Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 May 20, 2018
“Ministries of the Holy Spirit”
We arrive this week at the day of Pentecost—and I wish you each and all a blessed Pentecost Sunday. This day stands, together with Christmas and Easter, as one of the great celebrations of the Christian year. On this day we remember the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples in the upper room that first Pentecost after Jesus’ ascension to Heaven. We also celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit as the new-birthright of every believer in Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior. We celebrate particularly today by welcoming the Spirit’s sweet, powerful presence in our lives—and in the life of the aggregate people of God in Christ, the Church. We also celebrate by noting some of His specific ministries unto us. Let us hear God’s Word read again in this place, and may He both glorify Himself and bless us in its proclamation.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
The passage aligns itself nicely under three main heads. First, we note Jesus’ words of comfort to His disciples then and now, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you” (John 15:7). Jesus speaks this into the eleven remaining disciples’ collective grief. They mourn at the prospect of losing Jesus’ immediate personal presence, but they also worry in view of the suffering yet to come, wondering, in effect, “How shall we live when He is absent?” Jesus reassures them that the Holy Spirit—the Helper—will come in His stead, and He tells them that the Spirit will supply precious ministries unto their needy souls. Let’s look at a few of them—for these ministries of the Spirit are just as much for us as for those in this text who saw His face and heard His words
Our text’s second block declares that the Spirit will convict (Greek elegcho [elegcw]) the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment. This rebuke (so the Greek lexicon edited by Louw and Nida) of the Spirit implies conviction, with evidence accompanying, that the world is wrong in the views it holds concerning Jesus. The Spirit will convict the world regarding sin—especially its fundamental sin, namely, its persistent unbelief in Jesus as Lord and Savior. He also will convict regarding righteousness, for God vindicated Jesus as the Righteous One—with resurrection, ascension, reign, glorification, etc., as evidence—and this contrary to the official opinion that Jesus was a common criminal condemned to death in a manner reserved for the scum of the earth. The Spirit also will convict concerning judgment, for Satan stands condemned by the Father’s decree in the Son’s atoning work. We praise God for His merciful, sweet conviction—for by it the Lord passes us from death to life, from darkness unto light in the Kingdom of His dear Son.
Our text’s third block lists three further ministries of the Spirit. First, He will guide us into all truth. This does not mean that we become omniscient, or all-knowing, for that is an attribute that God has reserved for Himself alone. What we become is ever more proficient in the truth of God. We learn more Scripture content as we spend time and effort in God’s Word, the Bible. We learn more of the Lord as we walk with Him in prayer, in worship attendance, and in living life in accord with His moral precepts laid down in Scripture. Moreover, we cannot arrive at greater proficiency in God’s truth in our own power, but the Spirit guides us there by His grace and for His glory. He indeed will guide us into all truth.
Second, the Holy Spirit will inform us of the things coming. This applies rarely concerning specific future events, but much more often—and more to our point—the Spirit inform us of the future things yet to come in God’s redemptive plan. This includes our happy estate if we depart to be with Christ before His glorious return, the fact of and circumstances surrounding His return, His final victory over every opponent, and the facts and qualities of the new heavens and the new earth. What a comfort this is: the One Who plans all perfectly and executes it irresistibly lets us know, according to our capacities, what He yet shall do—and, once again, He does this for His glory and for our good.
Third, the Spirit will glorify Christ. Some in our time would put undue spotlight on the Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, to the exclusion or diminution of the other two (the Father and the Son), but the Spirit desires to shine the light back upon Him Who is the Light of the world, Jesus Christ (John 8:12). The Spirit glorifies Christ by taking the things of Christ and giving them to us. What are the things of Christ? Among other things, they are Christ’s favor extended toward us and assurance thereof. More than this, the Spirit gives us tokens of Christ’s unmerited favor extended toward us: such as love, joy, and peace, to name but three (cf. Galatians 5:22-23). There are other ways, not listed here, but listed elsewhere in Scripture, whereby the Spirit glorifies Christ. These include the Spirit’s magnification of Christ in our sight, whereby we see His greatness and His power more clearly, and His eliciting worship of Christ from us by making both able and willing to declare His praise. Now these are ministries of the Spirit indeed.
There are many more ministries of the Spirit noted elsewhere in Scripture that we did not examine today. These that we noted today, however, are precious to our souls and suffice to demonstrate several things: first, that it is expedient for us that Christ returned to Heaven; second, the goodness and generosity of our God; and, third, that God truly and really is with us. Let us celebrate the ministry of the Holy Spirit among and within us, both now and always.