If the church is not supposed to win the culture to Christ, then what is its purpose?
Now, why is this verse (John 14:17) put at this spot in the Gospel of John? The Lord has said, "I am going to heaven, and I'm going to send you another Comforter, whom the world cannot see." Why is this put here?
It's put here in order to point out to us that the Church is not to expect fantastic triumphs. We are to be a despised and a persecuted people. You may be sure of the fact that anything that calls itself "church" and wants to wear fine robes and say, "Kiss my ring," or "You are Mr. Pope," or Mr. Bishop or Mr. Dignitary, is not of the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus Christ was meek and lowly, and He said, "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you." (See John 15:18.)
This fact destroys any false hopes that the Church might have. Someone says, "Isn't the Church to convert the world?" Of course not! Brother, we have certainly made a botch of converting the world, because we're not even up to 50 percent of the population growth. Fifty years ago we might have said that there were a billion people who had not heard of Jesus Christ. Today, there are close to two billion people who have not heard of Jesus Christ. The missionary task is fantastically greater now than it was then. And always the number of births and the increase of population is greater than the increase of the Church.
This trend will continue, for Jesus Christ said, "When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on earth?" (Luke 18:8). But as it was in the days of Noah, Sodom and Gomorrah, so shall it be!
Now for a closing thought from John 14:17, where Jesus says, "for he [the Holy Spirit] dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." Oh, how wonderful this is! He dwelleth with you and shall be in you. This does away with those branches of Protestantism, that say the Holy Spirit can't dwell with us if we are sinners. They say, "Well, the Lord has got to come and dwell in us, but since we are sinners, we have to have a second blessing, an experience that makes us sinless." But this is not true. While we are on this earth, we are sinful. The Lord dwells in a body that is decaying and disintegrating. He dwells alongside my carnal nature, which is enmity against God.
Let me show you how this was in the Old Testament. The Lord was to come and live with His people, but here's what He says in Leviticus 16:16: "He shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness." In other words God says, "Before I can come and live in the Tabernacle, I want Aaron to kill a lamb, take the blood, and put one drop of blood on the veil, one drop of blood on each stave, one drop of blood on the altar, one drop of blood on the laver, and one drop of blood on every stick and piece that is in the Tabernacle, because," God says, "I'm coming to live there." Well how can You come and live with these stiff-necked, stubborn, rebellious, fornicating, idolatrous Israelites? "Oh," says God, `look at the drop of blood down at the corner of the tent. I'm looking at this dwelling place through Jesus Christ."
How can God come and live in Donald Barnhouse? Look at what he is in himself. "Oh," says God, "the blood of Christ is between Me and what Donald Barnhouse is in himself." The Holy Spirit comes to dwell in these human "tabernacles" in order to manifest Christ. And in spite of the fact that when you look into the mirror and see yourself you say, "Oh, it's a good thing people don't know what I am." Have you ever done that? "It's a good thing they haven't discovered what I did last night, or last week. It's a good thing they don't know all the truth instead of the two percent truth that I told them." Oh, praise God that He says, "I can come and live in your dirty house, because I see the blood." The Holy Spirit dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
So Jesus says, "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you" (John 14:18). The word comfortless in the Greek is literally, "I will not leave you orphans." The Lord was going to leave them. He was going back to heaven. He said, "I will come. I will come in the Spirit of truth and I will guide you into all truth."
Shall we close in prayer?
Our God and Father we thank Thee for Thyself. We rejoice in Thy great love to us in Christ. Thou knowest our needs and we pray Thee that we may live life in yieldedness to Thee, knowing the joy of the fact that we are well represented in heaven by Christ; that Thou, 0 God, art well-represented in our hearts by the Spirit; and that all three of You are together in us and together in heaven. We pray in Jesus' name, Amen.
- If we are not supposed to win the culture to Christ, then what is the purpose of the church?
- What role does repentance play in your daily life?