John 16 Part 3

Resumed from part 2

The only person, then, who can rescue us is Christ, but there can be no conversion without conviction. Let me stress this; there is no conversion without conviction. That is where the Spirit of God comes in. There is no conviction apart from the Spirit of God, who uses the Word of God to witness to another person. Usually, He will mediate that through a person who takes the truth of the Word and communicates that to another person and the Spirit then empowers that witness and convicts them, and the conversion would follow.
But, all of this is the work of God mediated through His people. I regard the idea of sharing our faith, in a relational way, is a great privilege. We can be part of the idea of spiritual birth and we can participators in that process. In any case, as we go on, in verses 12 through 15 we see the focal point is the Spirit as the teacher, who will guide the Church and He emphasizes the idea of teaching as needful for them to grow.
So, in verse 12, “I have many more things to say to you, but you can not bear them now.” He stresses this point and in verse 13 tells them, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” The Spirit of God, then, will break through and reveal things to you, as you need to receive them.
By the way, this is an important promise because if you compare this with chapter 14, verse 26, there is that promise again, “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” There we have a strong promise that the teaching of the Apostles will be consistent with the teaching of the Lord. Therefore it is an intimation of the inscripturation process that will come through the apostolic witness. That is to say, the Apostles will now be inspired by the Holy Spirit to write God’s word and to communicate that truth.
So, He is predicting that they will receive it. In verse 14, “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things the Father has are Mine; therefore I said He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.” So, this idea of disclosure is one of intimacy. Remember He said, “A slave doesn’t know what his master is doing, but I have called you friends,” and they did know what He was doing.
So, this idea of intimate knowledge is something that reveals our true position before Him. Now, if you go to verses 16 through 33, the last portion of this chapter, what you now see is the conclusion of the Upper Room discourse. In chapter 17 we find the High Priestly prayer of Jesus.
So, the discourse is complete at the end of chapter 16, then we listen in on this amazing prayer, as we will see at our next meeting. It is one of the most amazing prayers; especially in that what He asks for us has a tremendous bearing on our own identity and destiny.
But, what we have, again, in chapter 16, is His dealings with the emotions of His disciples. I find it intriguing that we see them as very real people with very real problems. I find it a wonderful comfort that He uses imperfect people. To be frank with you, the people He chose are not the folks I would have chosen. That is just the reality of it. That is meaningful, however, because it means that He can use us as well. You do not have to be highly gifted, in the eyes of the world, for you to be used in a powerful way. Instead, you need to be radically dependent. Obedience and dependence; trust and obey, to use the old phrase, is what will really make the cutting difference. The fact is, and we all know it, that some people have greater amounts of intelligence, or ability, or wealth, or influence, and surely that is true.
But, the divine equalizer is that reward in God’s Kingdom is based on faithfulness and opportunity, and not on time, talent, or treasure. Therefore, a very, very deficient person, as the world would define them, that is to say not educated or they are impoverished, has as much opportunity to be rewarded in the Kingdom of Heaven as does a person who is a ‘mover and shaker’, even apparently in the Christian world.
Therefore, I believe there will be tremendous surprises at the judgment seat of Christ. You will see people who were the unsung heroes and whose faithfulness will give them that reward. That is a comforting word for us all. Speaking of comfort, there is also a recurring theme in this chapter. Look at verse 20 to 22. He says, “The world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy.” Then He talks about the issue of joy that will come into the world, in verse 22, “No one will take your joy away from you.” Then, in verse 24, “So that your joy may be made full.”
So, He uses this theme of joy and remember, joy is not the same as happiness. Happiness depends upon circumstances, joy transcends circumstances. There is a big difference. So, we can be joyful in the midst of adversity, because of our perspective. That is why James says, “Count as all joy, when you encounter various trials, knowing,” he says, “not that you are enjoying the process but because you know the outcome.” You can see that God will use this to mature you, to layer you, and to develop you. That brings us to an incredibly important principle, in verses 16 to 22, that I really want us to grasp. In my opinion, it can be a life-changing principle if we begin to see it more clearly.
Let me read you those verses and let’s listen carefully to what Jesus says to His disciples. Knowing that they are concerned, and knowing that they are terrified of what is going on, He says to them, ‘“A little while and you will no longer see Me, and again a little while, and you will see Me’. Some of His disciples then said to one another, ‘What is this thing he is telling us, ‘A little while and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’; and, ‘Because I go to the Father’?”
So, they are totally mixed up. It was total chaos. If this was a forgery if this were a fraud, would they really paint themselves as being so obtuse? It is amazing when you think about it. There is, clearly, complete honesty here; they were admitting that they were complete dumbbells. The reality is that they should have figured it out by now, but they had not. It simply illustrates that all of us are that way; we are all dense and we are all obtuse unless the Spirit of God breaks through.
But, the text goes on to say, in verse 19, “Jesus knew that they wished to question Him, and He said to them, ‘Are you deliberating together about this, that I said, ‘A little while and you will not see Me, and again a little while and you will see Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy. Whenever a woman is in labor’,” and He uses this powerful illustration, ‘“She has pain because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world’.”
Now He is applying that powerful image. “Therefore you too have grief now, but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.” That is a very powerful thing and the principle I want to give you is this; God will bring joy into your life, not by substitution, but by transformation. Let me say that again; joy will come not by substitution, but by transformation. Let me explain what I mean by that principle. The illustration of a woman giving birth really makes it clear. The same baby that caused the pain also caused great joy. Instead of relieving the mother’s pain, what did God do? He transformed it. You see the idea?
The mother’s pain is not replaced by joy, it is transformed into joy. You see the difference? It is not a replacement by joy, it is transformed into joy. If the mother always gets a new toy for a child, each time a toy is broken, what will happen to that child? Every time something goes wrong the kid is covered. That child will grow up expecting every problem to be solved by substitution. That is to say, if something goes wrong, let me give you a new thing. So many people suppose, sadly, and often during a mid-life crisis, that a new wife, a new career, or a new car, all substitutions, will suddenly make things better. That is an illusion.
The point is this; God will not solve our problems by way of substitution because that is the way of immaturity. The way of transformation is the way of faith and that leads to maturity. You can not mature emotionally or spiritually if someone is always replacing your broken toys. And by the way, we typically use God. When we get desperate we will try to use God as a utility to repair our toys.
So, God is viewed as kind of a divine vending machine. Remember the phrase, from Larry Crabbe’s book The Pressure is Off? He says, “The sad part is that most Christians are more concerned with the better life of God’s blessings than they are with the better hope of God’s presence.” Let me say it again. The sad part is that most Christians are more concerned with the better life of God’s blessings than they are with the better hope of God’s presence.” What does the better life of God’s blessings look like? Pretty much what you want.
Fill in the blank; better health, better career, or more money. They see God as a cosmic utility who will help them bring that about, rather than what I believe is more Biblical, the way of transformation, namely, the better hope of God’s presence. In the pursuit of God some talk about the horrible problem of ‘God-hyphen-and’. In other words, we want God and this. We are hoping not to have Him all by Himself, but also what He will provide, whatever that may be. And let’s be honest, we will have an ‘and’ that we want God to solve. Part of the terrifying, radical abandon is to finally abandon all those ‘ands’ and pursue Him only for Himself, and not think of the Almighty as our personal candy store.
That is to say, pursue the better hope of His presence, whether the ‘ands’ come or not, and there is no promise that they will, except until we are in Heaven. Do not commit yourself, do not make your joy, depend on something God has not promised. If you do, you will be disappointed and embittered in the end. Never put your hope on something God has not promised. There is no promise that righteous living will lead to greater earthly prosperity. There is no direct correlation between that, or between un-Godliness leading to less prosperity. That is pretty obvious in the world. One of the first phrases a child learns is ‘it’s not fair’. We all have this hard-wired and built-in idea of fairness.





Now on to part 4

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