The Promise of the Holy Spirit - John 14:15-31

Expositions by H. A. Wilson

Taken from Grace and Truth Magazine 1923


Memory Verse — John 14:27

The best of human relations have their counterpart in spiritual truths. The love of a good father for his children is used in the Word of God to illustrate God's love for His people. The unity of the husband and wife is used to illustrate the relation between Christ and the soul of the believer. And many other precious analogies may be found in the Word of God which demonstrate this proposition. The love of Jesus for His disciples was like the love of a father for his children. Their dependence upon Him was like the dependence of children upon the father. So Jesus said to them, "I will not leave you comfortless." (This literally means, "I will not leave you orphans," for the Greek word rendered "comfortless" is orphanos John 14:18.) Jesus was about to leave them. He knew that they would become lonely and disappointed, because He was taken away. He sought in every way possible to prepare them so that they might understand and that they might be kept in peace. In this lesson we find a promise that another Comforter would be sent, that they might not be left alone. A new fellowship with Jesus, Himself, is promised, and a precious message of peace is given. Psa. 103:13; Rom. 7:4.


Though Jesus must leave His disciples, He did not leave them without a Comforter. He promised that He would send the Holy Spirit to minister to them. The very name "Comforter" suggests the work of the Holy Spirit on behalf of the believers, and this suggestion is clearly developed in the statements which are made concerning Him. In Jesus' promise we perceive that a new relation was to exist between the Holy Spirit and the children of God. He had been present in the past, inspiring the prophets, and guiding the patriarchs and leaders of Israel. But whereas He had been with them, now He was to he in them. He was to be their constant Companion. He was to come into a relationship with them more intimate even than that which they had enjoyed with the Lord Jesus. And because of the unity of the Trinity Jesus was with His disciples in a new way when the Comforter came. Rom. 8:26.

The world could not know this Comforter Who was to come to the disciples. He was a stranger to them then, even as He is today. They might hear the inspired Word of God, or even read it, but it was meaningless to them. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him." (I Cor. 2:14.) They were not to have Him dwelling in them, for they could not receive Him. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is exclusively the portion of God's children. The world has no part in Him. Herein we see very clearly that the popular teaching of the "divine spark in every man," — "the inherent divinity of all men,"— "the universal fatherhood of God," etc., is an invention, and has no foundation in the teaching of God's Word. "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." (Rom. 8:9.)

The Comforter was to teach God's children. Jesus said, "He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said to you." (Verse 26.) While the natural man cannot receive nor understand the things of God's Spirit, the child of God can understand them because the Spirit is his Teacher. "We have received not the spirit of the world but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God." (I Cor. 2:12.) This does not mean that the Christian is to expect visions or tongues, or great exciting experiences. On the contrary it is clearly indicated in this same verse (John 14:26) how the Spirit teaches the believer. He brings to his remembrance the things which Jesus has said. The Spirit teaches the children of God through the Word of God. As we read the Word, or hear it preached. He enables us to understand it. As needs arise in our lives He reminds us of the things we need to know. Sometimes He will remind us of some general teaching of the Word. And sometimes He will remind us of a particular passage which we have read or memorized before. The Holy Spirit is our Teacher, and the Bible is our textbook. In this we have comfort and strength and blessing, though our Lord is absent from us. II Tim. 3:16-17; I Jno. 2:27.


In addition to the promise of the Spirit, Jesus promised a new fellowship with Himself. This fellowship was to be dependent upon obedience to His will. "He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me, and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him and will manifest myself unto him." (Verse 21.) The love of which Jesus spoke is dependent upon obedience. This love is a matter of fellowship. We know this because God has declared that He loved the world and manifested His love by giving Jesus to die for the sins of all men. We know that the world has broken His commandments again and again. Indeed, the sinfulness of men was the reason why it was necessary for Jesus to die for them. So we read in Ephesians 2:4-5, "He loved us, even when we were dead in sins." The love which led Jesus to die for us was not conditioned upon obedience to His will. But enjoyment of His love for His children is. He loves His children in a different way from that in which He loves the world. There is no fellowship between the heart of our holy God, and this sinful world, for the world is in open enmity and rebellion against Him. But the believer is made nigh by the blood of the Cross. And God loves the believer from the standpoint of fellowship. He desires to lead him into an ever deepening and increasing fellowship with Himself. This is what Jesus meant when He said, "I will , love him and will manifest myself unto him." Jno. 3:16;. Rom. 3:23; I Pet. 3:18; Jas. 4:4; Eph. 2:13; I Jno. 1:3.

But God cannot bring the believer into the sweetest and closest fellowship with Himself if his life is not yielded. This fellowship depends upon our obedience to His revealed will. We are saved through faith in the death of His Son, but we cannot enter into close communion with Him unless we count ourselves dead with Christ unto sin, but alive unto God. The believer who does not enjoy fellowship with God is saved simply through believing, but the believer who yields to Him and seeks to do His will enjoys his salvation as the unyielded believer cannot. Jesus is manifested to him in a new way. He does: not see a vision, nor hear a voice, but as he meditates in the Word, and as he waits in the prayer time before the Lord, he finds his perception of the loveliness of Christ's Person and the wonder of His work becoming more keen and vital to his soul. He becomes conscious in a real sense that His Saviour is alive, and that He loves him. He becomes sweetly conscious that He is present with him in spirit, if not in the flesh, and he learns that all our ways are in His hands. He learns to trust Him, and to wait patiently for His solution of the problems, for His deliverance from the testings, and for His provision for the needs. Rom. 6:11; Rom. 12:1-2; Rom. 8:28; I Pet. 5:7; Psa. 46:1-2; Psa. 34:8; Phil. 4:19.


As the believer heeds the teaching of the Word, and yields himself to God in response to the Holy Spirit's pull at his heart he enjoys the peace which Jesus promised. By the death of the Cross He provided a two fold heritage of peace for us, — the peace of our salvation, and the peace of a close walk with Him. He has made peace between God and the believer's soul, so far as judgment for sin is concerned. He bore our sins, and suffered God's wrath against them. There is no longer any condemnation awaiting the believer. But Jesus has also provided peace for us in our experience. It is possible for a man to be saved, — to have peace made between his soul and God, — and yet not enjoy the peace. But by the grace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ we may have peace with God in our conscious communion with Him. So the Scriptures declare, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee" (Isa. 26:3). And again we read, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God, and the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.'" (Phil. 4:6-7.)

This peace is not the peace of the world. It so far transcends any worldly peace that it is in reality the only true peace. The other things wrongly named peace are only imitations. The world can dazzle the eyes until for a time one forgets the pain and sorrow of a life of sin, but it cannot give peace. The devil may so dull the spiritual sensibilities of the soul that temporarily one is not conscious of the terrible burden of sin and guilt which presses down upon him, but he cannot give peace. "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked." (Isa. 57:21.) The peace which God gives can keep His people in the midst of tribulation, and distress, and persecution, and peril. His peace is ours if we but yield to Him. His perfect peace is to be received by centering our minds in Jesus, and by yielding our lives unto Him. Isa. 26:3; Rom. 8:6; Gal. 5:22; Eph. 2:24; Col. 3:15.