Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for April 16

Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for April 16

When the Spirit Comes

John 15:26–27; 16:7–15

In the upper room, Jesus taught the distraught disciples about His approaching death and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Testify (15:26–27)

The entirety of the Christian life is Trinitarian, even our witness to Jesus. The Counselor — the Holy Spirit — is sent by Jesus from the Father. The term for the Spirit translated as “Counselor” in the Christian Standard Bible has legal connotations.

In our day, we may refer to a lawyer as a counselor, a person who acts as a spokesperson or representative. Jesus says the Counselor will testify or represent the Father and the Son.

Jesus highlights the mission of the Counselor as one who testifies about Him. The disciples gathered in the upper room would also testify as eyewitnesses to the ministry of Jesus because they had been with Him from the beginning of His ministry. The Spirit (or Counselor) helps us witness.

Convicts (16:7–11)

The disciples of Jesus are confused and grieving because of His words. They left their families and occupations to follow Him.

How could His departure be for their benefit? Jesus’ departure to the Father means He will send the Comforter to believers.

The Spirit is not an “it.” Jesus refers to the Spirit as “He.” The Spirit is a Person.

In this passage, Jesus describes a threefold ministry of the Holy Spirit in terms of aiding the gospel message:

  1. The Spirit will convict the world regarding sin, righteousness and judgment, similar to the role of a prosecuting attorney in a court. While sin, sinners and the ruler of this world will be judged in the future, Jesus emphasized a past judgment of Satan. “The ruler of this world has been judged [past tense].” Thus, Jesus described a heavenly court scene in which the verdict has already been announced.
  2. The Spirit will convict individual hearts of the most serious sin, blasphemy, “because they do not believe in me.” Note here that Jesus does not claim the Spirit will convict people of sins [plural].
  3. The Spirit will turn the hearts of His people to righteousness. Jesus’ death was the righteous one in contrast to the unrighteous actions of sinners for whom Christ died. Jesus going to the Father after His resurrection demonstrated God’s acceptance of the sacrifice of Christ.

Guides (16:12–15)

The Spirit’s ministry has more than a prosecuting ministry in terms of the world separated from God. The Spirit has a positive ministry in terms of believers.

Since the Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, He has a ministry of guiding believers into the truth. The promise of “guiding you [the men in the upper room] into all the truth” can easily be missed.

The men in the upper room with Jesus would be the initial proclaimers of the gospel message of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Furthermore, several of those men would be guided into the truth when God inspired them to write Scripture (Peter, John and Matthew).

The Spirit declares the message of Jesus. The Spirit continues to glorify Jesus when we declare His message.

By Mark Rathel
Professor at the Baptist College of Florida in Graceville, Florida

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