by Mike Ratliff
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”(John 15:18-19 ESV)
After the economy issues hit last month followed by the surge by the Presidential campaign of Barak Obama then his victory on the 3rd of November 2008, I found it very interesting who was celebrating and who was sorrowful. In response to that, I wrote a post called “What Now?“. The comments I received dealing with this was just as interesting. Some confessed that they had been in mourning for the last several months just as I had been. Some misunderstood the focus of that post thinking we were viewing the United States as a Christian country, et cetera. No, that was not even close to the focus of that post. The message of that post was that the Church had better prepare itself for reality as the powers of darkness that hate the light attempt to squelch the exclusivity of the real Gospel that we hold and preach.
Other professing Christians revealed that they supported Obama and his liberal agenda. I did not post those comments because all that would do is incite arguing and lead to evil. However, if you carefully read that post you will see that the real focus of it is to encourage Christians to pray and get serious about their walk with Christ for it is only in this that we overcome the world. On the night before His crucifixion, our Lord poured Himself into His disciples to prepare them for what was coming. Let us look at part of that discourse.
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.'” (John 15:18-25 ESV)
The Greek word John used here for world is κόσμος or kosmos. The meaning of this word is determined by the context. In this context, John is referring to the sum total of persons living in the world. Therefore, when our Lord says the κόσμος hates Him and His followers, He is referring to the hatred of all those who are not regenerate. The word ‘hates’ here is μισέω or miseō. This is a present, indicative verb in active voice. That means the action it describes is going on right now. The action is ‘detesting with an implication of persecution.’ This is described in Romans 1 where we see that the natural (unregenerate) man knows the truth about God in his or her heart of hearts, but suppresses it and does all they can do to put it out of mind. This denial of the truth takes many forms, but it is all wrapped up in hating God, Christ, and His followers. Remember this hatred is ‘without cause.’ Since they hate the truth and God, they will hate genuine Christians as well.
“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.” (John 15:26-16:4 ESV)
The Helper is, of course, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-33), came in new power into the world in obedience to God the Son. The Holy Spirit also comes in obedience to the directions of God the Father. As Christians bear witness about Christ, the Holy Spirit is working silently and invisibly through their words. Jesus’ words spoken to His disciples and to us through the Word of God are given to keep Christians from falling away. This is profound my brethren. Do you see how vital it is to immerse yourself in the Word of God? This is also why those “churches” that do not emphasize the Word of God in the lives of their members are part of the compromised church. This is what we see in those who have succumbed to liberalism as well. Never forget my brethren, people can ‘fall away’ yet remain religious. This work of the power of God’s Word in the Church is to strengthen believers so they will stand firm regardless of the persecution that is spawned by the hatred of those who despise God’s truth. Notice the persecution will at times escalate to martyrdom. When persecution comes my brethren let us never forget that those doing it do not know the Father or the Son.
“But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” (John 16:5-11 ESV)
Let us never forget my brethren; we have God the Holy Spirit living within. What is it that the Holy Spirit does in the world? He convicts the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment. The Greek word translated as ‘convict’ is ἐλέγχω or elegchō. This word means to reprove, rebuke, or admonish one who is an offender. In this usage, it is in future tense because when our Lord spoke these words it was in a prophetic sense. Notice also, what form the conviction takes. When one is convicted of sin, it is done in a rebuke of the guilty party’s unbelief. These convictions gives us hope that many who are in “the world” will not be part of it forever but will repent of their sins and believe in Christ. The Holy Spirit does this conviction in our time because Christ is now with the Father. Who is the ruler of this world who is judged? This is Satan. What does it mean that he is judged? In Greek, this word means that the one judged is condemned. It is in perfect tense in Greek, which tells us that Satan has been judged and continues in the state resulting from that judgment.
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:12-15 ESV)
What a blessing it is to have the Holy Spirit! It is very interesting to me when I get email and comments from professing Christians who say things that are blatantly opposed to what the Word of God clearly says. How is it that we know what direction to go and what to say and what not to say? How is that we can read the Word of God and know the truth from it? It is because the Holy Spirit teaches us in direct obedience to the Father and the Son. He takes what is Christ’s and declares it to us. What a blessing!
“A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:16-24 ESV)
In this passage, we have two “little whiles.” The first one refers to those few days after our Lord’s crucifixion and His resurrection. His disciples were full of sorrow during that time. However, they rejoiced when they beheld the risen Saviour. The second reference by our Lord refers to that period between His ascension and His second coming. He compares His crucifixion to the sorrow of a mother giving birth to a baby. It is painful and unforgettable, but afterwards the joy of the new baby lessens the sorrow of the travail. We are in that second “little while.” During this period, ‘this age,’ we have the promise of our Lord that if we ask God in our Lord’s name that we will receive and our joy will be full. This is not asking for selfish things. No, it is asking for things according to the Father’s will. When our Lord does return and judges the world, we will enter the ‘age to come.’
“I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.” His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:25-33 ESV)
At our Lord’s trial and crucifixion, the disciples were scattered. The sheep deserted the shepherd. However, there is forgiveness for those who believe and repent. In this is found peace. This is supernatural peace because all those who seek to live righteously will find tribulation in the world. However, all believers must take to heart the fact that our Lord has overcome the world and it has no power over us at all. It may rob us. It may persecute us. It may even kill us. However, we belong to the Lord Jesus Christ who has overcome the world. If we stand firm and never give in to the forces of darkness then we will find peace in Him and overcome the world as well.
Soli Deo Gloria!