The Holy Spirit - Learning from John
From Jesus Christ, there is salvation (John 1:12-13). In Him, we receive the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 1:29,32-34).
We say, ‘I’ll turn over a new leaf’. Christ says, ‘You must be born again’ (John 3:3,7). Our way of thinking begins with ‘I’. Christ’s way of salvation begins with ‘God’: ‘God so loved the world...’ (John 3:16). Begin with ‘I’ and you have sin, guilt and condemnation (Romans 3:10-11). Begin with God and you have Good News for sinners: ‘God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8). Through faith in Christ, we are ‘born of the Spirit’ (John 3:6-8; John 1:12). The Spirit of God is the Spirit of holiness, love and truth. Those who are ‘born of the Spirit’ are to live a life of holiness, love and truth (1 John 4:2-3,6-7,12-13; 5:2-3). ‘Come to the light’. ‘Do what is true’. ‘Obey the Son’. Let Christ increase. This is the work of the Spirit in us (John 3:20-21,36,29,34).
In Jesus’ healings, we see the love of God. He ‘went about doing good’. In His healings, we see the Source of His spiritual strength: ‘God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power’ (Acts 10:38). We look beyond Jesus to God the Father: ‘mighty works and wonders and signs which God did through Him’ (Acts 2:22).
‘Rivers of living water’ were flowing out of Jesus’ heart. ‘No man ever spoke like this man’! ‘The Spirit’ was speaking through Him with power (37-39).
The voice of ‘common sense’ is not always the voice of the Lord (John 12:4-6). There is a higher wisdom than ‘common sense’. We are to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. He leads us to put Jesus at the centre of our lives. Jesus is not suggesting that the poor are unimportant. He is emphasising that we must not lose sight of Him. If our concern for the poor is not truly grounded in devotion to Christ, it is not the obedience of faith (John 12:8).
Those who love the Lord are called to a life of obedience - keeping His ‘commandments’, keeping His ‘Word’ (John 14:21,23). We cannot live this life in our own strength. Christ must make His home in us (John 14:23). Once He has come to live in us, we are to abide in Him (John 15:4). Jesus says to us, ‘Apart from me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5). You cannot live the Christian life until Christ comes to live in you. ‘The Holy Spirit teaches us all things’ (John 14:26). Christ’s ‘words’ abide in us (John 15:7). We are called to a life of fruitfulness (John 15:5,15) - ‘the fruit of the Spirit’: ‘love, joy, peace...’ (Galatians 5:22-23). Jesus loves us (John 14:21). He gives us His peace (John 14:27). He gives us His joy (John 14:11). Love, Joy, Peace: Let this ‘fruit’ be seen in us. Let it be shared with others. ‘Love one another... Go and bear fruit... love one another’ (John 15:12,16-17).
Jesus was ‘persecuted’. We will be ‘persecuted’ - ‘all who desire to live a godly life will be persecuted’ (John 15:20; 2 Timothy 3:12). We have no guarantee that life will be easy. In all our difficulties, ‘the Spirit of truth’ directs our attention to Jesus our Saviour (John 15:26; John 16:13-15). Whatever our problems, we draw encouragement from Jesus’ words: ‘In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33). Here, we have realism and faith. The world is trying to squeeze us into its own mould (Romans 12:2). Sometimes, we feel like faith is slipping away. Sometimes, we feel like giving up. What are we to say to all this? ‘Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?’ - This is our faith’ (1 John 5:4-5).
Jesus prayed for His first disciples. He is still praying for us (Hebrews 7:25). He prayed for them ‘that they may be one’ (John 17:11). He prays the same prayer for us (John 17:20-23). Among His first disciples, there was Judas Iscariot, ‘the one who chose to be lost’ (John 17:12). If we are to ‘maintain the unity of the Spirit’, we must take account of ‘the Judas factor’ - ‘take notice of those who create dissensions... avoid them’ (Ephesians 4:3; Jude 4; 1 John 2:18-19; Romans 16:17-18).