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On the Holy Spirit

Jesus dedicated much of the last night of His ministry to teaching on the Holy Spirit (John 14-16), but in most Christian traditions the Holy Spirit is either neglected or abused. Often, because of the mystery associated with the Spirit and maybe out fear of presumption, many traditions avoid teaching adequately on the Spirit in favor of more seemingly concrete theological matters. While still other traditions over-emphasize the work of the Spirit at the expense of exalting Christ and even falsely attributing acts and wonders to the Spirit insisting on the role of magician more than helper, teacher, convictor and guide as Jesus describes. My sense is that if you have a church background it leans toward one of these unbalanced, unbiblical approaches to the third member of the Trinity. It is harmful to add or subtract from what Jesus taught us on any subject especially about the Spirit of Truth that He would send to His people, which He says is an advantage in His absence (16:7).

On any biblical matter we must be careful to be faithful to what the full counsel of God says on a subject, especially when it comes to who God is, what He desires for us and how He works in and through us. All these things were addressed in our passage on Sunday (John 16:4-15) as it directly relates to the Holy Spirit and His continued work that comes out of Jesus’ finished work on the cross. We can’t understand redemption, salvation, reconciliation and many other gospel elements without the Holy Spirit, and they would not have been accomplished without Christ going to the cross, dying, rising, ascending in glory and sending His Spirit to dwell with us. Rightly understood, this supports and encourages what we already know about the Father and the Son, let us continue to learn and grow in knowledge of our God and so prove to be His disciples.

Tomorrow in John 16:16-24, Jesus will be teaching the disciples on the uniquely Christian rhythm of sorrow to joy and suffering to glory.