In our text today, there is a lot going on.
· But I want to focus on what Jesus says about the Holy Spirit.
· And to do that we will break down the verses as follows:
o (1) Departing – Jesus speaks of the relationship between His departure and the coming of the Spirit.
o (2) Describing – Jesus describes who the Spirit is.
o (3) Defining – Jesus defines for us what the Spirit will do (context is crucial here).
1) HIS DEPARTING BRINGS THE SPIRIT
John 16:7 (ESV) — 7Nevertheless, 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.
· Jesus, after acknowledging the sorrow of the disciples in verse 6 due to (1) what they will soon face, and (2) His coming crucifixion, reminds them for the third time that the “Helper” is coming.
· We saw in John 14:
o John 14:16 (ESV) — 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever
o John 14:26 (ESV) — 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
This time however Jesus couches the coming of “the Helper” in terms of His own departure.
· He says, “it is to your advantage that I go away”.
· He says, “if I do not go away, the Helper will not come”.
· He says, “But if I go” the Helper will come.
Sinclair Ferguson teases out the profoundness of Jesus’ words by asking the following question.
· Would you rather have Jesus physically present with you, or would you rather have the Spirit present in you?
· He suggests that it is Jesus’ view that it is better that Jesus go and the Spirit come and indwell the disciples.
o BTW – Jesus is not saying that He and the Spirit can’t work simultaneously (Carson, et al.).
· Why is it better that Christ leave and the Spirit come?
o We will see at least three reasons.
(1) The “‘lifting up’ of Jesus via his cross to the throne of God brings about the turn of the ages that ushers in the saving sovereignty of God in fullness” – Beasley-Murray.
· And what is the “saving sovereignty of God”?…the Gospel.
· With Jesus glorified and exalted, and the Spirit sent by the Father, the table is set for (1) the Spirit to unleash the saving power of the Gospel.
Paul put it like this:
· Ephesians 1:16–23 (ESV) — 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
· Paul then goes on to explain how these events made possible our salvation by grace through faith.
What of the other two reasons it is better for Jesus to go and the Spirit to come?
· Thomas might give us some insight into another reason.
Thomas expressed his preference for the physical proof that Jesus was raised from the dead.
· John 20:25 (ESV) — 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
· Of course, physical proof was only possible because of Jesus’ physical presence.
o No Jesus = No Physical Proof
However, Jesus had an opinion about the need for physical proof found in His presence.
· John 20:29 (ESV) — 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
What does this exchange tell us?
· To get at that we have to remember the lesson where we discussed what D.A. Carson called Saving Faith and Spurious Faith.
· He said that, “in John’s Gospel, too much interest in the raw miracles themselves is spiritually dangerous (2:23–25; 6:26). Miracles cannot compel genuine faith (e.g. 11:45–46)” – D.A. Carson.
· What they often compel is Spurious Faith.
We saw that:
· A Spurious Faith can give false assurance that one has a Saving Faith (John 2:23-25).
· A Spurious Faith can reject the Words of Christ while accepting His Works(John 6:28-30).
· A Spurious Faith is based man-centered not Christ-centered (John 10:25-26).
· And as such, a Spurious Faith is vulnerable to “opposing evidence” (John 7:27 & 31).
In fact, Jesus had this to say about Spurious Faith:
· John 2:23–25 (ESV) — 23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.
(2) So how is the issue of Saving Faith and Spurious Faith, and the exchange between Jesus and Thomas related to Jesus’ departure being an advantage?
· We know that many who saw Christ and His works rejected Him.
· We know that many who believed in Christ because of His works later rejected Him (John 6:66).
· With Christ’s departure, however, the (2) Spirit was unleashed to regenerate hearts.
o There is no one whose heart was/is regenerated by the Spirit who rejected Christ.
· So the answer is that the sure faith of a regenerated heart is desirable over the spurious faith based on the human powers of discernment of physical evidence.
Finally, there may be one more reason that Jesus said it was, “to your advantage that I go away”.
· John 1:32 (ESV) — 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.
· Matthew 12:28 (ESV) — 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
· Ben Witherington suggests that Jesus’ words here indicate that it is the Holy Spirit that empowers Jesus’ works .
(3) If so, this means that it was this same Spirit of God that, after Jesus’ departure, would empower the works of the apostles.
· Acts 3:6 (ESV) — 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”
· Acts 5:12 (ESV) — 12 Now many signs and wonders were regularly doneamong the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico.
· Acts 20:9–10 (ESV) — 9 And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. 10 But Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.”
· So with Christ’s departure the (3) Spirit was unleashed to empower miraculous works.
Now that we have seen at least three reasons why Jesus’ departing was an advantage for the disciples, we can move on to how Jesus defined who the Spirit was.
2) HIS DEFINING WHO THE SPIRIT IS
In our text today, Jesus describes the Spirit as:
· “the Helper” (15:26)
· the “Spirit of truth” (15: 26)
· “who proceeds from the Father” (15:26)
(1) Holy Spirit as Helper:
In our lesson “The Coming of the Holy Spirit” we learned the following:
· The Greek word Jesus used to describe the Holy Spirit as Helper (vss. 16 & 26) was “parakletos”.
· It’s has legal overtones and describes “one who is called to someone’s aid” – BDAG.
· And specifically in our text, Jesus is saying the Holy Spirit will be sent to appear on Jesus’ behalf as “mediator, intercessor, helper” – BDAG.
We saw at least two ways the Spirit would do this:
· “…he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26).
· “…he will bear witness about me” (John 15:26).
(2) Holy Spirit as Truth:
We also covered this in “The Coming of the Holy Spirit”.
· The gist of this is that the Spirit is the Spirit of truth “primarily because he communicates the truth…bears witness to the truth…the truth that Jesus is” – D.A. Carson.
· As Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
· Truth profoundly links the ministry of Christ with the ministry of the Spirit.
· The Spirit bears witness to:
o The truth of Jesus’ identity
o The truth of Jesus’ ministry
o The truth of Jesus’ Gospel
(3) Holy Spirit as proceeding from the Father:
· The significance of what proceeding from the Father means is wrapped up in the works that the Spirit was sent to do on behalf of the disciples.
· And understanding the relationship between these two is, as I said at the intro, peculiar to our context.
· This is because the proceeding and the works are relevant to the situation the disciples will find themselves in w/o Jesus.
· In other words, Jesus is leaving the disciples, but the work He has started with the disciples will not be jeopardized by His departure.
· The Spirit proceeds from the Father to continue that work.
So to get at this relationship between proceeding and works, we must get into Jesus’ description of the works of the Spirit.
3) HIS DESCRIBING WHAT THE SPIRIT DOES
The relationship of the procession from the Father and the works of the Spirit can be teased out with a few questions.
· If Jesus’ is going away, and it is because of Him persecution comes, what exactly is the world going to be persecuting the disciples over?
· “How will this confrontation with the world continue?” – D.A. Carson.
· After all, as Kostenberger points out, Jesus “was the prime target of hostility” not the disciples – Kostenberger.
It is when we see that the Spirit is proceeding from the Father to take over the work of Christ in the lives of the disciples that we can answer these questions.
· In other words, because the proceeding from the Father indicates a direct analogy between the Spirit’s mission and Jesus’ mission – D.A. Carson.
· Jesus’ “workon earth has not come to an end; it will be continued by the Spirit” – Kostenberger.
· This leads us to the underlying way that Jesus describes the work of the Spirit in the context of our text.
(1) Work of Spirit Replaces Work of Christ:
This means that the Holy Spirit comes “in certain respects as a replacement of the Son” – D.A. Carson.
· The Holy Spirit will continue to do for the disciples what Jesus was doing.
· “The Spirit continues the same convicting work that Jesus himself undertook during the days of his flesh” – D.A. Carson.
· And so to answer our questions just posed, persecution will come to the disciples not because of their testimony but because of the Spirit’s testimony in unison with their testimony – D.A. Carson.
o We can’t bear witness to Christ without the Holy Spirit – D.A. Carson.
5 Ways in which the Spirit’s work was continuation/replacement of the work of Jesus:
The similarities between the work of the Spirit and the work of Jesus (in the lives of the disciples – our context) are evident in the examples of the Spirit’s work given by Jesus.
· And these answer the question, exactly how was the Spirit “a replacement of the Son”?
· (a) “bear witness about me” (15:26) – like Jesus bore witness about Himself to them
· (b) “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (16:8) – like Jesus convicted them
· (c) “guide you into all truth” (16:13) – like Jesus guided them
· (d) “not speak on his own authority” (16:13) – like Jesus spoke to them
· (e) “he will declare” the “things that are to come” (16:13) – like Jesus declared to them
· Then verse 14 gives us the effect of the Spirit’s work – “he will glorify” Jesus (16:14)
o A natural result of all the work of the Spirit.
o Glorification of Jesus by the Spirit is not a direct parallel to Jesus’ work but it is rooted in it.
Let’s take a look at these one at a time.
· And keep in mind, as we said earlier, Jesus’ work was never in jeopardy with His departure.
· In fact, His departure and glorification through the cross will actually expedite God’s purposes – Kostenberger.
· All of this would have been a comfort to the disciples once they put it all together at Pentecost.
· They weren’t left alone and powerless.
· And importantly, we should take away that the Holy Spirit is “replacing” the work of Christ, He is not an impersonal, 2nd string substitute for Jesus!
o He is God (and yes, according to Grudem, we can pray to Him.
(a) Like Jesus bore witness:
· John 5:31–32 (ESV) — 31 If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another [the Father] who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true.
Now the Spirit will bear witness to Christ with the Father and the Son.
(b) Like Jesus convicted the world – sin, righteousness, judgment:
· John 3:19 (ESV) — 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.
· John 5:22 (ESV) — 22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son,
· John 5:24 (ESV) — 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
· John 5:27 (ESV) — 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.
Jesus, as the light, exposed darkness and sin and brought it under judgment.
· And “to show someone his sin” is “to summon him to repentance” – Beasley-Murray
· Now the Spirit will expose sin and summon to repentance those who have ears to hear.
(c) Like Jesus guided into truth:
· John 1:14 (ESV) — 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
· John 5:31–32 (ESV) — 31 If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true.
· John 14:6 (ESV) — 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
· John 17:17–19 (ESV) — 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
Now the Spirit will guide them in the truth that was Christ and that was taught by Christ by testifying to this truth in their born again hearts.
(d) Like Jesus didn’t speak on His own authority:
· John 5:19 (ESV) — 19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.
· John 5:30 (ESV) — 30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.
· John 12:49 (ESV) — 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak.
Jesus’ words and actions found their origin and authority in the Father.
· Now the Holy Spirit will testify to only what has been spoken by the Father and Son before Him.
o One more blow to the Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness claim of new revelation.
o John 16:14 (ESV) — 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
o What is His is what He has already declared – there is nothing new.
(e) Like Jesus declared the things to come:
· Jesus, obviously, spoke often of what was to come.
o His crucifixion (John 3:14; John 8:28; John 12:34)
o His exaltation (John 3:14; John 8:28; John 12:34)
o His resurrection (John 2:19; John 10:18)
o His glorification (John 8:54; John 17:5)
Now the Holy Spirit will flesh out “the implications of God’s triumphant self-disclosure in the person and work of his Son” – D.A. Carson.
· The Spirit will make known all the consequences “of the pivotal revelation bound up with Jesus’ person, ministry, death, resurrection and exaltation” – D.A. Carson.
o John 2:22 (ESV) — 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
o John 12:16 (ESV) — 16 His disciples did not understand these thingsat first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these thingshad been written about him and had been done to him.
Summary of Jesus’ words and the reason for them:
The reasons Jesus gives for all that we have just discussed.
· (1) John 16:1 (ESV) — 1 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away.
· (2) John 16:4 (ESV) — 4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.
It appears that if they remember these things they won’t fall in to apostasy.
· What is the apostasy Jesus speaks of in our context?
· It is not a loss of salvation – this is not possible.
· It is referring to people who “have been led astray, but who have not altogether fallen away from the faith” – TDNT.
Sadly, however, Jesus makes clear that they will fall into apostasy.
· Mark 14:27–31 (ESV) — 27 And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29 Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” 30And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same.
This brings us back to the work of the Spirit – and perhaps a fourth reason it is to our advantage.
· And only serves to heighten the value of the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost.
· It will be the work of the Spirit we just discussed that will overcome any urge to fall away.
· In fact, the Spirit will empower a boldness in stark contrast to the disciples state of mind after Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion which led them to fall away.
· For as we learn from Acts, the Spirit gave them, among other things, boldness.
o Acts 4:31 (ESV) — 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
Right Thinking Conclusion:
It should be clear now why it is to the disciples’ advantage that Jesus depart through the cross and send the Spirit.
· The Spirit can pick up where Jesus left off, and do so within the Kingdom of God fully inaugurated by a glorified, risen and exalted Jesus.
· The Spirit’s work at glorifying an exalted Jesus can be done all over the world – no physical presence of Jesus required.
· Additionally, with Jesus’ exaltation, Christ is now seated at the right hand of the Father interceding on our behalf.
· And this arrangement of reality is the context in which we live our Christian life; the context in which the Kingdom of God operates.
· And as we saw last we are not of the world, but of the Kingdom described in the above reality (whether we feel it or not).
· And the Holy Spirit is every bit as personal; as divine; as powerful; and as real as Jesus.
o He is not 2nd string divinity.