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Author:Rev. George van Popta
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Congregation:Jubilee Canadian Reformed Church
 Ottawa, Ontario
Preached At:Ancaster Canadian Reformed Church
 Ancaster, Ontario
Title:The Spirit's Work
Text:John 16:5-15 (View)
Topic:The work of The Holy Spirit

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Songs: Hy. 37:1,2; Hy. 37:3,4; Hy. 36:1,2,3; Hy. 36:4,5; Ps. 139:1,4,13

Reading: Acts 2:1-13

Text: John 16:5-15
* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. George van Popta, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Beloved congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ:

This passage of scripture takes us back to the day before Good Friday. We are in the middle of the Upper Room discourse of the Lord Jesus. This was the night in which he was betrayed. Thursday evening. So it takes us to the evening of his betrayal, arrest and trial-the day before he was crucified-but in this passage the Lord speaks about the day of Pentecost and the ages after until the present time.

He told the disciples that he was going to leave them. They were sad whenever he spoke about how he had to go away. But it was for their good that he was going away, to return to the Father in heaven. For he could not send the Holy Spirit unless he ascended to heaven. He had to complete his redemptive work by his death, resurrection and ascension into heaven. Only once he had completed that work by ascending to heaven could the Holy Spirit take the work of Christ and apply it. He could not apply the work of Christ until Christ had completed it-that is clear. But once he had completed his work by sitting at the right hand of God, then the Holy Spirit could leave heaven, come to earth, and by means of the gospel, spread the saving power of the work of Christ to the ends of the earth. Today the Holy Spirit is working on the earth-ever since the day of Pentecost.

This teaching of our Lord indicates that the work of the Holy Spirit goes in three different directions: Towards the world; towards the disciples; and towards Christ.

I proclaim to you...



1. Convicts the World; 2. Guides the Church 3. Glorifies Christ.

1. The Lord said that when the Holy Spirit came he would convict the world concerning sin, righteousness and judgment.

The Holy Spirit works through the church. Through the preaching, witness, evangelism, and mission of the church. Through the church faithfully administering the Word of God, the Holy Spirit convicts the world. To convict is to find guilty. To show someone his fault, his error, to rebuke him, and to prove him guilty.

The thing about convicted people is some convicts admit their guilt and repent while other convicts harden themselves in their guilt, and become repeat offenders. But whether the conviction is admitted or not, its reality is a fact. As the Holy Spirit convicts the world through the preaching of the church, some are won over to Christ while others reject and continue to reject him as Saviour. But those who refuse to bow in repentance nevertheless stand convicted like some guilty criminals who deny the guilt fully proved against them.

Through the Pentecost preaching of the church, the Holy Spirit convicts the world concerning three things: sin, righteousness and judgment. The Holy Spirit goes out to the world and puts his finger on the three points of sin, righteousness and judgment so as to strike the conscience of men and women, and thus to make them bow in repentance or harden themselves in unbelief and disobedience.

a. First (v. 9) the Holy Spirit convicts the world concerning sin, because men do not believe in Christ.

The point is not that the world does not know anything about sin. The reaction of the world to the murder of Holly Jones shows that the world knows something about sin. It knows that what was done to Holly Jones was evil and sinful. You can also think of the many attempts to reform, correct and rehabilitate convicted criminals-those who have done things that society considers wrong (sin). What the world lacks, and what the Holy Spirit does through the preaching of the church, goes much deeper, though, than calling things as extreme as murder sin. It goes much deeper than correction and rehabilitation. The Holy Spirit convicts regarding sin, because the world does not believe in Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit does not repeat what the law of Moses, the ten commandments, already did, i.e., point out the various sins. The law points out sins. We know our sin and misery from the law of God.

No, the world is convicted concerning sin because it does not believe in Jesus Christ. Not to believe in Christ proclaimed as the Saviour from sin (not to believe the gospel) is the capital sin. The ultimate sin. The sin of sins. It is also to reject the only escape from the wrath of God against sin. For to believe in Christ Jesus is to be have sin forgiven, to be set free. But to reject faith in Christ is to remain damned and doomed forever. A person convicted of sin (and every human being stands convicted) has only one way out-faith in Christ Jesus.

This conviction goes in two different directions. There are those, like the 3000 on the day of Pentecost who, when convicted, shout: Brothers, what shall we do? And there are those who say: Those preachers? A bunch of drunks. Religion? An opiate for the masses.

You believe in Christ Jesus, do you not? If you do not, you remain in your sins. You stand convicted of all your sins, especially the sin of not believing in Christ Jesus. If you do believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, then you-though guilty of sin-are set free. Declared innocent by the blood of Christ.

b. Not only does the Holy Spirit convict the world concerning sin, because men do not believe in Christ. The Holy Spirit also convicts the world concerning righteousness, because the Lord Jesus Christ went to the Father (v. 10).

The world might admit the grosser examples of sin as wrongdoing, and yet it is always trying to cover up sin. To make excuses for sin. To seek its own righteousness in some form or other. And if it thinks of God as the one who says whether or not someone or something is righteous or not, the world is convinced that God will overlook the sins of man. The world thinks that its good deeds will surely outweigh the bad. A works-righteousness.

Many Christians end up there too. Thinking they can get good with God by their own efforts. That their own obedience, or way of thinking, or position on an issue, is what makes them righteous with God. And then anyone who does not act the same way, or thinks a little differently, or has a different position, is no good. And that person gets to hear it. The self-righteous person loves to accuse and condemn others.

What a heavy burden. How hard it is to try to get right with God on your own terms. The divine way to righteousness for the sinner is light and easy. As the Lord said: (Mat 11:30 NIV) "... my yoke is easy and my burden is light." When the Lord said in v. 16 that the Holy Spirit convicts the world in regard to righteousness, because he was going to the Father, where he would no longer be seen, he taught that the only way to true righteousness is through him and the completion of his redemptive work-his being accepted by the Father in the heavenly glories. Righteousness is to be had only through the death, resurrection and heavenly exaltation of Christ.

Do not try to be right with God apart from faith in the exalted Redeemer. Through the preaching of the Church, the Holy Spirit convicts all sinners that true righteousness is available only through faith in Christ who is at the right hand of the heavenly Father. Anyone who does not seek to be righteous in Christ Jesus stands convicted, damned and doomed forever because he spurns the only righteousness that exists for sinners.

c. The Lord also said that the Spirit of Pentecost convicts the world concerning judgment, because the prince of the world (the devil) now stands condemned. Through the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ, the devil stands condemned. His everlasting fate in hell is already sealed. Through the Spirit the church warns the world that those who do not through faith in Christ break away from the devil will experience the same fate. His fate.

And as that message is proclaimed, some turn to Christ and others do not. Some are saved while others are damned and doomed forever.

Beloved, Satan has been defeated. Through the preaching of the church the Holy Spirit is busy gathering in a great harvest. Make sure that you are part of that harvest!

* When the Holy Spirit puts his finger on your sin, repent and turn in faith to Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. * When the Holy Spirit speaks about righteousness, do not seek to be righteous in yourselves, but only in Christ the righteous one who is a the right hand of the Father. * And realize that the prince of this world stands condemned already. Disassociate yourself from him completely that you not be condemned with him.

The Lord spoke about how the Holy Spirit whom he would pour out on the day of Pentecost convicts the world.

2. He also spoke about how the Holy Spirit would guide the church into all truth.

At that point, the disciples still had a lot to learn. They knew a lot, but had much more to learn. The Holy Spirit would teach them. He would guide them in all truth. By "all truth" the Lord meant all the saving realities connected with him and his heavenly Father. The Lord had led his disciples into the truth. He had spent some three years teaching them the truth, the way of salvation, and to be preachers of the truth. But on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit would come to guide them in and around the truth. To grow in the knowledge of the truth.

The Holy Spirit is a good teacher. He knows the truth and is able to guide the church ever more into the truth. Into a better and greater knowledge of the saving truths of the gospel of salvation.

The Holy Spirit will not speak on his own. He will not speak from himself. He will not invent things to say. Rather, he will speak what he hears. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, and he will speak only what the Father and the Son would say. There is no contradiction between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. They bring one message of salvation. * The Father promised it long ago, in the Garden, and had it proclaimed by patriarchs and prophets, and foreshadowed by sacrifices and ceremonies. * The Son came as the Truth of God incarnate and taught the truth while he was on earth. * Since Pentecost, the Holy Spirit has been speaking the truth to the church and through the church.

He guides the church in the truth and makes the church competent to preach the truth. To proclaim the one and only way of true salvation which is through the Lord Jesus Christ-his death, resurrection and exaltation.

Specifically, says the Lord in v. 13, the Holy Spirit will tell the church what is yet to come. The things that are yet coming are singled out for special mention. Through the apostles, the Holy Spirit said quite a bit about the coming things. We can think of 2 Thess. 2. In 2 Thess. 2, the Holy Spirit through Paul gives clear instruction about the coming of Jesus Christ on the clouds of heaven. Or 1 Cor. 15, where we receive instruction about the resurrection from the dead. Or the whole book of Revelation which teaches about the time between the ascension and return of Christ.

The Holy Spirit has taught us a lot about the future. It is contained in the NT. The church must proclaim this. And it is for us, as members of the church, to make ready for the events yet to come. The Holy Spirit is guiding us in the true knowledge of these future events. Are you making ready for them? For the return of Christ? For the day of the resurrection from the dead? For the day of judgment when the secret thoughts of the heart will be exposed?

Not only is the manifold work of the Holy Spirit directed towards the world in convicting it of guilt; neither is it only directed towards the church in guiding it in the truth...

3. The work of the Holy Spirit is also directed towards Christ in that he glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ.

As the Lord said in v. 14, the Holy Spirit "...will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you."

Here we come to the real goal of the Holy Spirit-what the Holy Spirit, poured out on Pentecost, wants to do. He wants to place the Lord Jesus before the eyes and into the hearts of people. He wants the Person of Christ and the gospel of salvation through Christ to shine before mankind in all their beauty, lustre and excellence.

He will take of Christ and apply it to us. The Holy Spirit glorifies Christ by applying his work of salvation to men, women and children on earth.

God the Father is not left out of this. As the Lord said in v. 15: All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, all working together in perfect harmony. The Spirit takes the truth of God-the promise of the gospel and the way of salvation-and applies it to us. He makes it known to us. He applies to us the benefits of the death, the resurrection and ascension of Christ. He convicts you of sin, but then applies the redeeming work of Christ. He blesses you with the righteousness which is from above.

Have you made it your own? Have you appropriated the benefits of salvation? The Holy Spirit applies them. Do you receive them? Do you receive the work of the Holy Spirit as he applies the good gifts of God the Father and the Son? Do you accept it in faith?

Don't reject the work of the Holy Spirit. This afternoon we will speak about the deadly result of knowingly rejecting the work of the Holy Spirit. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Sin against the Holy Spirit. The unforgivable sin.

Don't you reject the Spirit's work. It is all yours, if only you receive the gift with a believing heart. You can receive the free gift of forgiveness and righteousness, and make it your own, by faith only. Then you, together with the Holy Spirit, will bring praise to the Lord Jesus Christ and his heavenly Father.

On this Pentecost Sunday, praise the Holy Spirit for his manifold work. Work directed towards the world, towards the church, and towards Christ. Convicting the world, guiding the church, glorifying Christ. Praise him, the Holy Spirit, who together with the Father and the Son, one only true God, is to be worshipped and glorified in the church through all generations. AMEN

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. George van Popta, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
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(c) Copyright 2003, Rev. George van Popta

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