What Jesus Taught About the Holy Spirit
... as Recorded by the Apostle John
The Holy Spirit Bringing the Energy of Christ’s Rule
In three important chapters—John 14 through 16—the Lord Jesus opened His heart for the last time to His disciples. With compelling love, He poured out His soul. Shortly He would pour out His Spirit upon the disciples. In the record of His last hours with persons He had chosen to be with Him, and with words full of compassion, He spoke to them as friends. What He said was full of insight into what the Holy Spirit would mean in their lives after He went back to His Father.
As we spend time in these chapters, we can discover nine qualities of the Holy Spirit that Jesus said would become evident in His disciples’ lives. As we look at some of the details of the passage, we can hardly do more than list the nine Holy Spirit qualities, with only some little bit of instruction. For all that might be said, we must leave that with the Spirit Himself. Briefly seeing these nine together will provide us with an insight that can strengthen us in our communion with the Lord. Discovering each one will show us more and more of the power of the salvation that is becoming ours in Christ Jesus and that will follow us into His eternal Kingdom.
What Jesus has told his disciples in these chapters lets us know what real discipleship means, and it gives us a guide as to what we may expect, day by day, as we live with the Holy Spirit in us.
One—I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter… John 14:16a. Our first point of learning is that the Holy Spirit will be our Comforter. Jesus would soon leave them. They would need the Comforter to take His place. This term comes from the Greek parákletos. Some of us may already be familiar with the similar word “paraclete” when referring to the Holy Spirit. The word means “a counselor, a helper, an intercessor, an advocate, a strengthener, or a standby.” The New Testament Greek word is composed of two commonly used words: pára, which means “along side of,” like two parallel lines, and kaléo, which means “to call.” Brought together, they make one word which literally means “someone called along side of another.”
Not yet crucified and resurrected, Jesus was preparing His disciples for His ascension back to His Father. He was making it clear to them that the Holy Spirit would take His place in the very people with whom He had walked while on earth. He let them know the Spirit would give them the strength they would need to undergo the trials and persecutions they would endure on behalf of the Kingdom He had brought into the world.
According to the promise of Isaiah 11:1,2, we found that God’s Spirit would come and rest, that is, remain, upon Jesus, anointing Him for His work in God’s Heavenly Kingdom on earth. Now, as God’s Anointed One, He was promising that the same Spirit would come and remain with His disciples, anointing them for their work in this Kingdom. In relating this understanding to them, He made an amazing—almost incomprehensible—statement about the work they would do after His departure. See it here: 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 Clearly, in these three chapters from John, we learn that Jesus would send the Holy Spirit to His disciples, to abide with them, even to live in them. He promised the same Spirit that rested on Him, making Him powerful for the Kingdom, would rest on the disciples making them powerful for the same Kingdom. It would be for Paul to open this understanding to us, especially in his Prison Epistles. Think Ephesians.
Two—And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of Truth; Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.—John 14:16,17 A second point of learning is that the Holy Spirit would live in the disciples. While in Jesus, He had dwelt with them, but soon He would be in them. Even as simple as are the minds of some of us, we can discern the difference in His being with us as opposed to His being in us.
As Jesus was speaking to His disciples in His last teaching, the Holy Spirit had not yet been given to dwell in them. In John 7:38,39 Jesus revealed why the Holy Spirit was not yet given to them. This passage makes it somewhat clear, even though there remains some mystery as to what He was saying. It would become more clear after the Spirit was given. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke of the (Holy) Spirit, Whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified." New American Standard BibleThe word glorified comes from the Greek doxázo which is so rich and full of meaning that we can hardly begin to tell it here. The Apostle Peter made a most unusual statement regarding this when he spoke of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory (Gr. dóxa) that should follow (I Peter 1:11). This lets us know that His glory would come after His sufferings. Then, He would be exalted to the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 1:3). No higher place of government exists. From His Father’s right hand, Jesus would pour out the Spirit on His disciples as they waited in the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost.There is something significant here. The word dóxa may be used with reference to a dignitary of a high office in government. From Isaiah 11:2 we learned the Spirit of the Lord would rest, that is, remain on the Messiah in this highest of all offices of government. When Jesus had thus ascended back to His Father, being glorified in His high office, He would send the Spirit that had rested on Him to then abide, that is, rest on His disciples.Since the beginning of the world, a measure of the Spirit had been granted, but that promised in Joel 2:28, saying I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh, would not be fulfilled until after Christ ascended back to the Father. Then, in the disciples, God’s Spirit would take the place He had held with Christ. Now, instead of being with them, He would be in them. In His greater dwelling, He would do greater works.
Three—But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, Whom the Father will send in My Name, He shall teach you all things (John 14:26a). Our third thing to learn here about the Holy Spirit is that He shall be our Teacher—indeed, our indwelling Teacher.
If anything the Lord Jesus had taught the disciples had left questions in their minds or hearts, the Holy Spirit would be both their Counselor and Instructor to take away all their doubts. Bringing an amazing enlightenment to their inner man, He would free them from all embarrassment and give them a clear understanding in matters pertaining to His Kingdom.Jesus Himself had said, I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now (John 16:20). He meant, “Your mind cannot yet sustain what I have to tell you.” The next generation would not have passed before the Apostle Paul wrote believers as to how he was praying that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the (full) knowledge of Him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know (instinctively) what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe—(Ephesians 1:17-19).What greater prayer could there be for another! There were things even Paul could not clearly lay out in His Epistles, as rich and deep as they all are. So, he informed those to whom he wrote that he was praying the Holy Spirit would enlighten their hearts and minds so they could know what neither he nor Jesus could teach them. Thus, we perceive the Holy Spirit at work as the mighty Teacher dwelling in Christ’s disciples, teaching us from within. For instance, a matter brought in so clearly after the Lord Jesus departed and the Holy Spirit came was that there remaineth therefore a rest (a Sabbath rest) to the people of God (Hebrews 4:9). This was a Sabbath that did not consist of the observance of a day each week. It involved, instead, a lifetime of rest in the finished work of the Lord Jesus, accomplished in His death and resurrection.Yet another matter brought to the body of disciples was that now the grace of God was inviting all persons from the Gentile nations to partake of the New Covenant in Christ’s death and resurrection. On we might go, learning especially from Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles. He and, in particular, the writer of the Book of Hebrews opened the New Covenant to Gentile believers, as well as the Jewish believers.The Holy Spirit opened more—so much more! After the risen Lord poured out the Holy Spirit on the waiting believers, He became our Teacher, dwelling within us, enlightening our understanding, bringing both revelation and wisdom—to Jewish and Gentile believers alike.
Four—A fourth matter the Holy Spirit would handle after the Lord Jesus departed can be discerned here: But the Comforter, Which is the Holy Ghost, Whom the Father will send in My Name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you—(John 14:26b) The fourth thing we learn from Jesus about the Holy Spirit is that He would become a Reminder to us of all things Jesus had taught His disciples. In particular, this was about the Kingdom He brought from Heaven. Jesus taught very little about the Church. In fact, in the four Gospels, He made mention of the Church on only two occasions. In all other of His teaching, it was about the Kingdom. It would now be for the Holy Spirit to help us remember all of this.
Thus transmitting to posterity the teachings of Jesus would prove exceedingly beneficial in the days to come, when the Kingdoms of this world would become the Kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ. Recently, it has been coming to my own mind, afresh and with new anointing, the wondrous Kingdom discourses from Jesus. These are coming to light most particularly in the Gospel of Matthew. What an inspiration it can be to any of us to take what we call a “red letter edition” of the Bible where the exact words spoken by Jesus are thus emphasized. How proficient we will find the Holy Spirit, ready to open these passages to us, based on this fourth promise that He would bring to our remembrance whatsoever Jesus has said unto us.
Five—A fifth matter Jesus brought to our attention about the Holy Spirit can be found in the following: Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient (advantageous) for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you. And when He is come, he will reprove (“convict”) the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment—John 16:7,8.
The word reprove is from the Greek elégcho which most generally means “to show someone his sin and to call him to repentance.” While many a preacher may try to take this job upon himself, it is most specifically the work of the Holy Spirit. He alone can reach into the heart of a person where the deepest roots of sin grow and show each one what lies there. He can show how grievous a matter may be to the Lord, and how to become rid of it.After Peter preached under the anointing of the Spirit—the first New Testament man to do this …they were pricked (pierced with emotional pain) in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the Apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?—Acts 2:37. When they heard the Word anointed by the Spirit, they were left without reply and without excuse. They plainly saw there was no hope for them, except in the mercy of Him Whom they had before rejected and crucified. Thus, they were convicted of sin, and of judgment and of righteousness.
Six—There is now a sixth matter that Jesus brought to the attention of the disciples about the work of the Spirit they would soon know working in their lives. We see it in this passage: I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now (“take it upon yourselves to know them now”). Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth—John 16:12,13a. Thus, as our sixth point, we will come to know the Holy Spirit as the One Who will lead us, not only to the door of truth, but into the full acknowledgment of Truth. It could well be like that of a father, realizing that his child is weak, would take the feeble hand of his little one to guide him or her with safety and security along a treacherous path.
To come to the door of truth, as in the memorizing of a catechism, can leave a soul yet empty. But the Holy Spirit will bring us into the knowing of truth so that it becomes alive within us. Brought into truth like this becomes a breath of life that gives us a relationship with Christ Jesus that knowledge alone cannot give. When the Holy Spirit guides us into truth, we are brought into Life itself. This kind of life and light gives us a testimony that no one, neither man nor demon, can withstand.
seven—There is now a seventh point of instruction from Jesus about the Holy Spirit. See this amazing statement from Him: …for He shall not speak of Himself; butwhatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak…—John 16:13b. This means that the Holy Spirit shall be a Transmitter of what He shall hear, or receive, from the Lord Jesus and the Father.
When Jesus said, He shall not speak of Himself, He did not mean the Holy Spirit would not speak about Himself, that is, reveal understanding as to what He would do and be to us. He meant, rather, that the Holy Spirit would teach nothing contrary to what Jesus had Himself been teaching. Strangely and wonderfully, whatsoever He shall hear—from the Father and from Jesus—that shall He speak—John 16:13c. Thus, there will be a wonderful consent and intimacy between the three of them joined and speaking as one. There will be one testimony between them, and—marvelously—we who are filled with the Spirit shall be joined in with the Three of Them as spokespersons with them. This must be the prophetic voice that will come forth in the Church, causing the Word of God from the heavens to be heard in the ears and hearts of earthly men and women. It will come forth as one testimony that will bring honor and glory to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, all joined as one. None of the honor will go to the spokesman any more than honor should go to the faucet from which water shall come to a thirsty soul.
There is an eighth and ninth point to which we should give more room, but there is little remaining space. We can see it, however, and draw our own understanding: …and He will show you things to come. He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you—John 16:14. Eighth, the Holy Spirit will bring prophetic understanding to the Church as He shows things to come. Little more needs to be said of this to make the matter clear.
And ninth, He shall glorify the Lord Jesus. The Holy Spirit brings this ministry into the Church, so that no man or woman is exalted, only the Head of the Body Himself. Here again, there is little more that need be said to make the matter clear. To glorify the Lord Jesus is to give Him the rightful place of Government in the Church. Voting among members, or boards, to reach decisions, as though the Church were a business run by members, fails at glorifying the Lord. While this may leave some with little understanding as to how a congregation of believers might come upon decisions, it does thrust us all upon the Holy Spirit. For Jesus said plainly, He shall glorify me. Remember what we said about the word glory. It is a word used in the original language to speak of a dignitary of government. To glorify Jesus is to exalt Him to the place of highest Government.In doing this, we seek the Lord and lay before Him all matters that require a decision of church government. His Spirit is ready to bring the matters to settlement, and with the utmost harmony that will avert what many know as a “church split.” How does this come about? The most simple step is to come before the Lord empty, in prayer, and with a willingness for His will—and His alone—to rule.
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