Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Work of the Holy Spirit Part 1 (John 16:4-11)

This is my personal summary of Rev Dr Stephen Tong's sermon on 28 October 2012 in STEMI Expository Preaching at True Way Presbyterian Church Singapore. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: John 16:4-11

Jesus was about to leave His disciples at the time when a great persecution was about to begin.  The way Jesus sent the disciples, in Jesus’ own words, is like sending sheep among wolves.  This is unimaginable and cruel.  He was about to leave them to be persecuted.  This is Christianity.  Following Jesus is like entering the narrow gate and only a few would make it.  Many people know Christianity in a very shallow way.

The sending of the Holy Spirit has greater benefit to the Church than having Christ in the flesh.  The Holy Spirit is poured upon all the saints.  Every believer can enjoy His presence.  Jesus said: “ But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.  When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment” (Jn. 16:7-8)

Righteousness is not found in those who try to follow the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.  He was hung on the cross for our sin.  He became our righteousness, our salvation, our holiness, our wisdom.  After Jesus died, He ascended and the Holy Spirit came.  The Holy Spirit came to bear testimony of Jesus.   Jesus prophesied the coming of the Holy Spirit.  This is different from the prophecies of all other prophets.  When He spoke of the Holy Spirit, He spoke of a third Person of God.  God the Son promises God the Holy Spirit.  The prophets are inspired by the Spirit of God to testify of God.  God the Son speaks directly as God. 

Jesus said the Holy Spirit will bring conviction and awakens the Church.  Otherwise we never realised we were sinners.  We were dead in our transgression but God revived us.  We cannot awaken ourselves.  Without the Holy Spirit giving new life, there is no way anyone can come to God.  God must first awaken us and give us a heart to seek after Him. 

The Holy Spirit will rebuke us of sin, righteousness and judgement.  Who wants to hear about sin, righteousness and judgement?  No sinners want to.  This is the work of the Holy Spirit.

What sin?  The greatest sin is unbelief: “… about sin, because people do not believe in me” (Jn. 16:9)  This seems to go against human rights, the freedom of religion and the freedom of choice.

Secondly, “… about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer.” (Jn. 16:10).  What has Jesus going back to the Father has anything to do with righteousness?  What has it to do with the Holy Spirit rebuking me on righteousness? 

Thirdly, “… and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.” (Jn. 16:11)

Firstly, the “sin” referred here is the wrong response to the Son of God.  Not believing in Jesus is sin.  How can this be the greatest sin?  Why can’t we believe in Buddha or Mohamed?  We should be allowed to believe what we want.  This sort of dictatorial concept causes many people to oppose God.  This is a stone that stumbles many.

This is the society today.  Truth is relative.  In order not to offend others, we tolerate every view. 

The question is, do you believe there is absolute truth?  If there is, can you go against it?  Just because you are free, does it mean you can go against the truth? 

The Holy Spirit rebukes you of your unbelief in the truth.  Jesus is the truth, righteousness and holiness.  You are not in truth if you go against the truth.  You are not righteous if you do not have His righteousness.  You are not holy because you do not have the holiness of Jesus.

The nature of truth is not dependent on your opinion.  It is just as 2+2=4 whether you accept it or not.  It does not matter whether matter you are clever, rich or poor.  If you disagree you are wrong.

Because Jesus is the truth He is unique.  He is universal.  He is eternally true. When you do not believe in Him, you are in error.
Another illustration is the situation where you have a terminal cancer and there is only one medicine that can cure it.  If you discard the medicine you forfeit your life.  Jesus Christ can save you from sin but when you choose not to believe in Him you cast yourself from the way of salvation.  It is not that there is no medication, but the problem is you have no faith.  In this angle we should look at sin.

(to be continued)