Sermon for Sunday, July 26th, 2020 at First Presbyterian Church at Unionville, NY (BPC)
Old Testament reading:
[Exo 33:12-23 ESV] 12 Moses said to the LORD, “See, you say to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ 13 Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” 14 And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15 And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. 16 For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?” 17 And the LORD said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” 18 Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” 19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” 21 And the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, 22 and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”
New Testament reading:
[Acts 7:54 – 8:3 ESV] 54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. 1 And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3 But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.
Gospel reading and sermon text:
[Jhn 16:1-15 ESV] 1 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
Chapter 13, 14, 15, and 16 of John’s Gospel present the “Upper Room Discourse” which Jesus gave to his disciples in his last evening on Earth. As we come now into chapter 16, the last chapter of this discourse, we find the direction changing from that of admonition (or teaching) to that of prediction or prophesying. Jesus here tells his disciples WHAT WILL SOON HAPPEN.
One way to break down this passage, to help us understand it better, is to do it in two parts. First, there is “What Jesus Has Said,” and second, there is “What the Holy Spirit WILL Say.” [REPEAT: “What Jesus Has Said” to his disciples and “What the Holy Spirit Will (soon) Say” to them and to us.
I. WHAT JESUS HAS SAID
“I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away.” Jesus has been preparing his disciples for his soon departure. He is ensuring that they will not be surprised about what is to come. He has warned them that they will be persecuted for his name’s sake, and that the world will hate them.
Now he prepares them also for the fact that “they will put you out of the synagogues.”
Not only does this mean that they will literally be excommunicated from the Jewish religion, but that their reputations will suffer. They will be outcasts, not allowed in the gathering of the Jewish people.
While it is the Romans who so persecute the church in later years, at first it is also the Jews that persecute the Christians. Jesus warns “Indeed the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.” And that is exactly what happened in the case of Saul the persecutor. He was a zealous Pharisee who thought that Jesus and the disciples were enemies of God who needed to be put to death. Thus it was that Saul was among those who approved of the death of Stephen the Martyr. (Acts 8:1)
Jesus tell his disciples all of these warnings in his Upper Room Discourse, and the timing is important. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.” So Jesus held off from giving these warnings about his departure and the persecutions ahead until he was about to leave. And he still had more to tell them; the very New Testament soon to written.
Jesus has spoken, but there is more to come. And it will come through the work of the Holy Spirit.
So we transition from “What Jesus Has Said” to “What the Holy Spirit Will Say.”
II. WHAT THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL SAY
And we need to first clarify what is meant by the verb “say” when it comes to the Holy Spirit. Of course, the disciples audibly heard Jesus when he taught. And, the text actually says that the Holy Spirit “will speak.” But this is not audible speech. Rather, it is the Spirit working in the heart and mind of the disciples to give them faith and to breath-out of them the New Testament writings; the very Words of God.
A. 3 Works of the Spirit
The text then explains 3 works of the Holy Spirit, 3 ways the Holy Spirit speaks. These regard sin, righteousness, and judgment.
“And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”
The first of these three works of the Holy Spirit is the convicting the world of sin.
This is a most necessary work. Many people believe they are “just fine.” They will say “I’m not as bad as this other guy.” They just do not know how bad they actually are. For all men are sinners, and sin is against God himself, holy and righteous.
The Holy Spirit then works in people so that they are convicted of their sin.
It is a bit like this. Sometimes the light comes in through the window in a strong piercing beam. And you thought the room you were in was clean. But in this light beam you see thousands of particles of dust floating around. The work of the Spirit is like this light beam, making you aware of the impurity in the air; the impurity in your soul.
The Holy Spirit works to convict you not only of particular sins, but of your very nature as a sinful being. You could pick dust particles out of the air all day (or all year) and yet never have pure air.
The problem is, as Jesus says, “they do not believe in me.” The heart of sin is this unbelief. All sin is intertwined with unbelief. And before a person comes to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation they first much recognize their sinful status. So the Holy Spirit brings that conviction.
Then, next, the Holy Spirit convicts of righteousness.
This isn’t that the Holy Spirit now has changed His mind and now wants to convince you that you are righteous and not a yet. Rather, this is a conviction of the need FOR righteousness; a need for right-standing with God.
This follows upon the conviction of sin. First the Holy Spirit convicts you of your sinful status and then convicts you of your need for righteousness.
Righteousness is not something that man by nature possess. Man needs the righteousness of Jesus Christ. It is an alien righteousness that we receive when we believe in Jesus Christ. It is his righteousness credited to us. We are not made righteous, but accounted as righteous for his names’ sake.
Man needs not only to be convicted of sin, but to be convicted of the need for righteousness.
If the conviction of sin be like the awareness of hunger, then the conviction of the need for righteousness is the awareness that food satiates the belly. It doesn’t do any good for the body to know that it is hungry if it isn’t also led to seek nourishment!
Said another way, it is not enough for man to see his sin. He needs to see his savior.
So the Holy Spirit convicts of sin and of the need for righteousness.
And he Holy Spirit convicts man in a third way as well. Not only of sin and righteousness, but of judgment.
And this needs to be explained. What is it here to be convicted of judgment?
This is not referring to the judgment at the end of the world. That is already covered in the conviction of sin.
Rather, here Jesus is speaking of something that is now in the past to us. It is a judgement on Satan, the Prince of This World.
The Holy Spirit is working to convict us of the fact that Satan has been defeated. Jesus Christ’s death of the cross has defeated Satan and he no longer has a grip over us.
We are to be convicted that we are now free, by the grace of God. Satan has been judged and we shall not be condemned.
So these are the three ways the Spirit works to convict: on sin, righteousness, and judgment.
But now we have, as it were, a fourth point. The spirit will guide into all truth.
B. Guided into all truth. – Cessationism
When the text says “The Spirit leads me into all truth” this doesn’t mean you don’t have to study for a test, or that the big decisions in life regarding jobs, marriage, and spending money are made for you.
The truth spoken of is the revelation of God in the Scriptures. Jesus has taught his disciples. But there is more that they need to know. The Holy Spirit then inspired the disciples, speaking all truth through them, which was committed into writing in the Scriptures.
All of the Scriptures are true, and, in this life, all the truth that we can know is from the Scriptures.
The Scriptures are complete. They provide all things necessary for God’s own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life. The confession tells us that nothing is to be added to the Bible, whether by supposed new revelations of the Spirit or traditions of men.
The Word of God in the Scriptures is “all truth.”
Of John 16:13 (“He will lead you into all truth.”), Calvin says, “That very Spirit had led them into all truth, when they committed to writing the substance of their doctrine. Whoever imagines that anything must be added to their doctrine, as if it were imperfect and but half-finished, not only accuses the apostles of dishonesty, but blasphemes against the Spirit.”
To add anything to the Scriptures, whether personal opinions, traditions of men, or parts of other religions, is to claim that the Scriptures themselves are not whole and well. And thus it is to blaspheme the Holy Spirit as if you are saying that His speech is not effective.
But the Holy Spirit speaks. He convicts men of sin, righteousness, and judgment. He works in our hearts to cause us to believe the Word of God. Because of the Spirit, the words of Jesus are not only heard audible but are believed. As Christ died for your sins, the Holy Spirit gives you faith. They have each worked in accordance with God’s plan of salvation and in their own roles, bringing Glory to God.
The Son Speaks, and the Spirit Speaks.
Do you Listen?
Of course we can believe only by the work of the Holy Spirit.
But if you do not yet believe in Jesus Christ, this is a call for you to hear his word. Read the Scriptures, listen with understanding his God’s word preached, and accept it as truth. Accept the fact that are a sinner. Accept the fact that you need a righteousness from another, namely Jesus Christ. And accept the truth that Christ has conquered Satan.
Not only is the Work of the Holy Spirit necessary for salvation; it is the only way of salvation. If you do not believe, if you will not listen, then you are leaning against the very doors of hell; doors would fall through right now if it were not for the Lord holding them shut.
All men are commanded to believe in Jesus Christ. His Word is proclaimed. We are to listen and to believe. The Son has spoken, the Spirit speaks. Listen, all of you, listen to the Word of God. Amen.