Summary: What can we expect from the Holy Spirit as he ministers to the world of unbeleivers?
The Holy Spirit’s Ministry to the World
To begin this discussion of the role of the Holy Spirit to the world at large, I want to begin with the most basic of all truths. It comes to us from the dialog of Jesus with Nicodemus in John 3, and it is verses 16 and 17.
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. TNIV
You see, God loves the World. That is a most fundamental declaration of Christianity. We in the evangelical church have not always remembered this. We have sometimes lived in such a way as to communicate that God hates the world.
We do this in subtle ways:
• we do not encourage our people to mingle with the people of the world
• we suggest that the music and drama and art of the world is somehow sinful and to be avoided
• we have even set up the divide between the sacred and the secular
Of course we have biblical precedent for this: The Bible warns us to “love not the world” and to “not be conformed to the image of the world.” For sure there are things in this world of ours that need to be avoided by a child of God. But never at the expense of us demonstrating that God loves the world he created.
Maybe a way to state this is like this:
God loves the people he has created, though he is not pleased with their continual living in rebellion against him.
So we begin by reminding ourselves that God really does love the people of our world. As such, a part of the work of the Holy Spirit relates to how he is attempting to communicate that love to the world around us.
The Gospel of John contains the most important passage in all of the New Testament in regards to the general work of the Holy Spirit to the world at large.
That passage comes from the teaching of Jesus while he is in the Upper Room with his disciples during the evening just before he is betrayed and arrested.
Jesus had just told them again of his plans to leave them and as we join his discussion today, he is trying to convince them that it is actually to their benefit that he is going away.
7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
Jesus then goes on to explain what the Holy Spirit would be doing, in general, in the world, when he comes.
8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment:
9 about sin,
because people do not believe in me;
10 about righteousness,
because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer;
11 and about judgment,
because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
Let’s look at this section by section:
He will prove the world to be in the wrong
Before change can occur, one must realize that change is needed. The word “prove” is variously translated
The idea is that one of the first things God does in the heart of a person is to bring them to a place where they recognize that not all is well with their soul and that they stand in need of a change.
You know this is happening when people share with you that they are feeling their life is empty, or that it lacks meaning, or that they are alone and afraid, or that they feel guilty or dirty or unclean, or that they know they are far from God.
All of these things are the work of the Holy Spirit bringing people to that place where they are ready to consider change.
You and I are here this morning because this has happened in our hearts. This work of grace, wrought by the Holy Spirit, is a precursor to salvation.
The passage goes on to elaborate on three specific things the Holy Spirit seeks to convict and convince one about.
Sin is falling short of God’s desire for our life. There are many, many sins.
But notice—and this is very important—Jesus said the Holy Spirit seeks to convict and convince the word of sin—the word here is singular.
There is ultimately one sin that lies behind all others. There is ultimately one sin that condemns a soul to Hell. Just one. That’s right.