What the Holy Spirit won't do
John 16:13-14 has this to say. "When he the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all 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. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you."
For many years there was little written about the Holy Spirit and that's a loss that believers could scarcely afford but the Holy Spirit himself was partly responsible for that because he did such a glorious job in glorifying Jesus Christ. In this text Jesus without apology insists that the Holy Spirit would not speak from himself; that is, he acts as one that delivers truth that is given to him. And as it turns out, the things he speaks about are the things of Christ, to whom the Spirit brings glory. If we take God’s unfolding drama seriously—that is, in the way that God has unfolded it, it will not be surprising that the Spirit doesn’t speak about himself or from himself. God’s creation purpose comes to its climax in Jesus Christ as the Lord of the new creation.
Every now and then we find people who will talk of no one else but the Holy Spirit and part of the reason for that is that for so long no one talked about him. These people are (perhaps) over-compensating for what is in some ways a shameful silence during which the Spirit has been completely ignored. And when people have been starved (so to speak) of something rich it is hardly surprising if they should gorge themselves when the opportunity arises.
[Of course there are those that think they’re talking about the Holy Spirit when they’re really talking about themselves—about their experience of the Holy Spirit. At a much more sinister level there are those that convince us that they know they’re talking about themselves. Even while they use the words "the Holy Spirit said to me one morning while I was shaving..." (Yes, I did hear a prominent preacher say that in just the tone I’ve implied.) I think we’re supposed to come away with the impression that these speakers are on very intimate terms with a member of the Godhead.]
It’s important to bear in mind that this passage is particularly about the Holy Spirit and not about Jesus or the Father, so it becomes almost a job description. The passage has nothing to say about his person-hood and nature (though there are implications here), but about how he will go about his business, which, in this text, is to develop the meaning and further the purposes of Jesus Christ.
Those who would urge us to "go back to the simple teachings of Jesus" should pay attention to this text. The apostolic witness and the development of the truth about Jesus Christ should not be ignored—especially in light of such a passage. Jesus does not think that what the Spirit will do in them was a step backward. To ignore the Gospels would be tragic in every way that something can be tragic but to dismiss the NT epistles would be no less catastrophic. The Gospels are more than "simple" historical records of slices of Jesus’ life but the epistles teach us the meaning of much that we read in the Gospels.
These verses should give warning to preachers/teachers that ceaselessly talk to believers about the believers. The central responsibility of the church is to proclaim the glory of God in Jesus Christ. Its business is not to look ceaselessly at its own image. The business of its leaders and ministers of the Word is to take of Christ’s and give it to the church for the world, to the glory of God.
Ministers of the word are to feed the church of God with the word of the Sprit of God in keeping with God’s eternal purposes. It’s not in looking within that we’ll find courage and strength and joy and purpose and outreach. If we gain these and more we’ll gain them in being astonished by his grace and power and faithfulness and joy-filled holiness.
What have we preachers/teachers to do with presenting ourselves or leading the people of God to gaze endlessly at themselves (in praise or criticism)?
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.
Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, theabidingword.com