Teaching about the Holy Spirit

Teaching about the Holy Spirit is quite possibly one of the most disregarded subjects of Christianity.  For many it is dismissed as a “thing” or it because of a lack of understanding.  Some shy away from it because of some church cultures attaching a charismatic emotion solely to the Holy Spirit.  Whatever the issue is for someone dismissing the Holy Spirit, the importance of having a correct foundational understanding of the Holy Spirit is needed.  John 15:26-16:16 is a brief introduction that Jesus gives to the Holy Spirit.  It is a promise of the Spirit’s coming as Jesus tells His disciples that He will leave them soon.  At this last supper discourse Jesus encourages disciples in that though He is leaving (16:16) there will be One sent to continue on with them.  This leaving and sending is to their “advantage” (John 16:7).  

This passage shows the strong relationship of the Spirit to Christ.  In John 15:26 and 16:13-15 Jesus shares with His disciples that the Holy Spirit will be a supreme witness and teacher of Christ and His truth.  “Accordingly, the disciples should speak with great confidence, knowing that a Greater Witness would attend their words and bring them to bear with telling effectiveness.”  In verse 26 Jesus says, “but when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth fromt eh Father, he shall testify of me.”  This sending by Jesus of the Spirit that comes to the Father is a very important teaching.  In reality it distinguishes the distinctions of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son while keeping the Oneness of God in tact.   “The relation of Father and Spirit is described not as generation, as in the case of the Son, but as a sending-forth and a procession.”   It is seen that the Spirit proceeds from both the Son and Father.  From the Father it is said, “Of the Spirit it is declared that He proceeds from the Father.  He executes the designs of the Father.”  Also it is said of the Son, “The Third Person is sometimes termed the Spirit of Christ (cf. Rom. 8:9), which title evidently relates Him to the Second Person as One whom the Second Person sends (John 16:7), and who executes the purpose and applies the values which arise in and through the Second Person.”  This is reason why the Spirit is able to declare what Jesus has already taught and more of what Jesus wants them to know (16:12-15).  

This continuation of Jesus’ ministry towards the disciples and later to modern Disciples of Christ shows the Holy Spirit also has a deep relationship with believers.  Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit in this passage as the “Comforter” (Greek paraklētos).  “The term paraklētos refers to a legal assistant in a court who pleads someone’s case before the judge.”  In other translations the word used is, “Advocate,” meaning helper or one that comes to side.   The relationship of the Holy Spirit towards the believer is a beautiful and important thing.  “The Spirit regenerates, indwells or anoints, baptizes, seals, and fills, thus not only creating the essential factors which together make the Christ what he is, but empowering him to walk worthy of that high calling.”  

Lastly, this passage also points out that the Spirit has its dealings not only with Christ and us but also towards the world.  John 16:1-4 records the words of Jesus about the suffering His disciples will endure.  To Him is necessary that disciples know they will not face those trials alone.  Jesus shares in John 16:8-11 that the Spirit will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment.  “The Spirit is presented as the One who reproves, or enlightens, the world with respect to sin, righteousness, and judgment.”  It is here that we see that the Spirit works out conviction in the heart of unbelievers to bring them to salvation.  This is a witness to the world of Christ’s glorious Gospel.  

Thus it is that the teaching of the reality of the Holy Spirit working in the lives of men and women, boys and girls, must be faithfully and consistently taught.  For it is the work of the Holy Spirit sent by the Son from the Father that grace comes to each person for salvation.  It is also through the work of the Holy Spirit that people overcome their temptation and trials.  Finally it is through the work of the Holy Spirit that the message and witness of Christ continues to this day.

Dongell, Joseph, John: A Bible Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition, Indianapolis, IN; Wesleyan Publishing House, 1997Oden, Thomas C. Classic Christianity, New York, NY; Harper One Publishers, 1992Chafer, Lewis Sperry,  Systematic Theology Vols. 1 & 2, Grand Rapids MI; Kregel Publications, 1976ibid. John D. Barry, Michael R. Grigoni, Michael S. Heiser et al., Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2012), Jn 14:26.Chafer, Lewis Sperry,  Systematic Theology Vols. 1 & 2, Grand Rapids MI; Kregel Publications, 1976 ibid.

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