Jesus Our Overcomer

Jesus Our Overcomer
John 16:29-33 • Dr. Andy Woods • September 28, 2014 • John


Andy Woods
Jesus, Our Overcomer
John 16:29-33        Lesson 96     (9-28-14)
Good morning everyone.  If we could take our Bibles and open them to John’s Gospel, John 16, looking this morning at verses 29-33 as time permits.   The title of our message this morning is Jesus, our Overcomer.

We, as you know, hopefully, (if you don’t  know there’s nothing more I can do about it), have been teaching through John’s Gospel.  And John, of course, as we know by this point, writes a book documenting who Jesus Christ is as evidenced by His signs so that men might believe and have the gift of life.  Now one of the things that we’ve mentioned, not as frequently, perhaps, but you’ll see the word “believe” there and then you’ll also see the word “believing.   So John’s Gospel is not just for the unbeliever to beleiver.  What we discover is it’s for the believer, that’s the person that’s already a Christian, to keep on growing.
And so what we’re going to discover in our verses this morning is Jesus has a program of growth for us.  In other words, the agenda of Jesus Christ is not just to get us saved; that is the opening salvo of his agenda but there’s a whole new program in store for us to get us to keep developing and maturing and growing.  And we will see that come out very clearly this morning, I believe, in verses 29-33.

We are in a section of John’s Gospel where that believing element is brought out very clearly since Jesus is interacting with the eleven believing disciples.  And we see that in the Upper Room Discourse, chapters 13-17.  The people that Jesus is speaking to here are those who are already believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is not content just to leave them as immature believers.  He wants the faith that is inside of them to continue to progress, continue to develop and continue to mature.  That is the tenor and tone that He’s taking with these eleven in the Upper Room Discourse, chapters 13-17. We are in a section of the Upper Room Discourse, chapter 16, and by God’s grace we’re going to try to finish chapter 16 today, although I can’t guarantee that. But there are basically three rounds of conversation taking place.

We are in that third conversation. The conversation has two parts to it.  Number 1, the disciples talk, verses 29-30.  They acknowledge some things that Jesus is speaking plainly to them and Jesus is the Son of God or came from God.  Then in verses 31-33 He says to them, in essence, I’m glad that you beieve but I want your faith that is inside of you to continue to mature and develop.  And so He gives them, what I would consider from the human point of view, to be bad news.  The bad news is in verses 31-33.  Actually it’s not bad, but it’s interpreted as bad news from the human point of view.  Then at the end of verse 33 He gives them the good news.

So let’s take a look this morning at our verses, beginning in verses 29-30 as the disciples begin to speak back to Jesus Christ.  Notice, if you will, verse 29,  “His disciples said, ‘Lo, now You are speaking plainly and are not using a figure of speech.”  So apparently they have been satisfied with His answer that He has given them to their question.  Their question actually goes back to verse 17 and a little bit into verse 19 when they began to ask him, what is this talk you are giving us regarding Your soon departure and then Your coming back again and then You’re leaving.

So He has explained to them what is about to happen, a concept that will be revolutionary for them, His death, burial, and then following His death would be His resurrection.  And then after that would be His ascension.  He has explained that program to them, which is about to happen in their immediate future and they are satisfied with a clear answer from God.

He talks, there in verse 30, or they begin to say in verse 30, or they begin to acknowledge something.  Notice if you will verse 30, it says, “Now we know that You know all things and have no need for anyone to question You,” so there is an acknowledgement amongst these disciples that Jesus knew all of the spiritual things He had disclosed to them.  It’s been a tough road for these eleven in terms of their transition but they are more and more accepting the things that come from God.

And then they say something else there in verse 30, “by this we believe that you came from God.”  So they are acknowledging here that Jesus is speaking plainly to them; they are acknowledging here that Jesus has come from God.  This idea that Jesus has come from God is not a new truth, it’s disclosed all the way through John’s Gospel.  You recall John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,” and these disciples are acknowledging that Jesus has come from above, He has come from heaven, He has come from God, and they even use this word “believe.”   We “believe” it.  Now many people read this and they say well, this is where they became believers for the very first time.  And may I just say to you that is not at all what this is teaching.  There isn’t any doubt, there isn’t any question that these eleven are already believers.
How do I know that?  Because Jesus called them in John 15:2, a chapter earlier, “branches in Me.”  And then in verse 3 He said, “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.”  They were already clean.  They were already branches in Him.

Well, if they were already clean and already branches in Him, how do we make any sense of verse 30 when they said “By this we believe that You came from God.”  It is not saying that they became believers for the very first time.  What rather it is communicating is that they were developing a fuller conviction or persuasion for the truth that they already believed.
You see, there’s a difference between watching a movie in black and white and there’s a difference between watching that same movie in color.  Black and white you only pick up certain things, it’s still the same movie, but in color the details are more readily apparent and you enjoy the movie much more.  In essence Jesus is moving people from simply being black and white or superficial or immature in their faith to a fuller assurance and a fuller conviction of who He is.  Their initial faith was real.  Their initial faith was genuine, but Jesus has in mind a program where He wants the faith that’s already existent in them to develop all the more.  And so what is happening to these eleven is they are trusting in more and more and more of the truth that they are learning.  It is not saying that they are trusting in Christ the very first time, so as to become believers.

Do you remember what the very first miracle of Jesus, that’s recorded in John’s Gospel, the water to wine at Cana of Galilee at that wedding?  Remember what it says there in John 2:11, it says, “This beginning o His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.”  Now I believe that they became believers all the way back in chapter 1, so what then is happening in chapter 2?  The truth that they had trusted in is now being brought to a fuller leverl of growth and a fuller level of maturity.  So as you go through John’s Gospel it keeps saying they believed in Him, they believed in Him, over and over again.  In other words, they’re developing or they’re growing or they’re maturing in their faith.

Jesus, as He begins to speak to them, in verses 31-33, acknowledges this but first He gives them some bad news from the human point of view.  It actually is not bad news from the divine point of view, it is a reality that is going to come into their lives that will allow their faith to mature even more.  From the human point of view it’s bad news because it’s uncomfortable; from the divine point of view it’s actually good news because it is the tool that God is going to use to deepen their faith.  It’s like when you’re wife or husband or mom or dad, daughter, son, says to you, do you want the bad news first or the good news first.  I typically prefer the bad news first, at least I can end on a positive note is my thinking.

But He, in essence, is giving them what they would probably consider to be bad news.  Notice what He begins to say there in verse 31, John 16:31, “Jesus answered them, ‘Do you now believe?”  Question mark!  He is not questioning, as I said a moment ago, their initial salvation; that’s not what He’s questioning when He says, “Do you now believe?”  Because we know that anybody, going back to the purpose statement in John’s Gospel, anyone who trusts in this man, Jesus Christ, based on His signs has, present tense, the gift of life, John 20:31.  John 15:3 He said, “You are already clean,” a chapter earlier, “because of the word which I have spoken to you.”  The only disciple who’s salvation is in doubt, this man, Judas, has left the Upper Room.  John 13:30. So when Jesus says “Do you now believe,” He’s not saying to them I really don’t think you do believe. All the way through, when we study the Bible in context He is acknowledging that the faith that is within them is genuine and it is real.

So what is Jesus saying here in verse 31, “Do you now believe?”  Question mark!  What He is questioning is the depth of their faith.  What He is questioning is the maturity of their faith.  What He is questioning is the growth of their faith.  And you see, this has tremendous application for us today.  Why is that?  Because God is never satisfied with our current level of faith.  Yes, we have faith in the man, Jesus Christ and we have the gift of life.  And we think that’s it, right?  No, that’s not it.  What God begins to do is He begins to orchestrate your life in such a way that He puts you into circumstances that are bigger than yourself.  You say well, how do I know God is at work in my life?  Here’s how you know; you’re in the middle of a circumstance that’s bigger than you to solve or mastermind or figure out; it’s beyond both your intellect, it’s beyond your strength.  And that is there by the divine design of God because if you were not in the middle of that you would not have to trust God.

I find that as a sinful human beings we trust God only as a last resort.  I try to figure out, if something goes awry in my life I try to scheme and manipulate and figure out every which way I can to get out of it.  And finally at the point of our finitude because we’re exhausted in trying to figure it out, we finally say well, I guess I’m just going to have to trust God with it and God says thumbs up, that’s what I wanted all along.  In fact, I put that circumstance in your life to get the faith results that I am looking for.  God is never satisfied with where we are.  He is pleased with where we have come but He is not satisfied with where we are.

Do you remember the book of Hebrews, chapter 11, verse 6, “And without faith it is” what? “impossible to please Him.”  One of the things to understand about God is He deals with us totally on the basis of faith, which means the faith that is already in you is very precious to God and God will not let that faith atrophe, He wants that faith to develop, to mature and to grow.  Faith is a lot like a muscle on your body.  If your body, let’s say your leg, or legs are still because  you’ve had some kind of accident let’s say, if they are still for a long period of time the muscles on those legs, those leg muscles will atrophe.  If you don’t use it you lose it.  That’s why doctors now are trying to get patients more involved in rehabilitation, exercises.  The last thing they want is for you to just stay still because the positions, and the medical doctors know that one of the great proofs of healing is movement.  And so after that cast is off they’ll usually… I’m not a medical doctor but there will usually be some kind of rehabilitational exercises, physical fitness, because if you don’t use it you lose it.

Faith is the same way, it’s a muscle; if the muscle is not actively used it will atrophe.  God will not allow our faith to atrophe because “without faith it is impossible to please God.”  [Hebrews 11:6]  And so consequently what Jesus begins describing is the circumstances that are about to come into the lives of these eleven so that their faith, which is very precious to God will continue to grow.  You’ll notice there in verse 31, He asks the question, “Do you now believe?  I’m happy that you have acknowledged Me and believed in Me thus far, but I am unhappy, Jesus in essence is saying to them, with the maturity of your faith, with the depth of your faith, with the quality of your faith.  So now I will orchestrate things in your lives whereby that faith will develop.

He begins to speak to this in verse 33, “These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace.  Actually I skipped verse 32 didn’t I, I went right to verse 33.  Here’s what I meant to say.  “Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be sdcattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.”

What is about to happen is a problem is about to come into your life; in fact, an hour is coming.  Now this hour, I believe, primarily speaks of the final week of Christ’s life, the passion week, when the disciples’ faith would be tested to the maximum sense.  Their program for Jesus Christ is the coming Kingdom and we want to see it right now. A whole other program is about to be unfolded.  In fact, it’s difficult for them to even understand it but as it unfolds the question is, are they going to continue to trust in God when they can’t understand everything.  And that really is the question in your life, it’s the question in my life.  Are we going to continue to trust God in the midst of life’s circumstances when we can’t make heads nor tales of what is happening to us.

“…an hour is coming,” and notice what He says, “and now is,” verse 32.  The hour was descending on them.  Why is that?  Because Judas, John 13, had already set in motion the plan by which Jesus Christ would be betrayed.  The “hour is coming” and now is, the plan is already moving, in which you will be scattered, each to his own home,” or “each to his own.”  Being scattered refers to a force greater than yourself that is going to come into your life and push you beyond your comfort zone.  When we are pushed beyond our comfort zone we know that is the hand of God in our lives because He is developing something in us which is precious.

Verse 32, “Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered each to his own home, and to leave Me alone;” all of you are acknowledging Me as the Messiah now, when it’s comfortable and easy, but what is about to happen is the moment the fires of the trial hit you will virtually leave me alone and when that happens that trial will evidence, or demonstrate the immaturity of your faith.  We do not test the quality of our faith when everything is rosy.

Anybody can trust God in good times but what is the depth, what is the level, what is the quality of our faith when things done go the way we think they ought to go?  What is the depth, what is the level, what is the maturity, what is the quality of our faith when we go through a valley?  That’s where you determine where you’re at with God, not in terms of initial faith but in terms of the maturity of one’s faith.  Is Christianity to you just a black and white movie?  Or is Christianity to you something much more in depth, is it technicolor?  How we respond to God, not in good times but in the scattering times, by and large, will determine the depth and the quality of our faith.
It is interesting here that Jesus makes a short term prediction; the hour is descending upon you when you will be scattered.   Now one of the things to watch about Jesus, as He ministers to these elveven, is the number of the short term predictions that He gives.  You remember what He said in John 13:19, very early on in the Upper Room Discourse?  “From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He.”  Just in case there are any lingering doubts in your mind concerning My true identity I’m going to give you a series of short term predictions.  Some of those predictions involve your scattering, some of those predictions involve my betrayal, some of those predictions involve Judas and what he will do to Me.  And as the scattering comes you won’t understand it all but when it’s all said and done you’ll be able to look back and you’ll be able to say wow, Jesus predicted all of it.

So He is using these short term predictions to expand the quality of their faith as well, because only God knows the end from the beginning, and the beginning from the end.  Only God can tell them what is going to happen tomorrow and then lo and behold tomorrow happens just like God said.  What other person in the history of the world have you ever come across, Jesus is saying to them in essence, that has this power of predictive prophecies.  We talk about the predictive prophecies about the end of the age and those are fascinating to study but here He is giving them short term things, things that are going to happen within days, within weeks, as further evidence of who He is.
One of the guys that is about to be tested to the maximum is this guy named Peter.  Remember what Peter said in John 13:37-38?  “Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, where are You going?’  Jesus answered, ‘Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.’  [37] Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow You right now?  I will lay down my life for You.’”  And Jesus must have been thinking to Himself that’s a joke.  Verse 38, “Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for Me?  Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you have denied Me three times.”  Peter, you’ve come a long way, your trusting in Me but your faith muscle is very flabby.  It’s very immature.  And to demonstrate to you the weakness of your faith I am about to put you through a series of circumstances through which you, who just said you’ll lay down your life for Me, you are actually about to deny Me, not once, not twice, but three times.

Did Peter develop through this crisis?  Did he develop through this experience.  You bet your bottom dollar that he did.  How do I know that?  Because when you get to Acts 1-10 there isn’t a more important guy in the life of the early church than Peter.  You look at all of the major sermons that are recorded and all of the major decisions that are made in Acts 1-10 and you’ll discover Peter is the instrument that God is using.  In fact, according to tradition it is Peter who will be crucified upside down decades later so as to glorify God.  This man, who was so weak in faith, would become a stalwart of the Christian cause.

You see, that’s what God is doing with you.  That’s what God is doing with me.  He looks into your future and He says there is so much I want to through you but your level of faith is so infantile, your level of faith is so immature, that I cannot use you the way I want so we will develop the faith muscle through a series of crises and difficulties because God never looked at Peter the way he was, He looked at him based on what He would become.  And that’s how He looks at me and that’s how He looks at you.

Peter, decades later in his epistle called 1 Peter, would learn his lesson because he would write these words, “In this you greatly rejoice, even though for now, for a little while if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials.”  [1 Peter 1:6]  He’s writing to a flock of believers who are about to go into the first imperial persecution against Christianity, the Neronian persecution.  And He tells them that you are being beset by various trials.  Why is that? [verse 7]  “so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold, which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

He describes the way God matures out faith using this analogy of the refiner’s fire.  Not every reference to fire in the New Testament is talking about hell.  This is not talking about the fires of hell.  This, instead, is talking about something called the refiner’s fire.  A refiner’s fire is designed, not to destroy that which it is refining.   The only thing the refiner’s fire can do is to purify that which it is refining.   That is the trial that Peter is about to go through.  He could look back on it decades later and he could see it as a refiner’s fire.  It did not destroy their faith, what it did is it brought that faith, which was immature, into a greater state of maturity.

The Lord was not satisfied with Peter’s level of faith when He spoke to him in the Upper Room Discourse.  And so the refiner’s fire was set in motion.  The Lord is not happy with your level of faith.  The Lord is not happy with my level of faith.  He certainly is pleased with our progress but He is not content with where we are.  And that will be the case until your dying day in Christ.  You will make great strides and great progress in God but God will never sit and look and say well, they’ve arrived.  We do not arrive until we enter glorification.  In the meantime faith is always a candidate for greater development.

You say well, I thought the Lord loved us as we are.  He does!  He loves you as you are, but you know what?  He loves you too much to leave you like you are.  He looks at me and He loves me as I am but He loves me too much to leave me as I am.  The refiner’s fire, therefore, being a necessity to bring that faith, without which it is impossible to please God, to a greater level of development.

As you look back on your life you’ll have to acknowledge this point, that the times you grew the most as a believer were not times where you were on the mountaintop.  I love the mountaintop experiences in God, I wouldn’t change the mountaintop experiences in God for anything but I have noticed, at least in my own life, that you can enjoy the mountaintop and then God says okay, we’re going down again.  We’re going through yet another valley.  And as you go through the valleys of life and the mountaintop experiences in life you’ll have to admit that you grow the most in the valley.  We simply do not grow on the mountaintop.  Why is that?  Because on the mountaintop you’ve got everything figured out right?  If you’ve got everything figured out why do you have to trust God.  If you’re on the mountaintop too long the faith muscle which is in you begins to become flabby and it begins to atrophe.  And mountaintops to valleys to mountaintops to valleys to mountaintops to valleys will be, as you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, the pattern of your life till your dying day.

That’s why there is so much in the New Testament about “Consider it pure joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.”  [James 1:2]  How foreign an idea that is to us, to be joyful in the midst of trials.  Joy in the midst of trials is something which can only happen as we look at our lives thorugh the divine grid and the divine blueprint.

And then Jesus says once this scattering comes and you are driven “each to his own home,” you that told me that you would lay down your lives for Me, He says to me you will go and you will “leave
Me alone.”  And notice what else He says here, ,”yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.”

Did you know that within the Trinity, except for one exception, there was never a schism between God the Father and God the Son?  Did you know that God the Father was with God the Son until the very end?  The eleven certainly weren’t.  But God the Father was.
Now you say what was that one exception.  The only exception is when Jesus became the sin-bearer for the world’s sins.  Remember what He said in Matthew 27:46, “About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice,” and it gives the Aramaic expression, [“Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani?”] which is translated, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?”   This is why Jesus did not want to, I believe, in His human sense go through with the ordeal of the cross.  He knew that as He went through the ordeal of the cross and that the sin debt of the world was transferred to Him and God the Father was pouring out His wrath on God the Son, for our sins, that there would be a momentary rupture in the fellowship between God the Father and God the Son.

2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf,” He did not sin but He became sin in the sense that He became the sin-bearer.  There was a moment in time in which God the Father poured out His wrath on God the Son for the sins of the entire world.  But even that transaction itself was temporary.  As we will be studying, beginning next week most likely, there is a prayer that follows in John 17 where Jesus prays that when it’s all said and done I want to be restored to that position of glory that I had with You before the world was.  This bearing the sin debt of the world was temporal.  And other than that brief fracture in the Trinity, God the Father, was always with God the Son.  Jesus is saying it doesn’t matter if you believe Me, and in fact, you will leave Me, but the Father never will.

And this becomes a very important principle for us to understand.  People will let you down.  Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man of too many friends comes to ruin,” be careful about loading up your friends list on Facebook.  “A man of too manyf riends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”  Isaiah 43:2 puts it this way:  “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.”  Now why was that?  Because God would be with us in the midst of trials.

I am reminded of the book of Daniel, Daniel 3:24-25, where Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were thrown into the firey furnace.  Remember that story? Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian kind, who threw them into that fire looked into the fire.  Daniel 3:24-25 records what Nebuchadnezzar saw.  “Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded and he stood up in haste; he said to his high officials, ‘Was it not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire?’  They replied to the king, ‘Certainly, O king.”  [26] He said, ‘Look!  I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearnce of the fourth is like a son of the gods!’”  Isn’t that great.

In the most difficult of times of your life, where people disappoint because people are tainted by the same sin nature that besets you and besets all of us, isn’t it great that no matter how many people desert you have promises from God that He will not desert you.  And there are promises like this all over the Bible.

Matthew 28:20, as Jesus is giving the great commission to the disciples, He says, “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  Spoken to eleven people that were about, as the decades unfolded, to be martyred for the cause of Christ; rejected by the things of this world, rejected by the dignitaries and the higher-ups of this world.  And yet through it all, I will be with you, “even to the end of the age.”

Hebrews 13:5 comforts those who lost financial prosperity because of persecution from unbelieving Jews.  They lost their homes.  Maybe some of you within the sound of my voice this past year have had a monumental loss of some sort, family, friends, economics, property.  The author of Hebrews says this: “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never,” now “never” means never.  “…I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake You.”

The fact of the matter is man can disappoint; family can disappoint, God forbid the church of Jesus Christ can be a real bummer sometimes.  There are people in the church of Jesus Christ that are just regular ordinary people and because they are regular ordinary people they will disappoint you as well.  If you have a church you have problems, right?  Because people are in a church and as long as people are in a church there’s going to be problems.  Now if you don’t have any people in your church then you’ve got another problem.  But as long as there’s people with flesh, like you have, there will be disappointments, there will be bruised feelings.  There will be people that you trust in and they just don’t follow through.

What does Psalm 27:10 say in the midst of that?  “For my father and mother have forsaken me,” now father and mother is your most important relationship in your life besides your marriage and your children.  Father and mother is everything to a person.  “For my father and my mother,” and it’s so tragic to see people that have been rejected by their own parents for whatever reason, that happens.  “For my father and my mother have forsaken me,” Psalm 27:10 says, “but the LORD will take me up.”  The Lord will defend my case; the Lord will stand by me even if my own parents desert me.

There is a big difference between understamding these things intellectually and understanding these things experientially and that is the devlopment between an immature faith to a mature faith.  You see, the person with the immature faith says I know all the verses, I’ve got my theological boxes checked off, I know this and I know that and I can spit out the doctrines and spit out the Bible verses.  But you see, the Lord wants you to know the Bible verses but there’s so much more in store.  He wants you to actually experience His presence in the midst of a dessertion.

You see, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego no doubt knew the theology well before they were thrown into the fiery furnace.  Daniel no doubt knew the theology well before he was thrown into the lion’s den.  These disciples knew the theology well before the ordeal of the Passion Week was about to happen.  But once Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego went into the fire and they experienced the fourth man in that fire, who looks like the son of the gods, you’re no longer dealing with intellect any more.  Intellect is important.  You’re no longer dealing with academics any more.  You’re no longer dealing with memorizing some data to pass a test because there’s so much more than that.  You are now actually experiencing the presence of God rather than just knowing something intellectually.

What is Jesus saying?  I want you to believe but I want you to keep on believing.  I want you to trust Me for salvation but I want you, as you grow in Christ to continue to experience the power and the presence of God in your life when things in your life, from the human point of view, seem to go south.  The difference between an intellectual understanding of the Bible and an experiential understanding of the Bible is all of the difference in the world.  That is growth from faith which exists, which is immature, to a vivacious faith, a bold faith, a faith which continues to trust in God over and over again despite the exigencies and the problems of life.  That is the difference between believe and believing.  That is the difference between black and white, watching the movie, and watching it in technicolor.

And let me just say this from personal experience; God is not going to leave you alone until that faith that is inside of you starts to grow.  And if you don’t understand that what you will begin to think is God has deserted you.  In reality God brings these things into our lives, not to hurt us but to refine us, much like the refining fire purifies.  These things are not designed to destroy.  These things are designed to purify, to build, to mature, to grow.  We’re moving from intellect, God says,s to experience, are you ready?  You’re not going to like it but in hindsight you will, here we go!  We’re going through another valley.  But Lord, I’m comfortable up here on the mountain top.  Sorry, that’s not the divine program.  You want your permanent mountain top you can get that in glorification; you’ll get primo real estate, believe me, on your mountain top.  But until you die and enter glory it is one mountain top to a valley, to a mountain top to a valley.

And notice what Jesus begins to say in verse 33, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace.”  What is peace?  Well, peace refers to our position before God.  Did you know that before we came to Christ we were at war with God, Romans 5:10 calls us God’s enemies.  [Romans 5:10, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”]  Now that we are in Christ by way of faith and our sin debt has been paid for we are at peace with God, Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Positional peace.  But there’s more to it than that.

Positional peace is one thing, that’s the greatest thing you can have; there’s something more though, called experiential peace.  Experiential peace is the tranquility that a person has the ability to experience in the midst of a storm.  Paul experienced it.  In Philippians 4:6-7 he says, “Be anxious for nothing,” nothing means nothing, “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  Verse 7, “And the peace of God,” this is experience now, “which surpasses all comprehension will guard your heart and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Paul did not write those words from a place of comfort.  He was in a prison cell, largely unclear about what his future held as his case was being handled by Caesar.  And some of you are in a prison cell, maybe not physically but metaphorically, there are question marks regarding your future.  And yet Paul, in the midst of all of that could talk about a peace which surpasses all understanding.  That’s the difference between intellect and experience, black and white and color.

“These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace.”  I love the story of the storm on the Sea of Galilee.  Tonight if you come back I’ll show you why there’s storms there, there’s a geographical reason.  Of the storm that is about to overtake a boat, I’ll even show you tonight, not too much of a plug here, pictures of a Galilean fisherman’s boat that they’ve discovered.  So this storm overtakes them.  Jesus, Mark 4:38, was in the stern, what does it say, “asleep on the cushion”.  [Mark 4:38, “Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”]

Jesus Christ, in the midst of a storm was totally calm.  Can I ask you a question.  Where does Jesus live right now?  He lives inside of you, doesn’t He?  Doesn’t the book of Galatians, Galatians 2:20, doesn’t Paul say “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God….”  Is not the same Jesus Christ who is asleep with his head on a cushion in the midst of a storm, is He not inside of you?  Is not God the same today, yesterday and tomorrow.  You put these things together, is this not an ability that we have as God’s people to experience in the midst of difficulty not just a positional peace, which is always yours, but an experiential peace.  Is that not the differnce to believe to be saved and believing?  Is that not the difference between black and white and color?  Is that not the difference between intellect and experience?  That’s the trajectory that God has us on.

Notice verse 33, the words, the prepositional phrase “in Me.”  How do you get positional peace?  How do you get experiential peace?  May I just say it is only available through the Prince of Peace.  Probably the first lesson I ever got on this was in San Bernadino County around the year 1987-1988.  The reason I got this experience is because I needed a paper typed.  I looked on the bulletin board and there was an advertisement for someone to type a paper.  This was back in the prehistoric age, before e-mail and things of that nature.  I called this person up, I had to drop off the paper by hand.  I went into her home, didn’t know her at all, her name was Sandy{?}.  Frankly as I look back I have often wondered what happened to her because I don’t know.

But I went into her house, she was in a wheel chair, she was obviously in a physically deteriorating state.  I was a very new Christian at the time.  I looked around her home and I saw evidence of Christianity; I saw plaques with Bible verses on them, Jesus statues, those kind of things.  And finally I asked her, because she seemed so calm after telling me what had happened to her through conversation, she had been at one time in her life very prosperous in the mortgage business. She began to get reports from the doctor regarding her declining health.  She had sold everything, all of her business.  She had moved to San Bernadino County, not far from where I was a student at the time, basically to die.

How was she supporting herself?  She was supporting herself through these typing jobs that she would do for university students, a few dollars here, a few dollars there.  Finally I began to get into a spiritual conversation with her.  It was very clear that she was a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. She preached to me about the best sermon I’ve ever heard, and it was just a few words.  “There is no peace without Him.”  Here I was looking, with my head as an arrogant twenty-something, filled with knowledge, about ready to graduate, looking at somebody who was walking with God.  This was not intellect for her, this was experience.  This was not sitting outside a fire and wondering if God is going to show up.  This is going into the fire and the fourth man shows up.  And I began to understand that as much as I thought I had arrived as a Christian at the ripe old age of twenty something, twenty-one, twenty-two, that I knew basically nothing about the things of God because God allowed me to experience her and to watch her in life.

There are people like this in your life, that God is going to introduce into your life as well. Some of us will become her; some of us God has a program in mind where life will deteriorate from the human point of view but what does the Scripture say?  “Though my mother and father desert me, the LORD will take me up.  [Psalm 27:10]  This peace that she had was not available through drugs; it was not available through alcohol, it was not available through financial prosperity, because she was anything but lucrative.  It was not available through a healthy body, it was obvious that her body was deteriorating.  I don’t think I described her disease, I think it was leukemia that she had.  It was avilable through the Prince of Peace.

Verse 33, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me,” those words, “in Me” are such a good deal, “so that in Me you may have peace.”

He goes on in verse 33 and he says, “In the world you will have tribulation.  They are about to have tribulation through the Passion Week.  But you see, I take this passage, not as only a description of the Passion Week, not only as a description of the immanent crisis that they are about to enter, but it is descriptive of the pattern of the Christian and the church age believer living in a hostile world system.  The language, to my mind, goes far beyond just the passion week.  Jesus is describing the Passion Week but He is describing a pattern which would emerge.

You’ll notice this word “world, “In the world you have tribulation.”  Well, we know what the problem with the world is; the world is under the control of the devil.  Jesus has said that in John 12:31, He called Satan the ruler of this world.  John 14:30, John 16:11.  [John 12:31, “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.”  John 14:30, “I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.”  John 16:11, “and concerning judgment,  because the ruler of this world has been judged.”]

Did not Jesus say in John 15:18-19, a chapter earlier, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.  [19] If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.”

Does not John in 1 John 2:15, in his other book, say “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  [16] For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.  [17] The world is  passing away, and also its lusts….”  Everything that we know about this term “world,” the Greek word kosmos, is a reference to an alien value system that we’re living in.  That’s why in the world we have tribulation.  We are an alternative system of thought and values living in Satan’s territory.  That, beloved, will not change until glory.  The circumstances that the world is in will not change until the Second Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ and the establishment of His Kingdom.  That is why we pray, “Thy Kingdom come.”

So we are living in a world system that is antithetical and is hostile to God.  Somebody sent me in the mail a tract.  It’s from The Voice of the Martyrs ministries.  It’s entitled 2014 Global Report on where Christians are being persecuted today.  If you get your hands on this tract I would encourage you to take a look at it because they have in this tract every country on the planet and they document, in a very short space, how many Christians there are, how many groups are hostile to Christians, and what percentage of Christ’s body is under persecution as we talk.  It’s quite eye opening for someone that grew up in America that knows nothig but peace and prosperity.  Did you realize that 50 million martyrs have preceded us, roughly, in the last 2,000 years of church history? Do we realize that most of the body of Christ as I speak is under persecution somewhere around the world.  And what is happening here in America is an abnormality, it’s an anomaly!  And yet, why are we surprised by this, did not Jesus say, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace.  In the world y ou have tribulation,” and how we love the promises of God, don’t we.  “My God will supply all your needs, I love that one. I love that one.  [Philippians 4:19, “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”]

Well, what about this one, this is a promise, is it not?  “In the world you will have tribulation.”  Acts 14:22 says this: “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying ‘through many” not some, “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”  What is the normative pattern for the child of God?  Mountin top, valley, mountain top, valley, because that is how that faith muscle is developed.  Does not the Lord’s brother, in James 1:2-4 say, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encournter various trials, [3] knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  [4] And let endurance have its perfect result, so that  you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Peter described that as the refiner’s fire which does not destroy, it matures or purifies what is there.
And how we are candidates, according to the Scripture, for problems.  We’re candidates for trials.  Jesus said so in John 16:33. [“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”]  We are candidates for man’s wrath, 2 Timothy 3:12 says, “Indeed,” here’s another promise, you ready?  “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

You say well pastor, I’m not being persecuted.  Well, maybe the problem is the first part of the verse, maybe you don’t desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus, because if you desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus, in a value system, in a world system that Satan controls, how can you not experience persecution?  We are candidates for Satan’s wrath himself. Ephesians 6:11-12 clearly tells us that we “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers and rulers of this dark world.”  [Ephesians 11-12, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  [11] For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”]

And while I am just thrilled to death that we have our children in our Wednesday night Kids of the Heavenly Kingdom program memorizing Ephesians 6.  I work on it every night with my daughter.  And how important it is to understand that, that God never promised us a rose garden.  What He promised us was growth through difficulty and how we are a candidate for the world’s wrath, John 15:18-19, verses we just read earlier.

And how heart breaking it is to turn on so-called Christian media and have the message coming through over and over again that God wants you to be blessed, God wants you to prosper, God wants to heal you.  And maybe He will bless you and maybe He will heal you, and maybe He will prosper you but those are not promises for the church age believer. These are the promises of God, and yet they are never designed for destruction but for purification.  And how, of all of the churches in this city how many of them this morning are even talking about this?  And yet it is as clear as language itself; it is as clear as the revelation of the New Testament itself.  And how grateful I am that there is a form of wrath that I am not accountable for.  What form of wrath would that be?  That’s the wedge between the Trinity that Jesus stepped into at a time in history where in a moment He bore the wrath of God the Father for the sins of the world.

Oh yes, I’m a candidate for trials, I’m a candidate for man’s wrath, I’m a candidate for Satan’s wrath, I’m a candidate for the world’s wrath, these are promises from God, I’m very comforted that God will use these things as the refiner’s fire, but I am not a candidate for divine wrath.  And there are people that have walked into this room and they don’t even know Jesus personally.  That’s very possible.  May I just say to you that if you do not know Jesus personally you are a candidate for divine wrath because someone has to pay for the sin debt.  Either we’re going to pay or a Holy God will pay.  We will pay for all eternity or we will simply accept the gift of Jesus Christ, who stepped into the line of fire and absorbed the wrath of God in our place.  Because He went through that, we are the beneficiaries of what He has done.  Because He went through that we don’t have to.  And that’s the gospel.  You receive this benefit just as easy as you receive a gift and in the mind of God there’s only one way to receive it and that’s by faith because “without faith,” as we have seen, “it is impossible to please God.”  [Hebrews 11:6]

If you’re here today and you have never received this free gift, our exhortation to you is to receive it right now where you’re seated.  You don’t have to raise a hand to do it, you don’t have to walk an aisle to do it, you don’t have to give money to a church to do it, you don’t have to vow to try harder in your life to receive it, you receive it as a free gift by believing, another way of saying believing is to trust.  In other words, you rely on it, you confidence is built in it.  And initial faith in Christ will enter you into this blessing.

In the quietness of your mind, in the quietness of your thoughts and heart if you’re here without Christ our exhortation to you is to believe His truth.  That moves you from death unto life.  And then once that happens, oh, God will let you rest a little bit, but get ready, because the faith that’s in you, that is extremely precious to God, will be built through the many tribulations and trials of life.  And as we go through these things we don’t become bitter and angry at people and God, we learn that this is the hand of a loving God in our lives to bring us to a higher level.

Shall we pray.