B.C.P. Sunday after Ascension Day John 15:26-16:4-
John:15: 26: But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: 27: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. 6:1: These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. 2: They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. 3: And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4: But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them.
This passage is about two things : Revelation; and Rejection.
Revelation, verses 26f.
26: But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
The Comforter is one called alongside someone to help. The context is a legal one, so one might think of a type of solicitor. He will be sent by God the Son, from God the Father. He is not earned or deserved but a gift sent. Christians can be secure knowing that God the Holy Spirit lives within them and will always be there. He is the Spirit of truth. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all characterised by their truthfulness. Therefore, as Christians we need never fear close examination of our faith because it is based on eternal truths. This contrasts with the devil who is a liar.
he shall testify of me: God the Holy Spirit opens people's eyes to the truth, revealing Jesus as the way, the truth and the life, the only way to God (14:6).
John uses the word witness or testify 47 times ( Matthew 1: Mark 3: Luke 2). His gospel was written to witness to Jesus and elicit belief ( 20;31) 'But these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ and by believing you may have life in his name.'
The Spirit is sent to glorify the Son and , thereby the Father. But, to be more effective he needs followers of Jesus to share their own experience of their personal relationship with him. 27: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.
Disciples need the Holy Spirit to give them the power to witness. The Holy Spirit needs people to share their testimony. This does not mean that every Christian is expected or gifted to be an evangelist, about 10% are thought to have that gift. But every Christian is called and empowered to share their story, even if it is very simply.
( Revelation; and ) Rejection (16:1-4a) .
I don't know if you are familiar with the proverb, 'Forewarned is forearmed'. 6:1: These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended ( or 'fall away' New Living Translation ).
From 5:18 Jesus had been telling his disciples to expect persecution because they belonged to him who challenges the way that the world lives. The early church was actually called people of 'the way' ( Acts 9:2 ) before they were called 'Christians' Acts (11:26).
2: They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. 3: And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.
The disciples John, brother of James, was killed by Herod because this pleased the Jews ( Acts 12:2 ).
Hugh Latimer was a reformer who was burnt for heresy by Queen Mary in 1555. He said, 'Wherever you see persecution, there is more than a probability that truth is on the persecuted side'.
Those who have the truth on their side ( 15:26 ) should not need to resort to threats or violence to further their cause. People who are blinded to God's truth will claim to be acting in his name as they exclude and persecute Christians.
Of course, this is not to ignore the atrocities that have been committed in the name of Christianity during history. Rather to highlight that they were not truly following Jesus.
Today it is estimated that more Christians are being tortured and murdered for their faith than at any other time. This is happening today in places that include Pakistan, Chine, Egypt, Iran and the Sudan. But, in these areas Christianity is spreading as people see the radical Christian lives that are being lived out in difficult circumstances. Sometimes people convert to Christianity from other religions because they see the truth in it.
Jerome, who lived about 345-420 was a leading Biblical scholar. He wrote that 'The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church'.
We may think it is unlikely we will be called to lay down our lives for Christ in the Western world, but this can happen...
Cassie Bernal who was shot by masked gunmen in the Columbine shooting (1999). This is a personal account from someone who attended her memorial service:
"Cassie was totally anti-Christian 2 years ago. She was involved in
witchcraft and very suicidal. Her parents forcibly drag her into the youth pastor's office. When she walked out, his reaction was, 'Wow, she's a lost cause.' Through the prayers of her church's youth group, parents, and youth pastor, about 6 months later Cassie walked back up to the youth pastor and said, 'You'll never guess what I did today. I gave my life to Christ!' From that point forward, Cassie was a radical evangelist on her campus. The funeral showed some videotape of her sharing parts of her testimony, which were very powerful. It was because of her radical faith on campus that she was asked if she believed in God. She replied, 'Yes, I believe in Jesus.' (Not 'I believe in God' as the media has reported.) The funeral was more of a celebration of Christ's work in her and through her. A number of girls shared how she had led them to faith. At Cassie's memorial service, over 75 kids made first-time commitments to Christ." Copyright 1999 Gibson Productions