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The Holy Spirit Chapter
The sixteenth chapter of John contains a part of our Lord's last message before He went out to Gethsemane and on to the Cross. The disciples were deeply concerned because He was going away. They were filled with sorrow. For this cause our Lord spoke tenderly and with deep concern.
In John 14:1-31 the Lord gave expressions of comfort. We have already studied this chapter, calling it the "Comfort Chapter." In chapter 15 Christ's message continues, centering in the call to abide in Him. He is teaching the disciples that even though He is going to the Father, He can still be with them and they can abide in Him. Chapter 15 may be called the Abiding Chapter.
In chapter 16 the Lord is showing the disciples that even with Him in Heaven, they will have the blessed Comforter with them on earth.
As a prelude to chapter 16 we wish to call your attention to what Jesus Christ said concerning the Holy Spirit in chapters 14 and 15.
1. The coming of the Spirit is called Another Comforter (John 14:16-17 ). The Lord says, "I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter." The word "Comforter" is, in the original, " Paracletos ," and literally it means, "one at your side." Jesus Christ for more than three years had been their Comforter. He had walked beside them. Now, however, He was about to go away, and He said, I will "give you another Comforter."
When Rebekah came over the desert sands, Eliezer, the aged servant of Abraham, rode at her side. Thus, he was her " Paracletos ." Today we have One who rides at our side.
(1) The Comforter described. In John 14:17 we read "Even the Spirit of Truth." The One who walks with us is the Spirit of Truth because He is the Giver of Truth. Even in the old days when the Old Testament Scriptures were written, holy men spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. We read how "David in spirit" said this or that.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth because His Words are inerrant. He never speaks other than the truth. In this age of error it is a blessed thing to sit down and read a book which is free from error. Our Lord Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." He was the Truth. So also is the Holy Ghost, who walks with us, the Truth.
(2) The Spirit whom the world cannot receive. This is also in John 14:16 , John 14:17 . The world cannot receive the Spirit, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him. This is the message of the whole of the New Testament. The Holy Spirit does not indwell the unsaved, neither does He become their Teacher and their Guide.
2. The coming of the Spirit is One who will teach us all things (John 14:26 ). Christ said, "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."
In this Scripture we find that the Holy Ghost is not alone the Spirit of Truth. He is also the Revealer of Truth. He is not the truth hidden and stored away, but He is the Truth revealed and displayed. He is the Teacher who teaches all things. Being the teacher of all things, He is the master of all things. He is Omniscient, inherently, that is, within Himself, because He is omniscient in what He reveals.
This verse is the Divine explanation of how the four Gospels were written. For instance, in Matthew, we read this expression, "[Jesus] went up into a mountain: * * and He opened His mouth, and taught them, saying." Then follow three chapters purporting to carry word for word the message of Christ upon the Mount.
Matthew, nor anyone else could possibly have remembered every word which Christ said. Thus we are driven to one of two conclusions. Either the Sermon on the Mount is an unfaithful record, owing to human frailties, or else, it is a word by word record faithfully and accurately given by Divine inspiration. In other words, we know that the Holy Spirit did bring to Matthew's remembrance, all things that Christ had spoken, and just as He had spoken it.
3. The coming of the Spirit as set forth in John 15:26 . Here is the reading: "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me." This verse emphasizes what the other verses proclaimed, that the Spirit is the Comforter, that the Spirit came forth from the Father, that the Spirit is Truth, and then the verse adds, that the ministry of the Spirit would be to testify of Christ.
John 15:27 adds this illuminating word, "Ye also shall bear witness." Thus Christians, whether preachers or laymen who bear witness to Jesus Christ, are working in conjunction with the Spirit, who bears witness. Thank God, our ministry is one. We are assured, therefore, that when we testify from pew or pulpit, the truth concerning Christ we will have the cooperation and enforcement of the Holy Spirit in our testimonies.
I. A PROPHECY OF THE COMING PERSECUTION (John 16:1-3 )
The Lord Jesus did not desire to leave His disciples ignorant of what would befall them after He had gone away, lest they might become offended and discouraged in the hour of their persecution.
1. For this cause Christ said, "They shall put you out of the synagogues." We are not so sure but that this is still true in many places. In the early Church days, the disciples were put out of the synagogues because the synagogues which purported to be God's Temples had ruled out God's Son. He had come to His own and they had received Him not. His Father's House had become a den of thieves.
As the modern church becomes more and more Laodicean, Jesus Christ is found outside the door, knocking. It is no marvel, therefore, that when the Lord, Himself, is denied a place within the synagogue, that His people will also be so denied. When a church and its minister denies the vicarious Atonement, the Virgin Birth, the literal and corporeal Resurrection of Christ, and Christ's personal Return, it is no wonder that they will deny a minister who proclaims such a Christ, the privilege of their fellowship and pulpit. Fundamentalists are accustomed to being put out of the synagogue.
2. For this cause Christ said, "Whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service." We would not for a moment deny that the Pharisees of Christ's day, and the Modernists of our day are not sincere in their religiousness. Christ acknowledged their sincerity when He said, he "will think that he doeth God service."
The persecutors of the saints have throughout the centuries been religious men. That is, they have been men who professed to be godly, and who followed a form of godliness. Therefore, we should not think it strange concerning the fiery trials which will befall us.
The Lord said, "Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake." Again, it is written, "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
II. A PROPHECY OF CHRIST'S GOING BACK TO THE FATHER (John 16:5-6 )
1. Christ lived with the consciousness that He was to return to the Father whom He had left. Down from the glory He had come to do the Father's will. He had been sent on a definite and distinctive mission. That mission was the redemption of the lost. He came to be a Saviour, a Redeemer, a propitiation, or Mercy-Seat. He came to die that others might live. He came to give His life a ransom for many.
As He spoke these words He had already broken the bread and poured forth the cup saying, "This is My Body, which is broken for you." He also said, "This cup is the New Testament in My Blood." He knew that the Cross was before Him. He also knew that beyond the Cross was the empty tomb, that beyond the empty tomb was the ascension from the Mount of Olives, and that beyond the ascension from the Mount of Olives was a seat at the Father's right hand.
Christ was not only going back to God, but He was going back, a Prince and a Saviour. He was going back not only to the glory that He had with the Father before the world was, but He was going back to this added glory, that He should be a Mediator between God and man; an Advocate, and a Great High Priest managing the affairs of those who put their trust in Him.
2. The disciples, seeing Christ about to go, were filled with sorrow. The sorrow that gripped them was a heart sorrow, for they loved Him. They believed in Him.
Perhaps another reason for their sorrow lay in the fact that His departure dispelled, at least for the time, their thought that He was to be crowned a King, and that they would reign with Him in His glory. They verily thought that He would redeem Israel. Thus they were doubly sorrowful sorry in the losing of a Friend, sorry in the blasting of their hope.
Beloved, let us trust and not be afraid. Jesus said to them, "I go away." Jesus afterwards said to them, and He now says to us, "I will come again." He went to be with the Father. He is coming back to be with us. Every promise of His Kingdom and His Reign will be fulfilled before our very eyes.
III. A PROPHECY OF THE SPIRIT'S COMING (John 16:7 )
1. Christ's departure was best for His saints. He said, "I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away."
We cannot always tell the reason for the events as they pass before us. However, one thing we do know, "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose."
The things which we would call our "bad" He calls our "good." The things which we call our "sorrow," He calls our "joy." Would that we might learn to spell our disappointments, His-appointments.
We wonder why it was better for Him to go away. They loved Him. They trusted Him, and yet it was best for Him to leave them.
We wonder also, if it was best for Him to go away, why it is not best for Him to stay away. Yet, He has definitely said that He will come again. Known unto God are His purposes and His plans from before the foundations of the world. During this age, according to the Scripture, it is expedient for Him to be away. During the next or Millennial Age, it is expedient for Him to be here.
2. Why it is expedient that Christ should have gone away. Christ answered the question they asked, and which our hearts naturally ask. His reply is, "If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you." The coming of the Comforter, therefore, meant more to the Church than the retaining of Christ could have meant. It is better for us to have the Holy Ghost: with us during this age of grace, than it would have been to have had Christ with us.
We need to remember that Christ in the body was a ship tied to its wharf; Christ in the body was Christ circumscribed, Christ limited, held back.
The Spirit coming was Christ revealed, Christ made known, Christ glorified in us. Concerning the Spirit's coming, Christ said, "The works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father."
We would not in the least belittle the great loss of the presence of the personal Christ, the Christ of flesh and bones and blood, but we would magnify the greater glory of the coming of the Spirit, of His presence with us, and of His ministry among us.
The reason that Christ is coming again is set forth in the conditions of the new era. with its new environments, such as will exist in His Second Advent and reign.
When He came the first time He came to be despised and rejected of men. When He comes again He comes to be admired in all that believe. During this age Satan is its Prince, unrighteousness predominates. When He comes again, the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. Christ in His Second Advent will be Christ, not circumscribed, but glorified. Christ with the resurrection body, Christ radiating His glory, His might, and His power over the whole world; Christ shepherding His flock, and leading them by the waters of gladness.
IV. A PROPHECY OF THE SPIRIT'S WORK IN THE WORLD (John 16:8-10 )
"And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment."
1. Here is the distinctive mission of the Spirit world-ward. Mark, however, that it is when He is come unto you that He will reprove the world. The Spirit did not come unto the world; He came unto the saints; He does not reprove the unregenerated sinner apart from us, but through us, through our lives, our lips. It is by preaching that God hath chosen to carry the conviction of the Holy Ghost. It is also through holy living that the wicked will be aroused to a sense of their own ungodliness.
2. Here is the threefold method of reproof.
(1) He will reprove the world of sin, "because they believe not on Me." Many of our evangelists and the majority of our church people, we fear, are seeking to reprove the world of sin because of the immoralities of men. Some think that the Spirit will reprove men of the sin of gambling, of drinking, of impurity, of evil temper, of idolatry, of dancing, card playing, theater going, etc. This is far from correct. All men know they are sinners along these lines. The Spirit of God touches in His reproving and convincing-power the root of sin, and not the fruit of sinning. Back of all evil deeds is a heart of unbelief. Back of iniquity is a life that rejects the Son of God.
The Spirit is reproving men of the greatest of all sin unbelief. He convinces the world that their only hope is in Jesus Christ, the Sin-bearer, and the Saviour; other sins find men lost, but the sin of Christ's rejection finds men irreparably, hopelessly lost. No matter how great a man's sins may be Christ's Blood will wash them away. There is no power, however, to cleanse a heart that does not believe in Christ.
(2) He will reprove the world of righteousness. "Because I go to My Father."
Unrighteousness is upon all men, in that all have sinned. Jesus Christ, at the presence of the Father, is God's accepted Sin-bearer. The Holy Spirit acclaims Christ as Saviour, because He is the Christ, seated at the right hand of God. In other words, if Christ's body had remained in the tomb, and His Spirit had remained in Hades, the Spirit could never reprove the world relative to the possibility of righteousness. The Spirit says that Christ crucified is a possible Saviour, but that the crucified and exalted Saviour, is the power of God unto righteousness to all who believe.
The Cross satisfied the offended Law, sustained God's righteous judgment against sin, and fulfilled every basic need of a lost soul seeking redemption.
The resurrection of Christ and His being seated at the Father's right hand is the declaration of the Father's satisfaction with the Son's atoning work upon the Cross. Christ exalted, is a Saviour Divinely accepted and proclaimed, Christ exalted, is righteousness made practical and possible upon all who believe. There is another message, however, in this statement, "of righteousness, because I go to My Father." Redemption is accomplished on the Cross, but the power of righteous living is made possible through a risen and seated Lord.
(3) He will reprove the world of judgment, "because the Prince of this world is judged."
When Christ died on the Cross He met principalities and powers and triumphed over them. The Lord Himself spoke of the Prince of the world being judged. To the sinner in view of this fact, the Spirit is saying: judgment will fall upon all unbelievers, but judgment will never fall on those who know the Christ.
V. A PROPHECY OF THE SPIRIT'S GUIDANCE (John 16:13 )
"Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come."
1. The Spirit will guide into all truth. People today are carried about by every wind of doctrine because they listen to the cunning craftiness of men. When the church opens their ears to the Spirit of Truth they will be yet led to a unity of doctrine, the Bible says until we all come into the unity of the faith; this unity of the faith is dependent upon our being led by the Spirit of Truth.
2. The Spirit will not speak of Himself. It is for this cause that the Holy Spirit guides into all truth, even because He does not speak of Himself. He speaks whatsoever He shall hear. We may be startled for a moment at this expression, knowing as we do that the Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity, and is God.
However, we need to remember that the Lord Jesus was also God, and He spoke the truth. Yet, it is written of Him, and claimed by Him, that He never spoke of Himself. He said that He spoke the words of the Father. The words which He spoke were spirit and they were life, and yet we read, "I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father hath taught Me, I speak those things." Thus it was that Christ did the work of the Father, spoke the words of the Father, and wrought the will of the Father. The Holy Spirit does the same. He speaks what He hears. In other words, the Bible, which He wrote through holy men, is the Word of God.
3. The Spirit will show things to come. Here is a blessed statement. The Spirit of the Lord is the Spirit of Prophecy. The Spirit can tell the things which lie in the far distance with the same authority that He can tell the events of yesterday. The prophetic Scriptures are just as true as the historical Scriptures. Prophecy is as dependable and inerrant as is history.
VI. A PROPHECY OF THE SPIRIT'S GLORIFICATION OF CHRIST (John 16:14 )
Our verse runs this way: "He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shew it unto you." The Holy Spirit speaks of Christ, glorifies Christ, tells of the things of Christ.
When Eliezer conducted Rebekah over the desert sands, he must have talked of Isaac. The Sphinx, the catacombs, the pyramids, perhaps came to view, but they were not the basis of conversation. Everything centered in Isaac.
The Holy Spirit is not here to teach geography, to guide in science, to proclaim literature. The Holy Spirit was not sent from Heaven to preach quality and the latest novels, and to acclaim the glories of the boys in blue or in gray. The Holy Spirit came to preach Christ, to glorify Him, to take of the things of Christ, and to reveal them unto us.
Let us who are ministers of the Word, be ministers of Christ. Let us separate ourselves unto the Gospel of God, concerning His Son, Jesus Christ, who was raised from the dead and seated at the Father's right hand. Let us preach Christ Crucified, Risen, and Coming Again.
VII. A PROPHECY OF FUTURE JOY (John 16:16-22 )
The present little while. Christ said, "A little while, and ye shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me, because I go to the Father."
This expression "a little while" grips us with tremendous power.
" 'Tis not for long I'll be away,"
'Twas this I heard the Master say;
'Tis but a little while, and then
I will be coming back again.
His "little while" is almost past,
His absence can't much longer last;
His shout, e'en now, I almost hear,
His coming back is drawing near.
When strikes the hour, He will not stay.
He'll come to take us up, away;
The day and hour we "dinna ken,"
But this we know, He'll come again.
The fact of Christ's Return for His saints, and, afterward, with His saints, is plainly established by the "more sure Word of Prophecy."
The day and the hour of His Coming God has not seen fit to reveal. However, of the "times and seasons" we may know perfectly.
For half a century the Spirit has been placing emphasis upon the study of the prophetic Scriptures, and for the past decade that emphasis has been greatly intensified.
At this very moment the whole Christian populace is tremendously stirred by world events in the light of the Lord's imminent Return.
How soon we do not know;
It is far better so;
And yet, the hour is late
Expectantly we wait.
Be it at morn or noon,
His Coming must be soon;
In gloom the world doth grope,
While ardently we hope.
He told us He would come,
And upward take us Home;
We sing an even song.
As yearningly we long.
I went into a granite quarry in North Carolina. The manager of the quarry said to me, "We supplied the granite for the Municipal Building in New York City. We can lift an acre of solid granite, ten feet thick, to almost any height we may desire for the purpose of moving it. We do it by compressed air. It can be done as easily as I can lift that piece of paper and move it through the air." Air this thing that I can move my hand through, and which does not seem to have any power at all, and yet under compression can lift an acre of granite. O Thou Holy Spirit invisible, of whose presence we are sometimes not conscious, still Thou hast the power to lift a heart toward God, though it is hard and heavy as granite!
I went into the great building where artists from Italy were chiseling this granite into shape. Their instruments cut it round and round, carving that flower and that great pillar as easily as if it were cheese. I said, "How do you do it?" Again the answer was, "By compressed air." It is the compressed air that moves the instrument and, guided by the intelligence of the artist, can chisel this hard granite into any desired shape. Oh, that God, in the quiet power of His Holy Spirit, would not only lift us up, but chisel us into shape, into the very form and image of Jesus Christ our Lord, after we have been born from above!
A. C. Dixon, D. D.
The Ministry of the Spirit
John 14:26-30 ; John 16:7-13
Christ came to His own, and His own received Him not. The Holy Spirit came to His own, seeking to bring every possible spiritual gift and blessing, but His own have received Him not. Many believers are seeking to paddle their own canoe, and to work out their own will, wholly forgetting the Spirit and His ministry.
There is nothing that comes in the life of the believer, whether in the way of victory in his walk, power in his work, or guidance in his way, apart from the Spirit of God.
We made our beginning in the Spirit, for we were begotten of the Holy Ghost. We must continue to walk in the Spirit, if we would know spiritual success in our life. It is not in a man to order his own steps. The natural man cannot understand the things of the Spirit. A Christian, apart from the Holy Spirit, is just as helpless as is a branch apart from the vine.
When we consider the life of Christ, we observe that He was born of the Spirit; He was anointed of the Spirit; He was filled with the Spirit; He was led of the Spirit; He went about doing good in the Spirit; He was raised from the dead by the Spirit; and He gave His final command for the evangelization of the world in the Spirit.
When we consider how Christ commanded the disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high, we begin to realize our utter dependency upon the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit came to meet the need of the believer. God sent Him because He knew that we could not walk without Him. It is for this cause that we believe that, ever and anon, we should stop to ponder the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit.
We recognize that the Spirit of God came to take of the things of Christ, and show them unto us; however, unless we recognize the Spirit, and give ear to His voice, He can show us nothing by way of revelation.
We are sure that the Holy Spirit came to give us the enduement of power in service; and therefore, unless we have the anointing of the Spirit we cannot have the power which we so much need in order to serve.
We know that the Spirit of God came to renew our mind, and to teach us spiritual things, therefore, if we fail to listen to His voice we cannot understand the mystery of God.
The Holy Spirit is just as necessary to our spiritual life as the air which we breathe is to our physical life.
I. IT IS THE MINISTRY OF THE SPIRIT TO CONVICT (John 16:7-10 )
1. The Holy Spirit came to convict the sinner of his sin. The minister of the Gospel is absolutely shut up to God the Spirit, when he desires to see the old time conviction of sin falling upon his audience. Every human argument, every tear-producing story, and every human manipulation must utterly fail to bring men to a sense of their sin, unless the Holy Ghost is present to empower our word and work with convincing, reproving, and convicting power.
(1) The Holy Ghost convicts men of sin, because they believe not in Christ. Conviction of sin is not merely a sinner's sense of self-corruption. It is, pre-eminently, his sense of separation from God by his rejection of Christ.
All mankind knows that, morally, they are corrupt. The Spirit comes to show a sinner, lost in iniquity, that his chief need is a Saviour; while his chief sin is his unbelief in the Lord Jesus Christ.
(2) The Holy Ghost will convict men of righteousness, because Christ has gone to the Father. The Spirit shows the guilty and sin-pressed soul that the way to righteousness is now open through the Lord Jesus: God's sinless sacrifice for sin has ascended, and has been proclaimed a Saviour.
The unsaved may know himself a sinner and feel his sin, without realizing that righteousness is possible in the ascended Lord. The Holy Spirit came to convince him that a new walk, and a new righteousness is possible in Christ Jesus.
(3) The Holy Ghost will convict men of judgment because the prince of this world is judged. The Spirit will convince the heart of the wicked, that he will see his own undoing and judgment, because Satan has been judged.
It was at the Cross that Christ met principalities and powers and triumphed over them openly. It was in the ascension that Christ Jesus passed up through these powers of darkness and sat down with them beneath His feet.
When the sinner sees that the good of this world has met his defeat, and awaits his casting down into the abyss, and his final casting down into the lake of fire; the Spirit will convince him that he needs to sever himself from obeisance and obedience to a defeated devil.
2. The sinner should not resist the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit convicts the sinner of his sin, until he sees the villainy of his heart; and, when his sin in the rejection of Christ lies heavily upon him; he must not resist the Spirit's call, lest he find himself cast off from God without hope in this age, or in the age to come.
II. IT IS THE MINISTRY OF THE SPIRIT TO WALK ALONG WITH THE CHILD OF GOD (John 14:26 , f.c)
1. Christ said that the Comforter would come. The word "Comforter" comes from a Greek word " Paracletos ," which anglocized, is "Paraclete." The word "Paraclete" means, "at your side."
It was the purpose of the Father, then, to send us One to walk with us in our journey through life. He was to walk at our side in order to be our Guide, our Comforter, our Teacher.
You remember as Rebecca journeyed across the desert sands, Eliezer of Damascus, Abraham's faithful servant, rode by her side. Rebecca would have been very loathe to take the journey through the desert alone. She was comforted, encouraged, and aided, however, in every possible way by the man who journeyed with her.
It is thus, also, that God has given us a Companion to journey with us through the wilderness of this world. He is with us as Heaven's official Guide in our Heavenly pilgrimage.
Can you imagine the message which Eliezer bore home to the heart of Rebecca as they journeyed along? He spoke of Isaac. He elaborated on the greatness of Abraham; and showed that Isaac was Abraham's son and heir. So, also, does the Holy Spirit elaborate on the glories of Christ. He tells us of the Father and of the Son.
2. What should be the believer's attitude to the Comforter? The believer should give ear to the Spirit. He should listen with all intentness, that he may catch every word which is freely given him from God.
The believer should do more than that. He should give audience to the Spirit, but he should also obey the voice of the Spirit.
You remember the Scripture which reads, "As the heart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God." The word "panteth" carries the thought of "following hard after." That is just what we should do we should follow hard after the Holy Ghost.
III. IT IS THE MINISTRY OF THE SPIRIT TO TEACH THE CHILD OF GOD (1 John 2:27 )
1. It is impossible for the mind of man to comprehend the things of God. The Word of God is plain in this matter. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
We who are sent forth to preach Christ are to preach Him, not in the wisdom of words, lest the Cross of Christ should be made of none effect. We have received not "the Spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God."
The Apostle Paul said that he spoke " wisdom among them that [were] perfect"; however, he quickly added, "Yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world." Paul spoke the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world unto our glory.
2. It is possible for the Spirit of God to teach us the deep things of God. It is true that the natural ear hath not heard, nor the eye seen, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him; "But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God."
The words of our text do not mean that the one who is taught of the Spirit may not himself teach others. They do mean that man, in his own wisdom, cannot teach the child of God. They also mean that the child of God is not dependent upon men to teach him, but the anointing which he received of God will teach him.
We have known some dear old saints who were very ignorant in worldly lore, and yet, they knew more in the realm of spirituals than the wisest of men not taught of God.
IV. IT IS THE MINISTRY OF THE SPIRIT TO TRANSFORM THE BELIEVER (2 Corinthians 3:18 )
1. The Holy Spirit came to fashion us into the glory of the Lord; He wants to make us like Christ. This is not the work of a moment. Paul spoke of dying daily. Our text says, "We * * are [transformed] * * from glory to glory."
The chief desire of every believer's heart should be to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our ambition should be to go on to perfection. We should never be satisfied until we have reached the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. This is a particular ministry of the Holy Ghost.
Jesus Christ was transfigured, until the fashion of His countenance was altered, and His raiment was white and glistening. This is exactly in line with what the Holy Spirit wants to do in us.
We are all familiar with Romans 12:1-2 , where we are taught to present our bodies a living sacrifice unto God. It is there that we are admonished by the Spirit: "Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." The word transformed is the same as the word transfigured.
God wants us to walk as children of the light. He wants us to put off the flesh, and to walk in the Spirit. He wants us, as a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a peculiar people, to show forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
2. Since the Holy Ghost seeks to fashion us into the glory of the Lord, we must not grieve Him. What is it that grieves the Spirit? He came to form Christ in us, and when we permit anything to dominate our lives which is contrary to the life of Christ in the believer, we grieve the Spirit. It is for this cause that we read, "Wherefore putting away lying."
"Let not the sun go down upon your wrath."
"Let him that stole steal no more."
"Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth."
"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice."
V. IT IS THE MINISTRY OF THE SPIRIT TO EMPOWER THE BELIEVER FOR SERVICE (Acts 1:8 )
1. A great task is committed to saints. We are the salt of the earth. We are the witnesses of God. We are commissioned to go unto the ends of the earth making disciples. We are told to preach the Gospel to every creature.
This commanded service is a great undertaking, and there are many obstacles. The heart of man is set in him to do evil. Satan is seeking to catch away every seed of Gospel Truth which we attempt to sow.
As we face the command of God, we realize our utter inability. Of ourselves we can do nothing. We are dependent wholly upon God.
2. A great promise is given to saints. The Lord Jesus said, "All power is given unto Me in Heaven and in earth." He also said, "Go," and, "Lo, I am with you."
Not only this, but the Lord Jesus commanded His disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high. He taught, "Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you."
God has not sent us forth on a mission for Him, and left us weaklings unable to accomplish His commanded work. He will back up, with all of the authority of Heaven, those who go forth obedient to His voice.
3. A great warning is given to saints. In Thessalonians we read, "Quench not the Spirit." The thought is of the Spirit as a great fire; and the warning is, do not quench the fire. In other words when the Holy Spirit calls us into fellowship with Him, in any ministry, we must stand ready to undertake for God. Even though we have but five loaves and a few fishes, we must bring them to the Lord, trusting in Him to multiply them.
If we are ignorant, we must look to His wisdom; if we are weak, we must trust His power; if the way seems dark, we must wait on Him for light.
The sad results of resisting the Spirit is set forth in the following story.
One day my telephone rang and a lady said, "Can you come down and visit my husband? He is very, very sick. The doctors say he will die, and he is not a Christian." I said, "All right, I will come down," I went and stood by the bed the man had double pneumonia and I said, "Old boy, I am sorry you are so sick." After a while, as the Lord helped me, I talked of the Lord Jesus, and he said, "Here and now I receive Him, and I will tell you what I will do, If the Lord will restore me, I will forsake my sin, and I will come down and join your church, and be baptized." Moreover he said, "I do receive Christ right now."
I went on to my prayer-meeting that night, and said, "Brethren, I had a wonderful revival in a sick-room today. Mr. B-------- told me he was saved, and he promised me that if the Lord would make him well, he would come down and join our church. Let us pray for him." In a few days I went again to see Mr. B . He was out of danger. On my third visit, I found him sitting out on the wood-pile, in the back yard. He loved good horses, and loved fine chickens, and he was out on the wood-pile, watching his chickens. I sat down beside him, and said, "Old boy, I am glad you are getting well. You will soon be ready to come to church." He said, "Brother Neighbour, I am going to keep my promise, and unite with your church, and be baptized, a week from this next Sunday." A couple of weeks went by, he did not come. One day I saw him on the street riding a beautiful, black steed. I hailed him and said to him, "Wait a minute, old boy." Then I said, "I thought you were coming on and live for Christ." He said, "Oh, Brother Neighbour, I will come." But he didn't come.
Week after week passed. Then, one day, as I was walking down the street, a groceryman, a member of our church, said to me, "We are going to have a sudden death in this city." I said, "Who do you think is going to die?" He said, "The man that promised you all sorts of things, when he thought he was dying. As sure as you live, he will die shortly. The Word of God says: 'He that being often reproved, and hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed and that without remedy.'" I do not believe a week had passed until I heard that man's wife, over the telephone. She said, "Oh, Brother Neighbour, come, come, B-------- is dead. He was at a banquet in the hotel and he fell over dead. Oh, Brother Neighbour, he is lost, he is lost, he is lost." I went up and tried to comfort her. I think that was the saddest funeral I ever attended. They had to take the body to another town for interment, and on the train his wife collapsed a number of times. At the grave she said, "Oh, I could stand it, but he is not saved; I know he is lost. Oh, Brother Neighbour, he is lost."
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Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on John 16". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28