The Age Of The Spirit’s Ministry


In John 14:15-16, having in mind His own imminent return to the Father after the fulfilment of His earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus spoke to His followers about the coming of the Holy Spirit. He promised His followers,

‘I will pray the Father and He will send you another Comforter’.

The word that is used, ‘parakletos’, translated as ‘Comforter’ in the A.V. and the R.V., describes ‘one called alongside to help’.

Furthermore, Jesus promised that when the Spirit of Truth came, He would ‘abide’ with believers ‘forever’. The word ‘meno’, ‘abide’, means remain permanently. He also explained, in John 16:7-15, that the Holy Spirit’s ministry would be to ‘convict the world concerning sin, righteousness and judgment’. John 16:8.

The means of the Spirit’s convicting the world is simply in this, He will convict the world, not by direct work upon their hearts, but as the event shows, Acts 2:37, through the life of the apostles, declaring the wonderful works of God. The Holy Spirit came not ‘unto the world’ but ‘unto the apostles.’

The world couldn’t receive the Spirit directly, John 14:17, and never can, ‘as the world’. The apostles received Him, and through their testimony, He reaches the world. Personal pronouns referring to the Holy Spirit throughout these pages emphasise the personal nature of the Spirit.

The Trinitarian concept of three persons in the Godhead is in these verses.

‘He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.’ John 16:14-15

 ‘When he comes, he will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment.’ John 16:8

1. Convict.

Regarding this word, it involves the conceptions of authoritative examination, unquestionable proof, decisive judgment, and punitive power. He who ‘convicts’ another, places the truth in a clear light before him so that it must be seen and acknowledged as truth. He who then rejects it rejects it with his eyes open and at his peril.

The issue of whether the world will or will not receive the truth isn’t treated here. The Spirit will ‘convict’ the whole world by witnessing the truth to the whole creation, but every man, through the exercise of his own free will, will determine his own destiny by his reaction to the truth, either receiving it or rejecting it.

2. Sin, righteousness and judgment.

The comprehensiveness of these terms is boundless. Here are the two fundamentals of man’s spiritual condition and the two options, or alternatives open to him. The Spirit convicts of sin, revealing man’s fallen state and bondage to Satan and showing his total helplessness to achieve through his own efforts any healing of his condition.

The Spirit also convicts of righteousness by revealing the mystery of how a man may acquire a righteousness, not of his own, but being the righteousness of Christ, available to all who receive and obey the Gospel, thus being inducted ‘into Christ,’ and identified with Christ as Christs.

Over against these three words stand three proper names, Adam, Christ, and Satan. Through Adam came sin, through Christ came righteousness and upon Satan, the penalty of ultimate judgment shall fall, John 16:11. The ‘world’ acting through its representatives, had charged Christ as a sinner, John 9:24.

Its leaders trusted that they were ‘righteous’ Luke 18:9, and they were at the point of giving sentence against the ‘prince of Life’, Acts 3:15, as a malefactor, John 18:30. At this point, the threefold error, Acts 3:17, which the Spirit was to reveal and reprove, had brought at last its fatal fruit.

That ministry commenced on the Day of Pentecost, as Acts 2 reveals. The Holy Spirit came, as the Lord had promised. And the Holy Spirit has never left! What is more, He will not leave until the close of the Christian Age, when the Lord Himself returns.

So, we see, then, that the plan of salvation which originated in the mind of the Father, was implemented and fully realised in the life, death and resurrection of the Son, and today it continues to be made effective by the ministry of the Holy Spirit, through the preaching of the Good News.

That Gospel was first presented in its fullness by Peter on the Day of Pentecost, and it was on that day that he announced that those who believed the message, repented and were baptised, would receive not only the forgiveness of their sins but also the gift of the Holy Spirit.