Summary: The Holy Spirit as teacher
How can a mere human being understand the things of God? Goal: Let’s understand the means by which God reaches out and touches us. Plan: Let’s look at John 15:26-16:15 and discover how the Holy Spirit works in our lives.
John 15:26 Testify
John 15:26 says, “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.” To testify means to bear witness. We are witnessing at every moment, by how we act and what we say. Are we witnessing about ourselves or Jesus? The Holy Spirit gives witness not about Himself but Jesus. If we give witness to the Holy Spirit without Jesus, we are perverting the Holy Spirit’s mission. As the disciples gave witness to their personal experience with Jesus, so too do we. Our experience as followers of the Christ is the subject of our witness.
John 16:7 Come to You
John 16:7 says, “Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” The Holy Spirit comes alongside us and helps us testify of Jesus. He “will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment” (16:8). Here, the opposite of sin is to “believe” in Jesus (16:9). The Holy Spirit convicts us that the world’s justice only makes matters worse (16:11). The Holy Spirit guides us into the truth which is in Christ alone (16:13-14). Our spiritual formation, is variously called theosis, divinization, and sanctification. It is a mystical experience.
In John 16:13 Spirit of Truth
John 16:13 says, “when he the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” There are many ideas blamed on the Holy Spirit. How can we discern between real truth coming from heaven and false doctrines or ideas of mere humans? First of all, “[the Holy Spirit] will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears.” Second, he will glorify Jesus not any human being or institution of human beings. Third, “the Spirit will receive from [Jesus] what he will make known to you.” Fourth, if it is something that receives wide acceptance in the church, it is a safer teaching.
The work of the Spirit in the Church is to guide us into all the truth. Some teachings of the Church have been more fully formulated since the New Testament was written. What the Holy Spirit speaks will always be entirely consistent with the teachings of Jesus and glorify Christ, just as Jesus echoed the Father’s teachings. Some people misunderstand sola scriptura (the Bible alone) as excluding other sources of inspiration. A clearer phrase is prima scriptura (the Bible first) and secondarily inspired tradition, not burdensome human tradition. This allows for other revelations of God such as creation, traditions, spiritual gifts, prophetic insight, angel visits, spirit-guided conscience, common sense, scholarship, etc.
John 16:13 Speaking Unity
John 16:13 says of the Holy Spirit, “He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears”. The Trinity is our example of perfect unity. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit speaks what he hears “from me” (verses 14-15). He faithfully receives the words that he makes known to us and does not make up His own doctrines like human beings have done. Division among humans is inevitable because we are fallible. However, there is something that unifies us all, the words of Jesus. When we emphasis the truths that Jesus taught, we too become more unified. The Trinity teaches us how such perfect unity behaves.
John 16:8 The Spirit Proves the World Wrong
John 16:8 says the Holy Spirit “will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment”. 1) Those in the world are wrong about sin because they do not believe in Jesus. Sin as defined here, is not moral failure, but a lack of faith. 2) Those in the world are wrong about righteousness because the world condemns Christ, but God shows his approval of Jesus. 3) Those in the world are wrong about judgment because the ruler of this world, whether human or demonic, has been condemned. Why? He is condemned for bad judgment primarily because of unbelief in Jesus as King of Kings.
The Holy Spirit is here with us today to reveal to us the things of God. He convicts our faith, leads us to Jesus, helps us reject the world and guides us into all the truth.
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