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Jesus told His disciples that He would be leaving them soon, but He comforted them with two main things: (1) They would “follow” Him later (John 13:36); and (2) He would return to them early through the Holy Spirit to help them find their way on this journey.
In John 14:15 Jesus told them that if they kept His commandments, they could ask for anything and their prayer would be answered. Jesus, of course, kept all the commandments of His Father, and so all of His prayers were answered.
The Holy Spirit
On that basis, John 14:16 says,
16 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper [parakletos] that He may be with you forever [eis ton aiona, “to the age”];
The great Amen of God (Revelation 3:14) always did what He saw His heavenly Father do, and He always said what He heard His heavenly Father say. Because His will was one with His Father’s will, He had the right to ask for anything, simply because everything He asked was according to the will of His Father.
The disciples did not know precisely when He would ask the Father for this “Helper” (or “Comforter,” KJV), but Jesus knew. He could not pray this prayer until He had ascended to the Father. We know that He ascended on the 40th day of counting the omer of barley grains, and ten days later was the day of Pentecost, when His prayer was answered at the appointed time.
How long would the Holy Spirit be with them? Once filled with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit would never be taken away. Hence, we know that the Spirit was to be with them “forever.”
However, that is not the right question. Jesus was speaking of the Holy Spirit’s guidance as they made their journey from “Egypt” to the “Promised Land” during the Age of Pentecost. So we should understand Him to say, “that He may be with you to the (next) age,” all the way to the Promised Land and to the Tabernacles Age.
In other words, the Holy Spirit was to accompany them and guide them through their Pentecostal wilderness, not only individually but also the church itself. Christ’s ascension would not leave them without a guide to help them learn the lessons of each encampment, every oasis, and even every failure as they grew spiritually.
The Spirit of Truth
As for the nature of this “Helper,” Jesus described the Holy Spirit as “the Spirit of truth.” John 14:17, 18 says,
17 that is, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
Jesus enlarged upon this later in John 16:13, saying, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth.” In this brief statement, Jesus set forth the fulfillment of the type and shadow of Israel’s wilderness journey as they were led by the pillar of cloud during the day and the pillar of fire by night. Israel’s 41 encampments in the wilderness allegorically led them into 41 truths that they needed to know to qualify them for entering the Promised Land. Their 42nd encampment was in the plains of Jericho after they crossed the Jordan River.
Unfortunately, the majority of “the church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38 KJV) did not learn those truths, because they had rejected the voice of God at Mount Horeb (Exodus 20:18-21). They were overcome by the fear of God’s majesty and could not relate to Him intimately as their heavenly Father. Although they followed the cloud, they walked by sight, not by faith, because “faith comes by hearing…the word” (Romans 10:17).
Likewise, many in the church in the Pentecostal Age followed their example of fear and unbelief. I have heard it said from pulpits that one should not try to hear God’s voice for himself, for fear that he might hear incorrectly and be deceived. Better that one should hear the voice of the priest, preacher, or prophet. Such people teach fear, not faith, and do little to prepare the people for Kingdom life. Too little truth is given them, truth which they need to cross their Jordan.
Experiential Truth is Tested by Fire
Although we today are not called to make a physical journey from Egypt to Canaan, there is a lesson in the type and shadow that we should understand. The Spirit of truth is guiding us into all truth, not merely by speaking truth to us but by leading us to walk it out, to experience it in real life. This is God’s way of burning truth into our hearts.
We ask for the revelation of truth, and God says, “I will trade you for a pound of flesh.” While salvation is by grace and is free, real truth on our journey comes at a cost. The Spirit of truth is a fire which baptizes us in order to burn “the flesh” and replace it with the divine nature, as He writes His laws upon our hearts. So 1 Peter 1:6, 7 says,
6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Faith untested is not yet established as faith. Experience provides the double witness that proves our faith. There are some who want truth without experience, others who want experience without truth. Neither is a biblical option.
If the truth we receive remains untested by experience, it will never be fruitful. Hence, many use truth as a weapon to destroy those who hold opposing views. Others say that truth is an unnecessary distraction from their experiential belief system, and these fail to learn the lessons of the various oases in the wilderness to which the Holy Spirit has led them.
Let us then understand the purpose of the Holy Spirit, so that we may be found faithful in our journey. Let us follow Jesus, who has not left us as orphans.
Oracles of Truth
John 14:17 says that the world at large “does not see Him or know Him.” So also we see that only a few people left Egypt. Only a few were led by the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire. Only a few came to Mount Horeb where the Spirit of God came down as fire on the day that was thereafter celebrated as Pentecost.
On the other hand, Jesus told His disciples in the same verse, “but you know Him, because He abides with you and will be in you.” The Holy Spirit had been present since the beginning of creation (Genesis 1:2) but had not yet been sent to them in the manner that Jesus was revealing. On the day of Pentecost the Spirit was sent to “abide with you” and to “be in you.” In other words, the Holy Spirit was to abide in them, for they were to be become temples of God. 1 Corinthians 3:16 says,
16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
The children of God were destined to become oracles of truth. God’s intent was to speak truth from His temples, even as the people heard on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:11. Truth is the main practical evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in the temples of God. Jesus did not tell His disciples that the Holy Spirit would be sent to give them power to do miracles. That certainly happened, of course, but that was not how Jesus chose to describe the Holy Spirit’s purpose.
In fact, truth (i.e., the word from God) is evidence of the Holy Spirit; and works, including miracles, serve as a double witness to the truth. For this reason, Mark 16:17, 18 says,
17 These signs will accompany those who have believed; in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues, 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.
A sign is a double witness that reveals the truth of one’s words—or at least a portion of one’s words; for if someone fails to diligently seek truth and focuses instead on the miracles, the miracles will bear witness to only a small portion of truth.
Christ’s Presence Through the Holy Spirit
John 14:19 says,
19 After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.
After Jesus’ ascension, the world at large was no longer able to see Jesus in the flesh. But the disciples would be able to see Him in a new form through the Holy Spirit. They would not be left fatherless, or as orphans in the world. The presence of the Holy Spirit was the presence of Christ, and in His presence is life itself. He said, “because I live, you will live also.” This goes back to John 1:4, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
Furthermore, Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” This defines the entire journey from the realm of death (“Egypt”) to full immortality (“Promised Land”). By speaking in the future tense, “you will live” (John 14:19), Jesus shows that they were not yet immortal. This is consistent with Paul’s teaching that at the second coming of Christ, “this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53).
20 In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.
Verse 20 shows us the relationship between the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each is treated as being distinct from the other, as the Trinitarians affirm. Yet the relationship is not equal in the sense that the Trinitarians believe. Instead, Christ is “in” the Father; we are “in” Christ, and “I in you” is a reference to the Holy Spirit that indwells us.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ residing in us, for the Holy Spirit is the Agent of Christ in the same sense that Christ is the Agent of the Father. One cannot reject the Agent without rejecting the One who has sent Him. It is a legal unity, on which principle also marriage is based. Genesis 2:24 has two people joining together and becoming one flesh, not in the sense of them becoming literally a single individual, but as two having one will and purpose.
It is a law of unity and a mystery (secret) that many find hard to understand. An Old Covenant marriage is set forth by Abram’s relationship with Hagar, the bondwoman (Galatians 4:24). A New Covenant marriage, which was the original pattern in Genesis 2:24, is illustrated by Abraham’s relationship with Sarah (Galatians 4:26). Hagar was a slave; Sarah was free. Slaves do not know what their master is doing (John 15:15).
A free woman in a New Covenant marriage is not treated as a servant. Her will is important, and ideally the two, being one flesh, have the same will and purpose. Therefore, she has an equal part in the decision-making process.
This relationship speaks into the relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, along with a fourth factor—the Bride of Christ in whom is Christ’s presence by means of the Holy Spirit. The relationship does not mean that we have become the same individual as Christ or the Holy Spirit. Yet we are legally one flesh and thus also the body of Christ.