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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Monday, 18 February 2013

The goal of the Spirit (John 16:12-15)

I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you (John 16:12-15).

In verse 14, Jesus states what will be the goal of the Spirit. It is to bring glory to Jesus. He will achieve this by revealing to the disciples things that belong to Jesus Christ. In a sense, this is the range of the ‘all truth’ that the Spirit is to reveal. He is going to inform the disciples concerning the future activities of Jesus Christ. The ‘things that are to come’ refer to what would happen to Jesus – his cross, his resurrection, his exaltation, his return.

Obviously when Jesus spoke these words, all these events were still future. Yet as we think of these events, some have taken place, others are taking place, and some have yet to take place. I want to follow that threefold division as we think of some of these glories that belong to Jesus.

The glories of the past
First, the Spirit gave to the disciples an understanding of what took place on the cross which they did not have when Jesus died on the cross. Through the illumination of the Spirit they realised that the work of Jesus was a redemption in which he purchased them from slavery to sin. They also realised that his death was an atonement when he paid the penalty due by them for their sins. Further they understood that the cross was a battlefield on which Jesus defeated the powers of darkness. As they think about the significance of the cross, they are filled with wonder and joy, and have a desire to serve such a Saviour.

They are also instructed by the Holy Spirit concerning the significance of the exaltation of Jesus. It began with his resurrection and it was followed by his ascension to heaven. Although unseen to human eyes, they realise that the ascended Jesus was welcomed by the Father and invited to sit on the divine throne. This was Christ’s reward and as the disciples think about it, they are filled with wonder and joy and desire to serve such a King.

The glories of the present
There are many features of Christ’s work in the present about which the Spirit will teach disciples. But I will mention two. First, Jesus is the representative of his people in heaven. This representation ensures that they will receive what God has unconditionally promised to them. Linked to his representation is the intercession of Jesus whereby his presence in heaven ensures that they will receive the precise spiritual input that they need at any given moment. Thinking of these aspects of Christ’s representation should fill them with wonder and joy and give them a desire to serve such a Saviour.

Another activity of Christ’s about which the Spirit instructs the church is the Jesus’ ongoing pursuit of converts from all the nations. From every people on earth he is drawing sinners to himself. Because he possesses all power, he is able to use every event to cause people to trust in him for mercy. This divinely-given awareness of what Jesus is doing in order to receive glory should fill his disciples with wonder and joy and give them a desire to serve such a Saviour.

Glories in the future
As with the past and the present, there are many events still to come in which Jesus will be glorified. There is the conversion of the Jews, there is the resurrection from the dead, there is the Day of Judgement, and there is the formation of the new heavens and new earth.

This is one way by which the Spirit functions as a Comforter. Through his truthful word he reveals to our souls the glories that belong to Jesus Christ. Therefore, let us search the scriptures so that we can know as much about them as possible.

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