In his upper room discourse, Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as “another advocate.” Why is this significant, and how does it relate to the theme of John’s Gospel as a whole? Also, many people in our day associate the work of the Spirit with ecstatic experiences or that tingly feeling you get during worship, but in this section of John’s Gospel Jesus refers to him as “the Spirit of truth.” How should we think about the person and work of the Holy Spirit in our own time and place? The hosts will discuss these and other questions as they continue their discussion of John 14.
Bob Hiller: We tend to associate the spirit with something inward, and truth is something outside of us or above us. And so when you start talking about the spirit of truth, what you’re saying is the Holy Spirit here is giving you something that is true outside and apart from you. It’s not coming from within.
Term to Learn
“Pentecost and the On-going Work of the Spirit”
Acts 2 presents Pentecost as the giving of the Spirit to the church after the ascension of Christ to the Father. Just as the Spirit’s presence in Christ’s ministry was identified with his proclamation of the gospel (Isa 61:1 – 2; Lk 4:18 – 21), the consequence of the Spirit’s descent at Pentecost was the public proclamation of the gospel by Peter with the other apostles standing at his side (Ac 2: 14 – 36). And yet, it is vital to understand that the Spirit is the mediator of, not the surrogate for, Christ’s person and work. The redeeming work of Christ lies behind us, but the effect of that Word is at work in ‘these last days’ by the Spirit’s empowerment. With the Father, the Spirit gave the Son to sinners in the incarnation, and in the Upper Room Discourse (Jn 14 – 16) Jesus promised that when he ascended he would give the Spirit. We are the beneficiaries of this intratrinitarian exchange of gifts.
The Spirit’s ongoing ministry is judicial, convicting the world of sin and persuading us of our guilt and continual need for Christ’s righteousness. The Spirit guides us into all truth, which the Son embodies. The Spirit does not replace Jesus but unites us to our heavenly king and head, disrupting ordinary history by placing us into the new creation. The Spirit glorifies Jesus making him known through indwelling our hearts, as a gift (arrabon) of our final redemption, making all of Christ’s work our own. The Spirit thus mediates the threefold office of Christ to every believer. The Spirit gives and orchestrates the many gifts bestowed on the whole body through the ministry of the ordained office-bearers in Word and sacrament. These officers differ only in the graces of vocation with other believers, and not in the gracious status they all have in the Spirit of Christ. Through this ministry of the Spirit which began at Pentecost, we are remade into Christ’s likeness as prophets, priests, and kings: true and faithful witnesses in the cosmic courtroom, a choir answering antiphonally in praise to our Redeemer.
(Adapted from Michael Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way, p. 555-560)