We are blessed to have lots of teachers at Britton Christian Church. There are those who teach as their profession. Men and women who pour their hearts and souls into young people in schools all across our city. There are also others who teach, not because it’s their profession, but because somewhere along the way they discovered the joy of learning and they want others to share in the same joy. For each of us, we can think back through our lives and immediately names and faces of teachers who were most influential come to mind. It might have been a music teacher who unlocked a hidden world of sounds, melodic structure, and soaring emotion that was stirred deep within us. It could have been a math teacher who transformed cold numbers and equations into exquisite pieces of art. Someone who felt the same way as the famous French mathematician, Henri Poincaré, who was able to show his students the sheer beauty of mathematics. He said to ignore the experience of math “would be to forget the feeling of mathematical beauty, of the harmony of numbers and forms, of geometric elegance. This is a true esthetic feeling that all real mathematicians know…” It’s possible you could be thinking of an English teacher who introduced you to the poetry and prose of Shakespeare, Hemingway’s “The Old Man and The Sea,” the thought provoking works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, the Harlem Renaissance writings of Langston Hughes, or the social commentary of the novelist Jane Austen. The fields of study that are before us are limitless, but without a teacher to lead us, guide us, and show us how to enter those worlds and interpret what we are learning, they will simply go undiscovered.
There’s just nothing like a teacher. What is it that makes some teachers stand out among others in their field? It’s not the vast sum of knowledge they possess. I’ve known many teachers and professors who were brilliant, they had encyclopedic knowledge about their subject, but their lessons were dry and dull. There are others who possess knowledge, but the way in which they entice us, invite us, and encourage us to keep pressing on in seeking to learn and understand sets them apart from those who simply regurgitate what they know. There is something else I’ve noticed about the teachers who leave a lasting mark on us and it is their willingness to guide us, correct us, and celebrate with us along the journey of discovery.
Imagine with me for a moment that you were to go back and do it all over again. Imagine that you went back to the beginning of your journey of learning and the first day of class you entered the school house and were introduced to the “Dream Team” of teachers who would walk with you throughout the rest of your educational experience. Can you imagine learning the treble clef, bass clef, and “chopsticks” from Mozart and Beethoven? How about learning your “times tables” from Blaise Pascal and Nobel Prize winning mathematician John Nash? Walk into first grade philosophy class and there behind the desk sits Plato and Aristotle to help answer all of the deep philosophical questions that rumble around in the mind of first graders. Questions like, “Why is the sky blue?” and “Who made God?” When the school bell rings signaling the end of the day you head to the locker room to get suited up for basketball practice and in walks Coach Michael Jordan and his assistant Jerry West. What a school that would be huh!
The truth of the matter is that we could have the greatest teachers in the history of the world, but all of them combined can’t even begin to compare to the lessons we can learn by sitting at the feet of the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to teach us, guide us, and correct us when we get off track. That God Himself, God the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity would take up residence inside of those who surrender their lives to Jesus is beyond comprehension and yet it is true. Let’s go back to the Upper Room and take a look at John 14:25-26 this morning. Read along with me.
25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:25-26 NIVO)
Last week we began to take a look at the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the followers of Jesus. Today, I want to go back and focus on the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit and the implications for your life and mine. The first thing we have to do is set Jesus’ statement in context. If you will remember, Jesus is still in the Upper Room speaking to His disciples. What is spoken about the ministry of the Holy Spirit was first and foremost spoken to them. What Jesus said certainly has deep meaning for you and me as well, but we first need to understand what these words meant to those who first heard Jesus speak them.
When Jesus said the Holy Spirit “will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you,” He had something definite in mind. Jesus had chosen His disciples, He had spent three years with them, He had taught them, modeled before them the new life of God’s chosen people, and He wanted them to pass on everything He had said and done while He was with them. When Jesus told the disciples that the Holy Spirit would teach them “all things” He didn’t mean that they would know everything there is to know about every subject under the sun. He wanted them to know that the Holy Spirit would teach them everything they needed to know about Kingdom life which is founded upon Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. This is the most important information of all and they would be equipped to take these truths to the world.
We can see this clearly in the lives of His disciples. Take Simon Peter for example. Peter missed most of what Jesus was teaching while he was traveling around with Jesus, but after the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Simon Peter was a different man. Let me show you what I’m talking about. Turn with me to Matthew 16:21-23. Jesus began to explain to His disciples that He was going to suffer and die. Let’s pick up there.
21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. 22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” 23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:21-23 NIVO)
Peter took Jesus aside and said, “Never, Lord!” He might as well have said, “I will never allow it!” Jesus did suffer, He did die, but He rose from the grave and appeared to Peter and the other disciples to show them what He had said was true. Now let’s fast forward to Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. Peter stands up to speak to the crowd, and in verse 22 we read,
22 “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. (Acts 2:22-24 NIVO)
Who is that guy!? The same Peter who said, “Never Lord!” now tells the crowd, “This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge…” It was all part of God’s plan. Who revealed that to Peter? Did he simply consult the religious authorities of the day and they convinced him of these truths? Hardly! The greatest religious minds of their day didn’t comprehend what was taking place right before their eyes. They had the Hebrew Bible to prepare them for the day of Jesus’ coming, but they missed it. Jesus told them in John 5:43-47.
43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God? 45 “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?” (John 5:43-47 NIVO)
At Pentecost the raw material that had been shared by Jesus with His disciples came together and came to life. The pieces which were often confusing while they were traveling with Jesus were fitted together in a tapestry more beautiful than anything they could have ever imagined. The Holy Spirit had reminded them of everything Jesus had ever told them and they went forward sharing those truths with the world.
Those early followers of Jesus who were entrusted with the truths of God wrote down and preserved for you and me the teachings and truth of Jesus. They didn’t write like J.K. Rowling or John Grisham. They didn’t embellish or get creative with the story. They didn’t record an exhaustive, comprehensive account of Jesus’ life, but they wrote just what the Holy Spirit directed them to write. Let me explain. In John 21:25, John admits that Jesus did much more than he wrote about in His Gospel. Read along with me.
25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. (John 21:25 NIVO)
Why did John write what he wrote? Why did the other authors of the New Testament record what they did? I’ll let John answer that question for us. Turn with me to John 20:30-31.
30 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31 NIVO)
The Holy Spirit led the authors of the Old and New Testament to write what they wrote so that in reading, studying, and praying through them we might have our eyes opened and come to know “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” This is so important for you and me to understand because there is a lot of talk going on today about the Bible. Is the Bible simply a book written by people or something else? Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:20-21.
20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20-21 NIVO)
Peter is writing about the Old Testament prophecies that were given to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus. Not just the prophecies, but all of Scripture came about because “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” What is said about the Old Testament prophecies can be said about all of the New Testament as well. God used people to record what He wanted us to know.
I wanted to begin by sharing why it is so important for us to understand what Jesus’ words meant to the disciples who were there to hear Him speak about the Holy Spirit and His teaching role. Once we understand this then we can easily understand that this authenticates and validates the writings of the Bible.
There is one more thing that we must do before we leave here this morning. We must recognize that we need the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit as well. You can be very smart, know Greek and Hebrew, have a firm grip on history, and miss the most important lessons of God’s Word. There are countless brilliant people in our day who find the Bible important, who find Jesus’ teachings commendable, and yet reject the fundamental truth of the Bible: Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, who has come to reconcile us to the Father by His life, death, and glorious resurrection. How do we explain this? The Bible teaches that we are darkened in our understanding of all matters pertaining to God and ourselves. Apart from God’s revelation we would never say the things about God that He says about Himself. Apart from God’s revelation we would never say the things about ourselves that God says about us. We are deluded and deceived about God and ourselves apart from God’s intervention. Paul wrote about our condition and predicament in 1 Corinthians 2:14.
14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14 NIVO)
The person without the Spirit, the person who has not come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior of their life, can’t know the truth we are talking about because “they are spiritually discerned.” We need God’s help to understand spiritual truth. This is true for our coming to recognize our need for Jesus and it is also true for our continued growth once we come to know Jesus. Paul wrote to the folks in Ephesus and said,
17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. (Ephesians 1:17 NIVO)
That’s such a powerful prayer. It is a prayer we should continuously pray for one another. We need the Holy Spirit’s help to learn God’s truth. The things of God are “spiritually discerned,” only by the Holy Spirit’s help can we come to understand. There is another aspect of “spiritually discerned” I’ve been spending time thinking about this past week. The Greek word for “discerned” is “????????” (anakrino) and it means, “to examine, to investigate,” or “to scrutinise.” The word is used to describe an interrogator examining a defendant. The same word is used in in Acts 17:11 where we are told about the Berean believers. Luke writes,
11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11 NIVO)
The Bereans “examined” the Scriptures. The person who does not have the Spirit living inside of them counts God’s Word as foolishness, a waste of time, so they are not willing to take the time to examine and pour over God’s Word. The Holy Spirit gives us a desire to make time for God’s Word, to eliminate lesser things so that we might invest our time in the greatest endeavor of all and that is spending time with the Lord in His Word.
God’s Word and God’s Spirit work in tandem in the transformation of our lives from darkness to light, from being dead in our sins to being made alive in Christ. Just a few weeks ago, in our Alpha training, we heard the testimony of Francis Collins, who is the Director of the Human Genome Research Institute. Dr. Collins and his team mapped the 3.1 billion base pairs of human DNA, the blueprint for building a human life.
Dr. Collins admitted that he was a hardened atheist, an obnoxious atheist, until one day he was visiting one of his patients who was suffering from horrible heart disease. The lady spoke about her faith and then asked Dr. Collins, “What do you believe Dr. Collins?” Some time later it dawned on Dr. Collins that he had done something that no scientist is supposed to do: He had drawn conclusions without ever looking at the evidence. He had decided to be an atheist without trying to understand the arguments for and against the existence of God.
Dr. Collins went to a friend who was a minister and asked him what he should read to begin his investigation. The minister told him a good place to start would be reading the Bible. He gave him a Bible and C.S. Lewis’ book, “Mere Christianity.” One year later, Dr. Collins was no longer an atheist, he had given his life to Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit was working in Dr. Collins life making him aware that he had violated the most basic principle of science and that is, you must examine the evidence. Once Dr. Collins surrendered his life to Jesus the Holy Spirit has continued his work in his life. Dr. Collins spoke about what he experienced when he gave his life to Jesus.
So in recognizing my desire to have relationship with God, I also had to come face to face with my own massive imperfections. If God is holy, and if you can see God in some ways as a mirror to yourself, you realize just how far you fall short of anything that you could be really proud of. And that is a terribly distressing kind of experience for anybody who’s first coming to that. So I would not say I was an ecstatic convert. I was very much, as Lewis was, a bit dejected about the whole thing. I guess at that point, as an early believer, I had the sense that I had to fix all of those to become acceptable. This was before I really figured out that even though I’m imperfect and God is perfect, the person of Jesus Christ is that bridge that brings us together. And that’s what Christ was all about. That took me a long time to begin to really absorb and accept and feel comforted by. (Dr. Francis Collins)
Dr. Collins made an important observation about what took place within himself when he said, “That took a long time to begin to really absorb and accept and feel comforted by.” The way the Holy Spirit teaches us is not a magical instantaneous act, but instead His teaching is a process. We learn a little and then we learn a little more and the process continues throughout our lives. In John 16:13, Jesus said,
13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. (John 16:13-14 NIVO)
Jesus said, “he will guide you into all truth.” The Greek work for “guide” is “??????” (hodegeo). It’s a verb which means, “to be a guide, lead on one’s way,” or “to guide.” There’s a beautiful story in Acts 8 that powerfully illustrates how the Holy Spirit works in our life. Let’s start reading in Acts 8:29.
29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” 30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. 31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.” 34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. (Acts 8:29-35 NIVO)
The Holy Spirit guided Philip to the chariot of the Ethiopian eunuch, but the word we are looking at appears in verse 31 where, after Philip asked the eunuch if he understood what he had read, the eunuch said, “How can I unless someone explains it to me?” Philip then guided the eunuch so that he understood what he was reading and the man gave his life to Jesus.
The Holy Spirit leads us and guides us into God’s truth. The ways that He does this are varied. He uses other people to guide us, people who have been walking with God longer than we have, people who are mature in their faith, and passionate about living their life for the glory of God and the blessing of his people. The Holy Spirit uses the experiences of life to guide us into God’s truth. We go through things in life that stop us in our tracks and open our eyes to the truths of God. The primary tool the Holy Spirit uses to teach us and guide us into God’s truth is God’s Word. The Word of the Lord never changes. I’m reminded of this in Isaiah 40:6-8.
6 A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. 7 The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:6-8 NIVO)
“…the word of our God stands forever.” Today we are enamored with “new and improved” and this fascination has invaded the Body of Christ. New church trends, new church teachings, and the like. There is no new revelation. We have God’s Word and that is sufficient, more than sufficient to convict the lost, encourage the broken, and disciple anyone who longs who grow in their walk with the Lord. The Holy Spirit is at work this morning drawing someone here, opening someone’s eyes to their need for Jesus, and calling those who already know Jesus into a deeper walk, a stronger commitment, and a more passionate witness in our community. Won’t you surrender to His call upon your life this morning?
Britton Christian Church
922 NW 91st
OKC, OK. 73114
June 26, 2016