Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Work of the Holy Spirit Part 3 (Jn. 16:8-11)

This is my personal summary of Rev Dr Stephen Tong's sermon on 11 November 2012 in STEMI Expository Preaching at True Way Presbyterian Church Singapore. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: John 16:8-11

This passage talks about God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, the devil, the world and the disciples.  The world does not glorify God because they do not know God. But Christians in the world do not always understand.  And Christ was crucified like a sinner in the world.  We are confused. 

How do we solve all these?  Why are we called sinner?  Why would the Judge Himself be judged?  Why are those who should be judged, not judged?  So in this world, we hear a lot of noises.  We are confused of our relationship with Christ.  We are confused about Christ and the Father, God and Satan.  The Holy Spirit comes to correct all this confusion.  All relationships will be normalised.  This is not something that can be done by men.  This is the work of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit opens and touches a sinner’s heart.  Without His inspiration, you cannot recognise the Lordship of Christ.  The correct response to Christ is dependent completely on the manifestation of Christ through the Holy Spirit.  The work of the Holy Spirit is to correct our wrong understanding and relationship with Christ.

We cannot convert unbelievers but we can rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to lead sinners to repentance.  If we have not seen much repentance, it means we have not made use of the power of the gospel to save. 

After years of being a believer, how many people have you witnessed to, how many people have you led to the Lord? How do we convert unbelievers?  How to convert believers into reformed faith?  And from reformed faith to someone who love the Lord wholeheartedly, to give his life as a full-time minister?  This continual transformation is necessary for the church to grow, or else we are not growing fruits and making disciples. 

Men have the potential for goodness, holiness, righteousness.  These are important aspects of the image of God.  We need to move towards righteousness.  But what is righteousness?  We have the concept of righteousness but this does not mean we are righteous.  Who is the Righteous One?  Noah, Job, Abraham are righteous, but they are not The Righteous One (singular).  The Righteous One is Jesus Christ. 

Jesus, the Righteous One came to the world and was looked upon as sinner.  This is the greatest unrighteousness of sinners.  The greatest sin is in not believing Jesus Christ, thus not forteiting only way to salvation.  And Jesus is righteousness in itself yet the sinful humanity judged the Righteous One and condemn Him as a sinner.  This is completely unjust. 

The court is the place to establish righteousness, yet often that is where unrighteousness happens.  Jesus said the Holy Spirit will convict, “With regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father.” 

Those who study the Scripture could not see that Jesus was the one prophesied in the Old Testament.  The Holy One came and they killed Him.  This is most horrifying.  The Righteous One was treated as a sinner and they were not even aware of it. 

The religious leaders, the sinners, Herod and Pilate all judged Jesus and considered themselves as righteous and treated Jesus as a sinner.  They first assumed they were right and Jesus was wrong.  Golgotha is where everyone is revealed for who they are.  Jesus is revealed as who He is.  He bled and died for sinners.  It shows the hypocrisy of the experts of the law.  It shows how Satan is against God.  It shows the timidity of the disciples, and the love Mary and the disciples had for Jesus.  From Gentiles to disciples, angels to demons, we see everyone as they are.  He is the Righteous One, the most unjust place in the whole world is the cross.  These people do not even realise it.  When do people start to realise it?  When the Holy Spirit came to convict them.

When Peter preached at the Pentacost, they were cut to the heart and asked, “what shall we do to be saved?”  When the message of the cross is preached sinners will be awakened.  The sinners will be convicted.  Am I a sinner?  Yes.  Is Jesus the righteous one?  Yes.  When did the transformation start?  Only when the Holy Spirit works in the heart.

When the light of the Holy Spirit comes into your heart, you recognise that you deserve to die and that Christ is the Righteous One.  You recognise it is wrong to crucify Him.  How do you recognise the righteousness of Christ?  Jesus said He is going to the Father.  This is a mark and guarantee of righteousness.  If He is unrighteous He cannot go to the Father.  He came from the Father and He would go back to the Father.  Ps. 24 proclaims about the King of glory, Jesus Christ, who returns victorious.  No other religious leader talks about this.  Nobody can talk about where they come from and where they are going, other than Jesus Christ.

In 33 years of Jesus’ life on earth, if he sinned even for once or failed even one trial, He could not return.  He was tested in every way and yet did not sin.  He suffered greatly for our sin and took all our burdens.  Isa. 53 speaks of Him as a son of sorrow and a man of grief, and we thought He was striken by God.  But we were mistaken.  The Holy Spirit comes to correct our understanding so that we can recognise the Righteous One as He is, and see ourselves as we are, sinners. 

The Holy Spirit helps us understand the relationship between us and God, us and Christ, us and Satan.  Sinners do not know who God is, who Christ is, who Satan is, who Holy Spirit is, and even who they themselves are.  When Holy Spirit corrects, then we understand, and we let God be God, let Christ be Christ, let Satan be Satan.

The third correction is Satan will be condemned.  The prince of the world stands condemned and is already condemned.  So we need not be fearful.  Our sin has been forgiven.  The death of Christ has taken away our sin.  He will judge the world and Satan who is seemingly in control, is already condemned.  Christian will understand and will live full of confidence and strength, will fear God and not Satan. 

After Jesus’ ascension, disciples face four great crises, political persecution, ridicule by philosophers, temptation from decadent society and challenges on false doctrines.  Jesus said He was going away and they were in crisis. 

God is in the highest.  We are here, in between there is the kingdom of Satan.  The darkness of the kingdom blocks us from God but God listens to us.  The Bible says we have victory through the name of Jesus.  Christian prayers are different from prayers of other religions.  We pray in the name of Jesus, the One who came from the Father, who had gone through the kingdom of darkness and gone back to the Father.  By praying through His name, we will go to the Father as He has.  To obtain grace from the throne of God, we have to go through this kingdom of darkness, but Christ has gone before us.  We do not need to fear or be intimidated, we have victory in the name of Jesus.  This is the name that is above all powers, all names. 

Do not forget, if you rely on your own strength you will surely fail.  But if you rely on Jesus you will have victory.  There is no other name through which we will be victorious. We are saved through Him and we will be victorious through Him.  Christians are the only ones who do not need to fear Satan for he has been completely defeated by God.  Thanks be to God.

The Work of the Holy Spirit Part 2 (Jn. 16:8-11)

This is my personal summary of Rev Dr Stephen Tong's sermon on 4 November 2012 in STEMI Expository Preaching at True Way Presbyterian Church Singapore. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: John 16:8-11

In the Old Testament, the prophets spoke of the Spirit that was to come.  After the Holy Spirit came, when the apostles spoke about the Spirit that had come.  But the clearest explanation about the Holy Spirit is from Jesus Christ.  His words about the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14-16) become the foundation of the apostles’ exposition about the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is given to the Church because of what Christ has accomplished.  Jesus came in the flesh.  The Holy Spirit does not come in the flesh.  He enters into the heart and works in the sinner’s heart.  When one does not have the Holy Spirit, he is not a Christian.  One who belongs to Christ has the Spirit of Christ within him.   

What is the work of the Holy Spirit?  Jesus said after He left the Holy Spirit will come to convict the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgement.  A sinner will recognise his error and become aware he needs reconciliation with God. 

After the Fall, the sinner views himself as the centre of the entire universe and judges everything from this perspective.  The original relationship order has been confused.  He cannot differentiate who is master and who is servant, what is normal and what is abnormal. 

How do you recognise what is sin, righteousness and judgement?  There is relationship between sin, righteousness and judgement.  What is sin?  Who sins against who?  What is righteousness?  Where is its end point?  Who judges?  Who is being judged?  Jesus compressed the most complicated concepts into a single sentence.

Righteousness is the most important thing seated in culture.  Judgement is the last event in the universe.  The Holy Spirit comes to convict us of sin.  Jesus said, “In regard to sin, because they do not believe in Me.  In regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father.  In regard to judgement, because the prince of this world stands condemned.” (Jn. 16:8-11)

Why did Jesus link sin to not believing in Him?  What has righteousness got to do with Jesus going to the Father?  Why is judgement on the prince of the world and not on the people He was talking to?

Wherever there is unbelief in Jesus, sin in there.  The world will not accept this statement.  We frequently hear about the fight for human freedom of religion.  Is not Jesus Christ dictatorial to say we must believe in Him?  It is easier for us to accept that others should have the freedom to believe what they want and the best way is to treat everyone as equal.  If we are exclusive we make enemies.  If we instead say, “You commit adultery, you sin.  You murder, you sin.  You steal you sin.”  this much easier to accept.  But Jesus did not say this.  Jesus said, “you do not believe in Me, you sin.”

Sin is not just about action.  Relating to action it is a superficial understanding of sin.  Going against the truth is sin.  The Bible uses the latter to describe the nature of sin.

Fallen humans use their freedom of religion to trample the truth.  This is sin.  The Holy Spirit comes to rebuke us of our unbelief.  Sin is not just about action.  It is a question about whether you have submitted yourself to absolute truth.  If you do, you are sinless.  When you oppose the absolute truth you are sinful.  This is very stern. 

If the whole world is crazy and you are sane, they will think you are crazy.  The way the world functions today, the masses always win.  Truth is relative.  That is why Plato was against democracy.  Majority had no understanding.  How can we allow the future to be determined by the masses without understanding?  History has recorded Jesus Christ being put to death by democracy.  The judgement for His execution was supported by the masses.  Socrates was also executed because of democracy. 

While it is noble to impart education to the common man, we need to focus on those with the wisdom and capability to develop. Otherwise we will waste a lot of resources and time.

When you do not believe in Christ, the Holy Spirit will convict you of sin.  We will be made to rebuke ourselves.  We will no longer consider ourselves the absolute truth.  We will realise that our response to Christ is based on our wrong subjective feeling, that we have not responded to Him according to His worth, that we have despised Him. 

You die in sin not because there is no medicine and treatment but because you despise the medicine.  You throw away your only chance to be saved.  This is sin in the eyes of God.  It is not how many germs you have in your body, how many organ damages you suffer, but your attitude towards this medication which can cure you.  It is not what you eat and do and feel and think that define you, but how you respond to God and His grace, that determines the value of your existence.

(To be continued)