Jerry C. Brewer
Understanding the mission of the Holy Spirit is the key to understanding what the New Testament teaches about the Spirit’s work in both, the miraculous age and today.
Because the subject of the Holy Spirit—the third Person of the Godhead—has been clothed with human mystique, there are those who believe every unexplainable feeling they have is the Holy Spirit “nudging” them or prompting them to do something. In years past, this was known as “better-felt-than-told religion.” That meant one couldn’t really understand God’s purpose for his life unless he had some kind of experience of good feeling, instead simply hearing and obeying God’s word.
Most religious people today have the Holy Spirit running around on earth doing everything from zapping lost souls into salvation to finding parking places for Christians on busy streets. That kind of nonsense is easily dispelled by Bible teaching, but few want to hear the truth concerning the Holy Spirit’s work. His part in man’s salvation was revealing it through inspired men. Period! Our Saviour is Jesus Christ, not the Holy Spirit.
Jesus’ Last Words To His Apostles
The 14th through the 16th chapters of John constitute Jesus’ last discourse to his apostles on the night He was betrayed into the hands of the Jews. He fully understood what His apostles didn’t. He knew that he would soon be taken and crucified. He also knew this would not be His end, but they did not understand what lay ahead. Thus, Jesus sought to tell them things that would strengthen them and give them hope for the dark ordeal looming on the horizon.
Culminating about three years of personally teaching them, He would soon be taken away. In view of this, He promised them “another Comforter” (John 14:16). In connection with this promise, He said, “I will not leave you comfortless” (John 14:18).
The language in this passage is, literally, “I will not leave you orphans.” The word orphanos in the original means “bereaved” and in this context in English it indicates one bereft of parents. One so bereft has no guidance, protection, sustenance or aid for living and functioning. As Jesus had been with them for about three years, guiding them into a knowledge of God’s will, protecting them from the doctrines of men, and supplying every spiritual need, so the Comforter—or the Holy Spirit—would come to them after Jesus’ departure. In the absence of Christ, the Holy Spirit would do for the apostles what Christ had done for them—and would have done had He remained with them. The work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the apostles was simply an extension of Christ’s work.
Jesus further stated the purpose of the Holy Spirit’s coming in John 14:26: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” The “all things” of this passage referred to the gospel scheme of redemption and Paul so used that phrase in First Corinthians 2:10. That plan of redemption had begun to be taught by Jesus while he was with them. “These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you” (John 14:25; cf. Acts 1:1). But that revelation would be completed when the Holy Spirit came to the apostles. “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost…he shall teach you all things” (John 14:26).
The mission of the Holy Spirit was the revelation of God’s final message to man and He accomplished that in a two-fold function, by miraculously recalling to their minds what Jesus had taught and revealing further truth He had not taught. When that was completed, the Holy Spirit’s work was done.