The Ministry of the Holy Spirit

John 16:5-15

 “But now I go my way to him that sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send him to you. (7) Isaiah 44:3 8 And when he has come, he will convince the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and you will see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. 12 “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 Nevertheless, when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak by his own authority; but whatsoever he shall hear, this shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. (13) Isaiah 44:3 14 He shall glorify me, for he shall receive from me, and show it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are mine. This is why I said that he shall take from me, and show it to you.” (RCR)

Commentary:

In the previous chapter, Jesus has warned His followers that persecution would come after He is gone. The natural response of those who love Him, is sadness. Many of the Jews during this time were expecting the arrival of the Messiah during their lifetime. They did not understand that He would come twice, as the scriptures foretold. They assumed that when the Messiah came to Israel, He would immediately set up His kingdom on earth and subdue all of her enemies. Learning that Jesus was going to be arrested and crucified was a harsh blow to their hopes and dreams of freedom from Rome’s tyranny. Jesus assures His disciples that this was all a part of God’s plan for their nation as well as the whole world.

Verses 8-10: The Work of the Holy Spirt

Jesus tells His disciples that the good news is that when He departs, the Holy Spirit will come and begin a whole new work of ministry on the earth. He will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgement.

The only sin that can keep anyone out of heaven is unbelief in Jesus death as the solution for their sins. If I tell you that there is only one bridge ahead by which you might escape a raging flood, you have a decision to make. Will you believe that there is only one way to make it through the flood and survive? If you reject this bridge and try and find your own way through the flood, your life will be lost. Jesus told us that the only way through the flood of God’s judgment for our sins, is through the bridge of His cross. If we believe Him, then we will be saved.

All those who place their eternal salvation in the hands of Jesus are saved. This is not a plan that human wisdom has determined, nor does it satisfy those who believe themselves capable of achieving their own redemption. This plan of redemption places the blame for our separation from God squarely on each one of us as sinners. God describes all human beings as existing in a permanent state of alienation from God. There is no good work, penance, religious act, or church membership which has the power to change our present eternal destiny. Without a Savior who has the power and capacity to pay for our sins, every human being will be lost. According to God’s word, all those who place their trust in the completed work of the Messiah will receive eternal life.

Jesus illustrates how salvation takes place

When Jesus describes the perplexing situation of mankind in John chapter 3, He informs Nicodemus that He did not come into the world to condemn mankind—because we were already in a state of condemnation before He arrived.

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. —John 3:17-18

All that God requires of any person is a sincere sorrow for their sins and a desire to turn from those sins—to Jesus and believe upon Him for their salvation. The reason that God gave His only Son to save us is because there was no other method by which we might be saved.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. —John 3:16

Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. —Acts 4:12

Once the Messiah arrived on earth and died upon the cross, salvation was available to the whole world. Those who died before the Messiah arrived, trusting in His future sacrifice for their sins, are are saved in the same manner as those who died after He came and completed His work of salvation. The sins of the whole world were fully and permanently discharged by Jesus death and resurrection.

Those who will be saved, have a sincere sorrow for their sins and an earnest desire to have those transgressions removed. Any person who comes to God in repentance for their sins—relying upon Jesus sacrifice, will be saved.

To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins. —Acts 10:43

John the Baptist began his ministry by preparing the hearts of people to find true sorrow for their sins and a sincere turning to God for forgiveness. When Jesus arrived at the Jordan river, John turned to the people and said: “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”[1]

This Lamb did not have His beginning two thousand years ago. Jesus is described as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”[2]

God’s plan to save the world originated before the world began. Jesus volunteered to be the single method by-which God could justly punish our sins while allowing us to receive a full pardon.

The Primary Role of the Holy Spirit today is to convict the world of sin: To convince each person that they are a sinner, in need of a savior. The Secondary Role of the Holy Spirit is to convince the world of Jesus Righteousness, that is sufficient to pay for our sins and free us from the curse of death. The Third Role of the Holy Spirit is to convince us of God’s future judgement for all those who refuse to place themselves under the protection of Jesus cross.

Verse 11: The ruler of this world, judged.

At Jesus cross, the present ruler of this world, satan, also received his judgment.

This present world is under the dominion of satan. This is the reason that there is so much suffering and evil in the world today. In spite of this truth, the Lord is working out all of His good plans that He has determined before the world was created. The Lord has revealed many of these plans by the Old Testament prophecies that are recorded in the Bible.

In this present age, satan has limited dominion over the earth. He could do nothing unless he had previously won this dominion from Adam at the fall.

Satan’s deception of Adam caused his fall and the presence of sin to enter the entire human race. It is his goal to bring destruction and eternal death to as many people as possible. Therefore, it was the purpose of Jesus sacrifice to destroy the works of satan and bring to an end all sin and the curse of death.

...The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. (ESV) —1 John 3:8

When Adam sinned, he also lost his dominion over the earth that had been given to him by God. From the fall of Adam to the present day, satan has maintained his dominion over the earth. The purpose of Jesus’ death and resurrection was to redeem the earth back to God.

The chronicle for the dominion of the earth:

1. God creates the earth; it is His.
2. God gave dominion of the earth to Adam.
3. Adam loses dominion to satan at the fall.
4. Satan has dominion from the fall of Adam to the present day.
5. Jesus wins the right to redeem the earth back to God at the cross, but delays taking His dominion until His return (Revelation 5).
6. Jesus will have final dominion over the earth at His second coming.
7. The Lord will share dominion of the earth with those whom He has redeemed from the earth upon His return.

The evidence that satan has dominion over the earth, even to the present time, is observed by Jesus’ conversation with the devil, in Luke Chapter 4. Satan tells Jesus that all authority has been delivered to him for this world. Jesus never disputes this fact, only that worship should be given only to God.

Luke 4:5-8 Then the devil, taking Jesus up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.” And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’

The Reason for Suffering

The present dominion of the earth by satan (Luke 4:5-8) is one of the reasons that there is so much suffering and evil on the earth. We cannot blame God for the condition of the world, since it is presently under the dominion of satan. This is what the earth is like without the Lord as our king. A secondary and equal cause of all suffering in the world is sin. From the moment that Adam disobeyed God and chose to live apart from His law, all men born after Adam; became sinners. It is by this fatal flaw of sin that we can trace the entire history of human suffering.

God is always sovereign over the universe, but He allows limited dominion to those who win the right to rule. Adam won the right to have dominion by his obedience and fellowship with God. He lost this right to satan, who deceived him, and took from Adam the right to rule. Jesus won back the right to rule the earth, having defeated satan at the Cross and His Resurrection. The Lord’s complete dominion over the earth has been delayed until His return to earth at the end of the seven-year Tribulation. When Jesus returns with His church, He will share dominion over the whole earth with all those who have believed in Him for Salvation and were watching for His return (Luke 19:17, Matthew 24:45-47).

It is also important to remember that although dominion may be won, the parameters for that dominion are set by God and controlled by His power, His will, and His sovereignty. An example of the limited power of satan is seen in the first two chapters of Job, where satan is given the right by God to afflict Job on a limited basis.

Job 1:8-12 Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” So Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.

Satan’s accusation against God was that Job only served Him for the benefits that he received. To prove the genuineness of Job’s love for God, the Lord allowed satan limited access to Job for a time. All the while that satan had access to Job, it was for the express purpose of displaying the truth of Job’s love and motivation for serving God.

Job was not aware of the charges levied against him by satan, nor that God had allowed satan limited access to his life. To Job, the plans and purposes of God must have seemed a mystery. Job may have considered that God did not care, or even perhaps that He did not have the ability to do anything about his circumstances. We may often observe evil as it is committed in the world and believe that God doesn’t care, refuses to help, or that He is not able to help. Like Job, we may not realize that there is much more occurring behind the scenes in our present circumstances than we are aware of. God is always working out His plan for our lives, even though we may be completely unaware of what He is doing. Our place is to believe in the goodness of God and to trust that He has a good outcome planned for us.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

This present world is under the dominion of satan. This is the reason that there is so much suffering and evil in the world today. In spite of this truth, the Lord is working out all of His good plans that He has determined before the world was created. The Lord has revealed many of these plans by the Old Testament prophecies that are recorded in the Bible.

In this present age, satan has limited dominion over the earth. He could do nothing unless he had previously won this dominion from Adam at the fall. We should never confuse permission with sovereignty. God has permitted satan to be the ruler of this world (John 12:31) because he has won this right from Adam. The evil we observe today is the result of a world that is under satan’s limited power and influence. If God were to grant unrestrained control of the earth to satan, he would kill every human being on the planet and utterly destroy the earth.

Because God restrains satan and has total power over all of creation, including satan and his activities, our world is still inhabitable and we have the opportunity to love and trust God.

All over the earth, everyday, God allows people to decide for themselves, whether or not, they will believe in Jesus and be saved. Although the consequences for not believing is eternal death, many still reject Jesus and count as nothing, the suffering and death that He endured to make our salvation possible. The Lord loves us, and He respects our right of self-determination—which He has given us. It is also true that the Lord will not force His love or salvation upon anyone. Though we may stubbornly refuse to receive the love of God, He relentlessly pursues us until our final breath.

One of the foundational principle of the universe, in which God operates, is in the area of the human will. Although God is sovereign and Lord over the entire cosmos, He permits every person to continue in their actions, whether they be good or evil—until their life comes to an end. God has set before us life and death. He sincerely hopes that we will choose life—which is found only in Jesus Christ, but we can also choose death by rejecting Jesus as our Savior. The decisions that we make while alive will determine what God does with us in eternity. He has testified of this truth in His word, and He holds each one of us accountable—not only to know these things but also to make the right decision.

In God’s own time, He will bring an end to the rulership of satan and the obstinance of men. When the Lord has given the full measure of time that He has determined for each one of us, He will bring to a conclusion, this present world and begin a brand new world in which righteousness dwells.

Why does God permit satan to continue?

The question of satan’s continued presence can only be answered by God. It is hard to understand why an agent of so much suffering and death could be allowed to remain on the earth for so long. As we examine how the Lord works through all types of people throughout the Bible—good and bad—we understand that He has a purpose for those who know Him, as well as those who do not. Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, was a pagan king who didn’t know God, but he became known to this king, in great detail, through the prophet Daniel. The Lord called Nebuchadnezzar for specific tasks in order to accomplish His will, even though this king did not love God or worship Him. Cyrus was described by God in the prophecies of Isaiah chapters 44 and 45, one hundred and fifty years before he was born. The Lord worked through this pagan king to rebuild the city of Jerusalem and the Temple.

It appears that the purpose that God has for satan is to offer us a choice. There are only two kingdoms in the universe—the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness. We can serve the Lord, or we can serve satan, there is no neutral ground. A person might object to the limitation of only two choices, but this is nevertheless the only two options that God has given us. If a person will not serve Jesus, then he is automatically defaulted to serve in satan’s kingdom. Someone might claim that he does not serve God nor satan, but neutrality is not an option that God recognized. Jesus said that those who are not with Him are against Him.

Luke 11:23 He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.

Giving someone the freedom to make his own choices is the greatest act of genuine love that a person can express. The unfortunate consequences of conveying this freedom to a person is that he may use his liberty to make decisions that cause his suffering, as well as the suffering of many others. The continuing consequences of allowing all human beings the privilege of their free will is clear and obvious—all over the earth. It is a mistake to blame God for what people do to each other by their own choices.

We forget many times that our acts of sin and the suffering that people experience in this world—as a result of those sins, also cause the Lord to suffer.

Numbers 14:18 The LORD is longsuffering

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

As the Lord sees the world in a condition that He never intended for us, He longs for the day when He will say “enough,” and the time of His patience with man’s sin will come to an end.

Genesis 6:3 And the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever…

Parents, who observe their child making decisions that cause their hurt, suffer themselves as they see their sons or daughters experience the consequences of their actions. The Lord has been suffering for the decisions that Adam has made—as well as those who are his descendants, for six thousand years.

God cannot do anything that is evil. He will however, not prevent us from doing the evil that we choose to do by our own free will. It would be completely unloving for God to stop us from exercising our right of choice that He has given to us—to make our own decisions apart from Him, if that is our desire. God does, however, suffer greatly for the decisions that we make and constantly seeks to draw us into a close relationship with Him, so that He can someday remove us from this present world that is quickly coming to an end. It should be noted that this time when we can choose to rebel against God, will not last forever. At the end of this age, when Jesus returns to earth; the entire population of this planet will live in conformity to the righteous laws of God.

The continuing work of the Holy Spirit on the earth today, is in controlling and restricting satan in his present dominion.

Verses 12-15: The Holy Spirit, our Guide

Jesus departs this discussion with encouragement to all who love Him: when the Holy Spirit comes, He will lead us into all truth.

One of the primary differences between a relationship with Jesus and a religion from the world, is the presence of the Lord in our life. Religion offers little more than rules and regulations, but provides no comfort of fellowship. Jesus departed this world, having completed our redemption; He did not leave us as orphans. From the moment that Jesus ascended back to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to live in us and never leave us. Every day of our life we are not alone. We have a Comforter, a Guide, an Intercessor; who is ever-present and never sleeps. Regardless of our need, the Spirit of God is able to help us and to guide us along a path of goodness, mercy, and grace.

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 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. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you. —John 16:12-15

The preceding is from chapter 226 in the book: “One Gospel,” by Robert Clifton Robinson

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NOTES:
[1] John 1:29
[2] 1 Peter 1:20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you
Revelation 13:8 …the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.