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Christ’s Continued Work & Presence in His People

April 7, 2024 Preacher: Jeff Griffis Series: Acts of the Holy Spirit Through the Apostles

Scripture: John 14:12–20

Christ’s Continued Work & Presence in His People – John 14:12–20


Review: On the night of the last supper, Jesus prepared his disciples for his impending death and resurrection, and for his ascension to the Father. Recorded in John 13-17, the Apostle John brings us into an intimate conversation Jesus has with his closest disciples (and a prayer for his people) to care for them and teach them how they will continue his mission after his departure. (And it is clear in the context that most of what is said applies to all future followers of Jesus, which would be us, if we belong to him by God’s grace through faith.)

The first Sunday of last month we looked at John 14:1-11, and explained that what ties the chapter together is Christ comforting his followers. So in the first section we saw that…

We are comforted about our eternal destiny and our present lives when we know God through faith in Jesus. (vv. 1-11)

(As we continue in this chapter, Jesus gives them further comfort and courage to continue after his death, resurrection, and ascension.) To those who know him by faith…

There is comfort and encouragement for the Christian to continue because Jesus promises God’s own working and presence in His people by His Spirit.

Do you ever feel like you need comfort and courage to continue?

By comfort we do not mean a state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint; rather, by comfort we mean the other sense of the word, which is the easing or alleviation of a person's feelings of grief or distress. (an internal peace and rest that alleviates our distress) Jesus offers us true comfort in knowing God through him.

And by encouragement we mean the action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope; persuasion to do or to continue something.

Because Jesus lives, and continues his work by the presence of God the Holy Spirit, there is ongoing comfort and courage in the Christian life.

[As we look at each section: What does Jesus mean, and why is that comforting/reassuring and encouraging for the Christian?] (vv. 12-14, 15-17, 18-20)

John 14:12–14 ESV

12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

Jesus reassures his followers that a life of faith in Him will mean his work continues through us. (vv. 12-14)

Those who commune with Christ through faith will, after his departure, be the means by which he continues working. (will also do the works that I do)

-Greater works/deeds cannot refer primarily to greater quality or quantity of sign miracles. (We’re studying in Acts in our other series.) Although the Apostles (such as Peter and Paul) performed sign miracles by the Spirit similar to the likes of Jesus (healing miracles, even restoring Tabitha’s life, and the life of Eutychus), but the quantity and quality of Jesus’ miracles was still unmatched: turning water into wine, raising Lazarus from the dead, feeding thousands of people with handful of loaves and fish.

(What makes more sense then, and fits the context of what Jesus is saying) These greater works/deeds (because of Christ going to the Father) emphasize the greater spiritual impact that Christ’s own completed work on a cross and his resurrection will have by the work of the Spirit through his people.

  1. A. Carson explains, “The contrast in v. 12 is not finally between Jesus’ works and his disciples’ works but between the works of Jesus that he himself performed during the days of his flesh, and the works that he performs through his disciples after his death and exaltation.” […] “At that point redemption is won, the kingdom of God is triumphantly invading the nations with saving and transforming power, the locus of the covenant community stretches outward from its Jewish confines to embrace the world, and the disciples themselves are empowered and equipped to engage in far-reaching ministry. The latter turns on the gift of the Holy Spirit, which gift is about to be introduced into the discussion (vv. 15ff.).” -D. A. Carson, The Gospel according to John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans, 1991), 497.

So too, what is the connection between the believer’s prayer and Christ’s provision?

He will do it; we must depend on him. (that’s the point of asking, of dependence) Prayer is a demonstration of faith (of confidence in God and not in self); it is active dependence on Christ and communion with Him.

Praying in Jesus’ name is not a magical incantation, any more than faith is a means to get God to do what we want. The idea of praying in Jesus’ name is to be in full accord with all that his name stands for—recognition that he is the only means by which we approach, that we depend wholly on him, and that we pray according to his will for what he knows is best. 1 Jn. 5:14 “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”

The one who prays in faith resting solely on Jesus, according to God’s character and will, can be assured of God’s provision and blessing according to his own goodness and perfect will.

[Jesus reassures his followers that a life of faith in Him will mean his work continues through us.] Has Jesus kept his promise?

Is it not a great encouragement to know that, between Christ’s first and second comings, God is accomplishing greater works of kingdom expansion through his people?

Is it not a great comfort to know that God answers prayers of faith in Jesus’ name (which means according to his own pure goodness, unlimited power, and perfect will)? 

[Now] How is it that Jesus will continue his work through us? By the Holy Spirit he has given us. (This theme that begins at verse 15 runs all the way through v. 31 of chapter 14 (the departure of Jesus and the coming of the Spirit, but we’ll break for today at v. 20.) [repeat question]

John 14:15–17 ESV

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

Jesus will continue his work by our obedient love, through the power of His Spirit who dwells in his people.

While our love for Jesus shows itself in obedience to his commands, his provision for us comes through God’s presence with us and in us by the Holy Spirit. (vv. 15-17)

[In very simple terms, define faith and define love] Faith: An active trust/confidence in the trustworthiness of God. Love: Loyal affection for the highest good of another displayed in sacrificial service.

(Those who) BELIEVE —> LOVE —> OBEY (obedience is evidence of love, of trust - v. 31) Those who love Jesus by faith make a practice of obeying him. (If we say we belong to him, we must be making progress in a lifestyle of obedience to the character and mission of Jesus.)

What’s the connection between loving Jesus and his provision for us? It is such people who have received the promised Spirit.

It’s important here not to become confused about conditions or sequence. It is the case that Jesus is saying that those who truly love him will obey him. That much is clear. But the coming of the Spirit is not conditioned upon that loving obedience and doesn’t chronologically/sequentially follow that obedience.

In fact, what Jesus is saying (even from the previous verses) is that the continued work he will do in and through his people is because he will send his Spirit to be with them and in them. The same is true of our loving obedience. Scripture supports this multiple places:

1 John 4:10 ESV

10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

1 John 4:19 ESV

19 We love because he first loved us.

Romans 5:5 ESV

5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

[repeat subtitle - While our love for Jesus shows itself in obedience to his commands, his provision for us comes through God’s presence with us and in us by the Holy Spirit.] So in the text, to comfort and encourage, Jesus calls the Spirit of God…

Another Helper (Paraclete - Advocate, Helper, Intercessor) - (paraklētos) The noun refers to one who helps, advocates, or comforts someone on behalf of another. The concept combines the legal and relational: advocate and helper. -G. D. Taylor, “Testimony,” ed. Douglas Mangum et al., Lexham Theological Wordbook, Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).

So to call him a Helper is not to minimize his deity or the importance of this role.

Psalm 121:1 ESV

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?

Psalm 46:1 ESV

1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

And to call him the Spirit of truth is to associate the Holy Spirit as the manifest presence of God’s truth and to contrast that with the falsehood of the world, which is worldly precisely because it is ensnared by the falsehood of Satan.

The work of the Spirit is interwoven into all of chapters 14, 15, and 16. Here are a couple of examples of the importance of the Spirit’s work in the Apostles and in us:

John 15:26–27 ESV

26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

John 16:13–14 ESV

13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

The Spirit of truth…

-whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him ***

-you know him, for he dwells with and will be in you (Now this is not to say that the Spirit was never active on behalf of God’s people before this, but it is to say that in the New Covenant he will indwell those who have faith in Christ in a new and permanent way.)

Has Jesus kept his promise?

Why is it reassuring to have the Divine Paraclete with you and in you? Why is it comforting and encouraging? 

And now Jesus comforts and encourages his disciples that his resurrection from the dead will be confirmation for them that he will keep all these other promises as well.

John 14:18–20 ESV

18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

The resurrection comforts and encourages us that Jesus has kept and will keep his promises. (vv. 18-20)

Not leave you as orphans - When we hear of war and death, or when we experience for ourselves (or those close to us) the premature death of parents, we can picture the sadness and plight of children left without the love and care and protection of their parents.

But Jesus is reassuring his disciples that his death will not mean that. In fact, his death and resurrection will be the very thing that ensures their permanent adoption as sons and daughters of God.

So, the timeframe of this coming to them again seems most immediately to refer to the resurrection - The world will not seem me, but you will see me. (Jesus appeared to his followers as proof of the resurrection, but not to the world.)

Because I live, you also will live. = Because of my resurrection, you will have spiritual life, which is eternal. In that day you will know… (Again, most clearly points to the resurrection.)

Of course, revealing himself to them after the resurrection has implications for his promise of the Spirit coming, and implications for his continuing his work and keeping all his promises, including his return to take us home to be with him in eternity.

In that day you will know I am in the Father and you in me and I in you. Jesus’ resurrection inaugurates the dawning kingdom, in which there is a new intimacy of relationship to God made available by faith in Jesus. This is speaking of the security of that familial bond made certain and complete through Christ’s death and resurrection, purchasing our adoption.

Has Jesus kept his promise? Are you not comforted and encouraged when you remember that Jesus kept his promise and rose from the grave? Because he lives you also can live. 

Conclusion: By faith we (God’s family) have comfort for today and courage for tomorrow because Jesus has kept and will keep all his promises.

He will continue his work in us and through us by the presence and power of God the Holy Spirit. Christ has kept and will keep all his promises.

Because God is God, there is no fickleness in keeping his promises.

Because God is God, there is no faltering or frailty in keeping his promises.

What God says, he will do.

If we rely on Jesus by faith, we will have confident assurance that he has given us his resurrection life. And we will love him by our obedience, because he will be present in us by his Spirit, doing his work to grow us and to expand his kingdom.

And we have one another, a family of faith, to help us keep our hearts and minds focused on the comfort and courage that is ours in Christ Jesus.





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