An Extraordinary Claim & an Astonishing Assurance

Gospel of John #38: an exposition of John 14:12-17. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, September 25, 2011.

I’m convinced the life of faith is greatly misunderstood.  There are those who embrace the lie that “religion is a crutch” for the weak.  There are those who are convinced that the life of faith is dangerous, not only for those who believe, but for culture in general.  If you haven’t noticed, the “new atheism” is militant and aggressive.  They no longer shake their heads in pity for the poor misguided religious crowd, they seek to rid society of any and all reference to faith.  That is to faith in general and to Christianity in particular.  Of greater concern to me is the lack of understanding within the church.  Too many of us misunderstand the life of faith.  We think of faith in “magic” terms.  Prayers are used as incantations.  Church membership is reduced to a talisman or good luck charm to ward off evil spirits.  It is thought if I claim Jesus nothing bad can happen to me and if it does – then there must not be anything to this faith and we walk away.  The life of faith is my trust in the sovereign, gracious work of God in saving me from the wrath to come.  It is God’s mercy in taking me from death to life and enabling me to have a relationship with the Creator.  It isn’t about wealth, health and the good life.  It is deeper than that.  It is more profound than that.  The life of faith recognizes that we live in a fallen, broken world where horrible, awful things happen to people.  It happens to both the righteous and the unrighteous as part of the curse of the Fall.  Faith is not a “free pass.”  It is not a note excusing you from life’s troubles.  Rather it is the assurance that you will not walk the valley alone.  That you will not be the victim ultimately.  That you will overcome by the blood of the Lamb and His testimony.

The wind had been knocked out of them.
For the last 3.5 years they have walked with Jesus.
They’ve heard His teaching, witnessed His miracles, and marveled at His character.
They are convinced that He is the Messiah.
He is the Anointed One.
But what is the talk of death, of going away, of betrayal and denial?

In a matter of hours, with rapid succession He will be arrested, tried, convicted, condemned, crucified and buried.  What happens then?  What are they to do then?  Are they next?  Would anyone believe our message?  Who wants to follow a dead Messiah?  In love and grace, in mercy and kindness Jesus prepares His disciples for what is about to come.  In turn we find perspective on the life of faith.  Our text is found in the 14th chapter of the Gospel of John.

Text: John 14:12-17

In the face of confusion, doubt, discouragement and unrest Jesus speaks of peace.
He speaks of a settled heart rather than a shuddering heart.

“Let not your heart be troubled…” right.  Just how do I do that?
That is the context for understand all that Jesus is saying in this section.
How do I have a stable heart?
Where do I find courage to continue on?

Here is what I want you to see…
Thesis: In the face of great heartache and overwhelming sorrow Christ promises not only His abiding presence but divine enabling so that we not only survive but serve to advance the kingdom of God.

The life of faith is “messy.” I wish it all fit into neat categories and everything had its place but it doesn’t. Often it is a balancing act. This is one such place.

When I say that the life of faith is not about health, wealth and the good life do not take that to mean it is the life of sickness, poverty and despair!  I’m not suggesting that real faith is about “gutting it out” or gritting your tear and bearing up under it all.  I am saying that life is often hard and filled with trial and struggles but the good news of the gospel is not just that we survive but that we overcome.  After all the apostle Paul says we are more than conquerers through Christ who loved us.  This is a fascinating, surprising text.

Look at verses 12-14.

An extraordinary claim and an astonishing promise.  (14:12-14)

A Remarkable gift and an essential connection.  (14:15-17)

The Gospel comes with an extraordinary claim and a remarkable gift which together mean that in the face of great heartache and overwhelming sorrow Christ promises not only His abiding presence but divine enabling so that we not only survive but serve to advance the kingdom of God.

This is at the heart of what I mean when I say we, the church, too often misunderstand the faith.  It’s not primarily about us.  It’s not about our happiness, our holiness or our future destiny.  It is primarily about God, His glory and His Kingdom – then our happiness, holiness and destiny.

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