The Mission of the Holy Spirit - John 16:1-15

Expositions by H. A. Wilson

Taken from Grace and Truth Magazine 1923


Memory Verse — John 15:26-27

No teaching of God's Word is more misunderstood among God's people or more abused than the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. But the misunderstanding is needless and the abuse is wicked because the Bible teaching on this subject is so clear and plain that a little careful study will easily show one what the truth really is. The Holy Spirit is a Person. His ministration to the souls of men is four-fold. As Regenerator He makes all who believe in Jesus children of God. As Baptizer He makes the believer one with ' Christ — a member of His Body — and gives him gifts which fit him for service. As Comforter He teaches the believer and enables him to understand the Word of God. In this capacity He works through the Christian's testimony convicting unbelievers of sin, righteousness and judgment. As Infiller He gives the believer victory over sin and fills his life with joy and blessing in telling others of Jesus. The regenerating work of the Holy Spirit and His baptizing work are complete in the believer the instant he trusts Christ as his Saviour, but His comforting work and His infilling work can be fulfilled only as we yield our lives to God and permit Him to work through us. It is of the comforting work of the Holy Spirit that we study particularly in the sixteenth chapter of John. John 3:5-7; I Cor. 12:13; Eph. 5:18.


John 16:1-6

The need of the Comforter's ministration may he understood when one considers the dangers which threaten the child of God during his lifetime. So many things assail the soul on every hand. We live in a wicked and troubled world. Everything about us seems calculated to draw us away from God. There are many false teachings which prey upon the souls of men. The persecution is great against those who live godly lives in Christ Jesus. All these things are instruments in the hands of the adversary of souls who, through them, seeks to lead men astray and to entangle them in false teaching, or to crush them under his fierce opposition. These conditions are plainly declared by Jesus in leading up to His teaching about the Holy Spirit. Surely in the midst of conditions like these, — in the midst of confusion and perplexity and doubt and distress we need- a friend. For as the disciples were subject to special testings while Jesus was absent from them, we also have special needs in the time while we are waiting for His return. Jesus recognized this need and spoke of it. He spoke of the danger of His disciples being "offended" — being caused to stumble. He spoke of the terrible persecution which would arise when they would be driven out of the synagogues and even martyred for their faith. He spoke of the sorrow which was theirs in His leaving them. They needed One Who would guide them and teach them and "stand by" them. This was the purpose for which the Holy Spirit was given. He came "to stand by" the people of God in their time of need. This is the real meaning of the word "Comforter." It is the Greek word ''Paracletos." This means, "one called or sent for to assist another." Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to assist us as we need. II Tim. 3:1-12; Rom. 8:26-27.


John 16:7

The Holy Spirit's comforting work began after Jesus' death. Jesus said, "If I go not away the Comforter will not come unto you, but if I depart, I will send Him unto you." (Vs. 7.) While Jesus was with them He was all they needed but when He left, they needed another. They needed One Who would take the place which Jesus had held in person as He instructed them and taught them the things of the Word of God. So the comforting work of the Holy Spirit did not begin until after Jesus had been crucified and was about to depart to be with the Father.

The actual time 'when the comforting work of the Holy Spirit did begin was when Jesus breathed on His disciples and said, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit." (Jno. 20:22.) We find instances recorded before this time when men were filled with the Holy Spirit and without a question His regenerating work had begun also before this time. The baptizing work did not begin until the day of Pentecost, when it came in fulfillment of Jesus' promise given at the time of His ascension. (Acts 1:5.) It seems evident then, that the comforting work of the Holy Spirit was the work which began after Jesus' resurrection when He met with His disciples and breathed upon them and said, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit."

Let us also notice that when the Comforter was once given He came to abide forever. In another place Jesus said, "I will pray the Father and He shall rive you another Comforter that He may abide with you forever." (Jno. 14:16.) The disciples received the Holy Spirit after believing in Jesus but it is not scriptural to conclude from this that such an experience is to be repeated. When men believe in Jesus since then they immediately receive the Holy Spirit. He makes them children of God and baptizes them into the Body of Christ instantaneously. He indwells them and as they yield to Him He performs His comforting work and infilling work in them. Christians should not seek for an experience. They should not seek to receive the Holy Spirit because they have already received Him. What they need to do is to learn to follow His leading and to yield themselves to God so as to permit Him to fill them. Eph. 5:18; Eph. 4:30; I Thes. 5:19.


John 16:11-15

But in order that we may understand what it means to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and to yield to His control, we need to understand what His mission is. The mission of the Holy Spirit as revealed in Jesus' own statement is wonderful and blessed. He has a definite ministry ti the world and one to the believer. In all of His work He exalts Jesus and leads souls to the Word of God. Jno. 15:26; Eph.

The first activity of the Holy Spirit of which we are told is that He convicts the world. He convicts the world of sin: He convicts it of righteousness: and He convicts it of judgment. That He is doing this is clearly evident from the fact that men universally have definite sin-consciousness. They recognize that there is a righteousness higher than their own, though their thoughts are very far below God's standard. They recognize in some way their responsibility to a higher power and that they merit judgment if this responsibility is not met. Truly their ideas about God are badly perverted but in their recognition of judgment lies evidence that the Holy Spirit is convicting them. However, the Holy Spirit can deal with the lost world best through the children of God. He needs their testimony in this work and as we tell others of Jesus He uses our words to convict them. They are convicted of sin because they believe not in Jesus. If they believed their sin would be pardoned and cleansed but because they do not their sin remains. They are convicted of righteousness because Jesus went to the Father. Had He not completely put away our sins He could not have gone into the presence of God. The fact that He did proves that our sin was fully put away and a perfect righteousness is brought to light. They are also convicted of judgment because the prince of this world is judged. Men are by nature children of the devil who is the prince of this world. If they choose to reject God's offer of life they must share in the judgment of the one whom they have chosen as their master. God did not intend this. He did not prepare hell for men but for the devil and his angels, but, sad to say, men reject the Son of God and so must share the condemnation of the one who has led them astray. Jno. 3:18; Hab. 1:13; Jno. 8:44; Matt. 25: 41; Ps. 9:17.

But the Holy Spirit not only convicts the world, He also teaches and guides the believer. "When the Spirit of Truth is come," said Jesus, "He will guide you into all truth." In this promise we have the certification of the New Testament, for the apostles wrote as the Spirit of God inspired them to write. Since the New Testament was finished, we need no more revelation and should not expect it. Now He guides us and teaches us through the Word which He has given. He led the Apostle Paul to write, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (II Tim. 3:16-17.) Since the Bible was written we need nothing more. Rather than to seek new revelations we should study what the Spirit has already given and should seek to understand it and to conform our lives to its teaching. As we do this we may rest assured that He will guide us and help us to understand the truths of the Word and to apply them to our lives. It should be especially noted that the Holy Spirit always magnifies Jesus. He never magnifies experience, nor does He speak of Himself. Those who talk much of the Holy Spirit and lay claim to thrilling experiences are not led of the Spirit to talk thus and usually investigation shows that they have a spirit which is not of God. I Cor. 2:9-12,