Let’s begin with a prayer. Father, we thank You for this time and we ask that You would guide us and help us to clearly learn some things from John’s Gospel that will enable us to see You better as we look at the life of Jesus and these parting words that He offered to His disciples. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.
We are looking at John chapter 14, and we started last week looking at the Upper Room discourse and that discourse goes from John 13 to John 17 and in looking at this particular chapter, we have to go back a little bit. We have to go back to verses 36 through 38 of chapter 13, where we see “Simon Peter said to Him, ‘ Lord, where are you going’, because Jesus has just told them He is going to a place where they can not follow. In fact, look at verse 33, “Little children, I am with you a little while longer. You will seek Me, and as I said to the Jews, now I also say to you, Where I am going you can not come.”
That would be a very disturbing concept to them, because they had totally cast their lot in with Him for the last three and half years. They still did not grasp what He meant when He said the Son of Man is going to go up to Jerusalem, where He will be betrayed and where He will be executed and where He will suffer and where on the third day He will rise again. They didn’t want to hear this and basically tuned it out. Whenever He talked about the Kingdom, they enjoyed that.
But, whenever He talked about His sufferings, that was another story. So, they are not really fully grasping this. Then He gave them this new commandment, “That you love one another, even as I have loved you,” and remember that new commandment is actually based on the fact the old commandment says, Love one another as you love yourself,” although it doesn’t say it quite that way. Why is this new a commandment? Because it was a higher standard than the original.
Now, we are to love one another as He loved us. I want to tell you that God loves you more than you love yourself. He chooses better for you than you would choose for yourself. How many times have we shot ourselves in the foot and made stupid decisions and so forth? God’s love for us is His steady intention for our highest good. We sometimes, out of selfishness or pigheadedness or pride or revenge do dumb things. His love for us, then, is actually a better love than we have for ourselves. Now Jesus says, “I want you to love one another as I have loved you.” That is an impossible love, it is the love of ‘agape’, the love of choice, or of the will. And that love can not be attained by human endeavor. That is a love that requires divine enablement. There is the issue of true love, and He is the exemplar.
So, Jesus tells them, “By this all men will know you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” And so, Peter asked Him where He was going. Jesus answered, ‘“Where I am going you can not follow Me now; but you will follow later’. Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, why can not I follow You right now? I will lay down my life for you’. Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times’.” Those were very troubling words, not only for Peter, but also for all the disciples. Can’t you just imagine the scene here? Something is ominous. Something is terribly wrong and they don’t fully grasp it, but they know something is about to happen and it is not on their agenda.
So, their hearts are painful. They are troubled. He is telling them He is going to leave them, and that they can not follow Him now. So, it is not surprising, then, that the next verse would say, “Do not let your heart be troubled.” Here is one of those places where we would have preferred the chapter division to be at verse 35. As you know, the chapter divisions and the verse divisions were not inspired, they were put in many centuries later.
But, I want to connect these together, because we see their heart’s were troubled and Jesus knows this as well. So, He announces to them the good news that He is about to communicate, but they can not grasp it now, but will understand it later. This passage kind of opens and ends with these words. “Do not let your heart be troubled,” in verse one, and then look at verse 27, “Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” They are troubled for several reasons. As we said, Jesus had announced that one of them was a traitor. They still did not get the idea that it was Judas, even though he went out of the room. He warned Peter that he would deny Him three times. If brave Peter denies Him, what hope is there for the rest of them? You see the idea? Peter did have tremendous courage.
But, more than any of this was the realization that Jesus was going to leave them. That was really the thing they could not get out of their minds. As I said before, Peter wanted to know where his Lord was going, and Jesus said, “One day you will follow Me.” What He means by that is follow Him to the Cross. Look ahead with me to John 21, and we will see Jesus’ prediction of what will come to pass in Peter’s life. When Jesus speaks to Peter in John 21, verse 18, He says, ‘“Truly, truly I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go’. Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.
And when He had spoken this He said to him, ‘Follow Me’.” This is His word to Peter. If you go with me to 2nd Peter, to hear Peter’s own testimony, in chapter one, verses 12 through 15, Peter says, “Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder.” What is this ‘earthly dwelling’? Of course, it is his body. “Knowing,” he says, “that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.”
He is actually recalling what Jesus said in John 21. As I have mentioned, Peter did not see himself as worthy of being execute in the same way as his Lord. When he was going to be crucified, he requested that he be crucified upside-down. Tradition indicates that is exactly what took place. In addition, He says, “You will follow Me in My death, but you will also follow Me to My Father’s Kingdom.” In other words, he will also be in the place I am going to describe to you now.
So, I want to give you six assurances that surface in this marvelous chapter. It is one of those chapters you can read and meditate on with tremendous profit, because it is so rich. There are six assurances that He gives His disciples. The first of those is the assurance of heaven. This assurance of heaven is really reminding his disciples that heaven is a real place. It is not just a figment of His imagination.
Here is how He puts it: “Believe in God, believe also in Me.” Right there is a very radical claim, if you think about it, because He is saying as you believe in the Father, so you believe in Me; attribute the same trust as you have in the Father to Me. “In My Father’s house,” He says, “are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you, for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, you may be also.” Jesus, right now, is seated at the right hand of the Father, to use the imagery of Revelation, and heaven is an eternal kingdom, according to 2nd Peter 1:11. It is also an “inheritance,” in 1st Peter 1:4. Heaven is also a country. In fact, it is called “A better country,” in Hebrews 11:16. And it is also called “A city,” in Hebrews 11:16, a home they are looking for. It is a “Home,” here in John 14:12.
So, it is a kingdom, and inheritance, a country, a city, and a home. When we look at this understanding, then, it reminds me of something that Robert Frost said. He said, “A home is a place, that when you arrive there, they have to take you in.” You see, we are not home yet. You need to understand that you are not home yet. If you become too comfortable in this world, you fail to grasp that you are an alien. If you are in Christ, you are no longer a citizen of this world. You are a citizen of the next. “Our citizenship is in heaven,” Paul says in Philippians three, “from which, also, we eagerly await for a Savior.” A Savior who will transform this mortal body into a body of His own resurrected power.
So, you are not home yet, and instead, according to the Scriptures, you are an “Alien,” an “Exile,” a “sojourner,” a “wayfarer,” a “pilgrim,” and a “stranger.” In other words, you are not home. There are many, many, pleasant Inns in this life, but don’t mistake them for home. And so, if we understand that, we walk in anticipation and realize there should only be two days on our calendar, as I often like to tell you. The day we will see Him and today. Every today ought to be lived in light of that day.
So, instead of saying that we are so heavenly-minded that we are of no earthly good, actually, the more heavenly-minded we are, the more we relish and cherish the opportunities of this present time. You then see that every day is filled with ‘kairos’ moments. I have told the idea of a ‘kairos’ moment versus a ‘chronos’ moment. ‘Kairos’, you recall, is opportunity time and ‘chronos’ is clock time. There is a huge difference. ‘Chronos’ you put in your planner or PDA. However, you can never plan ‘kairos’. Those are opportunities that God provides and you never know what it will look like. It may be any number of things that might surface. Those become opportunity times.
So, we make the most of the ‘kairos’ opportunities because the days are short. Understanding that, then, heaven is a place of love, it is a place of tremendous joy, and, may I stress, it is a place of relationship. Ultimately, in my assessment of this world, the most joyful thing on the planet is a quality relationship, the only context in which you have an ontological basis for quality relationships. By ontological, I mean that which exists in reality. It is the doctrine of what is real. You see the idea? When I say, then, there is an absolute, ontological basis for relationships, it the unchanging Triune God, because there you have relationships in the One God, the tri-personal God. Because of that, because God is a relational being, when he created us in His image, male and female, and there is unity in diversity.
So, that unity and diversity is a reflection of God’s own character. Thus, in the body of Christ we have a tremendous diversity, but also there is a unity. In that context, then, we see the image of marriage, we see the image of friendship, we see the image of the Church, all those things are pointing beyond themselves to a context in which the two are greater than the sum of the parts. There is a synergism that takes place and it reveals divine truth.
Therefore, the most enjoyable things and, indeed, the most significant things, are quality relationships. The most painful thing is a broken relationship. That is just the nature of things. Check out any Country and Western song and you know right away it is true. You’re the Fingernail Scrapping on the Blackboard of My Heart, and all those kinds of songs like that. When the Phone Don’t Ring, You’ll Know it is Me; How can I Miss You if You Won’t Go Away; I Don’t Know Whether to Shoot Myself or Go Bowling; all kinds of wonderful songs of that sort. I have told you this before, but my favorite is I’m so Miserable Since You Left Me, It’s Almost Like Having You Here. The fact is, though, those songs capture the joy and the pain of relationships. Relationships, then, are the most wonderful and also the most painful things on the planet and it depends on what animates the relationship, whether you are walking in the Spirit or walking in the flesh.
If we understand that, then He is telling us that heaven is highly relational. It is, in fact, interpersonal. It is also an interdependent, not co-dependent, environment where we enjoy interdependent relationships and where there is a context of community, a corporate dimension. That is why the image of heaven is other-centered love. There is the idea, then, of actually enhancing forever, by knowing one another more and more through other-centered love, the intimacy that we enjoy with one another.
One of the things I see in heaven is that it is not a dynamic-static process, but rather it is an on-going process of change and transformation. I think I have told you this before, but it bears repeating, that when a loved one dies, someone you knew intimately, part of you dies with them. When my dad died, part of me died, because there was something he brought out of me that no one else could bring out. I have friends who died and there was something that only they could bring out of me. You see where I am going with that?
Now, it would be a rather a depressing thing unless we understood that actually we will be layered by new relationships. Not only in the maturation of old ones, but also, may I stress, in the new relationships of millions of people you haven’t met yet. Some of whom have been gone for thousands of years. That is an intriguing notion; that there have been people, long ago in space and time, who will become more intimate with you than anyone you have known on the planet. The greatest moment of intimacy you have known on this earth is only a shadow of what will be true of all relationships there.
So, it is really going to be better than you suppose. Understanding that, we actually have a picture, in Revelation 21 and 22, of this love and this joy that is even beyond John’s symbolic descriptions there because he often talks about what it is not. If you look at chapter 21, verses four and five, he says, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. And He who sits on the throne says, ‘Behold, I am making all things new’.” That is exactly what He said to His mother in the Passion, “Woman, I am making all things new.” Continuing, “He said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true’.”
So, it really doesn’t describe what it is, but it describes what it isn’t. Do you notice that? There will no longer be this, that, or the other. I want to tell you, if He did tell you what it would be like, you wouldn’t have the capacity to process it. We do not the imagination now, or the cognitive categories to imagine it. Remember what is says in 1st Corinthians? “No eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the imagination or consciousness, the things that God has prepared for those who love Him.” We do not have sufficient understanding to grasp what He has in store.
But, I will say, it will be more than worth your while. That will be home. So, going back to our text, He says, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places.” The word ‘mone’, from the word ‘meno’, doesn’t mean mansions, like the King James Version mentions. You get crazy ideas this way. Some people see Manor Houses and some see cottages. However, it is the same word that is translated as ‘abode’, in verse 23, “My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our ‘mone’ with him.” See the idea? It has only to do with abiding. It is not talking about various sizes of anything. Instead, each place will be beautiful. During His earthly life, what was Jesus doing? He was a carpenter. Now He is building a home for His earthly church in heaven. He is the One who builds. He is also the bridge builder.
So, He says, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, you will be also.” Recall that in first century Israel, the custom was going to be that the betrothed would go off to his father’s house and there he would prepare a ‘meno’, or dwelling place. It might be a separate place or simply a special room. That is where he would bring his bride.
So, he would go off and prepare a place and then he would come back and receive her to himself. You see the idea? Part of the fun was that he would come at a time she would never know. It would often be in the middle of the night and he would often bring his friends with him. There would be the shout of a trumpet and she would come out and it looked almost like a sanctioned elopement. I believe that is why He is using this imagery because the Church is the bride of Christ.
So, His passion is this: He is preparing a place for you and He will come again and He will receive you to Himself. What is His intention and deep longing for us? “Where I am, you may be also.” That is a pretty big deal. He is saying He wants intimacy with you. That is a very, very major thing, indeed. He goes on to say, “And you know the way where I am going.” But then Thomas says, “Lord, we do not know where You are going. How do we know the way?” Jesus’ response, this idea of heaven being a real place, and a loving place, is also a place that doesn’t just happen to anyone. This is where the doctrine of Christ being the only way, the One way, is offensive in our culture.
But, the Gospels have always been offensive in every culture. Scripture has always been, and will always be, counter-cultural. You have to decide what your authority is. You can decide, ‘I don’t like this verse’, for example, in answer to Thomas’ question, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me.” Now, I can’t get around that. And if I look at another text, as well, 1st Timothy 2:4-6, it says something quite similar. “God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Though He desires all to be saved, not all will be saved, because they must desire to know Him. Many will freely elect not to know Him. Continuing, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.”
God, then, has made the way available to all, but not all will elect to know Him. There are those who seek Him and there are those who seek to avoid Him. At the end of the day, we can try and say, ‘is there another way’, but every other religion I know is a work system of salvation. That is to say, they have the illusion that God is not as holy as He is, or we are better than we are. The only way I can figure for you to earn your way is for God to ‘dumb it down’ in His holiness or for us to have the illusion that we are utterly holy beings.
Last time I checked, my motivational structure just wasn’t that way. The point is that you have to think that God is going to grade on the curve. The context we use is comparing ourselves with other people and we figure we are better than most, so He has to let us in. That is a dangerous way of thinking. If God is as holy as Scripture reveals, then the only way to be saved, apart from Christ, is by being perfect in thought, word, and deed. He will not abide a presence that is inconsistent with His own character.
Now, that is why He offers us a way, and that is why, by the way, Jesus had to die. If there was another way in which people could have a right relationship with God, then Christ died needlessly. That is too dramatic; then Jesus’ death, Galatians 2:21, was needless. It took that radical a step for us to be able to do it. My conviction is that God holds us responsible for the light we have, not for the light we do not have, but if we respond to the light we have, He will respond to the light we need. It will always be done through Christ, and how much we have to know I will leave up to Him. The Scripture never speculates about those who have never heard. You understand that Idea? So, I am not going to go beyond that. Instead, it always focuses on our need to get the message out. I am going to trust God for the outcome. Surely, if He provided this offer, at such a great price, and He surely knows the human heart, He will make the message available to those who wish to know Him.
But, just suppose, He says everybody gets into heaven. Actually, that would not be heaven. It would be hell for those who don’t want to be with God. We sometimes suppose He’s a Universalist, and everybody gets there. If a person doesn’t want to God in this life, the presence of God in the next would be pure hell. Heaven, in a way, is an acquired taste. It is not something that we naturally pursue.
It really is the presence of a person rather that simply an enjoyable place. A place it surely is, but it is more than that. It is the presence of a person who transforms it. If God were simply just, then no one would enter into His presence. You have to understand, from His point of view, no one should come. If He were just, we all fall short of the glory of God. All have sinned and all fall short of the glory of God. God is more than fair. He is gracious. He extends better than our due, but only if we want that.
He will not cram it down our throats. There is a response that we must make. The assurance of heaven, the assurance of being with Him, after this life is over and then seeing His face, you will realize that was the joy you were looking for all your life. I want to tell that can give you joy in the midst of obstacles and battles on the way to the true home. In Hebrews 12:2 and especially Romans 8:18, where, “I consider the sufferings at this present time not worthy to be compared to the glory that is to be revealed to us.” We all will suffer. All of us have suffered in some ways. Some have suffered more than others. I do not claim to understand why that is. Some do suffer more than others.
But, live long enough, and the suffering will continue. That is just the nature of it. But, Paul tells us that the sufferings of the present time, and they are short, are not even worth comparing with what He has got in store for us. With that perspective, you can be more than a conqueror.
Now, the second assurance we have, is the assurance of knowing the Father. You can know the Father right now. We don’t have to wait to enter heaven to know Him. Jesus is the One who reveals Him. So, going on in the text, “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” Now, I like Phillip’s response, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Actually, that was not something that He did, but it is a good thing to desire to know the Father. That should be our burning desire. The word ‘know’, by the way, is used 141 times in John’s Gospel.
But, there are four levels of ‘knowing’ in this Gospel. The first level of knowing is just knowing a fact. The second level of knowing is understanding the truth behind that fact. The third level of knowing is believing in a person and that moves us into the relational dimension.
But, the fourth level of knowing is the one that John stresses and the one Paul had in mind when he said, “That I may know Him in the power of His resurrection.” It is also what Jesus had in mind in our verses 19 through 23, that we see in a moment. It is the knowledge of a deep union with another person. It is union and communion with a person. That union, then, is the real ‘I-Thou’ relationship that will truly satisfy us.
To know and see Jesus, He says, was to see the Father. “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Phillip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” Imagine the implications of that claim. “How can say, show us the Father? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words I speak to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.” He is saying here, in effect, that the better we know Jesus, the better we will know the Father.
We have not come to see Jesus in the flesh. Look at 1st Peter 1:8, “Although you have not seen Him, yet you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” The point is this; these people were privileged to see Jesus. We don’t get to see Him in this life. What is faith now will turn into sight then. A claim to be God, then, is a strong claim. But He is saying that if you know Him, you will know His Father. The assurance we have, then, is that the Creator of the universe is our own Father. That knowledge can really comfort our hearts. As many of you know I do a Powers of Ten presentation, and today I made an edit to it.
There was something about the end that didn’t quite get to me. We are looking, as you know, from the microcosm to the macrocosm, and you get to the level of seeing galaxies, and then you see clusters of galaxies, and you begin to see the large structure of the cosmos, with some 200 billion galaxies. It becomes virtually overwhelming.
Then, I make a comment about this idea that God created it, but I have now added John 1:1 at the end because I want people to understand that there is an earlier verse than Genesis 1:1. We think the Bible begins there, but there was an earlier beginning, John 1:1. In Genesis, it says, In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” In John it says, “In the beginning was the ‘logos’, the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” That word ‘logos’ means that He is a personal intelligence. He is an intelligent designer who spoke creation into being. Then I go on, as well, and look at some verses that talk about this and here is one of the verses I use and it is John 14:20, “In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”
Here is the amazing thing; the One who spoke it into being is in you. He is both transcendent and imminent. The Scriptures affirm that He is both. I have to tell you that I really can’t quite grasp that. I can’t put the two together. So often we reduce God to our own framework and we almost trivialize Him in the process. The more you are impressed by the greatness and the vastness and the intricacy of the created order, the more you are impressed by the fact that this One wants to know us and, in fact, in-dwells us. It is quite remarkable and only Scripture affirms these things. We have a unique understanding here of a relational being, and just as God is a relational being, He wants us to enter into that Trinitarian community. Regarding that community, we also have another privilege, another assurance. There is the assurance of prayer.
What He means by prayer, of course, is an ability to have a communication with the Father; where you can share your deepest concerns, your deepest longings, and your heartbreaks as well as your joys. Prayer is merely communication, but it is that we commune with God in our deepest selves, and it is an opportunity for us to really know Him. So let us look, now, at verses 12 through 15. “Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” When He says, by the way, “Greater works than these He will do,” I don’t believe He is saying that they are greater in quality, because a slave is not greater than his master, but they are greater in scope and quantity. You understand the difference? There has never been a person since Jesus who has accomplished the miracles that He accomplished. They will be greater in scope and quantity.
That is what I think He means by “greater works.” A lot of people have the mentality expressed in the plaque, “Why pray when you can worry?” The issue is that worry doesn’t do us a shred of good. Most of the things you worry about never happen, and if it is something that can happen, your worrying can’t solve the problem. It will only make it worse. And so, worrying is totally counter productive. “Do not be anxious in anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication and thanksgiving, make your prayer known to God. The peace of God, which transcends all comprehension, will guard your mind and soul in Christ Jesus.” What is that verse? Exactly. Philippians 4:6-7.
She has memorized that because it has been a very meaningful verse for her, with all she has gone through. That’s an awesome verse, because He is saying, ‘I am going to turn anxiety into peace’. If I had a machine to do this, I’d be a billionaire. Imagine having a machine that would take anxiety and transmute it into peace. Yet, that is exactly what he says. When he says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything let your prayer be known to God,” he is saying that you have a privilege. You have to pray in faith, he says, by believing in Him, but faith and works always go together, because it is faith that releases the power of God in our lives. The works must be done in His power, so the two go hand in hand.
So, we see the two connected. I am not down on works. Please understand that no one is saved by works, but we are rewarded as we grow though works. Works imply obedience and if it is a faith that is alive, it is a faith that will work.
But, don’t put the cart before the horse. Works don’t produce it, they are the product of it. When I say faith, when I say believe, I mean trust. I am not talking about just something in your head, I am talking about a person you trust. See the difference? A person you have welcomed in by an act of your will, and you ask Him to come into your life, thanking Him for forgiving you your sins, and giving you His presence. Once having trusted Him, then, now we really begin the journey, because the journey will go on forever and it will grow. It is the kind of faith, then, where we realize He is the One we must turn to, and it must be done in His name.
So, this isn’t a magic formula that means anything you want, or that is selfish or stupid, He is going to give to you, but what He is saying is “Ask in My name.” That is really a submission to His will. Any request that doesn’t glorify God’s name should not be asked for in His name. It has got to be done in His will, 1st John 5:4-15.
Now, to verse 15 in our text, “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments,” it means we have to pray in faith, we have to pray in Christ’s name, and we have to pray in loving obedience. This loving obedience is this; when you love someone, you honor his or her name. When you truly love somebody, you seek to honor that person, and love, by the way, is to see the best in a person, rather than the worst. You get to choose how you view your friends and your spouse. You can choose to focus on the negative, and we all have those warts, or you can choose to focus on the things that are meaningful and good. You see where I am going with that? You get to choose how that will be. If you choose to honor the other person, then, the loving thing to do is to treat them with real regard.
Now, the fourth assurance we can say we have is the assurance of the Holy Spirit, which John is going to develop more in chapter 16, but we have the assurance of the comforter. We will call Him the comforter, and when you think about it, this is exactly what we need to hear, when He says, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled,” He is saying He is not going to leave them as orphans. In verses 16 through 18, then, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world can not receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.” I don’t believe we can live the Christian life as God would have us live it under our own power. It is impossible.
But, it is only when the Spirit of God empowers us to manifest His life. ‘Another helper’, ‘parakletos’, is the word He uses. ‘Para’ means ‘along side of’, and ‘klatos’ means to ‘call’. When you put the two words together, you get ‘to call along side of’. You see the idea here? He comes along side you. Also, ‘comfort’ is a word often used to translate. He is the ‘comforter’. The ‘paraklet’ is also the ‘comforter’.
Now, that comes from two Latin words, ‘com’ and ‘forte’, so it means, then, ‘with strength’. True comfort, then, strengthens us to face life bravely. He says, “I will give you another comforter.” ‘I have been a paraklet, I have been your comforter in this life’. Was He not? Didn’t He go along side of them, and didn’t He provide comfort all this time? Now, He is going away, but He will send another helper. There are two Greek words for ‘another’, ‘allos’ and ‘heteros’. We have the word ‘heteros’, which means ‘another of a different kind’, but ‘allos’ is ‘another of the same kind’, and that is the word He is using here.
In verse 17, He says, “That is the Spirit of truth, whom the world can not receive because it does not see Him or know Him.” The world is not able to see Him because that is something that is Spiritually revealed, but, “You know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” He was not in them yet, because in the Old Testament economy, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was quite selective and it was also temporary. Remember how the Spirit of God departed from Saul, in 1st Samuel 16:4? Remember how David prayed, “Do not take Your Holy Spirit away from me?” That can not happen now. In other words, now that He is in you, He is there to stay. That is a radical thing that happened after Pentecost.
So, the believer’s body, according to 1st Corinthians 6:19-20, is now the temple of the Spirit of God. So, in your deepest self, that is where the Spirit is. Your spirit communing with His Spirit, in the deepest component of yourself. To me, that is a great and profound mystery, but we can enjoy that relationship.
Now, we have been changed and He does not abandon us. He will say, In John 16, that it is necessary for Him to go away, because if He didn’t go away, He couldn’t send us the other ‘comforter’. He says, “After I go to My Father, I will send the comforter, but I also will be with you, and I will come again and receive you into Myself, that where I am, you may be also.”
That makes me think of something that I didn’t mention before, and if you go back to verse three, when He says, “I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also,” I take it to be like something He said to Martha in chapter 11, verses 25 and 26, in that great ‘I-am’ statement, “I am the resurrection and the Life.” He goes on to say, “Everyone who lives in Me and believes in Me will never die.”
I think He is talking about two kinds of people. Those who die before He comes, and those who are alive when He comes. Those people who are alive when He comes never see physical death, but, as I go to 1st Corinthians 15, Paul says, “I tell you a mystery, We will not all sleep, but we all be changed.” Not everyone will die. Up until now that is a mystery because, so far, one out of one has died. You see the problem here.
But now he says, the mystery, something not yet revealed, is that if we are alive when He returns, he says, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.” In other words, in the fastest increment of time, we will be changed, and 1st Thessalonians 4:13 unpacks that, as well, when he says, “I do not want you to be uninformed about those who are asleep,” which is euphemism of death, “so you will not grieve as the rest who have no hope.” By the way, I don’t think it is right to say we don’t grieve. We do grieve.
But, we grieve as those who have hope. There is the difference. The worst funeral I ever went to was for my next door neighbor in Oxford. He was an atheist and it was an incredibly depressing funeral. It was utterly full of hopelessness and actually embarrassing to those people because death was an outrage to them and they didn’t have any way of dealing with it. Some of them wrote silly poems and it was simply awful, and painful for everybody. What I am saying is that I have to funerals where they have been celebrations of homecoming, and I have also been to funerals where they have been morbid and morose, and the difference is the issue of where they are going.
So, we grieve, sure, because we are going to miss them, but that is only a temporary separation. We will be coming back with one another, and that is a great joy and comfort to me to know that. (Q)(A): Yes. If you look with me at John 7, he will even anticipate that. He says, in verse 38, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water’.” That is like an artesian well, it has no limit. “But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive, for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” It is necessary for Him to be glorified before the Spirit can be given.
The Scripture predicts this. His glorification included His death, His crucifixion, as well as His resurrection and ascension to the Father; then, ten days after the ascension, the coming of the power on high, the gift of the Holy Spirit. Clearly, He is saying that also here in John 7, that there is that radical difference. Going back to 1st Thessalonians 4, Paul speaks about this, “If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.” What he is saying is that all those who have gone before us, Jesus is going to bring them back with Him. “For this we say to you, by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” The image of rising is for your spirit and soul to be joined to a new body.
The dead in Christ will receive a resurrected and glorified body, “Then we who are alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore,” he says, “Comfort one another with these words.” It is, indeed, a great source of comfort, and we can see that death is not the end, it is the door to the new life. It is an opening door, and so we see that this is not a finality. I don’t know about you, but as I get older, it would be more and more difficult for me to cope in life, realizing that this is all there is. I am not a person who can avoid thinking about these things. Many, many people have the ability to go for decades without ever thinking about that reality. They act as if they are going to live forever.
So, they embrace entertainment, distraction, and indifference and that characterizes their lives. For me, none of those would work. I would need heavy medication. My point is that I can’t not think about these things.
So, if I live with this understanding of hope, then, again, to use this analogy I use often, life on this earth without the hope of a resurrection is like, “A bird who flies though the window of a banquet hall, and then flies right out the other window.” You life is comparable to those few seconds, and then you’re right back in the inky darkness. You see the point? Your life, without Christ, is a little episode, a little blip, between two eternities. You’re here, and you’re gone. In fact, the whole nation is that way, a blip on the scale of history. Look at the Romans, look at the Greeks before them, look at the Persians before them, look at the Babylonians before them, look at the Assyrians before them, they all have ruled and they are all gone. They are all, literally, history. Not one is with us. All we see is the wreck of those civilizations.
Now, whole civilizations are like that, and given enough time the whole human race will be that way. Friends, the universe will not live forever. Ultimately, left to itself, the universe would not be able to sustain life in its simplest level. The point is, regardless of what your scale is, this is all temporary. Nobody will be left to hear our music and our poetry. It will be all gone. When I read The Time Machine, when he goes into the future, he then decided to set the time machine as far ahead as he can. He sets it for three million years into the future, and he arrives, and what does he see?
Not a thing that is alive except for some moss, and there is no sound except for the surf. Apart from that, everything else was gone. You do understand that 99.99 percent of the species on the planet are now extinct? Of all the species that have ever lived, 99.99 percent are gone. There is no way to replace them, because there are no new genes. People estimate that about 2,000 species a year are gone to extinction. I just bought a book containing wonderful painting of extinct animals. It is both depressing and beautiful. How wonderful and marvelous they were, but they will never come back.
But, let’s return to the text. The fifth point here is that we can enjoy the assurance of the Father’s love. This is a remarkable truth. We have the assurance of the Father’s love. I have often spoken to you about this. Many of us have never experienced love from our fathers. We experienced conditional love, or rejection, or distance, and therefore it is hard for such people to transition to the real Father. They keep projecting that horrible image upon God. That is a complete distortion of the image. The best father on the planet, by contrast, is only a feeble reflection on the Fatherhood of God, who is the best Father.
If you have had that experience, then, it is needful for us to revisit and renew our minds and realize that here is One who wishes to hold us, and embrace us, and give us the blessing of His love and presence. That is powerful stuff, because we need that love and He has wired us for that love. When I look at verse 19, and He says, “After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.” See how this balances His earlier comment, that He is “Going off to a place in which you can not go, but will come later”?
His life is the basis for our life. “In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” To be honest with you, nobody understands that verse. What does that mean? You see, it is a mutual co-inherence. The best I can do is to say ‘you in me’, that is to say, ‘me in Christ’, is my position and ‘Christ in me’ is my practice. You see the idea? But, to be honest with you, we can only scratch that surface. It is going to very profound.
Can there be a greater intimacy than for you to be in Him and Him in you? I can’t think of anything like that. It is very powerful and may I say, by the way, that is even more powerful, by far, than the greatest sexual experience of union, which is only a far, distant shadow of what God has in store for us. He goes on to say, “He who has My commandments, and keeps them, is the one who loves Me.” In other words, if you love Me, you will keep My commandments. “He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and disclose Myself to him.”
That is a very strong verse where, in effect, He says, it is important to realize that if you love Me, you will do as I ask you to do. If you know Me, you will know that what I ask you to do is in your best interests. When you do what you want to do instead of what He wants you do, it always turns out bad. At least in my experience it does. I have never regretted any time of obedience to Jesus, but I have sure regretted it every time I disobeyed Him.
So, “Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, ‘Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world’? Jesus answered and said, ‘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. 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’.”
So, it is the second time, in verse 23, like in verse 21, “If he keeps My word, My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make Our abode with him.” Do you see what He is saying? Who is the ‘We’? It is Jesus and the Father. You understand what that means? In addition to what He has just said about the Holy Spirit, who is going to in-dwell us, He is saying that the Father in-dwells us, as well as the Son. You are in dwelled by the Triune God. That is a deep and profound mystery. It can not be made up. Who would have dreamed it? It goes beyond what anyone can imagine. Let me now close with the sixth assurance. In verses 25 to 31, you also have the assurance of God’s peace in this world.
We well need that peace, do we not? Let’s look closely, now, at verses 25 through 31. “These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you,” which is a promise about the inscripturation. “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” I read recently a wonderful definition of sin. It is a ‘culpable disturbance of shalom’. Again, sin is a ‘culpable disturbance of shalom’. I define shalom as ‘wholeness, completeness, health, and security’. When sin is described in that way, it means this: that it is an alienating dimension that takes what should have been whole and divides it because of selfishness.
So, sin is really proof of alienation. Shalom is the opposite of alienation. It is wholeness and union. You see the idea? Relationships, then, need to thrive on other-centeredness. Frankly, the world bases its peace on its resources. God’s peace depends upon relationships. Catch the difference? We think we can be peaceful if we have a lot of resources. God says you will never be peaceful until you have relationships. See the difference? The world depends upon your personal ability. The follower of Jesus, however, depends upon the spiritual adequacy in Christ.
Now you are confident. He has given you the confidence you need through, and in, Him. To accomplish something that will be pleasing to Him will last forever. Unbelievers enjoy peace only when there is an absence of trouble. Followers of Jesus, however, enjoy peace in spite of trials, because of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. One is merely the absence of trouble, the other id the presence of a person. That is an important distinction. People of the world walk by sight and depend on the externals; believers walk by faith and depend on the internals and the eternals. There is a big difference between them.
So, the Spirit uses the word of God to give us His peace, His love, and His joy. Notice what Jesus is talking about in all these chapters. He is talking about love, joy, and peace. What is going to happen to Him in a matter of a few hours? Does He know this, that He is going to be betrayed and killed? Very clearly He does, for “this is the very purpose for which I came.” What more can He give them than minister on love, on joy, and on peace? He understands there is a purpose for His being here and it will overwhelm the stronghold of sin, and of ugliness, and of death and of alienation.
Finally, “You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I come to you’. If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe. I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here.” They go out of the Upper Room. What were the two enemies He just described? He described the devil and the world. Jesus overcame both. Satan can get no foothold in your life unless you permit it. The way he gets footholds is when you believe his lies. He never speaks the truth.
So, if you believe his lies you are in danger, but if you choose to believe the truth, which is found in Scripture, then you will have a source of power. I believe that Christ alone can yield true peace in this world.