We are in electoral season. Many candidates are making fancy promises at this time hoping to convince people to vote for them. But how many will keep their words? “I will not increase taxes…!” “I will work on social health to provide coverage for most everyone!”
So many promises are done in life, but few are kept. However let us not be too quick in throwing stones at our politicians. How about our own record when it comes to promise keeping?
“Mom, I promise I will be home by 8pm”........ Maybe your friend....... "Hey, I promise I will be there to help you..........” Maybe your Mom or Dad.......... "Hey, we promise we will come to the next game, we'll come to the next this...... the next that......" Your Boss..... "Hey, I promise your next on the list to get promoted......" "Your next on the list to change positions......" Promises......"I Promise to love you through sickness and in health, for richer for poorer, till death do us part......" Promises.... Sometimes promises aren’t kept. That’s a reality of our life isn’t it? But you need to realize that there are people who do keep their promises. There are some promise Keepers out there. They may be hard to find. There may not be as many as their should be. But they do exist.
This morning I want to turn your attention to the Greatest Promise Keeper we have ever known. I want you to realize that your Faith and Trust in God is on solid ground with God, because He always keeps His promises. He never fails. He’s never late. He’s always right where we need Him to be. Amen?
Let us read together the text and try to guess which promises Jesus made in the section of JN 14:15-26 "If you love me, you will obey what I command. (16) And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (18) I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (19) Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. (20) On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I am in you. (21) Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father and I too will love him and show myself to him.” …Did you see it? Here Jesus promises things concerning his Spirit. These promises concerning the Spirit are so vital for our encouragement, yet so tricky to understand. Many through the years have misinterpreted these verses. Opposite positions have been adopted and promoted concerning the role of the Spirit from this passage. Some have said that the promises were only for the apostles. Others have taught that all things here were true for all Christians, regardless if they were chosen to be apostles or not. Who is right? Were these words specifically spoken only to promise something to the apostles, or were they also given to promise us something? Who is right? None of the two groups I mentioned is right. There are words here that apply only to the apostles, and words that apply to every obedient believer. Only careful examination allows us to differentiate and properly apply the text. I wish we had plenty of time to study in depth the working of the Spirit, but we are in the midst of a study on the gospel of John. So I will try to quickly present the material, to only show what is necessary for proper application and not to chase a rabbit that would bring us far from the original intention of Jesus when he spoke those words. Remember, as we read this passage, the larger context of the statements.
It is the last moments of Jesus’ life. He and the apostles are in the Upper Room. This was not one of the greatest moments in the lives of the disciples. This was what you would call a spiritual downtime. Everything was going wrong. Judas had shown himself to be a traitor and had just left the room on his way to betray Christ. More than that, Peter had just been told that within the next 24 hours he was going to publicly deny Christ, (John 13:38)... And the Jews wanted to get rid of Christ and all His followers, so the disciples had reason to be afraid. Then came the worst blow. Jesus told them, “I am going to go away to prepare a place for you. You can’t come to Me until I come for you. I am not going to tell you when I will come for you, but trust Me.” 14:1-3 Thomas reacted right away. “Jesus, you have got to be kidding. We put all of our eggs in your basket, and now You tell us You have to leave us. Jesus, we had enough problems trying to make it with You here. How in the world do You expect us to make it if You leave us?" So this is the tension filled, late night environment in the upper room in Jerusalem that night. And Jesus tells them not to lose heart. He promises that he will watch after them and prepare a place for them during his absence, so that one day they can come home with him (14:1-3). But they must keep his commandments (v.15). That will be the proof of their love for him. And then Jesus makes this great promise, (v. 16) “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.”
I. Who is this Counselor or Comforter?
The Greek term Jesus uses here is Parakletos. In the King James the Bible talks of a Comforter. What do you think of when you hear the word “comforter”? Most of us think of a big. old warm blanket to wrap up in on a cold, winter night. Or, maybe we think of someone who tries to make us feel better in the midst of difficult times. Really neither of these descriptions are exactly right. The KJV describes the Holy Spirit as “another Comforter” because it comes from the Latin influence in which comforter means, “to come alongside with strength.” I believe that’s much closer to what Jesus had in mind here. In the NIV, the translators have chosen the term Counsellor to translate Parakletos. Again, what do you think of when you hear “counsellor”? Jesus had much more in mind than just someone who would provide a listening ear and offer advice. Jesus was communicating much more to His disciples than just our modern understanding of counsellor or comforter. One translation of the Bible says the Father will send “another Friend.” I really believe this comes a little closer to Jesus intention. The comfort of the Holy Spirit is that you have a real & abiding friend who loves you; a real friend will not abandon you in the midst of difficulty. Like a comforter, a friend will encourage you; a friend will be beside you with strength right when it is needed most. Like a counsellor, a friend will take time to listen and hear your deepest woes; a friend will offer you help to make a decision. So who would be this friend that Jesus would send them? Verse 17 answers this question. It is the Holy Spirit.
Quickly notice three things concerning the Spirit in verse 17, 18 and 20. First, the Spirit is described by Jesus as the Spirit of Truth in verse 17. That means a man can rely on him. He will not be led astray by it. Secondly, the Spirit is almost identical to Jesus. He is like him in nature and thinking. Verse 18 points to that fact. Jesus, talking of the Spirit, says “I will come to you!”. When God took Jesus back, he didn’t send the apostles a lesser friend. This new presence would be like Jesus in the comfort he would bring, in the strength he would give and in the help he would provide. He would be just as divine in nature as Jesus was. Thirdly, according to verse 20, when they would receive the Comforter, Jesus followers would know for sure that they were in God and God was in them. They would know they were in communion. In other words, verse 20 assures that when the Spirit is forever in someone, that individual belongs to God, is one of his children. Romans 8: 9 and 16 gives the same message with different words “…”
II. The extent of Jesus’ promise:
So was the promise of this Spirit’s indwelling only for the apostles? Some say so. But they haven’t read correctly the text, for Jesus says in v. 21: “…” and in verse 23 : “…” How would Jesus and His Father make their home in them? The context lets us know, he meant through the Spirit who would come to live in their heart. And all of those who obey Jesus' commands are eligible to receive the Spirit. When a man proves his love for God, by submitting to the will of Christ, he then receives the Spirit of adoption. Peter confirms this fact in Acts 5:32 “…” Paul will also say in Ephesians 1 : 13-14 “…” Is this contrary to Peter’s word? Not at all. When the Ephesians heard the divine message, they believed. But let us think of what this meant. From Acts 19, we know that they showed trust in Christ in acceptance of baptism for the remission of their sins. And just like the first believers of Acts 2, they received, at that time, the Spirit to make them children of God. (Acts 2:36-38) Then the Spirit is given to all who believe and obey, to those who keep God’s word. And if a man doesn’t go through the waters of baptism, he will not receive this Spirit - first and foremost because he hasn’t showed faith in all of the Lord’s will concerning the plan of salvation.
Now when a man receives the Spirit, does he also receives the same spiritual gifts as the apostles? We know it is not so, because all didn’t speak in tongues after their conversion in the Bible. Speaking in tongues was a gift for a specific situation that needed to be addressed. However, all received one, two or three spiritual gifts from the Spirit, according to what was fit and needed. The Spirit managed all of that, in perfect knowledge with specific needs of the church. 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 talks of that. See also 1 Peter 4:10.
III. Guided by the Spirit?
This deduction shows that we need to be careful as we continue our study of John 14. What Jesus promises next in the text, as a result of the coming of the Spirit on the apostles, has to do with the specific needs that he had for them to complete his work, to establish the church and provide us with the Bible. In verse 26, look carefully at the details of what he says next. “When the Comforter comes, he will guide you into all Truth and will remind you of all I have said to you!” Let me ask you, can you know the will of God without the Bible? No Christian can know it today without the Scriptures. But the apostles didn’t need the NT. They wrote the N.T. God spoke to them directly to reveal his divine will concerning all things. So when they stood up before people, they directly knew what to say. And even the Jewish leaders were astonished. How did unlearned men manage to learn so much. See Acts 4: 8-14. It is to this supernatural knowledge that Paul refers to in Ephesians 3: 3-5 “…” The Spirit taught all Truths directly to the apostles to guide the church in God’s will. To teach us the Truth, nowadays we have to read our New Testament, the word of the apostles. Furthermore, look at the rest of John 14:27. It shows these abilities were meant for the apostles alone. Not only they were going to know all Truth, but the Spirit would bring to their memory the things Jesus had said to them. To experience this ability, a follower had to have a pre-requisite. He had to have heard directly the words of Jesus Christ. He had to have walked with him and heard him teach. John 15: 26-27 confirms this. But if it is so, then why is this verse in the Bible? Was it worth confining it in the pages of the New Testament? Is this promise valuable in any way to me? Absolutely! Because without such passages, how could we be certain that the gospels we hold in our hands are accurate and reliable? This passage gives wing to my faith. It helps me to put my trust in the apostolic teachings. When I read this verse and others like John 16:13, respecting their intent, I draw precious lessons, indirect lessons for my faith in Christ. So let us not claim wrongly that when we are baptized we are miraculously guided in the Truth like the apostles were. I hear so many who say: “I decided to write him, because the Spirit put this desire in my heart!” or “I decided to got there or not there, because the Spirit was influencing me.” How can a believer know accurately if it is so or not? How do we know it is not just the product of our own desires or of our imagination? This passage doesn’t teach what many Christian try to make it say. It helps us put our faith in the apostles. The only thing we know that guides us objectively is the bible. Let us respect the context of John 14.
IV. So is there, here, comfort for us?,
Back to the base thought of John 14. Are there things here that apply directly to us? What can we draw from the fact that the Holy Spirit was promised to all obedient believers who truly loved Jesus? Well, we learn that the Spirit is the key to a victorious Christian life. In RO 8:26-27, the Spirit prays for us, In Ephesians 3: 14-16, he helps us in our weakness. According to Galatians 5, he helps us produce fruits for a blessed life. According to Titus 3, he renews life in us. The Holy Spirit is God’s supernatural gift to make the new being we have become alive and real. The Holy Spirit is the heart and soul of the Christian faith and if we don’t get plugged into him we will continue to experience defeat after defeat.
This next statement is really important. You might write it down. The Holy Spirit is necessary to make sure that our knowledge about God is transformed into an experience with God. It is through him that his nature spreads in us. It is through him that we remain spiritual, in divine communion with God in our innermost being. Unfortunately, too many refuse to submit to Christ’ will concerning the plan of salvation and they will never know this God-filled life in the power of the Spirit.
I read about a man who was looking to buy a refrigerator for his new apartment, he just graduated from college and was starting a new job, and now he was getting to move into his first apartment. He was really excited about all the new possibilities in his life. If you have ever shopped for a new fridge, you know all the bells and whistles that you can have. Of course, with his new job, he could afford the best model, so he ordered the one that could do everything except make your sandwich. It was top of the line.
In his excitement, he also decided he needed some food for his new fridge so he picked up his groceries for the week and went home and began to stock his fridge with all his good food. The next morning he ran into the kitchen, excited to pull out that cold milk and have some breakfast. He was shocked when he opened up the fridge door to discover the milk was spoiled; the ice cream was running out of the bottom of the freezer door; and the vegetables were already getting that bad color to them. You know the kind - the kind that vegetables get when they have been in the fridge for two months. Anyway, he came to the conclusion... His new fridge wasn’t working properly.
This new college grad decides to call the store and give them a piece of his mind. The man on the phone says, “I don’t understand it. Open the door and see if the light comes on.” The man opens the door - no light. “Put your ear up close to the refrigerator and tell me if you can hear the hum of the motor.” The man does as he’s told - no hum. He says, “Go to the back and look for the cord. See if it’s plugged into the energy source”. There’s a long pause. The young college grad realizes he forgot to plug in his new fangled refrigerator. He comes back to the phone and says, “It doesn’t really matter, for as much as I paid for this fridge, it should have worked anyway.” And he hung up the phone. The truth is, it doesn’t matter how nice, how expensive your appliance is. It won’t work without being plugged into the source of energy, right?
The same is true about our Spiritual Life. Unless we are plugged into the Holy Spirit, and His power, our Christian life just won’t run. It just won’t make sense. It will be empty, and everything will spoil and run onto the floor of life. When God created you, he gave us all the necessary parts for spiritual life and victory. But we are dependant creatures. We have not been designed to work on our own. Only as we are empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit will we produce what our lives are supposed to produce. If you are not relying on that power today, don’t be surprised if the milk of your life is spoiled and the ice cream begins to melt.
This morning my desire is to live a minute by minute relationship with God through the Holy Spirit. I’ve come to understand that there’s no other way to keep the relationship where it needs to be. I can’t just show up on Sunday’s and check in like a kid who’s been out playing all day. This relationship is so vital. It’s so important to my spiritual health that it must be entered into daily - a personal walk with a friend.
Have you found the Helper that God promised us?
Have you plugged into your Spiritual source of Power, are you being refreshed daily by His presence in your life?
If you are a Christian, remember when you leave today that you aren’t alone. God has given you an eternal friend, a protector, a comforter who will never leave you for as long as you call upon his name.
What a marvelous promise? Are you living it today?