Summary: Expository sermon on Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit and the encouragement we can draw from Him.

Cause for Encouragement

Fortifying the Foundations #36

John 16:5-33[1]


Have you ever been hit with such a jolt of grief that you could not speak?

That’s the condition I think these disciples were in by the time we get to our text.

They are overwhelmed by the realization that Jesus is about to die and leave them in a hostile world. They are in a state of shock. (dumbfounded by the impact of what Jesus has told them). I see them standing there with a blank stare in their eyes wondering how they will survive.

Jesus says to them in John 16:5-6 “Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’[2] Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief.” There was nothing casual or incidental about their grief. I believe they were literally “filled with grief”[3].

Jesus has been forthright with them about what is about to happen. Not only will he be taken a slain but they will all forsake him and flee. Some very hard times are coming. In these last hours of his life Jesus is preparing these disciples for what is ahead. He does not hype them with unrealistic expectations. It’s going to get worse before it gets better. Nobody likes to hear that. People with itching ears won’t hear it. But it was the truth and Jesus is telling it like it is.

In that context Jesus is also telling them this, “You’re gonna make it!” I don’t think they felt like they were going to make it. But it’s not all bad news. Yes there will be trouble, trials, difficulties. But “You’re gonna make it.” There may be people here this morning who need to know that in their own lives right now. If you don’t need to know it this morning there will likely come a time in your life when you do.

The assurance and encouragement Jesus gives in our text this morning revolves around two primary activities of the Holy Spirit.

I. The Holy Spirit will convict the world of guilt (verse 7-11).

Jesus is leaving. How will they deal with a world that is so hostile it is about to crucify the Lord of glory? The Holy Spirit will deal with the world. Back in chapter 14 Jesus had said, “I will not leave you as orphans...” He promised to send the Holy Spirit. He reinforces that promise here in chapter 16. The Holy Spirit will come and do something through the church that could not possibly be done without Him.

How will the Holy Spirit change the world? He will do it one person at a time. He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment (verse 8). The key to the church’s influence on the world is the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit working the world will not be changed. We must never forget that. We must never think that we could be clever enough to change the world. We must never think that we could entice the world into following Christ by offering entertaining events and good programs. A couple of decades ago we thought we could change the world through political clout. These disciples in John 16 couldn’t do it and neither can we. We should make our voices heard in the political arena. We should develop as effective and interesting programs as we can. But the real change in the world comes through the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. He uses us in the process. But only the Holy Spirit can convince unbelievers to change.[4]

Look with me at John 16:8. The Holy Spirit “will convict the world of guilt”. In other words he will bring the unbeliever to a point in his heart where he recognizes his wrongdoing before God.[5] He will prove the accusation of sin to that individual’s heart and mind. In a legal context the word translated convict meant to cross-examine for the purpose of convincing or refuting an opponent.[6]

Has that happened in your life? Have you been convinced by the Holy Spirit of the truths Jesus speaks of here in verses 8-11? I vividly remember a night in 1962 when the Holy Spirit reasoned with me concerning my condition before God. The preacher was speaking but I could not tell you one thing he said. It was not his oratory—it was not his arguments that changed my life. It was something very personal going on between the Holy Spirit and me deep inside my soul. I am so glad that it was not just man reasoning with me that evening. Isa 1:18 "Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” How precious it is when the Holy Spirit reasons with us.

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