“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”
This is the promise of the coming of the Comforter to the believer. The Holy Spirit is sent by the Father at the request of Jesus Christ. It becomes clear in the revelation of Scripture that this sending is related exclusively to the Son of Man raised and glorified. There is an inseparable link and dependence of the ministry of the Holy Spirit to the redemptive work and exalting of the Man, Jesus Christ. The presence of the Holy Spirit on earth, in this specific role and character as Helper, was consequent to the Father glorifying the Son of Man (John 13:31-32).
The Holy Spirit given after the Son of Man was glorified
“But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
This confirms the relationship we have just mentioned and adds to the significance of Christ taking up the title and role of the Son of Man. It barely needs mentioning that Christ as the Messiah to Israel has no association with the sending of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would be for those who believed in Christ. They would be given the Holy Spirit after He was glorified.
This is the great teaching being presented. The Holy Ghost was sent down to live in believers, consequent to the glorifying of the Son of Man. This would be in place of having an earthly Messiah according to the promises of God. Rejected as the Anointed One and all associated with that in prophecy set aside (John 7:25-27), Jesus takes His place as Man, according to the eternal counsels of God. His exaltation and sitting down at God’s right hand speaks of the redemptive work finished (Heb. 10:10-12). This work was done in such a way that it forever established the righteousness of God (Rom. 3:24-26), and perfectly glorified the Father, who then glorifies Jesus with Himself (John 13:31-32). Therefore having fully established all God’s glory through the cross, and taking this position in the glory, Jesus sends down the Holy Ghost.
The Spirit is the witness of the Son of Man in glory, and the gospel of the glory into which He has gone. He is witness to the fullness of the redemptive work of Christ and gives testimony of this Man sitting down at the right hand of the Father (Heb. 1:3, 10:12).
The Testimony of the Apostles – as Eye-Witnesses of what they saw
But this is not the testimony that the twelve would bear (John 15:27). Certainly their testimony would be under the guidance of the Spirit sent down from on high, but it would not be a revelation of His present glory. Their testimony, empowered by the Spirit, was of what they were eye-witnesses to. They saw His walk on this earth in humiliation, not His exaltation in heavenly glory. He walked as the Son of God clothed in flesh, and always, in His humanity, careful to reveal the Father. This He did in the midst of evil and hatred against Him. In perfect grace, He had to continuously adapt Himself in circumstances — events resulting in His rejection by the very world He had created, and came to save. He also bore in grace with the weaknesses and infirmities of those He kept (John 17:12). Their testimony was noticeable to the world as of those who had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13), as Jesus said of the twelve, you have been with Me from the beginning (John 15:27).
The Testimony of the Holy Spirit – of the Man Exalted in Glory
But the Holy Spirit would also bring testimony as witness of the present glory of the Son of Man. This testimony is different from that of the eye-witnesses to His humiliation. His personal glory accomplished, He is now out of this world of heartache and resistance, and in a perfect place, accepting and honoring Him, as the Man exalted on high. It is His glory that is revealed and who better to do it, but the Holy Spirit who witnessed all this, and now has been sent to reveal it (John 15:26).
I believe that the eye-witness testimony of the apostles, empowered by the Spirit, is the emphasis of the first seven chapters of the book of Acts. Then before Stephen is murdered by unbelieving Israel, he gives a special testimony by the Spirit of the Son of Man in glory at the right hand of God (Acts 7:55-56). This is the beginning of the testimony of the Spirit to the present glory of Christ, the Man in glory. It marks a distinct closing of the Messianic door to the house of Israel, and the opening of the door to the Gentiles. God now would build a new house, by the Holy Spirit sent to gather the body of this Man exalted in glory (Eph. 2:11-22). This gathering is primarily out of the Gentiles and can be attributed to the testimony of the Spirit to the revealed glory of Christ. Also playing a large part in the gathering of the Gentiles was the calling in sovereign grace of a chosen instrument – an eye-witness to this glory, who would preach as his own gospel, the gospel of the glory of Christ. This story is told in detail in a later chapter in this book (The Real Book of Acts).
The believer’s possession of the Holy Spirit is the essence of Christianity. It is not merely something entirely new and not of Israel, but the full disclosure of the abundance of grace given to us in the revelation of Christ glorified. We will certainly have our part and participation in that glory, but the believer knows that it is our proper position now, and the redemptive work completed gives us the right to be there. We wait for the return of Jesus for us before we will enter into it, our bodies being transformed into the likeness of His glorious body. This is an abundance of grace shown to us by the Father, clearly demonstrating God’s fullness of love toward the believer (Rom. 5:8). And the revelation of this very love is the testimony of the Spirit given to us (Rom. 5:5).
The Operations of the Spirit in the Gospel of John
Being here in John 7 affords us the opportunity to observe the three operations or workings of the Holy Spirit revealed in this gospel. In chapter 3 we are born of the Spirit, as quickened by God. In chapter 4 the Spirit is a fountain in the believer springing up unto everlasting life. In chapter 7 the new man, the new creation in Christ, enters into the knowledge and enjoyment of things unseen, heavenly, and eternal. It is the testimony of the Spirit that reveals the truths of Christ in glory. These are truths that are associated with the believer and fill our hearts to overflowing. The overflow becomes a testimony to others being drawn of God. Once we are satisfied and filled, the overflow goes out to other thirsty souls (John 7:37-38).
There are many other truths worth looking at concerning the ministry of the Comforter. We can understand from John 14 above that He was with the disciples when Jesus was still with them. But what is distinct about His being sent after Christ sat down at the right hand of God was that He would now dwell in them, the believer being the temple of the living God (2 Cor. 6:16-18). When sent, the Spirit will abide in us forever.
The Believer has the Spirit of God within…eternally
And so, we should understand that when the saint is conformed into the image of Christ, our bodies glorified in resurrection, the Holy Spirit will not leave us. Presently, much of the believer’s spiritual energy by the Spirit is expended in our resistance of sin in the flesh (Gal. 5:17) or against the wiles of the devil and his minions (Eph. 6:11-12). This is while we still walk on this earth. When the church is removed from this world these things will simply not exist in us or against us any longer. We will be brought into the glory, and the Spirit, still abiding in the believer, will be the power and capacity to fully know and enjoy the width and length and depth and height – of the glory and presence of the Father (Eph. 3:18). Is this not what the Holy Spirit is revealing through Paul in Ephesians?
“…to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.”
The multi-faceted wisdom of God concerning His eternal purpose for forming the church and exalting it in Christ is presently and clearly displayed to the principalities and authorities in the heavens. And what is the outcome? It is that through the confidence of faith in Christ, this body has a bold entrance and eternal access to the presence and glory of the Father. If you will receive it, by the Spirit of God and through His word, we may understand that God’s intentions are for this body, the church, to be His very own habitation and dwelling place throughout the eternal ages to come. These understandings are associated with the mystery of God, and this mystery is presently revealed by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 3:2-5).
The Spirit of Truth – so the Believer May Know Spiritual Truth
We also see in John 14 above that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. Again in John 15:26, He is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father. And in John 16:13 it is, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth…” We have discussed this in the first chapter of this book, so I just add a few thoughts on this. It is by the Spirit of God that the believer understands and apprehends the truth of God. By the Spirit of truth we know and are enlightened concerning the mind and counsels of God.
1 Corinthians 2:9-12
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”
In this passage we have three distinct workings of the Spirit on our behalf. First, we see these things are revealed by the Spirit (v. 10-12 above). Second, they are communicated by words the Spirit taught (v. 13). Third, the power of the Spirit allows us to spiritually discern (v.14). All three are the operation of the ministry of the Comforter in the believer.
It is always God’s intention for believers to understand what He reveals. All enlightenment we receive of God’s revelation must come through His Spirit. This is the emphasis of the above passage. We would be in the dark without the ministry of the Comforter. It is often said and implied that the simple mentality of a fisherman is all you need to understand God’s word. This is a human thought and reasoning of the carnal mind. The truth is, whether you have a simple mentality or an advanced well-educated one, without the working of the Spirit in the believer, you will know nothing of the truth of God. The teaching of the Spirit and the understanding of God’s Word that the Spirit makes known to us, is contrasted with the spirit of the world (v. 12) and the knowledge the wise of this world possess.
The Truth of God is not Worldly Wisdom and Thinking
1 Corinthians 1:20-24
“Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
The whole unbelieving world is represented here. It includes the specially chosen Jews, and the worldly thinking Gentile Greeks. But the wisdom of God cannot be comprehended by these two groups. They do not have the Spirit of God. God’s wisdom and counsels are either foolishness or a stumbling block to them. The entire world, both Jews and Gentiles alike, is in the flesh and without the Spirit (Rom. 8:8-9). The world cannot receive Him. The world cannot see Him or know Him (John 14:17). And the conclusion is this:
1 Corinthians 2:14
“But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
There is a stark contrast made between the wisdom of God and that of the world. There is quite a difference between what the believer can and may understand and what the unbelieving world can fathom. As I said previously, the saint has been placed by God into a privileged position, invited into the counsels of God. By the Comforter, we are to understand all that God freely gives to us in grace in Christ. It has been provided for us by the redemptive work of the Son of Man (1 Cor. 2:12). By the Comforter, the heavenly glory of the Son of Man is revealed to us, and all the believer’s association and union with Him in His glory (Eph. 3:4-5). And further, by the teaching of the Spirit, we know that the Son of Man will not take His inheritance until His co-heirs are united to Him, as His body, in glory. How else then, when He is manifested to the world in glory, will we be manifested in glory with Him (Col. 3:4)?
“But when the Comforter comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.”
The testimony of a risen Christ by the apostles, empowered by the Spirit, began at Pentecost. This testimony found in the beginning portions of the book of Acts was strictly to the nation of Israel. The content of their preaching, and what they testify to, is very Jewish in character. It is Israel’s last chance for realizing Messianic promises for the nation at that time. But the leaders of Israel put a definite end to this testimony, beheading James, stoning Stephen, threatening Peter and John, and organizing a state wide persecution of all those who call on the name of Jesus (Acts 8:1, 9:1-2). Certainly we see the dual testimony of the Spirit and the apostles, rejected by the nation. The nation is guilty of always resisting the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51).
The Spirit is the Seal of the Adoption of Sonship
There was also a testimony of the Comforter to the believer. The Spirit proceeding from the Father is the seal of the Spirit of adoption for sonship in the Father’s house and family (Rom. 8:15-16, Gal. 4:5-7). It is the Spirit that cries out in our hearts, “Abba, Father!” By the Comforter, the believer realizes and understands his relationship to the Father as a son. This is the nature of the promise found in John 14:17 concerning the Comforter being sent from the Father. The indwelling Comforter would reveal to the believer our position of sonship along with His Son, in the Father’s presence. It is also by the Comforter that we commune and have fellowship with the Father, on a personal and individual level (John 14:21-23). Further, the Spirit given to the sons brings the clear and complete revelation of the Father spoken about by Jesus before He left:
“These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but I will tell you plainly about the Father.”
He is referring to the time when the Comforter would be given to the believer, as a son, to clearly reveal the Father. The revelation of the Father is by the Son of God sent to the earth to reveal Him – John 1:18. This revelation was flatly rejected by Israel. They would not receive it (Jesus speaking to the Jews in all of John 8 makes this point). Jesus speaks intimately of the Father, not to Israel, but to chosen ones of the Father in John 14-17. But it would be later that the Comforter makes things clear, as the Spirit of truth and the Spirit of adoption.
The Spirit Reveals Our Present Association with Christ in Glory
The Comforter, as sent by Jesus (John 16:7), would reveal Christ to the believer, as well as the things of Christ. This also the Lord points to as a time coming after He had left them:
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.”
The Comforter bears testimony to the believer of the glorified Christ. It is this; “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself…” All things that the Father has are Christ’s. The things the Father has given Him, is the Father’s own glory (John 17:24). The glory of God now is in the face of the Son of Man; the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (II Cor. 4:6). This knowledge the Spirit reveals. The Comforter reveals the present position and glory of Jesus Christ to us. He glorifies Christ and declares these things to the believer. By the Spirit we behold the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, and by the ministry of the Spirit through the Word, we are changed from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18).
The epistles are the written communications of the Father and the Son, given through the Comforter to the church. Why them? Two important understandings I believe will bring this out. First, the Comforter could not come until Christ sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. It would be a specific point in time after Christ was raised from the dead, ascended on high, and exalted to God’s right hand. The Spirit could not come until then. That’s important, and Jesus makes it a point of emphasis (John 16:7). Secondly, the ministry and work of the Comforter is based on a promise of Christ to individual New Testament believers. That promise is one that is unique to the believer. There is nothing in the Old Testament or with Israel that compares with this. Why? Israel, regardless of all the distinctions separating them from the Gentiles, still were a people very much in Adam, in the world, and in the flesh. You are in the flesh if you have not the Spirit of God.
The Comforter was sent to the earth after the work of redemption was completed. He gathers and forms the body of Christ, joining the members to the Head. Those joined to the Lord are one spirit with Him (1 Cor. 6:17). Christ is in glory. Our union to Christ by the Spirit is a union to a Christ in glory. Early in John 14, Jesus only talks of He being in the Father and the Father in Him (John 14:9-11) – this refers to the present moment in which He was speaking. But later in the chapter He again refers to the time when the Comforter would be given.
“At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”
Our union with Christ is that we are in Him and He is in us, and we know this by the Spirit given to us. We also see that the assembly of God is built up on the earth – a unified house as the habitation of God in the Spirit (Eph. 2:22, I Cor. 3:4-16). All of these things depend on the presence of the Comforter on the earth, and are founded on the completed work of Christ on the cross.
The Sending of the Holy Spirit is the Coming of a Divine Personage to this Earth
My intention was not to teach all that the Holy Spirit does for us as believers. It was simply to show the connection between the Son of Man and the coming of the Comforter. When Christ was born in Bethlehem, it was the coming of a divine person to this earth. Even though Christ created everything, and there were Old Testament appearances, His incarnation was God among Israel in the flesh. The God who made the world was now present in the world. This was a distinct personal coming of a divine person
The coming of the Spirit at Pentecost was the coming of a divine person to this earth as well. It is unique and very different than the Holy Spirit inspiring Old Testament prophets. This is not merely the Spirit speaking words, in times past, pointing to what would be accomplished in the counsels of God. It is the Comforter being sent as a result of the work already completed, Christ having sat down (Heb. 10:11-12). The Holy Spirit is the power of the Christian life and faith (Rom. 8:2). He is also the guarantee of all our sure and steadfast hopes in Christ (Eph. 1:13-14, 2 Cor. 1:22, 5:5, Rom. 8:11, 23-25). I hope you realize all these things as part of the ministry of the Spirit. Jesus did not leave us comfortless. Where we are now as believers, is a place between the Holy Spirit being sent down and the complete results in glory.
2 Corinthians 5:4-5
“For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”
The Father’s counsels are to bring the body of Christ into glory. He has prepared us for this very thing. The Father has predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son, that there would be many brethren in His glory (Rom. 8:29). Jesus Christ has been taken into the glory, as the Son of Man, the forerunner there ahead of us. It is for this very purpose we have been given the presence of the Spirit within – to be associated and united with Christ in heavenly glory. All of the truths about the present glory of Christ are made known to us by the Spirit.
The following three paragraphs taken from the writings of John Nelson Darby;
During the time that the Savior is seated at the right hand of God, God gathers the church by the action of the Holy Ghost on earth. The glad tidings of grace are announced in the world in order to convince the world of sin, and in particular of sin in that it has rejected the Son of God; John 16:7-9. It is not the tidings that sin is forgiven, and that this has to be believed; but that the world lies in wickedness, the grand proof of which is that it has rejected the Son of God, and at the same time that the blood is on the mercy-seat, and that all men are invited to come to God who will receive them according to the value that blood has in His eyes. (1 Pet. 1:12; 2 Cor. 5:20; Col. 1:23; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; 1 Cor. 15:3, and a host of passages.) But other precious truths proceed from this descent of the Holy Ghost from heaven. Observe that He comes in virtue of the fact that Christ has gone up to heaven; John 16:7. Divine righteousness is exercised and manifested in that man (Christ), who is at the right hand of God because of His having glorified God and of a perfect propitiation having been made for sin; John 13:31, 32; ch. 17:4, 5; Phil. 2:8, 9.
Now He glorified God by His work, accomplished for those who believe in Him. The Holy Ghost then descends on those who already believed in Him (John 7:39; Luke 24:49; Acts 1 and 2), and announces through their means this glorious salvation; announces to all men that the blood is on the mercy-seat, and invites them to draw near. But, besides that, He gives, as dwelling in the believer, the assurance that all his sins have been borne by Christ (1 Pet. 2:24), and are blotted out for ever (Rev. 1:5; Heb. 1:3, and other passages); that he, the believer, is made the righteousness of God in Christ; 2 Cor. 5:21. For the righteousness of God must accept and glorify the believer: otherwise the work of Christ has been done in vain, and God’s righteousness is not put in exercise with respect to it; God does not recognize the value of this work, does not render to Christ that which He in every way deserved, which is absolutely impossible. Next, the Holy Ghost is in the believer, the seal for the day of redemption (Eph. 4:30), that is to say, for his entering actually into the glory of Christ; then He gives to the one in whom He dwells the consciousness that he is with Christ, in Christ, and Christ in him (John 14:16-20); that he is the child of God, and His heir, joint-heir with Christ (Rom. 8:16,17; Gal. 4:5-9); finally, He takes of the things of Christ, and shows them to him, while leading him through the wilderness by the path that leads to the glory; Rom. 8:14.
All that is for the individual. But there is only one Spirit in all believers, and He unites them all to Christ, and consequently all together as one body (Rom. 12:4, 5; 1 Cor. 12:13, etc.), the body of Christ, head (as we have seen) over all things. It is the church united to Christ, His body, and Christians members of Christ and one of another, the bride of the Lamb; Eph. 5:25, etc. The Holy Spirit thus causes her to wait for her Bridegroom, for the marriage of the Lamb; Rev. 22:17; ch. 19. But this can only be in heaven. Believers, by the Spirit, are there already (Eph. 2:6; Phil. 3:21, 22), united by Him to the One who is there, having a heavenly calling, and detached from the world in order to look on high. Thus they go up to meet Christ in the air (1 Thess. 4:15-17); Christ who has come to take them according to His promise, changing or raising them, and in order to have them with Him in His Father’s house, where He Himself is (John 14:1-4; John 14:2. Thus they are forever with the Lord; 1 Thess. 4:17. Believers who have suffered are children of the Father in the glory, and together form the bride and body of Christ.