News for the week of Thursday, January 2, 2014

Sunday School Lesson — Explore the Bible
Jan. 5: Depend on the Spirit
By David R. Dean

Focal Passage: John 15:1-17

What is the role of the Holy Spirit? When did the Holy Spirit begin His work? What is the relationship between Jesus, Holy Spirit, and God the Father? Is there a hierarchy among the three persons of the Trinity? What is the task of Holy Spirit today? Has it changed since Jesus’ time on earth?

The Bible teaches that God is Spirit and we must worship Him in Spirit and truth. Jesus said that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and “No one comes to the Father except through Him.” We know that Jesus’ life as a human being began by the conception of a virgin instigated by the Spirit Himself. God is person, Jesus was God in flesh, and the Holy Spirit is the agent of our being born again — born of the Spirit. John 15:26 defines Holy Spirit as Counselor … One whom He will send to the disciples from the Father Himself, “The Spirit of truth Who goes out from the Father. He will testify about me.”

We cannot comprehend the triune nature of God. But we can know Him personally, and not just intellectually. If the Holy Spirit comes from the Father, and Jesus is born in flesh by the power of the Holy Spirit, and we as believers are born again by the power of the Holy Spirit, it seems practical and logical that we should depend on the Spirit! John 16 defines the role of the Spirit. Jesus’ affirmation of the coming Counselor to comfort his troubled followers should also be a comfort to us. The word paracletle is used for the Holy Spirit.

The Greek combines two words, “called” and “alongside” which when put together means that our Counselor is one who is available at all times when we call Him to our aid.

Imagine the grief of the disciples when Jesus told them He was going away. “It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you” (16:7). In the absence of the physical presence of Jesus, the Holy Spirit is available to all who believe.

(1) He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin. (2) He will convince us of the righteousness of His work on the cross, and (3) He will convict the world of coming judgment. This is not all.

We know that the Holy Spirit is the One who inspired the very gospel we study. The same Holy Spirit who inspired the Bible will also enable all who study it. John 16:13, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come.”

John 16:14-15 describes the unique relationship of our triune God.

One of the primary tasks of the Spirit is to point us to Jesus as the only begotten of the Father.

Jesus and the Father are one, and the role of the Holy Spirit is to convince all who believe of the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

What a vital task is His. “He will bring glory to me (Jesus) by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.”

We must pray that we will be as united as Jesus and the Father are, and as Christ Himself prays in John 17:20-21. The Holy Spirit is like a divine laser beam which focuses on the work of Christ. An ordinary X-ray is magnified when passed through a ruby crystal and has power to cut through steel, or perform surgery in hard-to-reach places. When the “rays of the Spirit“ focus on our hearts we are convicted of sin and convinced of Christ’s righteousness. When we read God’s word with open and believing hearts we too will be convinced who Jesus is — the primary task of the Holy Spirit.

This interplay and relationship between Father, Son, and Spirit is described in a novel which many argue is not biblically correct. The Shack, is a fictional story of a man who lost his daughter and spends a weekend with the Trinity in counsel with a very unusual portrayal of grief, comfort, and relationship. I do affirm that this novel by William P. Young caused me to have a new appreciation for the interaction within the Trinity. We can never comprehend or explain God. The role of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and in the life of the church, cannot be compartmentalized and limited to personal well being.

Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest) says: “The greatest blessing spiritually is the knowledge that we are destitute; until we get there our Lord is powerless. He can do nothing for us if we think we are sufficient of ourselves. It is only when we get hungry spiritually that we receive the Holy Spirit. The gift of the essential nature of God is made effectual in us by the Holy Spirit.

He imparts to us the quickening life of Jesus. “Wow! How we must depend on the Spirit!

— Dean lives in Orlinda. He is the retired executive director of the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association.


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