Sermon at Kinmundy and Wesley United Methodist Church on 07/21/19. Title: The Paraclete: He Will Bear Witness John 15:26-27. Audio link – Right click, open in new tab to play: [Kinmundy] [Wesley] Right click, open in new tab to view slides as a PDF: [Slides]
As you know, we are in the season of Pentecost. We are in the season where the disciples they were filled with the Holy Spirit and they begin to do what God wanted them to do and what Jesus had prepared them to do for over three years. They were to go and do what Jesus did so that the ministry of Jesus would continue. And they were to go in the power of the Holy Spirit because it wasn’t actually they that would do all of God’s will, it was the Holy Spirit who would come alongside them and come alongside them to help and to empower, and to help them do the miraculous and wonderful things that were needed.
And Jesus promised them in the upper room on his last night, that the Holy Spirit would do six things first. First, he would come alongside of us, which you know what that means. When we come alongside of someone else, the Holy Spirit comes with us. The Holy Spirit comes alongside of our neighbor and we love our neighbor with the power of the Holy Spirit flowing through us to help them and bless them.
Last week, we talked about how Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would teach us all things, but how? The way the Holy Spirit would teach us is as if the Holy Spirit would remind us of everything that Jesus said so that when you went out, the words of Jesus Christ would go with you, when you came up close your neighbor, the words of Jesus Christ would help you to understand what was needed. That’s how the Holy Spirit teaches.
Today, we’re going to talk about what Jesus said with regard to the Holy Spirit bearing witness. What does it mean to bear witness? What sort of witness is it that God desires, that will do God’s will, that will get the results that God wants?
Most people think it’s something like this. I have no idea about the human fascination with signs. But it seems like we want to put the words on the sign because we’re too lazy to say them. And all too often, unfortunately, as human beings, the words we choose to put on a sign do not really reflect God’s love, do not really reflect God’s desire to reach out to people. They reflect our understanding and our understanding all too often is more judgmental, less willing to forgive than the understanding of God.
How does it help God for you to stand on the street with a sign in your hands while people are driving by 30 miles an hour? Are you really ever touching anyone’s life? I found about 12 pictures of people with signs. There’s just a couple to show you. The sign says: Hell is horrible. No warning is too strong. And then here’s a long list of the things that God hates. You kind of wonder where’s the list of the things that God loves. This photo of signs is from April 4, 2012, and at the world worldwide convention of atheists in Adelaide, Australia. Those people with signs, they probably did a lot of good that day, you think? You think anybody was converted that day, anybody gave up their atheism that day? Because the Christians were there to wave their signs on the sidewalk?
Let me ask you something realistic. Maybe this use of signs and confrontation has worked for you. But has more criticism ever changed anyone’s life? Have you noticed that? Here’s the problem. As the criticism gets deeper, the person just gets madder at you. This is the reason why God told us to love our neighbor, not judge and criticize our neighbor.
Now, sometimes, loving someone means to them, “Uh-uh-uh.” Parents, you sometimes need to do that with the children, right? “No, no, no, no, no.” Sometimes love requires us to be a little tough … but maybe not this tough and maybe not with complete and total strangers. Why? None of those people involved in that protest ever got to know an atheist person personally to the point to where they could influence that person to find.
I blacked out two words here on the next slide. The words that are blacked out are this person’s denomination because it doesn’t really matter what denomination is on her sign. It says you have to be their denomination to get to heaven. I see that on signs a lot. It’s almost like a competition where the person is looking down and basically says something like, “Don’t you want to be like me?” Because then God would love you.” Do you think that works? Do you think that helps? Do you think when God said to us that we are to love our neighbor as ourself that this is what God wants?
Saint Francis supposedly said that we were to preach the Gospel at all times. And he also said, “If necessary, use words.” Sometimes the words we choose are not the words God would choose. But because the command is for us to love, love is always right.
What sort of witness does God desire? I liken it to the sprinkler that carefully and slowly provides the water to the thirsty ground. Zechariah 4:6 says this, “‘Not by might, human might, not by power, human power, but by My spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts. God wants to do God’s work through the power of the Holy Spirit, not through whatever power you and I might have to offer. We are people through whom the Holy Spirit works. And friends, that’s who Jesus was. He was someone who was the Son of God, but He modeled this for us. He was the one through whom the Holy Spirit worked.
Here’s the scripture for today. When the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness to me. We’re in charge of creating situations where the Holy Spirit can bear witness. All we have to do is be there. We’re sort of like the chauffeur that brings the Holy Spirit to the neighborhood. God wants the Holy Spirit to bear witness. And in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, we join in that. The very next verse: And you also witness because you did with me from the beginning. We need to make certain that we do not get in the way of what the Holy Spirit wants to do.
Here’s an example. Luke 19:1. Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. And a man was there by the name of Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. What you should know about chief tax collectors is they were a little bit like the Mafia. They would come and tell you how much tax you owed and if you did not pay that tax, they would take your property. And if you disagreed with them they would have the Roman soldier with them stick you with a spear. They were evil, evil, evil people, and this was one of them.
Verse 3: But he wanted to see who Jesus was but he was very short and he couldn’t see over the crowd, so guess what he did? He ran ahead and climbed a sycamore fig tree to see him since Jesus was coming that way. The Holy Spirit is working through Jesus; notice what happens? People who are evil are drawn to him. People who need to live a different life are drawn to him. People can feel the love of God within him. People can feel the Holy Spirit flowing through him. People are drawn to Jesus, even to the point of climbing up in a tree.
Verse 5. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and he said to him, Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today. In other words, he invited himself to lunch. I don’t know how your mother raised you. My mother raised me to never invite yourself to somebody’s house for a meal. But Jesus knew this was the right thing to do because he was guided by the Holy Spirit.
Verse 6. So Zacchaeus came down at once and welcomed Jesus gladly. All the people around Jesus saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” Remember all those signs? They were carrying those sort of signs that day. They did not approve of Jesus spending time with evil people. But the Holy Spirit wanted to spend time with Zacchaeus, so Jesus went alongside of Zacchaeus and the Holy Spirit went alongside with Jesus and the Holy Spirit was working on Zacchaeus the whole time.
But Zacchaeus stood up in the middle of lunch and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord. Here and now I give half my possession to the poor. And if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Do you think his life changed because he spent time with Jesus? Here’s how Jesus described him.= in verse 9: Jesus said to him, “Today, salvation has come to this house.” Zacchaeus was converted. “Salvation has come to this house because this man is too is the son of Abraham.”
And verse 10 – please note this – what is the purpose of Jesus? “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” And just as it says in the picture to the right, now that Jesus is in heaven, He is sending us to do exactly the same.
How do we do this? Friends, you need to be looking up in the tree. Maybe your neighbor’s climbed up a tree. Maybe they’re doing something else because they’re drawn to you the way Zacchaeus was drawn to Jesus. The thing that we need to understand when this happens it is because the Holy Spirit has been working in the lives of people all throughout our town.
In the next seven days, you will encounter all kinds of people. You will come alongside of them, so to speak. You will not encounter a single person that the Holy Spirit is not influencing to come to Christ. You will not be in a single situation where the Holy Spirit is not trying to turn the people from sin and turn their hearts toward God. We need to realize that, because the Holy Spirit is at work, that people are ready. And the reason that people are ready is because God has already been working in their lives.
There are some people who are called to the mission field, and they go all around the world. But friends, every single one of us has a mission field. Your mission field is the people you speak to every single week, because when you come alongside of them, the Holy Spirit also comes alongside of them and begins to influence them to turn their hearts toward Christ.
Not only that, your mission field will come to you. Have you ever looked at a porchlight at night? There are all kinds of bugs just flying all around it. Why? They are drawn to the light. There are people around you who are drawn to the light of Christ in your life. You will see them coming toward you. And you could say to yourself, “Lord, how can I help them to find Jesus as their Savior and Lord? Pastor, I don’t have a sign. How can I help them?”
Please leave your signs at home because the thing that God asked you to do was to love your neighbor. And when you love your neighbor, you shine just a little light into their darkness, whatever sort of darkness that might be. Witness is not anything more complicated than asking the simple question, “How are you?” … and meaning it. And whatever they tell you, to pray about that. If it’s been a wonderful week, thank you, Lord. Pray for them every day and thank God that they had a wonderful week. But sooner or later they will have a grumpy week, and they’ll need someone with a little piece of candy to lift their spirits. Or they tell you, “I’ve not had a good week,” ask them how you can pray for them, and then pray for them. You don’t have to have a sign or do anything more complicated than that. You don’t have to have an advanced degree in theology.
You don’t have to be able to answer any question someone might ask. You know why? I’m the one who gets to answer questions for you. All you need to do is love people. All you need to do is let the Holy Spirit work through you. And shine a little light into the lives of people who are coming toward you.
Just in case, if you aren’t certain of who you are, when we leave this place of worship, each one of us is entering into the mission field. You have a little micro-mission field that consists of all the people that are a part of your neighboorhood. But let me remind you of the few things that are true.
These are things that Neil Cole teaches people, and I want to give credit that they come from him. He says to his folks, who evangelize in the inner city, who work with motorcycle gangs, people who just got out of prison, people who are recovering from addictions and alcohol and people who are homeless. His people go into places that are very dark, and He reminds them of who they are with these words.
Jesus is always with you. So that means that wherever you go, the King goes.
And wherever the King goes, the King rules. That’s why it’s safe for you to be there. The King is there.
Jesus is Lord. Jesus is the light of the world. And wherever Jesus goes, the light goes.
No matter how dark it might be, the light of Jesus Christ shines into the life of everyone whom you come alongside of. The Lord Jesus Christ rules in every situation where you come alongside of another person. And wherever you go, the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, goes alongside of you to help you. But not only that, wherever you go, whatever neighborhood where you find yourself, the Holy Spirit goes with you to help the person directly in front of you. Your neighbor.
And what we need to do is let the Holy Spirit bear witness. If you have a sign, leave it at home. Just go out there and be with Zacchaeus. Be with whomever you encounter. Let Jesus be Lord over your conversation. And love them. And you will see the Holy Spirit do God’s work. It’s not up to you. It’s up to you to bring the Holy Spirit with you.
Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, when I am weak, You are strong. I pray that as I go through my life, You will be the Lord in every place I go, that You will bring the light into every bit of darkness, and that You would show love and draw all the people to You so that they might find in You all the joy and forgiveness and help and holiness and healing that I have found. Holy Spirit, I pray that You would work through me and through each of our people as You seek to bless the neighbors that You asked us to love. And we ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?
What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?
Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Raod, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.