Teaching series from John

The Help of the Holy Spirit (Part 2)

John 14

Teaching t22490

Introduction

John as an eye-witness account. Jn.14-16 narrates Jesus’ final conversation with His disciples before just before His arrest and crucifixion. He lays a bomb on them: “This very night I am leaving you in a hostile environment to fulfill a humanly impossible mission.” No wonder their hearts are troubled (14:1), and they are filled with sorrow (16:6,22)! But He makes an amazing statement: “You’ll be far better off after I leave, because I’ll send the Holy Spirit to be your Helper (read 16:6,7; define parakletos – a Person who is our Advocate, Counselor, Encourager – not One who helps us as we do most of the work, but like Jesus, the One who does the heavy lifting).

This promise of the Holy Spirit as Helper was not just for Jesus’ disciples; He is Jesus’ promise and gift to all Christians. The Christian life is not trying to remember our dead Founder and imitate Him by our own moral will-power! The Christian life is the Spirit-filled life—a life of daily receiving His supernatural help in order to live Jesus’ life of radical love. It is, in fact, Jesus living His life in us through the Spirit (Acts.1:1; Gal.2:20). One of the main reasons why Christians are spiritually impotent and unattractive is that they are ignorant of the Holy Spirit’s help and/or that they do not appropriate His help! Which description fits your Christianity? Could this be your problem? How often do you think about, talk about, depend on the Holy Spirit's help?

LAST WEEK, we learned about two key ways the Holy Spirit helps every Christian: He personally assures us of God’s love, and He tutors us in God’s Word. THIS WEEK, we’re going to look at how the Holy Spirit helps us fulfill our mission.

Our mission

Jesus speaks of our mission in 17:8 (read). What is He sending us into the world to do? Read 15:27—to “testify about Him.” Martus is a legal term, meaning to bear witness. When you testify in court, you report your personal knowledge about the issue in question (EXAMPLE). To testify about Jesus is simply to report your personal knowledge of Jesus to those who don’t know Him. The disciples had been physically with Jesus (15:27b), so they could obviously testify about Him. But we have also been with Jesus since receiving Him—so we can testify about Him and the difference He has made in our lives. Christians sometimes refer to their “testimony” or “witnessing” from this term. We’ll call this “sharing Christ” because this is accurate and non-churchy.

Jesus’ disciples understood that this was their mission, and they were committed to fulfilling it—but as soon as Jesus was arrested, they failed miserably. Ten of them deserted Him, and even Peter wound up denying Him three times. But only a short time later, these same men became super-effective witnesses, as did those who became Christians through them (EXPANSION BY 100 A.D.). Why were they and the early church so effective? Because Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, and they depended on His help! It is not a coincidence that the book of Acts, which records the early church’s witnessing effectiveness, contains over 60 references to the Holy Spirit.

Why are so many American Christians ineffective in their mission? Year after year, research shows that they know that this is their mission, and believe that it is vitally important—yet few of them testify about Jesus regularly: Only half of them share their faith even once a year. So church leaders urge them to invite guests, or promote training session after training session, or launch campaign after campaign—but with no lasting improvement. What can be done for them? What can be done for you if this describes you? Here is Jesus’ answer: Learn about how the Holy Spirit will help you to speak about Him, and begin to depend on Him to do this! When we do this, sharing Christ ceases to be an intimidating duty that’s all up to us, and becomes an exciting adventure of seeing the Spirit at work. Jesus speaks of two ways that the Holy Spirit helpsus to fulfill our mission ...

He enables us to share Christ effectively

Read 15:26,27. Jesus is saying: “Speak what you know about Me, knowing that the Holy Spirit will help you do this.” Jesus made the same promise in Acts1:8 (read)—the Spirit will supply us with power to be Jesus’ witness (same word). What does His help/power look like? The rest of the New Testament describes three kinds of help: opportunity, courage, and clarity.

He creates opportunities to speak. You don’t have to be pushy or manipulative to talk to people about Jesus. The Holy Spirit can create opportunities to speak naturally about Jesus—the New Testament calls these opportunities “open doors.” Sometimes, these open doors are with people we already know; sometimes they are with people we don’t know well or at all. Sometimes they open because people ask you about something related to your faith; sometimes they open because the conversation leads naturally to talking about this part of your life. Acts is filled with examples of this, and I’ve experienced hundreds of them since I met Christ—including two surprising ones in the last month (K.L. & S.W.).

This changes the way you look at work, your neighborhood, your interactions with friends and family, even strangers you bump into! The Spirit is at work in all of these arenas, creating opportunities to share Christ and helping you to recognize them. Ask Him to give you this help, and see what happens!

Of course, once you recognize an opportunity, you need something else—courage to open your mouth. But the Holy Spirit will help here also...

He gives us courage to speak. You don’t have to have a naturally confident personality in order to speak about Jesus. The church in Jerusalem was not filled with naturally courageous Christians. In fact, when they were threatened with persecution, they were very intimidated. So they asked God for courage to speak up—and the Holy Spirit gave them courage (read Acts4:29,31). The apostle Paul got intimidated about talking about Christ when he was in prison. So he asked other Christians to pray that God would enable him to do this with boldness (read Eph.6:19,20)—and God answered his prayers.

This changes the way you react when you feel intimidated about talking about Jesus. Instead of just feeling guilty, you can pray (alone and with other Christians) for the Spirit to give you courage. Instead of caving in to fear in the midst of a conversation, you can pray silently on the spot: “Holy Spirit, help me!” And He will help you! He may not take away all fear, but He will give you courage that will outweigh your fear. And gradually your confidence in His help will grow.

Of course, once He gives you courage to speak up, you need something else—clarity in our speech about Jesus. But the Holy Spirit will help here also...

He enables us to speak clearly about Jesus. You don’t have to be naturally articulate and persuasive. Most of Jesus’ disciples weren’t naturally articulate. But He told them not to worry about that—even when put on trial—because the Holy Spirit would teach them what to say on the spot (read Lk.12:11,12). Paul was a naturally articulate speaker, but he learned to ask others to pray for the Holy Spirit to help him speak clearly (read Col.4:3).

This changes the way you look at talking about Jesus. Instead of feeling like you have to have all the answers, or like you have to have a script to follow, or like you have to control the conversation—you can simply ask the Holy Spirit to help you in what you say, and then open your mouth and see what happens!

This is great help, and depending on it can change this whole area of your Christian life. But there’s even more help that the Holy Spirit gives...

He convicts people that they need to believe in Jesus

Read 16:8-11. I’m not sure what 16:9-11 means, but 16:8 is pretty clear. The Holy Spirit directly convicts non-Christians (“the world”) that they need to believe in Jesus. “Convict” is also a legal term. It means to convince, expose, persuade personally of fault or guilt or need. Jesus is saying: “The same Spirit who will help you speak about Me to them will also personally convict them that they need Me.”

You can see both of these helps in operation in Acts 2. Peter is filled with the Spirit (2:4) to testify with boldness and clarity, and his hearers are “pierced to the heart” as they hear him (2:37). You can see it again in Acts 6,7. Stephen is filled with the Spirit to testify with boldness and clarity (7:55), and his hearers are “cut to the quick” as they hear him (7:54).

Here are three things you need to know about the Holy Spirit’s conviction:

He convicts in a variety of ways. He may convict you that you are guilty before God, and that only Jesus can forgive you. He may convict you that you are lost, and that only Jesus can give your life direction (ME). He may convict you that you are deeply lonely, and that only Jesus’ love can heal this. He may convict you that you lack true purpose for your life, and that only Jesus can provide this. He may convict you of the inevitability of your death, and that only Jesus can overcome death. The Spirit knows the depths of your heart, and He exposes the deepest needs of your heart and tells you: “You need Jesus for this.”

His conviction will not override your free will. He does personally “knock” (Rev.3:20) by convicting us and summoning us to believe in Jesus—but He doesn’t break the door down. We have to choose to open the door. It is unwise to resist and reject His conviction (Acts 7:51,57,58). I did this, and when I received Christ two years later, one of my first thoughts as a Christian was: “Thank You for Your patience and persistence; I wish I had listened to You the first time.” If the Holy Spirit is convicting you of your need for Jesus, there’s no better time to respond than now! (GOSPEL)

His conviction doesn’t replace our speaking; it supplements our speaking. Sometimes He convicts before we speak, so that people are already convicted of their need by the time we speak to them (Acts 8,10). Sometimes He convicts as we speak, so that they are pierced on the spot (Acts2,7; EXAMPLE). Sometimes He convicts after we speak, so we can’t judge by their immediate reaction to our words (EXAMPLE).

The point is that we can absolutely count on the Spirit’s convicting help! We have an invisible Persuader who does the heavy lifting! It is not our job to convince people that they need to receive Jesus. That’s the Spirit’s job—and He will do His job. Our job is simply to share Christ with the Spirit’s help (above), depend on the Spirit to convict—and leave the rest between people and God.

Conclusion

SUMMARIZE the Spirit’s two helps for our mission. This is what makes testifying about Jesus an exciting adventure!

NEXT WEEK: Jesus tells us how to appropriate the Holy Spirit’s help.

DISCUSSION QUESTION: How can we help one another remember and focus on these helps? (e.g., think about your own conversion; corporate prayer theme; share examples of experiencing these helps; encourage with them when people are intimidated &/or discouraged)

“Survey respondents who were born again Christians... were asked if they had shared their faith in Christ with non-believers during the past twelve months. The research showed that there has been no significant change in this behavior during the past decade, with six out of ten Christians claiming to have shared their beliefs about Jesus with someone whom they knew believed differently.” Barna Research Group, April 3, 2006