John: The Other Counselor

Sermon by Derek Thomas on April 20, 2003

John 14:15-31


John 14:16-31
The Other Counselor

As we continue our study of John’s gospel, we come to
chapter 14, beginning at verse 16, hear the word of God:

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper,
that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world
cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him
because He abides with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans;
I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but
you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know
that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments
and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My
Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” Judas (not
Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, what then has happened that You are going to
disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?” Jesus answered and said to 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 abode with him. He who does not love Me does not
keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who
sent Me. These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. 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 said to you. I leave with
you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let
your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. You heard that I said to you, ‘I
go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced
because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. Now I have told
you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe.
I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and
he has nothing in Me; but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I
do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here.

Amen. May God bless to us the reading of His holy and
inerrant word. Let’s pray together.

“Our Father in heaven, we come into Your presence now
asking for the help of the Holy Spirit. O come, Holy Spirit, and make known to
us the meaning of these great words, and write them upon our hearts, for Jesus’
sake, Amen.

On April 19, 1642, the House of Commons in London,
you understand, called together, and ordered that the names of divines,
ministers, theologians, fit to be consulted should be presented to the House.
They were chosen, two from each county in England, two from each university, two
from the channel islands, Jersey, Guernsey and so on; only one from each county
in Wales, and four from the city of London. The assembly was called to meet, as
you well know, on the first of July, 1643. It’s a date that’s indelibly etched
upon your consciousness. What was the opening sermon for that day? There was a
sermon, and apparently a fairly lengthy one, and it was preached by the
prolocutor, the chairman of The Westminster Assembly, a man by the name of
William Twisse, and his text, John 14:18, “I will not leave you as orphans, I
will come to you.” A beautiful text.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that John’s
gospel is the gospel of the Holy Spirit, and nowhere is the doctrine of the Holy
Spirit more eloquently expounded than in these very chapters that are before us
in the upper room, in John 14-16. Almost every word that Jesus speaks now, He
speaks from the vantage point that He is about to leave, that He is about to
leave His disciples, and they’re troubled, and they’re afraid–understandably
so. But He urges them, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Do not be afraid.
Because even though I go away, I come to you again.”

Now, you can imagine the disciples in the upper room
had no idea what He was talking about. I imagine that had very little idea,
very little apprehension of what it was He was saying to them. Some, indeed,
thought that He was speaking, and commentators since have thought, that He was
speaking of the resurrection. He would go away and He would come again to
them. What a suitable text that would be for today, but, alas, it is not the
interpretation. It is a consequence of the resurrection, that as a consequence
of the resurrection, when Jesus ascends to His Father, the Holy Spirit is poured
forth upon the Church. Jesus, as it were, by the Holy Spirit, comes to His
disciples again. They understood this afterwards. John understood it, when he
came to write his gospel, he understood then what Jesus meant when He said
that.

That’s not the first time that John has recorded
words of Jesus about the Holy Spirit. In John 7, at the Feast of Tabernacles,
that astonishing ritual when, on the great day of the feast, a priest would go
to the Pool of Siloam with a golden pitcher full of water, bring it to the
temple, pour it down a funnel that would bring the water to the very base of the
altar of sacrifice. It was associated with several prophecies of the Old
Testament, closing chapters of Zechariah, Isaiah 12 especially, “I will draw
waters from the wells of salvation,” and John adds in chapter 7, that “He meant
by that the receiving of the Holy Spirit.” It’s interesting that John records
that after the crucifixion, soldiers speared the side of Jesus and out of His
side flowed blood and water; water, perhaps, alluding to the water of chapter 7,
alluding to the Holy Spirit.

I. The Holy Spirit brings God’s
presence.
Here, in these closing verses of John 14 several aspects of the
Holy Spirit are drawn to our attention, and the first is this: the presence that
the Holy Spirit brings. He had said in 16:7, that “going away is to your
advantage.” But in John 14:18, He says, “I will come to you”; verse 20, “You
will know”; verse 21, “I will manifest Myself to you.” He’s talking about the
outpouring of the Holy Spirit, that as a consequence of Jesus’ death and His
burial and resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God, the Holy Spirit
is poured forth upon the Church. Verse 17, “He will come, that is, the Spirit
of Truth, who the world cannot receive because it cannot behold Him or know Him,
but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” Here in verse
17, John uses what is grammatically correct, the neuter pronoun, but when He
goes on in verse 26, “When the helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send
in My name, He will teach you all things,” he reverts to the masculine pronoun.
It’s just a subtle little change, but John is signaling that while grammatically
it was correct to use the neuter pronoun, the Holy Spirit is not an it.
As we have previously learned, the Holy Spirit is a person, the Holy
Spirit is the third person of the Trinity, He’s God of Gods and Lord of Lords
.
And Jesus is saying, “I will go away, but I will come to you, and I will come to
you personally, and I will come to you in the person of the Holy Spirit, and it
will be the Holy Spirit’s ministry to make Me known to you, to make My presence
known to you.”

Imagine, if He hadn’t gone away. Imagine, as some
Christians still misguidedly believe, that Jesus resided in Jerusalem. Imagine
that instead of going away, He would ascend to some throne in Jerusalem and
become king of Israel, in a literal sense, that He would not go away. Imagine
the airplanes, the boats, the trains across Europe, heading for Jerusalem, to
Mt. Zion, just to catch a little glimpse of Jesus. Imagine when you got to
within the precincts of Jerusalem, the millions of people. Today, can you
imagine the millions of people who would be thronging to Jerusalem. You would
go to see Jesus, but you would never see Him. And Jesus is saying, “I’m going
away, but I will come to you.” The expression in Northern Ireland, and you hear
it in prayer so often, “I will be closer to you than breathing.” I will be in
you. My presence will be made known to you by the Holy Spirit. The presence of
Jesus. What did we sing in Sunday School this morning, “And He walks with me
and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own, and the joy we share as we
tarry there, none other has ever known.” We haven’t sung that in awhile. He
walks with me and He talks with me. Have you ever found yourself talking to
Jesus? In the car on Interstate 55? I do it all the time. Do you ever find
yourself in your study, in your closet, in your hideaway, talking to Jesus?
Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God, why are you talking to Jesus?
Because He’s right here, because by the Holy Spirit He’s right here, He makes
the presence of Jesus known to me, He makes Jesus real.

II. The ministry of the Holy
Spirit.
And Jesus talks about the ministry of the Holy Spirit, not only
in terms of the presence of Jesus, but the ministry of the Holy Spirit as a
teacher. Follow the line of reasoning and look at verses 23-24, “If anyone
loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him and We will come to
him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My
words, and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.”

Jesus is indicating what kind of ministry the Holy
Spirit has, and it’s a ministry of instruction, a ministry of education, in the
truth of the gospel. He speaks words, words which come through and from Him,
but also from the Father in heaven. And in verse 26, “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 said to you.” There’s not a little here
about the way in which the Bible itself, at least the New Testament, was
inspired by the ministry of the Holy Spirit, in using instruments like John to
remind him of the things that Jesus said and did and compose this wonderful
gospel for us. It’s the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It’s our great teacher.

He says in verse 20, “In that day,” the day of
Pentecost, the day of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, “you will know that I
am in the Father and you in Me and I in you.” Holy Spirit, what will You teach
us? Holy Spirit, when you come, what will You teach us? “I will teach,” the
Holy Spirit says, “that Jesus is in the Father and that you are in Him.” What an
extraordinary thing. I will teach that Jesus is in the Father and that you are
in Him. We need to pause for a moment and catch our breath. John is using
those little words, those little prepositions; Jesus is in the Father,
and you are in Jesus. It’s so simple to say it but it contains some of
the greatest profundities known to us. That Jesus and the Father have a
relationship in which they are in one another.

How many did your homework last week and read the
bulletin, those big, long thousand dollar words, parichoresis and
circumincessio
? Get them into your vocabulary; they are beautiful words. Try
using them over a cup of coffee one day this week and get it right. Jesus is
in
the Father; the Father is in the Son. They have a communion, a
rapport, a fellowship together. That’s what the Holy Spirit is going to teach
us. He’s going to teach us how much the Father loves His Son, and how much the
Son loves His Father. He’s going to teach you how much the Son gave of Himself
in order to be obedient to every stipulation of His Father in heaven. That He
has come to do His Father’s will, that He thinks His Father’s thoughts, that He
dwells in His Father, that He longs to gaze into His Father’s eyes. He’s the
only begotten Son of the Father but that even more than that, the Father loves
the Son. The Father loves the Son; the Father is in the Son. There’s something
about love that wants to be in someone’s mind and in someone’s thoughts and in
someone’s heart. Isn’t that what it means to be in love? How many of you have
asked the question to those whom you love, “Did you think about me today?” I
know it sound like a terribly self-centered question to ask, but you’ve asked
it. You’ve thought it even if you haven’t asked it. “Did you think about me
today?” And here is the ministry of the great teacher of heaven. The Father is
in the Son’s thoughts and heart and mind and being, and the Son is in the
Father’s heart and mind and being. Oh, doesn’t it remind you of those words that
the Father can’t but express to His Son at the beginning of His earthly ministry
at the baptism of John and again on the Mount of Transfiguration, “This is my
beloved Son whom I love.” The disciples were troubled because Jesus was going
away and they were never going to see Him again. “My dear disciples,” Jesus is
saying, “you haven’t begun to know me yet. On that day you will know who I
really am; that I am in the Father.”

This opens up for us a little of what John goes on to
say in his epistle in 1 John. He is saying that our fellowship is with the
Father and with the Son. The Holy Spirit has come to teach us the depths of God,
but not only that. Look at what He goes on to say at the end of verse 20. “That
I am in the Father and you in Me and I in you.” Not just the relationship of the
Son to the Father and the Father to the Son, but the relationship that you and I
have to Jesus and the relationship that Jesus has to us. We are in
Christ. It’s a teaching that Jesus is now just beginning to unfold, and He’s
going to elaborate on it. In the next chapter is the story of the the vine and
the branches and how the branches are a part of the vine and they draw their
energy and their sap from the vine. They are in the vine. This is the
Spirit’s teaching–our union with Christ. And these men in the upper room are
going to be used as instruments of God in making that truth known. But not only
as one who makes the presence of Jesus known, not only as a teacher, but
thirdly, as an advocate or a paraclete.

III. The Holy Spirit is our
helper.
Look at what He says in verse 16. “I will ask the Father and He
will give you another.” In the New American Standard version it says helper.
It’s the word paracletos, another advocate, another helper, another
strengthener, another counselor. In the New Testament, this word is usually
associated with a legal backgrounds, and he will develop it in chapter 16. Jesus
is speaking of the Spirit as His own advocate, one who is engaging in the
prosecution of the world, convicting the world of sin and righteousness and
judgments to come.

One of the things He does is to provide a bulwark for
the people of God. When you’re floundering, when you’re in trouble, when you’re
in difficulty and your heart is torn apart, what do you do? Well, you hire a
lawyer in the twenty-first century. But in the first century you couldn’t just
walk down the street and go into the offices of Abraham, Isaac and Sons. If you
found yourself in trouble and brought up before a court of law and you wanted
someone to represent you, you would go to your best friend. You’d go to someone
who knows you, someone who knows your reputation, somebody who knows your
character, somebody who can speak and vouch for you. And it’s extraordinary that
that is what Jesus says here of the Holy Spirit. He says that He’s our advocate
in the sense that He’s our best friend. I will call upon the Father and He will
send you the Holy Spirit. He will send you one who will vouch for you and plead
for you and counsel you and take care of you and strengthen you and be to you
all that you need.

Now, as I say, that part of the Holy Spirit’s
ministry is going to be unfolded in greater depth in the coming chapters and in
particular in chapter 16. The Holy Spirit is our advocate who pleads our case.
When you are at the end of yourselves and you’re at the end of your tether and
you don’t know what to say, and the Holy Spirit will speak for you and He will
take your broken heart and your broken spirits and bind them together and He
will remind you of words of Scripture and promises that you’ve learnt when you
were a little boy or a little girl and remind you that there are promises which
are “yea” and “amen” in Jesus Christ, and they can never be broken. And Jesus
will be your best friend; He will never let you down and He will never
misrepresent you. He will never misrepresent the Father to you. He will remind
you of the love of Jesus and the aching heart of the Father for His Son. Greater
is He that is in you than He that is in the world.

IV. The Holy Spirit will prepare a
place for the Father and Son in the hearts of believers.
And then there’s a fourth image of the Holy Spirit that I want
to allude to and that is in verse 23. “If anyone loves Me he will keep My word
and the Father will love him and we will come to him and make our abode with
him.” And you need to turn back now to John 14, verse 2. “In my Father’s house
are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to
prepare a place, an abode–actually, it’s the same word and these are the only
places in the New Testament where that word is used. Now follow what Jesus is
saying. He is saying in verse 2, “I’m going to prepare a place for you at my
Father’s side.” And here in verse 26 He’s saying that the Holy Spirit is coming
to make a place for the Father and the Son to dwell in you. Do you see how
extraordinary that is? I’m going to make a place for you at My Father’s side,
and the Holy Spirit is coming to make a place for My Father at your side. And
the reciprocity of that–the way those two inter-fellowship and relate with each
other–it’s all bound up, you see. Just as Jesus is in the Father, so we are in
Jesus. He goes to make a place for us at the Father’s side. The Holy Spirit
comes to make a place for the Father at our side so that we might become the
temples of the Holy Spirit. In the words of Ephesians 2:22, “so that we might
become a dwelling place in which God lives by His Spirit.”

Now, what is the point of all of this? The point of
all of this Jesus makes manifest in verse 27. “Peace I leave with you. Shalom I
leave with you. Not as the world gives, give I unto you.” Not a fleeting peace,
not a paper peace that simply papers over all of the cracks, but a solid and a
lasting peace. So do not be troubled; do not be afraid whatever the issue,
whatever the calamity. Matthew Henry says, “When Christ was about to leave the
world, He made His will. His soul He committed to the Father; His body He
bequeathed to Joseph; His clothes fell to the soldiers; His mother He left to
the care of John. But what should He leave to His poor disciples who had left
all for Him? Silver and gold–He had none. But He left them that which was
infinitely better–His peace.”

There’s a curious thing here at the end of the
chapter. Those little words, “Arise, let us go from here.” And the problem is
that they don’t arise. The problem is they don’t actually leave here until the
first verse of chapter 18. It’s given rise to all kinds of speculations.
Actually, the word that Jesus uses here is a military word. It’s not so much a
word, “Let’s get up and get out of here.” It’s a word of command to His
beleaguered soldiers that they need to get ready now. They need to steel
themselves and prepare themselves now. They need to wrap themselves in gospel
armor and the promises of the covenant now. They need to be assured that the
King of Kings is with them now, and that even though He is going away, He is
coming to them again by the power of the Holy Spirit. They need to prepare for
battle in the assurance that they are victors in Jesus Christ. Because Jesus the
mighty warrior is here; He’s going to disarm powers and authorities through the
blood of His cross. He’s going to destroy Him that has the power of death. The
ruler of the world is coming, verse 30, and He has already been at work in one
of the disciples and will be at work in Peter soon. So, get yourselves ready;
get yourselves prepared. Notice what Jesus says, “He has nothing in Me.”

There isn’t anything about Jesus in His life or words
or testimony that Satan can get hold of and use to his advantage. And though
this world with devils filled should threaten to undo us, we will not fear for
God hath willed His truth to triumph through us. The prince of darkness grim; we
tremble not for him. His rage we can endure for lo, his doom is sure. One little
word shall fell him. Let’s pray together.

Our Father in heaven, we thank you for your Word. Thank
you for this beautiful insight into the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Holy
Spirit, we thank you for your presence in our hearts. We thank you for the way
in which you make the things of Christ known to us. Strengthen us now; steel us
for the coming battle. Help us as we rise from this sanctuary and all the peace
and calm of it to perhaps, difficulties that lie outside of these doors that
will come afresh to our mind and consciousness and heart and threaten to undo
us. We tremble not for Satan for one little word shall fell him–Jesus. Hear us
Lord, for Jesus’ sake, Amen
.
*****************************

A Guide to
the Evening Service

The Themes of the Service
Tonight’s passage in the Gospel of John continues in the Upper Room. It
focuses on the promise of the Holy Spirit.

The Hymns and Spiritual Songs
Holy Ghost, Dispel Our Darkness
Be assured that though this hymn is not often sung, the tune is the grand Welsh
(!) tune, Hyfrydol (which, by the way, means ‘beautiful”). The words come from
the seventeenth century (1640s). Their author is Paul Gerhardt, who lived and
preached mostly in Berlin. He is the author of some other familiar hymns,
including, “Commit Thou All Thy Griefs,” and “O Sacred Head Now Wounded.” We’ll
sing from these words:

Holy
Ghost, dispel our sadness; Pierce the clouds of nature’s night;
Come, great Source of joy and gladness, Breathe Your life, and spread Your
light.
From the height which knows no measure, As a gracious shower descend,
Bringing down the richest treasure Man can wish, or God can send.
Author of the new creation, Come with blessing and with power.
Make our hearts your habitation; On our souls Your graces shower.
Hear, O hear our supplication, Blessed Spirit, God of
peace!
Rest upon this congregation, With the fullness of Your grace.

All Hail the
Power of Jesus’ Name
! (Diadem)
A much-loved hymn of Christendom, the first stanza appeared anonymously in
The Gospel Magazine
, November 1779. In April 1780, the same magazine
published eight verses titled, “On the Resurrection, the Lord Is King.” It
resurfaced half a dozen years later, again anonymously, accompanied by an
acrostic poem whose letters spelled out “Edward Perronet.” We sang it tonight to
the glorious “Diadem” – continuing our praise to Christ in light of His
resurrection.

O Breath of Life, Come Sweeping Through Us
A relatively “modern” hymn (it was written in the
twentieth century!), it speaks of the effect of the coming of the Holy Spirit
upon the Church in revival and cleansing. Surely it is something for which we
eagerly long: that God the Holy Spirit would come down and revive us again!

The Sermon
At the top of our agenda these days ought to be the question: how can I get
myself and the church awake to a wartime mentality? As I prepare these words,
our country is at war and men and women are facing hostilities in a foreign land
far away from home. But in many ways, the Church, too, is at war. Satan never
sleeps! But the Church often is.

Picture a great army asleep with
mighty weapons in their limp hands and armor in their tents. Picture them
sleeping in the fields all around one of Satan’s strongholds. Suddenly, an
eyelid blinks, a head lifts and looks around. Then another and another. A
strange awakening spreads through the field. Muscles are flexed. Armor fitted.
Swords sharpened. Eyes meet with silent excitement. The light in the commander’s
tent goes on, the generals gather, and the strategy for the attack is laid.

What has happened? The Holy Spirit has begun to move upon
the armies of the Lord. “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ
shall give you light … be filled with the Holy Spirit .… Put on the whole armor
of God … and take the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God .… Keep alert
… and help each other be bold” (Eph. 5:14,18; 6:11,17-19). There is only one
power that can break the spell of Satan, waken the armies of the Lord, and rout
the god of this age – the power of the Holy Spirit.

This poor band of helpless disciples in the Upper
Room would shortly turn the world upside down! And what would account for it?
The Holy Spirit.

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