Texts: John 14:15-17, John 15:26-27, John 16:12-15, Ephesians 1:13, 1stJohn 4:1-12 These texts represent all texts that bring “Spirit/spirit” and “truth” together. Other texts that imply “Spiritual/spiritual truth” do not use this combination.
According to Jesus, the Spirt of Truth proceeds from the Father and (like the disciples themselves) bears witness to Jesus himself. The world cannot receive the Spirit of Truth because it neither sees him nor knows him. The disciples do know him, “for he dwells with you, and will be in you.” It is best to read these words in the context of John 7:39, where-in the author of the 4th Gospel says that the Holy Spirit was not yet given to the disciples because Jesus was “not yet glorified,” that is, not yet glorified by his “death and resurrection.”
The task of the Spirit of Truth is two-fold.
First, says Jesus, “(the Spirit of Truth) will take what is mine and declare it to you.” According to verse 27, the disciples are witnesses to Jesus because they were with him from the beginning. Still, they were pretty dense and did not always immediately understand the importance of Jesus’s actions and words. Therefore they will need the help of the Spirit of Truth in recalling the true significance of all that Jesus has said and done among them.
Second, says Jesus, “(the Spirit of Truth) will guide (the disciples) into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. Jesus quickly adds, “All that the Father has is mine; therefore, I said (the Spirit of Truth) will take what is mine and declare it to you.”
The Spirit of Truth can guide the disciples into all truth because he is not just a contemporary of the church on earth, but a contemporary of Jesus in heaven. Remember, as the author of the 4th Gospel is writing his Gospel, Jesus has already entered his glory. He was crucified, died, and was buried. He then rose again and entered once more into the realm of his Heavenly Father. He who came from God, to reveal God, is once more “in the bosom of the Father.”
Jesus is now “in the bosom of the Father,” but Jesus has not ceased to act on behalf of his disciples, the church. Even in heaven, all that the Glorified Jesus does, he does for….us! The Spirit of Truth bears witness to these actions, and from time to time, the Spirit of Truth enables us to see further down the road than we have yet traveled. The Spirit of Truth enables us to see and live from the future coming to us in Jesus Christ.
BELIEVERS NEED NOT ONLY THE HISTORICAL WORD WHICH GOD HAS SPOKEN IN THE LAW AND THE GOSPEL, BUT THE PROPHETIC WORD OF GOD THAT COMES TO US FROM THE ETERNAL FUTURE THAT IS COMING TO US IN CHRIST. WITHOUT THIS, WE WOULD NOT HAVE GOD’S PERSONAL GUIDANCE IN THE WORLD.
Will all believers correctly comprehend the future revealed to us by the Spirit of Truth? No. Only those who keep the commandment of Christ, “love one another as I have loved you,” have any hope of perceiving the full message of the Spirit of Truth. And there is likely to be confusion even among the faithful. The Holy Spirit will never crush out our native gifts and differences. Rather, he will use them.
When I was at Princeton one summer, the Presbyterian Church was awash in controversy. I think it had something to do with women in ministry, or, perhaps, the recognition of homosexuality was not a choice. Everyone at the seminary was praying for leading “the Spirt of Truth,” the Holy Spirit. Simultaneously, there was the recognition that, when conservatives spoke, the Holy Spirit spoke right, and when liberals spoke, the Holy Spirit spoke left. Yes, both are members of Christ’s body, for, according to the 1John passage, the faithful are those who confess that “…that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. ”
There are several tests of truth. 1) Is it true according to all the facts, including Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience, the four great warrants of authority in our faith? 2) Has it passed the test of time and come to pass? In the Bible, a prophecy is accepted as true, only when it comes to pass. Many of God’s promises have come true; but we await the fulfillment of others. Some will not reach fruition until that day when we all come to stand in the more immediate presence of God. In the meantime, we simply trust with St. Paul, that “all God’s promises find their ‘Yes’ and ‘Amen!’ in him,” that is, in Christ.