Tuesday, February 07, 2017
"Tri Unity" Sermon: John 14:18-24
February 5, 2017 Second Reformed Church
We are back in the Upper Room. Jesus is talking with the Eleven. Jesus explains that anyone who loves Him will show that love by obeying Him – if we truly love someone, we will do those things that please the one we love – if we really love Jesus as people saved by Him, we will do what He has commanded us to do. And Jesus explains that those who love Him – those who believe in Him savingly – those who have faith and do what He commands – will receive the indwelling of the very Person of God the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Truth – He will indwell them forever.
We continue Jesus’ teaching:
And we see first, this morning, Christians have a Father.
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.”
For three years the Eleven and other believing disciples follow Jesus. He is their Rabbi – their teacher – to have Him taken away by death and by ascension to the Father is leaving them alone – as children left behind after the death of their father.
If you have not been an orphan, you can only imagine or approximate – perhaps with the loss of a husband or wife – the hole that is left when the one you lived with is gone. The Eleven were experiencing that kind of loss, even before Jesus left.
But Jesus assures them that after He ascends back to the Father, He will come to them. Even though the world will not be able to see Him – since He physically remains at the Right Hand of the Father – all those who believe in him will see Him.
How? Through His Word read and preached, through the Sacraments, and through the life that all those who believe receive in and through Him.
Jesus says that because He lives – because He has been physically resurrected from the dead – all who believe live and are physically resurrected from the dead – and become through Jesus and in Jesus – sons and daughters of God the Father.
Paul puts it this way:
“In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Colossians 2:11-15, ESV).
Paul says since we who believe in Jesus were put to death through baptism, and since we were raised by Him spiritually through faith alone in His salvation, and since Jesus has paid the debt for all of our sins, and since we have been forgiven for our sins and made righteous, God made us alive now and eternally, and all evil has been defeated.
All we who believe have life just as Jesus has life, and we will have physically resurrected life just as Jesus has physically resurrected life, and just as Jesus is the Son of the Father, we are made sons and daughters of the Father – and we are being made into the Image of Jesus – the First-born and Only Begotten Son.
Through Jesus, we have a Father – we have God Who is our Father.
Second, those who truly love Jesus are loved by Jesus and the Father.
“In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
Jesus says that there is a union between believers and Jesus and God the Father – and the Holy Spirit Who indwells believers. And Jesus tells them that “in that day,” they will know that this union is a reality.
Now, we do not become God – or a part of God. Believers do not become gods – as the Mormons teach. We remain human beings, but through the work of Jesus and the Gift of the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit, we are united in the purpose and will and salvation of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
It is similar to the unity that we have as believers: we are not all the same, we don’t always agree on everything, but we all believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ which unites us together as His people.
This means that we are being changed – matured – sanctified – made holy – made into the Image of Jesus – by God working in and through us to His Glory and to accomplish His Will.
Jesus tells the Eleven that they will understand this “in that day.” What is – or was – “in that day”? When did the Holy Spirit first eternally indwell believers?
“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4, ESV).
When the day of Pentecost came – and from that time forward – believers knew that they were indwelled by God the Holy Spirit – and there is a unity between the believer, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, because of the work of Jesus and the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit.
We are united in the same sense as when Paul writes, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10, ESV).
And how is this seen?
Notice one of the themes of the Upper Room Discourse: If you believe in Jesus savingly and you know what He commands, and you do what He commands, that is proof that you love Him. We’ve heard that before.
Now, if we are united with God, we will desire to please God and show our love of Jesus – and our growth in the faith – by doing all those things He has commanded – and by bearing fruit in doing so – as we will see in a future text.
For example, let’s say Shirley left her purse unguarded, and you see that she has a bunch of fifty dollar bills in it, and you think to yourself, “I could use some of those,” but then you think, “Wait, Jesus said not to steal, so I won’t take any of her money, and I repent of considering it.” In doing this, you remember the command of Jesus, you obey the command of Jesus, and you show that you love Jesus – and Shirley.
And Jesus tells them that if anyone loves Him, the Father will love that person, and Jesus will love that person, and He will manifest Himself to that person.
If you love Jesus – which is proved – it is shown to be true – if you obey the things that Jesus commanded – if you do the things Jesus said to do, then the Father will love you and Jesus will love you.
Understand, Jesus is not saying that you and I have to perfectly – sinlessly – keep all of His commandments in order to be loved by the Father and the Son. No, we are to strive for sinlessness – we are to strive to keep all the commandments Jesus has given – and God the Holy Spirit is working in us to make us a holy people – which we will be when Jesus returns. We are to strive to be holy and sinless, and as we keep more and more of all that Jesus said, we will know the love that He and the Father has for us all the more clearly.
Remember what John 3:16 tell us about the love of God the Father for all who believe: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (ESV).
If we obey Jesus, we know the reality of God the Father’s incomprehensible love that sacrificed His Only Begotten Son to save a people who hated Him.
And all we who really love Jesus – we who are loved by the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit – to us, Jesus will manifest Himself – He will make Himself obvious, apparent, evident, plain.
What does that mean?
The Eleven wanted to know as well:
“Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?’”
Judas – also known as Thaddeus – asks Jesus, “How are You going to appear to us and keep the world – unbelievers – from seeing You? If I can see You, what will stop anyone else from seeing You?”
Do you understand the problem?
Third, the Father and the Son indwell the believer.
“Jesus answered him, ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.’”
Judas’ (not Iscariot) problem is that he thought Jesus meant that He would physically manifest Himself to the Eleven after His Ascension. That is not what Jesus means.
The answer that Jesus gives may be somewhat startling to us as we hear Him speak of the Tri-Unity of God and His indwelling of us:
Jesus sums up what He has been saying: If you love Me, you will obey Me. If you obey Me, the Father will love you. If the Father loves you, the Father and I will make our home with you and the Holy Spirit.
Jesus says that – after the day of Pentecost – God the Holy Spirit indwells believers and the Father and the Son make their home with Him in us.
How can we understand this?
First, we must remember that Jesus is a human being – just like us – and He can only be in one place at a time – and He is seated at the Right Hand of the Father in Heaven. Jesus is not with us in His humanity.
Second, God is a Spirit. He is not limited by a physical body or the confines of time and space. God is everywhere at once. God the Father, God the Son – Jesus’ Divinity – and God the Holy Spirit are everywhere at once. And though we especially have the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit – the Third Person of the Trinity working in us and through us – Jesus says that all Three Persons of the Godhead reside – make Their home – with believers. The Father and the Son dwell in and through the Holy Spirit’s indwelling of us.
God really dwells in us and with us as He works us into the men and women He has called us to be. God is Tri-Unity – One God in Three Persons. And He is with us – and we are His – forever.
On the other hand, Jesus says that those who do not do what He commands, do not love Him. No one can say that Jesus is their Savior, but they don’t have to obey Him. That is a lie of the devil. Anyone who says they love Jesus and may do what they want, are not Christians.
From the beginning of His ministry, Jesus explains that He came to do the Father’s Will, and He emphasizes again that the fact the Christians have a Father, that the Father loves believers – as does Jesus, and the Triune God indwells Christians – it is the Word of the Father – it is the Truth of the Father.
How do we respond to this?
“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Romans 8:15-17, ESV).
These words should fill us with joy!
As believers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ – as those who have received as truth all that Jesus did and said – God the Father is now our Father and we can go to Him as His adopted children. Jesus is our brother and our Advocate, Who intercedes for us before the Father. God the Holy Spirit indwells us to make us holy at the Day of Christ Jesus. We are united with God through faith and we have been called to do all those things that Jesus has commanded so it would be known and manifest to the world, as God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are manifest to us – that we love Jesus, and He is truly our Savior.
Have hope, little children, if you believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ, God the Holy Spirit indwells you, and the Father and the Son are with you – you are united in the Tri-Unity of God as God’s people – those who are His witnesses to the ends of the world.
Let us pray:
Almighty God, we thank You that You are our Father and that You love us for Jesus’ sake. We thank You that Jesus did not leave us alone but sends God in Tri-Unity to be with us and to bring us to the last day when all will be restored and we will be holy with You. Help us not to be confused, but to take comfort and to have joy in Your being with us and loving us and caring for us and providing for us day by day. For it is in Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.