Foundational Frameworks Part 65 - Abiding in Christ

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Being not without controversy, there are two dominant interpretations of Jesus’ teaching on the “Vine and branches.” First, those branches that do not “bear fruit” (John 15:2), who are “thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned” (John 15:6), are considered those who are pseudo-Christians, being without genuine faith, as those who had never truly believed.[1]The second view sees those who do not bear fruit and who are eventually burned as genuine believers, having a union with Christ, but who are failing in their communion with Him. Such believers are justified. However, their intimacy and fellowship with Him is not growing because they are not “abiding” in Christ. The idea of being “burned” speaks to discipline, and not the Lake of Fire.[2]

It is this last view that holds the greatest credibility, both in John’s Gospel and within the bounds of Scripture as a whole. Therefore, it is the viewpoint that will be endorsed and explained here.

John 13-16 finds Jesus teaching His disciples and encouraging them before His betrayal and arrest. Soon He would be gone, and they would need to carry on. But how? The Lord’s explanation of the indwelling Holy Spirit would certainly be of some comfort to them. But when a flood of emotions rush upon a person unexpectedly, much of what is valued can be quickly forgotten. When our emotional state has been heightened into a “fight or flight” condition, rational and steadfast truths can easily fade into the background. This is most certainly true for the eleven disciples of our Lord.

In troubled times, obedience is paramount. This is a theme that carries the reader into John 15, with Jesus stating “but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me” (John 14:31a). Obedience testifies to the world system about the love that we have for God. This was Jesus’ greatest desire, seeing that He was always in submission to the Father. In disputing the two possible viewpoints of this text, Jesus’ words bring clarity. Jesus “abides” in the Father. Therefore, believers should abide in Him as well. While further justification for the “fellowship/communion” view will be supplied as we work through the text, it is clear that Jesus has love on His mind, which He has shown to be demonstrated through obedience (John 14:15, 21). 

John 15:1-3.Jesus begins this significant teaching by stressing two designations in the form of an analogy. First, Jesus describes Himself as the “true vine,” with the surrounding context giving us little in understanding the necessity of Jesus using the adjective “true” in distinguishing Himself. Many have referred to the comparison made of the nation of Israel to a vine in the Old Testament (Jer 2:21). This is quickly followed up with the idea that Jesus, in His perfect obedience, is everything that Israel should have been unto God the Father. But this association seems forced, being without much merit when considering the context and the events that would soon follow. 

Since this pericope is focused on the importance of “abiding,” Jesus’ words may be a “setting apart” from other possible competing influences that would seek to draw away the devotion of the eleven. If the believer is to “abide” in anything, let their abiding be in Christ! 

The second designation refers to the Father as the “vinedresser.” This is geōrgosin the Greek, being a compound word with ge meaning “land, soil,” and ergonmeaning “work.” Literally, this word speaks of God the Father as One who is working with the soil, or in this case, a worker of the vine. 

The importance of the Father as the vinedresser is a designation that encompasses more than what might be readily understood by the reader. Jesus’ analogy is deliberate and no point of consideration is wasted. The weight of this description is captured well by Derickson and Radmacher: “A vinedresser is more than a mere farmer. His work is not like the typical farmer, who simply plows up a field, plants a crop, harvests it, and waits for next season (We are speaking simplistically here). Grapes are more than an annual crop. They are individuals. A husbandman must know all about grapes, how they grow, what they need, when they need it, and what produces the best health as well as production in the plant. But, to be effective, they not only must know the right things, but they must nurture their plants with loving care.

The vinedresser’s grapevines remain with him for decades. He comes to know each one in a personal way, much like a shepherd with his sheep. He knows how the vine is faring from year to year and which ones are more productive or vigorous than others. He knows what they respond to and what special care certain one’s need. Every vine has its own personality. And the vinedresser comes to know it over the years. The vinedresser cares for each vine and nurtures it, pruning it the appropriate amount at the appropriate times, fertilizing it, lifting its branches from the ground and propping them or tying them to the trellis, and taking measures to protect them from insects and disease.

So, when Jesus calls His Father the Vinedresser, He is describing Him in terms of His relationship and attitude as well as His actions in the lives of the disciples… To call Him a vinedresser is to tell them He cares for them personally and is wise to know exactly what to do to make them fruitful. With such a Vinedresser, the branches can experience complete confidence and security.”[3]

Thus established, the Father works through the Vine (Jesus) for the health and productivity of the branches in bringing forth fruit. In 15:1-11, we see the idea of bringing forth fruit of some kind (whether “much fruit” or “more fruit”) or not bringing forth fruit six times. From this we can conclude that the Father’s skilled and loving involvement in seeing that the branches are bearing fruit is a dominant theme.

In 15:2, Jesus addresses the product, or lack thereof, of the branches. He begins by stating “every branch IN ME” (emphasis added) demonstrating the location of the branches at the time of expected productivity. This argument alone should be enough to dismiss the notion that fruitless Christians are not really saved. While the comparison of the branches being representative of the eleven is not made clear until 15:4, the fact that the location of the branches being “in Me,” with Christ being the One speaking, does not change. Hart notes that “elsewhere in the New Testament, nonbelievers are never said to be ‘in Me (Christ)’ in any sense of the term.”[4]Jesus’ words are clear that both the productive and unproductive branches in 15:2 are in Him, dismissing the idea of pseudo-believers. 

One of the greatest evidences promoting the “pseudo-Christian” interpretation is that the branch that “does not bear fruit” is taken away (John 15:2a), which is the rendering of every major English translation of the Bible with “cuts off” (NLT) and “removes” (HCSB) being some of the variants available. However, this is not the onlyway to understand the Greek word airō, and most certainly not the way to understand how a vinedresser would initially deal with a branch that is not fruit bearing. It would seem that many of the presumptions that stem from the meaning of being “burned” in John 15:6 have controlled the decision to translate airōas “takes away,” as can be seen in the study notes of the NET translation.[5]Noting this bias, Boice writes “Undoubtedly, their translation has been made to conform to what they know or believe is coming in verse 6, but the translation is not the best or even the most general meaning of the Greek word airowhich lies behind it.”[6]

At this point, the deliberate nature of Jesus describing the Father as the “vinedresser” becomes essential to understanding the text properly. The word airōis shown to have the following meanings, which are mostly decided upon by the surrounding context of the passage in question. Note the following:

1.to raise up;

a.to raise from the ground, take up: stones, Jn. 8:59; serpents, Mk. 16:18; a dead body, Acts 20:9.

b.to raise upwards, elevate, lift up: the hand, Rev. 10:5; the eyes, Jn. 11:41; the voice, i. e. speak in a loud tone, cry out, Lk. 17:13; Acts 4:24, (also in prof. writ.); to raise the mind, i. q. excite, affect strongly (with a sense of fear, hope, joy, grief, etc.); in Jn. 10:24 to hold the mind in suspense between doubt and hope, cf. Lücke [or Meyer] ad loc.

c.to draw up: a fish, Mt. 17:27 (Hab. 1:15); Acts 27:17; anchors from the bottom of the sea, Acts 27:13, where supply; cf. Kuinoel ad loc.; [W. 594 (552); B. 146 (127)].

2.to take upon one’s self and carry what has been raised, to bear: Mt. 4:6; Lk. 4:11, (Ps. 90 (91):12); a sick man, Mk. 2:3; Mt. 11:29 (Lam. 3:27); a bed, Mt. 9:6; Mk. 2:9, 11 sq.; Lk. 5:24 sq.; Jn. 5:8–12; Mt. [10:38 Lchm. mrg.]; 16:24; 27:32; Lk. 9:23; Mk. 8:34; 10:21 [in R Lbr.]; 

15:21; Rev. 18:21; to carry with one, [A. V.take]: Mk. 6:8; Lk. 9:3; 22:36. Both of these ideas are expressed in classical Greek.

3.to bear away what has been raised, carry off;

a.to more from its place: Mt. 21:21; Mk. 11:23, (be thou taken up, removed [B. 52 (45)], sc. from thy place); Mt. 22:13 [Rec.]; Jn. 2:16; 11:39, 41; 20:1.

b.to take offor awaywhat is attached to anything: Jn. 19:31, 38 sq.; to tear away, Mt. 9:16; Mk. 2:21; to rend away, cut off, Jn. 15:2.

c.to remove: 1 Co. 5:2 (cast out from the church; tropically: faults, Eph. 4:31, Jn. 1:29, [36 Lchm. in br.], to remove the guilt and punishment of sin by expiation, or to cause that sin be neither imputed nor punished; but in 1 Jn. 3:5 is to cause our sins to cease, i. e. that we no longer sin, while we enter into fellowship with Christ, who is free from sin, and abide in that fellowship, cf. vs. 6.

d.to carry off, carry away with one: Mt. 14:12, 20; 15:37; 20:14; 24:17 sq.; Mk. 6:29, 43; 8:8, 19 sq.; 13:15 sq.; Lk. 9:17; 17:31; Jn. 20:2, 13, 15; Acts 20:9.

e.to appropriatewhat is taken: Lk. 19:21 sq.; Mk. 15:24.

f.to take away from another what is hisor what is committed to him, to take by force: Lk. 6:30; 11:52; Mt. 13:12; 21:43; 25:28; Lk. 8:12, 18; 19:24, 26; [Mt. 25:29]; Mk. 4: (15), 25; Jn. 10:18; 16:22.

g.to take and apply to any use: Acts 21:11; 1 Co. 6:15.

h.to take from among the living, either by a natural death, Jn. 17:15 (take away from intercourse with the world), or by violence, Mt. 24:39; Lk. 23:18; Jn. 19:15; Acts 21:36; with the addition of Acts 22:22; of a bloody death inflicted upon one, Acts 8:33 (Is. 53:8).

i.of things; to take out of the way, destroy: Col. 2:14; cause to cease: Acts 8:33 (Is. 53:8).[7]

Notice that the idea of “taking away” (#3, b.) stems from the understanding “to bear away what has been raised” (#3), and does not assume a negative connotation. The instances before this speak of being “raised up” or “to take up or carry for one’s self,” all of which happen to fit the cultural, historical, and contextual implications of this passage in likening the Father to a vinedresser. 

Viticulture, being the cultivation and care of grapevines, is a meticulous calling, as described above in Derickson and Radmacher’s comments. But the specifics of bringing a branch that is not bearing fruit into a place where fruit can be produced is often overlooked or totally dismissed as a course of action that the vinedresser would take, opting instead to dismiss the branch into the Lake of Fire.

In viticulture, a branch of the vine that was not bearing fruit was usually due to the branch coming off the trellis and resting on the ground. Being on the ground, the branch now has a disruption in receiving the nourishment that is needed to be productive. Desperately in need, the branch develops sprigs that plug into the ground seeking moisture for nourishment. Now the branch is dependent upon the ground for its sustenance, and though inferior, has attached itself as the sole means of getting nourishment. That which is produced from this inferior source is worthless at best. The vinedresser must get involved personally in order to give the opportunity for maximum production to the fallen branch. However, this is not an easy, or immediate process.

Caring for the branch, and wishing to restore it to its greatest source of nourishment from the vine, the Father slowly begins separating the fallen branch from its inferior dependency. To do this, the branch is lifted only slightly without breaking the sprigs attached to the ground. He then places a small rock under the branch in order to keep it lifted, slowly weaning the branch from its inferior source of nourishment. Over the next few days, the separation of the branch from the ground becomes more gradual until all dependency is removed and the branch can once again be restored to the trellis where a maximum flow of nourishment can occur, being provided from the vine. This illustration shows the Father’s loving care in slowly separating the believer from inferior sources of nourishment so that they are fully dependent upon Christ alone.

This is not a novel understanding. Hart explains, “The verb translated takes awaycan just as easily be translated ‘lifts up,’ denoting the Vinedresser’s action in stimulating growth in a fruitless branch (God helping a fruitless believer to produce fruit). In the viticulture of Israel, late fall was the season for removing dead branches (v.6). The springtime (the time of the upper room message and Jesus’ death) was the season to ‘lift up’ fruitless branches from the ground to encourage productivity.”[8]Being on the move (John 14:31b), it very well could have been that Jesus and His disciples were passing a vineyard at the time of this illustration. They could easily see the difference between those branches that had fallen to the ground and those who had remained on the trellis and were bursting with production. 

The Father takes those who are in a position of fruitlessness and gives them the opportunity and provision to grow. This is an opportunity that should not be wasted, but is a grand invitation to draw near to the Father and to be used for His purposes, ones that will display a

striking testimony (John 14:31a), bringing Him great glory and honor before men.

The second point in John 15:2 speaks of those branches that are bearing fruit and being productive. Such branches are “pruned” in order to have a greater productivity. This word is kathairōand is an obvious wordplay off of airō(“lifts up”) in the previous clause. It means, “to cause something to become clean, make clean, literally of a place that has been swept,… to remove superfluous growth from a plant, clear, prune of a vine.”[9]This is similar to the English word “catharsis” and is understood as a cleaning that takes place. Some have associated this cleansing of the productive branch as divine discipline,[10]but this hardly makes sense. Why would the Lord discipline a branch that is properly plugged into the vine, remaining steadfast in where it was placed, and receiving the correct nourishment so that production is rightly occurring? 

Instead, this “cleansing” would be better understood as divine “testing” that is being introduced into the believer’s life. Trials are God’s means of developing His people into mature saints. Note James’ words when he writes, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (Jas 1:2-4). Notice that the outcome of letting “endurance have its perfect result” is that the believer becomes “perfect and complete” (“mature” and “blameless”), having all that he or she needs. Hodges notes, “James is referring to the way trial and testing apply ‘fire’ to our faith, so that it can come through the ‘furnace’ of trouble cleansed of any dross or impurity from the flesh. Like gold that has been refined, faith can be purified from the selfish motives and misguided perceptions that often distort and weaken it. God can use trouble to accomplish justthat.”[11]Such testing always asks the question of belief or unbelief of the believer. Trials can rid the believer of the self-life and move us into a greater dependency on Him. Those who choose to believe God’s Word in the midst of their trials are those who will “bear more fruit” (John 15:2b). 

In John 15:3, Jesus states that the eleven are “already clean” (katharos- “being clean or free of adulterating matter, clean, pure”[12]) and this is because of the word that He has spoken to them. This may seem to be an out-of-place comment, but it finds its connection in John 13:10which states, “Jesus said to him, ‘He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.’” The following verse records John’s commentary that the one who is not clean is the betrayer, Judas (John 13:11). Having left the group in John 13:30, Judas’ absence allowed for Jesus to give a much more concentrated teaching to those who were justified. Their being “clean” in 15:3 speaks to their justification, having been declared righteous by God after responding in faith to Christ. Justification had placed them in a position of unconditional acceptance before the Father, connecting them to the Vine, Jesus Christ. Now their responsibility would be to abide in that Vine in order to experience Life to the full.

John 15:4-6.With 15:4 the word “abide” is introduced for the first of ten mentions in this passage. “Abide in Me, and I in you.” In Greek, the word “abide” is menōmeaning “to remain in the same place over a period of time—‘to remain, to stay.’”[13]That to which the disciples are told to “abide” is in Christ. This imperative draws theimmediate implication that abiding is not automatic, even though the eleven are “already clean” (15:3). Jesus clearly delineates between one’s justification and their sanctification. His call to abide “in Me” is to explain the means for having a beneficial experience in the here and now by bearing fruit that will give God glory. This nourishing communion is a means of total blessing to the believer in Christ, having the power of God’s provision flowing to them and producing fruit through them. Augustine writes, “The relation of the branches to the vine is such that they contribute nothing to the vine, but from it derive their own means of life; while that of the vine to the branches is such that it supplies their vital nourishment, and receives nothing from them. And so their having Christ abiding in them, and abiding themselves in Christ, are in both respects advantageous, not to Christ, but to the disciples.”[14]

In understanding what is meant by “and I in you” (John 15:4b), we should not attempt to understand this apart from the preceding context either. In the previous chapter, Jesus was clear about how to cultivate an intimate fellowship with Himself and the Father. John 14:21finds Jesus stating, “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose (emphanizō-revealing clearly in detail; moving from the sensory to the cognitive in being fully known) Myself to him.” It is obeying that equates to abiding, and it is by abiding that one bears fruit. Such obedience is what cultivates intimacy with the Father and the Son. This is synonymous with “fellowship.” “To abide in Christ is, on the one hand, to have no known sin unjudged and unconfessed, no interest into which He isnot brought, no life which He cannot share,” states Scofield. “On the other hand, the abiding one takes all burdens to Him, and draws all

wisdom, life and strength from Him. It is not unceasing consciousness of these things, and of Him, but that nothing is allowed in the life which separates from Him.”[15]Such a view is in complete alignment with everything that the New Testament espouses in “walking in the Spirit” (Gal 5:16, 25), “walking in a manner worthy” of our calling in Christ (Eph 4:1), and “walking in love” (Eph 5:2). All known sin must be confessed and every hinderance must be laid aside to ensure that “abiding” is a constant condition of the branch. 

This example is seen again in Jesus’ response to Judas (not Iscariot) in John 14:23when He says, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” In essence, abiding is the believer remaining intimate with the Father and the Son in obeying the Word of Christ, keeping what has been commanded (John 14:15, 21, 31). The Word of Christ is central and paramount to intimate fellowship with the Godhead. In abiding, the Word must abide in us (15:7a). When this happens, not only is greater intimacy experienced, but “more fruit” is produced!

The example that accompanies this truth in John 15:4b is plain: A branch cannot produce anything if it does not abide in the vine in order to receive the provision for such production. Neither can a believer produce anything of benefit if he or she is not abiding in Christ. A believer is not self-nourishing. As the Scriptures clearly state, the flesh profits nothing (John 6:63; Rom 8:8). Just as absurd as it is to expect for a branch to produce fruit while separated from the vine, so is it equally absurd to expect the believer in Christ to produce fruit when we are not operating in connection with Christ. Independence from Christ in any situation, at any time, is sin.

John 15:5 clarifies the intended parties in this analogy. Jesus is the vine, the eleven (and being that this is a truth that is true of the Church Age believer as well, all believers in Christ would be included) are the branches. By abiding in Christ, one produces “much fruit.” The opposite of this is very much true as well. Jesus states, “apart from Me you can do nothing” (15:5b). “Nothing” here is ou oudeiswith ou being a negative adverb and oudeis meaning “no.” One should expect absolutely nothing if they are not abiding in fellowship with Christ. Such disconnection leaves the believer in a barren state. Robertson succinctly concludes, “There is nothing for a broken off branch to do but wither and die.”[16]This is precisely what is concluded by Jesus in John 15:6.

Jesus unfolds the consequences of those who do not abide in Him. The analogy is consistent, seeing that branches that have been separated from the vine and are no longer “abiding” are not good for anything other than kindling. Their sole purpose is to bear fruit, and once that has been rendered obsolete, they are no longer able to be used. Those branches that are not bearing fruit, after having been carefully and lovingly separated from their inferior means of securing self-nourishment and given the grand opportunity to become exceedingly productive only to spurn it, eventually dry up. Since nourishment is no longer flowing through them, they are only a sad representation of what they could have been had they remained in Christ.

Again, it must be stated, fruit bearing is the sole purpose of the disciple of Christ. Having denied themselves that purpose by refusing to abide, they are gathered and burned, for that is the only thing that they are good for. With many, the analogy of being “burned” immediately conjures disturbing images of hellfire and brimstone, and forces a theological conclusion on many that the lack of fruit in abeliever’s life is grounds for eternal damnation. Such conclusions are unbiblical for two reasons. First, salvation is based on the finished work of Christ and whether one has believed in Him or not (John 3:16-18; 5:24; Acts 16:31). Second, if hellfire were the result of not bearing fruit, salvation becomes ultimately contingent upon one’s works or lack thereof, and the work of Jesus performed on the cross 

would have to be considered insufficient to save, which violates Romans 3:21-28, Titus 3:5, and 1 Peter 3:18, just to name a few.

Since damnation is not in view, how should we understand this? Dillow writes, “a fruitless branch is lifted up to put it into a position of fruit-bearing. This does not contradict verse 6, which states that a branch that does not abide is ‘thrown away,’ literally ‘cast out’ (ballō exō). This would suggest that the heavenly Vinedresser first encourages the branches and lifts them in the sense of providing loving care to enable them to bear fruit. If after this encouragement, they do not remain in fellowship with Him and bear fruit, they are then cast out.”[17]God does not force obedience upon His children. He will direct them, even lead them, educate them, implore them, exhort them, and challenge them, but He does not force them. 

When such beckoning and education is not met with a favorable response, the Lord has no problem disciplining His children (Heb 12:5b-11). As the Vinedresser, the Father is longsuffering with His children, desiring what is best for them and setting them up for maximum success with all that has been provided for them in Christ. But there are many Christians who spurn the Lord’s loving care by clinging to the self-life. Such consequences are disastrous and can range from loss of intimacy with the Father and Son (John 14:24), physical death (1 Cor 5:5; 11:28-30), and loss at the Judgment Seat of Christ (1 Cor 3:15). To be “cast out” and “burned” is not to lose one’s salvation, otherwise the promises of Jesus would be a lie (John 3:16; 10:27-30).

John 15:7-11.In v.7 we are given greater revelation as to what Jesus meant when He stated “I in you” in v.4. As stated previously, the Word of God is paramount. It is how Christ abides in us. Our abiding and His Word “dwelling richly” in us (Col 3:16) is followed up by a fantastic statement: “ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7b). Jesus has just handed His disciples the keys to an effective prayer life; one that actually brings results with God’s fingerprints clearly shining along the way. The Word of God is the will of God, and when one is abiding in Christ and His Word is abiding in them the result is “the effective prayer of a righteous man” which “can accomplish much” (Jas 5:16b). The concept of abiding is now better understood as a life being marked by practical righteousness (sanctification) and not only positional righteousness (justification).

John 15:8 explains that the Father is glorified in the abiding disciple because they are bearing much fruit. Is this not the chief end of all of history? Ryrie notes that “Scripture is not man-centered as though salvation were the main theme, but it is God-centered because His glory is the center.”[18]Some have stumbled over Jesus’ words here in stating that one would “prove to be My disciples” (John 15:8b). The common approach is to conclude that the one who does not bear much fruit is not truly saved, with the absence of fruit being the deciding factor. The word “prove” is ginomaimeaning “to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be, receive being.”[19]The issue that is often overlooked is the difference between a believer and a disciple. This is plain because all that surrounds this teaching is with a strict emphasis upon those who are already believing. When the branch bears much fruit, the Life of the Vine is plainly seen by all. Thus God is glorified when the believer in Christ has forsaken thatwhich hinders his or her growth and has embraced God’s Word for living one’s daily life. No one can speak against the fruit with an honest conscience because it has its origin in the Vine!

Whereas the abiding of Christ’s Word was brought forward in John 15:7a, so now the theme of “love” is reintroduced in John 15:9. Five times in v.9 and 10 do we find the mention of “love.” Leading off this series is the example of the Father’s love for the Son. Divine intimacy is the first picture offered. Such an image draws the mind back to John 14:10 with the Father abiding in Christ, John 14:20 which speaks of the “already” loving communion that the Father and Son experience perpetually, and John 14:31 where Jesus speaks of His personal obedience to the Father’s will so that a testimony is promoted to the world. Every verse shows this communal love that is a daily experience between the Father and Jesus. In the same way, Jesus has loved His disciples, teaching them, leading them, bearing with them, guiding them, healing them, and demonstrating for them the sacrificial service that they are to have.

Jesus then issues the imperative to “abide in My love” (John 15:9b). Where else would they go? Where would be a better place than remaining in the love of Christ? Following up this command is the “how” of abiding in Christ’s love. John 15:10a states, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in My love.” This harkens back to John 14:15 and 21, showing that love is truly demonstrated because the commands of Christ are valued as being the ultimate truth, and therefore worth rearranging one’s life in order to experience a fullness of Life in the here and now.

The second half of John 15:10 draws the reader’s attention back to the truth of John 14:31. Jesus sets the tone for what it is to abide; to be walking in intimate fellowship with the Father. While the world has defined many things as “love,” Jesus defines it as obedience. To love the Lord is to obey Him. To demonstrate that one does not love the Lord is to not keep His Word (John 14:24). It is impossible to abidein Him if we are not keeping His Word. While obedience has no bearing on one’s justification, it has everything to do with whether a believer in Christ is experiencing the saving power of God in their daily life. This only comes about by pursuing intimacy with Him daily, moment by moment.

In John 15:11, Jesus gives the reason for this indispensable principle of abiding in Him. “Joy” is a word that is far fetched in this day and age. Few of us experience genuine joy. By and large it is a word that is absent from our vocabularies and our lives. Unless we are singing “Joy to the World,” we have little to do with “joy.” Abiding in Christ accomplishes two things. First, it establishes the joy of Jesus Christ in the disciple. It is a joy inexpressible. It is joy divine! Second, the joy of Jesus Christ makes our joy “full,” meaning that it is a supernatural joy that is abounding in our being. It is this truth that led John to pen the epistle of 1 John. In it he writes, “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. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete” (1 John 1:1-4, emphasis added).

Notice the interplay between “fellowship” and “joy.” John was experiencing in his daily life the fellowship that exists between the Father and the Son, and such wonderous fellowship produces joy! John’s desire is that every believer would experience this great joy and so have fellowship together with them as they fellowshipped with the Father and the Son. The entire epistle of 1 John is written to tell the believer in Christ how they can have fellowship with Christ so that they would experience this inexpressible joy! This is seen plainly in John’s borrowing of the “abide” concept in 1 John stretching from 2:6 to 4:16. The call is to abide, for in doing so, sin become a non-issue and intimacy with the Lord abounds! 

Are we experiencing inexpressible joy; such that is radiating through us, where God is glorified and we are made full? 

Are we abiding in Christ? An uncertain response is confirmation that we are not. If this is the case, what have we allowed to move us out of the abiding communion that the Father has so gracious given to us? 

Where are the areas of unbelief that are keeping us from bearing much fruit?

In pondering all of this, J. Oswald Sanders offers a cogent statement for the Christian to ponder: “It is a sobering thought that we… are as close to Christ as we really choose to be.”[20]What better place is there to be than abiding in Christ?

Jesus’ call to “abide” is only made clearer in the use of the vine/branch illustration. Ponder this relationship for a moment: Contact is essential. Proper nourishment comes about from consistent contact with the Vine. The Vinedresser assures that every care and precaution is taken so that the greatest opportunity for fruitfulness can be experienced by the branch stemming through the Vine. When contact stops, nourishment stops. The flow is meant to encourage total dependency. This is what it is to abide in Christ; a total dependency on Him where whatever needs to be accomplished in our lives is accomplished because His supernatural nourishment is flowing through us with the Father helping it along. In this way, the branches are understood to be seamless with the Vine. This is Christ living His Life through us! 

Again, Sanders offers his thoughts, writing “It would seem that admission to the inner circle of deepening intimacy with God is the outcome of deep desire. Only those who count such intimacy a prize worth sacrificing anything else for are likely to attain it. If other intimacies are more desirable to us, we will not gain entry to that circle.”[21]

[1]See John MacArthur Jr., ed., The MacArthur Study Bible, electronic ed. (Nashville, TN: Word Publishers, 1997), p. 1615, and David J. Ellis, “John” in The International Bible Commentary,ed. F.F. Bruce (England/Grand Rapids: Marshall Pickering/Zondervan 1986), p. 1255-1256.

[2]See Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 7 (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1993), p. 3–6, and Joseph C. Dillow, “Abiding Is Remaining in Fellowship: Another Look at John 15:1–6,” Bibliotheca Sacra147 (1990): 44–53.

[3]Gary Derickson and Earl Radmacher, The Disciplemaker: What Matters Most to Jesus(Salem, OR: Charis Press, 2001), p. 152–153.

[4]John F. Hart, “John” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham(Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2014), p. 1649.

[5]NET Notes on John 15:2, “takes away” with emphasis added- “In Johannine usage the word occurs in the sense of ‘lift up’ in 8:59 and 5:8–12, but in the sense of ‘remove’ it is found in 11:39, 11:48, 16:22, and 17:15. In context (theological presuppositions aside for the moment) the meaning ‘remove’ does seem more natural and less forced (particularly in light of v. 6, where worthless branches are described as being “thrown out”—an image that seems incompatible with restoration).-Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible; The NET Bible(Biblical Studies Press, 2005).

[6]James M. Boice, The Gospel of John, vol. 4 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1978), p. 227

[7]Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon, p. 16–17, with the Greek elaborations removed for ease of reading.

[8]Hart, “John,” Moody Bible Dictionary, p. 1649.

[9]BDAG, p. 488.

[10]See Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible(Galaxie Software, 2003), Jn 15:2.

[11]Zane C. Hodges, Arthur L. Farstad, and Robert N. Wilkin, The Epistle of James: Proven Character through Testing(Irving, TX: Grace Evangelical Society, 1994), p. 19.

[12]BDAG, p. 489.

[13]Louw and Nida, Greek-English Lexicon,p. 728.

[14]Augustine of Hippo, “Lectures or Tractates on the Gospel according to St. John,” in St. Augustin: Homilies on the Gospel of John, Homilies on the First Epistle of John, Soliloquies, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. John Gibb and James Innes, vol. 7, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1888), p. 345.

[15]C. I. Scofield, The Scofield Study Bible(New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), Jn 15:4.

[16]A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament(Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1933), Jn 15:5.

[17]Dillow, “Abiding Is Remaining in Fellowship”: 51.

[18]Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Dispensationalism, Rev. and expanded. (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1995), p. 48.

[19]Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon, p. 115.

[20]J. Oswald Sanders, Enjoying Intimacy with God(Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), p. 18.

[21]Ibid.

Foundational Framework 64: O.S.A.S.

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Can someone lose their salvation? There are few doctrines that are more divisive than the doctrine of eternal security. Eternal security states that the one who believes in Jesus Christ is completely and totally secure for all eternity in their salvation and that nothing can sever this relationship whether in this life or in the Life to come. This doctrine is often referred to as “once saved, always saved.” 

Foundational Verses for Security

In sharing the good news that salvation is provided freely by Jesus Christ, John 5:24is an excellent verse that clearly establishes the issue. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has Eternal Life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” There are two major points that Jesus addresses and a result that follows. 

First, the person must hearthe good news about Jesus Christ. This is consistent throughout the New Testament (Acts 15:7; 18:8; Rom 10:17; Eph 1:13). One cannot believe in what they have not heard, so it only follows that we must tell people about Jesus Christ. Have they heard that Jesus, the Son of the Living God, has provided salvation for them full and free?

If they answer “yes,” we now move to the second point. Have they believedGod’s Word about Jesus providing salvation? To “believe” is to have a conviction that something is true. It is faith. Hebrews 11:1 states that faith “is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” From this simple definition, we can see that "faith" is a confident conviction that something is true. Concerning the good news, the object of our “confident conviction” is Jesus Christ. Do we believe what God has said about Him? Are we confidently convinced that He alone can save us?

(It is important to note that in this one verse, the condition for salvation is clearly displayed, being “faith.” This is all that Jesus requires. “If there are hidden conditions to salvation other than the simple request of faith, Jesus would be guilty of deception.”[1])

If the answer to this question is “yes,” we then ask them what they now have. The answer is clear in John 5:24- Eternal Life. This verse uses the word “has” which is a present-tense verb. Eternal Life is something that one has at the moment of faith in Christ. This is not a gradual process or a "time of testing," but an immediate fact. D.L. Moody wrote, “Salvation is instantaneous. I admit that a man may be converted so that he cannot tell when he crossed the line between death and life, but I also believe a man may be a thief one moment and a saint the next. I believe a man may be as vile as hell itself one moment, and be saved the next. Christian growth is gradual, just as physical growth is; but a man passes from death unto everlasting life quick as an act of the will—'He that believeth on the Son hatheverlasting life.’”[2]

The next point to consider is that Jesus clarifies exactly what He means in stating that the one who believes in Him “does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24b). Our previously certain reservation in the Lake of Fire has been dismissed due to the free pardon that is offered by the perfect work of Jesus. The one who believes in Christ will never be judged for their sin. It has been paid for in full!

It must also be noted that the believer in Christ “has passed” out of eternal death into Eternal Life. This is a verb in the perfect tense, meaning that it is “a completed verbal action that occurred in the past but which produced a state of being or a result that exists in the present.”[3]This means that Eternal Life is a present reality for the one who believes and is a permanent possession beyond this life into the Life to come. Death has been dismissed, being gloriously replaced by the gift of Eternal Life that Jesus freely gives.

Another foundational passage is found in John 10:27-30. This is commonly referred to as the “double-fisted grip of God,” and rightly so, for in it is the reinforcement of the believer’s eternal destiny directly from the mouth of the Lord Jesus. 

Jesus refers to believers as His “sheep” in John 10:27. It is clear from 10:26 that those who are considered “sheep” are those who have believed in Jesus. They know His voice and they follow Him. In v.28, Jesus plainly states that He gives them “Eternal Life.” Notice that this is a gift and not something that they have earned. One cannot earn their salvation. May it be stated clearly: Eternal Life IS salvation. What else could it be but Life from the dead for those who were formerly separated from God by their sin nature? By its very name it is forever.

Verse 28 is so emphatic regarding the impossibility of one losing their salvation that the translators of the HSCB translated this as “and they will never perish —ever!” In the Greek, this is what is known as an “emphatic negation” because “never” is the translation of ou mēand is included with “perish” being the aorist subjunctive, which is “the strongest way to negate something in Greek,” because it “denies a potentiality”[4]regarding the loss of one’s salvation. Wallace goes on to note that “ou mē rules out even the idea as being a possibility,” while stating in the next paragraph that “especially in John: what is negatived is the possibility of the loss of salvation.”[5]Grammatically, it is an absolute and undeniable impossibility to be lost again.

In v.28b-29, Jesus uses an illustration that involves His ability to securely keep those who are His, and the Father’s ability (being “greater than all”) to do the same. The one who is Christ’s sheep is held firmly, without needing to fear removal, in His perfect hands, while the Father also holds these same sheep in divine security. He then reveals that He and the Father are one (v.30), signifying their complete unity. Christ’s sheep are shielded by His hands while also being gripped in the grace of the Father. Robertson expounds on this, writing, “No wolf, no thief, no bandit, no hireling, no demon, not even the devil can pluck the sheep out of my hand.”[6]Though some have claimed it to be possible, even the believer him or herself cannot remove themselves from the double-fisted grip of God’s grace. The promise of Christ is certain and sure.

While many other passages could be expounded upon, these two sections are sufficient to prove the point. The one who hears the good news about Jesus and is confidently convinced that it is true receives Eternal Life as a free gift, having passed from total separation from the Father into a living union with Him.

The Difference Between Security and Assurance

Eternal Securitycan be easily understood from the verses in Scripture that promise Eternal Life (John 3:16; 5:24; 6:37, 40, 47). Plainly put, if Eternal Life is not forever, what else could it be? John 3:16 is clear. The one who believes in Jesus has Eternal Life. Therefore, Eternal Security is a biblical doctrine that is as sure and steadfast as its name, being based on Christ’s merits and not on our performance or lack thereof.

Assurance of salvationis a different subject only because it is the person's viewpoint of their salvation. For instance, one may hear the Gospel and believe and understand at that moment that they have been eternally saved, meaning that they are eternally secure. At that moment they have assurance of their salvation. But let's say that an hour later they participate in some heinous sin, anafterwardds they have great anxiety about the authenticity of their salvation, concluding that someone who "truly believes in Jesus" would never sin like that (which is complete nonsense). That person may no longer haven a assurance of their salvation. However, this feelingdoes not change the factof their salvation. They are still eternally secure. 

Heinous sins are not greater than the grip of God’s grace. David’s sin in having Uriah murdered to cover up his fornication with Bathsheba is considered by most to be one of the worst sins in all of history. However, David writes, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit” (Psalm 51:10-12). 

This section, along with the rest of the psalm, makes it clear that David had sinned greatly against the Lord. However, he cries out for a restoration of the “joy of Your salvation” and not for a saving-again to take place. David did not lose his salvation by committing this atrocious act, but he did fracture the ongoing fellowship experience that he had enjoyed with the Lord, and it was this sense of loss, coupled with the conviction that Nathan the prophet brought to David (2 Sam 12:1-15) that caused him to cry out for restoration. This is something that can happen to us as well. 

To the surprise of many, ongoing sin in a believer’s life does not nullify their salvation either. Take the church in Corinth, who had a man that was openly sleeping with his stepmother, a sin that pagans did not even dare to commit (1 Cor 5:1). Paul takes this sin seriously, as we should all sin, but he does not question the man’s eternal destiny. He writes, “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor 5:5, emphasis added). If this man loved this lifestyle so much, he was to be dismissed from the fellowship of the church. However, though this sin may lead to physical death, he was still spiritually secure in his salvation.

In the case of habitual sins or “unusual” (sometimes declared to be “big” sins), our assurance can waver because our emotions have taken control, moving our focus off of Christ and onto ourselves. In our minds, the issue of Heaven or Hell has just become a matter of us keeping our conduct, morals, and secret thoughts in a straight line. This leads to a fear-based approach to God, certain depression because of our failures, and repeated feelings of inadequacy that we are just not good enough to be saved. This makes living one’s daily life a constant attempt to be accepted rather than resting in the believer’s “already-acceptance” because Christ’s finished work has been fully accepted.

This can be seen in the actions of John the Baptist, who was considered by Jesus to be the greatest person ever born of a woman (Matt 11:11a). While in prison, John had heard about the miracles that Jesus was doing. He then sent some of his disciples to Jesus with a very revealing question: “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Matt 11:3). This is an incredible inquiry, for John the Baptist was the forerunner of Christ (Luke 1:17), who was filled with the Spirit while still in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15b), and who declared when seeing Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29b). But with this question, it is clear that he had lost his assurance. 

When hearing this inquiry through John’s disciples, Jesus responds stating, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deahearsar, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me” (Matt 11:4-6). Jesus’ reply pointed John to all that was spoken of the Messiah in the prophecies of Isaiah (Isa 29:18-19; 35:5-6; 61:1). At no time did John lose his salvation, but his current situati,on being in a prison ce,ll had caused him to lose sight of who Jesus was, momentarily robbing him of his assurance. Jesus reminds Him that He is the One who fulfills the promises of the prophets; a response that was guaranteed to restore his assurance.

A person’s present situation, whether pleasant like a summer’s day or revolting like a Roman prison, is not indicative of one's eternal standing with Gd, and is most certainly not the basis of their eternal security in Christ. One’s salvation is based upon the Savior’s finished work, not the saint’s mistakes and successes. To conclude that salvation is “true,” “genuine,” or “authentic,” based on the performance of the individual is to state that the individual’s performance is necessary (indispensable) in order to complete (or make valid) that person’s salvation. 

If this were true, we must ask, “So what of the cross?” Why did Jesus die if I only need to do my part? Why couldn’t I just do more so that Jesus could have done less and would not have had to suffer so much? This reasoning is ludicrous, and the conclusions and arguments that surround this line of thinking are fallacious. Ultimately, this conclusion would state that what Jesus did on the cross was not effective enough, satisfying enough, or sufficient enough. His death was lacking, needing our submission and obedience to complete it. This is nothing short of blasphemy.

This is the plainly stated word of God on salvation and the assurance that should accompany one’s faith in Christ. To look elsewhere is to lose one’s assurance of the Eternal Life that they possess as a free gift from God. Our surroundings are in no way a grounds for acceptance before God. George Pentecost writes, “It is not in the fact that you are a descendant of a saintly father, a child of believing parents, for, as old Matthew Henry says, ‘Grace does not run in the blood;’ nor is it that you have membership in the visible Church of Christ; nor is it to be found in delightful frames and feelings—in a word, not even a genuine Christian experience constitutes your ‘title-deed.’ Where then are we to bottom our hope? Why, just in the naked bare Word of God. It is written, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth My words, and believeth on Him that sent Me hatheverlasting life,’ etc. (John 5:24). Straight to the record do we appeal for a final test as to our possession in God.”[7]

Another point to consider is that eternal security is not the same as the Perseverance of the Saints. The Perseverance of the Saints is a doctrine that came about shortly after the Reformation in the 1500s. In simple terms, it states that those who artruely believers in Christ will persevere in their faith and good works until their dying day. For those who do not persevere, it is either concluded that they were "never truly saved," as the Calvinists would conclude, or that they had "lost their salvation," as held by Arminians. From what we have seen so far, one should quickly see that the “proof of salvation” has been refocused upon the works of the individual, having been taken off of the sufficient work of the Savior. 

It is easy to see that for those who believe in the Perseverance of the Saints, this doctrine holds the hands of assurance closely, often causing them to vacillate. An example can be seen in remarks involving assurance that are made by John Piper, a prominent proponent of the Perseverance of the Saints. He states, “I know people, and I would say this about myself, for whom the greatest threat to my perseverance and my ultimate salvation is the slowness of my sanctification. It’s not theoretical questions like ‘Did He rise from the dead?’ or the problem of evil. I’ve got answers. But why I sin against my wife the same at age 62 that I did at age 42 causes me sometimes to doubt my salvation or the power of the Holy Spirit.”[8]

Notice that Piper’s doubts are due to his inability to perform at a higher (more sinless) level. For him, his works are in view, and being as such, Christ’s finished work is not. Focusing on our personal works will always lead to doubts about one’s eternal destiny because we know that the standard is too high and that even our greatest works fall far short. Only Christ can give us the assurance that we need. We must look to Him only, always!

Doctrinal Considerations

Justificationbefore God is an essential doctrine of Christianity that is closely linked with imputed righteousness and eternal security. Justification, which is sometimes referred to as “positional sanctification,” is when God declares one righteous because they have responded in faith to Jesus Christ. The merits for acceptance by Him are those of Christ. One’s faith is simply the channel by which those merits are applied. This means that God now sees the believer in Christ as one who is positionally spotless and blameless in His sight (though this does not mean that our daily practice is such, which is referred to as our progressive sanctification).

The connection between justification and eternal security is an inseparable one. J.I. Packer writes, “God’s justifying decision is the judgment of the Last Day, declaring where we shall spend eternity, brought forward into the present and pronounced here and now. It is the last judgment that will ever be passed on our destiny; God will never go back on it, however much Satan may appeal against God’s verdict (Zech. 3:1; Rev. 12:10; Rom. 8:33–34). To be justified is to be eternally secure (Rom. 5:1–5; 8:30).

The necessary means, or instrumental cause, of justification is personal faith in Jesus Christ as crucified Savior and risen Lord (Rom. 4:23–25; 10:8–13). This is because the meritorious ground of our justification is entirely in Christ.”[9]This leads us to the imputed righteousness of Christ toward the believer.

If an understanding of justification were not enough, the doctrine of the imputation of Christ’s righteousnessshould settle the issues surrounding “losing one’s salvation.” The word “imputation” means “charging to an account, used in the Bible with legal reference to sin and salvation being recorded by God… ‘to set down in a record or a ledger.’ In relation to the doctrine of salvation the word is consistently used in a legal sense.”[10]Christ has died for the sin of the world (John 1:29), satisfying the debt of sin by His blood (Rom 3:25a), and making the very righteousness of God a firm reality for the one who believes in Christ (Rom 3:21-22). This shows that the necessary and effectual work has been done by Jesus Christ, and our acceptance of this glorious truth as being the channel of faith which applies His work to our accounts before God. Jesus has taken and paid for our sin successfully. In turn, He credits us with His righteousness, being the very righteousness of God Himself. Second Corinthians 5:21 states it this way: “He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that (REASON GIVEN) we (those who believe) might become the righteousness of God in Him (Jesus).” 

To say that one can either lose or forfeit their salvation would be to say that the righteousness of God which had been “charged to the account” of the one who believed could be suddenly rescinded. Since those who believe in Jesus have been given the “right to become children of God” (John 1:12b), this means that the believing one has ownership (rights) in this claim to be God’s child. To suddenly remove this standing is nothing short of theft, leaving the believer an orphan. Such an act would establish the believer’s sin, or apathy, or waywardness, or negligence, or whatever has led to their acceptance being revoked as containing more power than the promises of God in declaring us righteous. The power of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross in redeeming us would be a loan at best. Such thinking is blasphemous and paints God’s redemptive acts in the same light as pawn shop merchandise and thrift store seconds. 

In our previous study, there was much to be considered regarding the believer’s relationship with the Holy Spirit, especially in the change of relationship that happened with the institution of the Church Age Dispensation (Acts 2:3-4). Jesus had previously stated that the Spirit was with the disciples (John 14:17b) but was also quick to say that He would soon be “in you” once the Son of Man was glorified (John 7:39; John 14:17c). Unless Jesus left them, they would not benefit from this new intimacy that He was sending to them (John 16:7). 

Now that the Holy Spirit takes up residence within the one who believes in Christ, and if it were possible that one could lose their salvation, would we not be concluding that our will or sin would have the ability to evict the Holy Spirit of God from our being? Would this not make the guarantee of Christ in sending the Spirit to be in us “forever” (John 14:16b) a false statement? If this were true, how could we trust anything that God has told us? It should be obvious that such thinking is thoroughly disconnected from what has been plainly stated in God’s Word.

The Common Objection

There are many who rail against eternal security, stating that if someone believes that they will never lose their salvation, it automatically becomes a license to sin. If there is no threat of the possibility of eternal damnation hanging over the believer’s head, they will become “hell-raisers,” since they are without restraint or consequences. This assumption is common, but unfounded. 

First, at the moment of faith, the Holy Spirit indwells the one who believes. This alone makes the person different, with God Himself ready to change that person to be more conformed to the image of Christ from the inside out (Rom 8:29). This is when the longing “for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Pet 2:2) should begin taking place.

Second, the freeness of salvation and the security that Christ promises should yield a response of gratitude if understood correctly. Grace is costly to God, but it is absolutely free to us. We have undeservingly been rescued from a certain destiny in the Lake of Fire, and the means of securing such a glorious pardon were provided by the perfect Life and sufficient death of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. The only reason why this blessed doctrine would yield a life of havoc and chaos would be largely because the Church failed to teach sound Bible doctrine to their congregants in love and truth. Discipleship is commanded by the Lord Jesus (Matt 28:18-20) and this relationship should be saturating the local church, aa s believer is teachinanother g believer all that Christ commanded. It is life invested into life in order to cultivate Life in the here and now.  

Third, to claim that there are “no consequences” for a wayward believer’s actions is to dismiss the seriousness of the Bema, the Judgment Seat of Christ. This is where believers will “be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Cor 5:10). The Christian Life is a time of stewardship for the believer, where he and she are training now for an opportunity to reign with Christ in the Kingdom to come (2 Tim 2:12a; Rev 2:26-27). 

This recompense (literally- “to pay back”) is in response to our deeds, “whether good or bad.” Don’t miss this last part. Both good and bad that we have done while believers on Earth will be paid back by the Lord. Those good things will be rewarded (1 Cor 3:14) but those they things that are bad will bring us shame. However, such shame is regret for not living for Christ in opportunities where we could have been greatly used by Him for His glory and purposes. It is not a loss of salvation as Paul makes clear (1 Cor 3:15). Additionally, just because one is a believer in Christ does not mean that earthly consequences for wrong actions have been exempted. We are all still responsible. 

Finally, and most importantly, the Bible teaches otherwise. At no point in any passage of any book of the Bible do we see that someone can lose their salvation. It simply isn’t there.

Well, what about that one passage…

Those who believe that you can lose your salvation have certain “go-to” passages that seem to state that someone can be lost again. A favorite would be the passages that refer to “falling away” (Matt 13:21; 24:10; Mark 4:17; Luke 8:13; 1 Tim 4:1; Heb 3:12). In each of these passages, a consideration of the context will show that a believer losing their salvation is NOT what is being discussed. While many would disagree, a “backsliding” Christian is a real thing, though biblically we would consider them “not walking in the Spirit” or “out of fellowship with the Lord.”

Another set of passages that is often referred to is Hebrews 6:4-6 and 10:26-27. In each of these, again, context points to the Christian who is being negligent of the salvation that they already have. In Hebrews, the issue is that the Christians that are being written to are considering returning to Judaism in order to avoid being persecuted for their faith in Christ. The unknown author of this book writes to show them that all that they would be returning to (the Law, Moses, angels, sacrificial system, etc.) are inferior compared to what they now have in Christ because Christ is the fulfillment of all of these things. He proceeds in showing them that there is divine discipline for disobedience, but great reward for faithfulness unto Christ Jesus during this difficult time. Both of these passages can be easily cleared up when the big picture is in mind.

Again, though the Bible does teach a loss of reward for unfaithfulness to Christ, it does not teach a loss of one’s salvation.

Just how secure am I?

The Scriptures have unfolded a glorious “union within a union” that takes place the moment that one trusts in Jesus Christ.

#1- Christ IN You

Colossians 1:25-27; 3:3. The mystery that was previously hidden but has now been made known is the mystery of the Church Age and the fact of the indwelling Christ in the believer. We must understand that neither Chrit, nor the Holy Spirit for that matter, ever indwelled anyone prior to the beginning of the Church Age dispensation in Acts 2. But the Church is His Body, and He is its Head (Col 1:18). This was a glorious truth that was previously unknown ithe n Old Testamet, but is now fully disclosed (mainly through the writings of Paul, but not exclusively).

Christ is IN the believer, and His residing IN the believer is our hope of glory! MacDonald notes, “We have no other title to heaven than the Savior Himself. The fact that He indwells us makes heaven as sure as if we were already there.”[11]This truth is only enhanced in Colossians 3:3, where we see that our life is hidden with Christ in God. This is our eternal union with the Son and the Father, which speaks to our glorious position of acceptance that we received when we believed.

#2- The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

Ephesians 1:13. The Apostle Paul tells us plainly that we were “sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.” This verse draws our attention to the “ordo salutis” (order of salvation) where one hears the Word about Christ, believes that Word, and is instantaneously placed “in Christ,” while simultaneously receiving the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, Who seals the believer “as a pledge of our inheritance” (Eph 1:14). 

A good transition verse that covers the believer’s sealing with the Holy Spirit at the moment of faith and their instantaneous relocation to being “in Christ” is seen in 2 Corinthians 1:21-22which reads “Now He who establishes us with you in Christand anointed us is God, who also sealed usand gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.” This word “pledge” is significant, meaning “an earnest, i.e. money which in purchases is given as a pledge that the full amount will subsequently be paid.”[12]The Holy Spirit of God resides in the believer forever (John 14:16b) as a promise of the great glorification to come.

#3- The Believer is IN Christ

Ephesians 1:3-14. While v.13-14 are addressed above, we cannot read this passage without being struck by the importance and blessing of being “in Christ,” “in the Beloved,” and “in Him.” This is the glorious position that the Body of Christ has as a present reality.

Romans 6:11, 23. Paul tells us that we are “alive to God IN Christ Jesus” (6:11). This is because LIFE is found only in Christ Jesus, being something that existed with Him before the world began (John 1:4). In 6:23, we see the same thing: Eternal Life is IN Jesus Christ.

#4- The Believer is IN the Father, IN Christ

Colossians 3:3; John 10:29. Christ, who IS our Life has hidden us with Himself in God the Father. The Father has a grasp on us that is equal to that of the Son. We are safeguarded within Him and held tightly by Him.

The believer is indwelt with Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit at the moment of faith, while simultaneously made alive and placed “in Christ” as a new spiritual location before the Father, in whom the believer also finds him or herself resting, being fully immersed and gripped by His grace.

Let us close with the wonderful words of assurance from the Apostle Paul: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” -Romans 8:38-39.

Rejoice!

[1]Charles C. Bing, Lordship Salvation: A Biblical Evaluation and Response, 2ndEdition(Xulon Press, 2010), p. 58. 

[2]D. L. Moody, The D. L. Moody Year Book: A Living Daily Message from the Words of D. L. Moody, ed. Emma Moody Fitt (East Northfield, MA: The Bookstore, 1900), p. 229–230.

[3]Michael S. Heiser and Vincent M. Setterholm, Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database Terminology(Lexham Press, 2013; 2013).

[4]Daniel Wallace, Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Academic, 1996), p. 468.

[5]Ibid. 

[6]A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament(Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1933), Jn 10:28.

[7]George F. Pentecost, The Fundamentals: A Testimony of the Truth, vol. 4, ed. R.A. Torrey (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2005), p. 276–277.

[8]As quoted by Philip F. Congdon, “John Piper’s Diminished Doctrine of Justification and Assurance,” Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, Vol 23(2010), p. 61, footnote 3.

[9]J. I. Packer, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs(Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993), p. 165.

[10]Bruce A. Demarest, “Imputation,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible(Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988), p. 1024.

[11]William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments, ed. Arthur Farstad (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), p. 1999.

[12]Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon, p. 75.

Foundational Framework 63: The Holy Spirit Part 5

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There are two final mentions regarding the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room Discourse that reflect some of the greatest truths of His being and presence in the Church Age. First, we must address the surrounding context before reaching John 16:7-15.

One of the greatest hindrances to an accurate understanding of the Scriptures can be found in the “mental break” that occurs when we venture from one chapter of the Bible to another. This difficulty is more prominent than what we may initially realize. Instead, we must formulate our understandings based on the flow of thought as the biblical author has recorded them so that we are embracing each subject in its given order without allowing for the introduction of 16:1 (for example) to cause us to think that a new subject has suddenly been introduced. While this may happen in regular books, this is often not the case with the Scriptures.

In John 16:1, Jesus reveals the reason for His exposition of the reality and nature of the Holy Spirit as seen in 15:26. The confidence that should accompany the knowledge of the Holy Spirit’s presence among them should help keep them from “stumbling.” This word is mē skandalizōwhich upon pronunciation will cause one to think of the English word “scandal,” and rightly so. The mē (pronounced may) is a “particle of negation” that “denies the thought of the thing, or the thing according to the judgment, opinion, will, purpose, preference,of someone.”[1]Putting this together we have the rationale behind Jesus’ words and the desired effect that He sought for them to have on His disciples. This teaching on love, persecution, and the Holy Spirit would rid them of any stumbling block, impediment, or scandal if they would only heed them. His promises were enough to sustain them through the turmoil that would soon transpire. The Spirit of truth is who will guide and comfort them amid persecution, hatred, and affliction (John 15:18-25), all while testifying through them concerning the oracles of God (John 15:26b-27). 

Jesus then continues the theme of persecution, explaining the social and religious rejections that they will undergo (John 16:2), even stating that those who murder them will do so under the guise that their actions are a means of glorifying God (John 16:2b). Such actions, and the skewed justification that accompanies their violence, will be the result of their genuine ignorance of the truth, not having known the Father or the Son (John 16:3). “Persecution is certain, but there is not the slightest hint that the disciples should retreat into safe havens and cease witnessing about Jesus. In fact, just the opposite is expected. And to make their witnessing effective the Paraclete, the Spirit of truth or authenticity, is promised to them to support them in their witnessing.”[2]While not every believer will be called to give their very life for the sake of Jesus Christ, some will, and in doing so will be greatly rewarded for their faithfulness (Matt 5:10-12).

Jesus’ comment in John 16:4 is meant to instill confidence in His disciples, though their surrounding conditions would seem bleak. Constable gives a better understanding, writing, “The memory that Jesus had forewarned His disciples would enable them to realize that things were not out of control when they seemed to be. This remembrance would really strengthen their faith in Jesus rather than weakening it.”[3]Any who have ever experienced persecution can relate to the fear and anxiety that accompanies the choice to stand for Jesus. The Master’s words were meant to comfort them in this time, giving them a steadfast “rock” to cling to. Jesus also notes that He did not tell His disciples these things at the beginning due to His physical presence. This comment foreshadows His absence, as will be seen in His crucifixion, but also leaves the reassurance of His Word with them, which never passes away (Luke 21:33).

Jesus understands that His time to depart is drawing near (John 16:5) and that this news has filled His disciples with grief (16:6). It would seem that Jesus’ remark that the disciples had not asked Him where He was going shows that their sorrow had overwhelmed them in their present situation. How would they continue on without Jesus? Could they? Who would guide them? Teach them? Answer their questions? Provide for them? They would be without Him and their relationship with Him was seemingly coming to an end. The disciples’ present emotion had eclipsed Jesus’ promise to provide them with power.

Jesus was not content to let this line of thinking continue, though He knew that their emotions would get the best of them and lead them in a direction of denial (in Peter’s case), distance (in John’s case), and absence (the other nine disciples). Such sorrow brings Jesus’ words to the antidote that He had been holding up before them this entire time: The Paraklētos!

John 16:7.Jesus’ statement in v.7 seems almost beyond comprehension. In light of persecution (John 15:18-16:4), and that being coupled with the fact that He would be leaving them, Jesus reveals that His absence is an advantageous change for His disciples. The word used for “advantage” is the Greek word sympherō,which is a compound word with sym being used as a prefix that denotes “togetherness, to be coupled together, or assembled,” and pherōmeaning to “bring, carry, brought.” This gives the meaning of something that is “profitable,” “expedient,” or “beneficial.” “What a statement!” writes John Van Gelderen. “Jesus said it is more advantageous for us if He departs so that His Spirit could come and be our personal companion. For us to ignore this personal relationship with the Spirit is to despise our Savior’s throne gift: the gift of the Spirit that He sent from His throne on the Day of Pentecost.”[4]

No doubt that Jesus’ statement would be met with unbelief. The disciples’ minds were probably still fixated on His words that He Himself would be absent (“sorrow”-John 16:6). But this is what must happen in order to place the disciples (and us by extension) into a more “beneficial” position. This advantage is Holy Spirit power, the Supernatural working through the temporal, the Blessing blazing forth through the mundane. The Spirit of truth is the central source of positioning us in such a way as to be pleasing to God in our thoughts and actions, operating in perfect harmony with the Scriptures that He has inspired (2 Pet 1:21).

It must be noted that there is a divinely set timeline and progression in place that must transpire for the Spirit to come. This can be understood from John 7:39 where we read, “the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” Jesus’ “glorification” is a process that was ignited in John 13:31-32 after Judas had left to betray Him. This “glorification” is contingent upon timing, a pivotal moment that Jesus addresses in John 17:1, 5, noting that the hour had now come (17:1) and that the glory that would be bestowed upon Him at this time was the same glory that He had enjoyed with the Father before the world was created (17:5). From this, we can conclude that the “glorification” in mind is Jesus’ death for sin, His resurrection, and His ascension to the Father, seeing that the Holy Spirit brings about a dispensational shift in Acts 2:3-4 by coming uponthe disciples, filling them, and residing in them from that moment forward.

The “Helper” must come. Since we have the progressive revelation of the New Testament, we understand fully that all that must be done in establishing the Church must be done by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is exactly what the book of Acts is all about. Many Bibles have given this book a title like “The Acts of the Apostles,” but this is misleading to say the least. The book of Acts is about the acts of the Holy Spirit as the empowering God, who grows His Church through His indwelling and supernatural work through believers in Christ. The “sending” of the Spirit is once again in complete alignment with God’s intended plan for history, with a people (The Church) who are “producing the fruits” of the kingdom, though the kingdom has been postponed as a result of Israel’s national rejection of their Messiah (Matt 21:43; 12:24, respectively).

John 16:8-11.Jesus now unfolds the Spirit’s convicting ministry. This is what the Spirit is doing in the Church Age. The explanation also provides a better understanding of the “advantageous” opportunities that the Spirit affords beyond simply residing in the believer. 

Of first observation, Jesus states “when He comes,” which obviously speaks of the events of Pentecost (Acts 2:3-4), being the birth of the Church, the Body of Christ. This is the time that the Spirit will begin this special ministry. 

Second, we see that the action of the Spirit will be that of “conviction.” This word iselenchō, meaning “to convict, refute, confute, generally with a suggestion of the shame of the person convicted,”[5]with “convict” being the overwhelming choice of many major English translations (NASB95, NKJV, ESV, HCSB, CSB, NIV84). 

Finally, the audience that will receive this convicting work of the Holy Spirit is identified as “the world.” This word (kosmos) has a wide arrayof meanings, but due to the surrounding context, we can understand this as the Spirit’s work of conviction in relation to unbelievers. This is a sound conclusion when noting that the areas of conviction are going to be in regards to sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8b) with each area being expounded upon by Jesus in John 16:9-11. This clearly shows the recipients of such messages as being those who are in need of divinely-imparted Life. These three areas must be carefully considered, for when the Spirit comes, He will indwell the believer in Jesus Christ from that moment forward (John 14:16b). This means that these three areas of conviction will be addressed through the believer in Christ. 

Every believer is indispensable to the administration of the convicting work of the Spirit. This work can manifest itself in many ways through the believer, but all will be brought forth with the goal of bringing the deeds, philosophies, and plans of the world into full exposure as works of evil and unrighteousness. The Holy Spirit is a light through the believer, and when the believer is walking in the Spirit, this light pierces the darkness of this present age, holding it accountable for its unbelief, and projecting a beacon of hope that is answered in the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us consider each one.

First, we have the area of “sin” in John 16:9. Sin is the problem. It is always the problem. It has always been the problem. Many people have thought, and with good intentions, that something else is the issue, whether it be poverty, disability, insignificance, race, creed, work environment, spouse, kids, in-laws, etc., and so this is where the time, attention, money, focus, and energy goes with feeble attempts to try and “make a difference” so that life, work, and relationships will be improved. This is exactly what Satan wants within the Church because it completely avoids the central pitfall of sin.

The issue, every issue, regardless of what it is, finds its nucleus in sin! Satan wants us polishing the leaves and pruning the branches rather than focusing on the root. He wants us instituting programs and formulating plans to give people a better life, rather than identifyingand bearing down on their ongoing sin and its origin in the sin nature that is successfully flourishing within them (Rom 5:12, 19). He delights in us prescribing people with a checklist for achievement rather than shining a light on the quicksand that is devouring them. 

Q: Why is sin the first area in which the Holy Spirit will bring conviction upon the world?

A: Unbelief (John 16:9b). This is how we know that the word “world” in John 16:8 is referring to those who are unregenerate. They are lost and they do not have Life, and we know that they do not have Life because they do not believe. The greatest sin that one can have is unbelief. Jesus states it plainly: “because they do not believe in Me.” Seeing that the Gospel of John uses the word “believe” 98 times, and that by his own admission, John wrote his gospel account with the goal of leading the lost to faith in Christ (John 20:30-31), it should be no surprise that he is emphatic about the main problem that needs to be addressed. The whole human race is guilty before an Almighty Creator of whom they must give an account (Rom 3:19-20). The world is “judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). Condemnation is already certain for those who do not believe. 

How does this concern the saint in whom the Holy Spirit dwells? This is the first point that needs to be addressed when discussing spiritual matters with a lost person. As with the other two areas that will be discussed, this is the first matter presented where the Holy Spirit will bring conviction. Our evangelism should seek to be in alignment with where the Spirit is working. Since Jesus has revealed this wonderous truth to us, we know that this is the perfect place to start. We cannot work apart from Him and “hope” that He will overlook our denial of where He is already actively working, expecting Him to bless us in spite of our “alternate” approach. 

Our time should not be wasted in looking for “someone to come in and do something.” The Holy Spirit works through the believer in Christ. This means you and me. This is an important opportunity that has been afforded to us by God. Reverend George C. Grubb writes, “the most awful thing that a man can do is to have a doubt about the credibility of Jesus, to wander on in the darkness of his own delusions. How the world needs that conviction today; and the world can only get it through seeing Christ shining out of you. The Holy Spirit does not act immediately on the world; He always acts mediately through the members of the Body of Christ. Why is the world not convicted of sin? Because the Spirit of God has come in such little power to us. Do not be blaming the world; do not be finding fault with the world always. ‘People are so Gospel-hardened,’ you say; they are not Gospel-hardened: they have not seen the shining Jesus in you.”[6]

The issue is “sin,” being the destitute position that lost individuals are currently in due to their unbelief about Jesus. The Spirit’s work will always be through the born-again believer, for it is out of His residence that He seeks to address these matters. This leads us to the second area of conviction.

“Righteousness” is listed with the explanation that Jesus will “go to the Father and you no longer see Me” (John 16:10b). The idea of Jesus going to the Father is something that has been occasionally referenced throughout this discourse (John 13:36; 14:1-6, 19, 28; 16:5), so the theme is not unusual. What does Jesus mean in stating that the reason for this second avenue of conviction is because Jesus is going to the Father?

To answer this, we must slow down and meditate upon what Jesus is communicating to the eleven. The Son of God is leaving Earth. He will be crucified, buried, resurrected, and then will ascend before their eyes into heaven (Acts 1:9). If we will recall, the timing of the beginning of the Spirit’s convicting ministry is noted in John 16:7. Jesus must first “go away,” which clearly speaks to the events that will shortly transpire. Having “gone away,” the Spirit of truth will then“come,” and His coming will be advantageous because of the convicting ministry that He will give the disciples in the world upon His indwelling of them. Thus, we see that Jesus’ comments about going “to the Father and you no longer see Me” (John 16:10b) speaking to the time of His absence and the Spirit’s presence. We can conclude that the Spirit of God, residing in the believer, will be the representative of righteousness in Jesus’ place through us. This becomes increasingly clear when we think back to Jesus’ initial comment that the Spirit would be “another Helper” (John 14:16), being one that is like Him. 

We, as vessels who have the Spirit of God within us, are the instruments of righteousness in this world, as we walk in the Spirit and abide in Him. Such submission allows for the Spirit’s conviction of righteousness to be displayed as something wholly different than what this sinful world would consider “right” or “true.” An example of this can be seen in Peter’s exhortation in 1 Peter 2:13-15. It reads, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.” 

Such selfless submission is the “will of God” because it is in alignment with “doing right,” and “doing right” will become a convicting display of righteousness that will silence the Church’s critics. Deep down, they recognize “right” when they see it, and such a display, being in alignment with the Holy Spirit, causes a conviction that results in their having nothing to say. Does this not preach today! Our culture is all about independence and individuality, which are used as excuses to be defiant and unruly. Sadly, I am speaking of many of the attitudes that permeate the American Church. How the Spirit of God would speak if we would simply understand that He is looking for opportunities to convict the world of what is truly “righteous” so that such conviction would amplify the world’s need for a Savior. Are weas those who have the Holy Spirit, a help or a hindrance in the mission that God is desiring to do in the world?

Our third area of conviction is “judgment” (John 16:11). The reason given is the fact that the “ruler of this world has been judged.” This is an astonishing statement seeing that the death of Christ had not yet occurred, and yet here is Jesus speaking already of the Devil’s certain condemnation. The words used for “judgment” and “judged” are krisis andkrinō respectively. Each holds the understanding of “a separating, sundering, separation; a trial, contest, judgment; i.e. opinion or decision given concerning anything, especially concerning justice and injustice, right and wrong.”[7]Judgment is a separation that takes place based on a standard that has been set, but not met

Having been instrumental in plummeting the human race into sin (Gen 3), Satan has assumed the right of rulership over this present age, as confirmed by the mouth of the Lord Jesus (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11b). The original call was for man to “have dominion” (Gen 1:26, 28), but sin caused a forfeiture of the right to rule as God’s representatives on Earth. This world is now governed by principalities and powers that will give an account for their stewardship over the Earth in due time (Ps 82). “That great enemy of truth is now living on borrowed time. Judgment will come, but the focus here is on an awareness that the prince of this world now stands condemned.”[8]The judgment of Satan is a foretaste of the judgment that will come upon all who do not respond in faith to Jesus Christ (remember, this convicting ministry has its audience in the “world”- John 16:8b).

The judgment that will come upon this world is a legitimate promise with the condemnation of Satan as evidence. Just as he is already judged by God, being an invisible, celestial being, so will the world be judged who has had the greater opportunity to hear and respond tothe Gospel of Jesus Christ. The already-judgment of the greater being guarantees the certain judgment of the lesser beings.

This, being the third area in which the Spirit will convict the world, also finds the believer in Christ as the channel by which this conviction will come. The judgment of the unbelieving world is a certain event that will transpire at a future time for those who are without the Life of God in them. This judgment is deserved because such Life has been freely provided for all (John 1:29; Heb 2:9; 1 John 2:2). This judgment is to the Lake of Fire (Rev 20:11-15). 

Many have objected to this in stating, “How could a good and loving God send anyone to a place of eternal torment? He doesn’t seem so loving.” This question misses the point entirely. Everyone, regardless of who they are, was already destined for the Lake of Fire because of sin. God, being under no obligation, provided a certain rescue from this otherwise unavoidable destiny. God does not send anyone to the Lake of Fire. He alone has provided the way out of the Lake of Fire. Jesus Christ is His answer to the sin problem that had guaranteed our eternal destiny in the Lake of Fire, and faith in Christ cancels our appointment for this judgment and places us in a position of full acceptance before a righteous God. God is the Rescuer of people from the Lake of Fire. People are already condemned because of their unbelief (John 3:18). God, through the Lord Jesus Christ, seeks to rescue the lost and give them Life!

Sin, righteousness, and judgment are three indispensable points that must be explained when sharing the Gospel with the lost. It is the three areas in which the Spirit is already working. It is the three topics that need to have the greatest understanding so that the unregenerate person can better grasp their bankrupt condition before a holy God (sin), the standard of righteousness that exists and that is made freely available to them by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross (righteousness), and the judgment that awaits those who do not receive the free gift of Life that Jesus Christ offers (judgment).   

John 16:12-15.Jesus cannot tell the disciples anymore because they cannot bear them now (John 16:12b). Surely the idea of the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit upon the world was enough to occupy their thinking for a lifetime. Instead, Jesus returns to some familiar language, reinforcing what He had previously conveyed about the Spirit’s identity and coming. The Spirit is the “Spirit of truth” who will guide the disciples (and us by extension) into all truth, seeing that truth is who He is and the standard by which He abides. This “guiding into all truth” is in complete harmony with Jesus’ words in John 14:26 where He will “teach you all things,” speaking of the illuminating ministry of the Holy Spirit. 

In the same form and fashion of Jesus’ approach (John 5:19-23, 26-27, 30-32; 10:31, 37-38; 14:7-12), we are told that the Spirit will not say anything that is not in total harmony and submission to the Father (John 16:13b). Both Jesus and the Spirit are in subjection to the Father’s will. Just as Jesus’ earthly life demonstrates what it is to walk by faith (in the Spirit), so the Spirit is in complete compliance with these truths, seeing that all truth comes from God. 

We are also told that the Spirit will “disclose” what is to come to them. This word “disclose” is not the same as “disclose” in John 14:22, but is a different word, being anangellowhich is a form of what we commonly understand as “angel,” which means “messenger.” The word anangellomeans “an announcement” or “making something known.” The Spirit will make what is to come “known” to them. This is not speaking to the crucifixion and resurrection, because the announcement of His resurrection was met with unbelief (Mark 16:11, 14). Borchert writes, “wide-ranging speculation is eliminated by remembering that these words were written as a Farewell message to anxious disciples who feared the imminent loss of Jesus, their physical companion and guide. But the future was also an unknown page for them, since these Paraclete passages indicate that the coming times would be traumatic for them and that in such times the disciples would need the truthful and authentic Spirit to guide them through their forthcoming wilderness.”[9]Such pain would still have Jesus’ promises.

The Spirit always points to Jesus Christ (John 15:26b-27). Those things that belong to Christ will be “disclosed” (anangello- “announced, made known”) to the disciples (John 16:14b). Again, this is in keeping with truth. Reading further, we see that those “things” are such that the Father has shared with the Son, giving Him “first-rights” ownership of them. The Spirit, being perfectly God, in turn reveals them to the disciples. All of this is in perfect compliance with explaining the truth about Jesus Christ.

What has Jesus taught us about the Holy Spirit in John’s Gospel?

·     He is a “Helper” in the same manner as Jesus (14:16)

·     He is sent from the Father by request of the Son (14:16; 15:26)

·     He will be with us forever (14:16)

·     He is the Spirit of truth (14:17; 15:26; 16:13)

·     The world cannot receive Him (14:17)

·     He was “abiding” with the disciples in Jesus’ time (14:17)

·     He will be “in” them at a future time (14:17; 7:39)

·     When He resides “in” them, streams of living water will flow out from their innermost being (7:38)

·     He will be sent in the Name of Jesus (14:26)

·     He will teach them all things (14:26)

·     He will bring to their remembrance all that they had been taught (14:26)

·     He will testify about Jesus using believers to do so (15:26-27)

·     Jesus must go away for the Spirit to come (7:39; 16:7)

·     The Spirit’s arrival is “advantageous” for believers (16:7)

·     The Spirit will convict the word of sin, righteousness, and judgment (16:8-11)

·     The Spirit guides us into all truth (16:13)

·     The Spirit speaks only of what He has heard from the Father (16:13)

·     The Spirit will disclose the things to come to us (16:13)

·     He will glorify Christ (16:14)

·      He will disclose those things that come from the Son, and that were given to Him by the Father, to us (16:14-15)

Are we in step with what we have learned about the Holy Spirit? 

His ministry tous is revealing things about Christ, leading us and teaching us in all truth, and bringing to our remembrance the things about Christ in the proper time. 

His ministry throughus is the conviction of the world regarding sin, righteousness, and judgment.

Are we in step with these things? Does our own personal sin hinder the conviction of the world’s sin that the Spirit is seeking to convey?

What was Jesus’ reason for sharing all that He did about the coming Holy Spirit? Though we are on the other side of the crucifixion, the disciples were not. They were being told that their beloved friend and mentor, the One whom they believed to be the Christ of God (Matt 16:16), was leaving them. Yet, they did not understand how He would leave them, even though He told them plainly (Matt 16:21; Luke 18:31-34). Imagine the looks on their faces when Judas’ kiss set off a firestorm of hostility. One of their own had betrayed the Son of God.

The Spirit was given to be a Friend, Helper, Comforter, and Counselor who never leaves (John 14:16). He is always there and He can keep us from stumbling (John 16:1) if we rely upon Him. He is a Teacher of truth and a Guide who leads us and makes us effective in ministry (John 14:26; 16:13) Most importantly, He is God; and isn’t it just like God to give of Himself for the love and care of His people.

[1]Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon, p. 408.

[2]Gerald L. Borchert, John 12–21, vol. 25B, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002), p. 162.

[3]Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible(Galaxie Software, 2003), Jn 16:4.

[4]John Van Gelderen, Friendship with the Holy Spirit (Ann Arbor, MI: Revival Focus Ministries, 2015), p. 42.

[5]Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon, p. 202.

[6]Keswick’s Triumphant Voice, ed. Herbert F. Stevenson (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, Ltd./Zondervan Publishing House, 1963), p. 376-377.

[7]Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon, p. 361.

[8]Kenneth O. Gangel, John, vol. 4, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), p. 300.

[9]Borchert, John 12–21, p. 170.

Foundational Framework Part 62: The Holy Spirit Part 4

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This lesson continues examining Jesus’ teaching about the Holy Spirit during what is commonly understood as the Upper Room Discourse (John 13-16). While the entirety of these chapters should be carefully studied with much prayer and meditation, our concern will be with the specifics of the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the incredible relationship that He brings to the believer in Christ.

First, we must consider the context of the passage at hand. With chapter 15 comes Jesus’ teaching on what it is to “abide” in Him. This is something that will be covered in detail later, but it would be good for the sake of context to read v.1-11. 

Starting in John 15:12, the commandment as expressed in 13:34-35 is reiterated, beginning an inclusiothat persists unto John 15:17. “An inclusio is a literary device that marks off a section of material by putting ‘book ends’ at the beginning and end. This literary device alerts the reader to look at everything between the two similar, or identical in this case, statements as a single unit of thought.”[1]

Thus, within the bookends of loving “one another” we find the subjects of “greater love” being defined as giving one’s life for his friends (15:13), that friendship with Christ is contingent upon keeping His commands (15:14) and that His disciples are considered His friends, seeing that Jesus has made all things known to them as His Father has revealed them to Him (15:15). We also read that the eleven were chosen by Christ for the purpose of “bearing fruit” and that their fruit would “remain” (menō same word for “abide”), for with such “remaining/abiding” one’s prayers are answered, seeing that they are in fellowship with the Father (15:16).

Jesus then communicates that they should expect persecution and hatred because of their affiliation with Him (John 15:18-27). Accusations and violence against the believer is never a result of the believer him or herself, but is always because of Christ (15:21). He alone is the reason for reproach because what He speaks is always true (See also John 7:7). Jesus also explains His complete identification with the Father, noting that those who hate Him hate the Father as well (John 15:23-25).

Because of the works that Jesus performed in front of their eyes (John 15:24a), their accountability had been jettisoned to a maximum level, seeing that the Spirit was testifying through Jesus’ works that the kingdom of God had come upon Israel (Matt 12:28).[2]These works are also understood biblically as being the evidence of God abiding in Christ (John 14:10b). It is with the context of persecution, hatred, and heightened accountability that we step into Jesus’ continued comments about the Holy Spirit.  

John 15:26-27. Once again, the word “Helper” is used by Jesus, being the same word as mentioned before in John 14:16 and 26. The Parakletos, the One who has been “called to one’s side,” is perfectly God as seen in the Person of the Holy Spirit. While much of the importance of this word has already been conveyed, we must still recognize the false, modern-day stigmas that usually surround the Person of the Spirit of God.

The Spirit is usually understood as either being less than the Father and the Son, an influence that causes people to act irrationally, convulsing and rolling around on the floor, or altogether forgotten for the fear that He may be real and may actually enact some change in the life of the believer. Erdman sets the record straight, writing, “He is God as Creator. (Gen. 1:2; Psa. 104:30; Job 26:13; Luke 1:35.) He is one with God as Jehovah (Lord) in providential leading and care, and susceptible of grief on account of the unholiness of His chosen people. We cannot grieve an ‘influence,’ but only a person, and a person, too, who loves us. (Psa. 78:40; Eph. 4:30.) He is one with God as Adonai (Lord), whose glory Isaiah beheld and John rehearses, who commissioned the prophet and sent forth the apostle. (Isa. 6:1–10; John 12:37–41; Acts 13:2; 20:15–18.) In these Scriptures one and the same act is that of Jehovah and of Jesus and of the Holy Spirit.”[3]The Holy Spirit is to be embraced as being one in essence with the Father and the Son, equal and eternal, yet commissioned with a particular responsibility that unearths itself in Jesus’ teaching in John 15:26.

Not only is the Spirit identified again as the “Helper,” but is also spoken of again as “the Spirit of truth” as seen previously in John 14:17a. This is, of course, consistent with the character and essence of the Spirit because He is perfectly God. In addition, Jesus notes that He will send the Spirit to His disciples “from the Father” (John 15:26b) which pairs perfectly with His previous statements of asking of the Father to send the Spirit (John 14:16) and that the Spirit is sent by the Father in the name of Jesus in John 14:26. Again, the Holy Spirit is the specially requested and divinely sent blessing of Jesus Christ to His followers for the purpose of leading them into all truth, aiding, comforting, and teaching them all things. 

Jesus also mentions that “the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me” (John 15:26c).  The word “proceeds” means “to move out of an enclosed or well-defined two or three-dimensional area—‘to go out of, to depart out of, to leave from within.’”[4]Initially this understanding may seem like a redundancy of all that we have examined thus far from Jesus concerning the Spirit, but that is precisely the point. Our minds must be convinced about the truths of the Spirit’s divinity, His equality with the Father and the Son, and His “oneness” as part of the Trinity. He is not something less than the Father and Son. He is perfectly God!

Jesus’ words in John 14:26b state that the Spirit “will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” This statement is further enhanced in 15:26c because the Spirit will also “testify about Me.” This comment must be kept within the preceding context of persecution. The Spirit of God always points to Jesus. He never points to Himself. In the middle of slander and oppression comes the opportunity to speak on behalf of Jesus’ Name, and the Spirit is divinely commissioned to bear witness to who Jesus is and what He has done for the world in paying for their sins with His own blood. This is seen in the connection between 15:26 and 27 with Jesus stating that the disciples would also testify because they had been with Him from the beginning. We must not think that there are two separate testimonies going on; only two separate entities (Spirit and the disciples) that are testifying to the same things, with the Spirit enhancing and directing the testimony as dispensed by the disciples.

To think that what needs to be said of Christ can be said with power and confidence because the Church Age believer has the indwelling Holy Spirit should encourage all of us to look for opportunities to speak lovingly and boldly for His Name. He has given us of Himself to “bring to your remembrance” (John 14:26b) what you and I should say. He will aid us divinely in testifying about Christ our Lord!

[1]Gary Derickson and Earl Radmacher, The Disciplemaker: What Matters Most to Jesus(Salem, OR: Charis Press, 2001), p. 198, footnote 2.

[2]The word for “sin” in John 15:24 is harmatianand is better understood as “guilt.” Jesus’ signs were from the Holy Spirit, bringing a greater accountability upon the Jews. However, this verse does not mean that if Jesus had never worked wonders that the Jews would not have sin. His miracles increased their accountability.

[3]W. J. Erdman, The Fundamentals: A Testimony of the Truth,vol. 2, ed. R.A. Torrey and A.C. Dixon (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2005), p. 338.

[4]Louw and Nida, p. 186.

Foundational Framework 61: The Holy Spirit - Part 3

FOUNDATIONAL FRAMEWORK. PART 61

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Jesus’ earthly ministry was undeniably blessed by the Holy Spirit, being clearly seen in His birth (Matt 1:18, 20), to His appearance at Jesus’ baptism (Matt 3:16), to being the One who was granting Him the power to work miracles before the people (Matt 12:28). It is Jesus’ earthly life that sets forth the model for what it is for one to walk in the Spirit, abiding in the Father (John14:10b), with the intimate fellowship-relationship with the Father being cultivated through obedience to His commandments (John 14:21).

In what is commonly known as the Upper Room Discourse, we find five mentions of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ teaching which provides clarity about His Person and ministry.

John 14:16-18. Chapters 13-16 and Jesus’ prayer in chapter 17 serve in preparing His disciples for His betrayal, arrest, and crucifixion. Having commissioned them with a “new commandment” that called them to “love one another even as I have loved you” (John 13:34), Jesus then exhorted His disciples to “believe” in Him. We should not take this to mean that they needed to be saved so that they would go to heaven when they died, but that they needed to keep their confidence in who He is as the Messiah of God (Matt 16:16). With the events that would soon transpire, this was not the time for unbelief! His oneness with the Father is one aspect that is put forward to ground them in right thinking (John 14:7-11), but even if this wasn’t something that they had convincingly understood, at least His works testified to His Person as the Christ (John 14:11), which are actually the works of the Father (John 16:10b), which were also the evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit (Matt 12:28).

In v.16, Jesus turns the conversation to the importance of the Holy Spirit, Who would be sent because the Son will ask the Father to do so (John 14:16a). The Spirit is presented to the disciples as “another Helper,” seeing that Jesus would qualify as the first “Helper.” It is with this particular word that our greatest understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit takes place.

The term “Helper” is the Greek word “Paraclete,” which means “one who pleads another’s cause before a judge,” or “one who pleads another’s cause with one.” This word can also be understood as “a helper, succorer, aider, assistant.”[1] This compound word is made up of para which is a preposition of proximity that means “to come alongside” (as we have seen in “parable”), and kletos meaning “to be invited or called.”[2] This would give us the understanding of “one who is called alongside.”

Explaining this, Torrey writes “The word so translated is Parakleetos, the same word that is translated ‘advocate’ in 1 John 2:1; but ‘advocate’ does not give the full force and significance of the word etymologically. Advocate means about the same as Parakleetos, but the word in usage has obtained restricted sense. ‘Advocate’ is Latin; Parakleetos is Greek. The exact Latin word is ‘advocatus,’ which means one called to another. (That is, to help him or take his part or represent him.) Parakleetos means one called alongside, that is, one who constantly stands by your side as your helper, counsellor, comforter, friend. It is very nearly the thought expressed in the familiar hymn, ‘Ever present, truest friend.’ Up to the time that Jesus had uttered these words, He Himself had been the Parakleetos to the disciples, the Friend at hand, the Friend who stood by their side.”[3]

The various English translations have sought to capture all that this word encompasses: “Helper”- NASB95, ESV, NKJV, “Counselor”- HCSB, NIV84, CSB, “Advocate”- NET, NLT, NRSV, and “Comforter”- KJV, ASV, Darby, Young’s. Regarding the secular usage, Derickson and Radmacher write, “As a legal term it referred more to the friend who goes to court with the defendant than to a professional advisor or attorney.”[4] Such analytical information paints the picture of an inseparable relationship that is God Himself, standing beside the believer at all times (all the while residing in the believer at the moment of faith starting in Acts 2), aiding, guiding, consoling, and uplifting, just as Christ did when He was physically present with His disciples. The idea that Jesus conveys as “another Helper” shows that the Spirit will be much like Himself, yet closer, and according to the end of verse 16, eternally present with the believer always.

This pertinent point must not go unnoticed. The Holy Spirit is ALWAYS with the believer in Christ. Never is he or she without help, comfort, guidance, or care. We are never alone! He is always present, active, and available. At the time that this was spoken this was not the present reality, but it is something that is a reality now. Turning to John 7:37-39 helps in understanding this.

John 7:37-39. It seems odd that Jesus would suddenly stand up in the middle of a meal and begin yelling out profound and lofty statements, which could have very well been perceived as narcissistic utterances by the mass of people. However, the details of v. 37 unfold the significance of this action. Hart writes, “According to the Talmud, (Sukk 4.9), each day during the Feast of Booths… a priest would carry water from the spring-fed Pool of Siloam to the temple and pour it out on the altar in expectation of the coming Messiah.”[5] Being the last day of the Feast of Booths, Jesus used the symbolism of the priest’s actions to proclaim Himself as the long-awaited Messiah, the very Giver of Life.

In v.38 Jesus clarifies the metaphor of what He means by coming to Him to “drink,” stating that it is the one who “believes” in Him. The result of belief would be “living water” that would flow out from the innermost part of the person. The imagery is simple but profound. Not only was Jesus speaking of being the Messiah of Israel and the Giver of Life, but He is also speaking of something that is satisfying, quelling all wants or needs, being abundant in quantity and quality.

One of the things that is extremely helpful in the Gospel of John is that John will occasionally provide a verse or two of commentary in order to clarify Jesus’ comments. This is a blessing to us as readers because John’s comments were recorded, as with all Scripture, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so we know that his remarks are in perfect alignment to provide us with better understanding.

In v.39, John tells us that the “living water” that will flow out from the one who believes is in reference to the Holy Spirit “whom those who believed in Him were to receive,” indicating a future tense “receiving,” speaking to the definite indwelling of the Spirit that would take place at Pentecost in Acts 2.

Finishing out the verse, we also learn why this glorious privilege had not been bestowed upon believers during Jesus’ earthly ministry. John writes, “for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (7:39b). The Lord’s timetable is precise. Jesus must first be glorified, which according to John’s Gospel, seems to be in relation to His death and the results of it for God’s glory (John 12:16, 23, 28; 13:31, 32; 17:1, 5; & 21:19- concerning Peter). This corresponds remained perfectly with the arrival of the Holy Spirit occurring after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension.

Moving back to John 14:16-17, Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as “the Spirit of Truth” (John 14:17a), and then makes the comment that the world cannot receive Him because it does not “see” nor “know” Him (14:17b). This statement resonates with Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 2:14, stating that the “natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” Those who are dead, being separated from a relationship with the Creator, cannot see, know, or receive the things of the Spirit. The very idea of the Spirit of God is considered a foreign intrusion into a methodically-designed, God-hating world system. Our present age operates by a mindset that all exists within the natural and physical realm, esteeming this is all that there is, and rejecting any notion of a greater reality in that of the supernatural. This is often labeled as “naturalism.” The Spirit of God is quickly labeled as an apparition of the “delusional religious fanatic” so that He can promptly be dismissed from being a legitimate entity with which the world must contend. The natural man would not dare entertain the idea that He is God.

The advantage of the disciples is that the Spirit has been “abiding” with them, and Jesus quickly notes that the Spirit “will be” in them referring to the Pentecost event, just as we saw as referenced in John 7:39a. The word “abide” is a favorite of Jesus and John, as recorded by the latter, being used throughout his Gospel and Epistles (John 3:36; 5:38; 6:56; 15:4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10; 1 John 2:6, 10, 14, 27, 28; 3:6, 9, 14, 15, 17, 24; 4:12, 13, 15, 16; 2 John 2, 9). This is the Greek word menō, which means to “remain, stay…” being understood as “a person or thing remains where he, she, or it is.”[6] So the Spirit has with the disciples, but a greater assimilation will occur when He resides “in” them.

Jesus finishes this section reassuring these men that He will not leave them without guidance, described by the term “orphans” in the NASB (John 14:18). Other translations use “comfortless” (KJV, AV) and “desolate” (RSV). It is clear by this point that Jesus is leaving them, yet He is not leaving them in the sense that they will be without His presence, guidance, and care. The emphasis is still upon the Spirit being “another Helper,” which will replace Jesus in a physical sense, but will only enhance Jesus’ message and ministry to them in another sense. This is a profound paradox, but one that every believer should find comforting with sufficient grounds to elicit praise! Our Savior is always taking care of us in extraordinary ways whether acknowledged by us or not.

John 14:26. Two things are obvious from considering Jesus’ words to His disciples in John 14:19-25. First, obedience to Jesus’ commands are a demonstration of our love for the Savior. This is a countercultural message in the world today. We hear of “free love” and that “we should love everyone,” and even the Beatles pressed the issue, stating that “love is all you need.” Yet, Jesus explains that for one who is in a relationship with Him to actually embrace His words in such a way as to where their life is transformed, their choices are different, and their thinking has been altered, is to demonstrate love for the Lord Jesus Christ. While the Savior freely loves us (Gal 2:20), this love is demonstrated by the selfless sacrifice seen chiefly in the giving of Himself to redeem sinners. This is truly a “greater love” (John 15:13).

Jesus tells His disciples plainly what it is to love Him (John 14:15, 21 [x2], 23, 24, 28). Here we find the second observation, with John 14:21 and 23 showing that a love for the Savior by keeping the commandments leads to a greater intimacy with the Father. Jesus states that the one who obeys Him is the one who “loves” Him, and the one who loves Him is loved by the Father, to which Jesus will then love with the expressed end being that He will “disclose” Himself to them (John 14:21). Jesus “disclosing” Himself to the obedient saint is emphanizō meaning “to cause something to be fully known by revealing clearly and in some detail—‘to make known, to make plain, to reveal, to bring to the light, to disclose, revelation.’”[7] The footnote that accompanies this definition gives even greater clarity about what transpires when love for the Savior has motivated one’s obedience. It states that “all of these meanings involve a shift from the sensory domain of seeing, causing to see, or giving light to, to the cognitive domain of making something fully known, evident, and clear.”[8] Plainly put, obedience leads to a greater intimacy with the Father and the Son (See also Col 1:9-10).

Jesus’ teachings on what it is to love the Savior, and the guaranteed growth in one’s intimacy with the Father and Son, are what surround His referencing the “Helper” again in John 14:26. Here, Jesus again qualifies what He had previously stated in v.16-17: that the “Helper” is the Holy Spirit, and that the Father will send Him. The remark is also made that the Spirit would come “in My name” (John 14:26b), which harkens back to the “another Helper” designation (John 14:16b).

At this point, Jesus reveals two additional details about the capability of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.

First, the Spirit will “teach you all things” (John 14:26b). “All things” speaks solely to God’s truth. The Spirit, being perfectly God, cannot teach the believer that which is not true. No, He is “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:17a) and all that He affirms corresponds perfectly with who He is without contradiction. What we understand about God in general, concerning His impeccable character and His divine attributes, are all positioned upon the fact that He IS truth. Therefore, He defines what truth is because only He is true. One cannot forget that the Holy Spirit is perfectly God, therefore all that is true of God is equally true of the Holy Spirit.

This is further understood when reading 1 John 2:26-27 which states “These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him” (emphasis added). The correlation between “all things” and truth is perfectly consistent with the Spirit’s very being and is positioned in this passage against the idea of “those who are trying to deceive you.”

The second detail revealed is that the Spirit will bring to remembrance all of the things that were said to them by Jesus. No doubt that Jesus taught His disciples many wonderous things (John 21:25), both in word and in deed. The Spirit would be necessary to bring about the proper truth at the proper time for the opportunity of maximum obedience for their lives. This would speak to His present ministry of illumination in the disciples’ (and in the believer’s) life. With a command like “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matt 28:18-19a), the Spirit would be necessary in relating this wealth of information as disciples were being made.

The Spirit bringing about remembrance would also be necessary in the documentation of the Scriptures, which found men being “carried along” by the Spirit of God (2 Pet 1:21). The Spirit’s ministry of remembrance is why we have the Old and New Testaments today.

Finally, many men of God have been called upon to witness in various situations (whether threatening or not), and to testify of Christ Jesus with their lives hanging in the balance. Even Jesus told His disciples “when they arrest you and hand you over, don’t worry beforehand what you will say. On the contrary, whatever is given to you in that hour—say it. For it isn’t you speaking, but the Holy Spirit” (Mark 13:11). There will be times in our lives when the conversation will turn to spiritual matters, and no doubt there will be many who will quickly speak emphatically about things that they are truly ignorant of because they do not know God. These opportunities find the Spirit giving us boldness, love, tact, and the words that are necessary to provide sound reasoning from God’s Word to an otherwise fruitless conversation. The Spirit will bring forth passage after passage and verse after verse, showing the truth of God’s Word to be undeniable and irrefutable.

The Holy Spirit is truly a remarkable blessing from our glorious Father. His mercy in sending the Spirit to us for our help, comfort, and aid continues eternity’s theme of a gracious Sovereign who desires for His children to be well-kept in Divine arms. Packer describes this beautiful gesture, writing, “we can only appreciate all that our Lord meant when He spoke of ‘another Comforter’ as we look back over all that He Himself had done in the way of love, and care, and patient instruction, and provision for the disciple’s well-being, during His own three years of personal ministry to them. He will care for you, Christ was saying in effect, in the way that I have cared for you. Truly a remarkable person!”[9] Such grace deserves our greatest praise!

[1] Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon, p. 483.

[2] BDAG, p. 549.

[3] R. A. Torrey, The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth, vol. 2 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2005), p. 332.

[4] Gary Derickson and Earl Radmacher, The Disciplemaker: What Matters Most to Jesus (Salem, OR: Charis Press, 2001), p. 123.

[5] John F. Hart, The Moody Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2014), p. 1629.

[6] BDAG, p. 630.

[7] Louw and Nida, p. 337–338.

[8] Ibid., p. 338, footnote 9.

[9] J.I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1979), p. 58.