Skip to comments."In Jesus, Peace; In the World, Tribulation" (Sermon for the Sixth Sunday of Easter; John 16:23-33)
Posted on 05/04/2013 5:06:32 PM PDT by Charles Henrickson
In Jesus, Peace; In the World, Tribulation (John 16:23-33)
Hear again the words of Jesus at the end of John 16, verse 33: 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. This is our text.
In Jesus, Peace; In the World, Tribulation. This is what our Lord says his followers can expect. It was that way for his disciples back then. It is that way for his disciples still now. On the one hand, peace; on the other hand, tribulation. Both guaranteed, at the same time, for all those who follow the Savior in faith. How does this apply to you and me?
Well start with the matter of having tribulation. In the world you will have tribulation, Jesus tells his disciples. Lets unpack that a bit. In the world--meaning, as we live our life here in this world, in the midst of a world system that is aligned against God and his ways and against his people, the church. The world is a hostile environment for Christians. We are in the world, but not of the world. We dont share in its values. The church is always counter-cultural, in whatever culture we find ourselves, because in every society there are always aspects of it that run counter to Gods Word, and therefore the church must run counter to the culture. The worlds values prominent in our culture not long ago exalted materialism and a pale civil religion that made church-going fashionable--as long as people didnt get too carried away with it--and that equated being a good American with being a good Christian. Now, a few decades later, the culture has shifted, church-going is on the decline, organized religion is unpopular, and public morality has slid into the sewer. But in either case, then or now, the worlds values--wrong values, from Gods perspective--have been present in our society. Its just now the wrongness is easier to see. So as the church is faithful to Gods Word--as we proclaim a prophetic message and live lives transformed by the gospel--the church is always going to be counter-cultural, and the world will hate us for it. We are an annoying, unwanted presence in the world, because the world wants to tune out God and his Word, and we remind them too much that there is another way to live.
In the world you will have tribulation, Jesus continues. You will have. Its guaranteed. You can count on it. The tribulation is going to come. Expect it. Be ready for it.
In the world you will have tribulation. Tribulation, trouble--the Greek word here is thlipsis. Thlipsis has the idea of pressure, being pressed hard, pressure being brought to bear against someone. Certainly the disciples of Jesus went on to face their share of pressure, tribulation, thlipsis. The apostles of Christ were called on the carpet by the Jewish Sanhedrin and put under pressure to stop teaching in that name. That was thlipsis, tribulation. They were arrested, more than once, and beaten up. The apostle James was killed for the faith, the first of the apostles to be martyred, and all but one of them ended up dying a martyrs death. And the one who didnt, John--he was exiled as an old man. All this was thlipsis, tribulation, extreme pressure, exercised by the world, against Christians. And really, its been no different ever since. In every century the church, as it has been faithful, has experienced pressure and trouble from a hostile world. In the world you will have tribulation. Jesus is saying that to us, too, to all of us here today.
What brings this on? Its that the church is called to be faithful in proclaiming Gods Word. That includes proclaiming Gods Law, our Creators good order for humanity, which the people of this world rebel against. And we tell it like it is, that what God calls sin is sin, no matter what the world may say, and that all men are liable, accountable to God for their sins and subject to his righteous judgment. Obviously, the world does not like to hear this. And so they hate us for saying it.
Case in point, the most prominent recent example: The matter of homosexuality in our society. Gods Word says it is wrong. The world--or at least the current popular opinion in our culture--the world now says homosexual behavior is OK, even good. Just this past week, Rhode Island became the tenth state to legalize so-called gay marriage, which is neither gay, in the sense of happy, nor is it marriage. It is a sick, sick mockery of marriage. But now you even have the President of the United States endorsing this insanity.
And so if Christians are going to be faithful to Gods Word, and speak out against the homosexual agenda, they--we--can expect tribulation. This is already happening. The world is bringing trouble and pressure to bear against those who speak the truth.
Again just this past week, a relatively unknown NBA basketball player named Jason Collins announced that he was gay. Well, youd think this guy had just found a cure for cancer or done something else noble and virtuous, the way he was instantly celebrated as a hero in the press, and by the President. And God help you--or somebody help you--if you dare to deviate from the party line and politely suggest that sodomy is a sin.
Thats what happened to an NBA commentator by the name of Chris Broussard. Broussard works for ESPN, and on one of their programs, he was asked what he thought about Collins coming out. Here is what he said: Im a Christian. I dont agree with homosexuality. I think its a sin, as I think all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is. . . . Personally, I dont believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly--like, premarital sex between heterosexuals--if youre openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says you know them by their fruits. It says that, you know, thats a sin. And if youre openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality--adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be--I believe thats walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ.
Now Chris Broussard here was simply saying what God says about that particular sin, and balancing that by pointing out heterosexual sins as well. As a Christian, he was simply being faithful to Gods Word. But who do you think got the most criticism and hate in the media this past week, Collins the homosexual or Broussard the Christian? The Christian, of course. Chris Broussard has been getting a ton of thlipsis, tribulation and pressure, for what he said. One group has launched a petition drive demanding that ESPN suspend or even fire Broussard for his comments. Their petition statement reads: Chris Broussards hateful attack on Jason Collins for being gay was an unacceptable misrepresentation of the Christian faith. ESPN must immediately suspend Chris Broussard and guarantee that their network will never again be used for gay bashing.
Friends, this is thlipsis, tribulation, the kind of pressure Christians will get from the world when we are faithful to Gods Word. Get used to it. It will come. And this is only one small example, about calling sin sin. Youll get even more tribulation if you say that the only solution to sin is in our Savior Jesus Christ, that no one comes to the Father except through him, and that there is salvation in no one else, that there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. This exclusive claim of Christianity is likewise loathsome to the world. They dont want to hear it. They cant stand it.
Now is there a way to avoid thlipsis, to avoid this pressure and tribulation? Sure there is. Just surrender to the world, give up the fight, do what they say, and the world will leave you alone. They may even applaud you for seeing the light and being so tolerant.
But thats not us. No, we will be faithful to Gods Word, by Gods grace. We will speak the truth, no matter how the world rages against it. And what will give us the confidence and the courage to do so? It is this: Christs promise of peace. Jesus here assures his disciples: 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.
Jesus has overcome the world! The world did its worst, and Jesus overcame it. The world raged against Christ, put him to death, mocked and beat and crucified the only sinless man who has ever walked this earth. He endured the ultimate thlipsis, the greatest pressure and trouble, when he was nailed to that cross. Yet precisely in his suffering and death, the holy Son of God won the victory for us. Jesus took all the sins of the world, all of our rebellion against God--all of our sins, homosexual, heterosexual, you name it--and Jesus bore the judgment we deserve in our place, on the cross. His sacrificial death removes the barrier of sin that separates us from God. His death makes peace between God and man. It wins our forgiveness. What Jesus did for us on Good Friday and Easter--this opens up for us the door of eternal life, even as we see the stone rolled away from Jesus tomb and hear the good news that he is risen and lives forever, all praise unto his name.
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. Yes, dear friends, take heart! Be strong and courageous. The world cannot hurt you, not really. Not ultimately or finally. No, in the end, you have the victory, in Christ. In Jesus, you do have peace, no matter how wildly the world may rage all around us.
The world is going crazy. It has lost its mind. They call good evil, and evil good. Thats not going to change. But theres something else that will not change, and that is Christs promise of peace to all who trust in him. Lean on that promise. Rely on it. Rest your whole life on this peace that your Savior has secured for you and promises to you. His word will not fail.
In Jesus, Peace; In the World, Tribulation. But take heart, dear Christians; the peace that Jesus gives is far greater than any tribulation this old world can dish out. It is an eternal peace that cannot fail and will prevail. The peace of God, which passes all understanding--the peace of God, which overcomes the world and all its tribulation--this same peace, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
[Jesus said:] 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.
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.
I have always found that praying for peace in this world was like praying for the sun to rise in the West.
Go ahead, call me a blasphemer, but remember that there hasn’t been peace in this world ever since Cain slew Abel.
When I pray, I pray that the good guys will beat the bad guys and that I may always have the common sense to be on the side of the good guys.
Great sermon. I just shared it on Facebook.
(Under other circumstances in discussing the "courageous" stance of someone like Jason Collins, I would have taken 'thlipsis' differently ;)