James Merritt - Truth Be Told
So what do you look to for answers? Where do you look for guidance? Who do you look to for answers and for leadership in your life? Now to be honest, there are a lot of people I meet and frankly, they just don't feel like they need any help at all. They think they've kind of got things figured out, they've got things under control. They'd rather figure life out on their own. As a matter of fact, they even think it's kind of more adventurous to try to do it by trial and error and kind of hope that Lady Luck's on their side and maybe most of their decisions will work out. But then there are some of us, and I'm one of them, there's some of us that believe that God wants to guide us and God wants to lead us and God wants to direct us and instruct us to know what is true and to live according to what is true.
Because let me tell you the cold, hard fact about your life. You're gonna basically live your life one of two ways. You're gonna live your life based on a lie, even though you may believe the lie is true, or you're going to live your life according to what really is true. Now you may be asking the question that a lot of people in our culture are asking today. It's not a new question. Pontius Pilate asked that question of Jesus 2,000 years ago. He said to Jesus, "What is truth"? Great question. What is truth? And if you remember, Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the truth". I don't just speak the truth. I am the truth. Now Jesus is the truth. And I believe, and a lot of people believe, that truth is very simple to define. Truth is whatever God says is true. If God says it's true, that's truth.
Now here's the good news. God has given those of us who want to follow Him a guide, the Spirit of God, and given us a source of guidance, the word of God, to lead us into truth. However, today what we're gonna do is this. We're in a series we're calling "Unleashed" and I wanna talk to you today about how that Holy Spirit that we've been talking about guides us into truth. Now let me tell you why the Holy Spirit is important both for believers and for unbelievers. You may not be a believer. You may not be a Christian. You may not know much about the Bible. You may not know much about doctrine. You may be sitting there going, "I don't know anything about this Holy Spirit". That's all right. Trust me, He is very important to you. He is very crucial to your future, both now and for all eternity. Because His major job is simply to take us to the truth. His major job is to teach us the truth.
That's why the good news for those of us who really believe what I'm going to share with you is we don't have to fly through life blindly. We don't have to go through life confused. We don't have to wonder or not we've really discovered the meaning of why we're here. We don't really have to know whether or not we can really live according to truth because we've got an instructor. We've got a teacher. We've got someone who's already said, "If you will let me, I will guide you into all truth".
So if you brought a copy of God's word or an iPhone or an iPad or whatever it is that you use, I want you to turn to a gospel called John. It's in the New Testament. There are four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I want you to turn to John 16. We're in this series called "Unleashed". We're looking at the greatest power that's ever been unleashed in the history of the world, which is the Holy Spirit. What we're gonna see today is exactly what the Holy Spirit wants to do both in the life of a believer and also in the life of an unbeliever. And here's what we're going to learn. You ready? The Holy Spirit will show us the truth so we can know the truth and grow in the truth. That's what He does. He will show us the truth so we can know the truth and we can grow in the truth.
Now the question is: How does the Holy Spirit do that? How does the Holy Spirit want to work in your life if you're a believer or how does He want to work in your life if you're an unbeliever? Because you're gonna find out later on if the Holy Spirit doesn't work in your life as an unbeliever, you will never become a believer on your own. You'll never become a believer in Jesus Christ ever. It doesn't matter what I say, how I preach, what anybody else tells you. You will never go from being an unbeliever to a believer without the work of the Holy Spirit. So the question is: What does He do for us in order to get us to live a life of truth? Well here's what Jesus is gonna tell us.
Number one: The Holy Spirit will guide us to seek the truth. He will guide us to seek the truth. Now let me kind of give you the background of what's going on. Jesus has been telling His disciples for a while, "Guys, I'm not gonna be around much longer. I'm headed to Jerusalem. I'm going to the cross. I'm going to die and I'm gonna leave you". Now they weren't buying it. They didn't really believe it. While they were sticking their heads in the sand, they were trying to deny it. But He's trying to get them ready for His leaving and for the Holy Spirit's arrival. So in John 16:12, He says this: "I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear".
Now that's an incredible statement. They've been with Jesus three years, every day, 24/7. They thought they had heard everything He wanted to say and now Jesus comes along and He says, "Guys, I haven't even gotten started. I've not anywhere near emptied my clip. I've got so much more truth that you need to learn, so much more truth you need to know. But the problem is you just can't handle it right now". Can you just imagine the reaction of the disciples? I mean for three years it's like they've been under a faucet and they've been drinking this water of truth for three years. They had learned more in a day from Jesus, in one day, than they had learned in all of their lifetimes from all the rabbis and all the teachers they'd ever heard. And yet now Jesus says, "You know all the things you've learned? You know all the things I've taught you? All the things you'd never heard in your life? Haven't even gotten started. There is so much more you need to know".
Now do you think that sparked a desire? Do you think that sparked a hunger in them? Do you think that made them want to say, "Well then you can't leave. You can't go anywhere. We wanna learn everything you've got to teach us. We wanna know everything that you want us to know". And then when they said that, all of a sudden they start thinking about Jesus leaving and they get cottonmouth. They get a knot in the pit of their stomach the size of a watermelon. Let me tell you why. Think about this. Do you realize in the three years they've been with Jesus and all those hours and hours and days and days and weeks and weeks and months and months of sermons and lessons and doctrine and knowledge He had taught them, has it ever occurred to you that Jesus had not written down one word? Has it ever occurred to you they didn't write down one word?
And oh by the way, back in that day there were no voice recorders. There were no smartphone cameras. There were no computer files. There was no digital recording whatsoever. And now they're getting worried, not just about seeking the truth but remembering the truth. They're sitting there thinking, "You've got all this stuff that you're gonna tell us you haven't told us. How are we even gonna remember what you have told us? We've not written down anything". Then Jesus says this: "But when He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into," say that word with me. All. He'll guide you into all the truth. He'll not speak on His own. He will only speak what He hears and He will tell you what is yet to come.
Now there are two words that are most important in that verse I don't want you to miss and they're the two words right before truth. Jesus said He will guide you into all the truth. Not a truth but the truth. Not some of the truth but all of the truth. Now here's the question. So what was Jesus talking about? Well what was He referring to when He said He'll guide you into all the truth? What He was referring to was the second half of this book. What He was referring to was the New Testament that had not yet been written. Everything that would be written down beginning with His birth to His death to His resurrection to His second coming, He said don't worry about it. I'm gonna tell you. I'm gonna tell the disciples. I'm gonna tell the apostles. The Holy Spirit's going to come. He's gonna teach you everything you need to know and you're gonna be able to write it down.
Now let me just kind of get a little deep with you for a minute. There's a word for what I just told you. There's a word that describes that doctrine I just told you. And that word is revelation. We're not talking about the book of Revelation. We're talking about the doctrine of revelation. See when it comes to God's truth, when it comes to all the truth that we ever need to know on this earth about God, about heaven, about hell, about salvation, about sin, about Jesus, about righteousness, about holiness, Jesus was saying: Don't worry guys, I've got it all covered. The Holy Spirit's going to come. He'll tell you everything you need to know. You'll write it down. It'll all be between the covers of this book.
Now let me just say this. There may be other things that we would like to know. There may be other things we would want to know. But there's nothing else right now we need to know except what's in that book right there. Second thing He does is this. He will guide you to see the truth. Not just seek the truth. He'll guide you to see the truth. You say, well what do you mean by that? Real simple. It is one thing to receive the truth. It's another thing to understand the truth. This hit me, okay. It's not even in my notes. I just got a wild crazy thought hit me. How many of you took chemistry in high school? Okay. How many of you hated chemistry in high school? Okay, good. I hate chemistry. I don't hate chemists. I hated chemistry. You know why? You know that deal about balancing the equations? You remember that? I never did get the hang of that. I just never got it. I never quite could get it.
So I got the revelation. In other words, when I went into class, my sweet teacher Ms. Hall, I don't even know if she's living or not. Ms. Peggy Hall, great teacher. Ms. Peggy Hall began to teach us about, you know, the truth about how if you wanna understand chemistry, you gotta be able to balance an equation. Well it's one thing to receive that truth. It's another thing to understand that truth. And though He was speaking directly to His 12 disciples, He was actually speaking indirectly to all of His disciples and applying it to us. Because truth is useless unless you understand it. What good does it do to know the truth of quantum physics if you don't understand quantum physics? What good does it do to know the truth, for example, the Bible, but you really don't understand it?
So what Jesus is saying is this: Look. It's not just the Holy Spirit's job to take us to the truth and show us the truth. It's the Holy Spirit's job to teach us the truth and help us to see the truth. As a matter of fact, later on the apostle Paul put it this way in 1 Corinthians. He said, "What we have received is not the spirit of the world," that's different. "But the...," capital "S", "...Spirit who is from God so that we may," what's that word? Not just know it. Understand what God has freely given us. In other words, this is so important. God gives through the Holy Spirit truth to the writers of the Bible. That's inspiration. What He gives them to write down, that's revelation. How we understand it is illumination. Okay. Everybody got it? It's not balancing equations. It's not hard, okay? By inspiration He says okay, I'm gonna remind you of what He said, what Jesus said. I'm gonna tell you what He wanted to say.
I want you to write it down. When you write it down, that's revelation. That's the truth we need to know. How do you understand it? That is illumination. Now watch this. All of that is the work of the Holy Spirit. That's His job. He inspires. He reveals. He illumes. Everybody got that, right? Now, so by inspiration the Holy Spirit gives the disciples all this truth that we need to know. Then by illumination the Holy Spirit shines a light on that truth so we can understand it. So put it this way. To the disciples, Jesus gave life to the truth, but to us He gives light to the truth. When I got up this morning, as I do every day, when I read my Bible, the first thing I do every day is read my Bible. First thing I do.
The first thing I say is I say, "Lord, open my eyes that I might understand wonderful things from your law". Right out of the book of Psalms. Open my eyes. Because even though I've got a PhD, even though I have seminary training, even though I've got the highest degree and the most education you could have, I'm not saying that to brag. I'm saying that to make a point. I can't understand one word in that book unless the Spirit of God shines the light on it. Now here's the good news. You don't have to have a PhD to understand the Bible. You don't have to be highly educated because the same Holy Spirit that shines the light for me is the same Holy Spirit who wants to shine the light for you. So He does that. So He shines this light so we can understand it. Inspiration is the gift of receiving new truth. Illumination is the gift of understanding old truth.
By the way, that's why Paul's sermons got into the Bible. And I better get my sermons out of the Bible. Got it? His sermons made it because they were inspired. My sermons ought to come out because mine are not inspired but they come from what is inspired. That's why anybody can read the Bible. Atheists can read the Bible. Muslims can read the Bible. Mormons can read the Bible. Hindus can read the Bible. Christians can read the Bible. Infidels can read the Bible. Pagans can read the Bible. Anybody can read the Bible without any help from the Holy Spirit. Anybody can do that. But nobody can understand the Bible apart from the Holy Spirit. If you're a believer, here's my question to you. Would you like for the Holy Spirit to speak to you every day? You don't need to raise your hand. I know the answer to that question. It's kind of a dumb question but I wanna make a point.
Well sure. Sure I would want the Holy Spirit to speak to me every day. All right let me ask you this. You're not a believer. You're not a Christ follower. You don't believe the Bible. That's all right. My question is this: If there's a God, and I believe there is, but let's say there's a God. Would you really like to know about that God? Would you really like to know that God? Would you like to know who that God is? Would you like to discover His plan for your life? Would you like for that God to speak to you through His Spirit? You say, "Well yeah I would like that". Well the answer to both of us is this: If you want to hear from the Spirit of God, you've got to go to the word of God. If you wanna hear the Spirit of God, you've got to go to the word of God.
Now how do I know that to be true? Well listen again to what Jesus said about the Spirit. Listen. He will not speak on His own. He will speak only what He hears and He will tell you what is yet to come. That is the Holy Spirit will speak only what God wants to say and what God wants you to hear and what God has already said and what God wants you to hear is already found in the Bible. That's why every time I open my Bible there's one thing I expect and there's one thing I know will happen. The Spirit of God will speak to me. He will talk to me. See the Holy Spirit's not an independent contractor. He doesn't speak on His own. When He speaks, He only speaks what He hears from Jesus and what He hears from Jesus in the word of God. So when you seek the truth in God's word, when you seek the truth in God's word, then you will see the truth that is taught by the Holy Spirit.
Let me just stop right there. I haven't said anything a lot of you don't already know. If you grown up in church, I get that. What you're really saying is I need to read my Bible. Yeah. And what you're also telling me is when I read it I need the Holy Spirit to help me understand it. Yeah. I know all that. Unfortunately that's where 96 or 97 or 98% of Christians stop. But that's not where the Holy Spirit stops. Because the Holy Spirit will not only guide you to seek the truth. He'll not only guide you to see the truth. The Holy Spirit will guide you to share the truth. To share the truth. Now watch this. You got this truth that nobody else has because you've been reading your Bible and you've grown up in the church and you've grown up walking with the Lord. Or maybe you haven't but you've come to the Lord and you've started studying and reading and you've got this truth.
Well what does the Holy Spirit want you to do with that truth? Well Jesus continues in verses 14 and 15. "He will glorify me", that's His number one job, by the way, "He'll glorify me because it is from me that He will receive what He will make known to you. And all that belongs to the Father is mine. That's why I said the Holy Spirit will receive from me what He will make known to you".
Now do you know what the Holy Spirit really wants to do for both believers and unbelievers? He doesn't want us just to know stuff. He doesn't want us just to know theology. You say I know. He just wants us to know the Bible. No, He doesn't want just that. You know what the Holy Spirit's number one goal is for your life, whether you're a believer or an unbeliever? He wants you to know Jesus. He wants you and Jesus to be just like that. He wants the most intimate, the most personal, the most connected relationship you have in your life is to be with Jesus. He wants you to know Jesus, to love Jesus, to serve Jesus, and to glorify Jesus.
You ever heard the phrase "in the loop"? You know what it means if somebody is in the loop? It means if you're in the loop, you're kind of in the inner circle. You kind of, you're in the middle of what's going on. Well there's a loop that God wants everybody to be in on. Here's the loop. The Father glorifies the Son as the only way to come to salvation. The Son glorifies the Father by doing the work of salvation and dying for our sins. The Holy Spirit glorifies the Son and the Father by guiding us to seek the truth, giving us eyes to see the truth, and growing our hearts to share the truth because Jesus is the truth. So God wants us in on this loop. The Father, the Father glorifies the Son. He's the only way to salvation. The Son glorifies the Father by doing the work of salvation. And the Holy Spirit does both. He glorifies the Father and the Son by leading us to seek truth and see truth and share truth.
Now He'll take God's truth right out of this book and in the right place at the right time and in the right way, He gives it to us. And if we're not believers, He'll give it to us in such a way that we not only seek it but we see it and we're transformed by it into people who know the truth and live by the truth. Then He'll lead us as believers of Jesus Christ the truth, who died for our sins and was raised from the dead, that we might be saved to share that truth with others, that they too might know the truth that will set them free. That's how it works. That's why every time I walk up, I've told you this before. Every time I walk up to this platform I've told you this. Under my breath what am I saying? I believe in the ministry of the Holy Spirit. I believe in the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Let me tell you why. Without the Holy Spirit we're out of business. Without the Holy Spirit I don't have a job. Without the Holy Spirit, you don't need me. Without the Holy Spirit, you can't use me. Without the Holy Spirit, it's not just another book but it's just a book I'll never understand. It's a book that'll never get into me. It's a book that I will never live out. See, this is the beautiful thing. This is why my life, this is why I'm so full of joy every day of my life. Have I made a lot of mistakes in my life? Get in line. Join the club. Sure I have. Anybody in this room, if you've got a brain the size of a pea, if somebody said to you, "Would you like to live your life over again"? Sure you would. I would. I'd love to live my life over again knowing what I know now. That's what I mean. Boy there's some things I would do that I haven't done.
And there are some things I wouldn't do that I have done. But my life's full of joy because I know every day of my life I'm not flying blind. It's not trial and error. It's not, "I hope Lady Luck works out the day for me today". It's not that I hope the dice come up snake eyes. I get up every day knowing I've got the source of all truth. And I've got a Holy Spirit that wants to take that truth and use that truth to guide me and direct me and lead me. I know what the meaning of my life is and I've discovered it because it's the same meaning of every life. We've all been put here for one purpose: to glorify Jesus, to magnify Jesus, to edify Jesus, to lift up Jesus.
You say, "Why do you know that"? I'll tell you why I know that. Because the Spirit of God revealed that to me. And the Spirit of God is in me. And the Spirit of God leads me. And I know, one of the reasons why I know that I try and I do, and one of the reasons I know when I'm filled with the Holy Spirit is when I'm just in love with Jesus, obeying Jesus, preaching Jesus, teaching Jesus, serving Jesus. Listen. There's not a problem a church has that can't be solved if people would get filled with the Holy Spirit. There's not a problem the world has...we were talking about it today with Jason. There's not a problem the world has, not one that can't be solved by the gospel of Jesus Christ being shared by believers filled with the Holy Spirit. Not one problem.
So here's the question of all questions. If you've never ever ever done this, I want you to think, "So what are you gonna do with this message"? Would you take this message today, truth be told, would you take this message today and say, "You know? Now I get it". By inspiration God's given the truth. By revelation God's written the truth. Now by illumination God wants me to understand the truth and apply it to my life so that every day of my life I not only seek the truth, I not only see the truth, but by the Spirit of God I share the truth with others who need the truth. Because when you know the truth, the truth will set you free.