Do you understand the Trinity? Probably not. Neither do I, at least fully. Even the most eloquent writers can not accurately describe the Trinitarian mystery. God being God the Father, Jesus the Son both while also being the Holy Spirit is a wonderfully perplexing concept. God is three but also one. Three persons but still monotheistic. Selah. The Trinity is a crucial Christian doctrine that we should strive to maintain biblical, orthodox views of. Still though, it is hard to understand too well. God the Father and the Incarnation thereof, Jesus, are fairly well understood. We know God sent Jesus to save out of a fallen world. We see Jesus in communion with the Father and the Father delighting in the Son of God. But what about the Holy Ghost?
What We Think About When We Think About The Spirit:
I do not think it is accurate to say that the Holy Spirit is never talked about. Sure, some churches never mention Him. They see it as too “supernatural” or even “spiritual.” But there is the other side of the spectrum. Many, frankly, are obsessed with the Spirit. I think this is the most prevalent view in the world. The Charismatic Movement has taken the world by storm. To be sure, I am not using Charismatic to mean those who believe in the power of the Holy Spirit or the miraculous sign gifts. I simply call them continualists. I am talking about the abuse of the Spirit to heighten experience and separate the work of the Spirit from what the Bible says. When people think about the Spirit, spiritual gifts are the first thing we go to often times. We look in the letters of Paul and Luke’s account in Acts to see what these gifts are and how they function. It is healthy to want to know how the Spirit works but the gifts are not an end like they have been treated as. The Church should not be a place for exhibitionism in the name of the Spirit. So what does the Spirit do? Let’s look at what Jesus says about Him in John 16.
The Holy Spirit is Our Helper
Jesus is talking with His disciples just moments before He is handed over to the Roman officials to be crucified. They are filled with sorrow (v.6). They have walked with Jesus. They have seen His compassion, His glory. They love Him. Now he is going to be leaving them. It is not wonder that they are sorrowful. The light of the world (John 8:12) is leaving them. However, Jesus tells them that it is better for them that He is leaving. Why? Because the Helper is coming to them (v.7). We do not have Jesus but we have the Helper who indwells us and gives us joy. The disciples were sad, but the Spirit is going to come to them!
The Holy Spirit Will Convict the World
I believe Jesus is talking about the Holy Spirit leading people enslaved by the world to repentance and faith. John has not been pulling any punches about the world’s condition so far. In John 3 Jesus says the the world stands condemned. The world does not here His voice because they cannot. No man comes to God unless he is drawn (John 6: 44). Jesus is promising that the Spirit will come and bring new life to some in the world, thus breaking the bondage of sin so that they may praise the glory of God. Verse 8 says the Sprit will come and convict the world concerning sin, righteousness and judgement. Unless He does this no one will be saved. We don’t see our sin as it is until the Spirit gives us a new heart and repentance. We do not believe so the Spirit comes to sovereignly bring us to repentance. We are granted the ability to be poor in spirit. The Spirit also allows us to see, by faith, our need for an alien righteousness. All that we do has enough sin in it to damn the entire world. We need the perfect life of Jesus to be justified. It is only by faith in the person and work of Christ that saves. If the Spirit does not come to show us our need we will all die and spend eternity apart from God in hell.
The Spirit Guides in All Truth
Jesus promises that the Spirit will come and lead them in all truth (v.12). The Spirit is referred to as the Spirit of Truth. It should be noted that truth is not being used as an adjective. The truth here is not relative. The Spirit will reveal the standard of truth that all else must be judged by. Today, many who seek the “work” of the Spirit wish to do so divorced from doctrinal truth. The Holy Spirit does not abolish truth by replacing it with experience by rather reveals the concrete truth of God. This truth will take form in the Canon of Scripture. It is important to note the context of John 16. All of the truths can be applied to believers in general, but who is Jesus talking to specifically in this passage? The disciples. Verse 13 says that the Spirit only communicates what the Father tells Him. Whatever the Spirit hears from the Father he relays to the disciples. This promise will find its particular fulfillment in the inspiration of Holy Scripture. It will be these men that Jesus in speaking with that will physically write or oversee the writing of the New Testament. Only what the Spirit inspires will be written and the Spirit will only inspire what the Father has told Him. The Bible is the measuring rod by which all truth must be subjected to. Experience is not king. The Word of God is.
Jesus tells the disciples that the Spirit will glorify Him. The Bible is christocentic. Everything points to Jesus and His cross. The purpose of the Spirit is to glorify God. The Spirit helps us, convicts us and reveals truth to us for our good and for God’s glory alone. It is important to have a biblical view of the Holy Spirit. False doctrines of the Holy Spirit do not honor God and can utterly desolate the lives of believers. Let us celebrate God the Holy Spirit! But only in ways that God has revealed to us in His Word.
soli deo gloria