Sermon on John 14:15-31 – “The Comfort of the Holy Spirit”

Sermon for Sunday, June 21st, 2020 at First Presbyterian Church at Unionville, NY (BPC)

Old Testament reading:

[Joe 2:28-32 ESV] 28 “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. 29 Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit. 30 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.

New Testament reading:

[Act 2:1-15 ESV] 1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians–we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.” 14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.

Gospel reading and sermon text:

[Jhn 14:15-31 ESV] 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 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. 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 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.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 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. 24 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. 25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

INTRODUCTION

Times of leaving bring doubt and uncertainly into our lives. Whether it is a child leaving for the first day of kindergarten or the first day of college, or the whole family leaving to settle in a new town, times of leaving are sure to causes great anxiety and unease.

Jesus knew that in his soon-departure from the world his disciple would be under great distress if he did not comfort and protect them in a profound way.

We heard two weeks ago in my sermon on the first half of John chapter 14 the comfort that Jesus gave his disciples in saying “let not your hearts be troubled.” And, he said, “I prepare a place for you in heaven.”

Now, as we continue in the monologue, we find Jesus continuing to comfort his disciples regarding the fact that he will soon be leaving.

He now brings the added comfort of telling them that the Holy Spirit will come to them.

I. THE COMFORT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

So the comfort Jesus speaks of is not only to be found in considering the future heavenly life with the Lord in His house of many rooms, but in the present earthly life with very presence of the Holy Spirit.

The criticism frequently comes upon Christians that we are so concerned with the next life, that we do not care about this life! But this is not at all to be the case. We do not give up true joy in this world for joy in the next. We have joy and we live in the Lord’s blessings in both the here and the hereafter. While we do not yet experience those heavenly rewards promised by Jesus Christ, we have on Earth the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. And the Holy Spirit is to comfort us — as it comforts the disciples.

It is not only this message ABOUT the Holy Spirit that is comforting, it is the very Holy Spirit himself who comforts believers.

Jesus said, “16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever”

Another helper.

In the Greek the word is parakletos, transliterated paraclete. It means “helper,” “comforter,” or “advocate.”

Para means “alongside of.” So there are paramedics who come alongside doctors, and there are

parallel lines that follow alongside one another. The second half of the word is “kaleto” which is “to call.” So a paraclete is someone who is called to come alongside someone else, perhaps like a trusted family attorney.

And Jesus himself is called a paraclete or comforter in 1st John 2:1. Now we have “another comforter” sent from God and that is the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit comforts the people of God by teaching them “all things” (v. 26) and bringing to remembrance that which Jesus taught. The Holy Spirit enlightens our minds so that we can know the Word of God. The Holy Spirit is said to be “the Spirit of Truth.” His ministry is to reveal truth to us. It is a ministry of instruction, teaching, and education. He leads us into the truth of the Gospel.

In Jesus’ time with the disciples, the disciples never seemed to have understood things. They are stumbling, bumbling, and fumbling along. But now the Holy Spirit will bring to their remembrance all that Jesus said to them. And this is very important for it is the disciples who write the New Testament. In their writings they are guided by the Holy Spirit, and they remember the things Jesus said. And they understand the things Jesus said.

The disciples are to find comfort in knowing that while Jesus is leaving, he will not leave them as orphans. They will have “another helper” to guide them to all truth.

The Kings James Version uses that term here, calling the Holy Spirit “another comforter.” Our English Standard Version says “another helper.” But “advocate” might even be the more appropriate word. The Holy Spirit does not merely comfort us when we are downtrodden, but is our helper, guide, and advocate from moment to moment.

The theologian R. C. Sproul explains, “The image of the comforter is not one who comes to dry our tears after the battle, it is one who comes to give us strength and courage for the battle. … To strengthen God’s people in the midst of fearful tribulation.”

And tribulation was certainly come for the disciples and it comes to us as well. In our tribulations we need the Holy Spirit as our advocate.

II. THE INDWELLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

There arises in regards to this passage (among others) a fairly difficult theological question. While it is clear that the Holy Spirit came to many at Pentecost, as recorded in the book of Acts, you might ask, “Did the Holy Spirit come previously?” “Did the Holy Spirit come in the Old Testament?”

In the Old Testament we often hear of certain individuals whom the Spirit of God rested upon.

And, we find faithful believers in the Old Testament. Believers who can only believe by the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus they did indeed have the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament.

And we read in Psalm 51:11 “Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.”

The Holy Spirit must have been present with people in Old Testament times for they pray “take not your Holy Spirit from me.”

And even here in our passage, as Jesus speaks, he says of the Holy Spirit, “HE dwells with you.” That is, IN THE PRESENT, the Holy Spirit ALREADY dwells with you.

The greatest change that occurs at Pentecost is the growth of the church from a few who have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them, to a great number who have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. The Holy Spirit who was known to a small number is then “poured out” upon many.

The world cannot receive the Holy Spirit. Just as we read at the beginning of John’s Gospel that the world did not receive Jesus Christ, the Word of God, so the world cannot receive the spirit. They have not the power to do so. The Holy Spirit must break down the barriers man puts up and come in and take over, renewing your life, giving you new life. It is not a matter of you “receiving” the spirit. Salvation is a matter of God pouring out the Holy Spirit upon you. Salvation is all of God. We are not to take credit for anything, even for receiving the Spirit. A dead man can receive nothing. We need to be made alive with the Spirit. And that is exactly what happens for those who believe in Jesus Christ. Belief comes only by the work of the Holy Spirit within you.

CONCLUSION

But the work of the Holy Spirit did not end in that day at Pentecost. The Spirit’s work continued through church history, and continues to be poured out upon the people of God today.

We greatly need a comforter, a helper, an advocate.

Jesus is our advocate with the Father. He has taken upon himself our sin and given us forgiveness. This the Gospel message. Jesus is the first paraclete.

We need also the Holy Spirit who is the second paraclete, the second comforter. We need him to come alongside us and to guide us into all truth.

In our deepest troubles and even from day to day the Spirit prompts our minds to think about the Words of God and His promises. The Spirit brings to our minds the assured guaranteed promises of God. In this promises we find great comfort. We find peace. Jesus says “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”

And as the world changes, and you leave one thing and begin another, you’ll always have the Holy Spirit with you. The Holy Spirit dwells among us and in us so that we are never left without God’s presence directing us and guiding us in times of trouble and in times of joy. Praise be to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

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