Dr. S. Lewis Johnson expounds John's teaching on the Holy Spirit.
[Prayer] Father, we thank Thee for the study of the word of God. We praise Thee and thank Thee that it is a light onto our feet, a lamp onto our path. We thank Thee for the way in which Thou hast made wonderful provision for us. We thank Thee that this word has profitability for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be thoroughly fitted out for his life’s journey. And we thank Thee for the privilege of the study of it. We pray, Lord, that Thou would give us understanding, give us diligence in the study, and we pray that the end may be, that the name of God is glorified through the Christian witness, that Thou dost desire to bring to pass through our lives. We ask Thy blessing upon each one present here. We pray, Lord, that the problems and the trials, and the stresses that are part of our life and our growth in grace may be things that we look at in the light of the word of God. Now we commit this hour to Thee and the hour that follows.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
[Message] In our series of studies on the theology of the Johannine apostle or the Johannine theology, we are coming to two or three studies in John’s doctrine of the Holy Spirit, and our subject for tonight is “The Paraclete in Promise, in Pledge, and in Pentecost.” Now, that’s a lengthy title, but as we will see, it has to do primarily with three passages in the Gospel of John that have to do with the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The outline again is very simple, and so I’ve not bothered to put it on a transparency, but will give it to you as I go along.
Coming to Ephesus on his third missionary journey, the Apostle Paul encountered some disciples. Evidently, they used the term “disciples” of themselves, and Luke describes them in that way. As it turns out, when one reads this nineteenth chapter of the Book of Acts, they were followers of John the Baptist, and Paul, famed heresy hunter that he was, spotted something missing. What he spotted missing, was the power and presence of the spirit of God in their lives. They were disciples, but they were lacking. They had been baptized, probably in the Jordan to the envy of every good Southern Baptist and still they were lacking. Thus, there came the inevitable question from the Apostle Paul, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” Luke writes, “And it came to pass that when Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper borders came to Ephesus and finding certain disciples he said unto them, ‘Have you received the Holy Spirit since ye believed?’” Now, as I mentioned in the preceding words, this particular statement should be rendered and is rendered in most of the newer translations, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” “And they said unto him, ‘We have not so much as heard whether there is any Holy Spirit.’”
Now what Paul saw that was lacking in them was the absolutely essential possession of every true believer, and the genuine test of faith in Jesus Christ. In another one of Paul’s letters, the Epistle to the Romans, he says, “He that hath not the spirit of Christ is none of his.” So the test of whether we are Christians or not is the possession of the Holy Spirit. It’s not so much our profession of faith; our profession that we believe this and our profession that we believe that, but, ultimately, it comes down to the presence of the Holy Spirit, because into the life of every true believer has come the Holy Spirit of God. So, therefore, it’s perfectly proper for us to ask and to be asked, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” Paul’s statement, “He that hath not the spirit of Christ does not belong to him,” is a true test of Christianity.
Well, these disciples of John the Baptist lived at a particular time before the Holy Spirit was indwelling every believer and, furthermore, their knowledge of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit was not nearly so profound as those who standing now in New Testament times are able to read the New Testament, and have come to know that since the time of Pentecost, every believer is permanently indwelled by the Holy Spirit. So they replied, “No, we’ve not even heard that the Holy Spirit has been given.” Now, John the Baptist had talked about the Holy Spirit. He had said, “He baptized with water, but there was someone coming after him who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” So they knew about the existence of the Spirit, but what they had not heard, was that the Holy Spirit had come.
Now, if the question were asked today, the professing disciples might have different answers. We might say, “Yes, we received the Holy Spirit, and we’ve been speaking in tongues,” or “Certainly, join us and hear our thrilling prophecies.” “Of course, the power of Pentecost have fallen upon us,” someone might say, “and we have great ministries of healing and miracles.” I’m afraid, however, that the answers would reveal an ignorance of the ministries of the Spirit, and would approach the darkness of the disciples of John the Baptist.
John has a great deal to say about the Spirit’s ministry, and that’s the subject to which we turn, and I want to consider it in the light of that statement in Acts 19, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” Let’s see what John teaches in his Gospel through the words of our Lord concerning the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Now, if you’re taking down an outline this is Roman I in the outline, John 7:37 through 39, and I have in my outline a colon at that point; ‘The Prophecy of the Spirit in Figure’. ‘The Prophecy of the Spirit in Figure’ and ‘capital A: The Figure’. John 7:37 through 39. Let’s turn to that passage, and let me read these verses beginning with verse 37. “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out saying, ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water. But this spoke he of the Spirit, whom they that believe on him should receive, for the Holy Spirit was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified.’”
Now, this passage is a passage that was given by our Lord during the course of his ministry, and it is set against the background of the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles; specifically, of its last day. That is the meaning of, “In the last day, that great day of the feast.” It was a very interesting ceremony that took place on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, as it was celebrated in our Lord’s day. The pilgrims were there in the city of Jerusalem in festal array; each with a palm branch in his hand. According to Leviticus chapter 23 in verse 40, they had left their booths, they divide into three bands. One band of the disciples stays in the Temple to attend the preparation of the morning sacrifice, and another group goes to Moza below Jerusalem to get willow branches, with which they adorn the altar amidst the priests’ trumpets, but the third company of people start in a procession amidst music from the Temple. A priest leads the procession, and he has a golden pitcher in his hand, and he leaves the Temple area with the people who are following with him, and they go down to the spring, which is farther up in the Kedron Valley, and there they take the pitcher and fill it full of water, and the priest with the group of people come back into the Temple area.
They go back, and they time it so that they arrive just as they were laying the pieces of the sacrifice on the great altar of burnt offering. There is a three-fold blast of the priests’ trumpets, and they are welcomed with that as they enter through the water gate. The priest goes right on into the court of the priests, joined by another priest carrying wine for a drink offering. The two priests ascend the rise of the altar, which had two silver funnels leading to the case of the altar. The wine is poured into one of the vessels, and then the water is poured in the one to the west. Immediately after the pouring of the water, the Great Hallel, those psalms in Psalm 113 through Psalm 118 characterized by hallelujah, are chanted antiphonally by the people. I would suggest to you, as others have, that it was at this very point when the water is poured out, that the Lord Jesus rises in the midst of the crowd, and cries out, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.”
It has been noted by students of the Gospel of John, that there are three factors in the wilderness experience of the children of Israel that have reappeared in this Gospel. In chapter 6, instead of the manna, we have Christ as the true bread of life. In chapter 7, he offers the living water. Well, that corresponds to the water of the smitten rock. Remember the children of Israel were murmuring and complaining, and so in the midst of their journeys, they came to the rock, and Moses was instructed by the Lord to smite the rock. And so he smote the rock, and out of the rock there came water. Then in chapter 8, instead of the pillar of fire, we have Christ as the light of the world. So you can see in the Gospel of John, that there is a relationship between these great events of the Old Testament.
I think, in light of the statement, “The great last day, the great day of the feast,” he’s talking about the Feast of Tabernacles, and its ritual is based upon the experience of the water from the rock. That’s why the priests went down to Salome, filled the pitcher with water, came back and poured it out at the altar. It was to memorialize the fact that the rock was smitten in the wilderness, and God gave them water from it. The pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire was also represented by the fact that at the Feast of the Tabernacles every night, lanterns were lit in celebration of the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire. So it’s right at this point, as they were celebrating the smiting of the rock, and the outpoured water, that the Lord Jesus dramatically arises in the midst of that great gathering and says, “He that believeth on me, as the scripture has said, out of his shall flow rivers of living water. And if any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink, not unto Moses.”
Well, in verse 37, we have the invitation in figurative form. “He that believeth on me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart shall flow” or I should say verse 37, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” Notice this text carefully, because it involves an aspiration, “if any man thirst.” Of course, if a man is not thirsting, he’s not going to pay any attention to Jesus Christ. That’s really the problem of our day. People really do not have any thirst for divine things, but to know him in the truest sense involves aspiration. That’s something the Holy Spirit creates in the hearts of the saints of God. Whenever a man seeks after the Lord God, it’s because God has already worked in his heart. Remember, the Bible says, “There is none that seeketh after God; no, not one.” Therefore, there is none that thirsts naturally. When you see a man thirsting after the knowledge of the word of God, or thirsting after an experience of God through the Lord Jesus Christ, you can be sure that he has already been the object of the work of the Holy Spirit.
So the Lord says, “If any man thirst; if there is in any man a desire to know the Lord better, implanted by the Holy Spirit there, let him come unto me.” So there is thirsting or aspiration, and there is approaching the Lord, or “coming,” as he said. And finally, the third step; appropriation. “If any man thirst, let him come to me, and let him drink.” The word of explanation is follows in verse 38. “He that believes on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.” The man who believes in Christ then becomes like the one he trusts. Notice the words, “He that believeth on me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.” Now he has already said, “If any man thirsts, let him come unto me, and drink.” In other words, “The outpoured water is the water that comes from me. The water of life comes from me, but the person who believes in me, just as the scripture has said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.” So the one who comes to Christ, well, he becomes like the Lord in the sense, that he becomes the source of life-giving water for others.
Now, I wish we had time to talk about this expression, “rivers of living water.” Now, of course, so far as the apostle is concerned, he’s going to give us some explanation of this in the very next verse, but this expression, “rivers of living water,” is one derived from the Old Testament, and a number of places in the Old Testament. And the reason I say that, and the reason I mention it, is because the Lord says, “He that believeth on me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.” Some Bible scholars have searched the Old Testament through a number of times, and have never found anything in the Old Testament specifically that agrees with what our Lord says, and yet he says, “He that believeth on me, as the scripture as said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.” You won’t find in the Old Testament any statement, that if you drink of Jesus Christ you will have “rivers of living water flowing out,” but the Lord said, “as the scripture said.” It’s clear, that he’s speaking very generally, and what he’s saying, is that there are many passages in the Old Testament that say that when a person is a true believer in Yahweh, he will be likened to “streams of living water,” and that thought occurs in a number of places. It occurs in the Book of Numbers. It occurs in the Book of Ezekiel. It occurs in other places in the Old Testament, and so our Lord is using the term, “as the scripture has said,” in a very general sense.
But he wants to be and does become more specific about what is meant by, “rivers of living water,” and so John adds a word of interpretation. Here we read verse 39, “But this spoke he of the Spirit.” By the way, in my outline this is capital B: The Interpretation. “But this spoke he of the Spirit, whom they that believe on him should receive. For the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” This is John’s explanatory comment. He’s explaining to us what is meant by, “rivers of living water.” There are three points, I think, that deserve emphasis, and the first of the points is this; first of all, John prophesied the reception of the Spirit. He says, “This spoke he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive. For the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” What does he say here then in this statement? Well, he says that the reception of the Spirit is to rest upon initial faith. There is no second work of grace. We’re sometimes told by people that one believes in Jesus Christ and one becomes a Christian by believing in Jesus Christ, but one must also surrender one’s life at another point in their Christian experience, and then at that point, they will receive the Holy Spirit and begin to speak in tongues. John does not appear to know any such doctrine. He says, “But this spoke he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive.” So that the condition for reception of the indwelling Holy Spirit as a permanent guest within the heart of the believer is set forth as simply believing. “This spoke he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive. For the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified.”
Now, that is characteristic of Paul’s thought as well. As you well know in Believers Chapel, it’s characteristic of the whole of the New Testament. We are taught, that when we believe in Jesus Christ, it’s at that point that we receive the Holy Spirit. We do not have to ask for a second work of grace. Paul says, “For by one Spirit have we been all baptized into one body, and we all have been made to drink of one Spirit.” So every believer has been made to drink of one Spirit, and saying that to the Corinthians meant something because the Corinthians were, many of them, carnal believers, and yet it is said of them, that they possessed the Holy Spirit. They had been made to drink of the Holy Spirit. In spite of all those difficulties that they were having in Corinth, in which most of them evidently were participating in one way or another, “they did possess the Holy Spirit,” Paul says. They were walking like men. Paul couldn’t feed them he said, “with milk,” “with meat.” He had to give them milk to drink, but they, nevertheless, possessed the Holy Spirit, for the possession of the Holy Spirit depends upon the simple foundation of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ as the atoning sacrifice. So when we have stopped trusting in ourselves, and started trusting in the objective work of the Lord Jesus Christ, who shed his blood for sinners; at that point, we are given the Holy Spirit as a permanent indwelling possession and he indwells us forever, as we shall see in a moment.
Now, the next clause that follows here, explains why the reception of the Spirit is not a present experience. He says, “For the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” So John is explaining why, in the day of our Lord, the Holy Spirit had not yet been given. Now, I have some good Calvinistic friends of mine who have gone astray at this point. They like to think that the saints in the Old Testament possessed everything that the saints in the New Covenant have, and, therefore, there is no distinction between them. One of the reasons they like to say this is because they love to attack the dispensationalists. Now, the dispensationalists do have some things that they need to clean up in their theology, of course, and when it comes to soteriology, they have quite a few things to clear up in their theology. But, nevertheless, on this point they’re right, and it’s clear from this text because he says, “Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” Until the time of our Lord’s glorification, according to this text, no believer possesses the Holy Spirit as a permanent indwelling possession. Things did change with the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the formation of the Church on the Day of Pentecost. There is a dispensational change that takes place as a result of the Cross it seems to me, and this is one of the texts that, so far as I can tell, does seem to rather plainly say that.
Well, that brings us back to the question that Paul asked those disciples of John the Baptist when he met them in Ephesus. He said, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They said, “Why, we have not even heard that the Holy Spirit had been given.” Well, the Holy Spirit had been given, but evidently these disciples of John the Baptist had had simply his ministry, that the Holy Spirit was to come, and they had evidently wandered off into the hinterland, and had not heard what happened in Jerusalem, and what had happened on the Day of Pentecost, and they had some how another managed to get around to the city of Ephesus, and Paul met them there, and they had not heard what had happened. Just like a person may leave the country of the United States, and come back two or three years later, and find out a lot of things have happened that he didn’t know about. So things had happened that these men had not known about, and so the apostle in Acts chapter 19, informs them that John did baptize, and he baptized telling men that, “they should believe on him who should come,” but he’s now told them, “He’s come, and he’s died, and he’s been resurrected, and the Holy Spirit has been given, and so he laid hands upon them, and as a result of that experience, they receive the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with tongues as evidence of the reception of the Holy Spirit.
The causal clause that is the concluding part of verse 39, “because Jesus was not yet glorified,” gives the reason for the restriction upon the Spirit’s ministry. It’s dependent upon the completed work of the Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, the Holy Spirit cannot be given until the Lord Jesus has completed his atoning work. It’s by virtue of the blood that was shed, that we receive the Holy Spirit. The reception of the Holy Spirit is the product of the saving work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Do you remember the text in Galatians where the apostle, speaking about the ministry of the Lord said, “In the fullness of time God sent forth his Son, who was born of a woman, born under the law.” And he goes on to say, “To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons, and because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts crying, Abba, Father.” So the coming of the Holy Spirit into our hearts is the sign that we belong to God, we have now become the sons of God, and we possess the Spirit of our Father in heaven. So this causal clause gives the reason for the restriction upon the Spirit’s activity. He wasn’t given yet, because the Jesus was not yet glorified. Pentecost is dependent upon Calvary. The Spirit’s coming is dependent upon the Cross. Let us be sure and keep these things in mind.
Well, that brings me to the second of our major subjects, and the second of the major passages, and this one is John chapter 14, verse 16 and verse 17. And the title of this section is simply, “The Promise of the Spirit in Plain Speech.” John 14:16 and 17. The context of this is the Upper Room Discourse as you know. The Lord has the eleven now. Judas has been sent out, and the eleven are being taught, and they’re being taught in the light of the fact, that the Lord Jesus will soon be gone. They don’t realize everything that’s transpiring. They’re very upset about the fact, that he is going to go, but he’s instructing them, knowing that, it’s necessary for them to have this instruction, since he’s not going to be there. And we read in verse 16 of chapter 14, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter that he may abide with you forever. Even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him. But ye know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”
Now, here we want to notice a few more important matters, and frankly, this is such a magnificent prayer of our Lord, or statement of his purpose in prayer, that it’s one of those things that you could just study almost every word. He says, “I’m going to pray the Father, and he will give you another Comforter.” Isn’t that an interesting expression? “Another Comforter.” Now the implication is that he himself is a Comforter. Now, you’ve heard Bible teachers say, that this word translated “Comforter” in the Authorized Version, is the Greek word parakletos, from which we get simply, the English transliteration paraclete. In fact, paraclete has become so common, that frequently the Spirit is referred to as the “Paraclete.” Now, the word “paraclete” is a word that comes from two Greek words; one that means “to call,” kaleao, and para the preposition that means “by the side of.” So a “paraclete” is someone who is called by the side of an individual. A comforter is one who is called by the side of someone to help them. “Comforter” is not something you sleep under, but a “comforter” is like an advocate. He’s like a lawyer or a barrister as the British say. He’s someone who is going to take the cause of the individual, and argue that cause, and represent that individual either with the Lord, or he’s going to represent man with the Lord.
So he says, “I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Comforter.” Now, he evidently thinks of himself as a comforter and the Holy Spirit another comforter. This word, by the way, is the same word found in 1 John 2:1, where we read, and remember, we looked at this the other night, that, “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” The same word “advocate with the Father.” So we have two advocates. We have two comforters. We have one in heaven; the Lord Jesus Christ, who represents us before the Father, and then we have one on earth, in fact, indwelling all believers, and he represents God with us. Some Bible teachers like to say, “He’s not a comforter. He’s a discomforter.” Well, in the sense that he represents the Lord God, and points out the things in our lives that fall short of the will of God; in that sense, he is a discomforter. The primary force of it is that he is an advocate. He’s a representative. “I’m going to give you another comforter.”
Now, I like the way this is said in the Greek text too, because it stresses the fact of the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, indirectly. There are two Greek words for “another;” one that means “another of a different kind,” and then another that means “another of the same kind.” You may illustrate it in this way, as I’ve often done I think with you. I have a pen. It’s a pen that writes with both black ink and with red ink, and I use the black or the blue for ordinary writing or underlining, and if I want to underline something, and really make it stand out, I use the red. And when I grade students’ papers, I use the red; use it quite freely too, of course. Now, I may use this pen, and I may decide that I like it, and I recommend it to someone. And I say, “Come on. Let’s go in the store and let’s but one for you.” And so I put the pen on the counter and say, “I would like another pen.” Well, I mean by that, “another of the same kind.” Now, I could go in being very dissatisfied with the pen, and throw it down on the counter and say, “I want another pen. I mean I don’t like this pen. I want a different one.” In that case, the word would be in Greek, the word heteros, from which we get heterodoxy, for example; that’s doctrine contrary to true doctrine; doctrine contrary to that which I preach, for example. That’s heterodoxy. Orthodoxy. Orthos means “straight;” “doxy” comes from dokeo which means to think. “Straight thinking.” Heterodoxy is different thinking; different from orthodoxy. But if I put the pen down and say, “I want another,” meaning, “I like this pen,” the word is allos in Greek.
Now, that’s the word that’s used here, and the Lord says, “I’m going to pray the Father, and he’s going to give you another Comforter.” He’s another of the same kind. Now we have no doubt, that the Holy Spirit is God. He’s the Holy Spirit of God. In fact, he’s often referred to in Bible as the Spirit of God. Now, if he is a divine person, and the Lord says, “He’s another Comforter, just like I am a Comforter,” it’s obvious that he’s making the claim for deity here. So “I’m going to pray the Father, and he is going to give you another Comforter.” Now notice, “that he may abide with you for six months.” Well of course, no; not for six months. “That he may abide with you until you sin.” No, of course not. “That he a may abide with you until, out of your own free will, you apostatize from the faith, like the Arminians.” No, it does not say that.
I was reading a book the other day. You will pardon this little aside, but you know, we who believe in the sovereign grace of God, believe that it’s God who saves men, and that the decision is a decision wrought in us by the Holy Spirit. There are others who feel, that the decision is something that originates with man in his free will, and so they think of men not being totally depraved, but simply depraved; wounded, but not totally depraved, because they have the power to initiate belief in God. Of course, they need some help. They recognize, if they’re evangelical Christians, they need some help, but it originates with man. The election is an election that is not unconditional, but conditional. In other words, we again initiate the response. I’ll pass by the atonement, and talk about efficacious grace. The efficacious grace that brings us into faith, is a grace that we may either resist or we actually may so fight, we have the free will to accept or reject, or we may resist and fight against it. But isn’t it interesting that there is a group of evangelical Christians who reject all of these things but they love the doctrine of eternal security? Now to be consistent, if a person didn’t believe in total depravity, and didn’t believe in unconditional election, and didn’t believe in definite atonement, and didn’t believe in efficacious grace, he shouldn’t believe in eternal security, because he should again reserve the final choice for himself; to stay in the faith or get out of the faith. But here are individuals who believe, that you have to make the decision in all of these steps until you get to this final one, but once you’re in you can’t get out. So that’s their inconsistent doctrine. That’s why we say that Calminians are inconsistent in their doctrine. These things all hold together. If you hold one, you must hold them all, logically and consistently. Of course, people are not consistent. I wish they were, then they would be orthodox, otherwise, all points, they’re heterodox.
Well, look at this text. Eternal security is a great doctrine, and I’m glad they at least have got one point safe and sound in their thinking, because it might lead them to think on through the other points, and come to realize that really they do hang together, and God does save men from beginning to end. “I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever.” Forever. Isn’t that a great doctrine? “I have come by the grace of God to the possession of faith in Christ, and having come to know him, and having been given the Holy Spirit, he indwells me forever.” And Paul later will say, “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful. He cannot deny himself. We become identified with him.”
Well, that’s great, but he goes on to say, “Even the spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive.” Notice, not “does not receive.” “Cannot receive.” Just like Jesus has said previously, “No man can come to me, except the Father with had sent, which hath sent me draw him.” “The world cannot receive the Holy Spirit, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him. But you know him, for he dwells with you,” that’s the Old Testament position; the Holy Spirit with believers, strengthening them by the grace of God, “and shall be in you.” Now, some of the Greek manuscripts at this point have, “and is in you,” and New Testament critics have debated this particular reading quite a bit. It’s my opinion that this is correct, and I notice that in the second edition of the Bible Society’s critical text, it has something like, in verse 17, “he dwelleth with you, and is in you;” commentators saying, John’s writing from the standpoint of the completion of the work of the Cross, from the standpoint of ninety-five AD when he wrote his book. But in the third edition of this same, and the latest edition, they’ve flip-flopped in their choice of readings at this point, and have gone back to the future, which is represented in the Authorized Version, “He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” And, I think, that manuscript evidence, as well as other internal considerations, decide for that reading too. So the Lord said to the disciples, “The Cross is not yet taken place. The Holy Spirit is with you, but he shall be in you, and he will be in you forever.”
Well, that’s a great text. I’m sure that I have omitted some things that ought to be said about it, but I must turn to the third of the passages. It’s John 14:20, and I’ve entitled this, “The Spirit and the Doctrine of Union.” John 14, verse 20. The Lord goes on to say, having made those great promises, “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” So that the Savior points the disciples on to the day, when the disciples shall realize a mutual indwelling with the Son in the Father. “You shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” What is the day that he refers to? Well, perhaps the Day of the Resurrection; more likely, in my opinion , and this is one of those things I don’t think we can be absolutely dogmatic about , more likely, the Day of Pentecost, because it is at that time, that the Holy Spirit comes in this age, and we live in the age of the Holy Spirit pre-eminently. The age of the Old Testament was the age of the Father. The age of our Lord’s earthly ministry, the age of the Gospels was the age of the Son. Today is the age of the Holy Spirit, if we may look at them by the emphasis that is placed upon their ministry. But it is the work of the Holy Spirit to glorify Christ.
Now, let’s look in the remaining three or four minutes that we have, to this last expression, “ye in me, and I in you.” “Ye in me.” Three words. “And I in you.” Four words; all one syllable words. What a simple statement it is, but how rich in biblical doctrine. “Ye in me.” “You shall know at that day when the Spirit comes, you shall know that you are in me, and you shall know that I am in you.” Seven little words. It seems like a paradoxical statement, doesn’t it? “You shall know that I’m in the Father. You’re in me, and I’m in you.” If I were having you here for a little examination I might say to you, “How can anything be at once, in and out? How can something be contained, and containing at the same time?” “Ye in me. In him. I in you.” So “I am in him, and at the same time, I contain him. He’s in me.” How can that be? Well, I think, the parable our Lord gives in the very next chapter is an illustration. He says, “He’s the vine, and we’re the branches.” And really, that’s what that represents. The vine is in the branches, and the branches are in the vine. In other words, this kind of language is the language of an element like air, fire, water, earth; of all of which it’s true, that they are in what is in them; as the fire is in the iron, and the iron is in the fire.
Now, I want to tell you, winter has been a great disappointment to me in Texas. I have not necessarily loved Chicago, mind you. The other night, when I had to walk four blocks with the temperature of 7 degrees below zero and the wind blowing enough to make it about minus 40, I had to walk four blocks to the restaurant, and when I arrived there finally, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it, but when I did arrive, my ears , I reached up to be sure they were still there, and the rest of my face was stiffening up. And I want to tell you, the next week I took my ski cap to Chicago. Since then, it’s been warming up there, and I haven’t had a chance to use it too much. But anyway, one of the things that I’ve missed down here is, we’ve only been able to have a fire about six or seven times at home. We haven’t had enough of a winter to enjoy a good wood fire. Now, if you do have a good wood fire, of course, you can take a poker, and you put the poker in the fire, and if you leave it in long enough, the fire’s in the poker. That’s the language of an element.
Or take the birds, and the birds are beginning to come. You know, it won’t be long before the robins, you look out and see the finches, so I’m told by old people who look for birds. The bird is in the air, and the air is in the bird. A fish is in water, and the water is in the fish. A plant is in the earth, and the earth is in the plant. This is a language of an element. It’s the language of a union that is as close a union as it is possible for it to be. This is the language of spiritual union with the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the fulfillment of the fact that he’s our representative who represents us at the Cross, bears the judgment of God for us. We are baptized by the Holy Spirit into union with him, who is our representative, and his standing before God is our standing. What a magnificent thing that is. I am righteous in my righteous representative, the Lord Jesus Christ, “accepted in the beloved,” to use Paul’s other words. Notice the order. It’s fixed. “Ye in me, and I in you.” He must be in us, that we may be in him, as the iron must first be in the fire if the fire is to be in the iron, and the bird in the air if the air is to be in the bird. A biblical illustration follows in John chapter 15, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine dresser. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh away.” So he’s the vine. We are the branches. That’s the way he represents us.
Well, I wish I could talk about this further. You can see from this, that what he has said essentially is, “The Holy Spirit’s coming. When the Son of God is glorified, he will be given to all Christians. We now have the Holy Spirit as our permanent indwelling third person of the Trinity, and through this we have been united to him.”
You know, the apostles must have asked this question of themselves many times, when they knew that the Lord was going, “How is it going to be possible for us to have a close relationship with him?” Some of us might have even said, “Oh, wouldn’t it have been wonderful to be there when the apostles were there, because we could have seen the Lord Jesus Christ ourselves, and we could have had fellowship with him.” Do you know the reason the Lord Jesus left? We’re going to talk about this a little bit next week, the Lord willing. The reason he left, was so that everybody down through the centuries could have the same experience that the apostles had. Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit we are no less blessed than they; in fact, more so, because he can be with us wholly and completely, with us individually by the Holy Spirit. Do you realize what that means? We don’t come behind the apostles in privilege. We have the whole Christ at all times, something that not a one of them had. “It’s expedient that I go away,” he said. “If I don’t go away, the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, will not come.” He has gone. The Comforter has come. We may have the day by day fellowship with the Lord that even the apostles did not know in the flesh. May God help us to take advantage of our opportunities.
Let’s bow in a word of prayer.
[Prayer] Father, we thank Thee and praise Thee for these wonderful truths found in the word of God. To think, that we can walk with the Lord Jesus Christ as we drive along Abrams Road or LBJ Freeway or Preston Road. As we enter the First National Bank building, we may have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, who accompanies us through the Spirit his representative, the Comforter, the Advocate. O God, may we learn to truly walk with Thee, and experience the blessings of the life that is life indeed.
For Jesus’ sake. Amen.