LORD’S DAY MORNING SERVICE, 23 February 2020
Sermon Text: John 14:12-31
I. The economy of the Triune God
II. The indwelling of the Triune God
III. The power of the Triune God
Let me begin with a reminder to you of the immediate context of this fourteenth chapter of John. It is the second of Jesus’ five-chapter-long farewell message for His disciples. Soon, really soon – in fact, in just a few hours’ time – Jesus is going to be arrested and taken to the high priest’s court for a trial. Soon after that, He is going to be given away by Pontius Pilate to the hands of the Jewish authority to be nailed on the cross at Calvary. So, before all that, in this extremely precious hour, the Lord Jesus speaks these words to His beloved disciples and prepares them for a new phase in their following their Lord and Master. They’re going to be left in the world without their Master; like orphans, they’ll soon be all alone by themselves. None of them is aware of this. All of Jesus’ disciples in this upper room seem to be happy at this moment, listening to Jesus, enjoying His presence in their midst.
I want you to imagine and picture in your mind that room where Jesus and His eleven disciples were. Jesus has completed washing His disciples’ feet; Judas Iscariot, the ‘treasurer,’ went out to prepare for next day (it seems like it to the eyes of the disciples who has no idea at all about Judas’ intent to betray Jesus). Although the Lord briefly talked about His leaving, that doesn’t really matter to the minds of the disciples because Jesus begins telling them to not be troubled in their hearts but believe in Him and the Father (in Jn. 14:1), then, telling them that believers – just like them – would do ‘greater works’ in the coming days (in vs. 12-14). Hearing this, I believe many of them would’ve recalled their remarkable memory of going out into towns and villages some time ago for preaching the gospel during which they experienced amazing things even including demons submitting to them in Jesus’ name. In this way, all disciples in that room are rather relaxed and filled with a hope of sitting around the king’s table in their Master’s coming ‘kingdom.’ On the contrary, Jesus makes the most of every second He has with His beloved ones. And He tells them about the Helper He is going to send to each of them. He is telling them about the Holy Spirit who is the Helper and Comforter.
And I want you to picture yourselves sitting in that room with the eleven disciples and listen extremely carefully to the Lord’s words about the Holy Spirit because this Holy Spirit Jesus promises to send has already come to each of you alongside those eleven disciples, because the Holy Spirit is with each of you individually and in our midst. Then, I want you to know (1) how the Holy Spirit has come to you and to all believers, and (2) what His presence with us means and (3) what He does in and with us.
I. THE ECONOMY OF THE TRIUNE GOD
The first point to consider is ‘how the Holy Spirit comes to us, Christians.’ No one can have the Holy Spirit by wishing, no matter how fervent or sincere his wish might be. No one can buy the Holy Spirit – after all, no one knows where to find the Holy Spirit. Yet, there is a way, that is, the way Jesus talks about in v. 16 of our text passage. Jesus says, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper [i.e., the Holy Spirit].” The only way to receive the Holy Spirit is by the request of Jesus the Son and by the will of His Father. This is how the Holy Spirit comes to individual Christians like you and me.
This depicts how the Three Persons in the Godhead work together in redeeming sinful men which is often described as ‘the economy of the Triune God.’ To give you a clearer picture of God’s perfect and harmonious work of redemption, let me specify each Person’s role in this work. Firstly, God the Father – He planned the beginning and the end of all things in the world. This includes literally ‘all’ things, both visible and invisible. Everything came into existence according to this plan the Father had set and is running according to the Father’s plan. Nothing is outside of this plan – it’s a totally and perfectly inclusive plan.
Secondly, God the Son, having agreed with the Father, accomplished the Father’s plan. How did He accomplish the Father’s plan? By coming to the world in flesh, in human form, and by living a sinless life and fulfilling God’s law on our behalf, and giving His life on the cross to save all the elect of the Father. Then, by rising from the dead and ascending into heaven to be our only Mediator. Jesus the Son accomplished the Father’s plan in this way. In other words, Jesus enabled the Father’s eternal blessing to be poured out and given to the chosen, thus, the whole creation may also be redeemed in Him.
And thirdly, God the Holy Spirit has been carrying out the plan of the Father in the flow of history and sealing individuals according to the Father’s plan. The Holy Spirit was at work in the OT era and is still active in the NT times although the scope of the Holy Spirit’s work in these two eras is slightly different. Our first reading from Joel 2 gives a snapshot of that difference, describing an outpouring of the Holy Spirit onto all believers in this age.
In this economy or system of God’s redemption work, the Holy Spirit is sent to each believer at the request of Jesus the Son. Hearing Him, the Father sends the Spirit to Christians in the name of the Son. This is the only way of the coming of the Holy Spirit onto the children of God.
In addition to this exciting fact, there’s another truly exciting and extremely majestic blessing. That is, by hearing Jesus’ words and knowing what takes place among the Three Persons of the Godhead, we’re invited to the most and eternally mysterious place in heaven, in other word, the court of the Triune God, the realm where perfect harmony of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit dwells and, out of this harmony, the plan of God is upheld and carried out in the lives of God’s elect. Do you see what I mean? By telling us how the Holy Spirit is sent to each believer, Jesus invites us to that glorious court in heaven! And He shows us how blessed we are as the recipients of the Holy Spirit! The fullness of the Triune God comes with the Holy Spirit. What an exciting blessing this is!
II. THE INDWELLING OF THE TRIUNE GOD
This is why Jesus says in v. 23 this: “We [the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit] will come to him [i.e., a believer] and make Our home with him [the believer].” Together with the Holy Spirit, the Father and the Son come along and indwell a believer. This is our next point to consider, that is, ‘The indwelling of the Triune God.’
I believe that not many Christians are aware of this inner presence of the Triune God. Generally speaking, many Christians think that the Holy Spirit is given to them, but this Spirit of God isn’t always active unless He is specifically asked to be so by prayer. Or, the Spirit might not always but occasionally take initiative to lead and guide Christians. Moreover, many Christians perceive that Jesus the Son is on His throne in heaven, next to the Father, and whenever Christians call on Him in prayer, then, He would listen to their words of petition. If this is not the perception many Christians uphold, then, at least it is how they behave as if this is their understanding of whereabouts of the Triune God and how they work in the life of a Christian.
But the Scripture teaches us that that is not the case. Instead, as Jesus says in v. 23, all Three Persons of the Godhead have come to all believers who have confessed and submitted their life to Christ, and the Triune God indwells them, having built Their eternal home in each of them. This home the Triune God has built in each of us can never be removed or even worn out. Instead, this home expands in us to take the very last space that is left in us; it is also decorated with more gifts from God and their fruit. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit have moved in as the permanent resident.
This is the basis of what 1 Cor. 6:19-20 points out in these words, “do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? … So glorify God in your body.” Truth is that Jesus pointed out His own body as ‘the temple’ in Jn. 2:21 when He said to the Jews to destroy the temple and He’d raise it up in three days.
If you understand this, then, you can see why Jesus repeatedly emphasises that He is in the Father and the Father is in Him. He says this in Jn. 10:38; 14:10, 11, 12, 20 and 17:21, just to give you a few references only from John’s Gospel. Also, this naturally leads you to remember why Jesus the Lord has said so many times in the four-fold gospels and in other books of the Bible that we ought to be or rest or dwell or remain in Him! When a sinner repents from his sins and confesses his faith in the Son Jesus who is the Saviour and Lord, then immediately the Holy Spirit is sent to him at the Son’s request made to the Father. As the Holy Spirit comes into this Christian, follower and disciple of Jesus, the Father and the Son come in together!
In this manner, the Triune God come in, make us Their home – dwelling place – for eternity, and the Triune God is always with Christians and go wherever Christians go and do whatever Christians do. So, you and I should not fear for anything, nor our hearts be troubled by anything. Although our physical eyes cannot see Jesus the Son, no problem at all; our spiritual eyes are getting brighter every moment and Jesus’ face and His voice and His presence with us are getting clearer daily. Although we cannot feel or sense God the Father, no trouble at all; although our ears don’t hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, that’s no problem at all. Just calm your heart down and listen to God speaking to us through His word, and know that He – the holy Trinity – is with you now and always, planning to give you all blessings of heaven. Sometimes that blessing comes through some difficulties, but still it doesn’t matter. When you pass them all, you’ll see your heavenly Father’s holy training for His abundant gift and reward for you. The apostle Paul knew it, and being inspired by the Spirit of God, said in Rom. 8:32, “He [God the Father] who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He [the Father] not also with Him [the Son] graciously give us all things?” The Triune God indwells you and me!
III. THE POWER OF THE TRIUNE GOD
The last point for us to consider is ‘the power of the Triune God’ who is with us. A thorough understanding of this power will surely deepen your confidence in the Lord God Almighty. So, let’s see what sort of power our text passage talks about.
Firstly, Jesus the Lord mentions in v. 12 that whoever believes in Him will also do the works He did, and greater works than His will a believer do. Let’s just hold for a moment and consider what Jesus means here. He says this not as a vague assumption, but as a sure declaration. Then, what does He mean that believers ‘WILL’ do greater works than what He had done? Will we raise the dead? Or will we calm the sea and a wild tempest? Will we then forgive the sins of others and save them? None of these things could be done by any of us simply because we can’t do those things. Some Bible commentators point out world evangelism done by Christians and churches since Jesus’ death and resurrection or various social goods initiated and accomplished by Christians. But I don’t think all of those things could be compared to Jesus’ works, let alone to His one work, that is, forgiveness of sins. So, we should understand this Jesus’ sure declaration as another confirmation of His promise that He alongside the Father and the Holy Spirit will come to every believer and dwell with him/her and carry out the works of God together the believer. World evangelism and various social changes are some results and benefits of the Triune God’s working together with each and every Christian.
Simply put, Christian’s power comes from the indwelling Triune God. That means, every Christian’s work is the work of the Triune God and his/her power is not just a mere human power, but that of the Triune God!
Let me give you an evidence of this from Mt. 10:19-20. Jesus says to His disciples, “When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Let me give you another example; the example of the apostle Paul recorded in 1 Cor. 15:10 where Paul says this: “by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” There are numerous examples in both the Old and NTs, and I believe you see what they prove. The indwelling God – not just one or two Persons, but all Three Persons of the Godhead – empowers us Christians as He works powerfully in and through us! So, 2 Cor. 5:20 declares that we’re Christ’s ambassadors, God making His appeal through us.
This is the firm basis and reason for Jesus’ urge for the eleven disciples in that upper room to not let their hearts be troubled but believe in Him, the Christ, and in the Father! What else was there for them to worry or be troubled when Jesus was and is and will always be with them? They’d soon be taken apart from their Master; it was only a few hours, if not just a few minutes, away from His departure. But Jesus’ voice is calm and His tone is firm in full confidence. The same is for you and for me as we face all troubles of this world. What could make our hearts troubled when we’re with the Triune God? The Helper, Comforter, Counsellor, is here with us; the Almighty is right here with each of us and in our midst; the King who broke the stronghold of our enemy and declared His eternal victory is with us!
The conclusion given to us in this passage is so appropriate. I mean, the very last line of Jn. 14 which speaks to us this: “Rise, let us go from here”! Although Jesus meant a different message to the eleven disciples when He said this in that upper room, He knew exactly what this would mean to you and me and millions more in the world – ‘Rise, let us (you and Me, the Triune God) go together from here, from this understanding and conviction, to the world outside of these walls, continuing the works of the Triune God in the power of the Triune God!’ There’s no time for us to be troubled by anything, but to rise together with the Triune God and go forward with the Triune God! ***