NOOMANAUTICS - CONVICTING
by Pastor Mike Fortune
September 5, 2009
Introduction Video: BlueFish: What Would You Do?
Are you convicted that...
- Grief can be good? [John 16:5-7; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; John 12:27]
- Guilt can be good? [John 16:8-12; 1 Corinthians 4:4-5 NLT; Ephesians 4:29]
- God is good? [John 16:13-16; Matthew 19:17; Luke 17:10]
Recently, I was convicted by the Holy Spirit to give a homeless guy on a street corner all the money I had in my wallet—which at the time was $25. He didn’t have a gun in his hand, just a sign saying “Grace please.” Which I’m a sucker for and just couldn’t refuse! But you should’ve seen his reaction when I gave him the money! Wide eyed and incredulous, he thanked me profusely and kept on thanking me as I drove away. I used to worry about how he was going to spend that money. Cynically thinking that it would be certainly used to purchase drugs or alcohol. And maybe it will be. But at least he knows I meant what I said: God still loves him like crazy! The McDonalds gift certificates I carry around just wasn’t going to cut it for this guy. I was convicted of that.
I’m ashamed to say it, but I’ve been a little stingy in my giving much of the time. I haven’t always known that grace is good. And an even greater blessing when shared. And I had no clue guilt could be good too until fairly recently. So you can imagine my surprise this week when I heard God’s word say that grace is good, but so is God’s guilt! So pack your bags people! We’re going on a guilt trip! Aren’t you glad you came to church today? That’s one of the points our video clip and passage of Scripture we’re studying reminded me of as we begin our fall sermon series I”m calling Noomanautics. Some of you are probably wondering: Noomawhat? You wanna try that out loud? Noomanautics.
The Holy Spirit guides Christians
If you hate that term, don’t blame me. I didn’t coin it. Author Leonard Sweet actually came up with it. It’s based on the Greek word pneuma we translate as Spirit. Often the word is used in the Bible with the qualifying Greek word for holy preceding it [hagion], but not always [cf. Romans 8:26; 1 Corinthians 2:10; 12:4]. When it’s not used that way, it’s clear from the context of those passages that the authors are still referring to the same Holy Spirit. Which we’ll be learning a little more about each week. Because there is lot of ignorance about the Holy Spirit and its very real identity and role in our lives effecting areas of our lives we don’t even realize. We’ll talk more about that next week.
But since nautikos is the Greek word we use to describe nautical things like ships and sailors and navigation of the seas, you can see why Sweet combined the two words to coin this new one: Noomanautics. It’s a word he says describes the study and navigation of the Holy Spirit in the Christian’s life. Which is what it reminded me of when I kept reading John 16 and 17 in preparation for this new series. Because these two chapters seemed to me to be all about the Holy Spirit and it’s role that Jesus wanted it to play in our lives. So that’s what we’re calling this series. But before we proceed to our passage, let’s get a little more background.
According to Jon Paulien in his book The Abundant Life Bible Amplifier [pp.229-230], there are actually eleven passages in the Gospel of John that refer either directly or indirectly to the nature and work of the Holy Spirit. Five of these passages are located in first half of the book and are primarily narrative [John 1:32-33; 3:5-8; 4:23-24; 6:63; and 7:37-39]. But there are five more of these passages in the farewell discourses of the second half of the book [John 14:16-17; 14:26; 15:26; 16:7-11; 16:13-15] that are more specific and descriptive. [The eleventh is the brief mention in John 20:22]. Today we’re going to be zeroing in on the last two in the farewell discourses that began in John 14 and conclude in John 16. So turn in your Bibles to the Gospel of John 16. We’ll begin in verse 5. My Bible’s sub-heading doesn’t say “Noomanautics.” It reads “The Work of the Holy Spirit.”
5"Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' 6Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. 7But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. 12"I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13But 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. 14He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you. 16"In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me."
The first thing we noticed in our passage today is that Jesus begins by wondering why none of the disciples are asking where He’s going. This we found curious in our staff meeting on Tuesday when we studied this passage together because we remembered John 13:36 and John 14:5 say the opposite. In John 13:36, Simon Peter straight out asks Jesus, “Lord, where are you going?” and in John 14:5, Thomas says the same thing. “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
So the question is why does Jesus begin in John 16:5 by saying, “Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’” when they just did! Twice! In English, it just doesn’t make much sense. But in Greek, it does. Because Jesus literally says, “Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you keeps on asking me, ‘Where are you going?’” As John records in chapters 13 and 14, the disciples had earlier made inquiry concerning Jesus’ return to his father, but apparently, they had ceased doing so. They became so absorbed in their selfish thoughts and pity that they did not think of the joy carrying salvation one step closer would bring to Jesus or to them. And to be honest, that’s tough for us to do too isn’t it?!
To keep thinking about us being one day closer to the return of Jesus? Living in the not yet. As we saw earlier this year, it’s tough living in the meantime. Because this broken world isn’t all that great is it? That’s why Jesus reminded them in verses 6 and 7, “6Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. 7But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away.” So this is point number one. Some grief is good. Who knew all this time when someone frustrated shouts the words, “Good grief!” that they were actually right according to Jesus! Some grief is good! The King James describes it this way in verse 7, “It is expedient for you.” Which means, “It is profitable for you” and in the NIV it says “It is for your good that I am going away.”
Why? So the era of the Holy Spirit could begin in an unprecedented way. In His incarnate human body, Jesus could not be everywhere at the same time. But through the Holy Spirit, which had been active since creation and was active throughout the Old Testament [which we’ll talk more about another time], he could be even more active in the New Testament. And in our day. His activity would be proof to the disciples and to us that the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus would not be in vain.
Isn’t that why Paul told the Corinthians in chapter 15 of his first letter that if Christ has not been raised, your faith would be futile or meaningless? That you would be still lost in your sins? In addition to those who have died? Are you convicted that some grief is good? I hope so because Jesus straight out says so in verse 6. Which still sounds odd to us I know. Because unless you work for hospice, who do phenomenal things for families when grieving, but unless you’re trained by hospice, we aren’t taught that grief is good! Instead, we’re taught that there are stages to grief and that it is normal to go through them in however long it takes to do so. Which is true. But always the point is, to get through it. Right? Often, we fail to recognize the redeeming reminders of grief.
Whenever my kids lose the remote control to the TV, especially my 65" man cave TV, I mourn its loss. Even if it’s only missing for a few days. I’m thinking about putting a GPS device on that thing so I can always find it. One time when my kids were littler, I found the remote to the TV in the dish washer! It was clean as a whistle and with a new battery, worked even better than before!
But of course, the disciples weren’t talking about trivial things like remote controls. They were talking about losing Jesus! And if Jesus was going away, they weren’t sure they could live without him! The Thessalonians felt the same way. That’s why Paul wrote these encouraging words to them in chapter 4 verses 16-18: “16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18Therefore encourage each other with these words.”
Paul anticipated that Christ followers would grieve. That in the meantime, we would continue to experience loss. And that we would mourn those losses. And don’t forget, Jesus did too. Recently we read in John 14 how Jesus told his disciples not to let their hearts be troubled. Right? But before that, in John 12:27, Jesus Himself said His own heart was troubled. And later in Gethsemane, it would be troubled even more.
So the Bible isn’t saying that all grieving is bad. Apparently the kind that over a period of time permanently paralyzes you from living a life of faith in the meantime is bad, but not the normal ups and downs and highs and lows of living in a broken messed up world. That kind of grieving is normal and good. Even if you’ve got more questions than answers and you’re angry at God, that’s good grieving. Because you’re still engaged with God. You’re wondering. Seeking. Praying. Pleading. Accusing. Whatever. It’s the silent treatment that’s childish and un-Christlike. It’s the permanent paralysis that’s bad. It’s the emotional fetal position we crawl into not letting anyone else in—including God—that prevents God from grieving with us. It’s when we no longer “keep on asking where God has gone” that we get into trouble.
The Holy Spirit, through His word, is convicting me that some grieving is good. And as crazy as it sounds, so is some guilt. Let’s look at John 16:8-12. It says, “8When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. 12"I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.”
Some guilt is good
Point number two is: Some guilt is good. Are you convicted of that? I wasn’t until fairly recently. I remember one time when I was a little kid, less than 10 years old, I got mad one day and I cursed. And I remember that day because it was the first time I remembered doing so. Nobody heard me say what I did. But I heard me say it. And because my conscience was bothering me, I went to my dad and confessed what I said. My dad seemed surprised. I couldn’t tell if his surprise was because his little boy said what he did or that I actually admitted it to him! But either way, he smiled and hugged me and said “I forgive you and so does God. Everybody makes mistakes.”
And that’s just as true for children as it is for adults isn’t it? It’s why I hug my kids and tell them even when they do something wrong, “Thank you for coming to me. I forgive you and so does God. Everybody makes mistakes.” But once we grow up, have you ever noticed that some people forget this? Some people once they’re adults become very serious about God’s job. They mistakenly think it’s their job to convict the world of sin. But thank God, that’s not our job!
We know this is true because 1 Corinthians 4:4-5 in the New Living Translation says, “It is the Lord Himself who will examine me and decide. So be careful not to jump to conclusions before the Lord returns.” But didn’t Jesus say, “By their fruits ye shall know them?” Yes, He did. But the context of that statement is correctly identifying false prophets not convicting them of their sin. Besides, right before that, Matthew 7:1 says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” It is a misinterpretation of Scripture to say that God asks us to be fruit inspectors. It is not our job to convict the world of sin. Yes, God believes in good guilt trips. The kind that break us free from our paralysis of faith and fetal positions of pity and selfishness. But God through the Holy Spirit is the one who does that! Not you!
Think about it this way: If God is the One who said He’s responsible for growing the fruits of the Holy Spirit in your life [cf. Galations 5:22] but you start judging yourself or others, who are you really passing judgment on? Aren’t you really passing judgment on God? And if you’re taking God’s job of judgment or the Holy Spirit’s role of conviction upon yourself, aren’t you placing yourself above God? And isn’t that how Lucifier got kicked out of heaven in the first place? Wanting to be above God?
The consequences of failing to recognize point number two can be eternal. Some guilt is good. But only the kind that the Holy Spirit convicts us of. It could be as simple as the speech we use. Which is something the Holy Spirit has been preaching to me through Ephesians 4 recently. Which says in verse 29, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up, according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Did you catch that? God’s saying it’s not enough not to curse or take his name in vain. It’s not even enough to be articulate and even right and holy about what you say. Because it’s how you say it that often determines, according to the listener and their needs, whether what you said is wholesome or unwholesome. If you’re a mature Christian, you don’t get to decide that. They do. Your spouse does. Your children do. Your colleagues at work. To be wholesome, according to Ephesians 4:29, what you say has to not only be honoring to God, it has to edify others, according to the others. That’s a whole new level of truth in love I’m not so good at yet! But I’ve been convicted of this recently. In some of the things I write in emails. And in some of the things I say.
God is good
Point number one: Some grief is good. And surprise, surprise, so is some guilt. Point number two. Especially if it brings me back to God. And the goodness of His grace. Which is point number three. Are you convicted that God is good? I hope so because Jesus said in Matthew 19:17 says, “There is only One who is good.” That’s why we are desperately in need of His righteousness. Luke 17:10 adds, “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants.”
Like that honest but homeless guy I met on the corner, we should all be carrying around some cardboard signs that say, “Grace please.” Because rightly understood, good guilt brings us back to God’s grace. Which after a bazillion years we will only just be beginning to learn about and truly appreciate. We know this is true because Jesus says in John 16:12-13, “12"I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13But 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.”
Verse 16 concludes: “16In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.” Sure, Jesus was probably referring to his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection. But what if Jesus was also saying to those of us, convicted by the Holy Spirit about our giving or our language or by anything small or large, that some grief is good and that some guilt is good because God is good? Good news people. He hasn’t left us as orphans. He knows we’ll make mistakes. But He still loves us flaws and all. We can leave this building, but never His presence. If you’re not convicted of this yet, in a little while, I pray you’ll know this for sure.