Rev. Dick is pastor of Grace Protestant Reformed Church in Standale, Michigan.
Intimate discourse, this last one of Jesus to His disciples. It is the night before Jesus’ death on the cross. Jesus continues to reveal covenant secrets to His friends. So much to say! Who would say: but the sermon is too long?
The main concern of Jesus in this last discourse of John 14-17 is to comfort the people of God. God had told the prophets long ago that to comfort the people of God is the calling of the prophets (Is. 40:1). Here is the prophets: all in Jesus, fulfilled in Jesus the Prophet!
“Let not your heart be troubled,” the Prophet cries. “Hear of heaven,” He goes on to say. “What mansions of glory in Father’s house! And a place there I go to prepare for you!” And “I am the way,” this Prophet declares! “I am the way to heaven and to Father up there. So be not troubled, sorrowing ones! My blood is the way, grace is the way. Your works are not the way, and My work is not partially the way. I am the only way, and the whole way of salvation! Believe this, My way, the accomplishing of your warfare. Trust My way, and your hearts will certainly not be troubled, but rejoice!”
Comfort, Jesus gives, by preaching the future thing, heaven, and by preaching the eternal weight of glory. But He will give something of heaven for now. He Himself came down to be with His own. Now, in His going away, He will send the Holy Spirit. He sends Him, for He will never leave us but be with us always in this Spirit. He sends Him in His great love for us.
This is the further secret of Jehovah of which Jesus discourses now. It is the secret of the covenant God with us … in the Spirit! He speaks to the heart. With love the words come. Reaching now across thousands of years, and over mountains and seas, and from one culture to the next. Drawing us into the sanctuary of the upper room to hear the great Preacher. Love. And the Word. And the Spirit working love. Come. Listen….
For Study, Meditation, & Discussion
1. The Spirit
John 14-16 is a golden cup filled with the truth of the Spirit. May we drink deeply!
Who is the Spirit? Find proof here and in the rest of Scripture that He is God. What in this passage tells us that the Spirit is a person, and not just a “force,” or an “it”?
When Jesus refers in this passage to the Spirit being sent He is referring, of course, to Pentecost, when the Spirit was poured out upon the church (read Acts 2!). John 7:39, referring to the time before Jesus was glorified (which would be the entire Old Testament period until Jesus’ ascension and work of sending the Spirit!), says that the Spirit was not yet at that time. Does this mean that there was no Spirit or influence of the Spirit in the Old Testament? What difference has Pentecost made between the Old Testament and New Testament age?
In verse 16 the Spirit is called “another Comforter” whom the Father will give. The Greek word is paraklete. It means literally “one who is called to one’s side,” and that, especially to aid another. From the lexicons we learn that the paraklete might be called to one’s side in court, as a lawyer or advocate. He may plead one’s cause also in prayer, as an intercessor. Or the paraklete may offer other kinds of help and encouragement. How is the Spirit such a paraklete? Find other passages which teach that the Spirit is the Comforter. In light of the truth of the Comforter, is it ever good and pious to doubt one’s salvation? What are some spiritual means God gives whereby we can be comforted and assured of salvation?
Verse 17 tells us that this Spirit-Comforter is the Spirit of truth. Among other things this means that He is the source of truth. The Spirit’s work is establishing and promoting truth. How did He do this in the writing of the Bible (cf. II Tim. 3:16, 17; II Pet. 1:19-21)? What does the Spirit of God being the Sprit of truth say about the following: How we “try the spirits” whether they are of God (I John 4:1)? Truly holy living? The church’s fruit of the Spirit in her ministry and worship? The Charismatic movement? A spirit that prompts one to say: “I felt led to bark in church the other day”?
Verse 26 tells us another name of this Spirit. He is the Holy Spirit. Why is the Spirit called this? What does this say of His work in our lives?
2. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
We believe that the persons of the Trinity are essentially one, and yet personally distinct. How are the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit personally distinct from one another?
In the Middle Ages the church split over a doctrinal issue called the “procession” of the Spirit. The western half of Christendom decided for the biblical truth of the “double procession” of the Spirit, while the eastern half denied this. Where in the passage (cf. also John 15:26) is the truth taught of the “double procession,” that is, the truth that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son? What creeds teach this? What difference does this doctrine make?
Matthew 28:20 records the promise of Jesus that He would be with the disciples always. In what verses in John 14 does Jesus indicate that He will keep His promise so that when the Spirit comes He Himself will still be with the disciples after He has gone away?
How, according to verse 26, is the Spirit-Teacher’s subject matter the Son (cf. also John 15:26)?
3. The Fruits of the Spirit
Besides comfort, truth, and holiness the Spirit bears many fruits in the lives of the believer.
One main work of the Spirit is to be a “homemaker.” He establishes covenant homes! He does this in the first place by taking us, who are by nature children of the devil, and adopting us into the family-life of the Father. For this reason He is called the “Spirit of adoption” (Rom. 8:15). This Spirit of adoption sent from heaven is why, when Jesus goes away, the disciples are not left “comfortless” (v. 18) or literally “orphans”! The Spirit is the “homemaker” in the economy of salvation in the second place in that, through His work establishing us as “temples” of the Holy Ghost (cf. I Cor. 6:19), the Father and the Son themselves come and make their abode the hearts of the people of God (John 14:23).
Wonderful covenant homes! Reflect on this, adopted child of God! How is this a great comfort to us? How do we show in all our lives, in all the activities of body and soul, that we welcome such divine family members?
Besides establishing covenant homes, the Spirit is our life (v. 19), our peace (v. 27), and our joy (v. 28). How are our life, peace, and joy different from this world’s life, peace, and joy?
4. The Spirit and the World
Jesus sends the Spirit whom the world cannot receive (v. 17). This is exactly because the Spirit is the Spirit of Christ, and the world cannot receive Christ in His Spirit sent forth! According to verse 30, why cannot the world receive Christ’s Spirit? How does a passage such as I Corinthians 2 bear on this truth that the world cannot receive the Spirit?
Some contend that the Spirit wants to be received, but is frustrated in His efforts by the sinful resistance of men. Why is such a contention erroneous?
How does this world show enmity against the Spirit as He manifests Himself and His work in believers? In the church?
5. Perspective (John 20:31)
John is inspired to write so that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing we might have life through His name.
Great covenant Savior and giver of the Spirit revealed here! Jesus, from heaven, continues to be the only Mediator! From heaven now, through the Spirit poured out, He continues to reveal truth, to comfort, to sanctify, and to make our hearts a home for the living God!
Crucial for our appropriation and enjoyment of the Spirit is love in our hearts. Jesus speaks of this often in this passage: John 14:15, 21, 23, 24, 28. What, according to Jesus, is the fruit of this love? How do we show this, and increase in our spiritual fruit-bearing?
Thankfully, we being naturally void of love, the Holy Spirit is given to shed abroad the love of God in our hearts (Rom. 5:5). Thankfully, it is Jesus’ love, and His work of love, by which we are saved and kept (cf. v. 19, 31).
Yes, this is the secret of the Spirit: the love of God! Take note. Jesus is sharing secrets of Jehovah. Covenant secrets. Secret of the Spirit. Love. Listen….