Nobody Said Life Would Be Easy

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Sermon Notes and Audio

Scripture Passage- John 16

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Open Doors: Serving Persecuted Christians Worldwide defines Christian persecution as any hostility experienced from the world as a result of one’s identification as a Christian.  From verbal harassment to hostile feelings, attitudes and actions, Christians in areas with severe religious restrictions pay a heavy price for their faith.   Beatings, physical torture, confinement, isolation, rape, severe punishment, imprisonment, slavery, discrimination in education and employment, and even death are just a few examples of the persecution they experience on a daily basis.

According to The Pew Research Center, over 75% of the world’s population lives in areas with severe religious restrictions (and many of these people are Christians).  Also, according to the United States Department of State, Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbors simply because of their belief in Jesus Christ.

322 Christians are killed for their faith each month.

214 Churches and Christian Properties are destroyed each month.

772 Forms of Violence are Committed against Christians each month.

Nobody said life would be easy! Jesus warned of difficulties to come for His followers. In the midst of the difficulties, He gave hope through some promises. Jesus said I told you these things to keep you from stumbling. He warned of a time when His disciples would be banned from the synagogues. A time would come when anyone who killed them would think they were offering a service to God! In preparing to go away, Jesus tells them again about the Counselor, the Holy Spirit of God. Jesus said it would be better that He go away so He could send the Holy Spirit. Though life would be difficult and the challenges great, followers of Jesus would have the Holy Spirit.

The ministry of the Holy Spirit has a two-part approach:

The first part of the focus of the Holy Spirit is on the world to convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment.

Sin does not refer here to sin in general, but the ultimate sin of rejecting Jesus.

Righteousness reveals the sinless holiness of the Son of God, the only way of salvation.

Judgment is certain on the ruler of this world, Satan, who has already been judged and cast down from Heaven along with the angels who rebelled with him. His final sentence will be carried out in the future when he is cast into hell.

Each person who is impacted by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit will either Repent or Reject the truth about Jesus.

The second part of the focus of the Holy Spirit is on followers of Jesus, as our Counselor/Helper. We are not left to our own strength and our own power; we have the presence and power of God in our lives.  

Let’s focus on three promises from Jesus, because of His sacrifice, and because of the Spirit of God whom He has sent to us.

Jesus promises truth.

V13 When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth.

 Truth is what corresponds to reality. Everyone has a worldview. A worldview is the framework of how you view reality and make sense of life. Where did we come from? What went wrong? How can things be made right? Being guided by truth in your worldview is important.

According to the Barna Research Group- Only 4% of Americans have a consistent Biblical Worldview. Two thirds of American adults either believe moral truth is relative to circumstances, or have not given it much thought. David Kinnaman- “Good Faith: Being A Christian When Society Thinks You’re Irrelevant and Extreme”- More and more Americans are pledging allegiance to the morality of self-fulfillment. The highest good, according to our society, is finding yourself and then living by what’s right for you. There is a tremendous amount of individualism in today’s society, and that’s reflected in the Church, too.

Someone said truth is stranger than fiction but it may be the other way around these days. When we watch the news, it is very difficult to discern what is true because when you watch or read one thing, you can quickly find something else with an alternative set of facts. The result is a lot of confusion. We need to be anchored in our lives spiritually to truth.

God is truth. The Scriptures were breathed out by God. So the Scriptures are true. Everything the Holy Spirit reveals is consistent with the Word of God. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to give us understanding and illumination of the Bible.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. John 14:17 He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you.

 John 15:26 When the Counselor comes, the One I will send to you from the Father- the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father- He will testify about Me.

 The Holy Spirit guides into all the truth, and leads the way in truth. All truth referred to here is all spiritual truth.

1 Corinthians 2:10-12 Now God has revealed these things to us by the Spirit, for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man that is in him? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God.

 The Spirit will reveal what is to come. This primarily points to Jesus, His ministry, death, resurrection and exaltation.

Jesus promises rejoicing.

Jesus told the disciples they would weep and wail and the world would rejoice. The disciples would be sorrowful but then sorrow would turn to joy. Jesus uses the illustration of a woman in labor pains because time has come to deliver the baby. The suffering is only temporary, because when she has had the baby she doesn’t remember the pain because of the joy of a new life, a person being born into the world.

 V22 So you also have sorrow now. But I will see you again. Your hearts will rejoice and no one will rob you of your joy.

Sorrow can come from disappointments when things don’t go as we anticipated. Sorrow can come because of evil people around us in this sin fallen creation.

Rejoicing comes because we recognize our sufferings are temporary- Job said in the midst of suffering- Job 7:6 My days pass more swiftly than a weaver’s shuttle; they come to an end without hope. God tells us suffering is for our spiritual good and our sorrow is just for a time. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

 Rejoicing comes through prayer-  V24. . .Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete. A direct relationship with the Father is ours. The Father loves us because we love Jesus and believe in Him. Some of the same themes of John 15 are repeated- love, obedience, asking, receiving, joy, and bearing fruit.

Rejoicing comes through faith- Jesus said He had spoken to the disciples in figures of speech, but a time was coming when He would speak plainly to them. The disciples were excited about this and said in v30 Now we know that You know everything and don’t need anyone to question You. By this we believe that You came from God. They all would abandon Jesus temporarily, but would continue to follow Him in faith at the cost of their own lives.

Rejoicing comes through hope- Romans 5:2-5 We have also obtained access through Him by faith, into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance proves character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Rejoicing comes in God- “The enjoyment of [God] is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied…. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends are but shadows, but enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams, but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean.” Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)

Jesus promises peace.

There was a heaviness felt by Jesus and the disciples at this point. Jesus is facing crucifixion, the burden of sin, and the wrath of God. The disciples are uncertain about the future. Jesus offered words of peace to reassure them. We could easily find ourselves in the moment- we have all faced situations out of our control. Jesus reassures us as well. V32 Look: An hour is coming, and has come, when each of you will be scattered to his own home, and you will leave Me alone. Yet I Am not alone, because the Father is with Me.

Jesus would be arrested by the Roman guards very soon. He knew the disciples would scatter into the darkness with their world turned completely upside down. Jesus was determined to do the will of the Father. A sense of purpose in our lives is powerful in pressing on in difficulties. The Father would never abandon Jesus, and He will never abandon us. V33 I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world.  After the crucifixion, resurrection, and the coming of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, the disciples would be transformed from fear to faith.

V33 I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. Jesus the Prince of Peace is the only One who can give us peace in a world of chaos.

Peace is elusive broadly and individually. I read an article that was published this past week, “Is World Peace Possible?” by Rita Jimeno. “The world is becoming a more dangerous place. The 2016 Global Peace Index showed there are are only 10 countries in the world which are not engaged in conflict either internally or externally.

Jesus gives a quiet confidence because our all-powerful, all-loving God is in control of the world, and of our lives.

Jesus gives us peace with God through the forgiveness of sin. Colossians 1:19-20 For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself by making peace through the blood of the cross- whether things on earth or things in heaven.

Jesus gives us the peace of God. Philippians 4:6-7 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Jesus gives us peace with one another. Matthew 5:9 The peacemakers are blessed, for they will be called sons of God.

When you walk with God He will teach, guide, and comfort you and you will know His peace in your life. As you grow in your walk with God, the fruit of the Spirit which includes peace and joy, gives you the strength you need to withstand trials, and to develop in your relationship with God.

Be courageous! Jesus has conquered the world.