John 15:14-16; 16:23-26

Jesus, The Advocate

         December 29, 2002                       2002, J.W. Carter              Scripture quotes from KJV

What is the last thing you always say at the end of a prayer?  (Amen.) What is the last thing you almost always say before the "AMEN?"  (In Jesus' Name.) Why do we do this? What are some of the ways that we pray?  Why do our prayers go unanswered?  Why are the answers to prayers not always what we ask for?  This lesson will look at what the scripture says about praying in Jesus' name.  There have been a lot of misconceptions concerning these scriptures.  This study will give us an opportunity to look at some of these and determine the truth of the scripture on this point.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. (John 14:12)

This statement by Jesus was prompted by Philip's request that Jesus show the Father to the disciples.  They are in the Upper Room, prior to Jesus' seizure at Gethsemane.  Judas has just left the room.  Jesus answered Philip stating that they have seen the Father in Himself and in this statement Jesus says that petitions to the Father through Himself will be granted.

The first statement here is, "Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing."  What has Jesus been doing?  (Telling people of the good news of the gospel and bringing them to God in faith.  He has been healing the sick, casting out demons, etc.)  Jesus says that anyone who has faith in him will do these things.  Before we get too excited about having Jesus do anything we ask, we must first identify where we are in the asking.  That is, are we doing that which Jesus has called us to do?  Are we living in his will or our own?  (Search for answers to this one.)  For most of us, the answer is probably, "a little of both."  Here lies the problem: are we satisfied to live out our lives sitting on the fence of commitment to Jesus?  Are we satisfied to sit with one foot in the world and one foot in the heavenlies?  In our efforts to pray, we have started out the process from a position of weakness.  But, before we examine this position of weakness, let's observe some of the rewards that obedience will bring.

What does verse 12 say about the things that we will do when we have faith in Him?  (They will be even greater than the things He has done.)  Why?  (Because He is going to the Father and will be unable to continue His present ministry.)  What can a man with faith do that is greater than what Jesus did?  This seems impossible.  The Greek word for greater is meizon, that means both greater and more.  For example, what has the Evangelist Billy Graham done that Jesus never did?  (Preached to millions of people at the same time, brought people to Jesus in far greater numbers.)  It is necessary that we do "far greater things" because Jesus is gone to the Father.

Is it possible that we can cast out demons in Jesus' name?  (Yes)  Is it possible that we can heal the sick in Jesus' name?  (Yes.)  Why, then, do we point to people like Billy Graham for examples rather than give examples out of our own lives?  (Now we are back to the original problem.)

And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. (John 14:13-14)

Twice in these verses Jesus promises to do something.  What does He promise to do?  (Anything in His Name.)  Jesus promises to do anything for us that is "In His Name."  To often we think that "In His Name" is a set of magic words that obligate God to do our own will.  After all, didn't Jesus just say that He would?

Consider this prayer:  "God please strike my enemy dead, in Jesus' name, Amen."  The one praying this prayer is watching his enemy while he is praying.  What is likely to happen to the enemy after the prayer is stated?  (Nothing.)  How can that be possible?  He added Jesus' name to the prayer, and the scripture says that Jesus will do anything that is asked in His name.

Obviously, we need to have a handle on this phrase, "in His name."  What is Jesus' name?  If we search scripture, what are some of the names of Jesus?  (Wonderful, Counselor, Almighty God, Prince of Peace, the Rose of Sharon, the Bright and Morning Star, etc.)  There are any of a hundred names used to describe Jesus in the Bible.  This is because, unlike our use of names, in the context of their culture, a person's name was used to not only identify who he was, but was also intended to identify what he was.  What happen to Abram's name when he turned to God in faith?  (Turned to Abraham, father of many nations.)  What happened to Jacob's name when he turned to God in faith?  (Turned to Israel, from "cheater" or "supplanter" to "God strives.")  When Jesus refers to His Name, He is not referring to the stated name of Jesus, but rather the whole of His authority and who He is.

Consequently our prayers fail for two reasons:  First, we are not standing with two feet in God's will, and second, our prayers are not consistent with Jesus' nature and will.

John 15:14-16. 

You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

Again we see Jesus promising to give us whatever we ask, "In my name."  What do we see prior to that promise?  First, Jesus describes us as His friends, rather than His servants.  In Jesus' prayer to the Father in chapter 10, Jesus also refers to those who have faith in Him as His friends.  What kind of relationship do friends have with one another?  What would you do if your best friend needed your help?  (Go help!)  You would not think twice to help your best friend.  Jesus wants that same kind of relationship with us.  We have now suffered a third blow.

  1. We are not living in His will.

  2. We are not praying in a manner consistent with His will.

  3. We are not the friend of Jesus that He desires.

Look at verse 16.    We did not choose Christ, He chose us, and for what purpose?  (To bear fruit.)  What is this fruit?  Fruit is what is borne out of the nature of a person, just as the fruit that comes from a tree is consistent with the nature of the tree.  We do not get pears from an apple tree.  Why does the apple tree produce apples?  Does it have a choice?  Can it say tomorrow, "Next year I will bear figs."  Why not?  Go back a few verses and see what Jesus says about fruit.  Look at 15:4-7.

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.

Again, we are given the promise.  What must we do to receive this promise?  (Remain in Him.) and what is the evidence that we are abiding in Him (We will bear much fruit.) What is that fruit?  (Godly traits of goodness, kindness, patience, self-control, etc.)  Note that the product of our testimony should be the sharing of Jesus as we plant seeds of faith throughout our surroundings.  Some may come to faith through that testimony, but the literal fruit of a Christian is not necessarily another Christian as some preachers would have it.

Our situation is becoming more desperate the further we go.  We are now up to four blows against us:

  1. We are not living in His will.

  2. We are not praying in a manner consistent with His will.

  3. We are not the friend of Jesus that He desires.

  4. We are not remaining in Him sufficiently to bear the fruit that He desires.

John 16:23-26. 

In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24  Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. 25  "Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26  In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf.

Why had the disciples, up to this point, not asked anything in Jesus' name?  (They were not yet filled with the spirit, and had the same four blows against them we may have against us.)  However, he encourages them by stating that a time is coming when they will.  That time did come, and after Pentecost they started to realize the fulfillment of that promise.  We, who have received Christ after Pentecost should be receiving the same.

Look again in verse 26.  When we pray, to whom do we pray?  Jesus describes us as praying to God the Father, in His name.  Some believe that we cannot pray directly to God; that he is too pure and holy to hear the sinner's prayers, but rather Jesus, who is at a level less than the Father can act as a filter between us and God.  This is a false gospel.

1 John 5:14-15  This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15And if we know that he hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of him.

Again, John writes of the promise.  According to verse 14, how should we be able to approach God?  (With confidence.)  And as we approach in confidence, under what conditions does this verse say that He hears us?  (When we ask according to His will.)   Some will leave this little segment out when they take verse 15 out of context.  Those who do ignore this teach a doctrine that comes from verse 15 that the reason that we do not receive what we ask for is that we do not see that we already have it.  You pray for healing and you do not feel well?  That's Satan trying to trick you.  You are really well, you just are not accepting what you already have.

So, why do we not receive that which we have asked for?  These verses have identified four areas that we may need to consider:

  1. Live in His will, not our own.

  2. Pray in a manner consistent with His will.

  3. Be the friend of Jesus that He desires.

  4. Remain in Him so that we may bear the fruit that He desires.