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Worship Series: Change of Plans
Worship Theme: We’ve Forgotten How to Live
First Lesson: 1 John 3:11-18 (EHV)
Gospel & Sermon Text: John 14:15-21 (EHV)
Hymns & Songs: From All that Dwell below the Skies, My Story, Father, How Sweet, CW 322 Go, My Children, with My Blessing (in worship folder)
Message Notes & Growth Group Questions
Children’s Activity Sheet
Message: We’ve Forgotten How to Live
Do you love Jesus? Do you? Go ahead and move your head either yes or no. If you nodded your head yes, the first words in our sermon text are for you. Jesus says, “If you love me, hold on to my commands.” I have another question for you. Do you follow his commands? Go ahead and either nod your head yes or shake your head no. Your answers to both questions should have been the same. If you do not love Jesus, you probably don’t follow his commands. If you said yes to loving Jesus, you should have said yes to following his commands. That’s what Jesus was saying. “If you love me hold on to my commands.” That is just the natural pattern of things. We’re told in James that, “faith without deeds is dead (2:17).” If you have faith, good works will sprout out of it. That’s just the way it is. Let’s take a look at how you’ve been doing on the second question. Have you really been following Jesus’ commands? To start, let’s just look at the first commandment. “You shall have no other gods.” Do you believe in one true God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? That is a good start if you do, but that doesn’t mean you’ve kept the first commandment fully. There is more to it. Has God been your number one priority in your life? Have you placed him over all your entertainment wants like video games, TV, and books? Have you put him at a higher place than your hobbies like sports, sewing, or art? Have you kept him at a greater importance than your home projects or your work? How about your family and friends? Oh, and here’s a good one, have you put God above yourself or do you view him as just one more thing orbiting what’s truly important, you? If you have not loved God with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul all the time, then you have broken the first commandment. This brings us back to the question: do you love Jesus? If you fully did, you’d follow his commands and not just the first commandment but all of his commands. You’d love your neighbor as yourself and when I say neighbor, I mean everyone you live with on this planet, not just the people in the house next door. You’d follow his command to preach the good news of Jesus to as many people as possible, telling of his death and resurrection in order to save souls. But you haven’t, have you? I haven’t either, not in the way I’m supposed to. I’d like to say I love God, but when it comes down to following God’s commands, I don’t love him, at least not perfectly. And neither do you. That’s the effect of sin. We’ve forgotten how to love Jesus, and consequently we’ve forgotten how to live for Jesus. This is the groundwork necessary to understand the following verses.
Do you want to love and serve Jesus better? There’s a way (and it doesn’t take 5 payments of $19.95 either). Jesus tells us, “I will ask the Father and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.” The word for “Counselor” in the Greek is often used for a courtroom setting. It indicates someone who is helping a person in trouble with the law. Who is this mysterious helper? Verse 17 tells us. “He is the Spirit of truth.” He is the “another counselor” mentioned in our text. Our first counselor was Jesus. He died for our sins, covering them with his blood. Now he sends us another counselor, who works in us God’s Word, which is truth. This grows our faith and helps us to follow commands out of love for our Savior Jesus.
If you’ve never heard this stuff before, it’s a lot of information to take in. Painting this picture might prove helpful. Imagine you are in a courtroom. God the Father is the judge. He is bringing swift, but just, judgment against anyone who is breaking the law of the land, which are God’s commands. Remember, if we love him, we would follow his commands. But we can’t. We are too sinful and if we’re honest with ourselves, there have been times when we haven’t tried all that hard. So guess who’s being judged in the courtroom today? It’s you. You’ve broken God’s commands and you’re dreading the verdict because you know you are guilty of breaking God’s commands. To make matters worse, on the other side of the courtroom is the devil, prosecuting against you. He has this gargantuan sack of evidence of all the crimes you have ever committed. The evidence is labeled from “Exhibit A” to “Exhibit Z”, but there is so much evidence against you, he had to switch over to using numbers while labeling his evidence after he ran out of letters to use. All in all, things are not looking good for you at all. It’s a bleak situation and there is no hope of you winning this case. Then someone comes in, an advocate, or legal counselor, if you will. This is Jesus. He has come to get you out of trouble with God’s law. He shows the judge the punishment you deserve has already been paid in full. By who? By Jesus. Why would he do that? Simply because he loves you, not because of anything you did. The judge says this will be enough. The devil unwilling to let you go, starts pulling out pieces of evidence after evidence. As he pulls out each one, he becomes more frustrated, because each time he pulls something out, the judge says, “that evidence is no longer applicable. That crime has been stricken from the record.” It doesn’t get any better than this or does it? A second counselor comes in, the Holy Spirit. He wants to make sure you don’t throw away the “innocent” verdict given by the Father, and earned by Jesus. He promises to take you, criminal that you are, and work faith in your heart. He promises to give you the truth found in God’s Word and help you to love God, not just with your feelings and emotions, but with your actions.” He’s going to help you to live a long and healthy spiritual life, connected to Jesus for all of eternity. This is the picture Jesus gives us in these few short verses.
Not everyone knows this Counselor, the Holy Spirit. Many in the world “cannot receive [Him] because it does not see him or know him.” It doesn’t mean the Spirit isn’t there. He is there, waiting to be a part of every single person’s life, but people don’t take notice of him. They don’t think what the Spirit has to offer is of any value to them. But you are different. Not because you are intrinsically more holy than anyone else. We forget the right way to live all the time. The reason you are different is the Holy Spirit stays with you and will dwell in you. When Jesus was saying this to the disciples, he wanted them to know the Holy Spirit was already working in them, bringing their wills in line with God’s. He also was promising them something special in the weeks to come. On the day of Pentecost, he would give them a special outpouring that would allow them to better understand his Word, better preach his Word, and even perform miracles. Now, God doesn’t give us the exact same promise he did to the disciples. He doesn’t promise you an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost which will allow you to do miraculous signs. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t something in this verse for you. The Spirit is for you. You are different from the world because you hear God’s Word. This is the avenue through which God promises the Spirit will work. This is how the Holy Spirit enters hearts and plants the seed of faith. Even though you don’t have the promise of Pentecost, God promises to pour out his Spirit on you in abundance when you continue to read and hear the truth from God’s Word.
I don’t want you to think that just because Jesus and the Father are sending the Spirit to work in you means that both of them have abandoned you. No! You have a Triune God, three persons in one, all-knowing, all-present, all-powerful God who cares deeply for you. Jesus does not leave you as an orphan, but comes to you. In verse 19, Jesus explains, “In a little while the world will see me no longer, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.” When Jesus said this, he was with the disciples physically, but that wouldn’t always be the case. Here, Jesus isn’t talking about how he would appear to the disciples after his resurrection. Otherwise, at his ascension they would again be left as orphans. Nor is he speaking about his final return on the last day. Jesus is speaking about how he would return through the Spirit and dwell in their hearts through faith.
The world would not see Jesus physically. His death and resurrection were on the near horizon. But through faith the disciples would see Jesus. The Holy Spirit would bring Jesus and his teachings to the disciples (John 14:26). We do not get to see Jesus physically today, but we have something just as good, if not better. We see Jesus and everything he did for us through eyes of faith, through the eyes of the Spirit. Jesus tells us there is one very powerful result of seeing him through eyes of faith. “Because I live, you also will live.” When you see Jesus through the eyes of faith, you see his life, his death, his resurrection. You begin to see how everything he did was a sacrifice so you could be heaven with him and not just to live some short earthly existence riddled with death and pain. He sacrificed so you could live in perfect eternal bliss with him in heaven (as he says in Revelation 3:21, “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne”).
We have seen the Holy Spirit is with us. We have seen the Son, Jesus, is with us. Aren’t we missing someone still? What about the Father? Jesus tells us, “In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” The Father has been with Jesus the whole time. As Jesus was carrying out every word and every action, he had the authority and support of the Father, as well as unity with the Father. Because of that the Father is with you too. It’s a Trinitarian effort. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are not willing to let you go. They plant the seed of faith in you and cause it to grow. They teach us all the things we need to know and remind us of everything he said to us in his Word until we blossom in faith (John 14:26 “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I told you).”
This past year, my wife (Sarah) and I saw a class offered about teaching others to do what is good. While we thought it was an extremely odd name for a class, I couldn’t help but think about that now. Because that is what Jesus does for us. This life is our time of grace to come and know Jesus, a subject we naturally know nothing about. Through his Word he teaches us what is good, how to do what is good, brings us closer to our good Savior, and creates a new heart in us, which can do what is good.
We will not be perfect in this lifetime, but now, we are equipped to do good. Through the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit we can hold to the commands of God, not to earn anything for ourselves, but to show him the love we have for him. As we do this, God promises to continue loving us and to act on His love. The more time you spend with his Word, the more God will bless your spiritual life. He teaches us how to love him and He will bless you with far more love in return. Amen.