John 16:5-15 (90 Days with Jesus, Day 73)
“Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. 7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. 12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.
I have been thinking a lot, lately, about grace. Not just the kind of grace that we save we are saved by, but also the sort of grace that we live by each day. My conclusion has been that often we try to hard. It’s not too say that trying is a bad thing or that we should just lay down and let whatever happens happen. I think we are people who should make an effort. I just think the effort should be made differently or perhaps we should make a different effort.
Here Jesus again announces that he is (was) ‘going away.’ This announcement has left his disciples, apparently, speechless. They have been, evidently, overcome by their grief and couldn’t think of anything at the moment to say in response to Jesus’ statement, “I am going away.” They had asked him earlier, but now they couldn’t repeat it. No matter. Jesus had plenty to tell them about what life would be like after he left. Fact is, Jesus was leaving, but they would not be left alone. Jesus was sending someone else to be with them and this One would only come after Jesus had gone. But the work of this One who would come was in complete harmony with the work of Jesus and the will of the Father.
This One Jesus is speaking of is the Holy Spirit and according to these few verses, the work of the Holy Spirit is extensive. He will convict the world—pronounce the world guilty—of sin, righteousness and judgment. The world cannot escape this conviction, and the Holy Spirit will be certain to make certain this pronouncement is clear. I wonder if this pronouncement is made through the disciples to whom the Spirit was given: The preaching of the Gospel.
It was, understandably, a difficult evening for the disciples. Jesus recognized this and deliberately didn’t tell the disciples everything that he needed to tell the disciples. Thus, he withheld some things, but not permanently. He says that another work of the Holy Spirit was to complete the testimony about himself. One of the greatest works of the Holy Spirit is to lead the disciples into truth which will in turn bring Glory to Jesus as the Spirit’s testimony about Jesus is believed and accepted for what it is: The Truth. (That’s probably not the best way to phrase that sentence.) If the Spirit leads the disciples into truth, then the Spirit cannot lead them into lies or false things. I think it is safe to say that we can trust the testimony of the Spirit.
Too often this aspect of the work of the Spirit is neglected. I think too often people think the only thing the Spirit is good for is some sort of ‘spiritual’ gift or some sort of miraculous display. But Jesus mentions neither of those things in this short paragraph. Instead Jesus says that main work of the Spirit is continue testifying to Jesus and bringing glory to Him. And the Spirit doesn’t create new teaching: He takes the teaching of Jesus (‘what is mine’) and pours it out into the disciples. Thus the Spirit’s work is in complete harmony with the work of Jesus which was in complete harmony with the work of the Father. There is a unified effort by Father, Son and Spirit to complete this testimony to Jesus and bring glory to His Name. The work of the Spirit cannot be contrary to the work of Jesus or the work of the Father. There is no competition between the Three.
I think it is safe to say, then, that if there are things going on in the church that do not ultimately bring glory to Jesus Christ then these things are not ultimately of the Spirit that Jesus sent. Whatever goes on in the church must be in accord with the work of the Spirit (conviction of the world), the leading into the truth (conveying the Gospel), and the glory of Christ (continuing the teaching of Jesus). We must make careful examination of what goes on for precisely this reason: The Spirit of God is the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9, 1 Peter 1:11.) Jesus is not going to contradict himself: It is impossible.
So what all of this means is this: The Spirit will not lead Christians into error or sin or lies. I think this is perhaps one reason why John later says we should ‘test the spirits.’ In fact this is so important, let’s read it:
1Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 4You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.” (1 John 4:1-6, NIV)
I don’t think it is ironic that the manner in which false spirits come at is in the false prophets of this world. The spirit of the false prophets is the spirit of the antichrist. Furthermore, this is a matter of truth and lies. We must be always on our guard, always testing, always studying, and always listening carefully to what is being said. There are many who would deny that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. They are not to be trusted.
Soli Deo Gloria!