Sundays: 9 & 11am LATEST MESSAGE

The Spirit’s Mission in the World

Charlie Boyd - 11/1/2020

As the world grows darker and the hostility gets louder, it’s easy for believers to get discouraged by thinking the mission to which Jesus has called us is like “Mission Impossible.” On the night of Jesus’ betrayal and arrest, the 11 disciples are wondering the same thing. Jesus has told them he is leaving them. He’s going back to the Father. He’s told them he will send them another Helper—the Holy Spirit—the Spirit of truth—who will make God’s love for them personal as they stay connected to Jesus. But now he’s telling them that the “world” will hate them, persecute them, ostracize them, and even kill them. You’ll remember from last week that the “world” is the organized system of unbelief that stands in opposition to God and the truth that has come to us in Jesus. Behind this “world system” stands Satan and his demon armies that wage war against the purposes of God and the people of God. So, Jesus is sending them out into a hostile world to confront people with God’s truth and it’s hard for them to see how that mission could stand any chance of success. The question is—“How are we going to confront this hostile, hateful, persecuting world with the Gospel and have any success on this mission?” Again, in 14:26, 15:26-27, 16:7, and 16:13—Jesus has told them the Helper, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, will help them carry on his mission. But exactly how will the Helper help them? 

READ John 16:4-15 —We’re focusing today on vv8-11, but it’s important to get the whole context, especially v13 in order to understand the “convicting” ministry of the HS that Jesus talks about in vv8-11. Jesus is specifically talking about the convicting work of the HS in the world. And Jesus says here in v13—The primary role and ministry of the HS in the world is to equip the Spirit-filled Church of God with the Spirit-inspired Word of God. Jesus is talking about how the Spirit of Truth will help us speak the truth to a world system blinded by Satan and held captive by his lies. Yes, the work of the Spirit in believers is to make Jesus personal to us and to give us strength and boldness “to bear witness” to him. That is his ministry in the life of believers. But here, the focus is on the work of the Spirit in the world, among unbelievers. The Spirit’s primary ministry in the world is to confront/convict the world of its rebellion against God and the truth that has come to us in Jesus. And here in v13—Jesus is talking about the work of the Spirit in the world and he’s telling his apostles that the primary ministry of the Spirit of truth is that he will “teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you”—v13—to guide you into all truth. That’s his primary ministry—to reveal the Truth to them—to reveal the teaching of Christ to them—to reveal the truth that will be needed for the future mission of the church. I’m saying that, right here, what we have is a promise from Jesus to the apostles that he will put all that truth into their hands. The whole truth about who Jesus is and why he came—what will be written down in the four Gospels—the story of Christ and everything he said. The Spirit will bring all that back into their minds. And then—the Spirit will give them Jesus’ instruction to the young churches that will be planted by the apostles and those instructions will be written down in the Epistles. And then—he’ll tell them about the future and that extends through the book of Revelation—You ready for this? —This is a promise of the divine inspiration of what we now call the New Testament. We know that “all Scripture is God-breathed” (2Tim3:16) and the Holy Spirit is the breath of God.” Peter says that the Scriptures have come to us as men were moved by the Spirit to write what God inspired (2Pet1:20-21). One more time, this is the promise of the divine inspiration of the NT. The Helper will help us by equipping us with the “sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Eph6:17) so we can speak God’s truth to people and world systems that are opposed to God and the people of God.

Now having said that—let’s go back to v8—READ again vv8-11— This is brief, to the point. It’s definitive, profound, and all-encompassing—and it’s hard to understand——It gave me fits all week long trying to get my head around it, but we need to understand it because it’s a description of the Spirit’s mission in the world today. Now, Jesus’ purpose in sharing this is to encourage them and us that the mission he calls us to is not impossible despite the fact that the world will hate us and persecute us. These words are meant to encourage us. And encouragement is something we desperately need right now, isn’t it? Jesus has given us the Spirit of truth—the Helper—to come alongside to help us fulfill our mission. If we’re going into a hostile world—we’re going to have to have a supernatural power to help us break through the hatred and hostility and persecution. And in the days ahead—as the world grows darker and the hostility gets louder—Jesus assures us that we have exactly what we need to stand firm in the face of the opposition—he’s given us the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Eph6:17) to equip us for life and mission with Jesus. When we talk about the “convicting” work of the Spirit, the first thing we think about is something like—“I was convicted that I ate too much last night”—meaning, I felt bad about eating too much. That is not what the word “convict” means here in v8. Of course, it’s true that no one will ever repent and believe the Gospel apart from the HS’s work in their life. 2Tim2:25 says, “It is God (thru the Spirit), who grants repentance.” But here, Jesus isn’t talking about the internal ministry of the Spirit. He’s talking about how the Spirit—through the apostles—through the Spirit-inspired New Testament the apostles and their associates would write down and pass down from generation to generation—he’s talking about how the Word of the Spirit written in the NT—spoken through us—will “convict” the world of sin and righteousness and judgment. The Spirit of God, speaking the Word of God, through the Church of God will render a guilty verdict on people who reject Jesus and call them to repentance—That’s what Jesus is saying. It is the Bible that we hold in our hand today that “brings a charge against” a world in rebellion against God. This Spirit-inspired book, spoken by the church, declares “God’s final guilty verdict” on sin and righteousness and judgment. Sin — people’s guilt — people’s helplessness. Judgment — people’s destiny. Of sin—we are all guilty. “For we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom3:23 ). Of righteousness—we are powerless to help ourselves. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us that in him, we might become the righteousness of God” (2Cor5:21). Of judgment—we cannot escape—our eternal destiny is fixed without divine help—"[God] has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man [Jesus] whom he has appointed; and of this, he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead'' (Acts 17:31). These three words are the Gospel of God.

Here’s the Big Idea—'The Church of God, filled with the Spirit of God, speaking the Word of God will confront the world and its lies with the truth of God.’ As we are on mission with Jesus—as we live and share the truth of Scripture with those who do not know God—the Spirit does his work of convicting the world--of sin, righteousness, and judgment. He convicts the world from Spirit-inspired Scripture though us, his Spirit-filled people.