Friday, June 01, 2007

(#6) John 16 Sermon: In order Comfort, the Spirit has Convict.

(This is my SECOND sermon on the Work of the Spirit in John. Read John 16:5-15 before reading.)
Who is the Holy Spirit, and what does he do?

Who is he? He is the Advocate. (V7). Last week we discovered that the word 'Paraclete', translated here 'Advocate' could also mean comforter, helper, or counselor.

What does he do? (V8). He comes to 'prove the world wrong' (NRSV). And when he (the Advocate) comes, he will 'prove the world wrong' about sin and righteousness and judgment. I'm told that 'prove wrong' is probably an unfortunate translation, for it then appears that the Spirit's work is to win an argument about sin, like He is beating the world at Chess or something.

The Greek work for 'prove wrong' is elencho. The Spirit will 'elencho' the world. Another translation - He will convict the world with regard to... The Advocate will reprove the world. He will lay it bare, expose it; or in the Moffatt translation, he'll take it to task!

Have you noticed the paradox then?

The Advocate: he Prosecutes?

You say: I thought Advocate defended. And prosecutors prosecuted. But here the Advocate Prosecutes. I thought that the Spirit would always make me feel good. And now Jesus is saying he will 'elencho' me? I'll get elenchoed. The World will get elenchoed?

But the Spirit does both: he defends and he prosecutes. And in fact, in order Comfort, the Spirit has to Convict.

We all know this a true paradox in intuitively. In any relationship, for someone to defend and comfort you and be on your side, that person will need to be upfront about things that damage the relationship. Otherwise the relationship cannot survive. We all need to be elenchoed in a functioning relationship. Are any of you married? You know this every other day. You know instinctively that the path to healing comes through openly dealing with the wound.

And what does the Advocate do? He convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment, for she has it all wrong.

  • She is wrong about sin, says Jesus, because she doesn't realize that unbelief in me (through whom the world was created) is the basic human tragedy.
  • She is wrong about righteousness for she fakes and falsifies righteousness; covering up the basic human tragedy with pretend acts righteousness for show: Giving a donation here and there and performing a good deed every now and then; pretending that we part of the solution by our own righteousness, and not part of the problem. And Jesus exposed that in his ministry, and when he goes to the Father, he'll be able to expose that in all the world.
  • She is wrong about judgment, for she sides with common opinion all the time, but the ruler of this world stands condemned.

There's lots of sin in the world. And I don't care what you say: we all know it's effects. And the Spirit will work to convict the world. I think that without being born again, the world knows something of the conviction of God. They know that things are NOT RIGHT. What did Reinhold Niebuhr say?

The only empirically verifiable doctrine of Christianity is the doctrine of original sin.

The more we learn about The Darfur conflict (At least 200,000 dead and million refugeed); and about what is happening in every corner and in every home in America; The more we examine with full disclosure our own lives, then we know something of the work of the Spirit. Because the ONE thing we cannot abide is when one who has committed a crime shows no remorse behind their eyes.

We have enough knowledge to potentially be driven to the cross; to Jesus; to our knees to plead for his Advocacy; to beg him to forgive me to find ease our troubled hearts.

The last paradox next: In order to teach Something New, he has to point to Something Old....

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