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HOW THE HOLY SPIRIT GLORIFIES CHRIST

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Evening, June 18, 2006
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:14).


If you study the history of Christianity you will begin to realize that we live in what Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones called “discouraging days” (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, M.D., Preaching and Preachers, Zondervan Publishing House, 1971, p. 117). That is true here in the Western world particularly, although God seems to be moving in some very encouraging ways in the Third World, especially in China, Southeast Asia, Africa, and parts of India.  

But here in the great democracies of the West, these are indeed “discouraging days,” for preachers especially. The rationalism of the Enlightenment has filtered down to the common man, and has eaten the heart out of the great denominations, leaving them a mere shadow of their former glory.

Among those who still believed the Bible, in the twentieth century, there was a division. One half went over to Bible exposition, and the other half went into varying degrees of fanaticism concerning the Holy Spirit. But both sides maintained the same view concerning the methods of evangelism.

Dr. A. W. Tozer was called “a twentieth-century prophet” in his own lifetime, and continues to be called by that title over forty years after his death. Dr. Tozer made this penetrating statement in one of his essays, and I think it is a wise and true statement. He said,

One of the serious weaknesses in present-day evangelicalism is the mechanical quality of its thinking. A utilitarian Christ has taken the place of the radiant Savior of other and happier times. This Christ is able to save, it is true, but He is thought to do so in a practical across-the-counter manner, paying our debt and tearing off the receipt like a court clerk acknowledging a paid-up fine. A bank-teller psychology characterizes much of [our] religious thinking…The tragedy of it is that it is truth without being all the truth (A. W. Tozer, D.D., We Travel an Appointed Way, Christian Publications, 1988 reprint, pp. 63-64).

Dr. Tozer said that “a utilitarian Christ” has taken the place of “the radiant Savior of other and happier times” in Christian history. The word “utilitarian” refers to usefulness, “stressing usefulness over all other considerations” (Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary). Tozer was telling us that today Christians tend to think of Christ only as a useful means of obtaining salvation. He says we tend to have a “mechanical quality in our evangelism…[and] a utilitarian view of Christ,” a Christ who is to be “used” mechanically to obtain salvation. He said that we think Christ “saves” a person like a court clerk, or a bank teller “tearing off the receipt… acknowledging a paid up fine.” What Dr. Tozer is getting at here is mechanical evangelism, where a person simply agrees with two or three Christian doctrines, makes a merely automatic “decision” and supposedly receives salvation, like you receive a receipt when you go to the bank. I am very much afraid that he was right. And this utilitarian view gives us a mechanical salvation. You “come forward,” or say certain words in a “sinner’s prayer,” and the transaction is finished, and off you go, back to the world, forgetting about Christ and His church. After all, you’ve gone through the ritual and said the right words. What more is there to salvation beyond this?

Then, after a person has gone through the mechanics of making a “decision” and is quickly baptized, the preacher wonders what to do with him. The first group of evangelicals I spoke about take the newly mechanically-decisioned “convert” and try to build him up by teaching the Bible to him. The second group try to bring him into a “second work” of the Spirit. The sad truth is that, in most cases, no “first work” has been done – and, so, no amount of Bible study or “deeper experiences” can do him any good at all, for he still has

“…the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in [him], because of the blindness of [his] heart” (Ephesians 4:18).

As a result of presenting a “utilitarian Christ” in a “mechanical” way, there has been no true conversion – and, therefore, no amount of Bible teaching or “deeper experiences” can be of any help whatsoever. That is why well over 90% of our modern “converts” fall away rather quickly, most of them never to come back to church.

But Jesus gave a truer and more Scriptural method of conversion when He said, concerning the Holy Spirit,

“He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:14).

This verse reveals an all-important work of the Holy Spirit in true conversion. Let us think more deeply about our text.

I. First, what the Holy Spirit does not glorify.

“He shall glorify me” (John 16:14).

We approach that in a negative way by commenting on what, according to our text, the Holy Spirit does not glorify.

I should stop here to explain what the word “glorify” means in this text. The Greek word translated “glorify” means “to give honor, magnify, make great” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance). The purpose of the Holy Spirit is to exalt, honor, and magnify Christ, to make Him great in the eyes of the sinner.

Now this, of course, has a negative side. If the Holy Spirit’s purpose is to exalt and magnify Christ, there are at least three things that He does not glorify or exalt, at least to the same degree.

The first is doctrine. By this I mean systematic theology. You must not think that I am downplaying the need for theology, known as sound doctrine. Not at all. I am looking at a shelf in my study as I work on this sermon. I see Dogmatic Theology by W. G. T. Shedd, Lectures in Systematic Theology by Dr. Henry C. Thiessen, Strong’s Theology, and many other books of doctrine. Spurgeon’s sermons are full of doctrine. That’s one of the things that gives them such vital force. Spurgeon’s sermons are doctrinal sermons, and that is good – as far as it goes. For doctrine alone does not bring salvation.

Doctrine keeps us from going off into heresies and fanaticism of various sorts. But correct theological doctrine, in and of itself, does not bring life to an unconverted soul. Christ knew this, and therefore said of the Holy Spirit,

“He shall glorify me” (John 16:14).

The next thing that the Holy Spirit does not glorify and magnify, is human experience. This is where many otherwise good Charismatic and Pentecostal preachers often go wrong. They tend to play down doctrine and exalt human experience. This is an error which has produced many unscriptural and even heretical practices and beliefs in our age. I won’t go into a list of them here, but I think you will become aware of many of them if you tune in some of the more popular “Holy Spirit” preachers on television from time to time for a few minutes.

The third thing that Christ does not promise is that the Holy Spirit will glorify the law. I am not at all against law preaching, for it can be what the Puritans called “heart work,” showing the sinner his need for Christ. This is well and good. But preaching the law should never be an end in itself. If that is done the sermon becomes like an harangue, telling people what they must do, driving them to do more and more. It can even degenerate into nagging, and the preacher becomes like certain Sunday School teachers who try to browbeat their students into good behavior, by quoting Bible verses to them which tell them what they ought to do, driving them to be more and more good, as though good behavior will somehow bring them into God’s kingdom. More often than not, it simply makes the students hate Sunday School, and even the Christian school they attend, in their hearts. Such students can memorize long reams of Scripture that tell them to be good boys and girls, without ever reaching their hearts and converting them. As Luther would put it, we are not converted by the moral teaching of the law, but by the love of God in Christ Jesus! I think he was right on that particular point. The law is not to be used only to teach us right and wrong, but to show us that we have broken it, and stand in need of the mercy and pardon of the Saviour. Those are some of the things that the Holy Spirit has not come to magnify, honor and glorify.

II. Second, who the Holy Spirit does glorify.

“He shall glorify me” (John 16:14).

How exactly does that happen to an unconverted person? Well, the Holy Spirit begins to magnify and exalt Christ by showing the unconverted person his unworthiness and sin. Christ will not be magnified in the eyes of the unconverted until he sees his need, as a ruined sinner. Until the unconverted person sees that he is lost he will not feel his need for the Saviour. As Dr. J. Gresham Machen so aptly put it, “Without a consciousness of sin, the whole of the gospel will seem to be an idle tale” (J. Gresham Machen, Ph.D., Christianity and Liberalism, Eerdmans, 1923, reprinted 1983, p. 66).

Therefore, the first work of the Holy Spirit is to convince the unconverted person of his sin. In this same passage of Scripture, in John 16:8, Jesus said,

“And when he [the Comforter, i.e., the Holy Spirit] is come, he will reprove [“convict, convince, tell a fault,” Strong] reprove the world of sin…” (John 16:8).

This is the initial work, the first work, of the Holy Spirit in conversion. He reproves the sinner. He convinces the sinner of his condition. He tells the sinner he is at fault. He does not do this to nag him to live a better life, but to convince him of his hopelessly lost condition.

May I suggest to you that you need that convicting work of the Spirit of God? May I suggest that you pay attention to the working of the Spirit of God in your own conscience? As Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones put it,

Does not our own conscience condemn us? When I put up my theoretical and intellectual arguments a voice within me condemns me…telling me it is not true. No man can finally satisfy himself, still less can he satisfy God. When a man is perfectly honest with himself, he knows nothing about him is good enough. It is one thing to argue and try to gain your point in debate rather cleverly, but when a man is left to himself, and when a man looks at himself and examines himself, he knows he is unworthy and inadequate. My own mouth shall condemn me if I try to claim in the presence of God that I am perfect (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, M.D., Old Testament Evangelistic Sermons, Banner of Truth Trust, 1995, p. 165).

Do you still think you can look at your own conscience, in an honest way, and say, “I am good enough in the sight of God”? It is only when you begin to be honest and straightforward with your own conscience that you begin to be convinced of your fallen sin nature and guilt in the sight of God. This kind of honesty with oneself is produced by God’s Spirit, bringing the lost person to the place where Christ can then be glorified, magnified, and made great, in the sinner’s eyes.

Are you good enough the way you are? If you think so, then the gospel has nothing in it for you. It is just an “idle tale” that you hear again and again in church. The gospel of Christ will never grip you unless there is first a stab-wound in your heart by the Spirit of God.

Conviction is critical. It may come quickly, just seconds or minutes before conversion. Or it may come slowly, over a period of days. Sometimes the convincing work goes on for a much longer time, as in the case of John Bunyan, who was in a convicted state for, I believe, 18 months. Luther was in a convicted state even longer than that. So was Spurgeon.

In conviction, a terrible war goes on in the sinner’s soul. Are you in that state now? If you are, there is a struggle going on within you. It is a struggle between your own depraved nature and the Spirit of God. Your corrupted nature wants salvation on its own terms, not on God’s terms. God is showing you your inner sin, and you are resisting, not agreeing with the Spirit, fighting against the Spirit, trying to be saved without submitting to God’s verdict against you as an incorrigibly depraved lost man or woman.

You may think that you have not yet begun to be convicted when, in fact, the work of conviction has already begun in you. If you feel gloomy and anxious and confused, who do you think has given you those gloomy, anxious and confused thoughts? Who else but the Spirit of God!

The word “confused” is often descriptive of the first part of conviction. “Confused” means “disturbed,” “perplexed,” “uncertain,” even “mystified.” In the beginning of conviction, the sinner may continually say, “But how can I be saved?” That was exactly what the Philippian jailer said when he was convicted. But if your conviction is not deep when you ask that question, “What must I do to be saved?” nothing will come of it, and you will be left disturbed and mystified because your heart is still fighting against God’s Spirit. A person can go on in a disturbed state for some time, because he refuses to submit to the verdict of full condemnation which he richly deserves. The fight going on in his soul is with God’s Spirit, convicting him of sin, and him refusing to submit to it and coming to the end of his arguments and doubts. As I said, this can happen very quickly, or it can be a long drawn out inner conflict with God. How long will this awful time of resisting God’s view of your sin go on? It depends on whether you will submit to the law of God, and agree totally that you are worthy of nothing but damnation as you are.

When at last the sinner stops fighting God in his soul and surrenders, gives up his arguments, and yields to the conviction that he is rebellious, and fighting God, and that he completely deserves God’s judgment, the convicting work of God’s Spirit is drawing to a close, for He has won the battle for your soul, as He should. The sinner is now in a state of utter hopelessness, and despair, finding nothing in himself that can make him right in the sight of a holy God. At this point, with all the fight knocked out of him by God’s gracious convicting work, he sees himself as a dreadfully rebellious and obnoxious “worm” in God’s sight. To quote Dr. Watts’ famous words,

Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?
   (“Alas! And Did My Saviour Bleed?” by Isaac Watts, 1674-1748).

Now, when you see yourself as a sinful “worm,” you may be ready for the last work of God’s Spirit, which is,

“He shall glorify me” (John 16:14).

With all of your arguments silenced, and only a profound sense of worthlessness and sin left in you, the Spirit of God will be ready to glorify, give honor, and make great the Son of God in your eyes for the first time in your life.

If that time should ever come to you, you will look at Jesus suddenly in a new way. He will no longer be a figure from the distant past. He will now appear to your mind as the Lamb of God who can take away your state of confusion, inner fighting, filth of heart and mind. As a ray of light Jesus will appear as the only solution, the only hope, for a sinful “worm” like you.

“He shall glorify me” (John 16:14)

in your heart. And you will see clearly that Jesus is the balm of Gilead. You will see Him as the glorified only begotten Son of the Father, full of grace and truth. You will see him as the only Redeemer who could possibly pay the penalty of sin for you, that justification is only through His righteousness, cleansing is only by His Blood, and atonement for sin only by His sacrifice on the Cross. You will see that Jesus alone can justify you from sin, that Jesus alone can clothe you in His own alien righteousness, alien because it comes from Him who lives above, and not from within you in the slightest sense. And to His alien righteousness, with which He can clothe you, Christ adds the cleansing of your sin by His most precious and holy Blood.

“He shall glorify me” (John 16:14).

Having these glorifying and highly exalted thoughts of Jesus comes only to those who have been prepared by God’s Spirit to receive them through the humiliating experience of conviction of sin.

But, if you are ready, if you are “tired of the load of your sin,” as an old hymn puts it, will you now look upon Jesus, your dearest friend, your greatest deliverer, your only hope?

You have been dragged through the mud of conviction. Will you now come to the clean and flowing waters of Jesus’ love, be bathed in His Blood, be clothed in His holiness and righteousness?

Will you come and bow your knees to the exalted Son of God? Will you submit to Him and rest in His love? Will you do so tonight?

“But, I’m not convicted enough,” you say. Rubbish! You have been struggling against God long enough. Have done with it tonight. When you say “yes” to the question, “Will you come to Christ?” the struggle may well be over – and your soul may be saved by Christ Jesus. Will you finish your fight against God’s Spirit tonight and submit to Christ by coming to Him now? If you will, Christ will be magnified, honored, and made very great in your eyes.

“He shall glorify me” (John 16:14).

And you, like the Apostle John, are able to say,

“And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not…I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Revelation 1:17-18).

When that happens, you will not have the “mechanical, utilitarian Christ,” spoken of by Dr. Tozer, any longer. The Holy Spirit will have glorified Christ and made Him very great in your sight. There will be nothing left for you but to fall at His feet and trust Him by faith. Then you will know that your salvation was His gift to a miserable, depraved “worm,” who did not deserve it in any way, shape or form, for “salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: John 16:7-15.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Jesus, Only Jesus” (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).


THE OUTLINE OF

HOW THE HOLY SPIRIT GLORIFIES CHRIST

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


“He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:14).

(Ephesians 4:18)

I.   What the Holy Spirit does not glorify, John 16:14.

II.  Who the Holy Spirit does glorify, John 16:8;
Revelation 1:17-18; Jonah 2:9.