Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for April 16

Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for April 16

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

By Dr. Ben Stubblefield
Visiting assistant professor of Christian Studies, University of Mobile

John 15:26–27; 16:7–15

When the Spirit Comes

Jesus’ comments regarding the Counselor arrive on the heels of His explanation of a coming persecution (John 15:18–25). He tells His disciples that even in His absence, the world “will hate you as it has hated Me.” A very natural question for each disciple would have been, “How will we remain faithful through the days of trial?”

Testify (15:26–27)

Jesus’ answer is, “The Counselor will help you testify.” The Spirit of truth will bear witness to Christ in the world. Christ’s soon physical, personal absence will not leave the world bereft of testimony to Him. The Spirit remains and will, while abiding in the disciples, lead His people to testify of Him, no matter how difficult, dangerous or overwhelming the world’s hostility to Christ.

I’ve never been persecuted by a government for being a Christian. But I’ve run the thought experiment many times: “How would I handle the pressures of persecution?” These verses give me confidence that the same Holy Spirit residing within me will ensure a faithful witness in a time of trial.

Convicts (16:7–11)

I’ll bet lots of us have thought, “It would have been so much better to be around to see Jesus do His ministry.” Well, Jesus didn’t think so! He says it’s to our advantage that He goes away, because we now live under the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Before the Holy Spirit, as one commentator says, “millions ignored the claims of the true God.” Now because of the Holy Spirit, millions have been brought into a happy relationship with Christ.

The Spirit’s ministry convicts. The language of verse 8 is difficult to render into English. My best guess is it means something like “convince the world of its own shame” with regard to sin, righteousness and judgment.

In other words, part of the role of the Spirit through the witness of the church is to reveal to the world the truth about sin and real righteousness and to persuade the world about the true and coming judgment.

Guides (12–15)

Some interpreters take these verses to indicate an “end times” kind of revelation. They understand Jesus to be telling His disciples that the Holy Spirit will reveal prophetic events still to come. It seems more likely Jesus is speaking about how to understand the events yet to come in His earthly ministry and how they relate to the full revelation and self-disclosure of the Godhead. Jesus is truth sending the Spirit of Truth to take what is from the Father regarding truth and reveal it to His people.

I don’t think He has in mind apocalyptic knowledge, but rather more revelation about events soon to take place at Golgotha and the garden. The disciples still have to properly process the implications of those events, an exercise aided by the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:13–49).

We still need the Holy Spirit to help us perceive the truth about the Lord (1 Cor. 2:14–15). We are not incapable of comprehending divine truth, but our judgments can be clouded by faithless disobedience. Jesus never accuses the disciples of misunderstanding because of a low IQ. But He does reprove them for their lack of faith in understanding (Luke 24:25).

Like them, we are sometimes prone to wander. I am thankful for the active work of the Holy Spirit, who guides me into truth to the glory and honor of Christ.