What would qualify a person as a “real Christian?” What daily practices would they have to observe? What would they have to know? These questions and others like them would be interesting topics for an information session or a class for new believers. There is one basic thing that each and every Christian must have to be a real Christian. It is the Holy Spirit.
John 14:15-21 is another part of Jesus’ farewell discourse to his disciples. Jesus has just told the disciples that he is going to be crucified. Now he is telling them that he will not leave them alone because he will send the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will guide them and remind them of everything Jesus said, taught and did. In that sense, Jesus will be with them forever.
The disciples saw the risen Christ and knew the truth about Jesus and his relationship to them. They would live because Jesus lived. In other words, Jesus would live on because of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit would live in the disciples just like the Holy Spirit lives in all believers. Because the Holy Spirit lives in all believers, they will show their love for Jesus by keeping all of his commandments. By keeping his commandments and doing Jesus’ work in our world, the Holy Spirit and Jesus live in all believers.
The Holy Spirit’s role in our lives is the same role the Holy Spirit had in the lives of the disciples. He is a helper, teacher, guide and encourager. He continues to do Jesus’ work. He gives us gifts that are based on the character of Christ. In return, we are to work in the Spirit and obey God.
John 14:15-21 marks a change in the relationship between believers and the world. Until this point, Jesus has defined the world to include all of humanity that is opposed to him because of sin. Now, there arises a difference between the world and those who believe in Jesus. Both groups are opposed to each other.
Those who believe in Jesus and his death and resurrection are inseparable from Jesus, especially through the Holy Spirit. We will see Jesus in heaven, but in the meantime we have the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit allows believers to see Jesus even though he is no longer with us. Since we “see” Jesus, it stands to reason that he can “see” us. Therefore, he can see whether or not we are obeying him. As we continue to obey him, our spiritual sight gets stronger.
The Holy Spirit came into the world just like Jesus came into the world, the only difference being that the Holy Spirit could not come until Jesus completed his work of salvation. Just like Jesus is under the authority of God, the Holy Spirit is under the authority of Jesus. Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit are the same person, but they are also three different people at the same time. They are like the three sides of a triangle, hence the term “Trinity.”
The Holy Spirit will always stand beside God’s people. The Holy Spirit is referred to as “the Spirit of truth” because truth is part of the nature of the Holy Spirit’s mission. The Holy Spirit testifies to God’s truth and brings people to the truth through conviction that leads to repentance and faith.
When the Holy Spirit is present, Jesus is present. When Jesus is present, God is present. John 14:15-21 helps us to understand the Christian life and God’s will for our lives. It allows us to see things as Christ sees them. The Trinity teaches us to love unconditionally and respect boundaries and roles. John’s Gospel sees love as the key to following Jesus.
At this point in our church year we are getting ready for Pentecost. During these weeks between Easter and Pentecost we have been describing what it means to be a Christian and a church. Jesus’ resurrection has changed us into a people who are living beyond the power of death. The Scripture readings we have heard since Easter Sunday are full of references to the Holy Spirit and the work the Holy Spirit will do among believers. In John 14:12, Jesus said that the disciples would do greater works than he did. That is because Jesus in his human body could only be in one place at one time, whereas the Holy Spirit can dwell within all believers, wherever they are, all the time. To do this, Jesus said in verses 14 to 16 that the disciples would need prayer, obedience and the Holy Spirit. The greater works referred to are the proclamation of the fact of deliverance and the hope and promise of salvation.
God wants to reveal himself to us and he reveals himself to us through Jesus, but only if our hearts belong to Jesus. That’s why Jesus revealed himself to only a select few people after his resurrection. He knew that there were a lot of people who refused to believe that he rose from the dead. In other words, their hearts did not belong to Jesus.
Loving Jesus means wanting him because he is desirable. It means admiring him because he is infinitely admirable. It means treasuring him because he is very valuable. It means enjoying him because he is enjoyable. It means being satisfied with all that he is because he is infinitely satisfying. It is the response of the reawakened human soul to all that is true and good and beautiful and embodied in Jesus.
The Holy Spirit is just like Jesus, so following the Holy Spirit is no different from following Jesus. The only difference is that the Holy Spirit’s leadership is invisible instead of physical. The Holy Spirit is the exact image of both Jesus and God.
No one can produce the love we need to do God’s work except the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us obey Jesus’ instructions because it gives us revelation from God’s word. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we are controlled by the Holy Spirit, he changes us and his love flows from us. This lifestyle of obedience will increase our trust in God. We will be able to commit to obeying God, and our study of the Scriptures will be consistent.
The Holy Spirit can transform us once we understand it. It will help us to model the type of Christian behaviour that we want to teach other people. If our behaviour is unbelievable, we will deceive ourselves in the long run. When the Holy Spirit changes us, we will be able to withstand all of life’s problems. We will have peace in our hearts. We will have hope when we are hurting. This will only be possible when Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the centre of our hearts and thoughts.
No man-made idols will be able to withstand the truth of God’s love if we open our hearts and invite the Holy Spirit to live in us. Money will not make us happy, because the Holy Spirit teaches that happiness can’t be bought. Power and control are not important because the Holy Spirit teaches us that truth, kindness and love are more important.
When the Holy Spirit is in us, it shows that we love Jesus. We must always ask ourselves what the condition of our love for God is. How do we respond to God’s love for us by loving others? We often think of God’s love as being unconditional, but this passage from John’s Gospel concludes with two conditions for receiving God’s love-keeping Jesus’ commandments and loving Jesus. These two conditions are so interdependent that Jesus binds them together as if they were one. When we love Jesus, we will obey his commandments and we will not find them burdensome. On the contrary, we will obey them joyfully, because the Holy Spirit inspires us to go into the world and share God’s love, even if the world can’t or won’t accept this message. The world doesn’t know the Holy Spirit of truth and love yet, but if we allow God’s truth and love to speak through us, the world will know this life-changing, life-saving message.
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