AGCC Sun. a.m. 8/23/98



TEXT: John 16:16-33

INTRO: You may have heard the expression, "I don't even want to think about it today, I'll worry about it tomorrow" - perhaps you have even used this! We tend to live in the moment, which in some ways is good, but it can also be bad if the moment is a tough one.

Living in the moment produces a very up and down life, because the moments of life are usually this way. To an unbeliever the future represents a threat, it is the unknown moments in time, but to the believer the future represents the hope and meaning for the present as well as the past.

The believer can look forward and realize that ALL the stuff of the past and present cannot destroy us. Our movement through time is one toward victory, and so we can deal with the moments of difficulties in light of this promised future.

Therefore we don't see only misery in the moment, we see the final reward and thus have strength for those moments of difficulties.

ILLUS: Ray Stedman of Peninsula Bible church in Palo Alto, California, once asked a nine-year-old boy what he wanted to be when he grew up, and he answered, "A returned missionary." The boy looked ahead not to the years of graduate study, not to the years of separation from home and loved ones, not to the months and years in steaming jungles or parched deserts-but to the final state of recognition and acclaim.-James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 155.

PROP. SENT: The biggest difference between an unbeliever and a believer is that the unbeliever always has his past catching up with him while the believer always has his future catching up with him. The believer's end is victory, so even the moments of trials cannot rob us of our faith or our joy.

I. "LITTLE WHILE" OF GRIEF 16:16-20,32

A. Frustrations 16:16-20

1. Jesus was nearing the end of his earthly ministry, He was only hours away from the crucifixion.

a. He had spent years working with these disciples and now wishes to prepare them for what is coming.

b. In all their time with Jesus it seems they had difficulty understanding more than just the moment.

2. As Jesus begins to tell them about the moment of coming trial, He also tells them He will come later, but they just can't seem to see past the moment.

a. How like them we are!

b. Their faith and their victory moved only from moment to moment instead of their faith being based on Christ Himself, it was usually based on crisis events!

3. They don't understand Jesus' attempts to help give them a broader framework for their faith than just the moment.

a. In this way they are like little children. Little children can't often understand "tomorrow" when their hearts are ruled by the moments of today.

ILLUS: On the Saturday evening before Easter, I was trying to distract my hungry four-year-old son, Scott, and get dinner on the table. I decided to explain the importance of Easter--that because of what Jesus did, we could all go to heaven. Scott thought for a moment, then asked, "When will we come back to earth?" "We won't need to come back. We'll live there forever," I replied. Scott's expression suddenly turned to panic as he shrieked, "Then how are we going to eat dinner?" -- Kate Runyan, Michigan, "Small Talk," Today's Christian Woman.

b. So often in spiritual matters we too are like little children, we see the grief of a present trial and forget the perspective of eternity and the promised future Christ has given us.

4. The hope of eternity is not an escape mentality, it is a moderator to give us a frame of reference for all the moments in our life, to actually put things in proper perspective.

a. The truth is that there will be rough moments to our lives. (see also 6:33)

b. Jesus surely indicated this by his statement to them in 16:20 "you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices…"

c. Not a pleasant thought at all! But there are moments in life like this!

5. What was suppose to help them however was the other statement in 16:20 that follows the statement of their mourning while the world rejoices, "You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy."

a. Rough moments are just that, rough moments, they are not the catastrophe the world without Christ can experience.

b. As a disciple Jesus taught them that life would have plenty of moments of frustrations, but that in the light of eternity these will be will pass away!

c. It is important to understand this principle in order for our faith NOT to fail us in these tougher moments.

B. Failure 16:32

1. Unfortunately the disciples didn't quite understand what Jesus was telling them even when He explained it clearly and in the moment they expressed their faith!

a. They all fled when the moment of pain came, the faith they expressed was only the faith of the moment, not the faith of the future!

b. Jesus realized this was going to happen.

2. Though they knew the presence and power of Christ, they had lost the perspective of eternity and God's plan, and so when the moment of trial came they were not able to trust their foundation.

ILLUS: I recall a story about a man who had to cross a wide river on the ice. He was afraid it might be too thin, so he began to crawl on his hand and knees in great terror. He thought he might fall through at any moment. Just as he neared the opposite shore, all exhausted, another man glided past him nonchalantly sitting on a sled loaded with pig iron. How like some Christians! Headed for Heaven, they tremble at every step lest the divine promises break under their feet. They need only to look at the context of Isaiah 12:2 to realize that God is their salvation and the Lord is their strength and song. By resting completely upon Him and taking His promises at face value, we can drive out the paralyzing fear that hinders our effectiveness in serving Christ. The biblical antidote always works: "I will trust, and not be afraid." (Isa. 12:2)

3. So often we forget God's promises when we are in the midst of the trial, and so we panic.

a. This often results in withdrawal from God and His people.

b. This can also result in bitterness and anger toward God and others.

c. This will also leave our emotions vulnerable to great swings.

4. Probably the most incredible aspect of these disciples failure is that Jesus predicts it right after saying to them, "YOU BELIEVE AT LAST!" 16:31

a. The obvious point is that they believed at the moment before the trial came upon them.

b. How tragic that Jesus' warning didn't make them look to the future by faith, it could have helped them get through the present.


A. Future 16:21-22

1. Jesus tries to explain to them the need to look forward when present pain comes upon them.

a. He uses the analogy of childbirth, something a woman may have understood better than these guys!

b. Jesus acknowledges the fact that the process of giving birth is quite painful, the anguish is tough, but it is endured because the woman knows that there will be joy after it is all over with.

2. The fact that He was telling them the future should have prepared them to be able to endure the painful trial coming up.

a. This was in fact how Jesus dealt with all the pain in the crucifixion, notice the statement in Heb. 12:2 "who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame…"

b. It was the future that gave Jesus the strength to endure the present.

3. Jesus' hope no doubt was to prepare them so that they may endure the trial, but their minds were too focused only on the "NOW".

4. We who know the future should view the struggles of the present so differently!

ILLUS: In a recent sermon on Preaching Today, Joe Stowell said:

"In 1980, America's economy was in the ditch. The Cold War was in its fury. Russia seemed bigger, more powerful than us, and America entertained the world at the Olympics in Lake Placid.

"I remember coming home from church the Sunday that America was playing Russia in hockey. It was in the end of the first period, and we were beating the Russians. All of a sudden I realized my stomach was in a knot. My knuckles were white, and I had this anxiety about the game. All through the second period we were ahead. Going into the third period, I knew what would happen. The Russians would score five goals at the end of the game, beat us, and we would be embarrassed again. But we won!

"It was such a big deal that the national networks played it again. My wife and I watched the whole thing Sunday night. Only this time I didn't have a knot in my stomach. I leaned back on the couch and put my feet up.

"What made the difference? I could relax because I knew the outcome."

When we have faith that God is working for our eternal good, we can have amazing peace even when we don't know the outcome. -- Leadership, Vol. 19, no. 2.

5. Unlike the unbeliever we already know the final score, so we don't have to be tied up in knots at each of life's struggles.

a. In fact, for a believer to "lose it" and walk away during a crisis demonstrates to the world the we really don't believe what we preach!

b. Our faith will hold if it is not just anchored in the present moment of life, but is anchored in the Rock of Ages! - Dennis Marquardt

6. Fortunately for these men, Jesus' confidence in them is greater than their confidence in Him, and so He states that the future will restore their faith and joy and that in the new reality of His resurrection their joy will never again be taken away!

a. We also live in this new reality, so shouldn't our joy be unshakeable?

b. For us the future is already known, so each event or crisis is to be measured in the light of eternal reward, not just momentary anguish.

B. Faith 16:23-31,33

1. The coming future with a resurrected Christ will enable them to be able to come directly to the Father through Christ.

a. Up until now they directed everything to Christ, the Father still seemed a long ways off.

b. But Christ's resurrection will change all this, since Jesus will return to the Father, they will then have direct access through Christ's name or authority.

2. Jesus begins to teach them that they will be able to ask the Heavenly Father in His name and they will be received along with their requests.

a. These are not arbitrary requests, they are requests that are in line with Christ's will, not man's.

b. These requests will be heard and answered by God the Father.

3. Jesus' promise to them that the Father loves them and that they can come directly to the throne to make their requests known opens up a more intimate relationship with God through Christ our mediator.

a. Jesus will no longer be with them in the same way He is now, but the Holy Spirit will be in them to pray to the Father through Christ's name.

b. This change will allow their faith to really blossom, it will be a more direct relationship with God through Christ.

4. The purpose of Jesus telling them this is to give them peace in spite of the fact that in this world they will have trouble (see 16:33)

a. They can plan their lives differently than the rest of the world, each trial must be seen in light of the future, not just the present.

b. They can have peace in the face of death!

ILLUS: Winston Churchill chose to believe. Churchill arranged his own funeral. There were stately hymns in St. Paul's Cathedral and an impressive liturgy. But at the end of the service, Churchill had an unusual event planned. When they said the benediction, a bugler high in the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral on one side played Taps, the universal signal that the day is over. There was a long pause. Then a bugler on the other side played Reveille, the military wake-up call.

It was Churchill's way of communicating that, while we say "Good night" here, it's "Good morning" up there. Now why could he do that? Because he believed in Jesus Christ, who said "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me though he were dead, yet shall he live." When a man steps out of his own grave, he is anything that he says that he is, and he can do anything that he says he can do. -- Robert Russell, "Resurrection Promises," Preaching Today, Tape 151.

5. Jesus' final instructions to them in light of the future: "TAKE HEART" (NIV) or "BE OF GOOD CHEER" (KJV) - Christ has overcome the world, and in Him they will too!

a. If only we could see every situation in our life in this context!

b. Our struggles would not end, but the pain of them would be diminished if we would remember the promised future that is ours in Christ.

6. We are not just the "NOW" generation, we are the "ETERNAL" generation in Christ!

a. Our focus must be different than the world's!

b. Faith is more than just confidence in the present moment, it is faith in the God who holds the past, present, and future in His hand!

CONCLUSION: Real faith has the ability to hold us true to God even though the moment is filled with grief and pain! People of the world are those whose pasts are always catching up with them, but God's people are those whose future is always catching up with them! When the present doesn't make sense we can view the situation from the future to have it make sense, a wonderful promised future!