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Please read JOHN 15:18 through 16:4

The passage we have just read brings sorrow to the hearts of most us as Christians. It describes how we followers of Christ will be ill-treated, hated and even killed. It’s somewhat very sad to follow such a way! Our Lord Jesus Christ doesn’t hide the hatred that the world has towards him and his followers, the disciples. He underwent such a situation, and promises his disciples that they will be treated the same by the world.  He tells of the hour that would come and during which some of those people will kill the disciples, pretending serving God. But, still I rejoice in the Good News I read in Chap. 15:26-27 that gives the light of hope to Christians: “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. THE HELPER FROM THE FATHER AND SON    The description given by our Lord Jesus Christ with regard to the Christians’ situation in the world stopped with the Old Testament citation from Psalm 69:4 sung by David. He started with a ‘but’ to bring comfort to them. One might could expect Christ to tell them: ‘But now that I go you will never experience such hatred from them. I will stop it, and they will love you’. However, He tells them about the Helper who would come from the Father and Him. Christ sends the Helper to the disciples from the Father. He doesn’t send him through the Father; but from the father whom Christ asks (John 14:16). This implies that the Father and the Son send the Helper, the Holy Spirit, to the disciples. The discussion of the source of provenance was already solved at the Council of Nicea-Constantinople way back in 381 AD. Even the other discussion that could raise the question of the unity of the Son and the Father, even the Holy Spirit, had gotten a solution at the time of Athanasius’ Creed. The clear purpose of the coming of the Spirit of truth is stated as coming to witness about Christ over and against the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6-8). The Helper is identified as the Spirit of truth in Acts 14:26. It’s the Spirit of Jesus Christ that He sends upon his disciples, on his church. Christ is the Way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). The Spirit belongs to our Lord Jesus Christ. He’s not the power; but He gives power when He comes on the disciples (Acts 1:8; 2:14-15). He is God. He is another Helper, Paracletos. The first one who comes to help us is Jesus Christ. He said He will not leave you as orphans (John 14:18) and He sent the Helper. The Helper will speak of nobody else but of Christ and He was to say only what Christ tells Him to say. He is the mouth of Christ. The Spirit will not contradict Christ. He will not say what Christ does not tell Him to say. He is united to Christ as Christ is united to the Father; and the Holy Spirit is in the Father as the Spirit of God. The Spirit who comes from the Father and the Son is sent to you; Jesus says to his disciples to let them know the tremendous work that they had to do for him. There is a link between the Godhead – Father, Son and the Holy Spirit – with men. God loves and wants to continue to dwell in man, and work with and through him. It still sounds disappointing to the people who expect a solution to hatred and killing. But what will happen as the Helper comes? Jesus gives the work that the Helper will be doing, and also that of his hearers, his disciples.

II.  WITNESSING OF CHRIST BY THE HOLY SPIRIT    The Holy Spirit, named as Helper, will have the task of witnessing about Christ. It means to make Christ be known by many people for their salvation. Christ saves their life and rules their life if they accept him. This witness about Christ as the Savior and the Messiah was foretold by the Old Testament prophets and Priests. In short the Old Testament spoke of His coming and His work for the salvation of God’s people. The witness about Christ is the proclamation of him as the Messiah and the Lord. This was proclaimed by our God himself at Christ’s birth to inaugurate the New Testament era. “And the Angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the Angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’” (Luke.2:9-11). The Angel of the Lord is the Lord himself who came down to proclaim His born Son, Jesus Christ, as the Savior and the Lord of His people. A great celebration by Angels accompanied this proclamation. Didn’t the voice from Heaven confirm in a way of proclamation at Jesus’ baptism: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”? The Helper who was at the beginning continued with the witness work when He came fully upon the Church of Christ. The Holy Spirit will witness about Christ and all his work in the world to save God’s people. The witness of the Holy Spirit is the witness of Christ who taught His disciples and everybody and showed through great deeds that He is the Messiah and the Lord; but the Jews denied that and hated Him to death. He now wants the proclamation work to continue through the Holy Spirit and the disciples, His church. “The Helper will witness about me.” The witness of the Holy Spirit that Christ was saying was truth became effective at His outpouring on the day of Pentecost. His coming invited many people, the crowd, to come and hear about Christ. When he came from the Father and the Son to witness in Jerusalem, people ran towards where He was poured out upon the Apostles. He came with a sound like a mighty rushing wind, tongues like fire… they were filled with Him, and started speaking in tongues about mighty works of God.(Acts 2:2-4, 11). The promised power came upon the disciples and they started witnessing without fear about Jesus Christ of Nazareth. People believed Him through Peter’s proclamation as he was filled by the Helper. The Helper uses the disciples to witness Christ to the world which is full of hatred and persecution against them.

III.  WITNESSING CHRIST BY US    The disciples got a wonderful responsibility in dealing with those who hate and kill them. “You will witness about Me as the Holy Spirit does.” A great responsibility the church of Christ has is to proclaim Him as the Holy Spirit allows it. The Holy Spirit uses the disciples to witness Christ. Alone the church can’t. We need the Helper. Our Lord said to wait until He comes. When He comes, the disciples would witness about Christ from where they settle to the end of the world. The hatred, killing, discouragement in the work of Christ will be in this world; but we have to witness.  Christ’s point to the disciples became clear: “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away” (John 16:1). We must not go away from the church’s responsibility to witness about Christ in this post-modernist period where many things have turned upside down in our society. Churches close down, Christians go back to witchcraft (Sangomas and Inyangas) to be healthy and wealthy. People are killed by those who pretend serving God! Christ said: “They will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me” (John 16:3). We are told so that when these things come, we must know, or remember it, and not fall away; but witness about Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ tells us by this that witnessing about Christ is the only way to end hatred and killing in this world. Our witness about Christ is a clear proof of our obedience to Him, and a clear recognition of His presence in us and with us.

IV.  BEING WITH CHRIST FROM THE BEGINNING    The fundamental reason to witness Christ is because the disciples were with Him from the beginning. As for you, this is a great condition for apostleship. When do you first know Christ? How long have you been with Him? His Word has told you about Him from His birth, work, death, resurrection and ascension. Do you walk with Him? Then tell the others about Christ. The church of Christ, we must proclaim Christ, the Savior and Lord. We are here to witness about Christ. We are not alone. We have His Spirit, our Helper and the other witnesses of Christ around the world. Let His Spirit use us with His Word powerfully to witness Him.  Amen,

Rev. Kabongo Kalala Malebongo Athanase
United Reformed Church in Congo, URCC
Email: kmkabongo@yahoo.fr