Our hearts seem good at finding trouble. In the first half of John 14, Jesus gave us three reasons to not let our hearts be troubled. Here in the second half, he gives three more.


John 14:15-31

The Gospel According to John (Pillar New Testament Commentary), D.A. Carson

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel According to John, J.C. Ryle

Sermon Transcript

Last week we began reflecting on troubles of the heart. They are a universal feature of the hearts of fallen people who live in a fallen world. In some cases, we understand readily why peoples’ hearts are troubled. I spoke with a couple Ukrainian members of my gym shortly after the war in Ukraine began, and their hearts were understandably troubled. But even for those of us whose lives seem relatively peaceful, our hearts find something about which to be troubled. You solve one issue and feel at peace, until the next morning when your heart finds another trouble to latch onto. Jesus’ disciples, when he first spoke the words of this passage, were understandably troubled. They’d left everything to follow Jesus, and now he was leaving them, about to die on the cross, rise from the dead, and return to the Father in heaven, where they would see him no longer. Nonetheless, he says to their troubled hearts, and to ours: Let not your hearts be troubled. Last week we looked at the first three reasons Jesus gives that we need not let our hearts be troubled, which appeared in the first half of John 14: Heaven is sure, you know the way, and Jesus is still working. Now we’ll look at 3 more here in the second half of John 14: The Holy Spirit is in you, he will teach you the truth, and he will give you peace.


The Holy Spirit is in you


Before I can tell you the Holy Spirit is in you, though, we have to look at who the “you” is to whom Jesus promises His Spirit. In a group of this size, the Holy Spirit is probably not in all of you; so who is He in? Our passage begins in verse 15 with Jesus telling his disciples that if they love him, they will keep his commandments. No ordinary human can say that: “If you love me, you’ll do whatever I tell you.” That’s not fair of one human to say to another. But Jesus, though he took on the form of a servant, is truly God, and therefore it is right of him to say, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” When you truly love someone or some thing, you treat he or she or it in the way that is proper to it. So if you love your dog, for example, you will feed it, take it for walks, bathe it, and take it to the vet when it’s sick, among other things. If you love your dog, you’ll feed it. It’s not a valid argument to say, “Of course I love my dog. I know I don’t feed it, but I call it on the phone daily,” because while that may be a good way to love a parent who doesn’t live in the same place as you, that’s not how you love your dog. Well, the way you love the one who made you is by obeying his commandments, and so Jesus, as true God, the one through whom you were made, rightly says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” It won’t work in your favor to say to him, “I know I don’t obey you, but I have a lot of positive feelings toward you,” because the way you love the God who made you is not merely with positive feelings, but with obedience to his commandments.


Jesus’ commandments are ultimately every commandment of Scripture, understood in light of him. In the Gospel of John, there have been two big commandments: To believe in him, and to love the others who believe in him. If you love Jesus, you will receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, and you will intentionally move toward other believers in Jesus to know and love them the way Jesus has loved you. If they are in need and you can help them, you will. Bigger picture, it means any time you come across a command of Scripture, and it conflicts with what you want to do, if you love Jesus, you will obey the command of Scripture.


Now if you really get what Jesus commands, you no doubt also realize that you don’t keep his commandments perfectly. In a later letter John wrote, he says that if you really love Jesus, you will not claim to be free of sin. When you hear Jesus’ commands, it should not make you say, “Phew; glad I keep all of those.” You should see the ways you fall short, but if you love him, there will be a genuine direction of obedience in your life. You will want to obey his commandments. You won’t excuse, rationalize, or minimize sin. When you sin, you will confess your sin, trust in Jesus for forgiveness, and take action to move in a new direction. That’s what it looks like for sinners to love Jesus in this life.


So that’s the who, those who have the Spirit in them: Those who love Jesus and demonstrate that love by keeping his commandments. To you who do, listen to this glorious promise in verse 16: And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. As Jesus is preparing to go, why don’t his disciples’ hearts have to be troubled? Because even though Jesus is going, he is going to ask the Father to send another Helper, who will never go. This word Helper is very difficult to translate from Greek; helper might be the best, but other words that go with it would be comforter, encourager, advocate, the one who strengthens us, the one who empowers us. Jesus has been those things to his disciples while on earth, but now as he goes, he is going to send another helper who will be those things to them forever. In fact, he says in verse 17 that in some way, the disciples already know this Spirit of Truth, who we later see called the Holy Spirit, because, Jesus says, the Holy Spirit already dwells with them. Earlier in John, we read that the Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove, and dwelled on him. So while Jesus was on earth, his disciples knew the Spirit because they knew Jesus, on whom the Spirit dwelled. But let’s back up and talk a bit more about the Holy Spirit.


The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity, and to briefly review that, the Trinity is the doctrine in which we confess that there is one God, that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, but the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not the Father. God is one being eternally existing in three persons. We don’t pretend to understand that; we confess it, and we worship God as such. The Father eternally begets the Son, and the Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father and the Son. That means Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all eternal; there was never a time when any did not exist, but that what that eternal existence has been is the Father begetting the Son, and the Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son.


So the Holy Spirit has always existed, just as the Father and Son always existed, and we read of the Spirit’s activity throughout the Bible before Jesus speaks of him here. In the creation account, we read in Genesis 1:2 that the Spirit of God hovered over the waters. The Spirit is the one on the ground as it were in the creation, or as theologian Geerhardus Vos says, the Spirit’s work throughout the Bible is to perfect the work of God by bringing it to its goal. So in the creation of the world to be the dwelling place of God, the temple, God dwelled in it by His Spirit. However, the first humans rejected God’s loving authority. They did not obey his commandment, and so were cast out of his presence. Nonetheless, God was committed to bringing his people back, so he came back to them and told them to build a temple in which he would dwell. When the temple building was constructed, the Spirit of God again descended upon it like a dove, and dwelled there. However, his people sinned against him again, his Spirit departed from the temple, and the temple was destroyed. So this time, in order to bring his people back, he came to them himself as a human in Jesus Christ, and now, on Jesus Christ, the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us, the true temple, the Spirit of God descended like a dove. And so Jesus’ disciples already knew the Spirit, because they knew Jesus.


But then, Jesus says in verse 17, when he returns to the Father, the Spirit will go from being with them in Jesus, to being in them. In other words, they will be the new creation, the new temple, the new dwelling place of God. Jesus even says in verse 23 that if anyone loves him, he will keep his word, and my Father will love him and we will come to him and make our home with him. So who will dwell in Jesus’ disciples when Jesus dies, rises again, ascends, and returns to the Father? God will. Just as God created everything as the Spirit dwelled on the earth hovering over the water, so God will make us a new creation as the Spirit comes to dwell in us. This in fact has now happened. Jesus has died, risen again, ascended into heaven, and poured out his Spirit on his church, so that now whoever believes in Him receives His Spirit the moment they believe, and are thereby added to his church.


So what means for you if you are a believer in Jesus today is that you are not an orphan, and you never will be. That’s what Jesus says in verse 18. He will not leave us as orphans, but he will come to us. He came to his disciples after he rose from the dead, and breathed upon them the Spirit of life, and that’s the same Spirit he’s breathed upon us now, to be with us forever. Many people feel lonely today; maybe you do. But Christians are never truly alone. God Himself is in you, because His Spirit is in you. What troubles your heart? Maybe the threat of violence troubles your heart. Who could be with you, to help you with that? Wouldn’t you be less troubled if you always had a Navy Seal Team with you, on your side? That’s the kind of helper the world wants, a helper they can see, while the Spirit of Truth Jesus says they cannot receive in verse 17, because they neither see him nor know him. But you know Jesus. He’s in you, and he will never leave you. He doesn’t promise therefore that you’ll never be entangled in violence, or that any of your other heart troubles will not come to fruition, but he does promise that you’ll never be an orphan through them. God Himself will be with you because God Himself will be in you. Let not your heart be troubled.


Ok, so he doesn’t do what a Navy Seal Team does. He’s a better Helper than they. So what does he do? Throughout Scripture he perfects the work of God by bringing it to its goal. So in this passage, he brings life. Jesus says when he comes to them in verse 19 they will live because he lives. The Spirit will work in them the resurrection life of Jesus after Jesus is risen from the dead. He will cause them to be born again, in other words. If you are a Christian today, it is only because you have been born again of the Spirit. But the focus in this passage is on how the Spirit gives that new life, and on what he will then do in those to whom he gives that new life. He teaches you the truth.


He teaches you the truth


So after Jesus says that his disciples will live because he lives, he says in verse 20 that “In that day you will know that I am in the Father, and you in me, and I in you.” Now, of course, it’s already true that Jesus is in the Father. And in that day at least, it will be true that they are in Jesus, and he is in them. But not only will it be true; they will know that it’s true. So one of the ways the Spirit helps us by teaching us the truth is he teaches us the truth about who Jesus is, and about our standing with him. He’s the one who ultimately brings assurance to us that we are truly God’s children, united with Christ by faith. So why does your heart not need to be troubled with the various troubles of life? Because the Holy Spirit testifies to you that you are a child of God, that you are in Jesus and he is in you, so that even though you suffer with Christ, you will also be risen with Christ. His inheritance will also be your inheritance. One day you will really, literally, rise from the dead, and see the glory of Jesus. And in comparison to the weight of that glory, all your present troubles will be light. It’s one thing to confess that there is a heaven, to say, as we say in our creed, that we believe in the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. It’s another to know that you personally are going to heaven. That’s the assurance the Spirit brings, and it is not an assurance ultimately rooted in your keeping of Jesus’ commandments even, but in the fact that you are in Jesus and he is in you, and because he lives, you also will live.


Our experience of that assurance varies. The Spirit teaches you the truth, but he doesn’t teach it to you all at once, nor does he remove all the error at once. False ideas about God and salvation may cloud our assurance. Sin may also cloud it; remember Jesus ties the keeping of his commandments to his dwelling in us. If you are knowingly walking in sin, you shouldn’t feel confident that you are going to heaven. Repent, and ask God to restore to you the joy of your salvation. But even as imperfect sinners, it is not arrogant to claim to know that you are in Jesus, and he is in you, and that therefore you are going to heaven. These disciples were imperfect sinners when Jesus came to them, and yet he says that in that day, when he sends the Spirit, they will know that they are in him and he is in them. Not only will they live, they will have assurance of life, and you can have that same assurance by the Spirit.


This truth-teaching ministry of the Spirit becomes more explicit in verse 26, where Jesus says the Helper, whom the Father will send in His name, will teach these disciples all things and bring to their remembrance all that Jesus has said to them. As with this entire passage, this has application to us, but let’s first consider its application to his disciples. Jesus has been with them for three years at this point, but there’s still so much they don’t know. In verse 22 of this passage, one of his disciples asks a question, because he didn’t already know the answer. That’s what they were used to when Jesus was with them. Jesus would say something, they wouldn’t get it, so they’d ask a question, and Jesus would answer it. So what are they going to do when Jesus is no longer with them? Jesus says he will send another Helper, the Holy Spirit, to teach them all things and bring to their remembrance all Jesus said to them. Remember that Jesus already called him the Spirit of truth, and here we see him teaching his disciples the truth.


And we know this had a unique application to the first disciples because Jesus says the Spirit will bring to their remembrance all he said to them. The Spirit can’t do that in our lives, because we were never with Jesus to hear things he said to us, that the Spirit would then have to call back to our memory. Instead, how do we access those things Jesus said that the Spirit brought back to their memory? We access it through their writings, which we have in the Bible. The Gospel of John, for example, was written by one of Jesus’ disciples, because the Spirit of Jesus taught him all things and brought back to his memory the things Jesus said. So the first way the Spirit teaches us all things is he inspires the words of Scripture, so that we have access to the truth about Jesus, what he said, his life, death, resurrection, the meaning of those things, and his commandments.


But then the Spirit works in us to convince us of the truth of Scripture. Ultimately, how do we know the words of Scripture are the words of God? The Spirit opens our eyes and enlightens our minds to recognize them as such. Even in how we are born again, it’s as the Spirit enlightens our mind to recognize that the gospel we’re hearing is truly the word of God, and therefore we believe it. Similarly, in our growth as Christians, we grow as the Spirit enables us to recognize the truth revealed in Scripture and apply it to our lives. It’s a great tragedy of modern theology, then, that so many Christians have disassociated the Spirit from the truth of Scripture. On a kind of popular level, many Christians assume that the truth corresponds to thought, which is fine I guess, but kind of inferior to the Spirit, which corresponds to emotion. It even comes out in how we think about worship: Many assume the sermon is kind of the heady, thoughtful part of the service, and therefore the boring part, while the music, that’s the emotional part, and therefore the more spiritual, authentic part. And man, that’s just so far from the biblical doctrine of the Trinity, and from how Scripture presents the work of the Spirit.


The work of the Spirit is not to give us an emotional experience apart from the truth. The work of the Spirit, the Spirit of truth, is to teach us the truth, in such a way that it transforms our minds, wills, and yes, affections. That’s what both our preaching and our singing should do: Communicate the truth in a way that transforms our mind, will, and affections. So please, for the sake of your own spiritual health, don’t denigrate learning the truth. The spiritual, supernatural work of the Spirit, is to teach you the truth. That’s how he will help you when your heart is troubled.


So let’s return to our Navy Seal example. How does the Seal Team help you when your heart is troubled? They help you feel like no shooter will possibly get to you. But guess what? They can’t stop cancer from getting to you. And what about those you love? They can’t be with them all the time. And that’s not even to mention the fact that you’re unlikely to get a Seal Team to serve as your personal bodyguards, to be with you always. Now are we ready to see how the Spirit is a better Helper? When the violent aggressor comes, when the project at work fails, when the money is low, when the housing situation is unclear, when the kids are acting out, when you aren’t able to have kids at all, whatever troubles you, he testifies with your spirit that you are God’s child, so that though you suffer with Christ, you will rise with him. He brings to your remembrance the truth of Scripture: Nothing can happen to you apart from your Father (Matthew 10:29-31), whatever happens, God will work it for your good (Rom 8:28), and none of it will be able to separate you from his love in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 8:31-39).


Years ago I went to Kenya with my wife’s family. We were together on a plane for over 10 hours, and then we were in a van on unpaved roads for 2 weeks. So you can imagine, conflicts happened. One day my heart was particularly troubled with a sense of my own sin and ways I’d sinned against her family. As we were driving, I saw a sign that said Jeremiah 33:3 on it. I actually thought the reference was to Jeremiah 31:3, and I read it on the Bible app on my phone. There God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” Immediately my heart was comforted. Another time I was in my car going east on Spring Garden St and was in a period where I was really struggling with assurance of my salvation, which happened while I was a pastor at this church, mind you. I listened to a J.I. Packer lecture where he referenced the “whosoever” promises of the Gospel of John, like in John 6:37 when Jesus says, “whosoever” comes to me I will never cast out. Packer said that God has issued a whosoever promise in the gospel, underwritten by the death of his son, and no one who believes that promise will find that he fails to make good on it. Immediately my heart was comforted. I almost cried in my car as I crossed Ridge Ave. I couldn’t have planned either of those moments; I couldn’t have worked them up. And, in fact, most days, they don’t happen. Most days, it’s sitting down and reading my Bible. For years it was going to church and just listening to the faithful preaching of the Word, talking about the sermon with other members after church, talking about the truth with others throughout the week, reading books, listening to podcasts, watching videos that fill your mind with the truth. If you want a heart that isn’t troubled, do those kinds of things, and the Spirit will teach you the truth. And finally, in case it wasn’t already clear, he will give you peace.


He will give you peace


So in verse 27, after Jesus describes the truth-teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit, he says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” So here again we come back to the big idea of the passage: Let not your hearts be troubled, and here it’s because Jesus is leaving his peace with his disciples. Now remember throughout the passage that Jesus has been talking about leaving his Spirit with them, this other Helper, the Spirit of truth, who the world cannot receive. That Spirit currently dwells on him, but when Jesus rises from the dead, the Spirit will be in them. Now Jesus says in verse 27 that there is a peace he currently has (“my peace I give to you”) that he will leave with them, which is a peace that is not as the world gives. So what is Jesus saying? It’s hard to say for sure, but I want to suggest the evidence points toward Jesus giving us peace by giving us His Spirit, who will give us peace as he leads us into the truth.


That’s why we can let our hearts not be troubled. Jesus’ heart isn’t troubled. He has the Spirit in Him, he knows that He is in God and God is in Him, and He knows that even though He’s about to die on the cross, He’s returning to His Father. Now He’s saying that’s the peace He will give us when He pours out His Spirit on us. Again, it’s not the peace the world gives. It’s not the Seal Team peace. It’s not a peace that can be seen, it’s not a peace that keeps us from all trials. It’s a true peace, and a peace that will last when this world and whatever peace it could possibly offer perishes. It’s His peace.


His peace was not a peace free from trials. This whole speech Jesus gives is happening because Jesus knows he’s heading right into a greater trial than you and I could possibly imagine. He was going to bear our sins and suffer under the wrath of God for them on the cross. We all are natural born enemies of God. From birth we have not kept his commandments, because we have not loved him. We do not have peace with God by nature; what comes naturally to us is to be at war with God, to resist His authority and to fight against His commandments. Jesus was the true Son of God who loved him and kept his commandments. He was in the Father, the Father was in him, and the Spirit gave him peace in knowing this. Yet on the cross, that sense of peace would be broken. On the cross God punished him as one of his enemies, so that we, the enemies of God, could have peace with God. That’s why he couldn’t just give his disciples his Spirit at that time. He first had to die for them and rise again to send His Spirit to give them life, teach them the truth, and give them the peace of being forgiven of their sins and adopted as God’s children.


Now Jesus has died and risen again, and whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life from the Spirit. Believe in him, and you will receive this promised Helper. He will make His home in you. Because He is in you, God will be in you, and you will never be an orphan. Because He is in you, He will testify to you that you are God’s child, and teach you the truth of the Scriptures He inspired. Listen carefully to the reading and preaching of God’s Word when you gather with your church. Talk about it with one another. Read it as you have opportunity. Pray, and ask God to fill you with His Spirit, so that you might understand the truth he’s revealed, and as He teaches you the truth, he will give you peace in believing it.