The Spirit Of Christ, The Spirit Of Truth


“I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment… He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine.” (John 16:7-8, 14-15)

Forty days after his Resurrection, Jesus ascended bodily into heaven. Jesus had known his disciples would have a hard time with his departure. He spent a lot of time preparing them for it on the night of his betrayal, as recorded in the Upper Room Discourse (John 13-16) and his High Priestly Prayer (John 17). His disciples were confused, to say the least. Why did Jesus have to leave? We easily share their confusion. Wouldn’t it be easier for us to be Christians if he were still here? Contrary to our instincts, Jesus insisted that his Ascension was for our good. “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away.” Jesus wasn’t saying, “Look, the Ascension is beyond my control, it’s just the way it has to be.” He knew the Ascension would mean wonderful things for his people in the world. He wanted to go, and he wanted his disciples to share his enthusiasm.

In the Person of Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God—who was eternally begotten of the Father—became also human. He’s unique, and it’s strange for us. It’s easy for us to imagine him in his divinity, because he has been in heaven for so long. But his humanity isn’t just the stuff of high legend; his humanity continues. The Incarnation is irreversible. So it’s not “just” the Son of God who returned to heaven. It’s the Son of Man, the Messiah, the descendant of David, the Last Adam, the True Human who ascended into heaven and is seated at God’s right hand in glory. Jesus Christ is the God-Man, the King of Glory (Psalm 24), and his Ascension means that we have a Man on the throne of Reality. The crucified and risen Lord rules the cosmos as our Representative, our Champion, our Vicar. He has fulfilled the destiny for which humanity was originally created: to rest and rule with God over all creation (Gen. 1-2).

But there’s more. Not only has the Man Jesus Christ ascended far above all created powers, but he has received the Spirit without measure, and now he sends forth his Spirit into the world. The Spirit of God is now the Spirit of Christ—the Spirit of the God-man. “All that the Father has is mine.” A Man owns and commands the divine Spirit, God himself, the third Person of the Trinity. A Man determines where the Father’s Spirit goes. This is the extent to which God has shared his rule with humanity; he has given himself to humanity in the Person of his Spirit.

Jesus Christ sends his/God’s Spirit to us in order to share all this with us. The Spirit does this by holding Christ forth to us in all his beautiful mercy. “He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine.” As a Man, Jesus has inherited God himself, and wields all his power, and his purpose is to share that with us. So he pours out his/God’s Spirit, the Christ-centered Spirit, the Spirit of Truth (as Jesus is the Truth; John 14:6). The Spirit gets Jesus in front of us. As the Spirit introduces us to Jesus, we are provoked to the same response anyone ever had when meeting Jesus in the flesh. When Jesus walked into a room, he had a polarizing effect on people. Now he doesn’t walk into rooms, but his Spirit introduces him around the world as the Gospel is proclaimed.

The first effect this has on sinners is one of conviction. “When [the Spirit] comes, he will convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment.” Good news! The Spirit will convince you of your guilt, and bring you to a point of confession! Maybe that sounds odd, but it’s true. When he presents us with the True and Good Humanity of Jesus Christ we sense the great contrast with your own corruption. We’re a poor excuse for the image of God, compared to Jesus, who is “the radiance of his glory and the exact imprint of his nature” (Heb. 1:3). If you sense your spiritual bankruptcy when the Spirit gets Jesus in front of you, it is well! If not, he probably needs to convict you of your “righteousness,” which is like filthy rags (Isa. 64:6). Our righteousness is a self-glorification project where we try to manage others’ estimation of ourselves by doing good things. Whenever Jesus walked into the room with self-righteous people like that, they wanted to kill him because he exposed what was really going on in their hearts. When the Spirit gets Jesus in front of self-righteous people, it makes us able to say out loud, “I have hated God. I have despised him, and that’s a problem. I need true righteousness, and only Jesus Christ the Righteous can provide that.” And when the Spirit convicts us of judgment, he shows us that Jesus has already condemned the devil, “the ruler of this world.” You’ve only got two options: remain under the devil’s authority and suffer his judgment with him, or submit to the authority of Jesus Christ and find forgiveness.

God is throwing everything he’s got at you to convince you of your need for his mercy, so that you would confess your sins and give up your own “righteousness” as a means of self-justification, self-salvation. Jesus sent his/God’s Spirit to assure you of God’s merciful intentions with all of this. It’s only when you know that God is on your side, that he sent the God-man to be for you, that the God-man sent the Spirit for your advantage that you will be able to admit your rebellion. God’s word to you in Christ is forgiveness, so it really is safe to admit that you’d deeply (and unreasonably!) hated God. This is what the Spirit’s work looks like in your life as he glorifies Christ, as he takes all that belongs to Christ and shares it with you! Jesus wants you with him where he is, resting and ruling at God’s side, and that’s why he sent the Spirit to bring you to a place of confession.

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