and people have maybe even argued what this means. I believe what Jesus is saying here, I mean, throughout, Jesus has more or less consistently said that he is equal to God the Father, he is God the Son and he is equal. He’s made statements like “I and the Father are one.” He said in verse 9 “If you have seen me” in chapter 14, “you’ve seen the Father.” Then we have even in Epistles, Scriptures, this is consistent throughout the Bible, in Philippians chapter 2 “He who was in the beginning with God, thought it not something to be equal with God”, meaning he was referring to that he was equal to God, and he’s set aside his glory. Well, what does he mean here, “The Father is greater than I”? I believe what he means, right now, physically he’s in a physical body. He’s experiencing the limitations of a physical body. He’s subject there now as the Son of God, he’s the Son of man at this point, he’s subject to the will of the Father, he’s submitted himself to the will of the Father to come and dwell in a [physical] body in order that he might be a light to all of us as sinners. So in his limited condition of a human body, he says, I believe it’s from that perspective, “the Father’s greater than I.” And now he says ‘I’ve told you all this, because when these things come to pass, man, you’re going to know and believe that, I’m prophecying is what I’m doing, you’re going to know that these things are true.’ ‘I’m not going to talk to you much longer’ verse 30, ‘because now the prince of this world, the ruler of this world is coming. He has nothing in me.’ We could talk more about that at another time. But then verse 31, “But that the world may know that I love the Father,”---How is he going to demonstrate that he loves the Father?---“as the Father gave me commandment, so I do.” ‘I love the Father, he’s given me commandments, and so I do.’ [and one of the Father’s commandments to Jesus alone, was to go to the cross.] That goes back to our first points in this study. May that be true of us in this year 2003. And he says “Arise, let us go from here.” Apparently now what happens is we go on to chapters 15, 16 and 17, there’s more conversation that takes place. But they go out into the night [from the place where they were observing their Passover service, the very first Christian Passover to take place], and they began to walk through the city and make their way to Gethsemane. So the rest of the talk that we’re going to see between Jesus and the disciples in chapters 15 and 16, and then in chapter 17, seem to be in that journey, as they make their way to Gethsemane. Well, vital for the year 2003, we don’t know what’s going on necessarily, we don’t know what’s ahead, but we can be sure of this, holiness is vital to this church, for us individually. The Holy Spirit, his work, him possessing us, that’s so vital. But also harmony in this congregation, is so important. That’s harmony with one another, that’s harmony in doctrine, that’s harmony in vision. The holiness, Holy Spirit, harmony, we could put it in a different order, that’s just the order that we have it in our text. But holiness, harmony, Holy Spirit. I think they flow that way pretty well. Let’s close in prayer…[transcript of a sermon given on John 14:15-31 somewhere in New England.]
I would say the Holy Spirit enables holiness, which enables harmony. But with no personal effort towards holiness (enabled by the Holy Spirit), there will be no harmony.