Bible Study 2023
Hope That Overcomes
We’re going to look at John 16:25-33. The world in which we live is bleak and filled with fearful people who are struggling to make some sense out of life. Their fears are personal, private, but they are also collective. Thanks to the media, we have everybody else’s troubles also to carry. At the same time, we find ourselves struggling to face them because we’re so bad at relationships.
Trying to secure a meaningful, lasting relationship in marriage seems almost impossible. Families are full of chaos and disintegration. Add to this decades of propagating self-esteem and pride, and what you have is people who are consumed with their own desires and their own wants, who then try the impossibility of making meaningful relationships because they’re so self-centered.
The more materialistic the culture is, the more this becomes a reality. The more things we possess, the more things they occupy, the less significant our relationships become. Even in the midst of all this material prosperity, in all of this supposed freedom, we are full of fears, anxieties, doubts, and questions. People are searching for things that give them meaning, while consumed with selfishness.
They find themselves unable to be satisfied, to be at peace. There are three things people need. First, they need to be loved unconditionally. And they need to be loved by someone who knows all their faults and still loves them that way. Secondly, they need someone to trust. Someone who’s consumed with their well-being. Someone that has the resources to secure them.
Thirdly, people need hope. They need to know there’s a future. They need to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, to know that someone has a plan, and someone has a purpose. And somewhere in the future, something good is going to happen, and it’s going to be far greater than any of the bad experiences that occupy our lives. Love, faith, and hope. That’s the Christian triad.
That’s what is offered to every person in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 says there are “Faith, hope, and love,” and “the greatest of these is love.” Those three divine provisions that come to us who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are what we need to live life with peace and joy. Peace is the sort of negative side. It’s the tranquility. It’s the absence of anxiety.
Joy is the positive side. Now, our Lord is going to say the last few words to His 11 disciples that He gave them on that Thursday night before His crucifixion. He’s made them all kinds of promises, and gave them all kinds of warnings. While He has been with them, they have had someone to love them. While He’s been with them, He has filled their lives with hope.
But now, He’s leaving. In addition, He told them, “You’re going to be persecuted the same way I’m being persecuted.” He says in Luke 21, they’re going to turn against you, family against family members. The society is going to turn against you. Ultimately, they’re going to throw you out of the synagogue. And they’re even going to kill you, while thinking they do God a service.
Why are they going to hate you? Because they don’t know God, and they’re the subjects of Satan. So, as our Lord closes in verses 25 to 33, He offers them comfort. And the comfort He offers them is built around these three realities. You have one who loves you. You have one who can be trusted with your life in eternity. And you have one who has planned a hope for you.
Let’s start at the end. Go to verse 33, “In the world, you have tribulation, but take courage.” What does “world” mean? It means the system of evil that dominates creation, and dominates humanity. It is the satanically operated. That’s where you live. And, “In the world, you have tribulation.” It means essentially, pressure, affliction, distress. The world hates you. It is hostile toward you.
So in the face of this world of tribulation, how do they survive? Triumphantly. How do they get through? Our Lord says in verse 33, “Take courage.” But you have no power over the circumstances. But Jesus does. It’s a command. If the Lord Jesus, who is in control of absolutely everything, says, “Cheer up,” that’s different. This is a divine promise. That’s all you need.
And this is what every human on the planet needs. Why do people not run to Christ so they can have one who loves them, who is the sovereign of the universe? Simple answer: they love their sin. But for those who come to Him, He provides all that we need. God has taken the trust that you’ve given Him by believing in Him, and He will hold you and keep you forever.
He’s in control of all things in the universe, which takes all the anxiety out of life. Let’s look at love. Verse 25-26, “These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; an hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father. 26 In that day, you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf.”
Everything He said to them during the three years of teaching was all about the Father. He’s been revealing God. “I and the Father are one. I do the Father’s will. I only do what the Father shows Me to do, wills for Me to do, tells Me to do.” God is revealed in Christ. He is the fullness of the Godhead bodily. John 1:14 says, “In Him is the very wisdom and truth of God personified.”
Jesus spoke about being the light. He spoke about being water. He spoke about being bread. He spoke about the temple and His body. He spoke about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. He said things like, “Before Abraham was, I am.” There was enough truth in what He taught to know that He is God, He is the Savior, He is the Messiah, and why He had come.
But, there was not always enough to understand everything, and He was speaking in veiled language because there were things that hadn’t happened that He couldn’t fully explain. The cross, the resurrection, the ascension, the sending of the Holy Spirit. He had said a lot of things about the Father, but there was still a veil. They didn’t want Him to die. They didn’t want Him to leave.
So, at the present, they’re not clear on a lot of things. But He says in verse 25, “The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father.” After the cross, after the resurrection, after the ascension. After the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes to take up residence in the life of the believer and be a teacher.
The Holy Spirit inspires the writing of the New Testament, where all the veils are removed, so that we have the book of Acts, all the way through the book of Revelation. Christ comes back in the Spirit of Christ. This is the mystery of the Trinity. I’ll speak plainly, and now we have all these 27 books that take out all the mystery and obliterate all the darkness and make everything light.
Verse 26, “In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf.” In that day you will be able to talk to the Father personally. Whatever they needed, they went to Jesus. And we see Jesus during His earthly ministry isolated time after time in prolonged times of prayer with the Father. He was taking to the Father the requests of His own.
Now, when the Spirit comes, you will have direct access to the Father. This is really a stunning thing to the Jewish people. God was symbolically in the Holy of Holies where only a high priest could go in there once a year. But at the cross the veil was ripped from the top to the bottom. The Holy of Holies was exposed, and God was saying, “Everyone has free access to Me.”
Now, that doesn’t mean that Jesus doesn’t intercede for us. But He intercedes for us on the matters over which we have no insight and knowledge and wisdom. That alone sets Christianity apart from Judaism. It also sets Christianity apart from Catholicism in a significant way. Catholicism says you don’t have access to God. You need somebody else to give you that access, like a priest.
The Catholic Church teaches for centuries that access to the Father comes only through Mary. Ludwig Ott, this Roman Catholic systematic theologian says, “Mary’s intercessory cooperation extends to all graces, so that no grace accrues to mankind without the intercession of Mary.” You get nothing from God. Mary gets it for you. Jesus says, “You can go directly to the Father in My name.”
How could we ever be given such a privilege? Verse 27, “for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.” Every good thing God wants to grant us because of Christ. This is family love. This speaks about a personal affection. He wants to lavish you with all the benefits and blessings that His affection for you can draw.
And here’s the good news: He loves us like that even though He knows everything about us. You can get people to love you if you don’t tell them everything. Right? As soon as you start telling them everything, the group gets smaller. But with God, He loves you, and He knows absolutely everything about you. All your unfaithfulness, all your critical spirit, all your bitterness, all your sin.
The second provision that causes us to be able to take courage is faith. Verse 27, “You not only have loved Me, but you’ve believed that I came forth from the Father.” You don’t believe Jesus was a good teacher, a religious man, a wise spiritual leader. No. “You believe that I came forth from the Father,” that He is essentially a member of the Trinity, that He is God who came into the world as a man.
The Jews didn’t believe that. The Jews said He’s from Satan. “But you believe that I came forth from God, and have come into the world.” That’s the incarnation. In other words, you believe that Jesus Christ is God who came down in human flesh, conceived in Mary by the Holy Spirit as God the Son. Lived a perfect life, died a substitutionary death, rose from the grave and ascended back to heaven.
Verse 29. “His disciples said, ‘now You are speaking plainly and not using a figure of speech.’” You came down, You do your work, You go back. That’s very clear. This is simple enough for us to understand. And when Your ministry here on earth is done, You’re going to go back. They didn’t yet want to acknowledge that that ministry here included His death and resurrection.
Well, if He knows all things, then who is He? Who alone knows all things? God. This is a great confession. How did they come to that conclusion? They’ve been with Him three years. They knew He knew everything. He knew what they were thinking. Back in verse 19, He says, “Are you deliberating together about this?” He knew everything about everything.
Jesus never asked anybody anything. He knew everything. You must be God. “By this we believe that You came from God.” That is the foundation of the Christian faith: believing Jesus is God in human flesh. They believed, and they affirm that belief. In verse 31, Jesus answered them, “You are believing now.” He affirms their faith. They did believe He was God in the world.
But that’s not where the chapter ends. Then He says to them in verse 32, “Behold, the hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone, and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.” When was that? Just in a couple hours? They go into the garden, Jesus is arrested, and they flee. Was their faith a sham? No. It was weak faith.
The most helpful thing in your development is not to overestimate your strength. And not to overestimate your faith, and be afraid of your weakness. But their faith was real, but when it was tested, they fled on Friday. By Sunday night, they were all back together, and their faith, was inflamed. And when the Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost, they then turned the world upside-down.
And then lastly, hope. Verse 33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Jesus said, “I want you to be at peace.” That’s His last words. What will bring you peace? Number one, to know that God loves you with an everlasting, and sovereign, and divine love. To know that you belong to God.
But your peace comes from this. “In the world you have tribulation, take courage; I have overcome the world.” That’s real hope. If you look at the world around you, you say, “What in the world is going on? How could it get any worse?” Christ overcame the world. Past-tense. It hasn’t yet worked out in time, but it’s all planned in eternity. This is the ultimate victory for all believers.
The world may kill you, turn against you, “but I have overcome the sin. I have overcome Satan. I have overcome demons. I have overcome it all.” He is triumphant. His victory is our victory. 1 John 5:4-5, “We are overcomers because our faith is in Christ, and we are united with Christ in His victory.” It doesn’t matter how the world is going. He wins in the end. There is absolute hope. Let us pray.