Free (Evangelism Lesson)
(John 16:5-15) July 1 2012
1. The Spirit’s ministry
5But now I an returning to Him who sent me; and not one of you asks me where I am going. 6But grief has filled your hearts because I have said all this to you. 7“Yet it is the truth that I am telling you—it is to your advantage that I go away. For unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. 8And He, when He comes, will convict the world in respect of sin, of righteousness, and of judgement;— 9of sin, because they do not believe in me; 10of righteousness, because I am going to the Father, and you will no longer see me; 11of judgement, because the Prince of this world is under sentence.
God was present in Jesus’ incarnation in one place on earth. But the Holy Spirit is present in all places, in and available to every believer. This is one reason why it was to every disciple’s advantage that Jesus returned to heaven. The unique work of the Holy Spirit in believers today could only begin after Christ had won us salvation by His death and given us the power to live a new life through His resurrection.
Christ described the Holy Spirit’s ministry to the world as one of conviction. To the believer the Spirit’s ministry is one of guidance and revelation of truth. There is also a ministry to Jesus, of displaying Him through we who represent Christ here on earth.
The word “convict” (elencho) is a legal term for bringing in a verdict of guilty. The Holy Spirit’s ministry to non-Christians is to convey a sense of doom, an awareness that they stand condemned. The sense of guilt is developed in three areas:
(1) “In regard to sin, because men do not believe in me” . The issue is not the sins men commit, but the single condemning sin of unbelief. The Spirit convinces the non-Christian it is wrong not to believe in Jesus.
(2) “In regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father” . Jesus’ return to God established a new standard of righteousness. No longer could righteousness be viewed as a matter of do’s and don’ts. It’s not a matter of living as perfect a life as Jesus. Many might say, “I kept that commandment.” But none would claim, “I lived as perfect a life as Jesus Christ.”
(3) “In regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned” . No one can ever again say, “God doesn’t punish evil, so I can do whatever I want.” God showed His commitment to judge by placing His own innocent Son on a cross. Surely He will judge guilty sinners.
2. Guide you into all truth
12“I have much more to say to you, but you are unable at present to bear the burden of it. 13But when He has come—the Spirit of Truth—He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak as Himself originating what He says, but all that He hears He will speak, and He will make known the future to you. 14He will glorify me, because He will take of what is mine and will make it known to you. 15Everything that the Father has is mine; that is why I said that the Spirit of Truth takes of what is mine and will make it known to you.
Jesus’ disciples often heard His words, but could not grasp their meaning. The Holy Spirit’s inner ministry is focused on helping them—and us—grasp the reality of Christ’s words and then experiencing that reality by obeying His words.
This verse has sometimes been misapplied, and some have taught that Christians must agree on every point of doctrine. The Holy Spirit’s ministry, however, was focused on serving the disciples as a guide as they struggled later to understand and express in the Epistles what Jesus had taught. Today, the Spirit guides us as we strive to apply Jesus’ teachings to our own experience.
The promise of the Holy Spirit, and his office.
Our Lord Jesus, by giving his disciples notice of trouble, designed that the terror might not be a surprise to them. It is possible for those who are real enemies to God’s service, to pretend zeal for it. This does not lessen the sin of the persecutors; villanies will never be changed by putting the name of God to them. As Jesus in his sufferings, so his followers in theirs, should look to the fulfilling of Scripture. He did not tell them sooner, because he was with them to teach, guide, and comfort them; they needed not then this promise of the Holy Spirit’s presence. It will silence us to ask, Whence troubles come? It will satisfy us to ask, Whither go they? for we know they work for good. It is the common fault and folly of melancholy Christians to look only on the dark side of the cloud, and to turn a deaf ear to the voice of joy and gladness. That which filled the disciples’ hearts with sorrow, was too great affection for this present life. Nothing more hinders our joy in God, than the love of the world, and the sorrow of the world which comes from it.
Christ’s departure was necessary to the Comforter’s coming. Sending the Spirit was to be the fruit of Christ’s death, which was his going away. His bodily presence could be only in one place at one time, but his Spirit is every where, in all places, at all times, wherever two or three are gathered together in his name. See here the office of the Spirit, first to reprove, or to convince. Convincing work is the Spirit’s work; he can do it effectually, and none but he. It is the method the Holy Spirit takes, first to convince, and then to comfort. The Spirit shall convince the world, of sin; not merely tell them of it. The Spirit convinces of the fact of sin; of the fault of sin; of the folly of sin; of the filth of sin, that by it we are become hateful to God; of the fountain of sin, the corrupt nature; and lastly, of the fruit of sin, that the end thereof is death. The Holy Spirit proves that all the world is guilty before God. He convinces the world of righteousness; that Jesus of Nazareth was Christ the righteous. Also, of Christ’s righteousness, imparted to us for justification and salvation. He will show them where it is to be had, and how they may be accepted as righteous in God’s sight. Christ’s ascension proves the ransom was accepted, and the righteousness finished, through which believers were to be justified. Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. All will be well, when his power is broken, who made all the mischief. As Satan is subdued by Christ, this gives us confidence, for no other power can stand before him. And of the day of judgment. The coming of the Spirit would be of unspeakable advantage to the disciples. The Holy Spirit is our Guide, not only to show us the way, but to go with us by continued aids and influences. To be led into a truth is more than barely to know it; it is not only to have the notion of it in our heads, but the relish, and savour, and power of it in our hearts. He shall teach all truth, and keep back nothing profitable, for he will show things to come. All the gifts and graces of the Spirit, all the preaching, and all the writing of the apostles, under the influence of the Spirit, all the tongues, and miracles, were to glorify Christ. It behoves every one to ask, whether the Holy Spirit has begun a good work in his heart? Without clear discovery of our guilt and danger, we never shall understand the value of Christ’s salvation; but when brought to know ourselves aright, we begin to see the value of the Redeemer. We should have fuller views of the Redeemer, and more lively affections to him, if we more prayed for, and depended on the Holy Spirit.
Jesus now concludes His Last Supper night teaching with insights into the future His followers can expect. They can expect to be rejected by the leaders of their own people . They can expect to be supported in the world by the active, convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit . They can expect that Jesus will come again . Finally, they can expect to find peace in the certain knowledge that Christ and God the Father are one .