Saturday, March 14, 2015

Sorrow Turns To Joy

Scriptural Reading: John 16:4b-15
Devotional Reading: 1 Samuel 3:1-10

I used to wonder why people would always quote “…Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Ps 30:5b NKJV) When I lost my loved ones, I did not want to talk to anyone because I did not want to accept they would not be physically present with me any longer. All I wanted to do was remember our times together and cry. But I found out later that long periods of grieving are unacceptable, leading to bouts of depressions and stress. In our lesson last week (John 14:15-26), Jesus taught the disciples and His followers the Holy Spirit would assist us in our grieving period. As a Comforter He would teach us sound biblical doctrines and life truths, remind us what thus said the LORD, and do the works of Jesus to the glory of God. As we begin to understand the teaching of the Holy Spirit, our hurts and sorrows from the physical loss of our loved ones changes. It (Life) is not about them. Life is about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. So joy always comes in the morning once we remember to put our lives back into perspective. We no longer have reason to cry because we, as believers, know we shall be eternally united with our Father and Jesus Christ through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

This quarter of study is entitled “The Spirit Comes.” We are in Unit I – “The Pledge of God’s Presence” of the three units of the quarter. This is the third of a five-lesson study focusing on the promise of the Holy Spirit. In our lesson today we review the promise of Jesus to His disciples that the Holy Spirit would be as real a presence to them as His physical presence was while He lived with them on Earth.

Jesus knew that His departure through cruel punishment and execution would be overwhelming for the disciples. Jesus warned the disciples in chapter 15 of all the opposition that will be received from preaching and teaching the Gospel. In John 15:26-27 he lets them know that they along with the Holy Spirit would testify of Him and His truth. Although the disciples fled when they should have been witnesses before the high priest and Pilate, they now have the Holy Spirit within them and they are now courageous as He is the Advocate for Christ. Jesus said not a mumbling word, but the disciples filled with the Holy Spirit Advocate, are expected to preach and teach to all nations the gospel of Jesus Christ. The disciples were with Him from the beginning. They had always witnessed Christ doing good and never a sinful moment.

Apostle John continues in chapter 16 with Jesus’ Farewell Discourse to His eleven remaining disciples. (The Farewell Discourse is from John 13:31 – John 17:26). The chapter begins with Jesus letting the disciples know that He told them these things so they won’t be upset, discouraged, or depressed to the level of leaving His ministry or be made to stumble. Those who throw rocks at God, His Son, or His ministers don’t know the Father or the Son. They think they are doing it in service of God. Jesus warns the disciples that they will be thrown out of synagogues, the congregation of Israel, and even killed. I believe all of them were martyred, except John.

Why does Jesus wait to tell them this sorrowful news at this time and why not sooner? John 16:4 declares, “I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you from the beginning because I was with you.” (NKJV) Jesus warns the disciples so when the event comes to pass the prophecy of the Scripture will be fulfilled. It is not to discourage or frighten them, but simply to give them a prophecy warning to remember. He did not have to tell them about anything from the beginning about the great forces of the powers of the darkness of the world aimed at Him. He was their King, their Protector, and able to handle everything. They did not have to worry, except He did teach them there would be suffering in life.

Jesus was urging His disciples to love Him so that they could see His death as a source of joy. It was a reason for their rejoicing in God’s purpose and work of salvation. However, they did not remember, fully understand, or know the plan. Grief had overtaken them and they were unable to find comfort in the Words of Jesus. It is recorded at John 16:5-7, “, but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Rather you are filled with grief because I have said these things. But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”(NKJV) Jesus was their Rose and they had been thankful to see their Rose with them every day. Now they could not find any joy in the thorn that came along with the Rose. Did they only listen to the warnings and not hear His promise? Were they concerned about Him? He had done no wrong. A few still believed He had come to reign over the world, and they would be with Him when He ruled. They did not ask Jesus ‘Where he was going’. Two disciples (Peter and Thomas) started to ask the question earlier, but they never pressed Jesus for any further answers. (John 13:36; 14:5). The disciples were depressed and in a stupor, not expecting this Spiritual war. Jesus reminded them He was simply going back to the One who sent Him, the Father. Because they were in such sorrow they started to act as if they had made a bad bargain.

Recognizing their paralyzing sorrow, Jesus began to explain why it was necessary for Him to return to the Father. It would be to their advantage that the Holy Spirit should come. He would empower them, give them courage, teach them, and make Christ even more real to them than before in the power of His abiding presence. The Holy Spirit would not come until Jesus returned to Heaven and was glorified.

In sorrow the world rejected Jesus Christ. In joy the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, has a ministry of conviction in the world. The Apostle John further records Jesus as stated in John 16:8-11, “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” (NKJV) The Holy Spirit’s very presence will convict men of sin. He is the Spirit of Truth. He convicts the world of failing to believe Christ, the Truth. Secondly, He convicts the world with their unrighteous views of Christ. This would include false prophets who would believe Jesus not to be born of a virgin or not as the Son of God. The Holy Spirit will witness to the Truth that Christ was right and in right-standing with the Father wherein the world was not. Finally, the presence of the Holy Spirit is evidence that satan has already been judged and defeated. The devil was condemned at the cross by the blood of our LORD. The Apostle Paul wrote at Eph 4:29-31, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.” (NKJV) Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit as long as we love Him and keep His commandments. (See Matt 22:37b-40; John 14:15-17) So it was very important to love and not grieve the Holy Spirit in order that He might perform His ministry of conviction in the world.

Just as a baby does not know how to initially hold a bottle or a toddler must learn that fire is hot, there were many things of truth to be revealed to the disciples. John writes at John 16:12-15, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you. (NKJV) Jesus knew His disciples were on emotional overload. He could not feed the Spiritual truths while He was physically present, although that was His desire. The disciples would have been more confused, upset, and possibly stumbled. They probably would not have remembered anything because they were not able to see the importance of His Death, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension before the events occurred.

The Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth. It is not the truth of man or the Advocate’s. It is the truth of the LORD and the Father. It is all spiritual truth which would cause some of the disciples to begin writing the New Testament along with their witnessing. The Holy Spirit would guide the disciples like God guided the children of Israel through the wilderness with a pillar of cloud and fire. He will only speak the things that are given Him and, coupled with the Old Testament He will complete God’s revelation and glorify Christ. All the attributes that belong to the Father belong to Jesus as well. So they are equally glorified by God’s plan of Salvation fulfilled by Christ’s blood and taught by the Holy Spirit.

The Apostle Paul elaborated as to the Spirit’s instruction at 1 Cor 2:7-16. “We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man. The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For ‘who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” (NKJV)

Written by Deborah C. Davis

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