Advocating Love and Obedience

November 16, 2003 Preacher: Randy Smith Series: John

Scripture: John 14:15–24

Transcript

Advocating Love and Obedience

John 14:15-24
Sunday, November 16, 2003
Pastor Randy Smith



Put yourselves in the disciple's shoes. The One whom you left everything to follow was about to leave you. The One who declared Himself to be the Creator of the world and judge of mankind, was about to willingly subject Himself to die a criminal on a Roman cross. Your Comforter, your Counselor, your Helper and your Advocate would be no more.

No doubt the disciples' hearts were extremely troubled, agitated in the present and anxious for the future. But Jesus, the One who knows the thoughts and intentions of man could read them like an open book. He ministered to their needs by declaring encouraging truths according to the need of the moment. Throughout the past few weeks we have been learning these encouraging truths from John 14.

But as we consider each truth, wonderful as they are, it would be easy to desire greater clarification and assurance. For example, in verse 1, Jesus said, "Believe in Me." Pardon the pun, but this is an unbelievable promise! Even when the worst appears inevitable, we can trust God for anything, knowing that He is in control, working all things together for our good! However, during these adverse situations, knowing this theology is not difficult, but getting the faith to rely on this truth is a different story. Where do I find the faith necessary to achieve peace and contentment when by sight my whole world is falling apart? Am I simply supposed to muster up the necessary faith to believe this precious promise from the storehouse of self-determination and positive thinking?

Let's look at another encouraging truth. In verse 3 Jesus said He is departing to prepare for us place in heaven so we might be with Him forever. There is a great longing to visibly see Jesus and spend eternity with unspeakable joy in His glorious presence. However, what about now? Where is Jesus right now when we need Him the most? I need His help down here in this fallen world to overcome sin, to teach me His Word, to strengthen me during times of persecution. I need that Friend who sticks closer than a brother to help me right now as I stumble to walk the narrow path that leads to life.

One more. In verse 12 Jesus promised to use us to do greater works. What a tremendous encouragement it is to know that we are used by the Creator of universe to accomplish His divine agenda! Can anything add more purpose, meaning and fulfillment to your life? Last week we learned these "greater works" encompass the greatest work and the greatest miracle, the salvation of a soul. However, how am I going to convince someone that they must believe on a Savior they have never seen by forsaking their sin and surrendering their life to Him? Who's going to change their hearts and provide for me the utterance and boldness to present a message so offensive and radical? Who's going to give me the love necessary for these lost sinners whereby their salvation can become more pressing than my comfort and reputation?

If Jesus leaves, I need another Jesus! I need a Helper who will always be with me! I believe these would be the natural concerns of the disciples as well. How would Jesus respond? Verse 12, "Because I go to the Father" (cf. 16:10). Or more specifically, 16:7, "But 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 go, I will send Him to you." 14:16, "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever."

This morning I would like to present to you another encouraging, but often-misunderstood truth involving the person, presence and power of the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.

1. THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SPIRIT

His Names

Names today are relatively unimportant. Romeo echoed this sentiment in his discourse with Juliet. "What's in a name?" "That which we call a rose, by any other word would smell as sweet." Jews living during the Old Testament times greatly differed. They believed that a name was an identity. Based upon that premise, we can detect a whole lot about the titles assigned to the Holy Spirit. Those names do not merely label Him. They identify Him.

In verse 16 Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as "another Helper" (NASB). Possibly your Bible calls Him "Comforter" (KJV), or "Counselor" (NIV)." All three of these terms are acceptable, but often convey connotations from the English language inappropriate to the text. The Greek word translated "Helper" is parakletos (Jn. 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7). One version went with a literal translation calling the Holy Spirit the "Paraclete" (NJB), while another went with a more familiar term and simply called the Holy Spirit our "Advocate" (NAB), which I believe is the most appropriate translation.

Parakletos is a compound word derived from para (alongside) and the verb kaleo (to call). It's in the passive voice and means One who is called alongside. I don't go out and obtain the Spirit (active voice). Rather, Jesus calls the Spirit to me (passive voice). The term comes from the legal realm and is synonymous to one who assists in a court of law, by way of defense and counsel. Therefore, Christ has sent to us the Holy Spirit (among many other reasons) to be our Advocate, to stand by our side and to plead our case.

In verse 16 Jesus said, "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate." Since the Holy Spirit is "another Advocate," we can safely presuppose that there was One Advocate who came before Him. Obviously this is a reference to Jesus Christ Himself. Though Jesus Christ, the first Advocate was about to depart, the disciples would not be left alone, for He would send another Advocate to continue His work on earth.

As a matter of fact, 1 John 2:1 reads, "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." According to D.A. Carson, "(This) means that Jesus' present advocacy is (now) discharged in the courts of heaven (while His former role of) strengthening and helping His disciples…on earth (is discharged to the Holy Spirit)" (Carson, John, 500).

Possibly this advocacy is no better witnessed than in Acts 7. Do you remember when Stephen faithfully testified about the Jews failure to heed prophetic voice? After he accused them of persecuting the prophets and murdering the final Prophet, Jesus Christ, verse 54 says, "They were cut to the quick and…began gnashing their teeth at him" (Ac. 7:54). Do you remember what Stephen saw? The text says he saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God (Ac. 7:55, 56)! That is significant! Jesus is always described in the Bible as sitting at the right hand of God having completed His atonement and now positioned as Messianic Judge of the world. But in this case Jesus is standing! The only people who stand in a courtroom is the prosecutor and the defense attorney. Think about that! The judge of mankind is also the defense attorney, the Advocate for those whom His blood has purchased! How's that for a stacked deck? So while stones were being hurled at his head (Ac. 7:58), Stephen knew that heaven came to his judicial defense.

T. Earnest Wilson once said, "Christ's work as Advocate comes into operation as soon as we sin. He is an Advocate with the Father, indicating a family relationship. We have a lovely word in Africa used to express this idea. An advocate or comforter is sometimes called a kasendo mukwashi. The first word kasendo means 'a blood brother,' one with whom a solemn covenant sealed in blood has been made. The second word mukwashi means 'one who helps by laying hold.' The Lord is both to us."

With the Holy Spirit as our present Advocate on earth and Jesus as our Advocate in heaven, shouldn't we believe, "If God is for us, who is against us" (Rom. 8:31), and "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1)?

Another name for the Holy Spirit is found in verse 17. There He is called "the Spirit of truth" (cf. 15:26; 16:13). Once again we see the close connection between Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Eleven verses (14:6) earlier Jesus claimed to be "the truth." The Holy Spirit is also marked by truth. If falsehood defines Satan as the "Father of Lies" (Jn. 8:44), truth defines the Godhead. God not only tells the truth, but He is the essence and embodiment of truth. Whatever He says is truth. No wonder Jesus could pray to the Father, "Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth" (Jn. 17:17).

And when we think about this, who composed the Scriptures? The word of truth, the Holy Spirit, the "Spirit of truth" Himself!" It was the Spirit's role to inspire men to compose the Holy Scriptures (Jn. 14:26). He is now presently in the role of illuminating our minds to accept, understand and apply the truth of Scripture. It is the Holy Spirit, "the Spirit of truth," who always bears witness to the truth.

His Presence

In addition to His names, Advocate and Spirit of truth that describe His role, our text also shows how the Holy Spirit will manifest His presence.

First of all notice verse 17 says, "The world cannot receive (Him), because it does not see Him or know Him." Those in the world, those actively rebelling against God, cannot receive the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14). God will not come to those who make it their active will to keep Him out. However, when people turn from their sin and turn to God in faith, He promises to meet them in a very special way and that way clearly involves the Holy Spirit.

Look at the conclusion of verse 17. "But you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you." When we turn to Jesus Christ, He promises to come to us in the Person of the Holy Spirit. In verse 20 Jesus said, "In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you." How intimate and secure is this union? God Himself takes up residence in our life. Or as 1 Corinthians 3:16 says, "Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you" (cf. 1 Cor. 6:19)? How long will He stay there? According to verse 16, He enters "that He may be with you forever." That means the Spirit will only come once in our lives. He comes to abide and dwell with us eternally. Just as God said through the writer to the Hebrews, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you."

Though I believe the Holy Spirit indwelt believers in the Old Covenant (1 Pet. 1:11), Jesus is getting at a clear point in verse 17. Now under the New Covenant, since the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit has manifested His presence in the life of a believer in a new and dramatic way. He is there like He has never been in the past to encourage, sanctify, assist in evangelism, bring forth radial obedience and illuminate God's Word. Ephesians even teaches that the Holy Spirit is the pledge (the arrabon), the earnest, the down payment, the guarantee of our future inheritance (Eph. 1:14; cf. 2 Cor. 1:22). What more could we ask for. If I can tamper with Ralph Waldo Emerson, "What lies behind us, and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to Who lies within us." If you are in Christ this morning, the living God through the Holy Spirit dwells within you.

2. THE CONDITION TO RECEIVE THE SPIRIT

Now that we have had a brief but encouraging overview of the Holy Spirit, we need to follow-up on that ever-essential question. How can I receive the gift of the Holy Spirit? Paul said in Romans 8, "If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him" (Rom. 8:9b). Therefore if salvation is synonymous with the reception of the Holy Spirit, what must I do to be saved to receive the presence of God in my heart and life? Don't lose that thought.

Please follow along as I read a few verses. All of these words are off the lips of Jesus. Verse 15, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." Verse 21, "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him." Verse 23, "Jesus answered and said to him, 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him.'" Verse 24, "He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me."

If Jesus used repetition for emphasis, I believe He made His point very clear. What is it? Obedience is an indication of our love for Him. Yet allow me to make a few observations.

First, to answer my former question, in order to be delivered from hell and receive the Holy Spirit, we must love Jesus. It's not that we initiate this love relationship, for the Scriptures clearly say, "We love, because He first loved us" (1 Jn. 4:19; cf. Rom. 5:8). Rather, we recognize His sovereign love for us and respond with a genuine love for Him. In doing so Jesus promises in verse 23 that the triune God will come to the believer "and make (their) abode with him," granting the individual salvation.

But how do we love God? Is it merely through our words or emotions? Since love is a nebulous term to many, our Lord made it clear. True love for Him results in obedience, obedience to heed His Word by repenting from our sin.

You say, what about faith? I thought one needed faith to be saved? Absolutely! But faith and obedience are interlinked with each other. A.W Tozer concurs, "The Bible recognizes no faith that does not lead to obedience, nor does it recognize any obedience that does not spring from faith. The two are at opposite sides of the same coin" (Tozer. Leadership, v. 12, n. 4). For example, in order to be saved I must turn my life over to Him in total obedience, but without faith, I would never surrender and entrust myself to Jesus. In order to be saved I must submit to His Word, but without faith, I will never submit to His Word unless I believe it is for my greatest good. Therefore one gains the Holy Spirit by responding with love for God demonstrated by obedience, identified by faith and repentance.

Second, once Christians, we abide in His love through continued obedience. In other words, we don't earn His love by obedience, but we manifest the reality of our relationship through ongoing obedience. Just as natural it is for a fish to swim in water, so is a Christian's obedience to Jesus. Additionally, we maintain the closeness of our relationship through an ongoing obedience as well. Just as weeds must be pulled from a garden, our relationship with God gets obstructed when sin is not removed. Jesus will never leave His own, but if we are truly in Christ, our love for Him will be demonstrated by a continual attitude of obedience.

This relationship is no different than that one I have with my children. Once my daughters become mine, they will always be my daughters. Nothing can change that. I will always love them regardless of what they do. However, I have an expectation that they will obey me as their father. Those who are not mine do not hear my voice, nor should I expect them to obey. But my own children are different. They show their bond to me and love for me through obedience. As a matter of fact, what can demonstrate greater love for a parent than the obedience of a child?

"I love you, Mother," said little John;
Then, forgetting his work, his cap went on,
And he was off to the garden swing,
Leaving his mother the wood to bring.

"I love you, Mother," said little Nell;
"I love you better than tongue can tell!"
Then she teased and pouted half the day,
Till Mother rejoiced when she went to play.

"I love you, Mother," said little Fran;
"Today I'll help you all I can."
To the cradle then she did softly creep,
And rocked the baby till it fell asleep.

Then stepping softly, she took the broom
And swept the floor and dusted the room;
Busy and happy all day was she,
Helpful and cheerful as she could be.

"I love you, Mother," again they said,
Three little children going to bed.
How do you think that Mother guessed
Which of them really loved her best?

Joy Allison

If the proof of a child's love for his parents is obedience, why is it so strange that the proof of a Christian's love for his or her heavenly Father would be anything less than obedience?

Put yourself in God's shoes. How would you feel if someone ignored you throughout the week, but then stumbled into church on Sunday morning and sang praises to your name? Would you find that worship acceptable? John Piper once said, "Savoring God without serving God is phony. Worshipping the worth of God without walking in the will of God is self-deception."

However, when we obey Him, we show to ourselves and a watching world the legitimacy of our birth. We express to God that we are satisfied with Him and following His word is not burdensome (1 Jn. 5:3), but rather our pursuit and delight. Could our Savior be any clearer? He said a true child of God, verse 21, "has (makes ones own, grasps) My commandments," verses 15 and 21, "keep(s) My commandments" and verse 23, "keep(s) My word."

But Pastor, you may ask, what about a new believer? How can a new believer keep God's commandments when they probably know so few? This week I had the wonderful opportunity to lead a young woman to Christ. She made the decisive commitment to repent and acknowledge Jesus as Lord. God finds that plea acceptable and within time God will reveal more of His will and she will have greater opportunities to obey.

But Pastor, what about me? I don't perfectly obey. Does that mean that I am not a child of God? Though we strive for holiness all of us fall short of God's perfect standard (1 Jn. 1:8-10). God is concerned with your heart. He knows your motives. To those who are serious about obeying, He is there to forgive a contrite spirit, restore the damaged relationship and strengthen you to go and "sin no more" (Jn. 8:11). I don't know about you, but nothing encourages me more than when my daughters seek forgiveness. Such an action not only restores our relationship, but it also tends strengthens it.

But Pastor, I want to obey and I often fall short. If we have leaned one thing this morning, we have learned that obedience is not just a "just do it" command. Rather it is the natural overflow of a heart empowered by the Holy Spirit that loves Christ. Both love and obedience are necessary as they build upon each other. Love without obedience is emotionalism. And obedience without love is legalism. But if obedience comes from your love for Jesus, and your love for Jesus is a response to His initial love for you, the solution is look to Jesus! For the more you look to the lover of your soul, the more you will love Him. And the more you love Him, the more you will obey Him! Look to the One who loved you when you were still shaking your fist Him. Look to the One who took the nails in His hands and the cross upon His back to wash away all your sins and the just wrath you deserved. Look to the One who is the epitome of love, tenderness and mercy.

Let me see if I can put all this together by way of summary. God in His infinite love for His elect, sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world. Jesus demonstrated the greatest love possible by dying on a cross and accepting the sin of His children. The Holy Spirit then quickens our heart and enables us to see the love of God for lost sinners. We recognize that love and likewise respond to God with our own love, marked by an ongoing commitment to and demonstration of obedience. God makes His abode within us through the Person of the Holy Spirit, also known as the Advocate and Spirit of Truth. Our love for God leads to continual obedience and our continual obedience gives evidence of our love for God. Through this demonstration of ongoing love and obedience, we abide in His love and show ourselves to be true children of God.

What about you? Does the living God make His abode with you through the Holy Spirit? If so, your life will be marked by obedience to His Word as an overflow of your love for Him.


More in John

May 9, 2004

The Priority of A Disciple

May 2, 2004

From Fishermen To Shepherds

April 25, 2004

Fishing For Men