STUDY 19: JOHN 14:15-31 - THE PROMISE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

© Rosemary Bardsley 2009

Continuing his words of comfort and encouragement to his eleven disciples Jesus explains why it is good for them if he goes away, and how they will do ‘greater things’ through which the Father will be glorified in him, the Son.

 

A. IF YOU LOVE ME …

In John 14:15-31 Jesus makes a number of similar and apparently conditional statements:

      • ‘If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever …’ [ 14:15 ,16]
      • ‘Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him’ [ 14:21 ]
      • ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home in him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.’ [14:23,24a].
      • ‘If you loved me you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I’ [14:28b].

Similar statements are made in Chapter 15.

The above statements appear to make several spiritual realities conditional or dependent on certain actions on our part:

      • The reality of our love for Jesus is expressed in:
            • [1] our obeying what he commands [ 14:15 ,21],
            • [2] obeying his teaching [14:23,24a] and
            • [3] being glad that he was going to the Father [14:28b].
      • The gift of the Spirit is dependent on our obeying what Christ commands [ 14:16 ]
      • Being loved by Christ and the Father is dependent on our obeying Christ’s commands [ 14:21 ]
      • Christ showing himself to us is dependent on our obeying his commands [ 14:21 ]
      • The Father loving us is dependent on our obeying Christ’s teaching [ 14:23 ]
      • The Father and Christ coming and making their home in us is dependent on our obeying Christ’s teaching [ 14:23 ]

Here we are confronted with the question which needs to be answered: to whom does Christ promise the indwelling Holy Spirit? Is it to all believers? Or is it to a special group of believers who have met certain conditions?

John 7:38,39 makes it quite clear that the Spirit would be given ‘to those who believed’ in Jesus. In John 14 Jesus does not revoke this, but expresses it using different phrases which reveal more of what it means to believe in him. Thus we have equivalent actions and attitudes which all express the one truth:

Believe in Jesus
Love Jesus
Obey Jesus’ commands
Obey Jesus’ teaching.

The last two of these are only a problem is we fail to understand that in the scripture ‘obeying the truth’ is the same as ‘believing the truth’. ‘Hearing the word’ is, particularly in John’s writings, a parallel concept.

Study these scriptures. How do they refer to a valid response to the Gospel?

John 5:24,25

John 8:43,47

John 10:3,8,16,27

Galatians 3:1; 5:7

2Thessalonians 1:8

1Peter 3:1 [some Bibles have ‘obey’]

1Peter 4:17

To really hear, is to believe, to believe is to obey Christ’s command to believe in him and to obey his teaching that belief in himself is essential. To do all of this is to love him. The Holy Spirit is thus given, as stated in John 7:38,39, to those who believe in Christ. Not those who superficially align with him because of the perceived benefits, but for those who really know that in seeing Jesus Christ they stand face to face with God.

 

B. I WILL SEND THE HOLY SPIRIT

B.1 Names of the Spirit

What is the Spirit called in these verses?

14:16,26 [15:26; 16:7]

14:17 [15:26; 16:13]

14:26

When Jesus calls the Holy Spirit ‘another Counsellor’ [16] he uses the word ‘other’ which means another of the same kind, that is of the same kind as himself [Jesus]. The counsellor [parakletos] is one who is called along side – an advocate, an intercessor, one who pleads the case of another [see Vines], a comforter. The Holy Spirit is all of this – just like Jesus.

He is also ‘the Spirit of truth’ who is characterized by truth and offends the world by that truth – just like Jesus.

B.2 Where does the Spirit come from?

Jesus is about to return to the Father and to the Father’s home. When he does so:

    • He will ask the Father and the Father will send the Spirit [ 14:16 ]
    • The Father will send the Spirit in the name of Jesus [ 14:26 ]
    • Jesus will send the Spirit to them from the Father [ 15:26 ]
    • The Spirit goes out from the Father [ 15:26 ]
    • Jesus will send the Spirit to them [16:7]

The Spirit thus comes from both the Father and the Son.

B.3 What does it mean to have the Holy Spirit?

In John 14:15-31 Jesus describes the coming of the Spirit to the believer in the following terms:

    • It is the Spirit who comes [ 14:16 ,17]
    • It is Jesus who comes [ 14:18 , 28]
    • It is Jesus who lives in the believer [ 14:20 ]
    • It is the Father and Jesus who come and make their home in the believer [ 14:23 ]

God indwells the believer – Father, Son and Spirit all indwell the believer. This indwelling is specifically the action of the Spirit, but because of the unity and identity in the trinity it is also the Father and the Son indwelling the believer. This gift of the Spirit makes each individual believer the dwelling place of God. This gift of the Spirit makes each individual believer, and believers corporately, the holy temple of God .

Study what these scriptures teach about this concept:

1Cor 3:16

 

1Cor 6:19

 

Ephesians 2:21

 

Ephesians 2:22

 

Note that this gift, this indwelling Spirit of God, is for believers only; ‘the world’ cannot receive him, nor does it know him. Believers, on the other hand, do know the Spirit, already have the presence of the Spirit with them, and, after Christ’s return to the Father, will have the Spirit within them [14:17].

B.4 What does the indwelling Holy Spirit mean for believers?

Because Jesus was returning to the Father his disciples would do greater things than he himself did [ 14:12 ]. In teaching about the gift of the Spirit to indwell believers Jesus begins to explain what that gift will mean for the believers:

The continuing presence of Jesus.

Jesus is going away, but he is not leaving his disciples ‘orphans’: he is coming back to them. The indwelling Spirit means Jesus is with and within us [ 14:18 ]. For this reason he says that his disciples should be glad he is going to the Father and coming back to them [ 14:28 ].

A greater realization of the relationship between the Father, the Son and the believer.

This presence of Christ, defined in terms of the indwelling Spirit, issues in a greater understanding of the deity of Christ [20] and a greater understanding of his life-giving impact on them in which they are restored to a right relationship with God [19,20].

The evidence/assurance of the Father’s love and Christ’s love for the believer.

[ 14:21 ] This is affirmed in Galatians 4:6-7 and Romans 8:14-16 where the indwelling Spirit assures us that we are indeed God’s children. It is also affirmed in 2Corinthians 1:21 -22; 5:5; and Ephesians 1:13 ,14, where the indwelling Spirit guarantees our permanent relationship with God.

The revelatory/teaching ministry of the Spirit.

Jesus knows that there is much of his teaching they have not understood. After his death, after his resurrection, after his ascension to the Father and the gift of the Spirit to believers, then the Spirit will teach them ‘all things and remind’ them of everything Jesus had said to them [25-26].

All of this is strengthened by the fact that the indwelling Spirit is given to us ‘forever’ [ 14:16 ], and is summed up in Jesus’ words in 14:27 :

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.’ The world only gives on the basis of performance or merit: Jesus gives on the basis of his atoning sacrifice. The world gives only to take away if one is no longer worthy of the gift: Jesus gives the Holy Spirit, and the resultant peace, forever.

Reflection: What does Christ’s teaching here about the indwelling Spirit mean for your life as a believer?

 

 

 

 

 

 

C. THE IMMANENT DEATH OF CHRIST

Jesus gives four important facts in relation to his death and departure:

[1] If the disciples really understood who Jesus was, if they really love him, as he really is, they would, he says, be glad that he was going back to his Father. The reason he gives is ‘the Father is greater than I’. Jesus is equal with the Father and one with the Father [ 10:30 ; 12:44 ], yet while he is in his incarnate state, the Father is ‘greater’. When Jesus returns to the Father he will resume his total and essential equality and unity with the Father. Going back to the Father means returning to his rightful position.

[2] What he has told them, he has told them in advance so that when it all happens they will believe [ 14:29 ]. Although he has actually spared them the horrific details of what is about to happen, he has told them enough to prepare them to understand the deep spiritual meaning of those events once the resurrection and the return to the Father occur. Then the Spirit will show them that meaning and they will understand and believe.

[3] In just a little while ‘the prince of this world’, Satan, is coming, and it will look like he has a hold on Christ, but he doesn’t [ 14:30 ].

[4] All that has already occurred in the incarnation, and all that is about to occur, including Satan’s apparent victory, has all been planned and commanded by the Father. The Son, who loves the Father, does exactly what his Father commanded [ 14:31 ]. This event, this death that looks like defeat, is the final evidence of the Son doing the work of the Father. This event, this death, is the culmination of the Father’s saving work in and through his Son, planned and purposed before the beginning of time.