John 20:22                           Receive Ye the Holy Ghost                      5/27/2007      ßà   

 

 

 

 

 

#1.       Thou Art the Christ, the Son of the Living God (John 6:65-71)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2.       Receive Ye the Holy Ghost (John 20:22, Mat 10:16-22,34-39, Gal 5:24)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3.       Peace Be Unto You (John 20:19-23, Mat 28:1, Rom 5:1, Phil 4:7, Mark 2:7)

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Gospel according to John, John 20:19 (2X). Today we celebrate the day of Pentecost. As you know, the name Pentecost indicates that it has to do with the number 5 or the number 50. It is actually a continuation of the OT Feast of Weeks, and it is counted 50 days after the first Sabbath after the Feast of Passover. Christ was crucified on the Feast of Passover, which was Friday, April 3, in the year AD 33. The next day was a Saturday Sabbath, and the day thereafter was Easter Sunday. Now if you count from the Saturday Sabbath 50 days you arrive at Pentecost Sunday, which is exactly 49 days or 7 weeks after Easter Sunday. Today is that day that is either called Pentecost Sunday, or if you are an unconverted Jew you would call this the Feast of Weeks. What took place on that first Day of Pentecost? Well, we all know the story of the coming of the Holy Spirit on that first Pentecost, 49 days after the Lord Jesus rose up from the grave. And there the Holy Spirit was poured out over all those who became believers on that day. There the Holy Spirit was given unto them. But this was not the first time the Holy Spirit was given. 49 Days earlier the Lord Jesus also indicated that He gave the Holy Spirit to the disciples in the upper room. This was:

An unknown number of disciples were gathered in an upper room in Jerusalem. Thomas was absent. And suddenly the resurrected Lord stood in their midst. We read in John 20:19-23,

Joh 20:19-20  Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.     And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.

Joh 20:21-23  Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.              And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:              Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

The title of this sermon is, Receive Ye the Holy Ghost. What are we seeing here? Did the disciples receive the Holy Ghost for the first time after Jesus’ resurrection? And did they receive the Holy Ghost for the second time 49 days later at Pentecost? And what did it mean that they were receiving the Holy Ghost? Did it mean that they were saved at that moment? These are important questions for which we need to find the answers, for many doctrinal positions depend on these.

Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Romans, Rom 8:8 (2X). Let us begin with the last question. Were the disciples saved at that moment that the Lord Jesus breathed on them? Or could they have been saved long before the Holy Spirit was given to them? There are people who believe that salvation occurs in two steps: First you are declared to be a believer, but you have actually not arrived until you have received the outward evidence that you have received the Holy Ghost. Let us read what God says about this in Rom 8:8-9,

Ro 8:8  So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

Ro 8:9  But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

Either we are in the flesh, or in the Spirit, but not in between. If we are in the flesh we are still unsaved. If we are in the Spirit we are saved; but this implies that there are not two stages of being in the Spirit. God says here, “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his”. This is a very fundamental principle: If anyone does not have the Holy Spirit, sent by Christ, he is not saved. And thus, if the disciples did not yet have the Holy Spirit before the Lord Jesus breathed on them on that Easter Sunday, then they were not yet saved. But before we jump to conclusions, let us first find out if there are verses indicating that they already were saved during the 3½ years that they walked with Jesus. Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel according to John, John 6:65 (2X).

#1.       Thou Art the Christ, the Son of the Living God (John 6:65-71)

Yes, that is what Peter said, and he said it more than once. The scene is in the synagogue in Capernaum. The Lord Jesus had just declared that no man can come to Jesus, except the Father draw him. Was this a popular doctrine? No, not at all! And then we read in John 6:65-71 (2X),

Joh 6:65  And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

Joh 6:66  From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

Joh 6:67-68  Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?                Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.

Joh 6:69  And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

Joh 6:70  Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?

Joh 6:71  He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.

It was the fourth time in this chapter that the Lord Jesus declared the sovereignty of God. How could anyone miss it? Did the disciples believe it? Absolutely yes! Although it is not a popular doctrine the disciples believed it, because they believed everything that the Lord Jesus said. And this is also the faith that every NT believer must have. If we fear God, then we also must believe everything God said in the Bible, from cover to cover. And we must not only believe the sovereignty of God in salvation, but God is sovereign in all things. For God declares in the Bible that He not only knows the end from the beginning, but He knows the end from the beginning because He causes everything to come to pass according to the counsel of His will. There is only one God, and He is Lord over all things. There is nothing that is happening out of His control.

But can we see from these verses if the disciples were already saved? O yes! Peter, as the spokesman for all the other disciples said, “Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God”. Peter and the other ten disciples stated that they were believers, and that their faith was genuinely based on believing the Word of God, the whole Word of God. From this we know from verses 65 and 70 that Peter and the other ten disciples were chosen by God and had received this faith from God, and thus they were already saved. The Lord Jesus repeated this again in verse 70. And the Lord also stated in verses 70 and 71 that there was one among them, Judas Iscariot, whom God did not intend to save. He, Judas Iscariot, would remain unsaved until the moment he died, because it was God’s sovereign will that Judas remained unsaved. Therefore he is also called “the son of perdition”, which actually means “the son of Hell”.

Please turn now to the Gospel according to John, John 15:19 (2X).

In John 15:16 (2X) the Lord Jesus said, “Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you”. Now we know from Eph 1:4 that anyone who becomes saved has been predestined and chosen by God unto salvation. But at what point in time do we really become saved? It is not at the time when the Lord Jesus died for us on the cross, for we all were by nature the children of wrath, even as others who never become saved. Even though Christ had already suffered and died for our sins, we all came into the world as rebels against God. And thus the righteousness of God required that we would be under the wrath of God, until the day that God the Holy Spirit makes us born from above. From that moment in time we who were still sinners were transformed into saints, all our sins were wiped away, and God declared to all the world that we became the sons of God and the Bride of Christ. But what was that moment in time for the disciples? We read in John 15:19 (2X),

Joh 15:19  If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

The Lord Jesus said here to the 11 disciples, for Judas was no longer in their midst, “Ye are not of the world”. In other words, they no longer belonged to the unsaved masses that were in the world that is dominated by Satan. The Lord Jesus said here, “I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you”. In other words, I have picked you out of the world that is under the wrath of God, therefore the world hates you because the world sees you as a traitor. Therefore it is clear that the 11 disciples were at this point in time already saved.

Please turn the page now to chapter 16 of this Gospel account, John 16:27 (2X). From John 15:19 we know that anyone who hates Christ as the Word of God is still unsaved, and anyone who loves Christ as the Word of God is already saved, and has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit. We read in:

Joh 16:27  For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.

This verse plainly says that “the Father himself loveth you”, present tense, and He loves you “because ye have loved me”, past tense. If the Father loved them at that time, it means that they were already saved. We must not conclude from this verse that God is waiting until we take the first step to come to Jesus, for that would contradict many other places in the Bible such as John 6:65. We must remember that the Lord said in 1John 4:19, “We love Him, because He first loved us”.

Please turn the page now to chapter 17 of this Gospel account, John 17:6 (2X). This chapter is called “the Lord’s prayer”. The Lord Jesus prayed for Himself, and He prayed for the disciples that were around Him, and He did pray for all those who would believe on Him through their preaching, and He did pray for us who are in His church in this 21st century, but He did not pray for Judas Iscariot, and He did not pray for all those of whom He knew that they would remain unsaved in the world. Let us hear what the Lord said of the disciples around Him. We read in John 17:6-8,

Joh 17:6 ¶  I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.

Joh 17:7  Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.

Joh 17:8  For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.

The Lord Jesus testified to His Father that His 11 disciples, who have been given to Him by the Father, have received the words that He preached to them, and they have known that Christ came from the Father in heaven, and they have believed that the Father has sent Christ into the world for the purpose of redeeming them from sin and from Satan. And so, what we see here is that the disciples showed all the evidences of salvation, and thus they were already saved. The fact that they abandoned the Lord Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane was not because they were not saved, but because the Lord Jesus left them, since He had to go to the cross alone.

Moreover, when we think of the special call of Jesus to each one of His disciples in the beginning of His ministry, when He said to each one of them, “Follow Me”, we read in the Gospel accounts that they immediately left everything and followed Him. Except for Judas Iscariot, this type of action in obedience to their faith reflects the transformation of their soul by God the Holy Spirit. This type of action is also what is required of us when we claim to be followers of Jesus. Today it does not mean that we must abandon our place of employment, and abandon our wife and children and wander throughout the world preaching the Gospel, for that would be an offence to the obligations God has placed us into. Instead we stay in the environment that God has placed us into, but now we dedicate all our works as a service to the Lord. This is what God has called us to, and so this is what we must accept as our assignment from Him in this life. And so we see that 11 of the disciples were already saved from the beginning when they were called by Jesus. And since they were already saved, they must have received the Holy Spirit from the beginning, according to Rom 8:9, where God says,

Ro 8:9  But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

What then is the meaning of what we read in John 20:22 (2X). Please turn in your Bibles to John 20:22. The Lord Jesus said there in John 20:22,

#2.       Receive Ye the Holy Ghost (John 20:21-22, Mat 10:16-22,34-39, Gal 5:24)

I have always said that we must interpret Scripture based on the context where we find it. And so, let us begin to read from verse 21,

Joh 20:21-22  Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.              And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

What we see here is that the disciples received the Holy Spirit not for the purpose of salvation, but for the purpose of guiding them in their new task of going into all the world and preach the Gospel. The Lord Jesus said to them, “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you”. This was not a task that they could carry out on their own strength. This was a task of immeasurable proportions. Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel according to Matthew, Mat 10:16 (2X). We have here a description of the task that the Lord Jesus gave to His disciples concerning the preaching of the Gospel. This entire chapter deals with the difficulties of witnessing and how these difficulties are overcome by the grace of God. And this task of bringing the Gospel into all the world has been handed down to us also. The Lord did not say that it was easy, but He did say that His grace would enable us to carry out this task. His grace would be sufficient for us. Let us now read a few verses out of this chapter 10.

Mt 10:16-18  Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.                    But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;                     And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.

Mt 10:19  But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.

Mt 10:20  For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.

Mt 10:21-22  And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.       And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

Can you see that we will face hardship within as well as outside our own families? God is not saving everyone whom we love in this world. Even within our own families we will be hated for His Name’s sake. And why? Only because our fellow man distrusts everything we do for him. Even though we do no harm to our fellow man, and even though our intent toward our fellow man is to give him the greatest blessing that he could wish, still we are persecuted by our fellow man as if we plan to do him great harm. We are as sheep in the midst of wolves. They are ready to devour us anytime, because this is the nature of sinful man. This is the nature of the two kingdoms that are in this world, the kingdom of Satan and the Kingdom of Christ. That is why we must conduct ourselves wisely in this world; be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Please drop down to Mat 10:34 (2X).

Mt 10:34  Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

Mt 10:35-37  For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.     And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.             He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Mt 10:38  And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

Mt 10:39  He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

Again the Lord Jesus warns us of strife in the midst of our families. Let it not be strife generated by our own sins, but let it be strife arising from the other side because of our faithful witness of what the Word of God says. And then the Lord says emphatically in verse 38, “He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me”. Let us now consider this verse in the context where it is found. We must not interpret this verse as if it is saying, “I have a nasty quarreling mother-in-law, and so this is the cross that I have to bear”, or “my wife has a debilitating disease, and so this is the cross I have to bear”, or “I have macular degeneration in my left eye, and so this is the cross that I have to bear”. Even though all these things are true, that is not what the Lord is telling us here in verse 38. We find this verse in the context of witnessing for the Gospel. We find this verse in our battles with Satan, which really is Christ’s battle with Satan. You see, the cross has to do with death. Now we know that we have died with Christ during His atonement for our sins, but that is also not what this verse is saying, for the atonement for our sins is 100% the work of Christ. Verse 38 speaks of something I have to do when I follow after Christ, and this thing that I have to do serves to support my work in my witness for Christ. What do I have to do? God says in Gal 5:24,

Ga 5:24  And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

And so, the “taking up of our cross” refers to the “dying to our own selfish ambitions and lusts”, lusts which are a hindrance to our witness in the world. We are being watched by an unseen array of evil men, who are ready to pounce on us in an unguarded moment. Remember we are as sheep among wolves. Therefore, let us watch and pray that God’s Holy Spirit may guide us through these obstacles. And so we see that this great task of being a witness for Christ in this world requires that a large dose of God’s grace be given to us, through the guidance of God the Holy Spirit.

Please turn again to the Gospel according to John, John 20:22 (2X). Thus, the meaning of Jesus’ breathing on the disciples was to commission them to preach the Gospel into all the world.

This was a new thing to them. Never before had God commanded the nation of the Jews to bring the Gospel into all the world. But throughout the OT it is clear that it was God’s intent to do so from the beginning, even from the time that God spoke to Abraham. And this is also the meaning of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. It was again a commissioning of all the believers to bring this Gospel of Christ crucified into all the world. Let us consider this commissioning for a few minutes. Who were present there in the upper room when the Lord Jesus appeared to them? Ten of the apostles were there; Thomas was absent. Two of the disciples who this same day had walked to Emmaus with Jesus by their side had just arrived. Perhaps Mary Magdalene and a few other disciples were there also, since 49 days later at Pentecost again we have a mix of men and women who were present at the great commissioning by God the Holy Spirit. And so, there was a small group of faithful disciples there in the upper room who most likely all were saved already. Then the Lord Jesus said to them, “As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you; receive ye the Holy Ghost”. But this was only a small group of the disciples. Please turn a few pages to your right, to the Acts of the Apostles, Acts 2:1 (2X). We read in Acts 1:15 that the full number of disciples who gathered in the upper room after Jesus’ ascension into heaven was about 120. That is more than there are gathered here in this church. These were men and women, and these were both Judeans and Galileans, for God is not a respecter of persons. Then we read in Acts 2:1,

Ac 2:1 ¶  And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

Ac 2:2  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

Ac 2:3  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

Ac 2:4  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Ac 2:5 ¶  And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

Ac 2:6  Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

Ac 2:7-8  And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans?    And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

Let us now consider the word “all” in this passage. Verse 1 says, “They were all with one accord in one place”. Who are the “all” in this verse? These were all the 120 who were gathered there for the past ten days. Verse 2 says that the “sound from heaven filled all the house where they were sitting”. God illustrated here a principle that is often overlooked. The principle is that “The ground on which we stand is holy ground”. God said in Josh 1:3, “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses”. And if God dwells within us, believers, according to John 14:23, then the ground on which God’s dwelling place stands must be holy, for God’s dwelling place cannot stand on unholy ground. That is why the “sound from heaven filled all the house”. Verse 3 says that the “Cloven tongues like as of fire, sat upon each of them”. Upon whom? Upon each one of the 120 men and women who were gathered there. Verse 4 says “they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues”. Who were these “all”? These were all the 120 men and women who were filled with the Holy Ghost, and they all began to speak with other tongues, meaning they miraculously spoke in other languages that they did not know before. Verse 7 says “They were all amazed and marvelled”. Who were these all? These were all the multitude outside the house. And what were they so amazed about? They said to one another, “Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans?” Who were these all? These were only the 12 apostles who were preaching to the multitude outside, for it is only they who were all Galileans. But the cloven tongues like as of fire sat upon all the 120 who were gathered there. All the 120 were filled with the Holy Ghost. And what does that mean? Peter explained to the multitude what this means. Please drop down to verse 17. We read in Acts 2:17-18,

Ac 2:17-18  And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:       And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:

Twice do we read in this passage “they shall prophesy”. To prophesy means to declare the Word of God. Both men and women shall declare the Word of God to unbelievers whom God intends to save. It is only in evangelism that men and women are being used to bring the Gospel. But God declared in 1Cor 14:34 that when the church comes together for worship service on Sunday only the men shall speak the Word of God. Therefore, in AD 33 on the day of Pentecost God the Holy Spirit commissioned all the believers, both men and women, to declare the Gospel to all the world. This really is The Great Commission to evangelize the world. This commissioning to preach the Gospel to all the world did not begin at Pentecost, but it began 49 days earlier in the upper room. Please turn again to the Gospel according to John, John 20:19 (2X).

#3.       Peace Be Unto You (John 20:19-23, Mat 28:1, Rom 5:1, Phil 4:7, Mark 2:7)

Did you notice that the Lord Jesus said this two times; in verses 19 and 21? Let us begin with verse 19. There we read: “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week”. I want you to know that the word “week” does not exist in the Greek NT. The Roman culture had no knowledge of “a seven day week”. The KJV translators took the word Sabbath (singular) and the word Sabbaths (plural) and they substituted the word week (singular), and they did not even do it consistently. I want you to know that the KJV is not the inspired Word of God. The OT Hebrew Masoretic Text and the NT Greek Textus Receptus are the inspired words from God. And thus when we read John 20:19 we should read, “Then the same day at evening, being the first (day) of the Sabbaths”. Historically it was Sunday evening, but God called it “the first of the Sabbaths (plural)”. In other words, it was the first of a new series of Sabbaths, which do not fall on Saturday but on Sunday. Did God do away with the OT Saturday Sabbaths? Indeed He did. We read in the Greek text in Mat 28:1, “But after the Sabbaths (plural), at the dawning into the first of the Sabbaths (plural) came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre”. In other words, after the OT Saturday Sabbaths (plural) were ended, at the dawning into Sunday morning, which God called the first of the Sabbaths (plural), came Mary Magdalene. If we fear God, then we take heed to what God has said. God said here in Mat 28:1 that the OT series of Sabbaths had ended and a new series of Sabbaths was beginning on Resurrection Morning, which was Sunday morning. From the beginning non-Christians have shown their hatred of these holy exercises. But if we fear God we will remember this and meditate on His command to keep the Sabbath day holy. What do we do with this command? Therefore what we read here in John 20:19 is totally consistent with our interpretation of the Greek text, and we will keep the Sunday holy.

Then the Lord Jesus said in verse 19, “Peace be unto you”. And to explain what He meant by these words we read the next verse. He showed them His hands and His side and He did that to calm their fears, for they were terrified, thinking that they had seen a spirit. Then when we turn to verse 21 the Lord said again, “Peace be unto you”. And to explain what He meant this time He said, “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you”. And so we see that the first time the Lord said “Peace be unto you” His act that followed explained His words. And the second time the Lord said “Peace be unto you” it is explained by the words that followed. The first “Peace” was for their conscience; the second “Peace” was for their heart, to encourage them in their new task. The first “Peace” had to do with their position before God; the second “Peace” had to do with their condition in the world. The first was the “Peace with God” as described in Rom 5:1; the second was the “Peace of God” as described in Phil 4:7. The first “Peace” is the consequence of Christ’s atonement; the second “Peace” is the result of being in communion with Him. The Lord Jesus revealed to them the secret of His peace, which was that of communion with the Father while He was in separation from the world.

When the Lord said in V. 21-22, “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you; Receive ye the Holy Ghost”, the Lord Jesus indicated that He entered His ministry as One who was anointed by the Holy Spirit. And now, with the words “even so”, He announced that His beloved apostles would also be anointed by the Holy Spirit. What a blessing for them to know that their mission was going to be as successful as the mission of the Lord Jesus. And it was a mission that enveloped the whole world.

Now I need to say a few words about verse 23. The Lord said to His disciples, “Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained”. This does not mean that the disciples suddenly had the power to forgive sins. The power to forgive sins in Scripture is always spoken of as the special privilege of God alone. Only God knows whose sins must be atoned for by Christ on the cross, and whose sins must be passed over. Even the Jews admitted this when they said in Mark 2:7, “Who can forgive sins but God only?” And so the disciples had only authority to declare whose sins were already forgiven, but they could not actually forgive. They had this privilege through the enlightenment of God the Holy Spirit, who guides all our steps within the providence of God. Let us rejoice that God has given such privileges to mankind.                     

AMEN.                 Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.