Agents of His Glory
Agents of His Glory
[John 14:7-15] Pt.4
I want you to consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 16:18…
“I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”
Jesus declared that He would redeem His people, and that throughout human history He would be carrying out His plan without hindrance and without fail!
How else does one account for the amazing history of God’s people? I’m not talking about millennia of false religious systems from ancient to contemporary. I’m referring to the incredible survivability of the true worshippers of the God of Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob? Worshippers of the God who reveals Himself to sinners---The God who came to live with men, died in their place, rose for their eternal life, and sustains them today? Those people…saints through the ages whose voices, testimonies, and power nothing in the universe has been able to quench.
Civilizations come and go…
Governments and kingdoms rise and fall…
Knowledge ebbs and flows…
Cultures appear and disappear…
Social and moral norms shift and pitch…
But God’s truly “called out ones” are never totally silenced, let alone stamped out! On the contrary, throughout human history they have believed in a sovereign and majestic God, who befriends sinners for His own glory and pleasure. Depending upon when a believer existed, they have either trusted in the promise of a Redeemer/Messiah or have believed in the resurrected Savior. No matter how many thousands of years pass, God’s chosen ones have followed…
…One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph. 4:5-6)
From time to time someone asks “how many believers there will be in eternity?”
I don’t know…and the statistics are misleading. Barna says…
Christian world growth is phenomenal: in AD 100 there was one Christian to every 360, now it is almost 1 Christian to every 5 non-Christians.
But Barna’s definition of a Christian allows for so many groups to carry the label who no nothing of the true Christ of scripture (Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, et. al.). So it’s very difficult to get an accurate picture of the global growth of Christianity.
The scriptural testimony is interesting:
Passages suggesting a somewhat smaller number…
Þ Isaiah 10:21 “A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God”
Þ Isaiah 10:22 “For though your people, O Israel, may be like the sand of the sea, Only a remnant within them will return; A destruction is determined, overflowing with righteousness.” (also quoted in Romans 9:27)
Þ Romans 11:5 “In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God's gracious choice.”
Þ Matthew 7:14 "For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.”
Passages that suggest a larger number…
Þ Acts 1:8 “but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."
Þ Revelation 7:9 “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands.”
What’s the point? That God’s glorious work of redemption includes an innumerable amount of sinners, saved by grace. Beloved, this could not be accomplished in the three years of Jesus’ earthly ministry…nor during the early missionary endeavors of Paul, Barnabas, Titus, et.al. In fact, it couldn’t be accomplished in 2000 years of church history, and isn’t finished yet! We are left here with the mantle…we have been given the privilege…
…Put simply, we build upon and accomplish the “Greater Works” Jesus first gave to His disciples.
This is a very serious stewardship! But it is the most exciting calling given to God’s people!
We’ve been looking the encouragement Jesus gave to His fearful and anguished friends as He told them He was going away.
I. Christ, The Revealer of God’s Glory (vv7-14)
A. What the disciples should know (v7)
B. What the disciples foolishly crave (vv8-11)
1. More than the words of Jesus
2. More than the credentials of Jesus
II. Disciples, The Magnifiers of God’s Glory (vv12-15)
A. A staggering promise (vv12-14)
John 14:12 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father.”
“Greater works”? How? Well, we’ve been looking ahead at Jesus’ description of the Spirit’s supernatural work through the disciples…In chaps. 14,15,16 we are told just what the Spirit comes to do after Jesus goes to the Father. We will look extensively at the person, ministry, and power of the Holy Spirit as we make our way through these chapters, but for now we are surveying a few general principles in order to understand the essence of these Greater works! If we are to bring glory to the Father, through the Son, by the ministry of the Spirit, we must learn how to magnify God’s glory as the Spirit empowers us. At first glance, there are Eight Ways to do this…I like to call them “Eight Degrees of Magnification”.
1. The presence of God empowering from within (14:17-20)
a. Over sin and the effects of the fall
b. Through trial and hostility
2. Bearing much fruit in God’s plan (15:7-8)
3. The Father & the Son’s love and full joy (15:9)
The next degree of magnification is…
4. Powerfully bear witness
John 15:26,27 "When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me, and you will bear witness of also, because you have been with Me from the beginning.”
When the disciples were sent out as the first witnesses to the truth of Jesus Christ, they had a very limited ministry scope:
Twelve men; A handful of supportive women; A small network of friends willing to go public with providing for these chosen leaders; limited supplies; No proliferation of O.T. scriptures; Imminent incarceration and/or death; Slow means of travel (on foot!); Had to split up not long after Pentecost for the sake of teaching house-groups);
a. Global scope
But Jesus spoke of “the remotest part of the earth”
Martin Luther –
“For Christ took but a little corner for Himself to preach and to work miracles, and but a little time; whereas the apostles and their followers have spread themselves through the whole world.”
If you’ve ever been to Israel, you know it is a very small strip of land. The disciples would need great vision and empowerment! They needed the very presence of Christ to…
Give them utterance –
Cement their conviction –
Anchor their doctrine –
Focus their vision –
Steady their resolve –
Silence their fears –
Purify their hearts –
Overcome their weakness and limitations –
They would be given the Spirit to accomplish precisely what Jesus supplied when He was with them. Most of all…Vision!
Rev. 7:9 “…from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues…”
Jesus came to seek and save the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And though His ultimate purpose was a people from all nations, He first offered forgiveness to the Jews…and the first N.T. believers were all Jews (Acts 2). We have been left to pursue sinners from every strata of life. What a great work we are able to do! To take the gospel to a very diverse culture…to be equipped here together…then proclaim forgiveness in Jesus Christ alone to the masses in our community…then as we travel faster and wider than ever before, we take the gospel beyond our city, county, state, and continent borders…electronic media~~~
Note: Did you know that…
There are almost 1 Billion internet users world wide – To give a point of reference for the magnitude of one billion, it would require forty thousand trips around the world to equal one billion miles.
Jesus never accomplished any of what we’re able to today. Could He have reached the world during an earthly ministry? If He’d wanted to…His power is not limited. But His purposes include every believer’s daily walk and testimony! That includes you and me! There are still those who will come but have yet to cross your path…God has left you here to do these greater works.
c. Message of forgiveness
David Jeremiah said one time that… ”Wherever there is a Christian, there is Christ. Wherever there is a believer, there is ministry.”
We magnify His glory when He uses our life to draw His sheep to Himself in repentance and forgiveness.
5. A ministry of conviction (16:8ff)
a. Judgment (your peace signals Satan’s impotence)
b. Righteousness (your holiness signals Christ’s perfections)
c. Sin (your humility signals man’s pride and need for repentance)
6. Revelation of truth (16:13-15)
a. Proclaim His mind [1 Cor. 2]
7. Eternal Peace & Hope(16:32-33)
8. Christ’s personal intercession (17:1ff)
This is our privilege! What more could we desire while we’re here on earth waiting for the Lord’s return.
Some might be tempted to think, “But I’m so new in the faith, I can’t really do much for the Lord at all so many bad habits still plaguing me.”
Pink, A. W., Eternal Security: Chapter 5 - Blessedness (excerpts)
“I will never leave thee nor forsaketh thee” (Heb. 13:5). Nothing whatever can or “shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39). “He wilt keep the feet of His saints” (1 Sam. 2:9).
1. What encouragement is there here for the babe in Christ! Conscious of his weakness, he is fearful that the flesh and the world and the Devil may prove too powerful for him. Aware of his ignorance, bewildered by the confusion of tongues in the religious realm, he dreads lest he be led astray by false prophets. Beholding many of his companions, who made a similar profession of faith, so quickly losing their fervor and going back again into the world, he trembles lest he make shipwreck of the faith. Stumbled by the inconsistencies of those called “the pillars of the church,” chilled by older Christians who tell him he must not be too extreme, he is alarmed and wonders how it can be expected that he shall hold on his way almost alone. But if these fears empty him of self-confidence and make him cling the closer to Christ, then are they blessings in disguise, for he will then prove for himself that “underneath are the everlasting arms,” and that those arms are all-mighty and all-sufficient.
Someone else may think, “But other people seem to have it so much easier…why do I have to serve while fighting against all these weaknesses and limitations”?
2. What comfort is there here for fearing saints! All Christians have a reverential…fear of God and an evangelical horror of sin. These are occasioned more immediately by anxious doubts, painful misgivings, evil surmisings of unbelief. More remotely they are the result of the permissive appointment of God…were our graces complete, our bliss would be complete too. In the meantime it is needful for the Christian traveller to be exercised with a thorn in, the flesh, and that “thorn” assumes a variety of forms with different believers; but whatever its form it is effectual in convincing them that this earth is not their rest or a mount whereon to pitch tabernacles of continuance. Let them know that the self-same Divine protection is given to all the redeemed. It is not because one is more godly than another, but because both are held fast in the hand of God. The tiny mouse was as safe in the ark as the ponderous elephant.
And some of you think, “sometimes it seems that God has left me to do the work on my own…and to face the struggle alone.”
3. What comfort is there here for souls who are tempted to entertain hard thoughts of God! The awful corruptions of the flesh which still remain in the believer and which are ever ready to complain at the difficulties of the way and murmur against the dispensations of Divine providence, and the questionings of unbelief which constantly ask, Has God ceased to be gracious? How can He love me if He deals with me thus? Are sufficient in themselves to destroy his peace and quench his joy. And what is it which will deliver the distressed soul from these breathings of despair? Nothing but a believer laying hold of this grand comfort: that the child of God has an infallible promise from his Father that he shall be preserved unto His heavenly kingdom, that he shall be kept from apostasy, that the intercession of his great High Priest prevents the total failing of his faith. Well might Stephen Charnock say of Arminians, “Can these men fancy Infinite Tenderness so unconcerned as to let the apple of His eye be plucked out, as to be a careless Spectator of the pillage of His jewels by the powers of Hell, to have the delight of His soul (if I may so speak) tossed like a tennis ball between himself and the Devil.” He that does the greater thing for His people shall He not also do the less: to regenerate them is more wonderful than to preserve them, as the bestowal of life exceeds the maintaining of it. The reconciliation of enemies is far harder than dealing with the failings of friends: “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then being now justified by His blood we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Rom. 5:8-10). If there was such efficacy in the death of Christ, who can estimate the virtue of His resurrection! “He ever liveth to make intercession for us.”
4. What comfort is there here for aged pilgrims! Some perhaps may be surprised at this heading, supposing that those who have been longest in the way and have experienced most of God’s faithfulness have the least need of consolation from the truth. But such a view is sadly superficial to say the least of it. No matter how matured in the faith one may be, nor how well acquainted with the Divine goodness, so long as he is left down here he has no might of his own and is completely dependent upon Divine grace to preserve him. Ah, my aged friend, how often have you proved in your experience the truth of those words “thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee” (Deut. 33:29). What a shameless liar the Devil is! Did he not tell thee in some severe trial, The hand of the Lord is gone out against thee: He has forsaken thee and will no more be gracious to thee: He has deserted thee as He did Saul the king and now thou art wholly given up unto the powers of evil: the Lord will no more answer thee from His holy oracle; He has utterly cast thee off. Yet you found that God had not deserted you after all, and this very day you are able to join the writer in thanking Him for His lovingkindness and to testify of His unfailing faithfulness. Unbelief has whispered a thousand falsehoods into your ear, saying this duty is too difficult, this toil will prove too great, this adversity will drown you. What madness it was to lend an ear to such lies. Can God ever cast away one on whom He has fixed His everlasting love? Can He renounce one who was purchased by the blood of Christ? Thus will it prove of thy last fears: “Thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee.”
5. What comfort is there here for preachers! Many a rural minister views with uneasiness the departure into cities of some of his young converts. And may well he be exercised at the prospect of them leaving their sheltered homes to be brought into close contact with temptations to which they were formerly strangers. It is both his duty and privilege to give them godly counsel and warning, to follow them with his prayers, to write them: but if they be soundly converted he need not fear about their ultimate wellbeing. Servants of God called to move into other parts are fearful about the babes in Christ which they will leave behind, yet if they really be such they may find consolation in the blessed fact that the great Shepherd of the sheep will never leave nor forsake them.
All the above is ours through Prayer (vv13-15)
John 14:13 "And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”
B. A Sustaining Prescription (v15)
John 14:15 "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
How do we stand within such magnifying power? By being conformed to His truth, His commands.