Saturday, September 22, 2012

Bear Witness for Christ in Persecution (Jn. 15:25-27)

This is my personal summary of Rev Dr Stephen Tong's sermon on 2 September 2012 in STEMI Expository Preaching at True Way Presbyterian Church Singapore. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: John 15:25-27

At the start John 15, Jesus said He is the Vine and we are the branches. At the end of the chapter, He spoke about bearing testimony for Him. Who would the disciples bear testimony to? To the world that vehemently opposed them. Christians were persecuted in the first century. By end of the first century, John was the only apostle surviving. God preserved him to write the Gospel of John.

In John 8, Jesus said He is the light of the world. When it is still day light we must work. When darkness come we cannot work. Jesus said the darkness hates the light. Light has come to the world, but the darkness does not recognise and hated it, but the righteous will come to the light to show that what they have done is based on the truth.

Why would the world hate us and Jesus Christ? Quoting from the Old Testament, Jesus said, “But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’”(Jn. 15:25) The Jews’ hatred towards Jesus was unreasonable.

The one who is sent cannot be greater than the sender. The servant is not greater than the master. Jesus also said to His disciples, “before they hate you they hated Me first. If they persecute me they will persecute you. The world cannot love you but can only love its own.”

So what should we do? We are to persevere to the end. When persecuted we are to bear witness for Christ. Those who are with God will persevere to the end. How? By the power of the Holy Spirit. God the Son promised the Holy Spirit to His Church.

Jesus could not be with His disciples physically forever. But the Father would not forsake them as orphans. And Jesus said He would give them His peace. Together with the Father, He will be with them. How? They sent the Holy Spirit to be with His disciples. So He said, “it is good that I go away because otherwise the Holy Spirit will not come to you.”

“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truthwho goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.” (Jn. 15:26-27)

This passage reveals where the Holy Spirit come from. The Holy Spirit goes out from the Father. All creatures are created. The Son was begotten. The Holy Spirit is neither begotten nor created. He proceeds from God.

What does it mean to be begotten? This makes Jesus completely different from a created being. He is not created, so His essence is different from us. But the One who begat and the One who is begotten is of the same essence. How is He begotten? It is a mystery. We can only depend on God’s revelation.

Ps. 2:7 says, “I have set My Sacred One in Zion.” The Holy One of God is Jesus Christ. Who are the saints? They are God’s elect who have been set apart. The Lord chose us before the world was created. Through Jesus Christ, salvation came upon us. After we are born again, we become saints. But this is not so for Jesus. In eternity Jesus is already the Holy One of God. The Holy One is not from the created world.

The Son, through the Father, grants the Holy Spirit to the saints. As human beings, we are the most privileged of all creation. In the temporal world, there are contingent existence that cannot last forever. But we have our created eternal spirit which surpass all contingent animals. And when God causes us to be born again, we partake in the resurrection of Christ and God grants the Holy Spirit to stay with us forever. We are most privileged, in that we also have this special life from the Holy Spirit.

Christ said that the Spirit has been sent to testify of Him. And secondly, He said we must also testify of Him. So Holy Spirit, the third Person of Trinity, testifies of the Second Person of Trinity. And the Second Person of Trinity, the Son, bear testimony of the First Person of Trinity, to manifest the Father. The Holy Spirit came to testify of the Son. The saints too, must testify of Christ. By understanding how the Holy Spirit testifies Christ, you will see who has the Spirit and who has not.

Like the Holy Spirit we also should bear testimony of Christ. We will discuss the work of the Holy Spirit in John 16.


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