Nevertheless I tell you the truth
It is to your advantage that I go away
For if I do not go away
The Advocate will not come to you
But if I go, I will send him to you.
And when he comes
He will prove the world wrong
About sin, because they do not believe in me
About righteousness, because I am going to the Father
And you will see me no longer
About judgement, because the ruler of this world
Has been condemned. …
When the Spirit of truth comes
He will guide you into all the truth
For he will not speak on his own
But will speak whatever he hears
And he will declare to you the things that are to come.
He will glorify me
Because he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
-John 16:7-11, 13-14
Generally speaking, the idea of the role of the Holy Spirit today is quite a limited and often selfish one. The primary roles the ‘Comforter’, is allowed to play today are those of seer and ‘slayer’. Another aspect of how some believers see/treat the Holy Spirit today, is that of an outsider, that is, as one who is in another place and is asked to ‘come in’, ‘to fill’, ‘to pour upon’. How did the high, holy office of the Holy Spirit come to be reduced to something akin to calling on a magician to do some tricks? The Holy Spirit is resident in believers and has an office to fill and believers are not the ones who determine how He is to fill it. It has been determined. The believer’s place is to recognize that which was given to them and resides in them is here to fulfill Yeshua’s will.
James Hudson Taylor had an epiphanaic moment in his ministry in China two centuries ago. He came to the realization that the struggle he had endured for so many years, of trying to get more of Christ into him, was all turned around. He came to the stunning realization that we were not called to get more of Christ into us but to let out more of the Christ that came to reside in us at our rebirth. It was “the Spirit of truth” that led him to see:
As I thought of the vine and the branches, what light the blessed Spirit poured direct into my soul! How great seemed my mistake in having wished to get the sap, the fullness out of Him. I saw not only that Jesus would never leave me, but that I was a member of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. The vine now I see, is not the root merely, but all – root, stem, branches, twigs, leaves, flowers, fruit: and Jesus is not only that: He is soil and sunshine, air and showers, and ten thousand times more than we have ever dreamed, wished for, or needed. Oh, the joy of seeing this truth! I do pray that the eyes of your understanding may be enlightened, that you may know and enjoy the riches freely given us in Christ. . . . it is a wonderful thing to be really one with a risen and exalted Saviour; to be a member of Christ! Think what it involves. Can Christ be rich and I poor? Can your right hand be rich and the left poor? Or your head be well fed while you body starves? Again, think of it bearing on prayer. . . . No more can your prayers, or mine be discredited if offered in the Name of Jesus (i.e. not in our own name, or for the sake of Jesus merely, but on the ground that we are His, His members) so long as we keep within the extent of Christ’s credit – a tolerably wide limit! If we ask anything unscriptural or not in accordance with the will of God, Christ Himself could not do that; but, ‘If we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us, and . . . we know that we have the petitions that we desire of him.’ . . . The sweetest part, if one may speak of one part being sweeter than another, is the rest which full identification with Christ brings. I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realise this; for He, I know, is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He place me, or how. That is rather for Him to consider than for me; for in the easiest positions He must give me His grace, and in the most difficult His grace is sufficient. . . . if God places me in great perplexity, must He not give me much guidance; in positions of great difficulty, much grace; in circumstance of great pressure and trial, much strength? No fear that His resources will be unequal to the emergency: And His resources are mine, for He is mine, and is with me and dwells in me. All this springs from the believer’s oneness in Christ. And since Christ has thus dwelt in my heart by faith, how happy I have been! . . . I am no better than before . . . but I am dead and buried with Christ – aye, and risen too and ascended; and now Christ lived in me, and ‘the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me’. I now believe I am dead to sin. God reckons me so, and tells me to reckon myself so. He knows best. . . I am as capable of sinning as ever, but Christ is realised as present as never before. He cannot sin; and He can keep me from sinning. . . . walking more in the light, my conscience has been more tender; sin has been instantly seen, confessed, pardoned; and peace and joy (with humility) instantly restored; with one exception, which for several hours peace and joy did not return – from want, as I had to learn, of full confession, and from some attempt to justify self. Faith, I now see, is ‘the substance of things hoped for’, and not mere shadow. It is not less than sight, but more. Sight only shows the outward forms of things; faith gives the substance. You can rest on substance, feed on substance. Christ dwelling in the heart by faith (i.e. His world of promise credited) is power indeed, is life indeed. And Christ and sin will not dwell together; nor can we have His presence with love of the world, or carefulness about ‘many things’. . . . Do not let us continue to say, in effect, ‘Who shall ascend into heaven? That is, to bring Christ down from above’. In other words, do not let us consider Him as afar off, when God has made us one with Him, members of His very body, nor should we look upon this experience, these truths, as for the few. They are the birthright of every child of God, and no one can dispense with them without dishonour to our Lord. The only power for deliverance from sin or for true service is Christ. (James Hudson Taylor: A Biography; pp 305-309.)
What Hudson Taylor experienced is a real example of the role and place of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life – “He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you”. He has not been given to us to do whatever we want but quite the contrary, “he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears”.
In a day and age of strange doctrines and practices, when following the traditional, biblical view of the office of the Holy Spirit is seen as out of touch with a ‘new move of the Spirit’, it is of the greatest importance to listen for the “the Spirit of truth”, who resides in us – not outside of us so that it could be said, “Look! Here is the Messiah! Or There he is! … Look! He is in the wilderness …. Look! He is in the inner rooms” (Matthew 24:23, 26).
Rest in Christ, pray for understanding, listen for “the Spirit of truth”, don’t be afraid to swim against the tide of strange doctrines and practices, and remember:
… false messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce great signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. (Matthew 24:24)
The Lord is coming!