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What Makes A Christian Different? February 8, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Jesus, John's Gospel, Religion, Sermons.


How would you like to be known as Judas, not the bad one, the good one? Judas was not very prominent among the disciples but he asked Jesus a very important question. What is the difference between us and the world?

When we worked as missionaries in German-speaking Europe, we were often asked a similar question. People would ask, “What is the difference between you and the Catholic Church?” Now that is a legitimate question and could have been answered in a number of different ways. What we would typically answer, though, would focus on what we felt was the most significant difference and used our answer to steer the conversation to focus on our witness for Jesus Christ. (Now if you want to know how I answered, you will have to ask me after the service but right now we are focusing on something different.)

Jesus took the same tactic in answering Judas’ question. He focused on the most important difference between believers and the world and then He steered their thoughts to what it meant for Jesus Christ to be in the world.

I. The Godhead is not in this world but rather in the believers who know and love Christ (verses 22-29).

A. We have the presence of the Godhead which the world does not have (verses 23-25). There are those who emphasize that we need to practice the presence of God. What they often mean is that we need to get ourselves into a spiritual frame of mind so that we can feel or sense God’s presence and worship Him. This is not what Jesus is talking about. It is possible for unsaved people to put themselves into the proper mood of reverence. They can come to the point where they are emotionally and physically and mentally ready to worship. They cannot experience, however, the presence of God. It is an impossibility.

You may be asking, why I would say such a thing. The answer is found in verses 23. Jesus tells us exactly and clearly, who it is, who can experience the presence of God. The one who loves Jesus, that is the believer in Christ, will keep his words and the Father will love that believer. Now Jesus had already just said this but then He explains that the result will be that the Father and the Son will reside with that believer. In other words, the Father and the Son live with me. They are always in my presence and I am always in their presence. That is the reality of the believer.

According to verse 24, the world does not and cannot know that reality because they have refused to believe the words of Christ. That is why they do not love Christ. They will not believe Him and in Him.

Remember, though Jesus has said that He is going away to the Father. How is it then that they can be with us, when Jesus is physically gone. Verses 25-26 explain that the Holy Spirit will come and be with and in believers. It is through the Holy Spirit that we can practice the presence of God. Now this brings up a very important question. Can we lose the presence of the Holy Spirit? Can we lose the presence of God? Psalm 51:11 seems to indicate that the presence of God can be lost through grievous sin against God. Paul, however, makes it clear in Romans 8:9 that those who do not have the Holy Spirit do not belong to God. This is a very difficult problem. Can we sin and lose the Spirit of God? This is one of the main differences between the Old Testament and the New Testament. In fact, this is probably why Jesus is emphasizing these truths. They need to know that God’s way of doing things has changed. In the Old Testament, God would send the Holy Spirit upon the leaders of His people to enable them to lead spiritually. It often but did not always involve miracles. Sometimes the Spirit would come upon a person for a very short time but at other times He remained on a person for a long period. We do know that in the case of Samson, the Spirit left Him because of his foolishness. We also know that the Spirit left Saul long before God took his throne from him. David saw the awfulness of the removal of the Spirit which in 2 Samuel 7:15 was equated with the removal of the mercy of God. No wonder that David prayed this way. He knew the awfulness of losing the Spirit. We, however, need not fear. We live in a new age in which the Holy Spirit lives within us based on our relationship with Jesus Christ. If it was based on my ability to stay out of trouble, I would have lost the Spirit long ago but the presence of the Spirit since the day of Pentecost is based on one thing only, faith in Jesus Christ. The world, however, does not have the Spirit of God and cannot have the Spirit of God.

B. We have a spiritual memory that the world does not have (verse 26). One of the benefits of having the Spirit of God is that we have through Him a spiritual memory. John 12:14-16 gives us an example of how this works. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt on that first Palm Sunday, the disciples were whooping and hollering and rejoicing with the rest anticipating that Jesus would set Himself up as King of the Jews but it was not until Jesus ascended into heaven that they really understood what those verse meant. It was then that the Holy Spirit helped them to understand that Jesus was more than the Messiah, He was more than the King of the Jews, but rather He was God in the flesh, fulfilling the prophecies of the Old Testament. In a similar passage in John 2:22, we are told that they believed based on their remembrance of what Christ had said. They remembered, that is, it all came together as the Holy Spirit brought these things to their mind.

The Holy Spirit works in that same way in our lives. He brings to our memory truth and helps us to understand that truth and as we understand that truth, our lives are changed.

C. We have a peace that the world does not have (verse 27). The peace Christ gives allows us to be free from a troubled heart. John 16:33 tells us that we are going to have trouble in this world but that we can be of good cheer, we need not fear, there is no reason for our heart to pound in our chest out of fear. We have His presence, He and the Father are with us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our life.

D. We have a joy that the world does not have (verse 28). Now what is the basis of this joy. The world has joy. They rejoice when healthy babies are born and children manage to graduate from high school. They rejoice at weddings and promotions and retirements. What kind of joy do we have that is different? We rejoice because of the position that Jesus has taken in the universe. He has sat down on the right hand of the Father guaranteeing our salvation, ensuring that our prayers are answered, sending the Holy Spirit to indwell us with the presence of God. Those were great events when we graduated and married and had children but not one of them tops the greatest of all events in eternity past or eternity future when Jesus Christ ascended to the Father with all the pomp and circumstance that eternity can muster and Jesus approached the Father and the Father said, “You are my Son, this day I have begotten you.” Take your position in my kingdom at my right hand. Jesus was exalted above every living creature and given a place of authority with His Father.

Some misunderstand what Jesus is saying here. He is not saying that He is not God or that He is not equal with God. What He is saying is this, “My proper place is as the God-man, the Messiah, the Sent One of God who rules with authority from the Father. This is my place, this is my position. That is important for us. Jesus is our access to the presence of God. He as our Messiah gives us access to the Father. He could only do that in that He became man and lived and died and rose from the dead and ascended to the Father that we might be joint heirs with him.

E. We have a faith that the world does not have (verse 29). Now we have already mentioned this but it is important to remember that we have a faith that the world does not have. The world has faith in science. The world has faith in superstition. The world has faith in the individual. The world has faith in the group. The world has faith in organized religion. The world has faith in self-made religion. The world has faith in the might of wealth and faith in the morals of poverty. The world has faith many things and persons but our faith is unlike any others. We have faith in Christ.

II. Satan is the ruler of this world and he has nothing in common with Christ (verses 30). This is actually another difference between the believer and the world but Jesus presents it here very personally. He is the ruler of the righteous and Satan is the ruler of this world and they are archenemies. According to 2 Corinthians 4:4, Satan has blinded the minds of those who do not believe. Ephesians 2:2 tells us that the world follows Satan’s manner of life and that He works in them. They are under His power. Jesus told the unbelievers of His day that they were children of the devil and that they would do the works of their Father. It is an awful thing but so many of the things and people who we love and care for are under the rule of Satan. I’m glad though that Jesus did not end with this awful fact.

III. The work of Christ is that the world might know him (verses 31). John 1:10-12 tells us that those who do not know Him can know Him and receive Him and through Him become sons of God, be born again. John 8:31-32 tells that those who know Him, the Truth will be freed from Satan’s bondage. What a wonderful truth?

What is important to take away from this message is not only that we are different from the world but that they can be like us if they hear and believe. They can have all these privileges we have through faith in Christ. What a wonderful truth to believe! What a wonderful message to tell! Who will you tell this week of Jesus Christ?




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