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Sermon for June 5, 2022 — Pentecost

Speaking of Life 4028 | Fulfilled Promises

Has someone made a promise to you, only to take a very long time to fulfill it? How easily do we forget the commitments that we’ve made and break them? When everything else is meant to break and decay, let us learn to trust God’s promises that never fail.

Program Transcript

Speaking of Life 4028 | Fulfilled Promises
Greg Williams

My good friend and colleague, Heber Ticas promised to procure a rare bottle of tasty tequila for my wife Susan’s 60th birthday. He ran into a bit of a snag and gave me the bottle at a conference and said to tell Susan a “Happy 62 and a half birthday!”

We laughed, but there is a bit of truth that sometimes it takes a while to fulfill a promise. Have you ever reaped the benefit of a promise long after it had been made? You may have even forgotten the promise – or given up on it.

Whether you’re making the promise of receiving it, the windfall of a past promise fulfilled is always a source of joy.

Shortly after Jesus promised he would send the Holy Spirit, the Disciples gathered for Pentecost. We can only imagine how much they understood the wonder of the promises that Jesus made to them, but after seeing him ascend, you can guess they were ready for anything. Did they expect the Holy Spirit to come at Pentecost? It’s hard to tell.

History had taught them that the promises of God are always fulfilled but in his time. Five hundred and fifty years passed between God’s promise to Abraham and when Joshua led the Israelites to the Promised Land. There were seven hundred years from Isaiah’s hopeful prophecies to Jesus’ coming. But now maybe it was going to be different. After all, Jesus had told them to not leave the city. On that Pentecost, their world changed. Like a roaring wind, the Holy Spirit came and filled the house. Luke tells us in the book of Acts that all of the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, and began preaching in different languages. Then Peter was prompted to preach.

14 ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say… 16 This is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: 17 In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh…’”
Acts 2:14, 16-17a (NRSV)

The promise had been fulfilled.

Peter then gave a convicting and powerful message about who Jesus is and why he came. A message that resonated with many who were present, drawing them in to be baptized in great numbers as they were led by the Holy Spirit.

What did Peter feel as he saw over three thousand people come forward for baptism following his address? I suspect he was filled with joy. The familiar joy of a promise being realized. Did he recall the words of Jesus three years prior, as he knelt upon a boat that was sinking due to the weight of a great catch of fish? Jesus had told him, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” 

Standing in front of the crowd at Pentecost, Peter experienced the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise.

The Holy Spirit helped him to not be afraid as he stood before the people – he was no longer the man who denied Christ or who sank as he tried to walk on the water. The Spirit had made him into a fisher of men.

The promise that the Spirit transforms and sustains those who follow Christ is also for you and me. This Pentecost let the Spirit of God change you and discover the wonder of God’s promises fulfilled.

I’m Greg Williams, Speaking of Life

Psalm 104:24-35b • Acts 2:1-21 • Romans 8:14-17 • John 14:8-17, 25-27

This week is Pentecost; as we celebrate the Father sending the Spirit after Jesus’ Ascension, our theme is the Spirit who sustains. The call to worship Psalm declares that when God sends his Spirit, life is created and renewed – sustaining the creative work of Jesus at the foundation of creation. Romans 8 tells us that the Spirit prevents us from falling back into slavery to fear – instead, he sustains our sonship bought for us by Jesus. Acts 2 recounts the coming of the Spirit, who immediately continues the ministry of Jesus in turning the disciples into “fishers of men.” In John, we see Jesus telling the disciples that the Spirit is going to come and continue his work of advocacy on our behalf, living in and with us once Jesus ascends – sustaining our relationship with the Father.

Sustaining the Legacy

John 14:8-17

If you’ve ever worked for a large organization, been part of church leadership, sat on the board of a charity, or felt the impending march of your own mortality, then you may have heard of the concept of “legacy building.” The concept is simple enough—it is the process of thinking through how what you are doing will impact future generations after you stop doing it. In legacy building, you ask yourself or your organization what the long-term impact of your work or life going to be, and how are you going to sustain what is needed to make it happen beyond current teams and projects.

Without vision for the future, we can find ourselves at the end of long-term projects and goals still feeling unsatisfied and incomplete. This theme is encapsulated in Orson Welles’ first movie Citizen Kane. Spoilers ahead for anyone who hasn’t had the chance to watch it in the past 80 years! The move is about a wealthy and bitter media magnate who dies at the beginning of the movie, and just before he dies, he says, “Rosebud.”

The rest of the movie is told in flashbacks as a journalist interviews his friend and business associates to try to find out what rosebud referred to. The journalist fails, but in the process of the film it becomes clear that Kane was not a happy man – all his success and fortunes amounted to nothing. It is revealed in the final shot of the movie that “rosebud” was a toy he had last played with when he was eight years old, before coming into his money.

The message of the movie is clear – Kane’s wealth did not bring him happiness, the opposite in fact. His legacy was worthless – he had built an empire that would last beyond him, but it was the legacy he thought he wanted, not the one that really mattered. Truth is, any legacy we pursue outside participating with Jesus, isn’t worth nearly what we might assume, and is certainly not the legacy that really matters.

In our passage today we see Jesus speaking to his disciples about his legacy, and what they should expect once he has ascended to the Father. The legacy that Jesus speaks of is not one built of gold and silver, but of relationships that will span into eternity. Here Jesus points forward to the incredible transformation the disciples would partake in when the Holy Spirit came in tongues of fire at Pentecost.

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” (John 14:8-17)

The context for our passage is Jesus’ conversation and prayers with his disciples at the Last Supper. In this wonderful section of the Gospel of John, we have the largest recording of Jesus speaking in Scripture. Here Jesus is having a dialogue with Thomas, who is trying to get his head around the idea that Jesus is telling them that he is going to leave. Thomas has questions: where are you going, and how do we get there? In response, Jesus directs him to the Father, who they now know and have seen because they have seen Jesus. At this time, it’s a difficult concept for them to grasp.

Philip chimes in and asks that they be shown the Father. His request to have the Father revealed to them is understandable – the whole concept of the Trinity is something they’re only just beginning to grasp. In fact, much of our understanding of God’s triune being is found in the chapters that follow this question.

This discourse is key to Jesus’ ministry; the coming of the kingdom of God is synonymous with God’s self-revelation through Jesus. God wants to be known by us, and Jesus makes him known. But let’s face it, if Jesus had told the disciples everything in these passages about his unity with the Father, and then ascended into heaven after his resurrection, how long would it have been before the disciples forgot elements of what they’d learned? How long would it be before the discourse in the upper room on the night Jesus was betrayed became foggy and unclear? How could this revelation – the key to our relationship with God – be sustained?

God made provision for this eventuality.

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:25-27)

It probably would not have taken long for the details to fade – at least not without some help. The coming of the Holy Spirit is what is going to sustain Jesus’ words in spite of our faulty memories and wandering hearts.

It is in this context that Jesus introduces them to the third person of the Trinity. The description of the Holy Spirit here is telling. The Holy Spirit is “another advocate” – it begs the question who was the first? The discourse that Jesus shares with the disciples is a theological account of how Jesus has been advocating for them with the Father, culminating in his prayer in John 17 where he prays for those the Father has given him.

Jesus reassures them that the Holy Spirit is coming to sustain and continue the work he started; it will not cease. He is sustaining the legacy Jesus created in the new covenant by his blood. At Pentecost, the Spirit came upon the disciples, and in accordance with the Father’s will, he continued the work of advocating on behalf of humanity following Jesus’ ascension. He also continues the work of revelation.

The questions that plagued Thomas and Philip became comprehensible with the presence of the Holy Spirit in them.

It is also with the presence of the Holy Spirit that Jesus promises that we would do “even greater things.” This passage is frequently taken to mean miracles. It is often assumed that Jesus is referring to them when he speaks of his works. However, to simplify it to that one aspect of his ministry is to imply that his miraculous works are his greater achievements. Yet we know that his far greater work is the revelation of the Father, the redemption of mankind, the healing of his broken people. His greater work is the proclamation of the year of the Lord’s favor. All of these are greater than even raising Lazarus.

It is these works that the coming of the Holy Spirit continued through the disciples in Acts 2.

Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. (Acts 2:36-41)

The first work that the disciples performed upon receiving the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was the continuation of Jesus’ declaration of the kingdom of God. The fishermen and tax collectors had become orators and preachers, and through the power of the Holy Spirit their words ignited the spark of faith in three thousand believers after a single declaration of the gospel. The convicting power of the Holy Spirit had fulfilled Jesus’ promises to his disciples, and Acts goes on to tell us that they continued in these great works, including miracles and even more powerfully, a new way of selfless living. The selfish bindings of sin were shattered, and the Holy Spirit ensured that we could not be bound by sin again.

Knowing Pentecost was coming, Jesus told the disciples (and us) that the Holy Spirit will continue his work of unifying us with the Father. Jesus had brought mankind into himself upon the cross and ascended fully divine and fully man – allowing us to enter into the very being of God. He reassures us that the Holy Spirit lives in us and will be with us – the presence of the Comforter ensures that our hearts need not be troubled.

In theological language we are, in a limited way, participating in the perichoresis of God, coming to know and love the Father, through Jesus and by the Holy Spirit. Perichoresis is the word that we use to describe how the Father, Son and Spirit inter-dwell with one another in perfect harmony. And now that the Spirit is in us, we too are about to dwell in the inner being of God. As Jesus told Thomas, he has gone to prepare a place in the Father’s house, it is ready and waiting, and by the guidance of the Holy Spirit we are on our way there.

This is our legacy – to participate with Jesus in the work he is doing. The Holy Spirit teaches us, comforts us, and continually points to the relationship we have been invited to with Father, Son, and Spirit. As Christians, we know our legacy is not about the accumulation of wealth or things—our most important legacy is our relationship with Jesus – a relationship he promised to his disciples that would come through the Holy Spirit. This promise was fulfilled at Pentecost and continues today.

The Spirit of Truth w/ Jenny Richards W1

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June 5 – Pentecost
John 14:8-17 “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”

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Program Transcript

The Spirit of Truth w/ Jenny Richards W1

Anthony: And I’m moving on to our first pericope, which is John 14:8-17. It is the Revised Common Lectionary passage for Pentecost on June the fifth. And it reads,

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

Verse 11, Jenny, I’m in the Father and the Father is in me.

I know this is a set up question, but what are the implications of this Father-Son relationship?

Jenny: I think set up question is putting it quite mildly and gently because we could spend the whole podcast on it, and in a lot of ways, I think we are spending a whole podcast on it. To me, the Father-Son relationship is the substance of the gospel, especially when we see that this relationship exists in the Spirit and has been extended to us.

So, this is a Trinitarian statement. And it also emphasizes that the Father’s not different from the Son. Distinct? Yes, of course, but not different. They’re one; there’s no separation here. There’s no dualism, if you like; there is union. And so, it’s another indication that if we want to carve off Jesus from the Father in how we conceptualize the gospel, it just won’t work.

It is very much an indication that you cannot view Jesus as the Lone Ranger. (That may well have been a phrase of Baxter’s [Kruger] somewhere too. Someone has said it, I know, not me.) But Jesus is not a sole agent, that he and the Father are together in that respect. But my instant thought really when you first flagged that question with me is not surprisingly of Professor JB Torrance, who would always say to his students, “The heart of the New Testament is the relationship between the Father and the Son in the Spirit.”

And it went alongside his exhortation towards covenantal orientations in our beliefs about the Trinity. And I wonder whether the fact of the Father-Son relationship is likewise, the secret of peace and joy in believing, especially when we realize who Jesus actually is, who Jesus is and what he does and what he’s made of humanity in the Incarnation and his atonement.

And the fact that the name of Jesus is such a loaded statement in that sense because Jesus is sharing his sonship with us and mediates his relationship with the Father to us and responds to the Father as a faithful human Son. So, there’s a massive amount in relation to the implications of the Father-Son relationship, because it’s not just the Father-Son relationship.

It’s the Father-Son relationship being lived out in the Spirit and being extended to humanity through the Spirit, who was poured out upon Jesus. And through the Spirit, Jesus lived out his sonship has the true human being, the new Adam.

And even in the later part of that passage in verse 17, where Jesus says he’ll send the Spirit as the Advocate, he also notes that his disciples already know the Spirit because he already lives with them. And later he will also be in them. And so, the Father-Son relationship—from my point of view anyway—the Father Son relationship speaks more to me about who I am than any contract I could try to set up with Jesus does.

And it speaks more to who I am than any spiritual brownie points I could run around trying to earn just like the older brother did in the parable of the prodigal Son. Look how that worked out for him. How we live as Christians, our discipleship is important. Sure. But it’s because of what that means for our wellbeing.

Ken Blue once said (I think it was Ken Blue), sin makes about as much sense as putting your lips in a blender. (I love that.)

Anthony: That makes no sense.

Jenny: But this relationship of the Father and the Son in the Spirit is the death knell of religiosity, of religious performance as the site of acceptability or worth or identity with God. It means that God is far bigger and more loving and more gracious and more accepting of me than I might previously have imagined and particularly much more loving and gracious and accepting of me and far more intensely relational and personal and glorious than my pride will be able to get its head around.

Because I would like to be in my own pride. (We were talking about this before.) I would like to be a bigger player in the relationship. Thanks very much. What about me and all these wonderful things that I do for God? But the other impact about this for me—which is the flip side of that—is that our brokenness is nowhere near as impactful as we might’ve thought, because I’m in the Father-Son relationship by the Spirit.

And because all of that is a gift of grace, because the message of the New Testament is one of that Father-Son relationship being extended to humanity, that changes everything about how I view God, view myself, view my life, view all aspects of my day to day living and view other people.

I’m freed to live out of that truth. God is a human being now. God is one of us. Jesus is still a human being. God is one of us. And so, what does that relationship imply? Everything!

I don’t know whether you have this in the U.S. or wherever else our listeners are. In Australia, at least, in the Sunday school, the running joke is that the answer to every question that the Sunday school teacher poses is meant to be, “Jesus!” No matter what. We’ve got one where they’re describing a koala. It’s gray, it’s fluffy, it’s got a white tail. And everyone’s sitting there not putting their hand up. And then eventually, one little kid puts their hand up and say, I know the answers meant to be Jesus, but it sounds like a koala. In Sunday school, the answer’s meant to be Jesus. Excellent, I know he is. But by implication, what we mean when we say Jesus is to see him in the fullness of who he is, especially in the tradition of the early church that the Torrances we’re drawing from.

So, we don’t just mean Jesus, the individual over here who is gracious enough to love us while we’re still sinners. We mean, Jesus, the incarnate, beloved Son of the Father who has included us within that relationship through the Incarnation and his life, death, Resurrection, and Ascension.

The gospel isn’t about me. That’s what the Father, Son and Spirit relationship means. The gospel is not about me and what Jesus has done for me. It’s about Jesus and his Father. And what the Father and Son by the Spirit have done with and for and in the whole human race to bring that relationship of love to humanity and to give us our own place in that, by sharing in Jesus’ Sonship. It’s incredible, really, and it’s unbelievably good news.

And the Spirit enables us, enables us to believe in the love that God has for us, enables us to trust, and enables the obedience of faith. (Saint Paul said that; I can’t remember where. Sorry. This is where the fact that I’m not a formally trained theologian has its advantages. I don’t have to memorize all of this.)

But this is why faith itself is a gift of the Spirit. My sin and my brokenness, they’re there and they’re dealt with, but that’s done in the context of restoring me to my full humanity so that I am able to live in the love and freedom that’s been brought to me, rather than my biggest problem being that I’m sinful and God doesn’t love me yet.

The Father Son relationship is the most beautiful truth in the universe.

Anthony: And that oneness, communion of Father and Son gets revealed once again, in Jesus saying that he doesn’t speak out of his own accord, but according to the abiding Father. Why is this an important statement? And what, if anything, can Christ followers learn about their own speech from this?

Jenny: Firstly, so many things. And being an academic, I’d just say “ibid,” right? Refer back to everything we’ve previously said, because as you said, it is yet again a Trinitarian statement and a statement about oneness and the implications of that.

In terms of what we can learn about our own speech, it actually speaks to us a bit about our own place, what it means to live as Christians, what it means to participate. Kevin Navarro has written a beautiful book looking at TF and JB’s theology. It’s called Trinitarian Doxology. And it looks at unpacking what it means that worship is part of our participation in the life of Father, Son, and Spirit.

And there’s a lot in our own speech and our own approach and our own engaging with others, (which of course is what we do in relation to our own speech) that needs to be impacted by our living out in this life of the Spirit. And it affects our worship. It affects how we deal with each other. It affects how we treat each other.

But importantly, because Jesus is not speaking of his own accord, but according to the Father, but he still himself in that relationship. So, it doesn’t mean that we stop being ourselves, and we just start running around trying to mimic Jesus. Jesus was participating with and living out of his relationship with his Father, and we are to do that as well. We don’t lose ourselves in this. We find ourselves in this.

But there’s no call—and this is an issue that I’m really hot on because there is an overlap here with my other work—there is no call for hatred of one another, or for undignifying speech and attitudes towards one another because the first thing we know about anyone is who they are to Jesus Christ.

And of course, because of the Trinity and the oneness of the Father, Son, and Spirit, that is also who they are to the Father. It is not just Jesus who loves people; it is Father, Son, and Spirit. So, the first thing we know about anyone is who they are to Jesus Christ. They are someone for whom he died and with whom he has shared his relationship with the Father.

Now, some people believe that; some people don’t, but that is the only difference. The difference if you will, is on our side of the table, not God’s side. God does not love non-Christians less than me. He is no less their Father. They just don’t know who he is yet. But that doesn’t stop him being who he is, because this is covenantal, right? Not contractual, we’re not dualistic. And it doesn’t stop him loving.

So, our speech, our actions, and our attitudes to God (which is where worship as participation comes in), but also our attitudes to ourselves and to other people and the way in which our speech, our self-talk, and our communication with other people are affected—all of those things need to be oriented around our identity and participation in Jesus’ relationship with the Father. That’s what we’re living in and living out of and speaking out of as well.

One of the things that I’ve found myself writing—I’m going to digress a bit into my thesis. One of the things I found myself writing in relation to family violence and how we approach what a covenantal understanding of marriage would mean in relation to what a marriage relationship should look like and the profound absence of anything that remotely looks like violence that covenant implies, there’s no space for it. I found myself writing that a Christian man’s wife should be the last person that he thinks of trading badly because it is a relationship of unconditional love.

And in the same way, Christians should be the last people to treat anyone poorly or speak of anyone poorly because every single person we encounter is as loved by Jesus as we are. Later in John, Jesus talks about the Father loving us with the same love that he has loved the Son. And we gloss over that. We miss it so much, but there’s something that is profound in relation to this and our speech. And the way we treat ourselves and the way we treat others has to reflect that.

There’s this Christian ethics wrapped up in this, living life in accordance with the gospel. If we are Christians, we are lovers of people. I’m auditing a Christian Spirituality course at a Bible college here at the moment. And our lecturer, David McGregor, had said literally two days ago, if we’re Christians, we are lovers of people because God loves them.

We recognize no one from a worldly point of view, but we see them, and we see everything through Christ now. And I think one profoundly important aspect of how we are to speak then, not only involves how we speak about others and how we speak to them, but also how we speak about ourselves and how we treat ourselves.

Anthony: Yeah, that’s so powerful what you just said on two fronts: the way that we relate with others, but also the way that we relate with ourselves, the self-talk. Very insightful. Thank you.

Jenny: But I suppose the only thing I would add to that is that a contractual model of the gospel encourages us to focus on our brokenness and our sin and how unacceptable we are and thank God for Jesus that Jesus has made us acceptable now.

And while dealing with sin is of course profoundly important in the gospel, this emphasis and this overemphasis on how horrible we are rather than our core identity being as loved children—which is why God doesn’t want to leave us in our brokenness—is a really important point.

We find it really hard to believe in how much we’re actually loved by Father, Son, and Spirit so often. And we treat ourselves so badly because we start from a place of, I’m a dreadful sinner—rather than the primary thing about me is I’m a loved child of God and God will deal with all of the brokenness and mess that stops me from living in his love and seeing him for who he is and will make me, what I need to be. And those things are sorted out along the way, rather than being the primary thing that we need to focus on.

Anthony: We talked to ourselves contractually and we think of others that way. As we’re recording this, we have Russia invading the Ukraine. I noticed on social media, there was a lot of posts about Ukraine and what they provide to the world, their natural resources, yada, yada, yada.

And I couldn’t help but think, no, they’re people. Yes, there are things that they provide, but it’s a way of thinking of things contractually, as opposed to those are beloved children. They are loved by the Son and the Father in the Spirit. Let’s stop thinking contractually about what they can provide the world and just recognize these beautiful image-bearers of the living God.

Jenny: It’s the social contract. (I might’ve seen the same post. I’m not sure.) But it’s why is this important? And then it lists off all these ways in which we understand Ukraine’s position in the wider world and the various things that they export and whatever else. And that is the social contract right there.

What is our utility? Why are we gathering ourselves together? How are we going to fit into this great piece of the puzzle? On one level, I don’t care about any [of that], that’s not why this war is so appalling. It’s appalling because everyone involved in it is profoundly loved by Jesus. And the preservation of life and the dignity of human beings is far more fundamental than what we can do for each other or what we bring to the table. It’s a completely different way of looking at humanity.

Anthony: Yeah. And what we often forget is that war does harm on both sides to victim and victimizer because of whose image we’re made into. Absolutely.

Well, Pentecost will be celebrated this Sunday and many sermons will focus, Jenny, on the promise and deliverance of the holy Spirit. What does this passage indicate about who the Spirit is and what God, the Spirit, is doing?

Jenny: In a move that will surprise no one, I’m going to start by saying that this is a Trinitarian statement, which pretty much all of these passages are. I think I’ve started all of my answers that way. But there are particular things that are highlighted in this quite beautifully.

Firstly, the Spirit in this passage is given to us by the Father. Secondly, the Spirit is the Spirit of truth, and also, we know the Spirit due to the fact that we have the Spirit in us.

So, this is deeply relational and deeply Trinitarian. And the connection here is between our need for truth and the advocacy of the Spirit who is with us forever, which makes me think to myself, okay what is the Spirit advocating and what is this truth?

And to me the Spirit shares the Father-Son relationship with us, we’ve talked about that.

And it gets back to the point that Jesus makes at the start of the passage—he’s in the Father and the Father’s in him—and he finishes that later in this address to his disciples, I am in my Father and you in me and I in you. And all of that of course occurs in the Spirit.

What we see here is a forever relationship—I love how it says, and he’ll be with you forever. It’s a forever relationship, which is brought to us in the Spirit and we’re to live in and out of that truth, right throughout our lives. The world can’t see this truth yet, but it’s true, nonetheless. And we’re bound up irrevocably in it because of the Spirit.

So, we can’t actually lose the love of God because of the Spirit. And the Spirit will keep bringing that home to us and calling us back to that truth. When we struggle to see it in the midst of our own brokenness and trauma and everything else that makes it hard for us to believe.

Because we have the mind of Christ, we have his righteousness, and he’s brought us into that life and love of God that exists between the persons of the Trinity. And it’s by the Spirit that we see that; by the Spirit, we cry Abba Father. So, when we know who God is, we know who we are, and it’s through the Spirit that we’re enabled to receive and see and participate in what God’s doing.

As I said earlier, my Bible college professor, David McGregor, was saying this the other day in class, Christian Spirituality is not about our journey of discovery. If it’s Christian Spirituality, it’s about the Spirit because our response to God is enabled by the Spirit. So, through the Spirit we participate in sharing all that Jesus is and has.

So, the Spirit is critical. And in terms of, is the Spirit doing anything today? The Spirit is doing everything today because this is an ongoing forever relationship, and out of that, we participate in our church communities, in our work, in our families, in whatever shape life takes for us.

A text in the topic that I’m doing is Marjorie Thompson’s book, Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life. And she says on page 14, the spiritual life is not one slice of existence, but leaven for the whole loaf. The Spirit is continually active in the world today. That’s what I see coming through really clearly in this passage.

Small Group Discussion Questions

From Speaking of Life:

  • Have you ever looked at your phone, or another distraction, while driving? Why do you think we are compelled to do things that are inherently self-destructive?
  • The Holy Spirit sustains creation – constantly and endlessly. We do not continue to exist just because we were initially created, but are constantly held together, sustained in existence by God. Does this change the way you think about creation and the universe?

From the sermon:

  • Jesus told his disciples that all of us who follow him will do greater works than he has. Assuming you haven’t raised someone from the dead recently, what are some of these greater works that you have participated in?
  • The Holy Spirit is described by Jesus as “another advocate.” Discuss some of the ways you have witnessed him advocating for you in your life.
  • Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit will “bring to remembrance” his words. The language is similar to the act of remembering that Communion also calls us to. Our participation in Communion is part of how the Holy Spirit fulfils this promise. What other ways do you think the Holy Spirit helps us remember Jesus and his words?

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