Tuesday, December 25, 2012

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)


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