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The sending of the Holy Spirit: the Comforter - His role

An exposition

Introduction

1 "These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble.

2 They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.

These verses are a reminder that even as Christ suffered so might we. Indeed, as was pointed out last week, it is not unlikely that before time we will need to suffer for Christ's sake.

The prophecy of (2) was fulfilled, as we well know, in the days of the disciples. All save John were probably murdered because of their faith in Jesus Christ. And the people whose evil deeds fulfilled the prophecy did it in God's name just as verse 2 foretells.

It's a strange prophecy: "Excommunication, suffering and death was to be part-and-parcel of being in league with the Prince of Peace" [2] But just read the Acts of the Apostles or glance at Foxe's book of Martyrs or log onto the Voice of Martyrs web site or read books such as the Heavenly Man to understand the truth of this prophecy.

Paul puts another way:

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12 (NKJV)

There is, however, no need to worry. We in the Western world need to know in practical terms what the meaning of this is:

"My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV)

Part 1

3 And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me.

In essence Jesus states - You will suffer because these people who seek to kill me, and will seek you also, do so because they have not believed that I am the Messiah, even though I have demonstrably shown them that I am.

4 But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them. "And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.

Verse 3 preludes the next 13 verses. Evil reigns in those who do not know the Father. To know the Father, you need to know the Son - see John 14:6,7

6Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 7If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. John 14:6 through John 14:7 (KJV).

How do we see the Father? By knowing the Son. Eternal life is linked in believing the Son. By believing the Son, we know the Father and He knows us.

Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:5 (KJV)

Part 2

5 "But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, "Where are You going?" 6But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.

The thoughts of this discourse move on. Jesus knows their hearts and even though the disciples do not voice their inner anxiety, they are clearly troubled. He perceives the inner affections of their hearts and sees their sorrow.

The Lord sees right into their hearts and sees sorrow - he then takes time to deal with the problem. What a remarkable thing! Not only does Jesus see right to the bottom of our heart, he offers words of practical help to deal with sorrow. He clearly explains the situation. It will not be reversed, but with understanding they will be able to cope.

We are never alone:

Psalm 23:4 (KJV) Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

God will comfort us, even in the most troubling moment.

Psalm 62:7 (KJV) In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.

Troubled by the statement that Jesus make at the beginning of this discourse: troubled by the fact the Jesus discerned that one would betray him (13:21), troubled because Jesus said he would be going away, going to a place where they could not follow (13:36) - Jesus here perceives the trouble and responds.

7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient 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. (KJV)

The Lord now enters a discourse on the reason he had to go, and the action of the Holy Spirit when he comes into the world (not that the Holy Spirit had not dwelt among men before, but in this case, our bodies would be the temple in which the Holy Spirit dwells). Our Lord does not leave us in the dark. Sometimes we feel as if we are in the dark, but I perceive that the darkness is of my own doing. I crawl into darkness and suffer. Only when I move into the light of His Word, into the presence of Jesus Christ, does the day dawn.

He, the Lord, offers the practical truths of His going away.

Jesus the Son of God incarnate. If he remained with his small band of disciples, that is all he could have been with. The Son of Man on this earth was not omnipresent. He could not be in more than one place at once.

Christ returns to the Father and the Holy Spirit is sent. The one that can be in all places at once (I suppose this is not entirely true, because he cannot reside in sin, but the point is, he can dwell with all believers) is sent. Indeed the Holy Spirit is with us today in this room, but also with the small secret house churches, also meeting at this moment in time, in China. What a blessed thing that Christ returned to send the Spirit.

It should also be noted that Christ returned for more than just sending the Holy Spirit. Christ is our great high priest - he sits in heaven mediating for us, so the Father can sees us in Christ, cleansed of every sin. This could not take place from earth, and as John 14:2 says, he has gone to prepare a place for us.

Part 3

7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient 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. 8And when He has come, He will convict (reprove) the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9of sin, because they do not believe in Me;

Now we have the job description of the Holy Spirit when he comes. He was sent for a purpose, just as the Son was sent, and we may rest assured that every aspect of the Holy Spirit's job is being fulfilled.

Note the name of the Holy Spirit here:

  • King James Comforter
  • New KJ Helper
  • NIV Counsellor

You can see from these translations the difficulty in translating the Greek word used by John here. The Holy Spirit is far greater than these word denote. The Greek denotes an intercessor, an advocate, helper or counsellor.

This word is used five times - four times applied to the Holy Spirit and once to Jesus himself, being our advocate along with the role high priest (1 John 2:1). As High Priest Christ maintains his people before God and as advocate, pleads with the Father as an erring child that has turned aside (Wolston [3]).

The Holy Spirit clearly displays all the character the words above express. He is indeed our Comforter, Helper and Advocate, and much more. Jesus is stating that when the Holy Spirit came, he would occupy himself with all aspects of the believer, whether in comfort or happiness, or trials and difficulties, or his or her temptations, all would be at the perusal of the Holy Spirit.

In the preceding verses of this discourse the Holy Spirit is referred to as the Spirit of Truth. This is an important attribute. Jesus in these few versus takes up on what a Spirit of Truth actually does. He defines what "truthing" actually is.

In one sense it is mapping the virtual on real, to determine the discrepancies. It is detailing the figures with facts. In mapping we "ground truth" - that is we actually walk over the ground the map takes in to determine the truthfulness of the map. "Is the bore marked actually a bore, or is it long abandoned?" "Is the road marked capable of taking ordinary cars or only off-road vehicles?" The Holy Spirit does this with our life.

Part 4a (parenthesis)

Now note the work of the Holy Spirit.

Just as an aside here, it is often confusion amongst believers that they should pray to the Holy Spirit (see also Correction Note). This arises, I believe, because they neither clearly understand the role of the Holy Spirit, nor do not have a clear concept of the Trinity in they minds. The latter probably because of shallow teaching, the former, due to a child like understanding of Scripture.

We do not pray, as if we are praying to three individual creatures. Jesus says that he and the Father are one (John 10:30). In essence we pray to Lord God Jehovah. But we are more blessed that David. He could only look forward to this day. We can call God, Father - the Holy Spirit enables us to cry out "Abba Father", but how do we do this? We cannot approach God alone. Just visit the trepidation the high priest past through each Day of Atonement when he prepared for, and entered the Holy of Holies, once a year, to face God. It is indeed a terrible thing to face God. But, we don't need to do it this way and we don't do it alone, as Aaron had to. Christ is our Great High Priest and therefore we approach God through Christ. Read Romans chapter 5:

11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. Romans 5:11 (NKJV).

See, we have been reconciled - reconciled thorough Christ. Hence we can approach the Father, unfettered with fear, on the ground of the blood of Christ, in Christ.

On what ground do we approach God the Father? It is on the ground that Christ has paved. God the Father sees us through Christ - through the blood of Christ we are seen perfect - "whiter than snow" "without spot or wrinkle". Note that God sees us because of Christ's work on the cross. There is nothing we have done - God cannot look upon sin - but Christ does way with our sin and God sees us through Christ. Take Christ away and God must turn away from us.

Where does the Holy Spirit fit in? If Christ reconciles us to the Father, the Holy Spirit points the way to Christ. The Holy Spirit never looks at himself. Indeed Jesus states that the Holy Spirit will not speak of himself (verse 13) and therefore he always points to the Son. Praying to the Holy Spirit therefore is not logical and it is not a reasonable thing for a believer to do.

Our ultimate aim is to glorify God the Father and the Holy Spirit points the way.

Part 4b

8 And when He has come, He will convict (reprove) the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9of sin, because they do not believe in Me;

The Holy Spirit came to convince the world of sin. Your bible may say convict. The truer meaning is convince or reprove (which is hard to understand). One translator struggling over this used these words: "will bring demonstration to the world, of sin" (JND [4]).

The sin here is not your individual sin, not the sin of the broken law, but the sin of not believing the Son. The world killed him. He is no longer here because God raised him from the dead and he is now glory. The Holy Spirit is here because of his rejection, and he demonstrates to the world the sin of rejecting the Son. This he does by convincing the world of sin by his very presence (Wolston [5]).

Furthermore, this was not just the Jewish nation he was talking to. The Holy Spirit would convict all men and women, boys and girls, both Jew and Greek, Roman and Barbarian of their sin - the sin of crucifying Christ. We all had a hand in this.

The Holy Spirit would go out into the world to raise the standard (or flag) for purity, for morality, for knowledge of God (which is wisdom). He would turn the world upside down, which had begun by the end of Acts.

Hence, this passage states that He would come to show people the great sin they committed in taking Jesus and hanging him on the cross. By rejecting Christ, they rejected the one they should have believed: by rejecting Christ, the rejected Truth.

If you reject Christ, you too will be rejected.

10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more;

The world is left in darkness. Christ, the light returns to the Father. The Holy Spirit convinces the world that righteousness can only be found in Christ. "He is our righteousness", and there is only one place it can be found - in the Son of Man.

Man is ignorant of where to find righteousness, as Paul writes to the Romans (10:4) - "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes". Hence the passage states that the Holy Spirit will convince people that Christ was The Righteous, that He was not a deceiver, and the words of the Centurion at the cross were indeed true "Certainly this was a righteous man" (Luke 23:46).

11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

Satan got all men to join together to crucify our Saviour. Men who previously were enemies joined together to shed blood. Pilot who was disliked immensely by Herod became a friend because of a common cause - Jesus. However, the prince of this world has been judged - Satan has been judged [6]. The judgement has yet to be executed, but the fiery pit has been prepared for Satan and his angels ( Rev 12:9).

This truth must have a resounding impact on your life, on all our lives. Once realised that Satan has been judged, and has been defeated, we can go straight to Jesus and He will save you.

The verse states that there will be demonstrable evidence of Satan's overthrow. The Church will be set up, and the Holy Spirit will be in it. The glory of God will shine through the temple of the Holy Spirit, which is every believer.

Part 5

12 "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.

13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

Clearly Christ had many truths to teach the disciples but many had to wait until after his crucifixion. He spent 40 days with them until the Passover and would have taught many to his disciples in that time. Note that "all truth" here is not scientific all truth - only Jesus was all truth "I am.the truth". It clearly denotes spiritual truth. The evidence of enlightenment is clearly seen in Acts 2 where Peter preaches and 2000 believe.

The second part of (13) needs to be read in the context of the Son speaking for the Father - Jesus is saying - the Spirit does not speak independently, but dependently upon what the Father and the Son speaks.

Further, the Spirit was to speak concerning things to come. This surely happened; hence John had revealed to him some 40-60 or so years latter the vision of the Apocalypse. The disciples also had revelations of truth, in particular those concerning the fulfilment of the law - things too hard to understand at this point in time, but understandable a little later on.

Part 6

14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.

The Holy Spirit was to glorify Christ. The Holy Spirit always points to Christ. He neither speaks of himself, nor speaks by himself, but he speaks to glorify Christ - just as the Father has said "I have glorified thee, and will glorify thee again", speaking to the Son (John 17). Therefore, any activity that does not glorify Christ is not of the Spirit - reject it - it is not of God!

The Holy Spirit will reveal the truth of Christ to the disciples "will take of Mine and declare it". The disciples were sorely ignorant at this point, but we see in the Acts to the Apostles that the light drove away the darkness of ignorance.

To see the truth about Christ we need to listen to the Holy Spirit, for he will surely declare it unto us.

15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

The unity of the Godhead is a mystery: the unity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is true and everlasting. This truth is declared to us through the Holy Spirit.

The last two verses are nearly incomprehensible to me. It clearly shows how little one can have of the Scriptures, and how deep its fountains are. These truths are immense and often we only grasp the most basic fundamentals but not the full richness of their depths.

May the Holy Spirit continue to have a place in our life so we can be taught.

Endnotes

[1] These are brief notes used for a short meditation on the given passage. By no means are they an in depth discussion on the fullness of the words of Jesus. The readers attention is drawn to Bishop JC Ryle's excellent exposition on John (see note 2) and WTP Woston's discourse on "Another Comforter" (Woston W.T.P. (1982 reprint) Another Comforter. Bible Truth, Illinois. Available online at http://www.stempublishing.com/authors/wolston/ (Accessed August 2014)). Furthermore, the author expects that the grammar could be somewhat better represented.

[2] Ryle J.C. (1982 reprint) Ryle's Expository Thoughts on the Gospels. John. Volume 4, Baker House, Michigan, pg 129. Available online at http://www.gracegems.org/Ryle/John.htm (Accessed August 2014)

[3] op. cit., pg 99 (see note 1).

[4] John Nelson Darby (c. 1881). New Translation. This version is worth using as a reference, especially if you can find a version with centre column notes. John N Darby highlights the translation problems with the KJV especially when the Greek cannot be simply be translated into English. The Blue Letter Bible on-line as this version (DBY) (http://www.blueletterbible.org/ accessed August 2014 or other public domain versions such as e-Sword offer JND version < http://www.e-sword.net/index.html > Accessed August 2014

[5] op. cit., pg. 114.

[6] Note that this world is not the Kingdom of God - the Kingdom is where the king is, and Satan currently rules the world. The time will come when this will cease - see Revelation, in particular chapters 19 and 20. However, your heart should be ruled by the King which means giving it up to Christ..

David Simon (CCC) 29 May 2004
Edited and posted July 2008, updated August 2014
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