Male: I believe in God the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth…
Female: And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord…
Male: Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary…
Male: Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried.
Male: He descended to hell.
Female: The third day he rose again from the dead.
Male: He ascended to heaven…
Female: And sits on the right hand of the Father Almighty…
Female: From whence he shall come to judge the living and the dead.
Male: I believe in the Holy Spirit…
Female: The holy catholic church…
Male: The communion of saints…
Male: The forgiveness of sins…
Male: The resurrection of the body…
Male: And the life everlasting.
[End of video]
How are we? Doing all right? Excellent. If you have a Bible, grab one. John 14 is where we’re going to be. If you don’t have a Bible with you, there should be a hardback black one somewhere around you. If that’s not on your device or anything like that, you can grab one of those. If you don’t own a Bible, that’s our gift to you. Please take that with you.
I want you to turn to John 14. As always, it’s important that you see that what we’re reading and talking about today doesn’t originate with me but rather has its roots in the Creator God of the universe. While you’re turning there, just one brief announcement I’m going to make across all campuses. One is that we have a week left in our Covenant Renewal season. If you’re a member of The Village and have yet to finish that process, click on that link and check off the boxes needed, can you do that for us this week?
Across the five campuses, we’re currently sitting at about 2,000 people who have yet to do that. What that means is 2,000 phone calls the pastoral staff has to make. If you could help us whittle that down to like 1,200, that would be awesome. If it has just been sitting in your inbox, and you just haven’t had a chance to get to it, can you please get to that for us? If you don’t know, you deleted that email, you can head to Connection Central after this service, and they can get you lined up on one of our computers in there.
If you could knock that out this week, it should take like seven minutes tops if you don’t have a lot of complaints. If you have a lot of complaints, I want to hear those complaints. We value that. We’re not power-hungry dudes trying to rule and reign, so if there is feedback we can learn from you, please let us know that, but that process shuts down next week. Then it’s just us calling you. If you could help whittle down our call volume to just a single 1,000, that would be super helpful. If you could knock that out, that would be great.
In 1977, Charles Strouse and a man named Martin Charnin wrote the lyrics to this very well-known tune. Please forgive me in advance. “The sun will come out tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there will be sun. Just thinking about tomorrow clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow until there’s none. When I’m stuck with a day that’s gray and lonely, I’ll just stick up my chin and grin and say, ‘Oh…'” Don’t do it. “The sun will come out tomorrow, so you have to hang on until tomorrow, come what may. Tomorrow, tomorrow. I love you, tomorrow. You’re only a day away.”
Now, Strouse is this accomplished composer, and he’s writing this song for a Broadway play called what? Annie. Right? It’s the movie we all watched. If you have children, they watched it, just a different version of it. Strouse wrote songs for the Beatles. You have kind of this coolest man alive writing, “Tomorrow, tomorrow. I love you, tomorrow.” It transitions right into, “You’re never fully dressed without a smile.” Right? There is this kind of optimism built into this thing that seems silly given the character of Annie.
Strouse talking about writing the lyrics and music for this song talked about their desire to help Annie be a character whose optimism transcended her circumstances. They wanted her to be a type of hopeless romantic who, despite the fact that her parents had abandoned her, that they had not returned, despite the fact that she is stuck in this terrible orphanage where this woman is making bathtub booze, and whether it’s Carol Burnett or Cameron Diaz, depending on your generation, she’s stuck in this awful situation that there seems to be no hope of getting out of.
They wanted to infuse optimism into her character. The question you probably should be asking yourself is why in the world I’m using this as an introduction to a sermon on the Holy Spirit. I’m glad you asked because I actually put that in my notes. You’re so good. Every week, you do this. By the way, what’s happening to you, just so you have language for it, is later today, you will find yourself singing “Tomorrow.”
That’s called an earworm. It’s what happens when a song gets stuck in your head, and you can’t get it out. Later today, you’ll be watching football, or you’ll be cooking, and just out of nowhere, you’ll be like, “Tomorrow, tomorrow. Chandler!” You can expect… That’s why I apologized before I started. The key to beating the earworm is to put an equally awful song into your head that replaces that earworm and then just ride it out. That’s all you have.
The reason why I wanted to use “Tomorrow” as the illustration creeping toward the Holy Spirit is that when it comes to the Holy Spirit, people tend to wrongly think of who he is and what he does. They tend to make the Holy Spirit kind of the weird uncle who shows up at the family reunion and makes things awkward. They equate the Holy Spirit to emotionalism and spontaneity. They remove the Holy Spirit oftentimes from all the beauty of the biblical text that informs us what he does.
They make him singular in that what he does is brings these weird gifts that nobody understands but we all should want. The Holy Spirit is reduced to a type of odd uncle that makes things awkward. He brings tongues. We should all want that, even though we don’t understand that. He brings words of knowledge. He brings the prophetic. He brings healings. Right? It’s all the kind of weird stuff we don’t have a category for.
I’m not saying that the Holy Spirit doesn’t bring the sign gifts. What I am saying though is to reduce him to that is to rob us of the essence and the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. See, the reason I started with this optimism and with the orphan Annie is because the Holy Spirit’s role could be best understood as ransoming us from the type of spiritual orphans we are and bringing us into a home where there is deep and abiding optimism that transcends our circumstances.
That’s what the Holy Spirit of God does. When we talk about “I Believe in the Holy Spirit,” we’re going to get much more robust than just the bringer of the sign gifts. If you don’t have a church background, you don’t even know what I’m talking about on the sign gifts. You’re going to be fine. All right? With that said, for 10 weeks now, we have read the Apostles’ Creed together, and we’ve said that as we read the creed, what we’re doing is we’re rejecting popular narratives of the day.
We’re rejecting that what the world said is going to make us happy and complete is true. We’re going to reject that, and we’re going to put our hope in the God of the Bible. When we read the creed together, we’re joining in thousands of years of the people of God, of Christian history. Even in this space, we’re joining with Fort Worth and Dallas and Plano. We’re joining with even our church and a lot of Presbyterians and Anglicans and other men and women who love and trust Christ.
We’re joining together, and we’re saying, “We belong to a household that is larger than any of us can imagine.” That’s next week’s sermon, so no more about that. With that said, will you stand with me while we read the Apostles’ Creed together? If you’re here, not a believer in Christ, not comfortable with this, please feel free to just stay seated, but let’s read this together, family.
“I believe in God the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius
Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried. He descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits on the right hand of the Father Almighty, from whence he shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of the saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.”
Why don’t you have a seat? The phrase we’re on this week is I Believe in the Holy Spirit. There are a lot of different texts we could go to in the Scriptures that teach us about who the Holy Spirit is and what the Holy Spirit does. The one I want to take us to is where Jesus is teaching us about the Holy Spirit. Rather than getting some other perspective, the perspective I’m hungry for us to have is the perspective of another member of the Trinity talking about another member of the Trinity.
With that said, we’re going to look at Jesus’ teaching on the Holy Spirit out of John 14. We’re going to start in verse 18. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.” Just stop there. Hold your place. What’s happening is they’re close to the cross, so Jesus is telling his disciples, “I’m going to die. I’m going to be raised from the dead. I’m going to ascend into heaven, and I will not be here in physical form anymore, but I will still be here.”
You can see how that’s confusing, right? “You’re not going to see me. You will see me. No one else will see me. I’ll be here, but I won’t be here.” It’s a little jostling for the disciples. “‘In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 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 [show] myself to him.’ Judas (not Iscariot)…” I love that that part is in there.
“If you’re going to put my name in there, make sure they know it’s not the Iscariot guy. I’m not that Judas. I’m another Judas. Make sure that’s in the text please. I don’t want to be known as that guy.” “Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?'” You see? He’s confused. “Wait. You’re saying you’re going to show yourself to us, but the world won’t be able to see you even though we will be able to see you? Is this going to be like a covert operation? How is this going to work?”
Verse 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. 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. These things I have spoken to you while I am still 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 have said to you.
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. 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. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.'”
In Charles Dickens’s story Oliver Twist, Oliver is orphaned almost from the moment he’s born. If you remember back to high school lit or maybe college lit, or maybe you just watched the movie, or maybe you are just vaguely aware of the story of Oliver Twist, Oliver Twist’s mother dies in childbirth. It was an illegitimate pregnancy in that day and age, so the father was nowhere to be found. We’ll learn some things about dad later on in the story, but ultimately, he’s born an orphan.
He immediately is in this orphanage that is cruel and awful. Probably one of the most well-known scenes in Oliver Twist is when he draws the short straw, and he has to go ask for more food. They were wildly malnourished. He comes up and asks for more gruel. The audacity of this orphan boy asking for more food has the taskmaster of that orphanage put him into what was called an apprenticeship, which was really hard child labor.
This was actually written as a social commentary against the practice of the day of using orphan children for hard labor. Oliver is now part of this apprenticeship that is a very cruel apprenticeship. He is abused. He is worked long. He is not fed well. He is beaten by one of the other boys who is a little bit older than him, and the taskmaster’s wife beats him also. Then the taskmaster beats him. You have this pivotal scene in Oliver Twist where, weeping in his bed, he decides he’s going to fix his life, and he’s going to escape.
He plan is, “I’m going to escape and go to London.” He escapes, and he runs to London, and he runs into this little crew of boys who are a blast to hang out with. They are funny. They laugh, and they start to tell Oliver of this man who takes care of them, of this man who provides for them, of this man who loves them and is for them. His name is Fagin. Oliver is introduced to Fagin, yet Oliver’s best attempts at digging himself out of the hole he was born into serve only to deepen the hole.
Fagin was a type of kingpin mobster who used little boys as pickpockets and thieves in order to rob and steal in and around London. The more Oliver tried to fix his life, the more his life was broken. Although it’s going to end in a kind of romanticized idealism, Oliver’s story is trying to get himself out of the jam he’s in. Every time he takes a step toward fixing what’s wrong, things only get worse.
Like I said, what Dickens is doing is writing a social commentary, but I would argue that each of us find in Oliver Twist a kind of mirror of our own lives. The more we try to get out of this angst we feel, the more we try to dig ourselves out of the hole we’re in, the messier our lives tend to get. If I can paint the picture for you, we’re all born with a bit of an angst. We’re born with a desire to belong in a way that is beyond the belonging that is already naturally there by the grace of God.
We have our parents, but if we’re honest, early on in our development, our parents began to be looked at as part of the problem, something that has to be solved. “My parents are trying to dictate my life. What do they know about me?” That’s that kind of teenage angst that sees their parents as part of the problem they need to solve.
We belong. We have a family unit maybe by the grace of God. Not all of us have that story. We have a mom and dad who love us and care for us. We see them. “Not this kind of belonging.” So we look to our peers. “Maybe we can belong here.” We begin to be attracted toward what other group we were attracted to. Maybe those were athletes. Maybe those were artists. Maybe you were a Goth kid. I don’t know. We begin to be attracted. We want to belong to this group.
We want to be with the pretty people. We want to be with the athletes. We just want to find our spot. We have this desire to belong. Yet, nothing seems to satisfy that desire. Maybe you ultimately end up married. Let’s just chat about how true this is. If you’re a married man or woman, and you’ve been trying to fix your spouse, how has that been going? Has that been going well for you? Do you have him or her dialed in yet? No.
Gosh. The more you try to fix it, the messier it’s going to get, right? Then (God forbid) you’re like, “We’re not getting along. I can feel us drifting apart. We should have a baby.” I don’t know why you’re laughing. This is like a textbook play in the suburbs. “I’m really just having a hard time with you. Do you know what we should do? We should introduce stress and complexity into this.” Then you have a baby, and you’re trying to control helicopter and control the lives of your children.
What happens? It gets messier and messier and messier. The more you try to fix, and the more you try to pull it together… The church doesn’t help. You show up to church, and they’re like, “Here’s what you should be doing. Here’s what you shouldn’t be doing. Here’s how you do it. Here’s how you don’t do it. You better get right.”
What happens is we become acutely aware that our best isn’t good enough, right? Our best just isn’t good enough. We’re doing all we can in our marriage. It’s not getting better. “My best isn’t good enough.” In other relationships, we’re giving our best. It’s just not good enough. With our kids, at church, no matter where we go, our best isn’t good enough, and we can feel it, and we’re stuck like Oliver as a type of spiritual orphan.
The more we try to fix our own lives, the more difficult and messy things get. I want to try to speak tenderly and gently into the reality of you not being good enough and your best not being good enough. Are you ready? I want to try to help. Your best is not good enough. Let me talk. Look at me. Who told you it would be? Where did you get that? Did you watch Rocky III too many times? Where did you get the idea that your best would ever be good enough?
Look at me. Are you God? Are you omniscient? Are you omnipresent? Are you all-knowing? Where did you get this? Where did you get this idea that your best would ever be good enough? In fact, there’s a real sweet peace we’ll talk about later about understanding that it’s not. See, so much of the stress and overwhelming weight you carry around lays on the belief that your best will be good enough, and if you just tried harder and did it better, it would fix things.
I’m trying to love you. That’s a lie. It’s why the first verse of this text is so profound. Let’s look at it, verse 18. This is Jesus speaking. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you [Christian] will see me. Because I live, you also will live.” The solution of our best not being good enough in all these different areas is solved in the adopting work of the Holy Spirit via the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
We have now been rescued and ransomed, pulled out of this cosmic orphanage and brought into the family of God. That’s what we see happening next in verse 20. Look at this. “In that day you will know…” I almost made my whole sermon on this verse. “…that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” That’s a lot of in’s, isn’t it?
Here’s what he’s describing. “I’m not going to leave you as an orphan. I will come to you.” The stories we thought on earlier of our salvation, of the Holy Spirit opening our eyes to belief are Christ not leaving us orphaned but coming to us and bringing us into that dance of the Godhead. As we’ve talked about the Trinity throughout the Apostles’ Creed, we’ve talked about the reality of the Godhead being this kind of cosmic dance, this overflow of perfection and joy and gratitude and gladness.
We have not been invited into the Trinity but rather into the family of God where the overflow of the joy and peace and grace of the Trinity is experienced in the heart of the believer. We’ve been brought into the family. If you think about it, being a son or daughter of God, being adopted into the family of God becomes an identity marker that nothing and no one can take from me. Everything else can be taken from me but that.
Let me think about your own life. I am Lauren’s husband. I have been for 16 years. I’m hoping to have 30, 40, 50 more. I love her. I like her. I’m hoping she feels the same. I think she does because every time I go home, she’s still there, so I’m thinking she’s in. Gosh. I can’t control her, and I certainly can’t control the broken world we’re in. There might be a day (God forbid) that I’m no longer Lauren’s husband.
I am the father of three beautiful children who I am wild about, but I don’t control the world. There could come a day (God forbid) that one of my children is gone, lost. A terrible accident, sickness. We live in a broken world. I can’t control those things. I can’t be a good enough daddy to protect them from all that is broken in the universe. There is a day that could go.
I’m pastor of The Village Church. We could just take an elder vote, and I would be out. I have dirt on all of those brothers, so I don’t think it’s going to happen, but it’s possible, right? Hey, the Bible says, “Be wise as a serpent, shrewd,” right? I’m just obeying the Scripture. By the way, if you’re a guest, that’s a total joke. “It was a weird service…”
That can be taken from me. Every identity marker I have can be taken from me because I’m not all-powerful. I’m not all-knowing. I’m not everywhere at once. I live in a broken world just like everybody else. Being called into the household of faith, being called as a son or daughter of God means I have this one thing you can’t touch. No matter what happens, it doesn’t change. Right? No matter what happens, it doesn’t change.
I am loved, provided for, saved, ransomed by God. I am a son of God. I have been adopted into the household of faith. That can never be taken from me. No matter what comes… If I get sick, it’s still true. If I die, it’s still true. If I’m broke, it’s still true. If I’m not a pastor, it’s still true. If I’m not a husband, it’s still true. If I’m not a dad, it’s still true. If no one likes me, it’s still true. It’s the one thing that no one and nothing can take from me.
It is my primary identity, and out of it flows who I am and how I operate and how I perceive the world around me. This is what the Spirit of God does, ransoms us out of being spiritual orphans, pulls us into the household of faith, and gives us a marker of being known, loved, provided for, cared for, and pursued. Then look what happens next. Verse 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.’ Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will manifest [show] yourself to us, and not to the world?’ Jesus answered him, ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him…”
I have this underlined in my Bible. “…and we will come to him and make our home with him. 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.” What I want you to notice about what happens is we’re orphaned. We’re pulled into the household of faith. Then we begin to look like the family, right? We begin to take on the traits of the family that we’ve been invited into.
I want you to see here that obedience as we see it in the Bible is driven by love. We’re not obedient in order to be loved, but we are loved, and we understand love, and that love drives obedience. If you were paying attention to this text, on repeat, he simply is saying, “If you love me, you will be obedient. Where there is obedience, you can see you love me. Where you aren’t in obedience, you can see you don’t really love me.”
We can see the primary driver of the Christian life is not just discipline. It’s not just self-death. Rather, it’s love and delight. Right? If you think that means, “Love then means there is no discipline, no self-sacrifice,” I would just argue that the higher the love, the greater the capacity for self-sacrifice, for suffering, and ultimately for discipline. The more you love something, the more disciplined you’ll be toward that thing, correct?
I could use a hundred examples from marriage, from life with our children. Here’s one. I’ll use a hobby. I’ll get away from that because I know we’re not all married. If you’re a hunter, if you like to hunt, that involves some discipline and some self-sacrifice, right? To get up at 3:00 a.m. and cover yourself in deer urine and then go outside when it’s -15 degrees to sit in an unheated blind…
Some of you roll deeper than I do. You’re in a plush, posh chair. Another dude is holding your rifle. You’re drinking hot cocoa. “I have him lined up.” Boom! You call yourself a hunter. Ultimately, you love it. Fishing, or whatever hobby. You love it. Because you love it, you’re disciplined about it, and you’re willing to lay down personal preference.
The more we love something, the more apt we are to be disciplined and to self-sacrifice. I am far more willing to sacrifice my own personal preferences. I am far more willing to be disciplined because I have a wife and children than I ever was before. That’s not to say that if you’re single, you can’t be disciplined or have the capacity for self-sacrifice, but I find in me a willingness to jump in front of a car now that might not have been there 12 years ago, 16 years ago.
When I’m talking about obedience being driven by love, don’t hear that there’s no discipline there, no turning away from evil there. Just to encourage your heart, the reason I underlined in my Bible that sentence, “We will make our home with him,” is because of how homes actually work. Just to win parent of the year, Friday night, I took my kids to a concert down in downtown Dallas.
The show started at 8:00, so I had to hop up Reid on Skittles and Dr. Pepper just to keep him awake for the show. We were out there by Southside on Lamar seeing a show. Then we get in the car. By the time we get home, everybody is sound asleep in the car. Audrey had to get up early the next morning to get out to Focus, where our students are this weekend.
My wife lovingly just let me sleep in. I woke up, and she was already gone. I walked into our living room. I don’t know how your family is wired. I never want to put my convictions on you if it’s not straight from the text. This isn’t straight from the text, but we don’t let our kids watch TV or play video games during the week. Now, on weekends, let’s go.
I woke up, and Reid is on the Xbox killing something. I don’t play them. I’ll have a seizure. I grew up like this. That’s just a little too complex for me. It’s like, “Left toggle.” “Left toggle? What do you mean, ‘Left toggle’?” I just walked in and did my fatherly duty. I said, “Hey, bro. Is your room clean?” He sighed. “Did you just breathe out on me, bro?” “No, I was just breathing.” He paused to go and clean his room. Then his other chore is to vacuum the house. I go to start unloading the dishwasher and making our bed. I heard the vacuum go for about 45 seconds. Then Reid was like, “I’m done.”
I was like, “You vacuumed the whole house?”
“Son, Superman could not vacuum this whole house in 45 seconds.”
“I did, Dad.”
I did what a loving father would do. I grabbed his hand. I said, “Let’s just walk around and see.” We just walked around the house, and over in this corner, we found what looked to be that one of my children opened up one of those bags of Goldfish and then dumped it and then danced on it, so I asked Reid, “Did you vacuum this?” “I didn’t see it.” “Okay, but it’s on the floor. You’re supposed to vacuum the floor. I don’t know how you missed this.” We vacuumed. We walked around, and I would show him.
The reason I love this little sentence, “We will make our house with him,” is because what is being illustrated is not that our whole house is clean but that our love and desire for our house to be clean has invited in the power of the Holy Spirit and the presence of God so they walk our house with us and go, “Hey, look at these crushed up Goldfish. It’s going to be awesome for them to be gone. Bugs are going to get in here, and bad stuff is going to happen. There’s going to be a smell in here. Let’s get this cleaned up. I’m going to help you get that cleaned up.”
This little sentence, “I will make my home with him,” is a beautiful sentence as we consider that love drives obedience. God is in our home, and this is a sweet mercy. In my own heart, God continues to open doors I didn’t even know were there. Have you experienced this yet? You feel like you’re in a great spot with the Lord, that you’ve grown. If someone were to ask you, “What are you currently struggling with?” Your answer would be like, “Nothing. I’m doing great.”
Then the Holy Spirit is like, “Hey, do you know what is behind this door?”
“I’ve never seen that door.”
“It’s pretty nasty, Matt, but I love you, so I’m going to open it.”
“Could you not open that door?”
“I’m going to need to open the door, Matt.”
“Okay, open the door.”
Then there is all this other stuff you didn’t even know was there. There are deeper places the Spirit wants to take us. There are more things he wants to show to us, and the Holy Spirit opens the door because he has made his home with us. Just as your pastor, I’m not using that as an illustration. I’m in a weird season of my life where the Lord is changing some things and showing me some things about me that aren’t necessarily pretty.
I don’t know how you’re wired, but I just want him to tell me what to do so I can do it. “Wait,” is not an answer I like. The Lord is at work in me, waiting and quietly allowing him to just reveal and churn up… Tell me what to do so I can do it. I’m a doer. Just tell me what to do. “I did. Wait.” I don’t like to wait. Is there something I can do while I’m waiting? Is there like a God game I can play on a mobile device or something while I’m waiting on you to finish this work?
I’m in this spot right now where the Lord has made his home with me. He’s showing me things that are really deep things that I never knew were there. I’ll be straight. I like it and hate it. Just tell me what to do. Yet, the Lord oftentimes is like, “There’s nothing you can do; I’m doing something here.” Then to fuel our adoration, we see these next few verses. Check it there in verse 25.
“These things I have spoken to you while I am still 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 have said to you. 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. 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. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.”
What we have in this back part of John 14 about the Holy Spirit is how the Holy Spirit informs and stirs up adoration that drives our obedience. We see right out of the gate these two things that the Holy Spirit does. Look back in verse 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.”
The Holy Spirit does these two things. First, he teaches us more about Jesus. He does that primarily through the Word of God, but not only through the Word of God. The Holy Spirit will dial us in to the simple beauties of creation, types of impressions on our hearts, never that stand in contrast to the Bible but actually lead us to a better understanding of obedience to the Bible.
If someone were to come up to me and say, “I just feel like the Holy Spirit has laid this on my heart,” and ran straight contrary to the Word of God, then I’m not going to believe that the Holy Spirit told you that. Either the Holy Spirit or you is a liar. I’m going to always err on the side of it being you just for safe bets. In the end, the Holy Spirit begins to teach us. The Holy Spirit is crazy about Jesus. The Holy Spirit is always talking about Jesus, always pointing to Jesus, always making much of Jesus, always trying to get you to see another part of Jesus.
“Hey, look at Jesus. Check out Jesus. Jesus is amazing. Look at how amazing Jesus is. Watch Jesus do this deal in John 4. Watch this. Jesus is crazy. Jesus is amazing. Hey, have you considered this about Jesus? Have you ever looked at Jesus like this? Hey, check this out. Watch how Jesus interacts with Zacchaeus the wee little man. How amazing is that? Hey, look at how Jesus must look at and consider and think about you in light of how he has walked and considered this. Jesus is this. Look at Jesus. Jesus…”
I mean, the Holy Spirit will just not stop with the whole, “Jesus is awesome,” thing, and the Holy Spirit will teach us about Jesus, and it should stir adoration, which fuels obedience. He’s also going to remind us. Regardless of the time in human history you want to look at, the people of God are prone to forget the faithfulness of God yesterday and simply complain about what they don’t have today. It’s a wicked thing.
The people of God are prone to forget the faithfulness of God yesterday and instead sit in a type of complaining posture about what they don’t have today and what God hasn’t done and how they can’t really trust him despite all of this evidence of his faithfulness. The Holy Spirit is going to teach, but the Holy Spirit is also going to remind.
On top of that, you get not only this learning and remembering, but look at verse 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.” Jesus is saying, “There’s a type of peace I’m going to send in the Holy Spirit that is different than the type of peace the world tries to offer you.”
What is the difference between the peace that Christ brings and the peace the world brings? To simplify it and to shorten our time together today, the peace the world tries to bring isn’t built in reality. What I mean by that is the world can’t keep its promises for us to actually walk in peace.
To just really try to put flesh on it… “Do you see this ship right here? It’s an unsinkable ship. Don’t worry about your nerves on this Cross Atlantic adventure.” “Well, it looks like there aren’t enough life boats.” “Yeah, there aren’t. Did you not hear what I said? This ship is unsinkable,” except that it sank. “This building is earthquake-proof. This part of the city… If you move there, if you put your kids in this type of environment, they’ll be protected, and they’ll turn out exactly like you want them to turn out.”
See, the peace of the world says you are God and you are good enough at your best to make happen whatever it is you want to make happen. The peace of the world is, “Hey, you can do this. You’ve got this. Work harder at your marriage, and it’ll work. Work harder on your children, and it’ll work. Get yourself in the right situation.” All of the pressure of success falls on us, and it makes us a neurotic, anxious, fearful people.
But Jesus says, “That’s not how I’m going to work. I’m going to step into the space where you know your best isn’t good enough, and I’m going to let you melt into knowing that you’re not but that I am.” The peace Jesus brings is this odd kind of peace that lets me embrace that my best will not be good enough. No longer will that cause anxiety in me; it will cause rest in me. I’m just going to rejoice in that thought.
When it comes across my mind, “You don’t measure up,” I don’t want to argue with that sentence. It’s a good one, so I’ll just agree. Let the Devil just keep whispering that mug to me. It makes me stronger. “You don’t measure up.” You’re right. I don’t. I’m so glad Jesus does. See, peace starts to reign. It replaces the frenetic, “I have to do. I have to make it look right. I have to pretend. I have to own more. I have to have.” I just get to breathe, melt, find all that to be the foolishness it is.
I don’t measure up. My best isn’t good enough. Let me show you why that should bring peace. Parents, did anybody blow it this week? I’m not saying you ruined your kid for life, but you just kind of said some things, snapped pretty quickly. Parents, I don’t know why you’re embarrassed about it. I know it’s true. My hand is up. Nobody needs to double pump both hands. That’s a little too much.
Married couples, have you blown it this week, said some things you wish you wouldn’t have, didn’t say some things you probably should have? Singles, at work, with roommates and other relationships, issues this week? Okay. What I want you to see is that we universally aren’t very good. Here’s what we can do. We can be frenetic about this, go, “Oh, my gosh,” and start to fix everything. We can do that.
We can give ourselves over to that frantic, impossible pursuit of our best being enough, or, friends, we can melt and know we’re not and know that he is able and rest in his ability over our inability. I’m telling you, so much of the anxiety and overwhelmed angst you feel is rooted in a belief that your best will eventually be good enough. I’m trying to love you here today. It will never be good enough, but don’t let that bother your heart; let it melt your heart. This is the peace Jesus brings.
By the way, this peace is bolstered by our learning. Remember, the more we learn about Jesus, the more we remember the faithfulness of Jesus, the more we’re able to walk in the peace Jesus brings. To bring these things together, we see… I don’t know what to call this except a heads-up. I’ll explain that after we read verse 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. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.” I love that last sentence. “…I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe.”
I don’t know what to call this in regards to stirring up adoration except a heads-up. Throughout the Scriptures, there are these verses where the Lord is letting us know things will be a specific way so that when those things occur, we’re not shell-shocked or blown away by it. Let me give you an example of all this coming together.
John 16:33, just two chapters from here, Jesus teaches this. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.” There’s that “in me” idea. “Part of the family that you might have peace, the kind of peace that passes understanding. It’s not a peace like the world offers. It’s the peace that I offer.” “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
See, I just appreciate that. “In this world, you will have tribulation.” It helps me make sense of tribulation when it comes. By the way, it’s another reason I love the Bible. If these brothers in the first century are actually just trying to build a following, don’t you think it would be on the prosperity gospel side of things? Don’t you think they would be preaching that if you give your life to Jesus, there is no tribulation?
The reason I can trust the Bible is how grimy it is. Here’s the heads-up. “In this life, you will have tribulation, but take heart.” Why? “Because I have overcome the world.” We believe in the Holy Spirit. We have been adopted out of being spiritual orphans. We have been made a son or daughter of God, invited into the family of God. He has made his home with us. We are being shaped and molded as sons and daughters of God.
Our adoration is being built as we learn more about Jesus. As we remember the faithfulness of Jesus, we are granted the peace that passes understanding. Ultimately, when all is said and done, the Bible is very honest about what you and I can expect in life in a Genesis 3 broken world. The apostle Paul ties it off beautifully for us in Romans 8:14.
Here’s what it says. “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit…” That’s a capital S there. I know on the screen, everything is capitalized, but in your Bible, it’s just that S that is capitalized there. “…Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!'”
In light of what the Holy Spirit does, saves us, pulls us into the family of God, stirs up adoration toward Jesus, seals us in power to walk faithfully, pursuing him. As he cleans us, as he points out these spaces that need to be cleaned up, all the while fueling our obedience with love, we now see here that all who are led by the Spirit of God are called sons of God.
My question is where are you being led by the Holy Spirit of God? Where in your life is there delayed obedience? Do you know, “This is an area the Lord is wooing me into. These are the places God is calling me to walk in. These are people I maybe need to confess to. This is a position I need to step into.” Where is the Spirit of God leading you?
The second question I would have out of this text is where are the places in which fear is stopping you from being obedient to that leading? See, I love how the apostle Paul ends the argument here. He says, “We’ve been given the Spirit of adoption, by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!'” I’ve said this before, but the argument oftentimes is that Abba means Daddy. Now, in the Greek, ultimately, this is a term of endearment, but that’s not all it is. It’s also a term of power. Endearment and power.
The best way I know how to explain it… I don’t even know if kids do this anymore. I certainly haven’t heard my kids do that, but that could be an accusation on me. We used to say, “My dad could beat up your dad,” when I was a kid. It was like, “I saw your old man. My old man could whip your old man.” I’ve never heard my kid say that. I’m not taking that personally.
Ultimately, Paul’s argument is that all who are led by the Spirit are sons of God. We have not been given a spirit of fear that leads back into slavery. Rather, we’ve been given the Holy Spirit, by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” Paul’s argument ends in this epic rant, where he says, “Who can separate us from the love of God in Christ?” Then he starts the list.
“Nakedness, famine, sword, disease, death. What could separate us from the love of God? Have you seen my dad? You think I’m afraid of poverty? Have you seen my dad? What, you’re going to kill me? Oh no. Usher me into everlasting joy. Do you see my dad? What can happen? People are going to think I’m odd. Have you seen my dad? I might not be liked and respected. Have you seen my dad? Are you kidding me? I’ve been given the spirit of a son of God. I’m not afraid anymore. What could happen to me?”
Uncomfortable things in the short term, sure. Anything I’ll regret 10,000 years from now, not at all. We believe in the Holy Spirit. Listen. Do not boil down the Holy Spirit into the bringer of the sign gifts. It’s blasphemous. He is the illuminator of the Scriptures. He’s the opener of hearts. He’s the bringer of the heat of love toward Jesus Christ. That love compels us into obedience, and it is the Holy Spirit of God sealed upon the hearts of believers that holds us fast for the rest of our lives. Let’s pray.
Father, thank you for the opportunity to come together as a family today, to marvel at the Holy Spirit, to rejoice in not some sort of spontaneous emotionalism but rather the deep, rooted realities of the Spirit of God. I pray that there would be an awareness of your presence, a remembering of your faithfulness, a learning of your beauty.
I pray where there has been delayed obedience as we have not walked and been led according to the Spirit, not giving ourselves over to that leading, that there would be repentance and a surrender to that leading. I pray where fear and anxiety continue to dictate and drive our lives that there would be some moments of reflection on just how big and faithful you are.
I know fear isn’t rational. Anxiety doesn’t always make sense. I just pray you would break the backs of our fears and anxieties and let us just melt into the truth that our best will not be good enough, and you have made provision for that. Help us. It’s for your beautiful name I pray, amen.