This article is based on a sermon I gave at my home church. I hope it helps you build a closer relationship with God through his Holy Spirit.
- The Holy Spirit Enables Us To Do Great Things
- The Holy Spirit Helps Us To Pray According To God’s Will
- The Holy Spirit Reveals Things To Us
The Holy Spirit Enables Us To Do Great Things (John 14:12)
Jesus did many great works while he was on earth. He healed the sick, fed thousands from little, cast out evil spirits, and gave teachings unlike anyone that came before him. He did so much more than what the gospels recorded. Matthew 8:16 states how in one evening he healed all the sick and cast out all the spirits of the demon-possessed from those who were brought to him. Again in the next chapter (v. 9), Matthew mentions how he went through all the towns and villages, not only teaching and preaching, but healing every disease and sickness! While doing all of this, he remained humble and continued to acknowledge his source.
…Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.John 5:19 (NIV)
With an understanding of some of the great things, Jesus did while on earth, reading John 14:12 should make the reader very excited. Before we go there, let’s put everything in context. In John 14:5-11 Jesus is having a dialogue with his disciples. He is assuring them that by really knowing him, they have known the Father. Philip was not convinced. He asks Jesus to show them the Father even though Jesus in the verse before states clearly that they have seen the Father by seeing him. Philip was having a slow moment! Regardless, Jesus repeats himself in a different way. The second time he also reminds them that it is God the Father that is doing the work in his life.
Furthermore, Jesus tells them to at least believe in him based on the miracles he had done. Now here goes. In verse 12 Jesus makes an unbelievable statement. What he says is so incredible, that despite everything he said previously being the truth, he prefaces his statement with “I tell you the truth.” What does he say? He says: “anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.” Not only that, but he also continues by saying “He (the one that has faith in him) will do even greater things than these” Why? “because I (Jesus) am going to the father.”
What Did Jesus Mean When He Said Greater Works?
When Jesus said greater, he is not meaning greater as in bigger and better. How much more awesome of a thing anyone could do. Jesus fed thousands of people from practically 1 serving of food (based on my appetite), he controlled the weather and walked on water. He even raised the dead! What Jesus was saying is greater in number. The reader must understand. Jesus was about age 30 when he started his ministry and 33 when he died. All the great works he did while on earth he did in 3 years! That’s the same amount of time we spend in high school. Imagine how many good works a person could do in an average lifetime!
As great as John 14:12 sounds note that Jesus said “will”, future tense. These greater works that will be done by those that believe in him will be done in the future. When in the future? When he has left to go to the father. But why then? The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is an absolute requirement for any believer to do the greater things Jesus spoke of. His last words to his disciples just before his ascension were:
…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.Acts 1:8 (NIV)
The Holy Spirit could not come while Jesus was still with them (John 16:7). After the early believers were filled with the Holy Spirit the results were grand! Throughout the Book of Acts, we read of the works of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the early believers. For example, those that spoke of the wonders of God in over 10 languages but did not know those languages (Acts 2:7-11). The sick that were being healed because Peter’s shadow fell on them. Given all that the believers did, they acknowledge the source. For example, after healing a man crippled all his life, Peter tells the onlookers:
Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?Acts 3:12 (NIV)
It was the Holy Spirit working in their lives; the same Holy Spirit that God has made available to believers who obey his commands because of their love for him (John 14:15).
The Holy Spirit Helps Us To Pray According To God’s Will (John 14:13-14)
In John 14:13-14 Jesus bridges his last statement with something that he then states twice. This suggests that what he said was very important. Jesus said:
13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.John 14:13-14 (NIV)
He repeated the same thing in a different way, just like he did earlier when Philip didn’t get it. He not only wanted to stress the importance of what he was saying but provide a second opportunity for his listeners to understand him.
In the midst of conducting a study of these verses, the first thing the Holy Spirit brought to my attention was that the sentence began with a conjunction. Immediately I thought, that’s not right! Didn’t our school teachers tell us we should not begin sentences with “And”? Who taught John how to write? This led me to do some research, and it turns out that our English teachers left out some of the details! Apparently it’s ok to start a sentence with “And”. Instead of reminding students that they were overdoing it, 19th-century school teachers just made it illegal. John, you’re good to go! Let us now focus on the significance of this sentence beginning with the word “And.”
The dictionary states that the word “And” is “used to connect words of the same parts of speech, clauses or,” in the context of John 14:13, “sentences that are to be taken jointly.” Jesus previously stated that we would do greater things because he is going to the father, which means his statement in John 14:13 was linked to the fact he is going to the father. The significance? The Holy Spirit that would come after he left would be the requirement for the promise he gave.
Let me ask you a question. Does Jesus do everything you ask for in his name? If no, why? Doesn’t he make clear by stating twice in two verses, back to back that he would do whatever we ask for in his name? He does, but that promise comes with a condition. The condition that what we ask is according to his will.
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.1 John 5:14 (NIV)
If God cannot lie, 1 John 5:14 makes it clear that we are not asking for some things according to his will. If we were, the things that didn’t come to pass would have. But why aren’t we asking for things according to his will? The answer is simple. We do not know his will, at least on our own, and because of this, our prayers are sometimes stale, boring, and repetitious. Disagree? Why do we fall asleep when we pray sometimes? Sometimes the same thing happens when we read the Word of God. Many times we daydream when we ourselves or other persons are praying. And what are the keywords that wake us up just in time to say “amen”? “In Jesus’ name I pray.” So what can we do about it? You guessed it. Let the Holy Spirit help us.
The Apostle Paul, in writing to the Corinthians makes an enlightening statement. Here is what he wrote:
For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.1 Corinthians 2:11 (NIV)
What a verse! When we pray, many times we don’t allow the Holy Spirit to direct us. It is the Holy Spirit, who knows the will of God! Two verses that summarize this entire section follows:
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.Romans 8:26-27 (NIV)
Isn’t that beautiful?! As we saw earlier, Jesus said that as a result of him going to the Father, he will do whatever we ask in his name (John 14:13). Those things we ask must be in accordance with God’s will (1John 5:14). Why Jesus’ going to the Father was important? The Holy Spirit could not come while he was still on earth (John 16:17). The Holy Spirit knows the mind of God (1 Corinthians 2:11) and as a result, if we are going to pray according to God’s will, we need the help of His Spirit (Romans 8:26-27). I don’t know about you, but that revelation gave me the chills. Speaking of revelation.
The Holy Spirit Reveals Things To Us (John 14:26)
I want to begin this section with a question that I believe is mindblowing. The question is: If God knows everything, and his Holy Spirit, which knows his mind lives inside of us, does that mean we have the ability to know everything? Not quite, but the good news is, if we allow Him to teach us, he will reveal many things to us!
After Jesus repeats 3 times within 9 verses that those who love him will do what he commands because they love him (John 14:15, 21, and 23). Jesus says:
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 youJohn 14:26 (WEB)
There is something the reader should note about this verse before we continue. When Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will teach us all things, it comes with conditions in a similar way to how what we ask in his name must be according to God’s will. That condition is found in the following verse:
The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.Deuteronomy 29:29 (NIV)
Only what God wants to reveal to us, the Holy Spirit will reveal to us. With that clarified, in John 14:26 the Holy Spirit is described as our teacher and reminder. Most believers are well aware of how the Holy Spirit reminds us of the Word of God. This is especially true in regards to temptation and the conviction of sin (I can testify). When it comes to the Holy Spirit being a teacher, not many believers can relate. I’ll use myself as an example.
I have written about and taught the Word of God in youth groups and to the general congregations of my church. In many of those occurrences, the revelations I shared came from what I read in books and found in articles on the Internet. In other words, truths revealed by the Holy Spirit to other believers. In those instances, I did not ask the Holy Spirit to reveal His truth directly to me. However, what you’re reading came directly from him. I made clear to him that I did not want to speak on anything that was not directed by him.
Confident that he wanted me to speak about his Spirit, I sat at the computer for about an hour waiting on His instruction on how to proceed. Nothing came. That night I did not sleep well. Potential points filled my mind as I slept. The next morning when I woke up ideas came flowing in. I immediately took my phone and began taking notes. He had begun revealing things to me. But that’s not all.
I developed the points he gave me over the next two days. The next evening when I was getting ready to work on this message, I felt led to ask the Holy Spirit for an increased understanding. I began to read John 14 again. This would make it the 3rd or 4th time since I started preparing. Then this happened. By this I mean all you have read and are still reading. I was so excited by the revelation that came flowing in that I messaged a friend telling her how I feel like I could write a book at that moment.
The Holy Spirit Is The Source of All Truth
We are living in a day when many claim to receive revelations from God. More often than it should, those revelations sometimes contradict. As believers, how can we be sure that we are being told the truth? Let the Holy Spirit teach us. I close this section with some of Jesus’ final words to his disciples. He told them:
I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 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.John 16:12-13 (NIV)
I wonder how much more things he wants to reveal to us, how much he desires to help us in our prayers, and how many great works he would like to do through us. There is so much more the Holy Spirit is able to do in our lives. Why not let him?