“When the Spirit comes” – John 16:5-15
It’s a horrible thought to try to imagine life without someone you dearly love.
The disciples were having to get used to the prospect of life without Jesus.
They are sharing one last meal with him. He must leave them, they can expect to be treated with terrible hostility after his departure; but they’ve got to carry on without him and witness on his behalf before a hostile world. Mission Impossible?
v6 – “Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief.”
But, v7, “It is for your good that I am going away.” How can that be so? “Unless I go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”
1. “He will convict the world of guilt,” v8
‘Counsellor’ = Holy Spirit (14:26). ‘Paracletos’: Comforter, Advocate, Helper, Companion, Friend, Strengthener, Counsellor.
The Holy Spirit as paraclete acts as ‘counsel for the prosecution’.
V8 – “He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment”.
He will convict the world of sin, “because men do not believe in me” v9. We are a Visited Planet: and to reject this greatest of all realities is to commit the greatest of all wrongs.
He will convict the world of righteousness, “because I go to the Father,” v10. After men have killed him, God will raise him to life and receive him up into heaven. He will be utterly vindicated.
He will convict the world of judgment, “because the prince of this world now stands condemned,” v11. When the spotless Son of God died the Evil One seemed to have won the day. But by that very death Satan has been dealt a fatal blow.
2. “He will guide you into all truth,” v13
v13 “He will tell you what is yet to come” – Jesus’ death, resurrection, ascension, and glorification.
v14 ‘He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.’
This will all happen ‘when the Spirit comes’. Fast-forward to Acts 2
Sin: v23 identifies the real sin and the real sinners: “You, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him on the cross.”
Righteousness: the condemned One vindicated: v32 “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.”
Judgment: God’s verdict is announced in v34 “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
v37 ‘When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”’
v38 “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
v41 ‘Those who accepted his message were baptised, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.’
The Spirit convicts the world through the words of those who have been guided into all truth.
Jn 14:16 “…to be with you for ever.” Not just the disciples, but believers in every age.
(a) The Spirit convicts as well as comforts
Some of us want to hear only of love, joy and peace, and not of sin, righteousness and judgment. That’s not the Spirit’s way. The way to radical healing is to be confronted with the radical nature of your disease. You don’t offer an Elastoplast to someone who needs a heart transplant. You don’t slap a lick of paint onto a collapsing house.
A man was once accused of a serious crime. He pleaded ‘not guilty’, and a court hearing took place. After the counsel for the prosecution had finished making out the case against him, he changed his plea to one of ‘guilty’. The judge was furious, and asked him why he had wasted the court’s time by changing his plea. “I hadn’t realised that the case against me was so overwhelming,” he replied.
The Spirit convicts, not in order to condemn, but in order to convert; not with a view to ruin, but redemption.
Rico Tice tells of young woman, aged 29. Despite having been raised in a Christian home, she had politely kept God at arm’s length all her life. She went along to a Christianity Explored course. A few weeks into the course there was an explanation of sin and the cross. Rico asked: “Any questions or comments?” She replied: “I cannot believe how I have treated God.” She burst into tears, and had to leave the room. But that was the turning-point. Ever since then, she has been a committed follower of Jesus Christ.
(b) The Spirit witnesses to Christ, and so must we
In ch 15:26f “He will testify to me. You also must testify.”
The Holy Spirit is the senior partner. Lloyd-Jones: the Holy Spirit can achieve more in a single hour than we with all our organisation and hard work can achieve in a life-time.
Do you feel discouraged in your efforts to share Jesus in a world that seems increasingly hostile towards him? Do you feel very much on your own as one of the few Christians in your family, in your class at school or college, in your team at work? It is no cliché that ‘one plus the Holy Spirit is a majority’.
“It is for your good that I am going away.” How good it was that Jesus, after his atoning death, glorious resurrection, triumphant ascension to his Father’s right hand in glory, sent the gift of the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, to be with his people everywhere and for ever. Good for those first disciples, huddled together in that upper room, and good for us too, as we face the challenge and the adventure of being his witnesses today.