Friday, January 27, 2017
"Another Helper" Sermon: John 15-17
January 22, 2017 Second Reformed Church
The Eleven were anxious about what would happen when Jesus returned to the Father – they were unsure how they would be able to carry on without Jesus physically with them. But, as we saw last week, Jesus assures them that they will be able to continue to do the works that Jesus did – they will be empowered to go forth and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And not only that, they will be able to take the Gospel to the whole Creation! As do we today.
Jesus assures them that – at the Right Hand of the Father – He hears their prayers – and anything they ask in His Name – anything they ask that is according to His Will – He will hear and do – because it is what He wants for them. And we saw the same is true for us – and though we don’t always know the mind of God, we have many commands and promises in the Scripture that we can pray and know that Jesus will answer “yes” to them and do them – because it is what He wants for us.
So, if you and I believe in Jesus as God and Savior, we are able to do the works He did and take them to the ends of the earth, and whenever we pray for what Jesus wants, He will do it. You and I are able. And Jesus is willing. OK?
Jesus continues teaching in this morning’s text, and we see:
First, obedience to Christ proves our love of Christ.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
And some of us might shake our heads at Jesus saying this: “No, Jesus, that’s not true. I’m a member of a Reformed Church – and it’s the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this year – and I know that we are saved by faith alone – not by works. If I have faith, I love You, I don’t ever have to do what You say.”
What about this: if your wife comes home from work and says to you, “Did you get everything done on the ‘honey-do’ list I left you?” And you respond, “I love you! I knew you would be coming back to me. I don’t have to do anything to prove my love to you.”
Or, if you said to your kid, “When I get home, I want to see that you have cleaned your room.” And when you come home, your kid is watching TV and nothing has been done in the room, and you say, “Why didn’t you obey me and clean your room?” And your kid responds, “You wouldn’t want me to think that your love is based on what I do, would you? I didn’t obey you because I need to know that you love me just because, even when I just do what I want.”
Jesus has given us a wide range of commands – not to burden us – but because He knows that if we do what He says we will continue to grow in holiness and avoid sin, and we will continue to grow in our relationship with Him and be filled with His joy.
Obedience does not mean that we are trying to earn our way to Heaven or that we are earning our way to Heaven. The Reformers said we are saved by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone. We respond to the salvation that God has given us through Jesus Christ by obeying what God has commanded – in thanksgiving, in worship, with the desire to become more like Jesus – to grow in holiness.
Obedience is a reaction of love, not merit. If your spouse constantly refuses to do what you ask, if your kid constantly refuses to do what you ask, there is a disconnect – love is not being shown. If we constantly disobey our God and Savior, there is no evidence of our love for Him.
However, if we strive for obedience – if we strive to be holy – and we sin, because we are not yet holy, and we ask for forgiveness – Jesus forgives us and He knows that we love Him. If we love Jesus we will strive to be obedient – we will strive to be holy – because we love Him. And in response to Who He Is and what He has done, we want to obey Him.
Even in our human relationships, with the people we love, we do whatever we can to please them – that they would know we love them – right?
And we might wonder how – since we are still sinners – how are we going to be able to be obedient and show our love to Jesus?
Jesus answers in telling the Eleven:
Second, Jesus will send Another Helper.
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,”
The first thing we should see is that if Jesus is sending Another Helper, then Jesus is a Helper as well.
What does that mean?
The word Jesus uses is “Paraclete” – not “parakeet” – “Paraclete” – it’s a Greek word that means, “one called towards” – literally, an advocate. An advocate is someone that speaks on your behalf or does something on your behalf.
The word is translated by “Helper,” “Comforter,” and “Advocate.”
In John’s first letter, he writes this:
“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (I John 2:1-6, ESV).
This is very much what we have seen in the Gospel text thus far: as Christians, we are commanded not to sin, but if we do sin, we have an Advocate – we have Someone Who will come alongside of us and speak on our behalf – Jesus will represent us before the Father – when we sin and confess our sin and repent of it and promise not to sin again, Jesus goes before the Father on our behalf saying that He has covered the debt for our sin. Jesus is our propitiation – He has paid the debt owed to God for our sins and credited us with His righteousness – and He has done so for every person who ever believes.
So, if we say we know Jesus – if we say we have an intimate relationship with Him as our God and Savior – we show that relationship – we show that love we have for Him by obeying His commands, in doing His works, in striving towards holiness in our lives, in becoming like Him.
So, Jesus is our Helper – our Advocate – because He pleads our case before God the Father – representing us as forgiven and righteous in Jesus – because of Who Jesus is and what He did.
Now, Jesus tells the Eleven that He is leaving – He is going back to the Father – so He asks the Father – and being the Son and the same One God, He knows what the Will of the Father is, so He asks for what the Father wants – He asks the Father to send another Helper – another Paraclete – another Advocate – Jesus remains our Advocate at the Right Hand of the Father – but Jesus asks the Father to send another Advocate – Who will be with us forever.
Jesus tells the Eleven that He is going to the Father and will be their Advocate before the Father – and, He and the Father will send another Advocate to be with them and never leave. The Father and the Son will send another Advocate Who will always be with us – with every believer – and will never leave us.
Jesus does not leave His people alone but gives them an Advocate – a Helper – Who is forever with them to speak and do things on our behalf. Every believer has a Helper with him or her.
Third, the Other Helper is the Spirit of Truth.
“even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
The Spirit of Truth, also known as the Holy Spirit, is the Other Helper – Comforter – Advocate – that Jesus promises to send to indwell each one who believes.
As the Spirit of Truth, He helps us in understanding the Truth of God’s Word, He comforts us in the midst of tribulation, and He advocates for us against evil – both that we would recognize it and that we would resist it.
Notice that Jesus calls the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Truth – “He.” The Holy Spirit is not an “it.” The Holy Spirit is not a “force.” The Holy Spirit is not “Jesus’ residual spirituality.” The Holy Spirit is a Spirit and He is a Person. Just as the Father is a Person, and the Son is a Person, the Holy Spirit is a Person.
Just as the Father is God, and the Son is God, so the Holy Spirit is also God. Still, there is only One God. Each Person of the Trinity is the same One God.
Jesus calls the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, to contrast Him with those who reject the Truth. The Spirit of Truth advocates the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Those who reject Jesus, reject the Truth. And anyone who rejects the Truth cannot receive the Spirit of Truth because they have no inward experience of Who He is. Those Who reject Jesus cannot see the Truth of the Spirit of Truth. Those who reject Jesus cannot know Him – they cannot have an intimate relationship with the Spirit as Advocate, because they cannot recognize Him as Truth.
Only those whom the Father has chosen can receive Him and know Him as the Truth and have Him as their Advocate.
So, if you do believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then you do know the Truth, you do believe the Truth, and the Truth dwells in you. In fact, the Spirit of Truth – the Holy Spirit – lives in you and remains with you forever and ever. God, the Holy Spirit, permanently indwells and advocates for all those who believe savingly in Jesus Christ.
If you believe, you know the Holy Spirit dwells within you. The Holy Spirit leads us in understanding the Word of God and in desiring to do what is pleasing to God. No one desires the things of God until the Spirit of Truth has been given to Him by the Father and the Son.
As we read:
“And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him” (Acts 5:32, ESV).
“Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God” (I Corinthians 2:12, ESV).
If we have believed savingly in Jesus, let us not be slack, but seek to obey Jesus in all things as an evidence of our love for Him.
Let us understand that Jesus is our Advocate before the Father and the Holy Spirit is our Advocate forever with us.
And let us rejoice that God chose to cause us to see and receive the Spirit of Truth, Who is with us in tribulation and leads us in truth as we mature until we are received in the fullness of the Kingdom.
Let us pray:
Almighty God, we thank You for the salvation You have given us through Your Son. We thank You that Your Son asked You to indwell us with God the Holy Spirit that we would always have an Advocate with us. Help us to trust You and follow after You in faith and obedience. Revive us and lead us to our everlasting joy. For it is in Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.