I Believe in the Holy Spirit (John 16:5-15)

The distinctive, constant, basic ministry of the Holy Spirit under the new covenant is so to mediate Christ’s presence to believers.

The Holy Spirit has taken up residence within those of us who are followers of Jesus, and he promises never to leave. “In our darkest moment, he’s as real as the breath in our lungs” (J.D. Greear). God is so committed to us that he doesn’t just reveal himself. He doesn’t even just forgive us and save us. God is so committed to us that he has moved into us, taking up residence in our lives.

 

Big Idea: The Spirit lives within us and leads us into truth.

Why is it better that Jesus is no longer physically with us?

I get kind of jealous. In 1999 I traveled to Israel. We visited places where Jesus walked. One of my favorite places was the synagogue in Capernaum, Jesus’ home base. The Bible records that Jesus taught and healed a man at the synagogue, and the ruins of a 4th century synagogue are still there, possibly built over the remains of the 1st century synagogue. You’re walking in a place Jesus walked. It’s amazing.

Imagine having Jesus as your mentor. Imagine being able to sit down one night and have a long talk with him, asking him questions and getting answers. Imagine asking him to help you with some of your problems. Imagine even being able to shake his hand. I get a bit jealous when I think that some people — his disciples — got to enjoy that privilege.

It would be cool to live with Jesus right beside us so that we could ask him questions. But surprisingly, Jesus says:

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:7)

According to Jesus, we are better off without his physical presence. You and I are in a better position than Jesus’ disciples, who got to live and talk with Jesus for years in Israel. Why? Because he has sent us the Helper.

The word “Helper” that Jesus used is profound and actually a little hard to translate. Earlier Jesus called him “another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16-17). Another means that he’s not the first. Jesus was the first. He’s carrying on the same work that Jesus did — strengthening and helping his disciples — except in some ways it’s even better than having Jesus with us!

“The Spirit inside you is better than the Jesus beside you,” to paraphrase J.D. Greear.

We’re looking at The Apostle’s Creed, which is broken into four parts: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, and the church. Today we’re covering part three: I believe in the Holy Spirit. Surprisingly, that’s all the creed says about the Holy Spirit!

But it’s very important that we think and learn about the Holy Spirit. Here’s the reason why. According to John Owen, a theologian who lived in the 1600s, you can break all of history into three main divisions.

  • The time when the work of God the Father was more prominent before Jesus came, in which the great testing truth was “the oneness of God’s nature and his monarchy over all.”
  • Then, when Jesus was born, you have the period in which God the Son was more prominent, and the great testing truth is whether people who knew the Father would recognize in the incarnate Son.

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