Last Sunday we began to unpack Jesus’s spectacular statement in John 14:12-13, “Truly I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
Some interpret Jesus to be saying, that if we believe in Him, we will do even greater miracles, signs, works, and wonders (in quality) than Jesus. This is the view of many faith groups around the world. They would say the reason our prayers are so anemic is because we lack faith. The modern church has not the faith of even a mustard seed. We lack boldness and vision. We’re not praying gigantic, mountain-moving prayers. We’re not tapping into the full power available.
I have no doubt that the presence of sin in our lives, a lack of faith, and a lack of boldness rob us of power. The majority of our prayers reflect little to no regard for God’s Kingdom, or Glory, or Name. Yet it takes a stretch of imagination to think any one of us would do greater works (in quality) than Jesus. John 13:16, “Truly I tell you, a servant is not greater than his master. . .”
So, others interpret Jesus to be saying, that if we believe in him, the church collectively will do greater works (quantitatively) than Jesus. But this just doesn’t to be a natural reading of this text. Jesus is clearly elevating the disciples’ expectations to a whole other stratosphere. Let me tell you what my personal practice of prayer is. I try to pray as big and boldly as I can possibly imagine. I don’t think God is hindered in any way by any thing. Believe bigger. Prayer bolder.
We might also interpret Jesus to be saying, that if we believe in him, we will be doing greater works (in effect) than Jesus. Jesus’ ministry of visible works inspired the first Christians to faith—like the Disciples, like Thomas, like the Jews. We know how the Jews pleaded with Jesus for “signs, miracles” to bolster their faith. But none would be given except the resurrection. As Jonah was in the belly of the whale 3 days and lived, so Son of man would be in heart of earth and raised after 3 days! The church today is doing less spectacular works, but our works are yielding even greater net effect of faith than that of Jesus and the apostles. Greater, and more blessed are those who believe though they don’t see!
But let me suggest still another possibility. What if Jesus is saying that if believe in him, and we’d ask, that he would grant us, he would send us, the single greatest gift or power of all Heaven? Right after Jesus tells us to ask we can ask for “anything”—Jesus tells us this also includes His own Holy Spirit! Ask me! Just Ask. I’ll go to the Father. I’d do it! I’ll send him!
Just follow the flow of the text. John 14:15-17, “If you love me, you will keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive him because it doesn’t see him or know him. But you do know him, because he remains with you and will be in you.”
If you knew you could ask Jesus for the single most greatest thing—what would you ask of Him? The single most greatest gift is that you could ask Jesus and he would give you Living Water! He would give you his own Holy Spirit! He would send Him not just to be with you, but to remain “in” you forever! The world doesn’t see him or know him to even invite Him into their life. But you know better! Now what does it benefit you to have God’s Holy Spirit?
First, the Believer is Filled with Power by The Spirit
Here is what I would urge you to consider. The people who best understood the meaning of Jesus invitation to prayer would have been His first disciples, the Twelve Apostles, the Early Church. What kind of mountain-moving prayers do we see in the book of Acts, or in the Epistles? There is certainly evidence of signs, miracles, and healings. We are told to pray for healing. But the overwhelming number of prayers have starkly different content than the prayers of modern believers. What did Jesus teach us to pray in the Lord’s prayer? What did Jesus pray for in John 17? What did the persecuted church in Acts pray about? What did Paul pray about in the beginning and conclusion of almost every letter?
I would like to think that “Power” means I can walk down the street and everything I pray about in my will happens, and things turn to gold. But “Power” in the ministry of Christ Jesus, Apostles, Early Church is the power of God, when Christ is lifted up, to draw all men unto himself, and reconcile all things to Himself. God, take thy power, and may thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as in heaven. All authority in heaven and earth has been given to go and make disciples, baptizing them into name of Father, Son, and Spirit, teaching them to “obey” God—to love is to obey. And surely, I am with you always until the end of the age. The Spirit enables us to be part of the single greatest activity of God on earth—stirring the hearts of men to believe on Jesus for eternal life.
The Believer is Filled with Love by the Spirit
Consider the high and holy calling of the Christian life. Is not the greatest thing that we love God yes, but also love one another? In John 14:15 Jesus speaks of our High Call to love God: “If you love me, you will keep my commands.” John 14:21, “The one who has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. And the one who loves me will be loved by my Father. I also will love him and will reveal myself to him.” John 14:24a, “The one who doesn’t love me will not keep my words.”
But moment earlier, in the upper room, Jesus spoke of our High Call to love one another! Remember in John 13:14-15? “So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done for you.” John 13:17, “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” John 13:34-35, “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
You might remember how despondent Cain felt, realizing how profoundly his love for God fell short of even that of his brother Abel—who offered the better sacrifice. Before Cain killed Abel, God confronted Cain. Genesis 4:6-7 he says, “Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you furious? And why do you look despondent? If you do what is right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
Love is as simple as obeying God, doing what is right, mastering your desires, ruling over your flesh. Yet from the time of Cain love has proven just that impossible. Our gospel isn’t we simply muster up the willpower and, of our own strength, crucify our sinful natures. Our gospel is that not by [our] power or might, but by my Spirit says the Lord our God, we overcome sin.
There is no gospel in judging, condemning, nor berating a man for his sins. There is no gospel in telling a man to help himself, to fix himself, to just try harder. The gospel is that “by” God’s Spirit, God can enable us to more than we could ask or imagine or ever do in the flesh. The first fruit or evidence of the Spirit is “love.” Love is of God. It isn’t so much that a man lacks love, it’s that he lacks God’s Spirit. IF he has God’s Spirit, then an avalanche of fruit follows (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control).
If our diagnosis isn’t right, that it’s the Spirit of God man most needs, then our prescriptions will be wrong. We will bully our fellow man into to submission, first with guilt and shame, then condemnation, and ultimately some variation of works. We will tell him to muster up more willpower, to love himself more deeply, or some other nonsense.
Galatians 5:16-17, “I say, then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want.” Galatians 5:22-25, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”
The Believer is Filled with Knowledge
John 14:16, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth. . .” John 14:26, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.”
Let me say, it’s the Holy Spirit who enables us to know God. In 1 Corinthians 2:9-12 Paul explains it this way, “What no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart has conceived--God has prepared these things for those who love him.” Now God has revealed these things to us by the Spirit, since the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts[d] except his spirit within him? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God.”
John 14 and 1 Corinthians 2 provide a needed corrective for the modern church. Our deepest problem isn’t just that we lack knowledge of God and the mystery of Christ—it’s that we may lack the very means for acquiring such knowledge—the Spirit of God Himself! In Isaiah 11:2, speaks of Christ Spirit this way: “The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him — a Spirit of wisdom and understanding, a Spirit of counsel and strength, a Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.” If you’d ask for the Spirit, power, love, knowledge are all bonuses.
The Believer is Filled with Hope by the Spirit
John 14:18-20, “I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Because I live, you will live too. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, you are in me, and I am in you.” John 14:22-23, “Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it you’re going to reveal yourself to us and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”
One of the works of the Holy Spirit in our lives is to hold us, and sustain us in hope. According to Jesus, were not just waiting for Jesus to return. We’re waiting for both the Father and Jesus to come! Jesus says in verse 23, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and “we” will come to him and make our home with him.” Until the Day of the Lord, the Spirit has marked us, sealed us. He is our guarantor of inheritance. He’s God’s down payment. I shared some of those verses last week.
But go take a look at 1 Peter 4:12-14. Peter says, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you, as if something unusual were happening to you. Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may also rejoice with great joy when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” In the short term, even as we serve Christ, we may feel the torments of hell itself. But the reason we’re able to get through hell on earth is because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on us. This is extraordinary power indeed!
The Believer is Filled with Peace by the Spirit
John 14:27-31, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful. 28 You have heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens so that when it does happen you may believe. 30 I will not talk with you much longer, because the ruler of the world is coming. He has no power over me. 31 On the contrary, so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do as the Father commanded me. “Get up; let’s leave this place.”
In Romans 14:17 Paul says, “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” There are a lot of people trying to eat or drink their pain away. There are a lot of people trying to smoke the pain away, but the marijuana only masks it, for you to face its fierce face when your sobriety returns. Paul says don’t get drunk on wine, drink Spirit!
In Philippians 4:6 Paul says, “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 5:22, the fruit of the Spirit is… “peace.” What if the key to peace isn’t so much asking for different circumstances, as it is asking Jesus to give us His GREATER Spirit of Power, of Love, of Truth, Understanding, Knowledge of future Glory, and his Spirit of Peace? Ask, and I’ll send Him to you!