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Confident Assurance of Christ in Us

May 5, 2024 Preacher: Jeff Griffis Series: Communion in Christ's Love

Scripture: John 14:21–31

Confident Assurance of Christ in Us – John 14:21–31

PRAY & INTRO: What do you know that you know that you know? What are you really sure about? What do you need to be sure about in this life?

In the context of John 13-17, Christ is preparing his disciples for his coming death, resurrection, and departure. John 14 in particular, Jesus comforts about continuing in his absence, by telling them that he is going to prepare a place for them, and that they can be sure they know the way to the Father because knowing him means knowing the Father. He comforts them that he will continue his work through them and be present with them by his Spirit, and that his resurrection should then give them confidence of what he has promised.

So we can review that last point, that his resurrection will give them assurance that he has and is accomplishing all that he promised, to set up our closer inspection of vv. 21ff.

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.

 

What gives us confident assurance that we are in Christ and He in us? (v. 20)

(How do we know, how can we be sure that we have Christ’s resurrection life, that we belong to God through him, that he is at work in us? How do we know that the Spirit is present in us and working?) That’s what Jesus continues to answer for them in the verses that follow. How do we know that we are in Christ and He in us? Accordingly, how will we have confident assurance to continue as he has commanded?  

Jesus first returns to a concept regarding love and obedience that is meant to give them comfort and assurance about being in him and he in them.

John 14:21–24 ESV

21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

We have confident assurance because our obedience to Christ is  evidence  of a loving relationship with God. (vv. 21-24)

Our love for Jesus is evidenced by our obedience to his word, his command—just as his love within the Godhead was shown by his obedience to the Father’s plan: v. 31a.

Why is obedience the evidence and not just a verbal profession, or even the public demonstration of water baptism? - Because obedience is the best test of the truth of our love, our profession of faith. What do you do when the thing you do not want to do is actually the right thing to do (and therefore the thing you need to do)? That’s obedience - to obey the command of God is to love him and trust him, so that you do what he commands is right even when your desire is something else, when your intuition and even intellect is inclined to think you know better.

Now because of the way this is phrased as Jesus continues, we might become confused about what is conditional if we don’t understand these statements in this context (of comfort and reassurance) and in the context of God’s completed revelation in his word.

The condition here is our own confident assurance that we know and love God because obedience is the evidence of his work in us. Obedient love will be our confident assurance of that Christ is in the Father, and we in him, and he in us (v. 20). Obedient love will be our confident assurance that Christ has given us his resurrection life (v. 19). Obedient love will be our confident assurance that he has given us the Holy Spirit to be with us and in us (v. 17).

To press this further, Jesus cannot be saying that his love toward us, God loving us, is conditioned upon our level of obedience. The condition is NOT… If you are obedient enough, God will love you. (Even fallible human parents, even pagan parents, who do not believe in God, wouldn’t believe it is a right understanding for familial love to be conditioned upon performance. If you obey me, I will love you.)

Even more to the point: the biblical truth is, you love Jesus because God first loved you through Jesus.

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.

But because God’s love has been made known in us, we DO love Jesus. (“God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” Rom 5:5) And we do grow in sacrificially serving Jesus for his highest glory (which is love).

So Jesus tells his disciples that our loving obedience to him is our confident assurance that God has revealed Jesus to us (21), and that we are in familial relationship to him—he has made his home with us (23).

When revealing, making himself known, is brought up again (in this v. 21), Judas, another one of the 12 (not Iscariot), asks how it is possible that Christ is revealing himself to them and not to the world. By this he almost certainly is presuming that the inbreaking of the Messiah’s kingdom will be a public event for all to see, so how will they know him but the world will not. (This is an emphasis in Scriptural prophecy—the future culmination of the Messiah’s kingdom—but to jump straight to that is to neglect the suffering aspect of Messianic prophecy.)

Jesus answers the question by emphasizing again the relational/spiritual nature of the kingdom he is inaugurating at this time (that it is about a change in relationship to God), that those who love Christ and obey him are manifestly the ones whom the Father loves and with whom “we” (the Father, Son, and Spirit—17,26) make our home.

By contrast, whoever does not truly love Jesus doesn’t keep his words (religious duty and effort won’t be enough to maintain obedience in spirit and in truth). … As exemplified this very night by Judas Iscariot. Judas was demonstrating by his betrayal that he did not really believe and love Jesus. And such is not merely a betrayal of Jesus alone, not just a disobedience of Jesus only, but a disobedience and betrayal of God, who has spoken through Jesus (24b).

But if we are relating rightly to Jesus, we know God’s love for us, and we love him, and it shows in our obedience. And that obedience based on relational love for Jesus reassures us that God has spoken through Jesus, and that we are in him, and he in us.

Now there is a slight shift, Jesus beginning to move toward a conclusion for this part of the lesson. But what other things does Jesus say to give them comfort and assurance that they will not need to despair when he departs from them physically?

John 14:25–31 ESV

25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 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 have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

First…

We have confident assurance because the Spirit continues to  teach  us from God’s own word. (vv. 25-26)

(from what the Apostles recorded of Christ’s teaching)

Again, Jesus is departing. They are his disciples, his students, and they are learning to be like him and to teach what he taught. We too are continually being taught by the Spirit, who is present in us, if we are looking to the source of the second half of what Jesus says to them here.

As the Apostles who were foundational to Christ’s Church, the Holy Spirit would make them remember specifically what Jesus taught them. -So we can have confidence that we have in the New Testament exactly what God wanted the Apostles to include from the teaching of Jesus.

So while Jesus is not bodily present to teach his disciples, he continues to do so by the Spirit he has given us, from his words, which is God’s own word (v. 24b).

We have confident assurance because we know a  peace  in Christ that the world cannot provide. (v. 27)

What is peace? In this case, we are not talking about peace that is the opposite of being at war (such as Rom 5:1). Rather this peace here, and in several other NT references about present peace as a blessing to believers, means the opposite of internal agitation and turmoil. A state of tranquility or wholeness; Hb shalom. This internal peace is a result of that positional peace with God, and it is active and ongoing as we trust in God and abide in Jesus (Jn 15).

This peace is something supplied by Christ that we must apply. I leave you my peace; I give you my peace. So don’t let your hearts be agitated; don’t let them be afraid. How? (Know your God and meditate on his truth, and pray to the God who cares—Php 4:6-7, 1 Pet 5:7.)

And this is a peace they will share communally, in unity as his people. (Col 3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.) Thus the Hb shalom, which was a word of farewell, becomes to his followers, after the resurrection, a greeting to one another in Christ.

[slight wording change in the next]

In love, we do  rejoice  that Christ ascended to the Father and receives the glory that is due his deity. (v. 28)

Jesus is intimating that in their emotional sadness and disappointment, they are responding in their perception of their own gain or loss, instead of in love considering the highest good of the other, which in this case is himself. 

“If Jesus’ disciples truly loved him, they would be glad that he is returning to his Father, for he is returning to the sphere where he belongs, to the glory he had with the Father before the world began (17:5), to the place where the Father is undiminished in glory, unquestionably greater than the Son in his incarnate state.” -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), 508.

Such is one possible and proper way to understand “the Father is greater than I am.” A note in the ESV Study Bible offers another explanation: “Jesus means that the Father as the one who sends and commands is “greater” (in authority or leadership) than the Son. However, this does not mean that Jesus is inferior in his being and essence to the Father, as Jn 1:1, 10:30, 20:28 clearly show.” -Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2054.

We have confident assurance that Christ’s promises are true because he  foretold  events that took place. (v. 29)

… that you may believe - Interestingly, Jesus has said the same thing to them when referring to the treason of Judas Iscariot (Jn 13:19).

 

We have confident assurance because Christ’s obedient love through suffering was not defeat but  victory . (vv. 30-31)

The ruler of this world is coming, but he has no claim on me… So I will suffer and die, which is not a victory for Satan, but in fact assures his defeat. God is not defeated in Christ’s suffering and death, but is instead accomplishing his plan, and the resurrection is both part of this victory and proof of this victory.

But why does Jesus obediently go through with the suffering and death? Love within the Godhead. - So that the world may know, or learn. “The world must learn […] that Jesus is vindicated in his death, and that the cross, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus Christ ultimately turn on the commitment of the Son to love and obey his heavenly Father at all costs.” -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), 509.

That’s what we’ve been invited into, and that’s what we’re emulating—Christ’s obedient love. 

“Rise, let us go from here” is most likely a transition where they depart from the upper room and begin making their way through the city to the Kidron Valley, where they cross a brook to reach the garden of Gethsemane (Jn 18:1).

Conclusion: 

Has God left us to live in uncertainty of our relationship to him? No, through Christ Jesus we have confident assurance of present and permanent familial relationship with him.

Is this assurance relevant to your present life?

And what gives us confident assurance of Christ in us? We believe Jesus, we know him, we love him… so we are obeying him. And the Spirit of God at work in us continues to transform us and cause us to bear his fruit in us.

PRAY