************ Sermon on John 16:7 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on May 23, 2010
"The Counselor Will Come"
Last week, we looked at the Ascension in the light of John 16:20. Remember this verse?
(Jn 16:20) I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.Jesus announces He is leaving. The leaving started already with the cross, extended to the grave, and ended with the ascension into heaven. When the disciples hear this, they "weep and mourn" (Jn 16:20).
I want you to notice what Jesus says about His leaving in our text for this morning. Jesus says, "It is for your good that I am going away" (Jn 16:7). The word for "good" here means "profitable, beneficial, advantage." In other words, the disciples are better off with Jesus in heaven than with Jesus on earth. As the song writer puts it, "My Savior, can it ever be, That I gain by losing thee?" The answer is "Yes!" Or, as Jesus put it in the text we looked at last week, the disciples' "grief will turn to joy" (Jn 16:20).
Why will grief turn to joy? Why are we better off with Jesus in heaven? Notice what Jesus says in our text this morning:
(Jn 16:7) 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 says He needs to leave so the Counselor can come. Jesus says He needs to leave so He can send the Counselor. In other words, if Jesus does not leave for heaven, the Spirit does not come to earth in a new way. Jesus goes up and the Spirit comes down. It is as simple as that.
"It is for your good that I am going away." In other words, it is for your good that the Spirit comes. It is for your good that the Spirit be poured out on Pentecost. It is for your good that the Counselor comes.
Today, then, we want to look at the good of Christ's going from the perspective of Pentecost. Our Bible reading raises two points. First, we see the Spirit convicts the world. Second, we see the Spirit instructs the Church.
I The Spirit Convicts the World
A First, we see the Spirit convicting the world. Listen to what Jesus says:
(Jn 16:8) When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment ...
Now, let's make sure we understand this rightly. We are not being told that the Spirit comes to the world; rather, the Spirit "will convict the world." The Spirit comes to the church, NOT to the world. As Jesus puts it in our text,
(Jn 16:7) 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."To you." Jesus is talking to His disciples and followers. The Spirit comes to them, not to the world.
Do you realize what this means? The Spirit's work of convicting the world is done in and through the church. The Spirit does not work in a vacuum. He doesn't just kind of "float" out there somewhere. He does His work with the world in and through the church! The Spirit is like Jesus this way. Just as Jesus had to have a body to do His work on earth, so the Spirit needs a body to accomplish His ministry on earth; and, that body is the church.
Do you realize what this says about the church? This says the church is the hands and feet of the Spirit. We are His tools, His instruments, His body, His Temple. What a privilege but also what a responsibility. This means ours is the responsibility to evangelize. This means there needs to be unbelievers in our lives to whom we witness and for whom we pray. What we do, as a tool of the Spirit, is a matter of life and death!
Sometimes we hear people pray, "Lord, send Your Spirit to the lost to convert them!" I am sure such prayer is sincere, but is it Biblical? The Spirit does not work His way up and down the streets of Visalia looking for lost souls to convert. Nor does the Spirit drift up and down the aisles of Trinity this morning seeking to win the lost.
Do you remember what happened at Pentecost? The Spirit fell on Peter and the other disciples. Peter began to preach. And the preaching of the Word brought conviction to those who heard. That is the way the Spirit works – using the church to speak the Word.
B We need to take note of three words. The first word is "convict." The Spirit "will convict the world" (Jn 16:8). "Convict" is a legal word that means "to bring to light, to expose, to refute, to convince." Next, notice the word "guilt." We are told the Spirit convicts the world of guilt in three areas: sin, righteousness, and judgment. Finally, notice what Jesus calls the Spirit: "the Counselor." In the original Greek, the word is used of legal assistants who plead a cause or present a case.
Notice all the legal language. In mind is a court. Believers are the witnesses, the Holy Spirit is the prosecuting attorney, and the unsaved are the guilty prisoners. However, the purpose is not to condemn but to save.
C I want you to notice that the Spirit has a threefold ministry to the world. First, the Spirit – through the witness of the church – "convicts the world of guilt in regard to sin" (Jn 16:8). Not just any sin, though. Notice what sin: "in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me" (Jn 16:9). Do you see the sin Jesus speaks of? It is the sin of unbelief. It is the sin of not believing in Jesus. Why doesn't Jesus mention other sins? Because other sins are the domain of the Law of God and the conscience; God's Law and the conscience He gave us are more than enough to convict the sinner of his sins. However, the sin of unbelief is the domain of the Spirit – through the witness of the church.
What is the worst sin that anyone can commit? Let me ask another question: what is the sin that ultimately condemns the lost sinner to the fires of hell? Not ordinary sins – if I can use that phrase – like Sabbath-breaking, lying, stealing, coveting, adultery, murder. We all commit those sins and yet can be saved. The sin that ultimately sends a person to hell is the sin of unbelief. After all, it is possible for a person to "clean up his life" and quit her bad habits and obey the Ten Commandments and still be lost and go to hell. If you commit the sin of unbelief, nothing will save you. Whereas, every other sin can be forgiven.
So, what does the Spirit do in regards to this sin? Through the witness of the church, the Spirit brings to light the world's guilt in regards to the sin of unbelief.
D Second, the Spirit – through the witness of the church – "convicts the world of guilt in regard to ... righteousness" (Jn 16:8). Did you hear what Jesus really said? The Spirit convicts the world of guilt in regard to "righteousness." Righteousness. NOT unrighteousness. The first couple of times I read this, my mind right away assumed the world was convicted of unrighteousness – of wicked and evil acts, unholy acts, unrighteous acts. But that is not what Jesus said.
The Spirit convicts the world of guilt in regard to "righteousness." What righteousness? Or, whose righteousness? Listen to what Jesus says:
(Jn 16:10) in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer ...It is Christ's righteousness that is in mind. The Spirit convicts the world of guilt in regards to Christ's righteousness.
What did the Pharisees and the Jews say about Jesus by crucifying Him? What were they saying when Jesus was hung on a tree and put under God's curse (Deut 21:23; Gal 32:13)? They were saying Jesus was the worst kind of criminal. They were saying Jesus was unrighteous. They were saying Jesus was wicked. Don't forget, also, all the accusations they leveled against Jesus: that He was a blasphemer, a lawbreaker, a deceiver, and even a demon.
It is in this light that we need to hear Jesus' statement about righteousness and going to the Father (Jn 16:10). What does the going of Jesus – don't forget, this includes the Resurrection and the Ascension – say about Jesus? That God has received Him Whom the world would not receive. God's exaltation of Jesus shows Him to be the perfect Lamb of God.
So, what does the Spirit do in regards to this sin? Through the witness of the church, the Spirit brings to light the world's guilt of not accepting Jesus as the Righteous and Perfect and Holy One. Namely,
-that His was a holy conception and birth
-that His was a sinless life
-that He did not sin even in the pain and agony of death
-that He was righteous in every way
-that He perfectly kept the Law
-that He perfectly loved God
-that He perfectly loved His neighbor
E Third, the Spirit – through the witness of the church – "convicts the world of guilt in regard to ... judgment" (Jn 16:8). What judgment? Whose judgment? Listen to what Jesus says:
(Jn 16:11) and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
Who was condemned at the cross? On whom was judgment pronounced? Who received a verdict of guilty and a sentence? Who was victorious? The world thinks that it was Jesus Who was condemned, that it was Jesus Who was judged, that it was Jesus Who received a sentence, and that it was Satan who won the victory. In actual fact, though, the cross and the grave shows that it was Satan who was condemned, that it was Satan who was judged, that it was Satan who received a sentence, and that it was Christ Who won the victory. When Jesus suffered and died and arose, it was Satan who was defeated. Though the battle continues, the war has already been lost and Satan knows this. Now, Satan angrily awaits his execution. And, it is his hope and plan to take as many people with him as possible.
So, what does the Spirit do in regards to this sin? Through the witness of the church, the Spirit brings to light the world's guilt in regards to the sin of judgment. Because of the Spirit's ministry – through the church – the world recognizes that it is Satan, not Jesus, who stands under judgment; and, that it is Jesus, not Satan, Who won the victory.
F See what the Spirit does in regards to the world? He brings to light the world's guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment. Now, let's watch as this actually unfolds on the Day of Pentecost:
(Acts 2:22-24, 36-41) "Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. (23) This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. (24) But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him ... (36) Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." (37) When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" (38) Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (39) The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call." (40) With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." (41) Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
Do you hear what happened on this first Pentecost Sunday? The Spirit – through the church – convicted the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment. The three thousand were convicted of their sin of unbelief, they were convicted of the righteousness of Christ, and they were convicted of the judgment of Satan.
Do you hear what happened on the first Pentecost Sunday? It was the Spirit who grew the church. It was the Spirit Who convicted and converted lost souls. This doesn't mean the apostles were mere bystanders. Not at all! But we need to keep their role – and our role – straight. The job of the apostles and the church is to witness. The job of the Spirit is to convict, to bring to light, to convert.
Doesn't the same thing happen today? Why are you in worship this morning? Why do you believe in Jesus? Isn't it because the Spirit – through the church – has convicted you? Isn't it because the Spirit – through the church – has shed His light upon you? In fact, if the Spirit has not done this you would not be here and you would not believe.
Remember our text? "It is for your good that I am going away" (Jn 16:7). How is this for our "good"? How do we benefit because the Spirit convicts and brings to light? Well, enemies become friends – of Christ, of the Gospel, of the church. The church grows. The kingdom is advanced. God is glorified.
II The Spirit Teaches the Church
A The second thing we see in our passage is the Spirit instructing the Church.
We need to start with an earlier passage about the ministry of the Spirit:
(Jn 14:26) But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.Next, we need to hear what Jesus says in our Bible reading for today:
(Jn 16:13) 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.
When we look at these two verses, we see that the Spirit is behind the wonder and beauty of the New Testament Scriptures. What does the Spirit do? First, "he will remind you of everything I have said to you" (Jn 14:26). Where do we find everything Jesus said? Isn't this the four Gospels? Second, "he will guide you into all truth" (Jn 16:13). Isn't this the letters of Paul and Peter and John and the rest of the epistles? Third, "he will tell you what is yet to come" (Jn 16:13). Doesn't this refer to the prophetic Scriptures, especially the Book of Revelation?
B We are being told that the Spirit works through the Bible. There are many Christians today who talk vaguely about revelation from the Spirit that goes over and beyond what Scripture says. This is one of the weaknesses and heresies of third-wave Pentecostalism – that there is revelation beyond what the Bible says. That is not how the Spirit works. The Spirit works through the Bible. As Jesus puts it, "He will not speak on his own ..." (Jn 14:13). He does not speak apart from the Father and the Son. He does not "manufacture" a different message or a new message.
The Spirit works through the Bible. Do you realize what this says about the Bible? The Bible is the ministry of the Spirit. Through the Spirit, God has taken special care to preserve and transmit His most sacred Word. Furthermore, the Bible is the ministry of the Spirit for the church. The Bible is not meant for the unbelieving; it is the gift of God – through the Spirit – for the church.
C Now, notice the purpose of this ministry of the Spirit: to teach, to remind, to guide, to tell. In other words, the Bible is not – first of all – an historical artifact to satisfy our curiosity about science or history or mankind's beginnings. Under the Spirit, the Bible is meant for our good as Christians. The Spirit's goal is our growth in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.
D It is essential that we see that this work of the Spirit of God is never ever to be divorced from Jesus Christ:
(Jn 15:26) When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.Did you hear that? "He will testify about me." "He will bring glory to me." The Spirit's work is meant to lead us to Christ and the Gospel. We are given the Word to see and know and glorify Jesus Christ. We are given the Word to meet Jesus – Jesus Who was conceived by the Spirit and born of a virgin, Jesus Who was raised unto the cross, Jesus Who arose from the grave, Jesus Who was raised into heaven, Jesus Who someday will return. Unless we meet this Jesus, the Spirit's goal is not being accomplished.
(Jn 16:14) He will bring glory to me ...
Let me end by stating again the words of our text "It is for your good that I am going away" (Jn 16:7). Why? Because then Jesus sends the Spirit. The Spirit Who convicts the unbelieving. The Spirit Who instructs the church.
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