The Gospel of John XXXII:
Conviction and Guidance
September 20, 2009
Main Point(s) of sermon:
· The coming of the HS means Jesus goes from one time, place and culture to all times, places, and cultures, through us.
· The HS also has a role towards the non-Christians, convicting them.
· Unbelief is the mother of all sins and the most destructive of them.
· The Spirit is a guide through the jungles of ideas and truth-claims and helps us contextualize Jesus.
Objectives of sermon:
· To help us understand the Spirit’s role as the convict-er of the world and guide of the believer and therefore seek him more.
· 029, 082, 084, 087
· Newb., Spurgeon & Piper
· Gen 3, Acts 10-11
· Full “Correction”
Scripture reading: john 16:8-13
The Elders: I came across as excessively critical of Calvinists. While I believe that many Calvinist go too far I have great respect for my Calvinist brothers and sisters.
I have been tremendously impacted by many Reformed pastors; 2 of 3 pastors who have most influenced my preaching are Reformed. Calvinists excel at emphasizing God’s supremacy in all things.
· I am far more likely to attend a Reformed conference.
Summary: I am not “anti-Calvinist” or that I am Arminianist. The Gathering has specifically chosen to remain neutral on this and there is even some diversity among Eldership on these issues.
Last month’s passage, Jesus started talking about the Holy Spirit. He talked about how the Spirit helps us to obey, takes us from being externally motivated to internally.
· He’s a helper, reminded us what Jesus said, and brings peace.
After talking about the vine and about persecution, Jesus returns to the Spirit. We are going to look at two unique roles the Spirit plays: Convicting the world and guiding Christians.
I would guess that most Christians either underutilize or misuse the Holy Spirit. Help us to more fully understand and lean on your Spirit, who you sent as your all-sufficient gift.
· He is you – the more of him we have, the more of you we have.
Jesus’ parting gift
Talking about the Holy Spirit can make people a little bit nervous. Whether or not you grew up Pentecostal, the Spirit can seem weird or scary, with images of people being pushed over.
· He has been found guilty by association.
So I don’t have to do another “correction,” the Pentecostal movement has been vital for restoring pursuit of the Spirit from an era that was timid.
In Jesus’ mind, the Gift of the Spirit was the best thing (or one) he could give us. In some ways even better than himself:
Why is it better?
John 16:4-15 I did not tell you this at first because I was with you. 5 “Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. 7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
Jesus genuinely saw his leaving as best thing: If you had to choose between me staying here or getting the Spirit, you really should choose the Sprit. Why?
It’s not that the Spirit does more than Jesus but the Spirit can be in all places. While Jesus was in his body, he was limited. The Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus, unlimited: Jesus unplugged.
· Jesus in the body wasn’t just limited physically: So long as Jesus remained a man, he would be tied to a time and place.
This is a really good thing in that we know he was a historical verifiable person. But it limits his ability to be received by each time, culture, and individual.
· Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus has been able to be received by many cultures as their own.
The Church of the Annunciation is great example. Jesus came in one form, and most of these are inaccurate in that sense, but accurate in larger sense. This is what Jesus meant earlier:
John 14:12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
Not that we would do better miracles than him, but that by the Sprit (who came because Jesus went to the Father), we will bring Jesus to many times, places, and cultures.
Ä Now Jesus talks more about what the Spirit will do.
Convicting the world
8 When he comes, he [not “it, breaks rules of Greek grammar to make a point that the Spirit is a person] will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:
This passage is very interesting and unique; to my knowledge it is the only place in the NT that speaks of the Spirit’s role to non-Christians. And his job is to “convict.”
· This word means to expose, to show error, but for the purpose of bringing them to repentance.
As near as I can tell, this is his only job with non-Christians. He does not empower them to live better. He strives to bring them to the point of deciding between God’s will or theirs.
· Once they choose to follow Jesus, then he can begin to empower and guide, but not until then.
Ä When I’ve read this, I have thought this list makes sense, until I read Jesus’ explanation, then it gets confusing.
The sin of unbelief
in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me;
Q Is unbelief a sin?
Can we fault a person for not believing? Is it immoral to be unable to believe in Jesus? Foolish perhaps, or too skeptical, but sin? Yet Jesus calls it sin. And not just Jesus, David said:
Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.
Fool doesn’t refer to intelligence, it refers to morality. It is a morally deficient person. To understand how unbelief is moral, not intellectual, you have to remember the audience:
Jesus is speaking about the world that had observed his miracles and now was about to crucify him. This is intentionally negligent disbelief.
· In light of such evidence, disbelief is rejection.
So does that mean that unbelief is not willing disregard for modern people? Not at all: 1) Nature and conscience reveals enough to know he exist, and 2) The historically verifiable event of the resurrection leaves us without excuse.
· To deny the Holocaust is not an innocent ignorance, it amounts to a willful disagreed because of a personal agenda.
The sin of unbelief is not an honest search (which I think God honors), but a biased search, not wanting for God to not exist in order to avoid his rule and his presence.
The chief sin
Not only is unbelief a sin, it’s arguably the chief of all sins:
1. Unbelief is the original sin
What was the attack of the snake in the Garden of Eden? “Did God really say...?” His goal was to make Adam and Eve doubt God’s commands and goodness.
2. Unbelief is the root all sins
When we sin, it’s because we don’t believe God’s ways are best.
· We must be clear that unbelief is a sin that Christians and non-Christians share.
3. Unbelief protects the other sins
Not it protects us from, but protects us from the sins: By doubting God’s rule and goodness, we indulge in other sins.
\ So is unbelief a sin? Yes, and the worst of them at that:
“Every sin consists formally in aversion from God.... Hence the more a sin severs man from God, the graver it is.
Now man is more than ever separated from God by unbelief, because he has not even true knowledge of God: and by false knowledge of God, man does not approach Him, but is severed from Him....
Therefore it is clear that the sin of unbelief is greater than any sin that occurs in the perversion of morals.” - St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 10, a. 3.
Showing the world RIGHTEOUSNESS
10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer;
What does this mean? It means that since Jesus is leaving, the Spirit will take over his demonstration of what righteousness is and looks like, and how short the world’s righteousness falls.
· The world’s idea of righteousness is based on its own external standards; Jesus’ is based on internal.
So the Spirit now seeks to convict those in the world of how corrupt its standards are, and how immeasurably high God’s are, all for the purpose of driving them to their need for Jesus.
· He is not convicting them to morality, but to repentance.
The losing team
11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
Finally, the Spirit tries to convince those in the world that they are on the losing team. The game is all but over, the world’s team is behind a 1,000 points, and all the winning team has to do is run out the clock, but they can still switch sides.
· The entire message of Revelation is “we win, they lose.”
And now the Holy Spirit’s entire goal, frequently through us, is to convict them to change sides.
For those who won’t, they’ll find unbelief is the unforgivable sin. If someone refuses to believe, there is nothing else that can be done. We have heard of the “blaspheming of the Spirit”:
Matthew 12:24, 28, 31 24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.” ...[Jesus said] 28 “But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you...And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.
The blaspheming of the Spirit is to explain away his miracles. Or more generally, refuse his conviction of unbelief, as the Pharisees were doing.
Summing this up
The Spirit’s job with non-Christians is to convict non-Christians in their sin of not believing or following Jesus, to demonstrate the impossible standards of righteousness, and in order to send them to Jesus and escape the coming judgment.
· It turns out that he does a far better job of this than we do!
Rather than putting our energy into convicting a non-Christian – we should focus on praying for the Spirit’s conviction.
Is there someone you want to know Jesus? Pray for the Spirit’s conviction! For me this was the biggest lesson from the passage.
· Also works for Christians – don’t yell, pray! (It also changes our attitude about them.)
Ä Now Jesus speaks about the Spirit’s role in our lives as a guide.
The Spirit takes the church ahead
12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
Jesus supernaturally looks into the next decade when the disciples will establish the church, and the couple of thousands of years of its growth, hence “what is yet to come.”
There are a lot of things he would like to tell them, but that would be classic “information overload.” So rather than giving them a bunch of fish that will spoil, he is going to give them an expert fisherman.
Within two months, Jesus would send the Holy Spirit and with his help they would make a radical shift from the moral teaching of Jesus to the proclaiming of a risen savior.
· In the mind of liberal scholars, Judaism, and Islam, this was his corruption, but to Jesus this was his fulfillment.
Unlike the Qur’an, which is a collection of literal statements that cannot be translated, Jesus expected his teaching and life to be interpreted and applied to the ongoing challenges of the church, by the Holy Spirit, through the disciples.
· A prime example is the inclusion of the Gentiles in Acts 10ff.
Q Is this still going on? Is the Spirit still leading us “in all truth”?
Mostly “yes,” but just a little “no.” We see this process still going on throughout the life of the church, for instance when it clarified the doctrine of the Trinity.
· As God works redemptively through the Spirit, we see both a progressive and contextual revelation.
Meaning: As God changes hearts and minds through the Gospel, we see both greater clarity about the God and his will (such as with the abolishment of slavery) and see Jesus effectively communicated and contextualized into other cultures.
A guide in our jungle
Furthermore, the Spirit guides us in our individual lives. Jesus describes the Spirit as a guide, like a season traveler taking you through a jungle, full of danger and treasures.
· In all of the deep jungles of our sin and falsehoods of our culture, we need a guide.
Q How does he guide us?
1. Help us better understand Scripture.
2. Speaks to us during prayer or even everyday life.
3. Speaks to us through others.
4. Empower us to live this stuff out.
· Every day, in each situation we need to seek his filling.
But there is a vital bit of “no,” we do not trust ourselves or anyone else to 100% accurately transmit the guidance of the Spirit. We are rusty pipes, and the water is not always clean.
· Everything must be tested through Scripture, which is why we must devote ourselves to studying the Bible.
To God be the glory
14 He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.
And the goal for the Spirit’s work is to bring glory to Jesus, and we know from an earlier passage that Jesus’ goal is to bring glory to God.
In other words, all of this is that the glourious goodness of God may be clearly revealed to the world, that we may pursue and desire God more than all else.
Q & A
If you’re a Christian, and there’s non-Christians you’re praying for, consider how you can pray for the Spirit’s conviction.
· If you are not, ask God to show your if your unbelief is sin.
· If you are a Christian, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you more and more.