JOHN 16:12-15
Learning Slowly
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

John 16:12 (Holman) “I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t bear them now.”

Jesus taught His disciples slowly. He loved His followers too much to blind them with a sudden, overwhelming blaze of truth. He gradually increased their knowledge according to their ability to absorb it.

Many barriers block learning by inhibiting a mind’s receptive powers: apathy, preconceived notions, prejudices, beloved traditions, lack of concentration, etc.

To be solid, teaching must be gradual and oft repeated. Rote, not speed, is the mother of all learning.

People’s minds absorb spiritual truth, at best, slowly. By trying to teach everything at once, we teach nothing at all.

A philosopher wisely said, “If I had all the truth in my hand, I would let forth only a ray at a time, lest I should blind the world.” Not only would he blind the world, but only very little of it would be absorbed. Most would be wasted.

Repetition is especially essential in religious pursuits. Since people are rarely able to learn “first time around,” parents and teachers must constantly rehearse the basics of our faith. Present them in a variety of ways, but keep teaching the fundamentals over and over again. Don’t assume a child or student has assimilated a truth because they heard it once.

The basics are the Bible; rote is the unending teaching of it. We need to feed people the whole Bible, one spoonful at a time. Week after week, month after month, year after year, our duty is to keep on teaching the Book.

Don’t get discouraged. Jesus was patient with the disciples. He’s been patient with us. May God help us as parents and teachers to be patient with others.

John 16:13 “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come.”

We rightly view the incarnation of Jesus as a staggering act of condescension, but often do an injustice in our thinking about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within us. Christ indwelt a body that was pure and untainted.

The Holy Spirit indwells our body, marred by a sinful human nature. When Jesus ascended, the Holy Spirit went forth rejoicing to have contact not with angels or the departed dead in Heaven, but with sinful humanity.

We desperately need the Holy Spirit to come guide us. We are very prone to go astray. “I have gone astray like a lost sheep,” the Psalmist said (119:176). In other words, very often. If a sheep were put in a field twenty times and not watched, it would wander away twenty times. It needs a guide. We do too. Like Lot, we need someone to take us by the hand and lead us aright.

The Holy Spirit helps us receive the most benefit from our relationship with Christ. He alone can guide us into truth. We can point each other toward the truth, but only the Holy Spirit can take us into truth.

Truth refers to reality, to understanding God as He actually is, and entails having a proper relation with Jesus, who is the Truth (John 14:6).

Anyone can be acquainted with God’s blessed promises in Scripture. It’s easy to read and know them, but few learn to find steadfastness in them. People rarely delve deep into truth.

We must, as Roland Hill said, not only hold the truth, but have the truth hold us. Don’t only handle truth casually. Live in it, absorb it, bask in it, trust it, and enjoy it.

We don’t require originality of thought, or need more truth. Our duty is to dwell richly in the truth we already have. Beware believers boasting about their own originality. Their discoveries may turn out to be shallow and worthless.

We cannot originate truth. Truth comes to, not from, us. We can only see it. We cannot make truth. We can only discover it.

John 16:14-15 “He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you. Everything the Father has is Mine. This is why I told you that He takes from what is Mine and will declare it to you.”

The Holy Spirit will glorify Jesus. Christ desires His own glory not for selfish reasons, but to uplift the Father. Jesus knew all He possessed had come from the Father. He had no life separate from the Father. Hence, to glorify the Son was tantamount to magnifying the Father.

The Holy Spirit brings to us the satisfying presence of the Father and the Son. Ralph Erskine draws a beautiful picture from this verse. He speaks of grace as honey given to cheer the saints and sweeten their lives. In the Father the honey is in the flower, so far from us that we could never extract it. In the Son the honey is in the comb, prepared for us through Jesus’ death. The Holy Spirit brings the honey to our mouths. “Taste and see that the LORD is good” (Psalm 34:8).

The Spirit reminds us Jesus is a Savior, lifting people from bondage, pardoning guilt, forgiving sin. The Holy Spirit debates with troubled sinners who say, “I doubt grace.” The Spirit responds, “Doubt it or not, it is true.”

“I’m the worst sinner on earth.” “Jesus is the best Savior on earth.” “My sins are many.” “He bore them all on the cross.” “He cannot save a wretch like me.” “The resurrection proves He can.” “Who cares about me, anyway?” “He does. If you perish, He will weep over you as He did over Jerusalem.”

Physicians do not expect us to apologize when we call on them due to illness. They care. They want us to come that they may use their skill to help us.

The same is true of Jesus our Savior. He is the Divine Physician. And the point of contact between our sick soul and Him is the disease called sin. Jesus cannot help us until we let Him handle our disease first. He wants to do this. He died to have a chance to. Let Him.

Do I hear sarcasm? “Preacher, you don’t know the kind of person I am.” No, I don’t, but Jesus does. The Spirit is seeking you out now to convince you of good things about Jesus. He wants to put honey in your mouth.

Once we taste Jesus as Savior, we can then taste Him as Intercessor. Once we see Gethsemane and Calvary, we can look to Heaven. Do cares and anxiety have us oppressed? Jesus is pleading for us.

The Holy Spirit reminds us Jesus is Lord. If we will let the Holy Spirit show us the majesty of Christ, if we were convinced of His Kingship in our behalf, we would rest assured all will be well.

On a hunting trip, Dr. George W. Truett, Pastor at First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas, shifted his gun from one arm to the other. He bumped the trigger on the hammerless gun, firing a load of bird shot into the calf of his hunting companion’s leg. The wound did not appear to be serious, but the man, Dallas Chief of Police J.C. Arnold, died a few days later of coronary thrombosis.

Truett withdrew into seclusion, eating nothing and seeing no one. He agonized over the guilt of his carelessness. He had decided to leave the ministry, but the Master appeared to Him in three different dreams and said, “Be not afraid. You are my man from now on.” From this vision of Jesus’ majesty, Truett drew strength the rest of his ministry.

When Spurgeon was 22 years old, his church in London was forced to rent Surrey Music Hall for services. At the first service, 12,000 were inside; 10,000 outside could not get in. Some of Spurgeon’s enemies began yelling, “Fire!” Seven were killed in the stampede. Spurgeon fainted and was carried out. He went to a country retreat to seek his Lord.

“The very sight of the Bible made me cry. I was half-dead. I was standing under a tree and remembered these words, ‘Him (Jesus) hath God exalted . . .’”

Spurgeon said he then saw himself as only a common soldier. It didn’t matter what people thought of him. He simply had to tell of Jesus. Once Spurgeon saw Jesus lifted up, nothing else mattered; all was well.

Oh taste and see that the Lord is good. What delights our life’s taste-buds? People are so depraved that they usually prefer the taste of bitter poison to honey. But the Holy Spirit can transform our taste-buds. He can make sin no longer pleasing. When nothing else seems to satisfy, and we long for honey in the mouth, the Holy Spirit can provide Jesus.