Holy Spirit. Him, Not It.
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Verse 26, maybe containing more information about the Holy Spirit than any other Bible verse, teaches us facts about the Holy Spirit. Verse 27 teaches us how we should respond to these facts about the Holy Spirit.
John 15:26a (Holman) “When the Counselor comes, . . .”
Having talked of the inevitable hostility believers will face, Jesus spoke of the Ally who will come support us in the conflict. The Spirit comes to us from God as a mighty Champion in radiant celestial armor. This Heavenly messenger of light shines in our inner darkness, convincing us we are not left alone.
While confronting the world for us, the Holy Spirit takes time to console us. His comfort alone can reach the deepest depths of a burdened heart. He knows the password of our heart. His consolation is the only handkerchief which can wipe away a mourner’s saddest tears. He comes. Thank You, Holy Spirit.
John 15:26b “ . . .the One I will send to you from the Father. . .”
In John 14:26 Jesus said the Father sends the Holy Spirit. Here in 15:26 Jesus said He Himself sends the Holy Spirit. The Spirit, intimately connected with the Father and the Son, is commissioned by both, but subordinate to neither.
The Holy Spirit is not a secondary God, but true God of true God, as much God as the Father and Son are. Father, Son, and Spirit are majestic and plural in their operational relationships, yet one in intimacy. Three in One, One in Three.
(TRINITY WHEEL SLIDE)
The Spirit, as the Father and Son’s representative, continues the personal Presence of both with us. The world was created in such a way that we could appreciate the tri-fold manifestation of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
People want to know someone is in control. Father, as Lord of Heaven and Earth, is Sovereign. People need to know God wants to save them from death and Hell. Jesus is Savior. His incarnation remedied our illness. People want to know God is moving among them. The Holy Spirit fills the role.
The Spirit is God active in our lives today. The Baptist Faith and Message uses 13 verbs to describe Him. Inspired holy men; enables, convicts, and calls men; effects regeneration; exalts Christ; baptizes, cultivates, comforts; bestows spiritual gifts; seals, enlightens, and empowers believers. If anything is going to be accomplished in this world for God, it will be the doing of the Holy Spirit.
John 15:26c “. . .The Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father . . .”
“From” means from beside, not out of. It expresses position, not source. The Spirit is a Person unto Himself, not a slice of the Father.
To make sure we don’t think the Holy Spirit has to be coerced to come, we are told He “proceeds.” The word gives the idea of voluntary, personal action by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit was so pleased and excited about the cross and resurrection that He gladly moved to advance the cause of Jesus and our salvation. The Holy Spirit wants to bless us. We are not a drudgery to Him.
“Truth” is the chief working instrument the Holy Spirit uses on people. He humbles us by searing the touch of truth into our conscience. One day a man randomly opened a Bible due to curiosity, and read, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God?” (1 Corinthians 6:9a). The man said he suddenly felt like he had been shot. He tossed back and forth on his bed that night, finding no sleep till he had made peace with God.
When people commit sin, the Holy Spirit does not sugar-coat their problem. He shoots a straight shot, piercing guilty hearts with truth. The world recommends a different way of dealing with guilt. “Divert attention from it; take a vacation; rest; go to a ball game; don’t think about it.” These efforts can help temporarily, but fail in the end. Before we can find Christ’s forgiveness, we must feel the guilt of our sins. Consolation must be preceded by conviction and conversion.
Manmade solutions are a drug lulling people into disaster. Many are ruined by the cry “Peace, Peace” when there is no peace. Only the Holy Spirit cures permanently. For our benefit, the Holy Spirit never uses soft words when a surgical knife is required.
John 15:26d “. . . He will testify about Me.”
The Holy Spirit is “He,” not “it,” a divine Person, not a quality, impersonal influence, property, or effluence. Holy Spirit is His name, as are Yahweh for the Father, and Jesus for the Son. We can speak to the Spirit as readily as to the Father and the Son. If Spirit is merely a figure of speech, so are Father and Son.
The Holy Spirit’s main role is to “testify” of Jesus. The Bible often closely associates Son and Spirit. The Word was made flesh by means of the Holy Spirit.
Before Jesus’ conception, the angel told Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you” (Luke 1:35). After Jesus’ conception, the angel told Joseph, “What has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20).
At Jesus’ baptism the Spirit came on Christ as a dove. How did Jesus live a perfect life? “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 10:38). Jesus, “full of the Holy Spirit” (LK 4:1), lived “in the power of the Spirit” (LK 4:14). His life demonstrated what can be accomplished by a human life totally yielded to and filled by the Holy Spirit. After Jesus’ resurrection, He breathed on the disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22).
Spirit and Son are still intimately connected. The Holy Spirit continues to testify about Jesus. Verse 27 tells us a primary way He does this.
John 15:27a “You also will testify, . .”
The Holy Spirit testifies to unbelievers about the Son through the testimony of believers. Christ-followers cannot leave God’s work to the Spirit. The Spirit’s task is not to eliminate us as workers. He instead seeks to engage us in the cause, to encourage us to testify for Jesus, and to sanctify our efforts.
The Holy Spirit works through human agents. For instance, He does not teach unbelievers the facts of salvation history. People must tell of the cross and resurrection. After believers tell the history, the Holy Spirit must reveal their meaning. We can speak to the ear. Only the Holy Spirit can speak to the heart.
We provide the legs and voice for evangelism. Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit provide the power. We are not strong. God is a Trinity, not a quartet. Believers are but vessels through which Heavenly power flows.
John 15:27b “. . .because you have been with Me from the beginning.”
“Beginning” refers to the start of Christ’s public ministry. The ones best able to bear witness for Jesus were people who had been with Him the longest. Three elements remain crucial to bearing an effective Christian witness.
One, relationship. We must know Jesus personally before we can testify for Him. His resurrection is the most important event we are to bear witness to. A person we know we have a personal relationship with cannot be dead.
Two, conviction. We must see our message as true, important, valuable, and needed. The Gospel must be beloved as well as believed. We need fresh insight into how lost people are, and how effective the Gospel is in reclaiming them.
Three, words. We must tell others how they can know Jesus. Living a moral life is not enough. Holiness gives credibility to our testimony. Our life confirms our words, but cannot testify by itself. It can bear witness only to the fact the witness we bear is true.
Our witness needs no eloquence, no genius, no anything except relationship, conviction, and words. We are not required to win arguments. We simply have to tell others where to find the satisfying bread we found.
Our calling is to know, value, and discuss Jesus. We must not be like the disciples who forsook Jesus when he was on trial. Courageously vindicate our Master, who is still on trial, by speaking boldly about His infinite worth.
Our mouths are the only weapons we are allowed to wield in our calling to conquer the world. Let’s use them. Engage unbelievers by our testimony. When we do this, the Spirit rests His truth on our words, making them powerful.
The Holy Spirit continues to do what He has always done. He is first mentioned in Scripture as hovering over chaos, turning it into order. He still moves over the chaos of wrecked humanity, and brings order into our lives.
1 Corinthians 6:9b-10 teaches that sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, revilers, or swindlers cannot inherit God’s kingdom. This chaos can be re-ordered. This whole catalogue of evils can be overruled by the Holy Spirit. “Some of you were like this; but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (I Cor. 6:11).