The Advocate and God’s Word

“Lord, to whom shall we go;
You have the words of eternal life.”

It struck me recently as we experience our new “normal” with the advent of COVID-19 how, actually, we ae always in transition or experiencing times of change. Let me remind you:

  • Spiritually we are being transformed by the renewing of our minds.
  • Physically we are being transformed as we grow and develop from childhood to old age.
  • Emotionally we experience some form of ups and downs.
  • Relationally we observe others changing around us which causes us to adapt.

Add to those other changes like situational change, occupational change, cultural change, economic change, governmental change…Do I need to go further? Even those institutions that we rely on for some sense of stability are transforming:

  • Family: children grow up and move out
  • Church: historical and local change

What’s our response? Our human nature often turns to complaint or control. Let Calvin and Hobbes say it best:

Complaint:

Control:

Any help?

Listen to Jesus as he prepares His disciples for the big change and transitions for the rest of their lives.

So far, Jesus’ instruction include: Don’t lose sight of who God is: Believe into Jesus/Keep working/Keep praying/Keep obeying/Keep in relationship. This is all possible BECAUSE THE ADVOCATE FOR THE FATHER AND ME, THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH, IS COMING AND HE WILL BE WITH YOU (and in you) FOREVER.  Their one consistent in their ever changing world and lives would continue to be the One Who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Now Jesus adds a very important element in their promised ongoing relationship:

John 14:25–26These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”

Jesus explains that His teaching will continue; not only will their relationship continue, but the heart and soul of any relationship will continue: communication.

25“These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you.”

What had been the disciples’ estimation of Jesus’ words?

John 6:67–69: “So Jesus said to the twelve, ‘You do not want to go away also, do you?’  Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.’ We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.’”

Is this our proclamation today? We have so many voices in our world through all kinds of mediums, all clambering to be our authorities or experts. 

The disciples said of Jesus, you have words of eternal life.

Put yourself in the disciples’ shoes.  They had gotten used to the voice of Jesus, always wise, always timely, always truthful, and always loving.

When the average Jewish resident heard Jesus’ teaching, the Gospel writers record how they were absolutely astonished. They had never heard someone speak with such authority.

Jesus explained it this way:

John 12:44–50 : And Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me.  “He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me. “I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness. “If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak.“I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”

Jesus’ words were from the Source of all good things, the Father. As sourced in the Father these words were representative of everything that God is. To accept these words, were therefore equal to believing, and obeying, evidence of belief.  Therefore receiving and obeying His words were the equivalent of believing into Him.

Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.”

For the disciples this had been their reality, but what about the future? How would this communication continue?

26“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”

Remember Jesus is teaching His disciples (eleven for now).

The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name will continue to teach you, Jesus had explained.

In my name means that the Spirit comes in the Son’s name, the name of Jesus Christ, and thereby brings the Son’s presence to the disciples. As Jesus represented the Father, the Spirit represents the Son. Just as Jesus Himself demonstrated the personality and character of God to His disciples, so after His departure the Holy Spirit would make the living Christ real to them. He would be much more than just a representation or a reflection: since the Holy Spirit is just like Jesus in nature and essence, He would operate in the realm of all that Jesus said, did, and is.

This will become foundational work with the disciples: The Holy Spirit would teach them all things, and bring to their remembrance all that He had said to them.

SO WHAT?

There are two applications, one immediate for these disciples, another for all future followers Christ.

For the Twelve:

  • The Spirit would continue, for Jesus, the ministry of teaching.  The Spirit of truth would continue to instruct and apply God’s will and purposes just as Jesus.  Jesus says, “All things”, not just “these things” that Jesus was instructing just before the cross but “all things”.
  • The Spirit would also remind the disciples of what Jesus had taught, “All that I said to you.”

The apostles remembered and wrote with the supernatural help of the Spirit. John’s Gospel, even the entire New Testament, would not exist if not for this reminding work of the Holy Spirit.

So, John could confidently write in his first letter:

1 John 1:1–3: “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life—and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”

Why can John say this?  Because the Holy Spirit helped him remember all that Jesus said, did, and is.

Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.

Listen to how Paul writes about the process of the Holy Spirit’s “breathing” oversight:

2 Timothy 3:16–17: “All Scripture is inspired by God (God breathed) and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

Or Peter:

1 Peter 1:20-21: “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.”

The Apostles’ inspired words would join those of the OT prophets and become the foundation of the church:

Ephesians 2:19–22: “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.”

Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.”

For Us

In the case of the disciples, the reminding role of the Holy Spirit uniquely guided the recording of the New Testament. However, the process is still in place. The disciples first heard Jesus speak; we discover Jesus’ and His Apostles’ words in Scripture. Reading, studying, memorizing, meditating, and obeying plants Christ’s words firmly inside us, and the Holy Spirit germinates that seed and reminds us of its’ application and enables ongoing transformation as we move through life.

How does reading, studying, memorizing, meditating become more than a gathering of information: just Bible intake?

Listen to James:

James 1:17–25  

17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

What’s one of those perfect gifts?

18 In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.

How should we respond to the word of truth?

19 This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

What do we do with what we hear?

21 Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.

What does receiving produce?

22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

Who keeps us from walking away from God’s word and forgetting what we have heard? The Holy Spirit of course, God’s Advocate that empowers and directs us to the Father’s will and way, just as Jesus did with His disciples.

Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.”

Remember our last transition issue and message?

Transition issue: Tendency towards inflexibility, stubbornness, and entrenchment, (where the familiar, our will and way can quench the work of God’s Spirit amongst us).

Transition Message: Follow (receive) the Spirit of Truth’s direction.

Right now what is familiar to us along with our will and way are being challenged. I believe that God is using this time of social distancing for our good. We are forced in many ways to do things that are out of our comfort zone (technology) as well as look for opportunities beyond our “normal” way of doing things to love and help one another.  Sometimes all we can do is pray; which I hope we are learning is the most we can do. God is stretching and preparing us, brothers and sisters. Let’s be clay in the Potter’s hands.

We have not been left as orphans. Jesus has asked the Father to send One just like Him, the Holy Spirit, to be with us and in us. He has gifted us with His written word that the Spirit might lead and direct us as we are not being conformed to this world but being transformed by the renewing of our minds.

Open the Bible, God’s revelation of Himself to us in written form, and hear, receive, and do.

Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.”

One thought on “The Advocate and God’s Word

  1. Yeah Holy Spirit! Come lead us. This teaching made me think about what a professor taught me years ago. The gist of it was this: If you want to be connected to the Holy Spirit and want to hear from the Holy Spirit but you are not praying daily and are not reading the Holy Scriptures daily I think we have found the biggest part of your problem…

    Blessings!

    Like

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