Summary: Jesus assures His followers that He would not leave them alone, but would send His substitute, the third member of the God-head. The Holy Spirit came to empower the church for life and witness
THE [CONVICTING] MINISTRY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
[1 John 4: 1-6]
There was much disappointment among the Apostles when Jesus disclosed that He must return to the Father. Jesus’ great work of redemption required His death so that through His resurrection from the dead death could be defeated. But Jesus assures His followers that He would not leave them alone, but would send His substitute, the third member of the God-head. Jesus had to leave so that the Holy Spirit might come and empower the church for life and witness (CIT).
Our Lord had been telling His disciples that they were being equipped to be more than conquerors in their battles for the soul of man. The Divine Spirit was to come and bring about a probing of the eternal nature of man so that their consciousness might be awaken to sin, righteousness and judgment. This Spirit of God works in and through the redeemed. Just as Christ used a human body to do His redemptive work, the Holy Spirit uses yielded churches and yielded members of the body of Christ to glorify Jesus and to witness to a lost world.
I. HIS NECESSARY REPLACEMENT, 7.
II. HIS VITAL MINISTRY, 8.
III. HIS CONVICTING MINISTRY EXPLAINED, 9-11.
Verse 7 begins the fourth teaching on the Holy Spirit in John. But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.
In spite of the sorrow and grief over Jesus’ leaving, it must occur to secure the great blessing of God. Through the strong pronouncement formula of I tell you the truth Jesus says that it is an advantage for them and for us that He departs. The basic reason why Christ's departure means triumph and not tragedy, the reason why it is a help and not a hindrance for these men (and for the Church in general) is this, that otherwise the Helper, namely, the Holy Spirit, will not come to them.
This helper comes to take the place of the absent Lord Jesus and He serves in Jesus’ place as His substitute. (Paraclete, translated helper, advocate, or comforter, literally translated is call along side). He is the official representative of Jesus and God Almighty on earth.
Jesus explains that if He stays the Holy Spirit cannot come. Jesus could only be in one place at a time. The Holy Spirit is not so limited. Jesus does not explain why the Spirit cannot come unless the Son departs from the earth and returns to His home above, but it probably has to do with His work on the cross.
Because of Jesus’ redemptive work on the cross man can now have the Spirit of God dwell within his heart, his soul, after a new nature, a spiritual nature, has been reborn in man by the power of this same Spirit. Until Christ died for man’s sins, man was still under the law, where the wages of sin are death. Saving grace allows the recipient to die to the old man by the power of the Cross and live to the new man by the power of the resurrection. This power was not yet available and thus the Holy Spirit could not apply it to their lives.
Jesus went away so that He could send His replacement, or representative, the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ first century departure from earth could easily have demoralized His followers, but it didn’t. Although Jesus was no longer with them in body, Christians soon had a power that could help them overcome any foe. The energizing conquering presence of the Holy Spirit was with them.
II. HIS VITAL MINISTRY, 8.
The Spirit has been revealed as a legal advocate who confirms the truth (14:16-17), a defender (15:26f) and in the following verse the Holy Spirit is the prosecutor bring conviction to the guilty. This absolutely vital and necessary ministry of the Spirit is stated in verse 8. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness and judgment.
These three facts are the enabling and drawing power that brings listening people to Jesus Christ. Now the world will not realize it is the Spirit of God doing this working since the world cannot receive the Spirit (14:17). When the Spirit establishes His residence in the hearts of believers He will convict the world through their life, words, and deeds.
Convict or reprove (åëåã̔æåé, elencho) is the key word. It is a legal word that means “to bring to light, to expose, to refute, to convict and convince, to press home a charge.” It could even signify “to pronounce the verdict”or state their guilt. [John Tenney, Expositor’s Bible Com. Vol. 9, p 157] To convict the world is to expose its sin and judge it as wrong. The Holy Spirit is portrayed as Christ’s prosecuting advocate with the world.