John 15:18-27; 16:1-4
“‘If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you: if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.’” John 16:1-4, “These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.”
“I’d say welcome to the North Pole, at least if feels like that. Let’s turn in our Bibles to John chapter 15. Next week after the service, if you have a few moments, it’s in your bulletin, we are going to have just a little time of fellowship. In fact we may very well even do it outside. And it will be short and sweet, but hot dogs and chili and or maybe snow-cones would be more appropriate, I don’t know. But anyway, next week if you got a few minutes. You know, as a congregation grows, it’s important. You know, this isn’t just about a religion, it’s about walking with the Lord [which was pretty well explained in the last sermon, Abiding in Christ, John chapter 15:1-17], and part of walking with the Lord is having intimacy and fellowship with one another too, relationships [with other believers in Jesus]. It’s important to me that all the people that come to this congregation have friends in this church, have relationships in this church, that can encourage you. You know, Solomon said in Ecclesiastes “Woe to the man who falls and there’s no one there to pick him up.” And Christian fellowship is so vital to our growth in the Lord. So we offer times where we can get into discussions in smaller groups. Home fellowships is an example of that. And next Sunday after the service again will be this fellowship time. So if you have a few extra minutes on your Sunday before you leave, love to shake some hands and get to know you and talk with you, an opportunity for you to get to know some folks also. And if you could be reminded too, some of the guys that are here, our Wednesday morning Bible studies are getting going again, 6 o’clock in the morning. And this Friday night is the women’s study, first and third Fridays of the month. So those are opportunities for you to get to know some folks. And I guess the last thing to note before we get started, the last announcement that I’d like to mention is, we’re having just a push right now to get some painting done around here. If you like to paint, maybe you don’t like to paint, I’m not really a fan of painting. But I’ve been doing a little bit myself this week. But you come into the sanctuary here, it’s not painted, the fellowship hall is far from being painted, we’re working on the lobbies, it would be great to have it painted. It’d just look a lot nicer. And then when we get to that point we can start thinking about carpet. I tell you, this place carpeted, I know some of you think this is carpet, but it’s not, it’s plywood [laughter]. A couple people have told me that it’s a carpet with a plywood color to it, but it’s plywood. So we’re going to carpet this place, and it’ll look pretty nice when we do.
Six different reasons why the world hates the Church, the body of Christ
So anyway, John chapter 15. Some great points for you and I to consider. We left off last week with verse 17. We’re going to pick up this week with verse 18. I remember after September 11th , of course, what an alarming day, what a stunning day in the history of this country. I know it was a stunning day for me, to see those events take place. And then after September 11th, some of the things that began to transpire really changed this nation, and were just alarming, you know, this war on terrorism and the threat of biological attacks or chemical attacks, all just really alarming to us. But there was one thing that also caught my eye, and I’ve seen since September 11th that is also very alarming to me, and I’d like to focus on that before we get started here in chapter 15. And I think of this service I saw, I don’t know if it was at Yankee Stadium or Shea Stadium in New York City, but there was a service after September 11th, I think it was Oprah Winfrey kind of conducted or coordinated this thing or facilitated it. But all sorts of religious leaders came together, religious representatives, and all these people, thousands of people in this Baseball stadium, began to hold hands and to worship God together. And respecting the various differences between the different religions, they were joining together, and there was this sense of worshipping God together. And I remember watching the television and thinking ‘you know, if I was there and walked up and said, you know, like Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life”, if I had said something like that in that meeting, man, I would have been extremely unpopular, you know, just that sense that would not be a good think to do. So as I watched after September 11th, it was happening before then, but there seemed to be this acceleration towards a one-world church, or at least a push towards a world, we certainly see this thrust in our society, this sense that of accepting all religions. And accepting all religions in the sense that all religions are equal, that all will get you to God. And there’s this push for that acceptance, and you see it in the media, you read about it, you hear various religious leaders making comments. You certainly see newscasters and commentators having thoughts and sharing thoughts along those lines. And there continues to be this, even to this day now, two years or so, year and a half since September 11th. Now I certainly don’t have anything against other religions, but I do believe that the Bible is the Word of God. And I do believe the Bible is what this nation so desperately needs, the truths that are here, this is what we need. And the things that Jesus shares here, well, there’s this thought of “intolerance”, what’s happening in our society is today, you can believe whatever you want to believe, but don’t believe that there’s only one way [to God], don’t believe that, because that is seen as an unpardonable sin, it’s called “intolerance.” And what we have here before us today, and what we continue to see in the Gospel is that the Bible is very narrow. It’s what the culture needs, our country needs, but it’s very narrow. But this acceleration of this thought of intolerance, this unpardonable sin, I’m going to quote to you from the World Magazine, December 15th, an article. The article was called The New Multi-Faith Religion, written by Gene Edward Vaith, and this is what he writes. This is right after September 11th, a couple months later. “The enemy, we’re told, is not Islam,” (of course he says that in relation to September 11th) “but intolerance. It’s that narrow-minded, restricted view of religion that is to blame for the terrorist attacks and the Taliban oppression. People who think theirs is the only true religion are the real enemy, a charge of course that sticks not just to the Taliban but to orthodox Christianity.” Columnist Thomas Friedman says that World War II and the Cold War were fought to defeat secular totalitarianism. He defines religious totalitarianism as a view that one Faith must reign supreme and can be affirmed and held passionately only if all others are negated. So he says, this Thomas Freidman, the new war, he sees, there was World War II, there was the Cold War, the new war in the world is fighting against religious totalitarianism, which according to his definition includes Christianity. So maybe you’re a little bit more simple like me, ‘what is totalitarianism?’. That’s when one government just dominates the society in every aspect, political, social and economic [like Germany in WWII, Communism in the Soviet Union from 1917 to 1989]. So when he says ‘The new war is religious totalitarianism’, he is saying or he is equating Christianity to Communism, or the horror’s of Communism. So, I see that mindset. I’m sure you do also, that mindset being pushed, accelerated in our community, in our culture around us. [Another word for this mindset is “political correctness”.] And it’s very clear that as a born-again Christian, to hold to the simple truth ‘that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, and that nobody can come to the Father except by him, that is through faith in him’, is something that’s becoming less and less popular. In fact the Gospel isn’t really in our society considered ‘Good News’, but it’s something that’s slowly becoming more and more despised. Well, I say this, why do I say this, I say this because of the text that we’re now going to study together. And we’re going to see here that this really isn’t something new at all. In fact it’s something that’s continued throughout Church history, and especially in other parts of the world, not so much in this nation. It’s becoming more prominent, but it’s continued throughout Church history. And the next section we’re going to look at here, verse 18 in John chapter 15, we’ll see that Jesus gives six different reasons, six different reasons why the world hates the Church. Six different reasons, they were true 2,000 years ago, and they’re true also for us today in America. Now I use the word “hate” because he [Jesus] uses the word “hate”. I don’t use the word “dislike”, I use the word “hate”, that’s exactly the word he uses. According to him, ‘Why does the world hate the Church [genuine body of Christ], why does the world do that?’ 1) Well the first reason is, according to Jesus, they hate him, 2) the second reason is we the Church are not like the world, 3) the third reason is they do not know God, 4) the fourth reason, they are convicted of their sin, 5) the fifth reason is at times they do it without a cause, 6) and the sixth reason is there are even times where they think they’re serving God by hating and persecuting the Church. So, lets say a word of prayer here and we’ll get started. But the apostle John in his first Epistle said this “Do not marvel my brethren if the world hates you.” So let’s start with a word of prayer. ‘Father I thank you for the opportunity right now to study your Word. And I confess, Lord, as we come to you, we can just have a Bible study where I just share Scriptures and do my best in expounding upon these principles. But Holy Spirit, if you’re not here in power, well, some folks are going to be distracted, some folks are going to be thinking about lunchtime or thinking about other things. But yet it’s so important that we hear from you. And we’re in a world that even in this culture in America that is quickly changing. And even in America having a different perspective of the Church, and a different understanding of religion and this whole thought of intolerance, and this sin of being different. Well Lord I ask that you Holy Spirit would work in this Bible study, you would speak through me. I ask even now that you’d put a hunger, a greater hunger in the people’s hearts, that you’d even focus them towards you. And I thank you that even when we go through your Word simply, there’s a whole meal for us to take part in. There’s truths and things that we get to chew on, we get to grow by. You say through the hearing of your Word we grow in faith. So Lord, increase our faith. Speak to our hearts. Holy Spirit I’d ask that you’d be upon all of us, and even upon myself now as we go through your Word, in Jesus name, Amen.’
1. Why does the world hate us? 1st reason, because it hated Jesus first
Verses 18-20, ‘“If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you.---So his word “hate”--- If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you’re not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 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.’” You remember last week, as we were studying earlier in this chapter, Jesus, the last subject he was in was this subject of love. He had talked about abiding in him. And as he talked about abiding in him, one of the results of abiding in Christ is a greater experience of that love relationship we can have with God. But also as I abide in the Lord, there’s also this greater love in my heart now for other people. And Jesus was exhorting the Church that there should be a love relationship in the Church, we should love one another. [When he says Church, he is both talking about the local congregation, and the whole body of Christ that is made up of denominations filled with Holy Spirit indwelt individuals.] So he’s talking about the subject of love. In fact in verse 17, the very preceding thought before what we just read, he says “These things I command to you, that you love one another.” So he’s speaking of love. And now his very next thought, there is this change. He goes from love, to hate, and that’s a complete opposite, that’s going the opposite direction. Why the change? Well he moves from considering and addressing the relationships within the Church, and now he talks about the relationship of the Church in the world [or the relationship between the Church and the world]. And though we as Christians [or Messianic Jewish believers] are to love people, we’re to love all, we’re to love people in the world, we’re to love our enemies---as Christians that are in the world, walking among the world, we’re not necessarily going to have a reciprocal relationship with the world. We may love them, but as he says here, “If the world hates me, the world may very well hate us.” And that brings us to our first point, the first reason here in verse 18, ‘Why does the world hate us?’. He says in verse 18, ‘If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you.’ ‘If the world hates you, you know that the world hated me’, so just remember that, consider that. If the world hates you, they also hated me, and that’s therefore understandable that they would hate you.’ It’s clear from Jesus’ words here, especially as we just keep moving here, and follow the events that come from here, that the world hates Jesus. In fact, the world is going to take Jesus, in just a short time, a few hours from this point, and take him and mock him, scorn him, scourge him, put a crown of thorns on him, and just belittle him, and then put him on a cross. That’s what the world is going to do to Jesus in a very short time from this conversation that he’s having with his disciples. If you remember from last week, he’s en-route to the Garden of Gethsemane, and he’s sharing these truths. Maybe they’re actually at the Garden by this time. And he’s sharing these truths with his disciples. But the world hates Jesus, that’s what Jesus says, and certainly we’ll see it as we follow. Now that’s consistent with the prophecies of the Old Testament. Isaiah chapter 53, verse 3, “He is despised and rejected by men.” Despised, he is despised. That word is “loathed”, a tremendous hatred. He is despised, the prophet Isaiah said. So Jesus, certainly we see in his life, that was fulfilled, he was hated by the world. The world hates him, the world loathes him, despises him, and we’re going to talk about the reasons why as we go on. But it’s because the world hates him, that we should not marvel when the world hates us. I’ll quote to you Charles Spurgeon, “Therefore there is nothing to wonder at when men slander and abuse us. It is their ordinary manner of saluting every vessel that bears our Great Captain’s flag.” I like the way Spurgeon just had a way with words. But that’s their salute. They hated Jesus, and when they see a vessel bearing his name, bearing his flag, their salute is hatred, towards also the Church. So, as a Christian, I carry that flag. And as I carry that flag, I should then not be surprised if the world hates me. Now, with that, if I profess to be a believer in Jesus Christ, and I never experience the hatred of the world, but I generally find out that I’m pretty popular among the world, I’m pretty popular with people of the world, and with just the mindset of the world, then there should be a concern, there should be a concern. Jesus emphatically stated in Luke chapter 6, verse 26, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, woe to you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets.” He says ‘Woe to you when all men speak well of you.’ So, if the world hates me, I shouldn’t be surprised, because I’m a Christian [or Messianic believer in Jesus], and they hated Jesus. But if they don’t hate me, then there should be a concern. Jesus said “Woe to you when all men speak well of you.” I’m going to quote to you J. Vernon McGee. Sometimes he says it nicely. “I believe that a Christian’s popularity can be an indication of how he is representing Christ to the world. I do not believe a Christian can be popular in the world. No Christian has any right to be more popular than Jesus was. And was Jesus popular? Jesus was not popular in the world’s eyes.” So if I’m popular, then there’s something wrong. McGee continues, “The world will not love a real child of God, the world will hate you if you are a child of God. This is difficult, especially for young people who want so much to be popular. Let’s tell our young people what the Lord says. They’re not going to be popular with the world if they’re children of God.” And then McGee goes even a little further, he says this, “Beware of the Christian whose popular with the world.” He even goes further, he says if there’s a Christian, somebody who says they’re a Christian, and they’re popular with the world, beware of them, because there’s something not right there. Maybe they’re not what they are professing to be. And what happens is, the world will hate you at times, and those that put on the Christian name, but aren’t really Christians will turn against you at times, when you’re just standing for the ways of the Lord. Jesus says, ‘Don’t be surprised if the world hates you, for it hated me first.’ And then the Scripture says, be concerned when the world does not hate you. Another saint put it this way, “Better to incur the world’s hated by testifying against it’s wickedness, than gain it’s goodwill by going downstream with it.” Better to be in that place where there’s persecution than to be just going along with the flow and not causing any waves. I think of John Wesley, I shared this story before, but he certainly had this understanding. John Wesley was riding along a road one day, when it dawned on him that three whole days had passed in which he had suffered no persecution. Not a brick or an egg had been thrown at him for three days. Alarmed, he stopped his horse and exclaimed ‘Can it be that I’ve sinned and am backslidden?’” ‘I’m not being persecuted, something’s wrong. I must not be walking with the Lord, or something’, that was his attitude. “Slipping from his horse, Wesley went down on his knees and began interceding with God to show him where if any there had been any fault. A rough fellow on the other side of the hedge hearing the prayer, looked across and recognized the preacher. ‘I’ll fixed that Methodist preacher’, he said, picking up a brick and tossing it over at him. It missed the mark and fell harmlessly beyond Wesley, whereupon Wesley leaped to his feet and joyfully exclaimed ‘Thank God, it’s alright! [laughter] I still have his presence.’” So Wesley said, if people aren’t throwing bricks at me, man, something’s not right. I’m not really living that life of Christ. Because Jesus says the world hates me, himself, if the world hated him, if the world is going to see Christ in me, if they’re really seeing Christ, it’s going to bother the world. That’s the teaching here of Jesus, and the teaching of the New Testament. [And the Old too, twice I’ve read a statement by Yahweh where he lamented that the people of Israel had rejected him, so this was nothing new to Jesus. cf. Numbers 14:11b and 1 Samuel 8:7-8.] If the world hates me, then that says that they see in me, there’s a Christ-likeness. Now, we should also note there for a moment, Jesus is not referring to when believers, because of a lack of discernment, or because of a lack of, or maybe because of carnality in their life, have done things and now the world has turned against them, he’s not referring to that. And what I mean is, there are times, I can think of some individuals I’ve known, I think of one individual, there’s times where Christians will shake their fist at the world, and will condemn the world, I know of times where it’s happened, people standing in large groups of people, you know, non-Christians, getting up and just shaking their fist at the world. Well of course the world is going to get angry at them. [Like that church, I believe out in Ohio, that condemned Heath Leger upon his death, saying he is now burning in hell-fire, while his parents were grieving his death, was over the top and did not show the Spirit of God nor the love of God in their misguided actions of public condemnation.] But that’s not what Jesus is referring to here. I mean, that’s a fool, and that person has just brought upon themselves that wrath [as that church congregation has done]. What he’s referring to is when the world hates you, is when you’re Christ-like. And Jesus loved the world. Jesus died on the cross for the world. So, there are times, that sometimes maybe we’ve done it, where we’ve brought on wrath from the world. I know of people that have done that, that have said ‘Oh I’m being persecuted.’ But they’re not being persecuted, they’ve sowed to the wind and reaped the whirlwind is what’s happened. That’s not what he’s referring to here. He’s referring to living a life like Christ, and having the world hate you. And in fact we’ll go on, he’ll say ‘They hated me without a cause’, meaning, he didn’t do anything against them, he just loved them, tried to minister to them, tried to encourage them. And yet they took him and they were spiteful against him, and they took him and they put him on a cross and crucified him. Well, Jesus says here, this is being hated when we live like Christ, when we’re loving others, and of course with that love comes truth. But that truth is coupled with love. When we’re doing that, we should expect that the world is not going to like that. In fact, Luke, in Luke Jesus talks about “Woe to you when all men speak well of you”, Jesus says that in Luke chapter 6. But the words that follow right after that are these, “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on one cheek offer the other also, and from him who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you and from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.” He says ‘Woe to all men who speak well of you.’ But then he goes on to talk about loving people and turning our cheek, and living that life of Christ. So, well when I live the life of Christ, I shouldn’t be surprised that the world hates me. And I should remember that it first hated Jesus, and therefore it’s going to hate anything that bears the Captain’s flag. Now verse 20 he says, “Remember, a servant is not greater than his master.” And we of course are servants of the Lord, and we’re not going to be greater than the Master. So if the Master has been persecuted and I’m following him and loving him and pointing people to him, I can expect that they’re going to persecute me also. Charles Spurgeon again put it this way, “How can we expect those who crowned him with thorns to crown us with roses.” When they put thorns on him, why would I expect they would put roses on my head? Well, the question to you then this morning, you’re here in this congregation Sunday morning, it’s December 12th, have you endured persecution as a believer, have you endured persecution as a believer? If you have, you’re told to remember Jesus endured the same, and that should encourage you. People are seeing Christ in your life. But if you’re not, then be warned, be warned. If people in the world are so comfortable around you, be warned. Is it that they’re not seeing Christ in you? Is it you’re not appearing any different? Well then, be warned. That should be a concern to you. And that leads us to our second point.
2. The world is going to hate us because we are not like them
Verse 19, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” Jesus explains that the world will hate us because it first hated him (verse 18). But also the world’s going to hate us because we are not like them. We should not be like them. We are different. And that, in and of itself, Jesus says, is one reason why the world is going to hate you. Jesus says the world loves its own, the world loves its own. It even praises, it even exalts those who typify what the world’s heart and desires are. The world loves its own. I remember in New York City this summer, we were down their ministering in one hotel, the Radio City Music Hall was just down the road, and there were different things going on, MTV music awards were going on. And I remember the street there, and that street there, I think it’s Broadway, busy street in New York City in Manhattan, and you’ve got different television studios, and things going on. So anyway I was walking down the street and I noticed this one guy I’ve seen on television before, and when I’ve seen him on television, I’ve noted, man, that guy clearly is not a Godly man. He clearly represents lust and sin, and I won’t say his name [he didn’t bump into that famous shock-jock, did he? Oh, man!], but he clearly represents that element of life. Well, I saw him, and of course, I’m not all that excited, you know, I pray for him, but I’m not like ‘Wow! What an opportunity to get to meet this guy’, I know what he represents, you know. My heart goes out to him, pray for him. But as I was walking, these other ladies were walking by too, and I heard them, they were all excited about seeing this guy. Man, they were as giddy as can be that they saw this guy. What a privilege for them to see him, you know, and be able to meet him. And that’s what he’s saying, the world loves its own, loves its own. Those especially, you know the enemy’s looking for those vessels that’ll just say ‘Here I am, use me.’ And he’ll take you up, man, he’ll put you on the top of the Rock Charts, he’ll put you on the top of the movie billboards, if you want to open your life to that, and say ‘This is it.’ The world loves its own. But, as Jesus says here, the world doesn’t like when you’re different, doesn’t like when you’re standing for something else. And because of that, as Christians, we should then understand that the world is going to hate us. We should not be like the world. In fact, Jesus says here, ‘If you were of the world they’d love you, but you’re not of the world, because I chose you out of the world. I’ve taken you out of the world, and now you should be different. And as a result, they’re going to hate you.’ Just like, you know, chicks. You got a bunch of little chicks, little chickens, and when there’s one that’s different, maybe you’ve seen that before, they’ll start pecking at that one that’s different, the one that seems weak in any way, and they’ll keep pecking and pecking until they actually kill it. I remember being young, and when I was young my Dad was in the Air Force and we lived one time in New Mexico, there was a family, the Golden’s, they owned a farm, a really nice farm, and the Lord really used the Golden’s in my Mom’s life. My Mom came to Christ I think through them. And I remember being young, I have this memory we went to their farm and went into one of the buildings. And there was that big box on the floor with a screen around it, and all these little chicks running around, a hundred little chicks running around. But there was the one chick that was different. And you could see, it was bloodied, and they weren’t leaving it alone, they were picking at it, and if you didn’t take that little chick out of there, that chick was going to end up dead. That chick was different. And it’s the same principle in the world. If you’re different, you’re going to stand out, and the world doesn’t like when you’re different. William Barkley puts it this way, “It is even said that if a hen with different markings was put among hens that are all alike, the others will peck her to death. The basic demand on the Christian is the demand that he should have the courage to be different. To be different will be dangerous. But no man can be a Christian unless he accepts that risk. For there must be a difference between the man of the world and the man of Christ, there must be a difference.” So, the question then to us, does the world hate me? Now when I say that, I’m not speaking in, you know, you’ve got all these zillions of enemies, but maybe you do, and maybe you do for the right reasons. But is the world uncomfortable, is there a dislike, is there a difference in your life? If there isn’t, why not? If there isn’t, why not? Is it possible that in our culture, the world has not become more Christian, but the Church [greater body of Christ] has become more worldly? Maybe that’s what’s happening in our culture. Well, then we consider, if that’s the case we consider some of the exhortations in the New Testament. Paul says in Romans chapter 12, verse 2, “Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” James says in his Epistle, chapter 4, verse 4, “Adulterers and adulteresses, do you know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” 1st John chapter 2, verse 15, John will tell us later as we study this Epistle, “Do not love the world, or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” So, friendship with the world, it shouldn’t be in a Christian life, and if it isn’t in the Christian life, then we can expect, the world hated Jesus, and the world hates that which is different, loves its own, but if you’re going to be different and stand out, the world isn’t going to like that. So, where are we today as we study these things?
3. They hate us because they do not know God
Verse 21, brings us to our next point. “But all these things they will do to you for my name’s sake, because they do not know him who sent me.” ‘They’ll do this to you, because you bear my name, for my name’s sake, they’ll even persecute you, they’ll do this,’---the 3rd point that we want to note---‘is because they do not know God.’ As he says there in verse 21, “…because they do not know him who sent me.” They do not know God. Now, he says that, of course, as we go on, he is especially at this moment, his first audience is the disciples, and he’s referring to the religious leaders. These zealously religious people who can quote chapter and verse, can tell you all about Jehovah God, do all sorts of things to defend their doctrine, but they certainly persecuted Jesus and put him on the cross. And Jesus says they do that because they do not know God. They might be part of a religious system, they may wear the garments, they put on the phrases and look a certain way, but they don’t know God, and it’s because of that, that they stand against you, they don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This has certainly been a truth throughout Church history. Religious people, the children of God being persecuted by religious people. You think of the Spanish Inquisition, if you’ve never read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs [see http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/martyrs/index.htm.], man, you ought to read it, and you’ll find that a lot of the persecution that happened to the early Church, of course Rome, the government, but also even later the [Catholic] Church itself, the supposed Church, this religious system turned against people that had Christ in their hearts, born-again believers, and killed them in all kinds of horrific ways, burned them at the stake. You read about the time of Bloody Mary and the Dark Ages, that medieval period, a lot of that was at the hands of the supposed Church, Christians, families, tied to a stake and lit on fire, burned alive. There’s a story that shows that indeed, I mean, even the Spanish Inquisition, this was supposed to be part of the religious system, that will persecute believers. “In the last century when Napoleon’s army opened a prison that had been used by the Spanish Inquisition, they found the remains of a prisoner who had been incarcerated for his faith. The dungeon was underground. The body had long since decayed…[some text lost due to tape switchover]…but he’s writing on the wall the love of Christ, the love of Christ, the love of Christ. [Comment: If Church history interests you, you may find the studies at these links fascinating. Preceding the Spanish Inquisition was the Inquisition by the Catholic Church against Sabbatarian Church of God believers in France, the Waldensians, Cathars and Albigensians. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/revivals3.htm and read through the link that follows. When you find Sabbatarian Churches of God springing up in England from the 1300’s through 1600’s, similar persecution arises from the Church of England. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/historycog1.htm and read that first link. Also the people that settled Plymouth Plantation, our very own Pilgrim fathers, went through similar religious persecution. An excellent article about them and what they went through can be found at http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/saga.htm.] And that’s what he’s saying here. Of course the religious leaders are going to put Jesus on the cross. They absolutely hate him. And they hate him because they do not know God [the Father, literally “him who sent me”], they do not know God, that’s what he says. They got the religion, but they don’t have the relationship. And they’re offended by what Jesus represents. So, it can happen to you and I too. You know, we’re not necessarily meant to be undisturbed, maybe there’s another religious group that doesn’t like me as a pastor because of the things that I say. And if they don’t I want to love them, I want to encourage them, but because they don’t love me, maybe they’ll hate me. But I’m not to be surprised, I’m not to be surprised, I’m identifying with Christ. And Jesus says they don’t know God, they don’t know God. Without Christ, they don’t know God.
4. They’re going to hate us because they’re convicted of their sin by looking at us
Verses 22-25, “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.” We have two more points in these verses. Well here we see this principle, we’ve seen it before too, this principle that of having a responsibility. The more knowledge a man has, the more spiritual information he receives about God and about Christ, the more privileges he enjoys in that sense, the greater the responsibility laid upon him. The greater the light given to you, the greater responsibility with that light. Jesus says in these verses, if he had never come, men would have no sin. Now what is he saying? Is he saying they weren’t sinners? They are sinners. And of course they’re guilty of their sin. But what he’s saying is they have less of an excuse, because when he came he’s the light of the world, and as the light, man, he shone. And as he walked, man, his life said ‘There’s sin in your life.’ You need to turn to me and repent of your sin.’ So he says to them, “If I hadn’t come, they’d have no sin.” He refers especially to that sin of denying him. But now that he’s come as the light, there’s no excuse. You remember, we even saw it in our Bible study this week, as we’re reading through the Bible again, Matthew chapter 11. Jesus says to certain communities, man, he came there, he ministered, did all kinds of miracles, but they didn’t turn to him, and this is what he says, “Woe to you Corazon, woe to you Bethsaida, for if the mighty works which were done in you had been in Tyre and Sidon they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.” So referring to responsibility that comes with light. And he says to these communities there on the Sea of Galilee at that time, religious communities, Jewish communities, ‘Man, Sodom and Gomorrah is gonna be better off. And God pelted down fire and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, they’re going to be better off in the day of judgment than you.’ How come? Because Jesus the light came. He even lived in Capernaum. He even stayed there a lot, he just ministered, they have no excuse, all kinds of opportunity, all kinds of light. I think the truth can be said, too, in this community, it can be said in our nation. In this community there are a couple Christian radio stations, all sorts of churches, even Evangelical churches, teaching the Word of God, Christians all around, sharing the Gospel. And God says I believe to this city in the North County, ‘Hey man, you’ve got the light, you’ve got no excuse. You heard the Gospel, man.’ Sure there are some that haven’t in the community, but many of us have, many of us have. Well, having been exposed to the light, and then not wanting to turn to the light, wanting to remain in the darkness, that causes the hatred towards Jesus, makes them uncomfortable, they’re convicted of their sin, they don’t want to be convicted of their sin. So therefore the response is hatred. They hated Jesus because he came and the way he lived convicted them. They didn’t want to change. So they hated. You know, John wrote earlier, in John chapter 3, verse 19, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed [King James “reproved”].” Well if that is the case with Christ, Christ the light of the world, then the New Testament now says as a Christian [or Messianic Jewish believer] I also am a light, the light is in me. And if the light is in me, it should be seen through me. Remember Jesus said in the parable, ‘Do you take a light and put it under your bed?’. I don’t know if any of us do that, kind of strange to do [especially if it is a lantern, like in the days of Jesus, you’d set your bed on fire!], light up underneath your bed. You take a light and you put it out so that it gives light. Light is in us, we should be transmitting light to this community as Christians. And of course the church does that to varying degrees. [And on international levels it does so through organizations like Samaritan’s Purse. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/samaritan_purse.htm.] And because of that, if he came, and it convicted their hearts, and they responded with hatred, as the Church, just being Christians [or Messianic believers] will cause people, that light, that salt, cause people to be convicted, they’ll say ‘I don’t like that, I don’t want to be like that, I like the way that I am, you’re making me feel uncomfortable, you make me doubt that I’m doing the right thing, yet I want to do this’, and the response is hatred. So I shouldn’t be surprise. And the next reason that Jesus says we should expect persecution, in fact we’re told Jesus promises the Church [body of Christ] persecution, one of the reasons they’re going to hate us is because they’re convicted of their sin. And I don’t have to do anything. I think of the story of Billy Graham. I remember hearing this story, he was playing golf with some guys. After the golf, one of the guys he played with was extremely upset at Billy Graham. Somebody asked him, ‘Why are you so mad at Billy Graham? What did he do?’ ‘He didn’t do anything.’ ‘What did he say?’ ‘He didn’t say a word.’ ‘Why are you upset at Billy Graham?’ ‘Because I’m just upset at Billy Graham, of who he is!’ It just rubbed on that guy, Billy Graham, Billy Graham’s life, what he represents. Well, we’re told, Jesus tells us in the Gospels we’re the light, Paul told the church in Thessalonica that ‘You are all sons of light, and sons of the day.’ We are not of the night or of darkness.’ And you know I remember in college, one apartment I lived in, I’m sure it would give some of the gals here the willies, this apartment I lived in, I had to put out those roach motels, you know, cockroaches like crazy. In fact, I needed to build like a complex for these [laughter], I mean these guys needed a condo development there were so many cockroaches in this apartment. But you never saw them. You only saw them if you got up in the middle of the night and turned on the light in the kitchen, man, they would just go everywhere. But you get up in the morning, they’d just go to those motels and, I was amazed, maybe hundreds, literally I caught in that…that gives some of you the willies, it didn’t bother me that much. But cockroaches, they don’t like the light. They see the light, they run. Now a moth is attracted to the light. Certain bugs are, certain aren’t. And it’s the same with the spiritual light, the truth [of God], some are attracted to the light, ‘As in Christ, as a Christian I want the light, I go towards it.’ But there are some that say, ‘Light!?, Augh!’, and they run the other way. [Comment: It has been stated that God is really into calling those that are attracted to the light, those that really love Jesus even as unbelievers. Others God will not, or cannot call to himself, draw to himself and salvation, because they hate the light, the truth of God and his Word, the Bible. Only makes sense. So our job, it would seem, would be to reach those who are already predisposed to accept Jesus into their lives, but just haven’t had the opportunity to yet. The others right now, it would appear, are just in the way. I don’t know, that’s the way it looks.] And being that light, there are many, the world in general it sees the light as repulsive and despises the light. And therefore as a Christian, they’re going to have that heart towards me. You know, Jesus referring to the Church [body of Christ] in Matthew chapter 5 as being lights, he precedes that very thought with this thought, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (verses 10-12). His very next thought as he’s talking about persecution, he goes into talking about ‘You are the salt of the earth, and you are the light’ (verses 13-16). He precedes it with persecution, meaning, with light, with being that salt, with living that life of Christ, there is going to be persecution. There’s this story of this Athenian, this Greek statesman- general, this guy was a tremendous general and historically had so great victories in battles, that battle of Marathon and others. He lived quite a long time ago, thousands of years ago [around 485 BC, See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristides . Battle of Marathon, see http://joseph_berrigan.tripod.com/ancientbabylon/id27.html.]. There’s this story of this man, he was referred to as Aristides the Just. And as the story goes, that though he was called Aristides the Just, he was later banished by the government and by his own people. And one of the citizens was asked, ‘Why did you vote for him to be banished?’ and he answered, ‘Because I’m tired of hearing him always called The Just….just bugs me.’ He was a great general, and brought great victory for them, but the Just, he lived differently evidently. They called him The Just, and it just unnerved people. And because of that, they wanted him out of their community, banished him. [Interesting, Sparta, the military army strength of all Greece fell out of favor with all of Greece, while Athens gained supremacy. The Spartans were noted for their always being super-law-abiding. It is said that a contingent of Spartans were at the Athenian games, sitting in one section where the games were held, in the midst of other seated Athenians. An elderly man was looking hopelessly for a seat. He finally ended up near where the Spartans were seated. Every last Spartan rose and offered his seat to the elderly man. As the saying in Greece went, “All Greeks know what is right, the Spartans do it.” Is it any wonder the Spartans fell out of grace with the rest of Greece?] And he was only good to them. But that’s what Jesus is saying here. Don’t be surprised when the world hates you, and one of the reasons it’s going to hate you is because of the life that you live, just simply living the life, you don’t even have to say a word, just being who you are is going to rub the world the wrong way. Now Jesus says a very strong statement in verse 23, it’s bold, and this is the Word of God. Jesus would be considered, if he were here today, the world would say “You’re intolerant, Jesus.” Jesus says in verse 23, “He who hates me, hates my Father also.” If you hate Jesus, you hate the Father also. Now Jesus says, “If you love me, you love the Father”, but then he says in order to love me, those who love me obey my commands, those who love me follow me. And if you don’t do that, Jesus says at another time “If you’re not for me, you’re against me.” So to be against Jesus, Jesus says, is to be against God. He said earlier in John chapter 5, verse 23, “That all should honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son, does not honor the Father who sent him.” So he makes another very emphatic statement of intolerance. He doesn’t condemn, he died for the world, he laid his life down that any man, whatever part of the globe, one could come to God have a fulfilling life. But yet he says ‘There’s only one way. And if you’re against me (Jesus), if you reject me, you reject God also.’ So, he’s told us that before too.
5. “They hated me without a cause”, so they hate us also without a cause
Well, verse 25, he says then, “They have done these things,” and he says “this is to fulfill the Scripture, They hated me without a cause.” And that’s true. Jesus was only good to them, only loved them, died for the world. So he says “They hated me with a cause.” That fulfills the Scriptures in the Old Testament. Of course Psalm 69, those are the words of David. David says “Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs on my head.” A godly man, a man that followed God. “They are mighty who would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully. Though I have stolen nothing, I still must restore it.” And he goes on, he’s an innocent victim. They’re against him, hasn’t done anything wrong. That can be uncomfortable as a Christian. I’m just trying to love people, I’m trying to be good to my family members, I’m trying to make a difference in my community, I’m trying to reach out to them in a positive way in my neighborhood. Yet these people are against me, they’re against me. That can be hard. Well, then, that leads us to our next verse here. And it is hard, and then we’ll see in next weeks study, we’re not alone here.
“When the Comforter comes…he will testify of me”
Verses 26-27, “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.” He talks about persecution, he talks then about the Holy Spirit. I tell you, we need the Holy Spirit. As we go on we’ll see this next week. It isn’t easy when people are against me without a cause. I’m trying to be kind to them, and they’re not being kind to me. I’m trying to encourage them in the truth, and they’re only hating me in response. That’s not easy. But here in the midst of that he refers to the Helper, the Holy Spirit. And we’ll see in our next study, man, it’s through the Holy Spirit that I’m able to stand in the midst of this. It’s through the Holy Spirit that I can stand in the armour of God. It’s through the Holy Spirit that I can continue to love and continue to be patient and turn the other cheek, it’s a supernatural power that comes from God. The Helper, he certainly helps me in that. And I’ll quote to you Warren Wiersby, “Until the Lord returns, or until we die, we must live in this hostile world and face continued opposition. How can we do it? What is the secret of victory? It is the presence and power of the Holy Spirit of God in our lives.” Again, we’ll talk about that more next study. Well, he says ‘The Helper, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, he will testify of me.’ The Holy Spirit points to Jesus Christ. And then he says to the disciples, ‘You’ve been with me from the beginning, and you also will be a witness, and as you’re a witness, there’s going to be persecution, so you need the power of the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit points to Christ. So as a Christian, I have the Holy Spirit in me. And if the Holy Spirit is really working in and through me, what does he do? He always points to Jesus. It says right here, he points to Jesus, “He will testify of me.” And the Holy Spirit working in and through me, that’s going to be certainly what’s happening, Christ is going to be magnified, Christ is going to be pointed to. And that results in persecution. It’s funny, the two are right there together in this passage. But you know, God also uses that. He uses that to his glory. I stand for Christ, I receive persecution, the Holy Spirit is working through me. But even that persecution God works to his glory. In fact, in many instances, the persecution itself results in a greater witness for Christ. [Comment: A sixteen year old son of a Messianic Jewish pastor in Israel, himself a believer and constant witness for Yeshua in Israel was the victim of a pipe-bomb blast. His name was Amiel Ortiz. Israeli police investigators said it was the work of extreme Orthodox Jewish zealots. Before this event, most Israeli’s had no clear idea what a Messianic Jewish believer in Yeshua haMeshiach was. Headlines splashed across all the Israeli media soon explained that for the average Israeli citizen, putting Messianic Jewish believers in Yeshua on the front page of the news---and all as a result of one extreme event of persecution against believers in Jesus Christ, one event. Another article in Israel Today Magazine starts out, “First from the staggering news of a near-fatal bomb that exploded in the hands of Amiel Ortiz, a Messianic teenager in the settlement of Ariel who continues to make a miraculous recovery…” Another article that showed up in Israeli Press which brought much exposure to the Messianic community, “the torching of New Testaments by ultra-Orthodox zealots brought exposure to the Messianic community.” Source: July 2008 number of Israel Today Magazine.] Times of persecution, in fact, in Church history, have often been times when there’s also been times of great witness. I was reading an article called “Building the Church, What seems to us like defeat can become a great victory” written by John Piper. And he speaks of this in China. “Was Christ building his Church in China when the Communists triumphed in 1949, ending 150 years of Protestant missionary presence?” 150 years, doors open in China. Hudson Taylor, missionaries working, sharing Christ. Now Mao Zedong comes in as this Communist dictator and pushes out the Church. He goes on, “The growth of the Church in China since then has no parallel in history. Mao Zedong unwittingly became the greatest evangelist in history. He sought to destroy all the religious superstition, but in the process clearly cleared spiritual roadblocks for the advancement of Christianity.” Mao Zedong? A great evangelist? That guy was against, hated the Church, closed the door for missionaries coming into China, pushed out the Church, persecuted the Church, but the Church just exploded, it was like putting gasoline on a fire. And that’s what persecution does. Persecution also, you know, I share the Lord, as I share the Lord there is this hatred, persecution, but often God uses that for a greater witness, a greater witness in the midst of it.
6. There are even times where they think they are serving God by hating and persecuting the Church---the body of Christ
Chapter 16, we’re going to look at the first four verses and make our last point. John 16:1-4, “These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble.”---he warns his disciples, they’ve had him with them, he’s protected them, he’s helped them, he’s defended them, but he’s about to leave, and now he warns them about what’s going to happen. They’re going to be persecuted---“They will put you out of the synagogues. Yes the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God’s service.” There will be people that are actually killing you, persecuting you, they’ll take your life, that will think they are actually serving God as they do it. “And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor me. 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.” So he wasn’t saying that earlier, but now it’s time, he’s sharing it with them. But he says the day is going to come. You’re going to have experiences where people will actually kill you in the name of God. You know, I read that, obviously in our present age, especially these last two years, you think of this fanatic Islam, no doubt, fanatic Islam, I mean, they’re taught by their own religious leaders that we’re in this new century of Islam. The intent is that the entire globe will be taken over by Islam. And to them, to kill Christians, to them is honorable, if they need to do that, to clean up society. You see that in Malaysia, all over. Of course, our Press doesn’t carry a lot of that. Sudan, you know, south Sudan, just carnage, carnage because of the Muslim north, in the name of God. Now you can say that, but what about the [Catholic] Church and the Crusaders? The Crusaders, if they honestly went and killed people, they weren’t the Church [i.e. they didn’t represent the true body of Christ, but they did represent the Catholic church. See that previous link to Foxes Book of Martyrs and figure that one out on your own]. They may have had the badge, but you don’t kill anybody in the name of Christ. That’s wicked and evil. So yeah, there are those in history that have had a Christian badge that weren’t Christians. But Islam, you think of it today, and you think of what’s going on around this globe, and the intention of fanatic Islam, is to occupy the entire globe, that is for sure. And if you don’t believe that, I can give you some great books you can read on that. Well, that’s our last point. It’s amazing that people can actually come against me, and you see that. Right? You see that there in that baseball stadium in New York City, there with Oprah Winfrey. Now if I was to stand up in that stadium and say “Jesus is Lord, and he’s the only way”, man, I know, I’d have been dragged out of there. I’d have been arrested. And they would rejoice, going ‘Oh! Look what we did for the cause of God.’ For the cause of God? Somebody shared the Gospel, somebody shared the truth about Jesus Christ, and love of course? Well that’s what Jesus is saying. And it’s true. You and I, as we stand up even in our community, there will be people that will come against us, and feel they’re actually serving God as they come against us. Amazing, isn’t it? But it’s true. It’s true. He says to them, “They’ll put you out of the synagogue”. Of course, a Jew being put out of the synagogue, that was very humiliating, and that [back then] would make it hard for you to make commerce, and it would really put you in a certain light in the community if you were put out of the synagogue. But as Joan of Ark said, it’s better to be alone with God, better to be alone with God. Sometimes loneliness is the price we have to pay in order to have fellowship with God. But better to be alone with God, then to be with men who are against God. When he says the word “service” there, that word “service”, they’re going to kill you thinking they’re offering “service” to God, that word is the Greek word “latria” and it’s the normal word for the word “service” when a priest would go and serve at the altar. That’s the same word. They’re actually thinking they’re serving at the altar, serving God, having this religious service as they come against you. Of course Paul, Acts chapter 26, when he makes his defense there before Festus and Agrippa, he says “Indeed I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.” He confesses that at times in the name of religion, thinking he was serving God, he would go and arrest Christians, even having them put to death, thinking he was serving God. Well then Jesus appeared to him and his eyes were opened. Well, we as Christians [and Messianic Jewish believers in Yeshua], as we stand for the Lord, there’ll be even at times people who’ll come against us, and think they’re serving God. Look at the progression of the world’s hatred. We have hatred in verses 18 and 19, persecution in verse 20, we’ve had many hate us, we’ve had maybe persecution as a Christian, but then excommunication and even death. Look at just the progression of that. Well, here we are this Sunday [or Saturday] morning, and as believers in Jesus Christ [Yeshua haMeshiach], have we endured hatred? Have we endured persecution. Be encouraged if you have. This means that you’re living the life of Christ. And to live the life of Christ, they hated Jesus, so they’re going to hate you too. And maybe you even had opposition in the name of God, and you’re just standing for Jesus. Now, if you’re having opposition because you’re living carnally and you’re being judgmental [like that church out in the Midwest condemning Heath Leger after he died], then be wise, and repent. Peter reminds the Church [body of Christ] in his first Epistle, “If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you. For the Spirit of glory and of God rest upon you, on their part he’s blasphemed but on your part he’s glorified.” If you are reproached, if you’ve been having a hard time with a family member, maybe even a spouse, maybe a child, maybe a parent, maybe a co-worker, ‘Man, this is tough, this is unfair’, Peter says ‘Blessed are you, because the Spirit of God is upon you, the Spirit of God is working in your life.’ Also, when I am persecuted, I can know that I am identifying with Christ, but he also is there with me in that suffering. When Jesus appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus, he appeared to him, this man who was persecuting Christians [actually, Messianic Jewish believers at that period in Church history], persecuting the Church, he said to him “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” So you’re going through a hard time in the name of Christ, man, know that Jesus is there with you. And when the Church [body of Christ] is persecuted, it’s Christ that’s being persecuted. Well, why does the world hate us? 1) They hated Jesus, 2) we’re not like them, 3) they don’t know God, 4) they’re convicted of their sin, 5) they do it without a cause, 6) and at times they even think they’re serving God. Let’s close in prayer.” [transcript of a sermon given somewhere in New England on John 15:18-27; 16:1-4.]