John 16:5–15 comment (0)
June 28, 2012
By Kenneth B.E. Roxburgh
Related Scripture: John 16:5-15
Bible Studies for Life
Chair and Armstrong Professor of Religion, Samford University
Many believers would confess that their notions of the Holy Spirit are decidedly hazy. Yet neglect of the person and work of the Holy Spirit can lead to distortions in our understanding of Christian experience and the purposes of God for the life of the church.
The breadth of teaching contained in John’s Gospel on the person and work of the Holy Spirit should lead us to be dependent upon His ministry for personal and corporate spiritual vitality.
The Counselor is Sent (5–7)
John’s unique word for the Holy Spirit is the Paraclete. Different Bibles give various translations for the word such as encourager, advocate, comforter or counselor. The word literally means “someone called alongside so as to help.”
Our Lord speaks of Him in John 16 in the context of the disciples’ distress over the fact that Jesus is about to leave them.
The word that John uses for grief occurs on three others occasions in this chapter (vv. 20–22). Yet Jesus tells His disciples the fact that He is leaving will actually bring them a closer experience of the presence and power of God in their lives through receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will make the presence of Jesus even more real to each and every believer.
As the Spirit of grace, He comes as a gift to God’s people (Acts 2:38). Before we are given any particular gift of the Spirit we are given the Spirit Himself as the source of all the rest, and the emphasis in the New Testament is on the sheer graciousness in the heart of God in “pouring out His love into our hearts in the gift of the Spirit.”
The Counselor Reveals Our Need (8–11)
In particular, Jesus focuses on the initial work of the Holy Spirit in bringing people to faith. He works mysteriously in our minds and hearts, convincing us of our need to turn to Christ for salvation. In particular, He convicts us of our “sin, righteousness and judgment to come.” It is in this sense that He is often spoken of as the advocate, a legal figure who comes as a prosecuting attorney bringing evidence to show us how far we have strayed from God’s laws, how much we have rejected His love and how perilous is our condition.
In convicting people of sin the Spirit shames us, convincing us of our guilt and calling us to repentance. Yet His ministry is never meant to leave us in despair but to graciously bring us to the point where we recognize our need and so turn to the Lord Jesus Christ and experience His grace, mercy and forgiveness.
If this work of bringing people to faith in Christ as Savior is the work of the Spirit, then believers are called to pray that the Holy Spirit might work through the testimony of parents, Sunday School teachers and preachers. It is only when the Spirit takes our frail witness, often communicated in weakness and fear, and uses it to bring people to know God that we can have the confidence that God’s word will not “return to Him void.”
The Counselor Points to Jesus (12–15)
Jim Packer has described the ministry of the Spirit as being similar to floodlights that never draw attention to themselves but focus all energy on the building to which they are directed.
John V. Taylor speaks of “God working anonymously and on the inside: the beyond in the midst ... He is always the go-between who creates awareness.”
The awareness the Spirit creates is of the glory and grace of the Lord Jesus.
Vladimir Lossky writes, “The divine Persons do not themselves assert themselves, but One bears witness to Another.”
The Spirit of God does not look for personal advantage to promote Himself but rather to focus our attention on the Lord Jesus who brings us into a relationship with God the Father.