Faithlife Sermons

What Does the Spirit Do

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 2 views
Notes
Transcript
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →

John 15:26-16:15

What Does the Spirit of God Do?

When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.  And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away.  They will put you out of the synagogues.  Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.  And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me.  But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.

I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.  But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’  But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.  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.  And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.  He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.  All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.[1]

Jesus promised His disciples that after He returned to the Father, He would send the Helper.  The Helper, the Holy Spirit, is now with each one who is a Christian.  Though we Christians confess that the Spirit of God is with us, we are often uncertain of the truth of the declaration.  Many of us are uncertain how to define the work of the Spirit.  That is the purpose of the message today—to discover what the Spirit does.

We know that in the world the Spirit of God convicts outsiders of sin, of righteousness and of judgement [see John 16:8].  Some people think of the Spirit of God as a sort of internal killjoy—a sort of divine conscience.  Since he “convicts” sinners of their sin, of the need for righteousness, and of judgement, we think that He must also make us miserable when we act or speak in a manner dishonouring to Christ our Lord.

Perhaps there is some truth to this thought, but according to Jesus, His Spirit does so much more.  I want to investigate with you the work of the Spirit that we Christians will doubtless find most pertinent to our walk of faith.  In order to accomplish this admittedly great task, I invite you to consider some words Jesus spoke during the hours immediately preceding His passion.  During that all together too brief period of time, He prepared His disciples for His exodus, giving them vital instruction and making every effort to encourage them not to be disheartened at what was coming.  As part of His encouragement, He taught them about the coming Helper—the Holy Spirit of God.

The Spirit of God Convicts Mankind — Our text informs us that the Spirit of God will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.  This is an acceptable translation, but I fear that we are likely miss the full impact of John’s words because of our lack of familiarity with the Greek language.  However, John’s intent may be difficult to capture in our English tongue without becoming overly wordy.

The Greek term translated convict is difficult to translate.  The evidence for this difficulty in discovering what John meant is witnessed through the variety of translations for the verb.  The King James Version uses reprove.  The New Testament in Basic English teaches us that the Holy Spirit will make the world conscious of sin.  If you happen to read either the Revised Standard Version or the New Living Translation, you will see those translators chose convince, whereas the New Revised Standard Version, together with the New Century Version uses prove.  The Message translates this verse by stating that the Holy Spirit will expose the error of the godless world’s view of sin, righteousness, and judgement.[2]

It is obvious from even this brief review of various translations that what John wrote must be difficult to translate.  It is not that the concept John sought to communicate is challenging, but rather that our English language fails to adequately convey the Apostle’s intent.  One factor in the difficulty in translating is that the Greek is compressed in this verse.  John writes in a fashion that can only be said to be terse at this point.  However, he does expand this thought through the following verses.

At issue is the fact that the verb chosen has several alternate, perfectly acceptable meanings.  The verb [ελέγχω] as used in classical Greek does mean to expose, and initially the emphasis was on putting to shame, treating with contempt, or cross-examining.  In time, the verb came to mean to refute or to correct.  Therefore, the verb came close to being a synonym for another verb [παιδεύω] used by Stephen as he presented his defence before the Synagogue of the Freedmen.  That word means to educate, as when he spoke of Moses being instructed in all the education of the Egyptians [see Acts 7:22].[3]

By the time John was writing, the verb had come to reflect the entire range of meanings seen in the translations cited earlier; the context determined the intended meaning..  Paul, for instance, used the verb in Ephesians 5:13 to mean “expose” (When anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible), or to mean “to rebuke,” as in 1 Timothy 5:20 (As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear), or even of “convincing” opponents of their error ([The elder] must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it [Titus 1:9], and rebuke [those who are insubordinate] sharply, that they may be sound in the faith [Titus 1:13]).  The verb was used in Hebrews 11:1, to convey the idea of “conviction,” as seen in many recent translations [e.g. nasb, hcsb, esv].[4]

D. A. Carson, says of the verb in question which is used in John 16:8, “Commentators most commonly propose to render the verb in this passage by ‘to expose,’ ‘to convince,’ or ‘to convict.’  …[P]art of the difficulty in securing a credible interpretation rests on the ambiguities of the English words.  ‘To expose’ has no necessarily negative overtones (e.g. ‘to expose one’s body to the rays of the sun’), but it can be used in contexts where the exposure engenders profound shame.  ‘To convince someone can sound like a merely intellectual exercise, and this seems a bit anaemic if there ought to be a personal shamed recognition of person guilt.  ‘To convict’ could be understood in a purely judicial sense of bringing down a negative verdict, regardless of whether or not the convicted party admits any guilt…”

Carson concludes: “The meaning, then, is as follows.  Just as Jesus forced a division in the world (15:20) by showing that what it does is evil (7:7; 15:22), so the Paraclete continues this work.  Indeed, he most commonly does so through the witness of disciples (15:26, 27); he always does so in connection with the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, since his whole purpose is to bring glory to him (16:14).”[5]

I urge each listener to understand that the verb does indeed mean to convict.  However, the verb is not so much a judicial term as it is a term pointing out the shame attached to actions and attitudes we know to be wrong and hope that others do not notice.  It speaks of action that is responsive less because it is imposed by an outside entity than because it is derived logically through consideration of the action.

The Spirit of God will convict the world concerning sin because they do not believe in me.  It is amazing to see how the world reacts to the presence of godly people.  The righteous are derided, even hounded and persecuted, and all the while, those persecuting are ashamed of their actions.  Have you ever had someone respond harshly toward you when you spoke of your own convictions?  Perhaps they accused you of being judgemental, when in fact you simply stated that you held convictions other than what they were demonstrating.  That was nothing less than a demonstration of the Spirit’s convicting work.  The very harshness of their reaction revealed that they were convicted.

I am currently watching the American Presidential race with considerable interest.  It is amazing to witness the number of people who when speaking of the sitting President, as his opponent does so often, acknowledge that he is a man of faith.  Despite their admission, they are offended that, unlike the previous occupant of the Oval Office, this man actually believes the Christian message.  We had in Canada two opposition politicians who were similarly ridiculed because they spoke openly of the fact that they believed the Christian message.  Had these men been Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist or Sikh, their religious persuasion would have never been mentioned.  However, because they dared confess that they had faith in the Living Son of God, the media and governing politicians scoffed at them and declared that Parliament was no place for faith.

Why do those living in the world react so harshly to the Faith of Christ the Lord?  The reason is that they are convicted that their own actions fail to honour God.  Their rage serves as an excellent example of the ministry of the Holy Spirit using believers to convict mankind once the precepts of God’s Word have been inculcated into their lives.  Inhabitants of the world are compelled to acknowledge the poverty of their lives—if only to themselves—as they realise they have not believed the message of life.

God’s Spirit convicts the inhabitants of the world of their sinful condition.  “The idea of sin here is not merely concerning erroneous acts, but of the fundamental act of choosing another god.”[6]  People choose to exalt their own desires over the call of God, deliberately choosing to follow their own precepts instead of honouring God’s will—they choose not to believe.  Failure to believe is tantamount to refusal to receive.

This is the thrust of John’s words in the opening chapter of this Gospel.  He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.  But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God [John 1:11-13].

An example of the Spirit convicting of sin is found at the conclusion of Peter’s Pentecostal sermon.  Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”  Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do” [Acts 2:36, 37]?

The Spirit convict[s] the world concerning righteousness, because [Jesus has gone] to the Father.  Upon first reading, this appears to be a strange thing for John to say.  However, I remind you that the world does have a form of righteousness.  There is a standard by which the world lives, and though most inhabitants of the world will not speak of that standard as righteousness, it is nevertheless, for them, a form of righteousness.

Jesus died and was raised to life by the power of the Spirit [see Romans 1:4].  Risen from the dead, He has ascended into Heaven where He now reigns at the right hand of the Father.  Remaining in the world and awaiting His return is His Bride, the church.  God’s people, exhibiting the righteousness of the Lord in the power of the Spirit, remind the lost of this earth that they have no real righteousness.  As you live holy and godly lives, the world is compelled to confess that they are actually spiritually impoverished.

In saying that He would go to the Father, Jesus pointed to the evidence that He was the sole source of righteousness.  He presented Himself as a sacrifice for sin and was declared to be the Son of God in power by His resurrection from the dead.  His resurrection and His ascension into glory was the Father’s confirmation that the only acceptable standard of righteousness is Jesus.

The world, applying its own righteousness, crucified the sinless Son of God.  What appeared as the world’s victory over the righteous Son of God was, in fact, the ultimate demonstration of the utter deficiency of the world’s standard of righteousness.  Jesus’ resurrection and ascension was the Father’s vindication of divine righteousness.  Forever, this conquest of death and the grave stands to remind us that humanity is not in control either of the future or of setting the standards for life.  God is the final arbiter.

The Spirit also convict[s] the world concerning judgement, because the ruler of this world is judged.  Jesus had warned the world against judging by appearance.  Instead, man is admonished to judge with right judgement [see John 7:24].  Moreover, the judgement of Jesus is just [John 5:30] and true [John 8:16].  The judgement from this world is profoundly wrong and perverse.  How can it be otherwise, since the eyes of world dwellers are blinded by the god of this world [2 Corinthians 4:4]?  All false judgement is related to the father of lies—Satan, who was a liar from the beginning [John 8:44-47].  The triumph of the cross condemns the evil one, and all who are blinded by him.

Christian saint, your life is powerful because of the power of the indwelling Spirit who is even now at work in you.  Child of God, your word is witness against the world, convicting men of sin as you gently speak with them of Christ and His righteousness.  You need not be a shepherd of souls to convict others of sin; you need but be a child of God to be an embodiment of Christ and His power.  His Spirit works in you to convict all who know you of sin and righteousness and judgement.  The Spirit bears witness to Christ; and you, also, bear witness to Him.  Your very life is testimony to His grace and to His goodness.  How much more powerful are the words of life that drop from your lips when you seek to honour Him by speaking the truth in love?

The Spirit of God Guides Believers — That is a beautiful word that Jesus said to His disciples.  I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.  I have One to guide me.  Moreover, He guides me into all the truth.

One of the Scriptures that has often comforted me is Isaiah 30:21.  Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.  This is a precious promise given first to Old Testament saints, though I wonder whether they could have understood the implications of what Isaiah wrote.  They looked forward to its fulfillment; but we who are privileged to live on this side of the Cross know the reality of this promise.  The Spirit of God directs our steps—both through those whom He appoints to teach the Word and through the Word that He has appointed.

This particular prophecy from Isaiah is not merely a statement that the Spirit will direct us, though it certainly is that.  Rather, the promise is that the teachers of the people would one day pronounce words that would follow the people, much as shepherds of the flock would guide their sheep as they moved them to pastures and to refreshing waters.  The inference we may draw is that as the Spirit works among the churches, He has appointed men of God, filled with the Spirit, who serve to guide the people into truth.  The role of an elder is to teach the Word of God, guarding the flock and guiding the flock, always with a view to honouring Christ among His holy people.

What an awesome responsibility is laid upon us who preach the Word of God!  For this reason, the brother of our Lord cautions, Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness [James 3:1].  Those appointed to teach in the church must be faithful men [2 Timothy 2:1] who adhere to the apostolic message, just as delivered through the Spirit of Truth.  The message we bring must not consist of our suppositions, nor even rely upon the most recent philosophical sophistries of man.  Instead, we who declare the mind of God are obligated to declare the Word of God, providing sound teaching so that we fulfill our ministry [see 2 Timothy 4:5].

The preacher of the Word will not go wrong so long as he preaches the Word of God.  That Word has been given by God to serve as a lamp and a light [Psalm 119:105].  Those who walk according to the Word will enjoy the testimony that their way is blameless [Psalm 119:1] and pure [Psalm 119:9].  By the Word of God, life is discovered [Psalm 119:25], comfort is given [Psalm 119: 50], and we are kept from being shamed [Psalm 119:46].  This excursus is not merely academic, for the Word was given by the Spirit of God, as He superintended those who wrote this Word [2 Peter 1:21].

The Spirit of God guided those writing the Word, and the Spirit of God guides us as we read the Word, ensuring that we understand the will of God.  It is we who are Christians, we who are born from above, who have the mind of Christ [1 Corinthians 2:16].  John, in the first letter that bears his name, encouraged believers with a wonderful promise.  You have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.  I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it [1 John 2:20, 21].

I recognise that the primary design of Jesus’ words as recorded in our text was to comfort the Apostles through turning their focus to anticipate the completion of the canon of Scripture.  This would be accomplished as the Spirit of God worked among those whom He chose to deliver the mind of Christ.  Those first disciples needed assurance that God, through His Holy Spirit, would continue to guide them into the truth.  However, I am equally confident that I am on solid ground when I say that the same Spirit of God continues to work within and among the churches, guiding His people into the truth.

There is one aspect of the Spirit’s work that I must emphasise, and that is the fact that Jesus is the truth of whom the Spirit would speak and of whom the Spirit does speak.  Paul will later attest that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit [1 Corinthians 12:3].  The Spirit of God always points the inquiring mind to Jesus—He always glorifies Christ the Lord.

The following must be said due to the confusion of this present age.  There are not “many ways to God.”  There is but one way to God, and that is through Jesus Christ.  The Spirit of God will not point one to Buddha and another to Mohammed and another to religious devotion and yet another to faith in the Risen Son of God.  The Spirit of God can only speak what is given to Him, and that which is given always points to Jesus.  This is the reason Peter would declare before the Sanhedrin that there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved [Acts 4:12].

I can say with confidence that preaching that fails to exalt Christ Jesus as Lord is not Spirit-filled.  That preacher who fails to declare Jesus as the way, the truth and the life [John 14:6a] knows nothing of God’s Holy Spirit.  No one comes to the Father except through Jesus [John 14:6b].  Any Sunday School teacher that simply presents moral precepts without pointing to Christ the Lord as the author of righteousness knows nothing of the Spirit of God.  Any member of a worship team that is content to merely sing catchy tunes without pointing to Christ the Saviour, knows little of the Spirit of God.  I am not harsh in making this assessment, but rather I am open and honest.  An angel rebuked John because he fell at his feet and attempted to worship him.  That angel rebuked him with the reminder that the testimony of [or concerning] Jesus is the spirit of prophecy [Revelation 19:10].

John was told, and we are likewise informed, that we who hold the testimony of Jesus are fellow servants with the angels of God.  When we speak to others, when we plead with them to consider Christ as Lord, our witness concerning Jesus is evidence that the Spirit is at work in us.  I realise that on occasion the Spirit’s leading in witness can be extraordinary, whereas more often it seems rather ordinary to us.

I remember one occasion when the Spirit of God compelled me to climb a rickety step to speak with a janitor about his relationship to Christ.  That man looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “I’ve just been praying that someone would tell me about Jesus.”  God heard his prayer, and I became the answer to prayer and that man came to faith.  More often, it is simply that I know that if I go, the Spirit of God will have preceded me and He will have already worked in the hearts of those to whom I speak.

My beloved people, the Spirit of God is at work as you read the Word of God.  He is guiding you, speaking to your heart through the words that you read, giving to you the mind of Christ and purifying your heart.  As you listen to the preaching of the Word, the Spirit works through the words the preacher delivers, explaining and illuminating the mind of God so that you know the will of God.  Just so and in the same way, whenever you speak to another, telling that one about what Jesus has done for you, the Spirit works through your words, convicting sinners and encouraging saints.

One glaring weakness of our contemporary churches is our failure to tell what good things God has done for us.  To offer thanks to God is good [Psalm 92:1].  To sing praises to the Lord is good [Psalm 147:1].  Testimony of God’s goodness is encouraged, and we should often speak of what He has done for us.

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,

whom he has redeemed from trouble

[Psalm 107:2]

The Spirit of God Glorifies Christ the Lord —When the Spirit of truth comes, He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.  All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.  Above all else, the Spirit of God always glorifies Jesus.  He always directs attention to the Son of God. 

The Spirit is so closely identified with Christ that He is actually called the Spirit of Christ [see Romans 8:9; 1 Peter 1:11].  In our text, Christ affirms that He sends the Spirit [John 15:26].  To be precise, the Spirit is sent by the Father in Christ’s Name [John 14:26].  This is what would be expected since we are speaking of the Triune God.  The Son of God voluntarily submits Himself to the Father and the Holy Spirit glorifies the Son.  Earlier in the Gospel of John, Jesus is quoted as saying, If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water [John 7:37, 38].  Then, in order to clarify His meaning, John writes of this statement, this He said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified [John 7:39].

Did you notice that final clause?  John states that the Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus was not yet glorified.  That must surely qualify as one of the strangest things.  One reason this seems so strange to me is that in that original language there is no verb to be translated given.  Literally, John wrote, “the Spirit was not yet” [ουπω γαρ ήν πνεμα].  This is not a reference to the existence of the Spirit, but rather John here refers to the Dispensation of Grace when the Spirit works among the churches.[7]  At this point, John is looking to the presence of the Spirit throughout the Church Age.  John is speaking of the era of the Spirit, when He takes up residence in each believer.  John here speaks of the day in which we now live.[8]  Before this day, the Spirit settled on a few people occasionally as God chose, but now the Spirit of the Living God resides in each believer and He is always among the churches.

John said that Jesus was not yet glorified.  Perhaps you are confused by this assertion.  We are taught that Jesus was glorified when He was transfigured before His disciples on the Mount [Matthew 17:1, 2].  Peter seems to clearly indicate that this was his understanding when he wrote of those who wrote New Testament Scriptures that we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ … we were eyewitnesses of his majesty … when he received honour and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” [2 Peter 1:16, 17].

However, I am certain that John did not here speak of the Transfiguration as the glorification of our Lord.  I am certain that John understood that Jesus was glorified in His death and resurrection.  You may recall that when Jesus entered Jerusalem, the disciples did not, indeed, could not comprehend what was then happening.  Even as they witnessed the fulfillment of Scripture, they were unable to understand what was taking place.  Notice, however, John’s commentary on these events as recorded in John 12:16.  His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him.

John frequently uses glorified, glorify and glory of Jesus.[9]  However, Jesus speaks of His death and resurrection as the means of being glorified.  Following that transforming event was the ascension after which the Spirit of God was sent to empower the people of God and to begin His work in the lives of each Christian.  Now, living among the people of God and empowering them to fulfil the work Christ has assigned, each time some soul is saved, Christ is glorified [see Acts 11:18; 13:48; 21:20].

In a similar way, whenever we have witnessed to another of the grace of God and that someone has responded, Christ is glorified.  This is an evidence of the Spirit of God at work among us.  Whenever we meet together to worship Christ the Lord and someone is encouraged through the work of the Spirit, Christ is glorified.  Whenever we preach the Word and someone understands the truths that God has given through that Word, Christ is glorified.  All this is evidence that the Spirit of God continues to work among us.

And that is our message this day—a message that when it is received leads to life and a message that pleads with you to believe that Christ has died because of your sin and that He has risen for your justification.  The Spirit of God lives among His people and He works among us, even to this day.  Have we not witnessed miracles?  Have we not seen Him graciously call some to faith, granting them repentance that results in life?  All this is to the glory of Christ the Lord.  Seated among us, it is possible that perhaps I speak pointedly to you as you listen.  There are today some who are testimonies of God’s grace as the Spirit has called and given life.  He is still calling, and I must believe that some listening this day are receiving His gentle call.  Why have you delayed?  Turn to Christ in faith and be saved now.  This is the message of life that the Spirit delivers to you now.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.  For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.  For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” [Romans 10:9-13].

As the Spirit works among us, let each of us who are Christians pray that the Spirit of the Lord will graciously work to bring outsiders to life.  Pray that He will grant light to darkened souls and that He will glorify Christ the Lord.  Let each of us who are children of the True and Living God rejoice in the grace that He has given to us.  However, let us never cease to ask that Christ will be glorified among us each time we meet as a Body of the Risen Lord of Glody.

Spirit of the Living God, do that precious work that You alone can do—convicting some of sin and calling them to repentance and life.  Guide those who are your holy people into truth as Christ the Lord is glorified in our midst.  Do this to the praise of His glory and for His great Name’s sake.  Amen.


The Greek term translated convict is difficult to translate.  The evidence for this difficulty in discovering what John meant is witnessed through the variety of translations for the verb.  The King James Version uses reprove.  The New Testament in Basic English teaches us that the Holy Spirit will make the world conscious of sin.  If you happen to read either the Revised Standard Version or the New Living Translation, you will see those translators chose convince, whereas the New Revised Standard Version, together with the New Century Version uses prove.  The Message translates this verse by stating that the Holy Spirit will expose the error of the godless world’s view of sin, righteousness, and judgement.[10]

It is obvious from even this brief review of various translations that what John wrote must be difficult to translate.  It is not that the concept John sought to communicate is challenging, but rather that our English language fails to adequately convey the Apostle’s intent.  One factor in the difficulty in translating is that the Greek is compressed in this verse.  John writes in a fashion that can only be said to be terse at this point.  However, he does expand this thought through the following verses.

At issue is the fact that the verb chosen has several alternate, perfectly acceptable meanings.  The verb [ελέγχω] as used in classical Greek does mean to expose, and initially the emphasis was on putting to shame, treating with contempt, or cross-examining.  In time, the verb came to mean to refute or to correct.  Therefore, the verb came close to being a synonym for another verb [παιδεύω] used by Stephen as he presented his defence before the Synagogue of the Freedmen.  That word means to educate, as when he spoke of Moses being instructed in all the education of the Egyptians [see Acts 7:22].[11]

By the time John was writing, the verb had come to reflect the entire range of meanings seen in the translations cited earlier.  Paul, for instance, used the verb in Ephesians 5:13 to mean “expose” (When anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible), or to mean “to rebuke,” as in 1 Timothy 5:20 (As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear), or even of “convincing” opponents of their error ([The elder] must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it [Titus 1:9], and rebuke [those who are insubordinate] sharply, that they may be sound in the faith [Titus 1:13]).  The verb was used in Hebrews 11:1, to convey the idea of “conviction,” as seen in many recent translations [e.g. nasb, hcsb, esv].[12]


D. A. Carson, says of the verb in question which is used in John 16:8, “Commentators most commonly propose to render the verb in this passage by ‘to expose,’ ‘to convince,’ or ‘to convict.’  …[P]art of the difficulty in securing a credible interpretation rests on the ambiguities of the English words.  ‘To expose’ has no necessarily negative overtones (e.g. ‘to expose one’s body to the rays of the sun’), but it can be used in contexts where the exposure engenders profound shame.  ‘To convince someone can sound like a merely intellectual exercise, and this seems a bit anaemic if there ought to be a personal shamed recognition of person guilt.  ‘To convict’ could be understood in a purely judicial sense of bringing down a negative verdict, regardless of whether or not the convicted party admits any guilt…”

Carson concludes: “The meaning, then, is as follows.  Just as Jesus forced a division in the world (15:20) by showing that what it does is evil (7:7; 15:22), so the Paraclete continues this work.  Indeed, he most commonly does so through the witness of disciples (15:26, 27); he always does so in connection with the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, since his whole purpose is to bring glory to him (16:14).”[13]

God’s Spirit convicts inhabitants of the world of their sinful condition.  “The idea of sin here is not merely concerning erroneous acts, but of the fundamental act of choosing another god.”[14]  People choose to exalt their own desires over the call of God, deliberately choosing to follow their own precepts instead of honouring God’s will—they choose not to believe.  Failure to believe is tantamount to refusal to receive.

The Spirit also convict[s] the world concerning judgement, because the ruler of this world is judged.  Jesus had warned the world against judging by appearance.  Instead, man is admonished to judge with right judgement [see John 7:24].  Moreover, the judgement of Jesus is just [John 5:30] and true [John 8:16].  The judgement from this world is profoundly wrong and perverse.  How can it be otherwise, since the eyes of world dwellers are blinded by the god of this world [2 Corinthians 4:4]?  All false judgement is related to the father of lies—Satan, who was a liar from the beginning [John 8:44-47].  The triumph of the cross condemns the evil one, and all who are blinded by him.


The preacher of the Word will not go wrong so long as he preaches the Word of God.  That Word has been given by God to serve as a lamp and a light [Psalm 119:105].  Those who walk according to the Word will enjoy the testimony that their way is blameless [Psalm 119:1] and pure [Psalm 119:9].  By the Word of God, life is discovered [Psalm 119:25], comfort is given [Psalm 119: 50], and we are kept from being shamed [Psalm 119:46].  This excursus is not merely academic, for the Word was given by the Spirit of God, as He superintended those who wrote this Word [2 Peter 1:21].

Did you notice that final clause?  John states that the Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus was not yet glorified.  That must surely qualify as one of the strangest things.  One reason this seems so strange to me is that in that original language there is no verb to be translated given.  Literally, John wrote, “the Spirit was not yet” [ουπω γαρ ήν πνεμα].  This is not a reference to the existence of the Spirit, but rather John here refers to the Dispensation of Grace when the Spirit works among the churches.[15]  At this point, John is looking to the presence of the Spirit throughout the Church Age.  John is speaking of the era of the Spirit, when He takes up residence in each believer.  John here speaks of the day in which we now live.[16]  Before this day, the Spirit settled on a few people occasionally as God chose, but now the Spirit of the Living God resides in each believer and He is always among the churches.


----

[1] Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version.  Wheaton: Good News Publishers, 2001.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

[2] Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (NavPress, Colorado Springs, CO, 2003).

[3] See the article ελέγχω by Hans-Georg Link, in Colin Brown (ed.), Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 2 (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI 1976) 140-142

[4] nasb is the New American Standard Bible, hcsb is the Holman Christian Standard Bible, and ESV is the English Standard Version of the Bible.

[5] D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI 1991) 534, 537

[6] Gerald L. Borchert, John 12-21: The New American Commentary, Vol. 25b (Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville, TN 2002) 166

[7] See A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament: The Fourth Gospel and the Epistle to the Hebrews, Volume V (Broadman Press, Nashville, TN 1932) 132

[8] Cf. Gerald L. Borchert, The New American Commentary: John 1-11, Volume 25A (Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville, TN 1996) 291-2

[9] These terms are used a total of forty-two times in this Gospel.  All but five of those occurrences refer to Jesus.  See especially John 7:39; 11:4; 12:16, 23, 28; 13:31-32; 14:13; 15:8; 17:1, 4-5, 10.

[10] Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (NavPress, Colorado Springs, CO, 2003).

[11] See the article ελέγχω by Hans-Georg Link, in Colin Brown (ed.), Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 2 (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI 1976) 140-142

[12] nasb is the New American Standard Bible, hcsb is the Holman Christian Standard Bible, and ESV is the English Standard Version of the Bible.

[13] D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI 1991) 534, 537

[14] Gerald L. Borchert, John 12-21: The New American Commentary, Vol. 25b (Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville, TN 2002) 166

[15] See A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament: The Fourth Gospel and the Epistle to the Hebrews, Volume V (Broadman Press, Nashville, TN 1932) 132

[16] Cf. Gerald L. Borchert, The New American Commentary: John 1-11, Volume 25A (Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville, TN 1996) 291-2

Related Media
Related Sermons