God’s Family Tree

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The Holy Spirit in us is the proof that we are part of the family of God.

John(70) (Part of the Believe(67) series)
by Marc Webb(24) on June 28, 2020 (Sunday Morning(156))

Holy Spirit(3), Salvation(45)

As some of you know I really love genealogy. In fact, I would probably call myself a genealogy junkie. It is not only a hobby of mine but a passion as well. I really can’t get enough. I would do genealogy all day every day if I could get away with it. I have been tracing my family tree since I was in junior high and have been tracing Judy’s tree since we were married. I love to trace family trees whether there are any relation to me or not. In fact, I have done work on the family trees of some of you who are here this morning. I usually can’t help myself and after talking to someone about their family I will go right home and start searching on Ancestry.com and I won’t stop until I have exhausted the available resources. It is really exciting to be able to go back generation after generation on my family tree or honestly anyone’s family tree.

Here is a depiction of the first six generations of my Webb family tree including me. There I am with my father Philip, my grandfather William, my great grandfather Pearl, my great great grandfather James and my third great grandfather Aquilla.

Now I have a confession to make. Last Tuesday was my mom’s birthday. And she called me on her birthday not the other way around. It probably didn’t surprise her because I am usually three days late calling her for most special days. But before we hung up she asked me if I was preaching today and I said yes and later on as I laid awake in bed I realized that in the PPT this morning I had only put my Webb family in and not hers. I felt bad about that especially if she was going to watch this morning so here is my mother’s side of my family tree. Her maiden name was Haney. My mom Jean, my grandfather Joseph, my great grandfather Ellis, great great grandfather Thomas, my third great grandmother Louisa and I actually have one more known generation on my Haney side my fourth great grandfather William Haney. There you go mom, Happy Birthday.

Back to the Webb side of my family tree. My third great grandfather Aquila Webb was born in 1803 in Maryland. That is as far back as I have been able to document. Now, I have found another Aquilla Webb who was married in Maryland in 1802, and I could surmise that he is the father of my known Aquilla but I can’t prove it. In genealogical terms that is what we call a brick wall. Now there are many ways to break down our genealogical brick walls and one of those is with DNA. We receive about 50% of our DNA from our parents, about 25% from our grandparents and so on and so on. So it could be possible to find someone who shares DNA with me that also shares a common ancestor back to my fourth great grandfather whether that is this unknown Aquilla Webb or someone else.

There are a number of DNA tests and testing companies out there. The different tests can help you learn different things about your ancestors. An Autosomal DNA Test can be taken by males or females and will typically give you DNA matches within 5 to 6 generations on both your mother’s and father’s sides of the family. The YDNA Test is taken by a male, and is used to track the Y chromosome passed from father to son over the generations. It can provide paternal matches and a paternal haplogroup. A haplogroup is the area of the world that ancestry originated from many, many generations back. If a father’s family line is in question, this DNA test may help break down that brick wall. Third, there is the mtDNA Test that can be taken by males or females, but it looks only at the genetic markers of your mother’s maternal line. It too extends back many generations and can provide maternal matches and a maternal haplogroup showing where your maternal ancestry originated. ​​ If your brick wall involves your mother’s maternal family line, this DNA test may be helpful.

So if I took a DNA test and uploaded it onto say, Ancestry.com, it would be compared to other people’s DNA that has been submitted and would tell me if I shared DNA with any of them and how much. That could help me to break down that brick wall and find more generations of my family tree. The DNA that is in you right now is the same DNA that is in everyone who is a part of your biological family and can be traced many generations back even to the original area in the world that your ancestors came from. And as Christians, we have DNA is us as well, it’s a supernatural DNA.

That brings us to our scripture this morning, which is found in John 16:4b-15. Jesus again tells the disciples he is leaving and mildly rebukes them for thinking only about themselves as he prepares to go to the cross and back to the Father. He says leaving them will greatly benefit them but they will not reap the benefits until after he is crucified and resurrected. Only then can he send the Holy Spirit to them and into the world to fulfil his purpose. When we surrender to Jesus as our Lord and Savior the Holy Spirit comes upon us and infuses us with the DNA of our Father, who is God. As Christians with the Holy Spirit in us we start to grow more like Christ, start to look more like Christ, thinking and loving more like Christ. This is because of God’s DNA that the Holy Spirit puts in us at our conversion.

Judy and I have been watching a new TV show called The Genetic Detective. In this show, the Genetic Detective, Ceecee Moore takes DNA from cold case crime scenes and matches it to people who upload their DNA to the database called GEDMatch. From these DNA matches she can compile a family tree that works from the past to the present that includes the perpetrator of the crime. She can then give this new evidence to the police. One of her catch phrases is DNA doesn’t lie. If DNA from a crime scene matches DNA in the database then that means they are part of the same family. That brings us to our big idea this morning that John wants us to understand which is that the Holy Spirit in us is the proof that we are part of the family of God. Just as physical DNA doesn’t lie, spiritual DNA doesn’t lie either. If you have the Holy Spirit in you, you are part of God’s family tree.

Before we start to unpack what it is the Holy Spirit does in the world and in our lives, let’s pray, Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for this time that we can take out of our busy weeks to stop and rest in your word. I pray that our hearts and minds will be open to what you want us to hear, to learn and to apply to our lives this week and in the future. In Jesus’ name Amen.

Our first point this morning is the Work of the Holy Spirit and that is found in John 16, verses 4b-11. Follow along as I read those verses. This is what God’s Word says, “These things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you. 5 “But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. 8 And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.”

The first thing we see is that Jesus says he didn’t tell them certain things in the beginning because he was with them. What didn’t he tell them? Pastor Stuart told us about these things in last week’s sermon. The things that he didn’t tell them was about the persecution they would come up against once he had left them to go to his Father. He said they would be put out of the synagogue and even killed. The reason he didn’t tell them about the persecution earlier was that he was with them. Throughout his ministry, Jesus shielded the disciples from the opposition and took the brunt of the persecution. The disciples had not personally seen persecution but that was going to change after Jesus was crucified. They would face the hatred of the world because of their allegiance and faith in Jesus. Jesus never promised a life of ease and comfort in following him. In fact he said following him was like picking up their own cross and being willing to lose their life for his sake (Luke 9:23-24).

Next Jesus again brings up the fact that he is leaving and returning to the Father. He mildly rebukes the disciples for not asking him about where he is going. Now you might wonder why Jesus said that because back in John 14:5, Thomas said we don’t know where you are going and in John 13:36, Peter asks Jesus where he was going. But Thomas was asking about the way of Jesus’ departure and Peter was questioning the reasonableness of the cross and Jesus says those things were secondary. The point was the goal of the cross, which was the glorification of Jesus, and returning to the Father to sit on his right hand.

We know from the gospels that the disciples never imagined that the Messiah would be a conquering, suffering, dying and resurrected Lord. They couldn’t fathom that and so never truly focused on where Jesus was going and how he was going to get there. They were so filled with their own sorrow and grief that one, they never stopped to think about the excruciatingly painful and humiliating way of the cross that Jesus was going to take to go back to the Father. They should have been comforting him, not the other way around. Two, they never considered that for Jesus to return to the Father was to be the most glorifying and wonderful thing imaginable for Jesus. They didn’t seem to be concerned for Jesus at all and seemed to protest Jesus abandoning them rather than expressing a genuine interest in what he was about to experience. Their selfishness, anxiety and grief blinded them to what Jesus wanted to teach them. ​​ 

In verse 7 Jesus says, “But I tell you the truth” which means “listen up.” He says that it was for their advantage that he was going away even if it seemed disastrous to them right now. He wanted to send the helper to them but that couldn’t happen until he went away. Jesus in his earthly body could not be everywhere. He was limited in time and space but the helper would have no such limitations. The helper could be with believers anywhere and everywhere they would go. There would be uninterrupted fellowship with forever with Jesus through the Holy Spirit.

Jesus doesn’t tell the disciples why the helper couldn’t come until he went away. We know why this was necessary today but the disciples did not which was why they were still feeling fear, anxiety and confusion that night. The helper’s ministry was and is to reveal the person and works of Jesus Christ and that could not be fully realized until Jesus’ finished work of redemption and salvation on the cross, ascension into heaven and exaltation at the right hand of the Father.

This coming of the Holy Spirit was a fulfillment of the promise found in Matthew 28:20 which ends, “and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” That promise found at the end of the Great Commission means that as we live on this earth making disciples, baptizing and teaching people about the good news of Jesus, the Holy Spirit is right there with us.

In verses 8-11, we see the Holy Spirit’s work in the unbelieving world. His work is to convict the world of its guilt in regard to sin, righteousness and judgment. The Greek word John uses for “convict” translates to “reprove” or “convince”. It is a word that would have been used in a court of law to cross examine a person on trial or an opponent in an argument. ​​ The idea was for the person on trial or the opposing party to see and admit the error of their ways. In this context the word refers to being convinced that the position they have taken in regard to Jesus is wrong. The outcome of the Holy Spirit’s work could go one of two ways. They could be convinced of their sin and their need for a savior or they could continue to reject Jesus, be convicted and spend eternity separated from God. The Spirit’s ministry in the world is a positive ministry. His goal is to bring sinners to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ not condemnation. No one can be saved apart from the Spirit’s convicting and regenerating work.

The Holy Spirit is going to convict or convince the world of three things. The first thing that the world will be convicted of is their sin. What is this sin? It is the sin of their rejection and unbelief in Jesus. They did not believe in Jesus as the Son of God or as Messiah. This was not a problem of understanding on their part but a willful rejection of Jesus as Lord and Savior. If they had believed they would have repented and accepted him. Holman says, “The root of this sin is the belief that we can atone for ourselves. God is not looking for perfect people but people who are willing to accept the atonement that he has already provided.”

The second thing that the world will be convicted of is their righteousness and that is seen in the fact that Jesus was returning to the Father in heaven. The Jews thought they knew God and that they were the righteous ones. Everything pointed to Jesus being God’s Son and the Messiah sent by him but they thought there was no way that Jesus of Nazareth could be the Son of God, so they rejected him and crucified him. They thought they were doing the “righteous” thing. The Holy Spirit came into the world to convict them in regard to their righteousness because guess what? The proof that Jesus was the true Son of God and the Messiah was the fact that he would return to heaven and would be accepted by God back to his rightful place. That’s why in verse 10, Jesus says, “and you no longer see me.” He is in heaven.

God is holy and he cannot be where sin is and the proof that Jesus was the sinless, righteous one sent from God was that he was accepted back into heaven after his life, ministry and death here on the earth. This proves that Jesus was righteous and that the world was not. Barrett says, “Jesus’ death proved his complete obedience to the will of God, and his exaltation proved that his righteousness was approved by more than human acclamation.” The world believes in the relative righteousness of people but not the absolute righteousness of Christ. Man is not worthy to declare the righteousness of Jesus, but God is and we should be glad, because God declares our righteousness based on the righteousness of Jesus.

The third thing that the world will be convicted of is their judgment. The world’s judgment is wrong and the Holy Spirit convicts the world of its false judgment. The world thought it was judging Jesus but in fact it was the world that was judged. That is seen in the fact that the prince of this world now stands condemned. The prince of this world is Satan and by Jesus’ death and resurrection on the cross he has already been beaten and condemned to the lake of Fire for all eternity. This is not an arbitrary feat of power but justice being done in the overthrow of the evil one. By the time the Holy Spirit comes, Satan is already condemned and he will convict those in the world that follow Satan of that fact. And if Satan is already condemned then that means that his followers are too. The world is already condemned and in desperate need to learn of its plight. This is a warning to those who follow Satan that he will not get away from judgment and neither will they.

There are only two possible responses to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit: repentance or rejection. Those who reject the Spirit’s conviction will spend eternity in Hell while those who repent will spend eternity in Heaven.

Our big idea this morning that the Holy Spirit in us is the proof that we are a part of the family of God. But the opposite is also true. If you don’t have the Holy Spirit in you, you are not part of the family of God. You are not in God’s family tree. It is the Holy Spirit’s function to convict and convince lost sinners of their guilt in regard to sin, righteousness and judgment. The question for all of us this morning is have we been convicted and convinced by the Holy Spirit. Have we repented of our sins and accepted Jesus as our Savior and become part of God’s family tree? Remember DNA doesn’t lie. Romans 6:23 says the wages of sin is death. It is a spiritual death and an eternal separation from God. But the rest of the verse says, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. This morning, you can become part of God’s family tree. That brings us to our first next step which is to confess my sin, accept Jesus as my Savior, be infused with God’s DNA by the Holy Spirit and become part of the family of God.

In verses 12-15, we see our second point this morning which is the revelation of the Holy Spirit that believers receive. Follow along as I read those verses. This is what God’s Word says, 12 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.”

Jesus goes from talking about the role of the Holy Spirit in the world, those who aren’t part of the family of God, to the role of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the disciples, those who are already part of God’s family tree. Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Truth, because he is going to reveal “all truth” to the disciples. There are three aspects to this revelation of the Holy Spirit. There is the need for revelation, the extent of the revelation and the goal of the revelation. Jesus says there is a lot more that he needs to impart to them but at this moment they can’t bear the things he has to tell them. There were three reasons they couldn’t bear it at that particular moment and would need the revelation of the Holy Spirit.

First, it was partly because they were overcome with sorrow because he said he was leaving them. They couldn’t get past their feelings of anxiety, loss, etc. and focus on the additional teachings Jesus wanted to give them. Second, they would not be able to totally understand the significance of the cross and the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus until after it happened. Like most Jews, the disciples believed that the Messiah would be a political and military deliverer, not that he would die. They couldn’t understand how the death of Jesus translated into his glory and the coming of his kingdom. The Holy Spirit was the one who would bring all the things that Jesus had told them during his ministry back to the disciples’ minds. Then they would understand and believe. John 2:22 says, “After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.” We also see this in Luke 18:34 and John 12:16.

Third, all revelation is limited by the ability of the receiver to understand it. Until the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost they lacked the power both to grasp and to live out the implications of further revelation. This further revelation was specific truth about the Person of Jesus and the significance of what he said and did while on the earth. God doesn’t dump truth on us all at once and expect us to remember it but teaches us truth as we need to know it. The Bible is the greatest example of this truth in the progressive unfolding of the plan of salvation from Genesis to Revelation. Submission to Christ and knowledge of Christ go hand in hand. When we have the Father’s DNA in us we can better know Jesus and become more like him. BIG IDEA ​​ 

The next aspect of the revelation of the Spirit was the extent of that revelation. The revelation of the Holy Spirit was not going to be new revelation but it was going to be clarity of the revelation given to the disciples by Jesus himself. The Holy Spirit doesn’t speak on his own, in fact, he only speaks what he hears from Jesus and the Father. Just as Jesus while he was on the earth never acted on his own initiative but always did the will of the Father, the Spirit never acts on his own initiative but does the will of the Son.

Tenney says, “The Spirit would not present an independent message, differing from what the disciples had already learned from Christ. They would be led further into the realization of his person and in the development of the principles he had already laid down. They would also be enlightened about coming events. He would unfold the truth as the disciples grew in spiritual capacity and understanding.”

The Holy Spirit would also tell the disciples what was yet to come. This means in the immediate future not necessarily in the far future. “All truth” would comprise the New Testament writings. The Holy Spirit inspired the authors of the books of the Bible to write exactly what God wanted them to say. We see this today in God’s Word, the Bible. The Word of God is all the Christian needs in order to daily walk rightly with the Lord. 2 Tim 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” This means we need to study the Bible and studying the Bible apart from being filled with and walking in the Holy Spirit is fruitless. Also, the leading of the Holy Spirit in your life will always be consistent with God’s revealed will in the Bible. How do you know that you are being lead to do God’s will or not? Is it consistent with the Word of God?

That brings us our second next step which is to let the Holy Spirit continue to transform me by revealing the truth of Jesus and his Word to me.

Third, we see the goal of the revelation of the Holy Spirit. The goal of the Holy Spirit’s revelation to the disciples was to bring glory to the Son which in turn brings glory to the Father. The “what is mine” in verse 14, is nothing less than the revelation of the Father himself. The Holy Spirit would bring glory to Jesus by disclosing the truth about Christ, just as Jesus glorified the Father by revealing the truth about him.

It is the Spirit’s purpose to glorify Christ in revelation and our purpose to glorify Christ in proclamation. It is the witness of the Holy Spirit that ultimately testifies to the truthfulness of God’s Word. Only the Spirit can convince lost sinners of its divine inspiration. The Spirit must work in people’s lives for them to change their views of both the Bible, God’s written word, and Jesus, the incarnate Word. That sovereign work in the hearts and minds convinces people that the Bible is from God, that its words are reliable and that its message about Jesus is indeed the good news of salvation. Our final verse this morning focuses on the harmony and the oneness of Jesus, the Father and the Spirit. The Father gives to the Son and the Son gives to the Spirit and then the Spirit gives to us.

In closing, I want to read an article written by J. Warner Wallace, who is the author of Cold Case Christianity and a Christian apologist which means he defends Christianity against objections to it. The article is called “What Ancestry DNA kits reveal about God, our past and the way forward. Fortune reported recently that “DNA test kits are blowing up in popularity.” More people than ever are interested in discovering their ethnic heritage23andMe (the DNA testing company named after the 23 chromosome pairs that make up the human genome) has already performed over 5 million genetic tests for people who want to know more about their ancestry.

DNA test advertising reveals something important about our desire to know our past. In one well-known AncestryDNA commercial, a man named Kyle dances in lederhosen and tells the audience his family always thought they were German. His DNA test, however, revealed he was predominantly Scottish and Irish. This revelation seems to change the way he sees himself, and the commercial ends with Kyle wearing traditional Scottish garb, saying, “So, I traded in my lederhosen for a kilt.” The message here? Once you discover who you really are, you’ll begin to engage the world differently. Learning about your past will change the way you go forward.

Wallace goes on to say: My son, Jimmy, and his wife were recently given an opportunity to experience this for themselves when they received an ancestry DNA test as a gift. Jimmy was curious to learn about his own Scottish, German and Italian heritage, but when the results returned, none of his DNA was traced back to Italy, despite his strong Italian heritage through my mother’s side of the family. Why wasn’t Italy highlighted on his genetic map? Because our Italian ancestors (like many other Italians) trace their lineage through other parts of Europe like France and the Balkan regions. In essence, my son’s genetic test provided him with a snapshot of our family migration pattern, capturing our location prior to our arrival in Italy.

All ancestral DNA tests are similarly rooted in time. The people groups that came to Italy from France and the Balkans didn’t originate in those regions. If the test could take a snapshot one thousand years earlier, it would find them living somewhere else. The further back in time we go genetically, the smaller the number of people groups and the less diverse their locations. When my son learned his genetic history preceded Italy, he naturally wanted to know how far back in time he could trace it. Sadly, France (or the Balkans) was as far as he could go. Unless Christianity is true. The Christian worldview explains human origins in a way that not only satisfies our desire to know our past, but also helps us understand our identity so we can effectively move forward.

Christianity teaches that all humans were created by God and descended from a single pair: Adam and Eve. This means we are all genetically linked as siblings, cousins and distant relatives. According to Christianity, if our DNA technology was capable of even greater precision and historical “distance,” it would ultimately identify the Garden of Eden as our place of origin. This Biblical truth about our past, can help us navigate the future in a way that Darwinian explanations cannot. Later he concludes with: Once we discover who we really are, we’ll begin to engage the world differently. Learning about our past can truly change the way we go forward.

When we realize we have been created by God in the image of God to be in relationship with God that changes everything. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” Until you accept Jesus as your Savior and the Holy Spirit infuses the Father’s DNA in you, you are not part of God’s family tree. That is the old. But once you accept Jesus as your Savior you have the Holy Spirit in you. You are a new creation. You now discover who you were truly meant to be and begin to engage the world differently and it changes the way you live your life in the future. You will start to grow more like Christ, thinking more like Christ and loving more like Christ. DNA doesn’t lie. The Holy Spirit in you is proof that you are part of the family of God.

As Gene and Roxey come to lead us in our final song, let’s pray: Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Thank you for the Holy Spirit in us that helps us to be more like your Son, Jesus. Help us to accept the revelation of the Holy Spirit in our lives and allow him to teach us, to guide us, to correct us and train us in righteousness. In Jesus’ name. Amen.