God’s Provision in Challenging Times

Dr. Steve Viars August 1, 2021 John 16:1-15
Outline

3 ways to avoid stumbling when facing opposition to your faith

I. Embrace Christ’s Warning about Mistreatment – 16:1-4

John 16:1 - These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling.

John 15:18-19 - If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.

A. The purpose – to keep us from stumbling

John 16:1 - These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling.

“Stumbling translates a form of the verb skandalizō; the related noun literally refers to the bait stick in a trap. The term here refers figuratively to the disciples’ being caught off guard like an animal ensnared in a trap. Had Jesus not warned them of the persecution they would inevitably face, the disciples might have become shocked and disillusioned so that their faith might have faltered.” (John MacArthur, Commentary on John 12-21, p. 190)

B. The problem – people who hate you because of your faith

John 16:2-3 - They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me.

“The work of the Holy Spirit in the church is done in the context of persecution. The Spirit is not a guide and a helper for those on a straight way perfectly able to manage on their own. He comes to assist men caught up in the thick of battle, and tried beyond their strength. Jesus makes it quite plain that the way before His followers is a hard and a difficult way.” (The Gospel According to John, The New International Commentary on the New Testament [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979], 692)

II. Celebrate Christ’s Gift of the Holy Spirit – 16:5-11

John 16:5 - But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, “Where are You going?”

John 13:36 - Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered, “Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.”

John 14:5 - Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?”

John 16:6 - But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.

A. Because of what the Holy Spirit would do

John 16:8 - And He, when He comes, will convict the world…

“The Holy Spirit does not minister only to believers, but also to the unbelieving world. Though the word convict judicially implies a negative connotation, theologically the Spirit’s convicting ministry is an exceedingly positive one. His goal is to bring sinners to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.” (John MacArthur, John 12-21, p. 196)

Zechariah 4:6 - …Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.

B. Because of how the Holy Spirit will convince people

1. Concerning sin

John 16:9 - concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me…

2. Concerning righteousness

John 16:10 - …and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me…

Hebrews 13:20-21 - Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

2 Corinthians 5:21 - He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

3. Concerning judgment

John 16:11 - …and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

1 John 3:8 - …The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.

2 Corinthians 10:3-4 - For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.

III. Follow the Spirit’s Truth in His Word

John 16:13 - But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.

A. The product of the apostle’s Spirit-filled ministry

2 Timothy 3:16-17 - All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

2 Peter 1:20-21 - But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

Romans 10:17 - So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

B. The truth that points us and others to Christ

John 16:14 - He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.

- have you come to the place in your life where you’ve learned that sometimes it’s better to work smarter, not harder…and that often having the right tool makes all the difference in the world…

- the summer before last, we decided to finish off the basement at our house after 26 years of living there…

- we live on a ravine so it’s a walk out basement…and since we have the privilege of having our son the Bear living with us long term, we decided to finish it off like a log cabin…we call it The Bear Den

- one interesting dynamic was the way the subcontractors responded when they understood who the project was for…

- everybody loves the Bear, and they went out of their way to give it their very best…

- some of them ended up caring more about quality than even I did…

- including our tile and floor guy…we were just amazed at his precision and attention to detail…

- well, one day I came home, and he took me over to the doorway leading out to our backyard…

- when we built the house, I had poured a pad of concrete (a stoop) just outside the door – that essentially was a step before you walked out onto the grass and also a pad for our air conditioner condenser…

- the problem was…I should have poured it lower than the door and paid more careful attention to the slope of the concrete because on really hard rains, a bit of water would drain toward the house and seep under that doorway and into the basement…

- I kind of figured that when he built the floor up slightly with the new planking, that would solve the problem…

- but our flooring guy said – it would really be best if we broke up that outside stoop and re-poured it lower before installing the flooring…

- and by “we”, he really meant “me”… and he really meant, right away…

- well, I was at a heavy point in my travel schedule…I didn’t think I had the time to take a sledgehammer and break up all that concrete – it had been a long time since I had done that kind of work – and I really just didn’t have time to mess with it…

- then it dawned on me – I wonder if the rental place has a tool that could help me get this done faster?....when I walked in and told the guy what I was doing – his eyes practically lit up and he said, we just got something in that was designed for exactly the kind of job what you’re talking about…

- Friends, this morning let me introduce you to the Hilti 65 Pound Electric Demolition Sledgehammer…

- Wives, if you are looking for a present for your husband on his next birthday, anniversary – or just as a random and romantic expression of your undying love for him – look no further than the Hilti 65 Pound Electric Demolition Sledgehammer…(and since I don’t want to be accused of being sexist with this illustration, there may be some wives who would like one as well…and husbands, the only thing better than one of these, is two…no judging here)…

- Well, I took this thing home, plugged it in, and it started cutting through that 4-5” concrete pad like it was warm butter…

- here’s the point – sometimes it’s better to work smarter, not harder, right?...and often having the right tool makes all the difference in the world…

- now, here’s why we’re talking about this today…when you think about the mission and ministry God has given you in this world…sometimes if not often to people who initially respond to your faith in Christ with either disdain, or ridicule, or alienation, or downright hatred and discrimination…

- it might feel like you’re up against a force as solid and impenetrable as 4-5 inches of poured concrete…How do you make an impact for Christ in this culture in which we live?...

- do you know what you need?...

- you need a tool that’s not available down at the local rental place…but it (and more appropriately) He, is available to every person who chooses to be a follower of Jesus Christ…

- with that in mind, please open your Bible to John 16…page 86 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- at our church this year we’re walking verse by verse through the Gospel of John under the heading of Enjoying Life in Jesus’ Name…

- we’re talking this morning about God’s Provisions in Challenging Times

- there’s no question that these are not particularly easy days to be a follower of Jesus Christ…especially if you choose to live by the principles of the Word of God and you want to make a difference in your family, and at your workplace, and in our community…

- well that leads to the question of…did Jesus ever warn His followers about this…and He has He made any tools available for His children?...

- read John 16:1-15…

- so we’re talking about God’s Provisions in Challenging Times

- and in our time together, let’s think about 3 ways to avoid stumbling when facing opposition to your faith

I. Embrace Christ’s Warning about Mistreatment – 16:1-4

- Jesus begins this chapter with the words… John 16:1 - These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling.

- this is a fairly obvious place for us to embrace our hermeneutical muscles (to use our principles of Bible study) and ask…what “things” is Jesus referring to?

- this passage is part of the upper room discourse that began all the way back in John 13:1…

- So by now, the public invitations are over, and Christ is turning His attention to His disciples and giving them final comfort and instructions before He goes to the cross…

- this is a very intimate passage, and those of us who are followers of Christ believe we’re very fortunate that these words were included in Scripture…

- in chapter 15, Jesus had re-emphasized the idea that… John 15:18–19 - If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.

- that must have been very disconcerting for some if not all of the disciples…because many had wanted a political deliverer who would usher in His kingdom by force and they would have positions of leadership and honor in that kingdom immediately…

- and now Jesus keeps speaking about leaving and how they will face stiff opposition because of their belief in Him…so Jesus raises this topic again in chapter 16…

A. The purpose – to keep us from stumbling

- John 16:1 - These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling.

- Bible teacher John MacArthur explains that - Stumbling translates a form of the verb skandalizō; the related noun literally refers to the bait stick in a trap. The term here refers figuratively to the disciples’ being caught off guard like an animal ensnared in a trap. Had Jesus not warned them of the persecution they would inevitably face, the disciples might have become shocked and disillusioned so that their faith might have faltered (John MacArthur, Commentary on John 12-21, p. 190).

- here’s the point – if we embrace Christ’s warning about mistreatment, we don’t have to be angry with opposition to our faith…or frustrated, or irritated, or proud, or self-righteous, or forceful…even if the opposition seems to be getting worse, or more intense…we are experiencing, at least to some degree, exactly what Christ suggested we would…

- so, what’s…

B. The problem – people who hate you because of your faith.

- John 16:2–3 - They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me.

- If you want to read more about this historically, you might want to read a book called Foxe’s Book of Martyrs…written back in 1563…

- there are also plenty of contemporary examples of men and women who are dying for their faith all around the world in the here and now…

- I don’t believe than any of us could speak about any kind of treatment we’re facing that merits the use of the word persecution…but many here are experiencing estrangement from friends or family members, or ridicule because of what you believe, or distain, or discrimination, or hatred in some way, shape, or form.

- Commentator Leon Morris made this observation - The work of the Holy Spirit in the church is done in the context of persecution. The Spirit is not a guide and a helper for those on a straight way perfectly able to manage on their own. He comes to assist men caught up in the thick of battle, and tried beyond their strength. Jesus makes it quite plain that the way before His followers is a hard and a difficult way. (The Gospel According to John, The New International Commentary on the New Testament [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979], 692).

- now what about the person who might say – I really don’t have any evidence of this kind of treatment anywhere in my life?...

- you realize that may not be good news…

- it’s like the old story of the godly man and his who prayed for a child and prayed for a child and the Lord finally granted the request fairly late in their marriage…but regrettably his wife died while giving birth to a healthy baby boy…

- so this man, even in the midst of his grief sought to raise his son in the nurture and admonition of the Lord…because of his love for God but also to honor his wife’s memory and wishes…

- their son trusted Christ and began to grow in him but after high school graduation he was unable to find work where they lived and so in the summer before college he took a job away from home in a logging camp…

- his father knew the reputation for godlessness that many of those camps had and so every day he prayed that his son would be a godly example and witness, and that he would be able to stand up against the ridicule of the other men…

- he often worried about the kind of abuse and persecution his son might face…

- finally the end of the summer came, and the man greeted his son and asked how he endured the way the men treated him for being a Christian…and his son said, “that’s OK dad, they never found out…”

- I wonder if there will be men and women hearing this message today and would respond in a similar fashion…it’s OK because no one at work knows I’m a Christian…no one in my neighborhood…no one on my ball team…no one on social media…

- it’s OK dad – they never found out…

‑ maybe that’s an even worse form of stumbling than the one envisioned in this text…

- now, let’s go back to the main point thus far – what about those here who can say – I do face opposition to my faith in various forms…and it feels like a concrete barrier…

- did you say concrete? – we need the spiritual equivalent of the Hilti 65 Pound Electric Demolition Sledgehammer…which is why we’re invited in the next verses to…

II. Celebrate Christ’s Gift of the Holy Spirit – 16:5-11

- Christ says that it is actually advantageous for you that I go away…because then I will send the gift of the Holy Spirit to enable you to accomplish the mission you’ve been given…

- there is a tool…a Person, who is able to supernaturally able to break through the concrete of unbelief…

- now, let’s push the pause button for a minute…because there’s an issue here that we need to deal with quickly…it’s something my son the Bear would say is a real fur scratcher…

- careful readers of this gospel recognize an immediate problem in verse 5 when the Lord says… John 16:5 - But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, “Where are You going?”

- so what’s the issue?....in this very discourse, Jesus has been asked that very question at least twice…

- John 13:36 - Simon Peter *said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered, “Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.”

- John 14:5 - Thomas *said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?”

- surely Jesus hadn’t forgotten their questions---they had just asked them…and nor had John forgotten their questions…he had just written them…so what’s going on here?...

- it’s likely that they were focused on what they were about to lose…

- not what Christ’s death would accomplish for them and anyone else who choose to believe in Him because of their subsequent lives and ministry…

- see, here’s a challenging thought – what if the darkness – with all of the pain and frustration it brings – actually provides a better backdrop for the light of the gospel to shine through?...

- especially if there’s a new tool Who’s about to be given…

- see, sorrow didn’t have to fill their hearts…[John 16:6 - But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. ]

- why?...

A. Because of what the Holy Spirit would do

- John 16:8 - And He, when He comes, will convict the world…

- now, what does that mean?...

- I would encourage you to listen to this next quote very carefully, because it brings great hope to people like you and me who really want to make a difference in our world…

- The Holy Spirit does not minister only to believers, but also to the unbelieving world. Though the word convict judicially implies a negative connotation, theologically the Spirit’s convicting ministry is an exceedingly positive one. His goal is to bring sinners to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ (John MacArthur, John 12-21, p. 196).

- so we could just as easily use the word “convince” here…

- ultimately, who or what are we relying on to penetrate an unbelieving heart and draw that person to Christ?...

- is it our wisdom, or our might, or our debate skills, or our political posturing, and on and on?...

- no, it’s just like we read in the book of Zechariah…Zechariah 4:6 - …Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.

- this is why we don’t have to go through life frustrated, or worried, or angry, or afraid…

- when the Holy Spirit comes…[and He did come, on the day of Pentecost recorded in Acts chapter 2, the day the church was born]…when the Holy Spirit comes, He will convict/convince the world…

- now, what are the three specific ways the Holy Spirit does this?...

- undoubtedly you saw them in the text, and this is where many of the practical applications for us today come out…

B. Because of how the Holy Spirit will convince people

1. concerning sin

- John 16:9 - concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me;

- so, how does the Holy Spirit do that?...

- there are many answers to that question…but it’s often when a believer simply acknowledges their own sin…and expresses praise and thanksgiving for the salvation and forgiveness they enjoy in Christ…

- let me give you an example of that…many have been watching the Olympics the last couple of weeks…and you can’t watch the Games for even a couple of minutes without having to deal with some athletes who are kneeling and some who aren’t…and it’s certainly been a major theme…

- I suppose you could get into an endless argument about who’s right and who’s wrong and on and on…

- but regardless of your position on that matter, do you think that will result in any lasting change in race relations in our country and our world?...

- probably not?...why?...

- because racial tension is not a cause, it’s a symptom of a greater cause…which is what (if you’re even read the first couple of pages of your Bible)…racial tension is a symptom of the curse of sin…

- and the only cure for that is the finished work of Christ of the cross…

- and what is it that the Holy Spirit has been sent to convince the world of…sin…

- well let’s push that one step further – when we say racial tension is a symptom of the curse of sin, we’re talking about everyone else’s sin, right?...

- or is it possible that all of us struggle with judgementalism to some degree or another…

- and what would happen if we said something like – I struggle with the temptation to judge people who are different than me…and I know that’s sin…and that’s why I chose to place my faith and trust in Christ to be forgiven of my sin and to try to love others regardless of their ethnicity the way Jesus wants me to…

- what could happen when a person who doesn’t yet know the Lord hears you talking like that…

- how could the Holy Spirit use that moment of authenticity in your life?...

- possibly to convince someone else of their sin and their need for a Savior…

- whenever the church or individual Christians position ourselves as “the people out there are sinners and we’re not”…that often shuts down the conversation…

- but when we start by acknowledging our failures and weaknesses…and our understanding that Jesus “had to go away”…He had to go to the cross…because that was the only way our sin could be addressed once and for all…

- the positive expression of your belief could be used by the Holy Spirit to convince someone else of their need to believe…

- now, how else does the Holy Spirit convince people…

2. concerning righteousness

- John 16:10 - and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me;

- what’s the point there?...the power and the efficacy of the resurrection of Christ…

- that is why you will never see a figure of Jesus hanging on a cross around here…

- because our Savior was the Son of God…an infinite Person who could pay a finite price for our sin and then be miraculously raised from the dead…He was going to the Father and we would no longer see Him…

- that’s why the writer of Hebrews said… Hebrews 13:20–21 - Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

- and because the “great Shepherd of the sheep” has been brought up from the dead through the blood of the eternal covenant…what does that make possible for people like you and me?...not just forgiveness of our sin, but also what…His imputed righteousness…

- our stand before God – our very identity – is certainly not wrapped up in our righteousness…it’s wrapped up in His…

- this is why 2 Cor 5:21 is so important… 2 Corinthians 5:21 - He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

- so what does that have to do how we position ourselves with others who don’t know the Lord?....

- the last thing we would want is to get into cultural arguments that would give others the impression that we thought we were inherently more righteous than someone else…

- we want to find as many ways as we can to affirm that the only true righteousness we possess was given to us a free gift from our loving Savior…and our hope and prayer is that others would receive that gift too…

- so let’s suppose that someone says to you [like someone recently said to one of our church members] – I wish I had the peace that you do…

- what a great opportunity to say something like – that’s because I know that because of my faith in Christ, I know the heavenly Father sees me clothed in the righteousness of His Son…so I don’t have to constantly clamor for the approval of people…

- and what does the Holy Spirit do with affirmations like that…He convinces others – I know I can’t be righteous on my own…and now I’ve heard that Christian acknowledge the same thing…I need righteousness from the same Savior that provided theirs…

- so the Holy Spirit convinces people of sin, and of righteousness…

3. concerning judgment

- John 16:11 - and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

- John would later write this in his first epistle… 1 John 3:8 - …The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.

- and every time an unbelieving person sees a follower of Christ living victoriously…resisting the devil and having our adversary flee…it’s another opportunity for them to be convinced by the Holy Spirit…I need a relationship with a powerful Savior who can enable me to do that too…

- and He doesn’t need our anger, and our pride, and our forcefulness, and our self-righteousness…

- Paul said it this way - 2 Corinthians 10:3–4 - For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.

- friend, does the nature of your witness, and the consistency of your witness, demonstrate that you truly believe Christ kept His promise to send the Holy Spirit to guide and empower the mission He has given us to do?...

- now, where does this discussion end?...we embrace Christ’s warning about mistreatment, and we celebrate Christ’s gift of the Holy Spirit, and lastly, we…

III. Follow the Spirit’s Truth in His Word.

- Jesus promises his disciples that…

- John 16:13 - But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.

- and while we can make certain limited secondary applications to ourselves, this is speaking directly to those who will become apostles and used to give us the Scriptures…

A. The product of the apostle’s Spirit-filled ministry

- this is why Paul’s words to Timothy are so important…

- 2 Timothy 3:16–17 - All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

- Peter made a similar comment when He wrote…2 Peter 1:20–21 - But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

- this is why, in our conversations with others, we are not using human wisdom…we are looking for opportunities to share the Word of God and let the Holy Spirit do His work…

- friend, if you don’t yet know the Lord…it’s very possible that the conviction you feel is the work of the Holy Spirit of God…[CH Spurgeon used to refer to God as the Hound of Heaven…]

- one question you need to answer is – to what source of truth are you turning to determine your eternal destiny?...

- Romans 10:17 - So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

[ develop the gospel]

- and it’s very important to note that the Holy Spirit isn’t magnifying Himself…that’s why you know there’s a problem in a church if there’s more focus on the HS than on Jesus…

B. The truth that points us and others to Christ

- John 16:14 - He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.

- so why do you not need to be worried, or frustrated, or angry about the apparent hardness of some or perhaps many of those around you who don’t yet know Christ?...

- because we’ve been given a tool to penetrate unbelieving hearts…the Holy Spirit of God…

- we have a marvelous opportunity to put this message to the test right away…

- [develop using social media to tell others about your relationship with Christ and why you love having a church family as an important part of your life…]

- friend, do you think the Holy Spirit of God can use your example, your testimony, your witness to penetrate the unbelieving hearts of those He has placed around you…in way you could never do in your own strength and wisdom?...

- and you may say – well, no one is ever really watching the way I live or listening to the words I say…

- are you sure about that?...

- we’ve had the privilege of having our daughter Bethany, and her husband Rob, and two of our grandsons living with us while their new home is being finished in MN…

- so I was stretching one day before going out for a run…and Bethany showed me this picture later…

- please don’t ever minimize the power of a believer’s testimony and the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit of God…

Authors

Dr. Steve Viars

Roles

Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation

Bio

B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and four grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video