This term we’re enjoying our series called ‘The Spirit of Jesus,’ from John’s gospel. Every week we’ll be sharing a ‘Spotlight On…’ blog post from one of our teaching pastors. Each post will be on a key Biblical doctrine that’s especially prominent in John’s gospel. This week’s post is by Phil Strong, our Campus & Partner Church Development Director. Here is his spotlight on ‘The Spirit & Scripture.’ We hope you enjoy.
7 “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
Have you ever seen two fast jets flying in perfect unison? They are two, but move as if they were one. Jesus says that the message of the Spirit of God and the eye-witness testimonials of Jesus’ disciples are two that move as one. The Spirit speaks in and through the message about Jesus, through the eye-witness testimonials of Jesus’ disciples (found in the pages of the New Testament). Jesus says this Spirit empowered message about Jesus shows that:
- We are wrong to centre our lives on ourselves and others, rather than on God (i.e. sin)
- We return to God-centredness through his forgiveness, won by Jesus at the cross (i.e. righteousness)
- We need to take this very seriously, the risen Jesus will be everyone’s Judge (i.e. judgement).
The Spirit of God works in perfect unison with and in the eye-witness testimonials of Jesus’ disciples. God the Father is speaking through God the Spirit in the New Testament’s message about God the Son, Jesus. Think about that, the Spirit of God is keenly present and active whenever the New Testament’s message about Jesus is being told or considered.
The Holy Spirit brings glory to Jesus by teaching about him in God’s Word – not just in the ‘Christian’ New Testament, but also in the ancient text we know as the Old Testament. The Old Testament is the ‘shadow’ that gives an outline of Jesus and his mission (Colossians 2:17). The New Testament reveals the full reality of Jesus and his mission. The Spirit is the driving force that produced both the Old and New Testament. Jesus said to his followers (disciples) in John 15:26-27, “When the Advocate [i.e. the Spirit] comes…he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.” James Montgomery Boice says that the disciples might have understood “that the central message of the Old Testament was the promise of God to send a Redeemer. But now they are told that the same Holy Spirit is going to come upon them – indeed, be in them – so that nothing about Christ’s work or teachings necessary for our salvation and for the growth of the church might be lost.” (Foundations, 382)
Two factors give us confidence in the reliability of the New Testament’s testimonial about Jesus. All the evidence points to the human writers (or their direct sources) being reliable eye witnesses with their own unique personalities who did not collude to create the New Testament documents – yet the documents they produced have a type consistency with each other that must come from them reporting the real words and actions of Jesus. The other reason we can have confidence in the reliability of the New Testament’s testimonial about Jesus is the promise of Jesus recorded in John 15 and 16 that the Spirit of God would be at work in the disciples as they testify about Jesus. The New Testament is perfectly the product of the Spirit of Jesus working in and through the eye witnesses of all he said and did. The Apostle Peter expresses it this way, “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20-21)
The Spirit working through reliable human eye witnesses of Jesus to produce the New Testament documents has three key implications for us as we read the New Testament. Firstly, the New Testament is about real people living at a real time and place – it’s real history. James Montgomery Boice says, “The historical nature of Christianity sets it off dramatically from all other religions, mythologies or philosophies. These conceive of religion largely as a pattern of ideas and salvation as learning certain things or perhaps doing certain things. Christianity has ideas, that is true; but the ideas are based on what God has actually done, and that is determinative.” (Foundations, 382) Secondly, in the reporting of what Jesus said and did the Spirit is teaching us the meaning of these events. Jesus said to his disciples in John 14:26, “…the Holy Spirit…will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” We’re not just told how Jesus was born, lived, died and rose again – we’re told why he did these things. We see that in John’s purpose statement for writing his Gospel, “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30-31) Thirdly, the message of the New Testament still speaks to us in our time and gives us an understanding of God’s goal for the created universe. The resurrection of Jesus, in human history some 2,000 years ago, announces him as God and King. God’s goal is to finally do away with all evil by submitting everything under the good rule of King Jesus. But God withholds the final full effects of Jesus’ reign as King because he’s giving humans time and opportunity to stop being willing participants in that evil. He gives us time to find his love and forgiveness in Jesus and to then live new lives that foreshadow the world to come as we live for Jesus, our God and King.
Like two fast jets flying in perfect unison – a picture of the human and divine characteristics of the New Testament documents. They are the product of multiple reliable eye witness accounts of Jesus put into writing by unique individuals of good character. From the purely human side of things alone the New Testament documents are worth you reading – as reliable human testimonials of all that Jesus said and did. But in reporting what Jesus said and did they tell us of the divine character of the New Testament documents. The Spirit of God was at work through the original writers, and is still at work today as we read what they wrote and ponder in our hearts and minds who Jesus is – why Jesus was born, lived, died and rose again.
Click here https://www.creekroad.org.au/jesus/ to consider further why Jesus was born, lived, died and rose again and how that might change your life.
Phil Strong- Campus & Partner Church Development Director