27 July 2014
Nothing makes the heart feel better knowing that help is on the way! I can recall numerous times of needing help and the peace it brings to knowing help was on the way. The time when my alternator died on the way home from the drive in. The time when I got stuck in the mud at Brighton Speedway. The time when I saw the Roadrunners Tow truck pulling in behind a broken down van when we started out on our vacation. There is a sense of peace and joy that overtakes your heart when help comes. The sound of sirens as they approach your burning house, a distressing call, health reasons. There is a certain peace that takes over when you’re troubled at heart. Go back a few years when 33 miners were trapped in a Chilean mine deep under the earth’s surface. Can you imagine what they went through? I wonder if they felt totally lost and doomed to a slow and painful death. Now fast forward when help finally received the word that help was on the way. Imagine how they must have been filled with joy when they got a message from above that the rescue team knew exactly where they were and that the process of getting them out had already begun! There are times in all of our lives when we feel like we’re stuck in a really bad place. Anxious and alone, we despair that we are out of options and that no one understands where we really are in life. But in such moments we need to remember God’s promises and His comforting words, just like the disciples here in the upper room with Jesus! These men are so troubled and felt alone like the miners did before help came…..even though the Lord Jesus was with them. The Lord comforts them we yet another truth…….a truth that should seal the deal on all doubt and fear. What were His words of comfort? HELP WAS ON THE WAY! Our greatest hope here below is help from God above. This is so true in our lives and in the lives of these 11 men.
I think one of the most encouraging things Jesus said to the disciples is that “I will not leave you orphans” (v18) “orphans”, “comfortless” or better yet “fatherless” WOW! This powerful stuff here! Jesus promises when he says “I will never leave you fatherless and abandoned like so many people today”. Especially today with the breakdown of the husband and wife and the family unit. He says that he would show them the kindness of a parent, and, though he was going away, he would provide for their future safety. How? He does this by promising of sending us a helper, a guide, a teacher to show us the way home where there is a room for you and me. That place called Heaven that Jesus spoke of in the opening remarks of chapter fourteen for those who truly follow Him. And He says “I will come again” (v18b) Here is the stamp, the icing on the cake to that promise that He will never leave us orphaned. Never to leave us crying and feeling alone when they walk out of our lives, to never to return. Why? He’s Jesus, and He is the example every father should live and govern their lives by. Jesus promises that will never happen no matter what! HE PROMISES. That’s why we find comfort when the Hebrew writer penned these words “….For He Himself has said, "I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU NOR FORSAKE YOU." So we may boldly say: "THE LORD IS MY HELPER; I WILL NOT FEAR. WHAT CAN MAN DO TO ME?" Heb 13:5-6
So who is this Helper? John’s gospel is the only one who identifies the Spirit this way! This word is better translated “Comforter”, “advocate,” or as we see here in the text “Helper”. What is Jesus trying to say to His weary disciples? John Gill said “the Spirit, who performs this his work and office, by taking of the things of Christ, and showing them to his people; by shedding abroad the love of the Father, and of the Son, into their hearts; by opening and applying the precious promises of the Gospel to them; by being a spirit of adoption in them; and by abiding with them as the seal, earnest, and pledge of their future glory; and with this view Christ promises to pray for him," The Spirit is promised as one who would supply Christ’s own place in His absence. That’s why Jesus continues to comfort the disciples in John 16:6-14 “But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 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 depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” The Spirit of truth will teach them and us all the necessary truth pertaining to life and godliness. And how will this Helper comfort my troubled heart?
THIS HELPER COMES ALONG SIDE US TO COMFORT US AND STRENGTHEN OUR SOULS FOR HEAVEN. (V15-V18)
Having the Helper is the same as having Jesus physically, accessible but only better. Again remember Jesus said he is going and we can’t follow right now, but you will in time. So access to Jesus personally is impossible though our earthly life, but the Helper the Holy Spirit resides with us to comfort us until that glorious day when we stand before Christ physically. The Holy Spirit is not some force or essence that comes over us. It is the Third PERSON of the Trinity. Who comes along side us as father does his child when he’s teaching to ride his bike for the first time without training wheels. Walking or running alongside your son or daughter, with one hand on the seat giving instructions “relax, keep your wheel straight and steady.” And when they fall or crash [and they will] you’re there to pick them up and to encourage them to try again and never give up [to persevere]. Isn’t this the Christian life? Every one of us started out with training wheels, some still need them to grow; because some need more comfort and encouragement to continue. But the wonderful blessing in all of this is that the Spirit doesn’t sit back and wait for an opportunity. He is always there through the good and bad times of your journey home. He was there in the beginning and He will help you through to the end of your Christian life. As Paul wrote when he was discouraged and had been disheartened “For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus,” 2 Cor 7:5-6
THIS HELPER DWELLS WITHIN OUR HEARTS AND BRINGS THINGS TO REMEMBERANCE. (V19-V26)
In (v23) we read "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.” Doesn’t this sound familiar to the opening statement Jesus made? “I go to prepare a place for you” (v2) See “place” in (v2) and “home” in (v23) is the same Greek word “mon-ay” which means: dwelling place, abode, room. Jesus is preparing a dwelling place for us, but He is also dwells within us. One of the most encouraging aspects to the Christian life is to know that the Holy Spirit not only comes along side us, but that He dwells within us. Sadly though! One of the most troubling thoughts many feel today is that they’re all alone; there is nobody to help them in their time of struggle, temptation and so on. And that’s true for many people around the globe today who are defence and hostile to the things of God. Usually when a person feels they are all alone “self-pity” comes to visit and they usually end up saying “nobody cares about me”. Again these are common feelings but unnecessary for the genuine child of God. As Paul wrote to the church in Rome “And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” Rom 8:10-11. The Holy Spirit teaches us and prepares us for ministry and our eternal inheritance. He brings to our lives that need to be changed for our good and God’s glory. He brings that inward feelings of conviction, repentance, faith , hope, fear, and love, which will always produce an outward display of an inward changed life. Without the Spirit we are hopeless, restless and lost without a home in Heaven.
THE HELPER GIVES US THE ABILITY TO DO GREAT THINGS FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD. (V12-V13)
There is a true story of a submarine mate in World War II who had an acute appendicitis and the nearest surgeon was thousands of miles away. The Pharmacist mate watched the solders temperature rise to 106 degrees. The man’s only hope was an operation! So the Pharmacist said “I've watched doctors do this, I think I can it”. The man who was in pain consented and so they prepared for surgery. The cook boiled water in pots to sterilize the instruments. A tea strainer served as an antiseptic cone. A broken handled scalpel was the operating instrument. Alcohol was drained from the torpedo was the antiseptic. Bent table spoons served to keep the muscles open. After cutting through layers of muscle, it took him 20 minutes to find the appendix. Two and half hours later, the last stitch was sewed just as the last drop of ether gave out. Thirteen days later the man whose life hanged in the balance was saved and he returned to duty fully recovered. That’s amazing! An untrained man under the most extreme conditions performed a miracle that saved this man’s life. Jesus said “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” (v12)
There is much we can learn from this experience because the Spirit dwells in us and He gives us the wisdom and abilities to perform great things for the Kingdom. Through the Spirit we are able to do the same as Jesus. Jesus brought life and through His life giving message in the gospel. We are able to see God’s mighty power as it transforms millions of lives though our transformed lives and the proclamation of the gospel message. See, our ministry that we’ve been given is greater than Jesus Christ, even though His is the conductor and orchestrator and source of all things. He was here for a short period to display the love of the Godhead but He is gone and will not return until an appointed time. We have been given the responsibility and joy to tell others and see people come to Christ for His glory and His name sake. God through the Spirit uses simple, untrained people to impossible things for His glory and His Kingdom. Look at the life of a fisherman…..Peter, when the religious leaders were dumbfounded by Peter’s wisdom. Act 4:8-13 we read “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the 'STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED BY YOU BUILDERS, WHICH HAS BECOME THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE.' Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.
THE HELPER IS THERE TO SETTLE A TROUBLED HEART. (V27-V31)
A peace that world desperately needs, but unable to attain apart from Christ and the Holy Spirit indwelling. A person will never find genuine peace in this life or the next apart from the saving work found in the gospel. See this peace that Jesus gives us is not purchased at the store, or in today’s best-selling books, not even your neighbor or closet friend. It comes through Jesus Christ and the always present Helper in our lives. That’s why Jesus says “the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” (v17) As John Gill said “the men of the world, who are as they came into the world, carnal and natural men, can neither receive the Spirit nor the things of the Spirit, the truths and doctrines of the Gospel; they can neither receive them into their understandings, nor into their affections; and indeed, because they cannot understand them, therefore they do not love them, but despise and hate them.” That’s why Paul wrote “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Cor 2:14. Remember we need Him and His help to see genuine peace! As Francis Chan said “Why would we need to experience the Comforter if our lives are already comfortable?”
These are the promises that Jesus told His disciples and these are the same promises that have been made available through the finish work on the cross. The Holy Spirit is given to the church of all God’s called out ones [the Elect] to abide with us until Christ calls us home. And what’s beautiful about this is He will never let go of your heart! That’s a peace that supersedes everything else in this troubled life. Eph 1:13-14 “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Again let not your heart be troubled my weary untrained disciples! HELP IS ON THE WAY!
Church family! HELP IS HERE and He’s going nowhere, He is here to come alongside, dwell within us, help us to great things for the Kingdom and give us a peace in the midst of our troubles and circumstances of life. Let not your heart be troubled! I’m with you always…..so comfort one another with these truths and live your life for the glory of His name. Remember “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” And that’s only possible, that’s only made available through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
20 July 2014
I don’t know about you, but I find it’s absolutely amazing sometimes that we can be so familiar with something or someone and yet somehow be ignorant or insensitive to things and people around us. It seems so contradictory to know, and yet not to know, at the same time. How often have we heard the statement, “I thought I knew everything there was to know about that person? But I've discovered I really didn't know them at all.” That statement simply reveals that it is possible to know a person, and yet not really notice all of the complex qualities of their personality; just as so many people do when you think of Jesus Christ. Maybe you struggle with who Jesus is? Maybe, you've said this statement “I thought I knew everything there was to know about that person? But I’ve discovered I really didn’t know them at all.” Maybe you felt that way? I thought I knew him, but I really didn’t. Maybe we’re not so different to Phillip and the gang when he spoke out to Jesus. I want you think about this statement and see if this is you at times. The statement is found in Phillip’s comment to what Jesus has already said in (v8) “Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us." Maybe you’re the type of person that needs to see more in order to believe? Maybe you’re the type of person who waits for signs and wonders to make you believe? I think Odd Thomas said it best when it comes to this type of thinking in Humble Beast's song
"Signs & Symbols"
Odd Thomas said.......Sometimes what we believe to be true
from our supernatural pursuits
Is actually a fluke,
a series of events used to distract you from truth
But I'll give you a sign thats obvious
One of the most supernatural acts
is that God through his word
Has actually revealed everything pertaining to life and godliness
There's this idea that an individual
is somehow more spiritual
If he see these so signs and symbols
And takes what's normally invisible and make it simple.
But I say the mark of a mature man
Is the one who reads Gods word and understands
And allows that, to govern his decisions and perspective plans.
These men have been with Christ for 3 years, and to their defence they were men who’s knowledge was small and limited at best! They knew very little before the crucifixion and resurrection compared to what they knew after the day of Pentecost. Look at how Jesus responds to this group of men, who J.C Ryle described as “children in understanding” Children, as described when Paul penned these words “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” 1 Cor 13:11-12. So Jesus responds as always with a loving, comforting tone to His child like disciples. Look what Jesus says (v9-v11) Have I been with you this long and you still need more proof to who I claim to be Phillip? (v9). Have you forgotten already the supernatural work that I have done since I’ve been with you? For instance:
- I turned water into wine at the wedding you attended with me Phillip.
- Have you forgotten that I knew where you friend Nathanael’s secret alone place was when I called him?
- I calmed the storm with a command while we were in the boat together.
- I feed you and thousands of others with only a small portion fit for one boy.
- I casted out demons that knew who I was.
- I walked on water to you and the rest of the disciples.
- I gave sight to the blind, even from birth, and made the lame to walk again.
- I healed people by my touch, without my touch and from a distance, remember the nobleman’s son?
See, this must have grieved the heart of God, to know that His disciples hearts were still unsettled about what was going to happen and to who Jesus claimed to be GOD incarnate. Jesus poured His life into these men, day in and day out. These men had the privilege to walk, witness, fellowship with the God who created them for His glory! These men walk with the “image of the invisible God”. The same God who walked with Adam and Eve in the coolness of the day before sin came. The same God who provided a sacrifice for Abraham and Isaac. The same God who wrestled with Jacob the night his name was changed to Israel. The same God who was born of a virgin to save us from our destruction. Jesus in His incarnate form displayed for us the truth that Paul penned to the church. Col 1:12-16 “giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.”
The same truth the Hebrew writer was trying to proclaim in the early part of his letter. Heb 1:1-3 “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” the disciples didn’t fully understand or could possibly comprehend this truth until later when the Holy Spirit came into their lives.
See Phillip didn’t ask this question as if this is the first time meeting Jesus. This is the final hours the disciples will be with Jesus, before His arrest and death on a cross. But we need to understand! The question or statement that Phillip asked or demanded is no different than many of us today in our society ask….even people in the church! we just ask or demand in a different way……….
- Where is your God, reveal Him to us?
- Why do bad things happen to good people?
- God wouldn’t let this happen in my life?
- How could a God like that allow so much death and destruction?
- How could you follow a God you haven’t seen?
See the logical answer to Phillip’s question is…….. To see God physically is to look upon person of Christ. But like Phillip and the rest of the disciples they didn’t get it! They were very much like their ancient generations of old. They too didn’t get it, or the big picture. St. Augustine put this beautifully when he pointed out that the eyes of faith were still being formed in the disciples and they were at this point unable really to see at all. He said “Why wasn’t he seen? Because the eye he could be seen with was not yet whole. As for the Lord’s body, which could be seen with these eyes, it was not only the one who revered him who saw him but also the Jews who crucified him. So if he wanted to be seen in another way, it means he was requiring other eyes.” In other words, the physical eyes of man could look upon Jesus and either love and worship Him or hate and crucify Him.
We see this today. Some people look at Jesus and love Him. Some people look at Jesus and hate Him. Do you realize it’s possible to look at Jesus, but not really see who He is? But to eyes of faith, however, Jesus reveals more than what the physical eyes see. To eyes of faith, Jesus reveals nothing less than God the Father. “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” Again Jesus is giving His disciples another gentle answer to encourage the troubled heart of Phillip and the rest of the disciples. See we need to understand when Jesus answers with “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” What Jesus is saying is that He makes things known, He uncovers, and He unveils. Jesus is revelation. Jesus shows us God.
- To see Jesus is to see the Father.
- To see Jesus heal is to know that God is a healing God.
- To see Jesus forgive is to know that God is a forgiving God.
- To see Jesus reach out to the outcast is to know that God is the God who loves outcasts.
- To see Jesus tell His disciples to forgive and forgive again, is to know that God’s mercies are ever new.
- To see Jesus weep is to know that God cares.
- To see Jesus die…is to know that God will do whatever it takes to save lost humanity.
- To see Jesus rise again is to know that God wins!
Isn’t that amazing and humbling all at the same time as New Testament Christians? Doesn’t that just change your perspective and outlook on who Jesus, truly is. God who came in the form of man to save man from himself. How do we know that’s true? The proof is found in your transformed life who loves and believes Jesus even though you never saw Him physically. The question is………Do you believe this to be true? Is it possible that Jesus is asking you the same question he spoke to Phillip, this morning?
“have I been with you for so many years[add your name] and you still struggle to know Me?”
Have you forgotten that…….
- I was there when you were conceived.
- I was there when you gave your first breath.
- I was there when you feel off your bike and scrapped your knee.
- I was there when you cried out to Me in genuine repentance and faith.
- I was there when nobody else was.
- I was there when you fell in love with the one I chose for you.
- I was there when you lost someone close to you.
- I was there when you fell into sin.
- I was there to pick you up and restore you.
- I was there and will always be God.
Do you believe this even though you never saw Him or touched Him? Do you believe even though you never saw the burning bush? Do you believe even though you never saw the glow of Moses face when he ascended Mount Sinai? Do you believe even though you never saw the cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night? Do you believe even though you never saw Him hang on the cross? Do you believe even though you didn’t see the empty tomb for yourself? Do you believe even though you can’t see Heaven from where you are? Do you believe? See we don't need to see something supernatural in order for us to put our faith in trust in Jesus Christ! See, every one of us live a Ruth story! What do I mean by that? Our lives are very much like Ruth, plain, boring that has no special or supernatural event to make people follow by faith. Just like the story of Ruth we see our lives as......A typical life with no excitement or seeing any supernatural moments. A life of tragedy and sorrow. A life of hard work and not knowing what lies ahead. A life of daily struggles and fighting the flesh. A life that each and every one of face….day in and day out. The one thing we all have in common with Ruth and everyone else in the bible is that Jesus is Lord and He will always be with us, just as He was with Moses, Elijah, David, Hosea, the disciples and the church! And if that’s not enough! As Jesus said in (v11) “believe …..for the sake of the works themselves.” What is that work? What I’ve [meaning Jesus] has accomplished in His earthly ministry and most of all! Your transformed life……..you are not who you used to be. That's a MIRACLE! We are God's representatives to a lost and broken world who desperately need Jesus Christ; which is the amazing and unbelievable supernatural work found in Christ and the gospel.
16 July 2014
13 July 2014
Everywhere you look we see people with troubled hearts! A troubled heart occurs when it comes to….
- Loss of job
- Health issues
- Lack of money
- With rising crime rate, rising costs of living
- The major problems happening in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas.
- The intolerant Homosexual movement.
- The major rise of porn exposure at such young ages.
- Stealing and Pirating music and movies
- Political corruption.
- The killing of innocent life in the womb.
- The massive breakdown of the family unit.
- Fighting amongst genuine Christians.
- Complacency and apathy in the church today
- And the list is endless to a troubled heart in any generation.
In the book of Job we read "Man who is born of woman Is of few days and full of trouble.” Job 14:1. See, being born in sin; sin and trouble go together, where there is sin there is trouble; sin entered into the world and there is only one cure for the troubled heart! J C Ryle said “that disease is trouble of heart, That remedy is faith.” Heart trouble is common everywhere around the globe in our generation. Kent Hughes calls it the “The Cardiac age”. The heart is a wonderful creation. It beat an average of 75 beats a minute, 40 millions times a year, 21/2 billions time for a person of 70. It pumps enough blood (650,000 gallon a year) to fill more than 82 tank cars with 8,000 gallons each. Many of us in this sanctuary have troubled hearts today! The question is what are you doing about it? Better yet, who are you turning to? It’s no wonder we have so many health problems in our culture today. Studies show according to Harvard Health Publication wrote “Anxiety has now been implicated in several chronic physical illnesses, including heart disease, chronic respiratory disorders, and gastrointestinal conditions.” A troubled heart can at times play a factor in our heath! When we constantly worry about everything we sometimes cause ourselves to worry about things that haven’t happened yet. We sometimes make up worry in our thoughts and even have the tendency to borrow worry. But Jesus said “"Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear? For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matt 6:25-34.
Look what Jesus says to His disciples here in John’s gospel. (v1) He says “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.” “Troubled” means: “uncertain affinity; to stir or agitate” The effects of all that Jesus had told them must have shocked them, and by John 14 they were undoubtedly confused, baffled and filled with anxiety. They have been told there is one who is a betrayer among them. He has already said He is going to be handed over to the Romans and die a sinner’s death. He has confronted Peter with the truth that he is going to deny Him. And to top it off! Jesus says He’s leaving them in a while and they can’t follow Him until later on. This was a troubled room filled with men of anxiety who left everything to follow Jesus. As our Lord looked at these men, He knew what was going on in their minds and hearts, He knew how disturbed and upset they were, and knew what was causing it. He also knew the remedy for it, as well. (v1-v6)
First thing Jesus says is "Let not." This means that the disciples could nothing to solve their problem. There is truly only one remedy for a troubled and sinful heart! The Lord Jesus and the promise He brings. This passage is one the most comforting passages in all of scripture! It has said that F.B. Myers of England had a Bible that had been passed through many generations. He said, many of the pages were clean just like the day it came from the printing press. But the pages of John 14 worn, spotted with tears of the people who had read it and found the comfort of God. That is so true! We can find great comfort throughout the scriptures, but we find great comfort here in this passage of John’s letter!
This is why Jesus says what He says. Don’t let this world and the coming days worry or trouble you! You trust in God, trust in Me, as well and the promises I bring.
See the problem is our sin nature of disbelief! We tend to think of the worst; we tend to get ourselves worked up when we’re faced with challenges, disappointments and confrontations. We tend to shut down and curl up in the fetal position waiting for things to pass. We tend to explode in the midst of trouble like a child does when they don’t get what they want. In reality its sin! John MacArthur said “The Worrier Strikes Out at God, The Worrier Disbelieves Scripture, The Worrier Is Mastered by Circumstances, The Worrier Distrusts God, Worry Is Unwise Because of Our Future”……He went on to say “Worrying paralyzes you, making you too upset to accomplish anything productive. It will seek to do that to you by taking you mentally into tomorrow until you find something to worry about. Refuse to go along for the ride. The Lord says you have enough to deal with today. Apply today's resources to today's needs or you will lose today's joy.”
The Psalmist wrote “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22; 1 Peter 5:6-8 says “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” In other words, our worry leads us astray and allows Satan a foothold into our lives. Since “sin” is, at its core, “missing the mark” that God has set for us, and so worrying is not living up to God’s standard. Jesus comforts His disciples with the promise in (v2-v3) There are many dwelling places; there are many beds for you in my house, what Jesus is saying. Jesus says “I go to prepare” a bed for you and me, His called out ones a place that John describes in Revelation 21-22 as absolutely AWESOME! A place that………
- Is filled with the glory of God.
- A place that has no more tears.
- Has no more death.
- Has no more sorrow, trouble.
- Has no more pain.
- We will never thirst again physically or spiritually.
- God illuminates His glorious light for all eternity.
- That has Christ sitting on the throne in His entire supreme splendor.
- That has your name in a book, if you are truly His child.
This is a place called Heaven, a place that we cannot fathom in our finite minds to how beautiful it is and glorious it will be for you and me when we spend eternity with Christ. Heaven is so overwhelming of a place, that it caused the Apostle Paul to pen these words “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed [it’s like a tug of war at my heart strings] between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.” Phil 1:21-23. Jesus knew the importance of this place! Otherwise He wouldn’t’ have told us as we face obstacles or troubled hearts! In this life you will have trouble, but be of good cheer, I’ve overcome them! In John 16:33, Jesus said “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
See, this is a promise that cannot be taken away for those who are truly His and what’s more amazing Jesus uses four words of comfort for the troubled Christian. (v3) “I will come again” doesn’t that give you comfort when you’re troubled at heart? Seriously, the King of Kings, Alpha & Omega, the Beginning and the End, made this promise that He is coming back, but not only to come back to judge but to “receive” us back to Himself. To receive us and He will take you up with me to Heaven; I will receive you into glory where he is and always be. But obviously this didn’t settle the disciple’s hearts because Thomas asks Jesus a question! (v5). But again Jesus gives yet another confirmation, another word of comfort, so that it would close any doubt they might have. Look what Jesus said in (v6) This is what we would call a dogmatic statement! There is no compromising on a statement like this. Jesus is the only one who can grant such a promise as we’ve seen in the opening verses of this chapter. Let’s examine for a moment what Jesus is saying by breaking down this bold dogmatic statement.
Jesus says He “is the Way”
There is no other way to find rest in the midst of trouble then Him alone. The Father’s house in Heaven is only reached through Jesus Christ and His perfecting atoning work on the cross. Eph 2:18-19 we read “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,”
Jesus says He “is the Truth”
The root of all knowledge is to know and savor this truth in Christ. All truth in the Old Testament and into the New Testament all point to Christ. The only truth the soul needs is Him, what Jesus is saying is that he isn’t some form of truth or a truth to equal with whatever you call truth. He is truth itself, there is no other! John 1:14-17 we read “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.' "And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Jesus said He “is the Life”
He is the root, the source and the foundation of all life. He is not a life, but life itself, just as He is truth. He is the giver and taker of life; He is the giver of eternal life to whomever He chooses. In John 11:25-26 we read “Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"
There is no other way of escape to find rest for a weary and troubled heart other than Jesus Christ. There is no other way a person will ever stand in heaven apart from Christ and His redeeming love found in the gospel.
- Not by your strength
- Not by another human being
- Not by works
- Not by your church attendance and involvement
- Not by your supposed goodness.
As John wrote in John 1:10-12 “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name. And he even went on to say in the next verse “who [meaning you and me] were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:13. He is the only way we can find true healing in this life! This is what he promised the disciples and this is what He promises to us for those you put their trust in Christ alone. “Sola Christos” As Luke penned “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12.
The troubled heart needs to remember that Jesus is everything! Trials are part of life, but Christ always says to us in the darkness “do not let your heart be troubled” As Hudson Taylor said “There are three stages to every great work of God; first it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.” I am the way…..the truth…and Life for those whom are mine! The problem for us is our sin, the solution is Jesus Christ, and the promises found in the gospel that not only saves you from the wrath of God…..it saves you a dwelling place for all eternity with Him. The one and only Jesus Christ!
06 July 2014
Pride is a terrible thing and the bible says pride always goes before a fall. Solomon wrote these words of wisdom…… “Pride goes before destruction [a fracture, or a crash], And a haughty [proud, arrogant] spirit before a fall.” Prov 16:18. What does that mean? As it did in the angels that sinned against God in the beginning. As Adam and Eve who, were not content with their present state and circumstances, fell to the desire to be gods, knowing good and evil. It also means that our ignorance can sometimes cloud our judgement and our limitations. Because we think we can handle anything life throws at us. But as the Proverbs says, there will be a fall if were not careful to recognize our inabilities apart from Christ and Holy Spirits work in our lives. Paul warned the Christian church about this…… “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” 1 Cor 10:22. Don’t take the liberties and the grace of the gospel as a means to standing fast to overcome sin and the temptation of sin. Sometimes as Christian’s we can become arrogant in our Christian walk to think that will never happen to me and say “I would never do that in my Christian life, or against my God.”
Sadly though, at some point or stage in your Christian life we have all or at least many of us have denied Christ somewhere along our journey home. Whether it’s sharing the simple gospel with a friend, a family member or a stranger walking down the street. Whether it’s a hostile crowd who hate and deny spiritual truth or absolutes according to what the bible says. Whether it be taking part in a conversation about God or Jesus and not saying anything or walking away to avoid conflict with co-workers or friends.
Jesus knows this would happen in our walk, that’s why He came to save sinners who are prone to sin. Not to say its ok to sin, but that God in His infinite understanding, knows that we are a fallen people who desperately need His guidance and wisdom when it comes to the Christian life minute by minute. Jesus knows we can be very prideful and passionate about things and forget our limitations of commitment and self-control. But as the Apostle Paul said we are to be careful about our pride and arrogance. He continues to say “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Cor 10:23-24. See, God allows testing and trails into our life as a means for us to recognize our inabilities and weakness and to rely solely and completely upon God and His sustain grace and power in our lives.
As we continue in the upper room with Jesus and His disciples……We see the arrogance of a man who means well, who had passion and loyalty for Jesus, but didn't understand his own limitation. This man is Peter!…..a man who is an example of who you and I are at times throughout our Christian life, from the point of our conversion to now and into the future as we seek our eternal inheritance. But first! Who was Simon Peter? Simon Peter was a fisherman by trade, who was called, chosen by Christ himself, to a group that would follow Him. He was noted several times for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. He told the Lord He could not go to Jerusalem . . . Jesus said, "Get behind me, Satan".
He asked Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration if he could set up tents for them. He was the one who asked . . . 'how many times do I have to forgive somebody' Matt. 18:21. He is the only one who got out of the boat to walk on the water and quickly began to sink because of his limitation in trusting Christ would uphold him. We need to be extremely careful to recognize our limitations before we say something or do something we can’t possibly do in our own strength.
See the gospel accounts mention this conversation with Jesus and His disciples for a reason! To help us understand that each and every one of us is prone to do exactly what Peter did in his situation. To say one thing, but when reality sets in we are truly unable to fulfill that promise apart from Christ. See in Matthew’s gospel we read “Peter answered and said to Him, "Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble." Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." Matt 26:33-34. In Mark’s gospel we read “Then Jesus said to them, "All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: 'I WILL STRIKE THE SHEPHERD, AND THE SHEEP WILL BE SCATTERED.' "But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee." Peter said to Him, "Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be." Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times." But he spoke more vehemently, "If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!" And they all said likewise.” Mark 14:27-31. In Luke’s gospel we read “And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren." But he said to Him, "Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death." Then He said, "I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me." Luke 22:31-34. Here is John’s gospel we read "Peter said to Him, "Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake." Jesus answered him, "Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.” John 13:37-38
See it’s easy to be the brave strong Christian when you’re in a secure room having eaten your fill of food and standing beside the Son of God. It’s easy to say I will go with you to the end or I’ll die with you when you haven’t been threatened with your life yet for your faith. This is where we need to be careful and recognize our limitations and allegiance to our LORD. There are some important lessons to be gleaned from this encounter between Jesus and Peter specifically. This passage tells us that anyone of us can fall……..it doesn’t matter how strong you think you are in your Christian life. Again I don’t want to pick on Peter and run him under the bus because of his incompetence and his passion not to see the dangers of his own decisions; because we're all familiar with the story of Peter and his downfalls we sometimes overlook and forget what an example of faith he sometimes was! He was one of the "inner three" with James and John. He was the one who said, "Depart from me for I am a sinful man" after the unbelievable catch of fish. It was Peter that answered the Lord's question: "Who do you say I am?" with "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." It was of Peter's confession that the Lord said, "On this rock I will build my church". It was Peter who did have enough faith to step out of the boat to walk to Jesus on water. It was Peter who stood up to defend Jesus in the Garden when no else did. It was Peter who followed Jesus (with John) into the court yard after His arrest. It was Peter who jumped in the water after the resurrection to swim to shore to see Jesus.
See, Peter was not a bad man.......In fact, Peter was a man we would all admire. We would point to Peter and say, "I'd like to be like Him." You would, because a little bit of Peter in everyone if you follow after the Lord Jesus Christ. We should have zeal and passion for the glory of God, but we need to be careful this passion doesn’t blind us to our own inability and strength in ourselves. We desperately need Him for everything and every minute. So what happened to Peter after this night in the upperoom? The bible tells us…… He fell asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane after Jesus had specifically asked him to pray. He cut off the ear off the high priest's servant in the Garden (and Jesus put it back on). He did deny the Lord in less than 12 hours after Jesus was arrested. He was the second person to reach the empty tomb…probably jogging wasn't his thing! One commentator said Peter was “an unbridled hulk who was broad shouldered, loud, a sweaty assertive man who was a strong extrovert. I can relate to Peter so much in my Christian life.
There is a question that haunts many people though! Did Peter lose his salvation and eternal inheritance for what he did? Was he a man who became faithless and turned away from God? As so many do in our society. The answer is NO! Again we need to remind ourselves…… that salvation is of the Lord and He keeps those whom are his…….even in our sin. I think John MacArthur says it best when it comes to us keeping our salvation. He said “if you could lose your salvation you would.” That’s why salvation is SOLELY the power of God who gives the right to be called sons of God. That’s why John wrote earlier “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand.” John 10:28-29.
Jesus knew Peter was going to drop the ball again that’s why He asked Peter this question in (v38). Jesus knew Peter was a passionate man after God, but a foolish man at times, just like you and me at times. Jesus knew Peter was genuine even when he got himself into trouble or sticky situations. Jesus knew exactly where Peter would be in the coming days when He would restore him into full time ministry. The same could be said about your life and your downfalls. God can still use a Peter…. God can still use your life for His glory and His Kingdom. Don’t ever forget that or be too discouraged to think God could never use you after what you’ve done maybe this past week. Remember pride goes before the fall….but mercy and grace is there for the genuine repentant heart who truly loves Jesus. Remember when Jesus restored Peter? If you do then you will remember how Peter responded? In John 21:17 it says “He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep.”
Peter did just that! See, Peter went on to preach the greatest message ever told…..THE GOSPEL! Peter went on to great things for the Lord…..even greater things than Jesus did…meaning seeing people embraces the gospel message with joy and peace. As Jesus said to the disciples “"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” John 14:12. Which means, not greater in nature and kind, but more in number. For the apostles over the course of years, would go about preaching the Gospel, not only in Judea, but in the entire world.
Don't get me wrong Peter was still a work in progress! Were there times of confusion and foot in mouth disease for Peter? Yes. Paul had to rebuke him when he tried to get the gentiles to be like Jews. If you’re born again [Jew, Gentile and so on] then we’re all one in Christ….But, to Peter’s shame, his passion and zeal got in the way again when he tries so hard to do what is right for God and His glory. Doesn't that exemplify your life at times or the early years of your Christian walk? Especially when you read about the life of Peter? Can you possibly relate to Peter maybe even now as God refines you for His glory? I know I can, because there has been many times throughout my Christian life I wish I handled situations and said things differently. I truly believe the more I observe Peter and his life ….I really begin to see and appreciate his two epistle letters he wrote. You begin to see the personal side of the letters as if Peter was writing to his former younger self. For example he says “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for "LOVE WILL COVER A MULTITUDE OF SINS." 1 Peter 4:8. Do you think Peter was thinking of this as he penned these words about what he did in the court yard, the night Jesus was betrayed by him? There is forgiveness in the cross of Jesus Christ and it’s available to even the worst kind of sinner. That His love covers a multitude of Peter’s inabilities and bad choses…it covered Peter’s sin forever. It covers your inabilities….it covers your sin.
Or how about when Peter penned these words……. “For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: "WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH"; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.” 1 Peter 2:20-24. That reality of Jesus’ death would come as his reality many years after Christ ascended to the right hand of the Father. Jesus predicted his death would be for His glory in the end of John’s letter.
In John 21:18-19 Jesus said “Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish." This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow Me." The bible doesn’t record Peter’s death except tell us that he will die for the gospel. Historically we are told that Peter was forced to watch his wife be crucified before he faced his death. Clement said “Peter called out to his wife and said “Remember the Lord”. And when it was Peter’s turn to die, he pleaded to be crucified upside down because he wasn’t worthy to die as his Lord had died. And thus he was nailed to a cross head downward.” This truth also fulfills what the Lord said to the disciples…..you can’t follow me now, but you will (v36)!
Peter did and Jesus keep that promise….even when Peter messed up royally. The same can be said for everyone here in this sanctuary! His grace and unconditional love supersedes your failures and inabilities to keep the Christian life. We need to learn from Peter’s mistakes and recognize our weaknesses and rely upon Christ and not ourselves to see us through every circumstance, temptation and life choices. As J C Ryle said “let it be a settled principle in our religion, that there is an amount of weakness in all our hearts, of which we have no adequate conception, and that we never know how far we might fall if we were tempted. We fancy sometimes, like Peter, that there are some things we could not possibly do. We look pitifully upon others who fall into certain sins, and please ourselves in the thought that at any rate we should not have done so! We know nothing at all. The seeds of every sin are latent in our hearts, even when renewed, and they only need occasion, or carelessness, or the withdrawal of God’s grace for a season, to put forth an abundant crop. Like Peter, we may think we can do wonders for Christ, and, like Peter, we may learn by bitter experience that we have no power and might at all.” See the child of God would too good to remember “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” 1 Cor 10:13. Jesus loves us, knows us and wants us to be careful with this new found passion and zeal for the glory of God and the gospel.
Church family if you forget everything I said, remember this! There is mercy and grace in our failures and incompetence; we saw that love demonstrated toward Peter. There is always hope, rest and assurance for the true believer in Christ. There is no sin that Christ will not cover with His blood! Pride goes before the fall as it did for Judas………..mercy and grace comes to those who are fallen but recognize their inabilities like Peter later on in his Christian walk. True strength, humility, passion and honor lies in the finished work of Jesus Christ. A humble sense of our own inherent weakness, a constant dependence on Christ is the only way we can truly find the secrets of safety. As the Apostle Paul penned “When I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor 12:10