The Lord Jesus here told the disciples that it is to their advantage and good that He goes away. Why so? Because unless He goes away, the Advocate (Holy Spirit) will not come to them. After Jesus’ departure, the Father and He would send the Holy Spirit to them. Then Jesus went on to share about the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
The outline: the Spirit will convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgement; He, as the Spirit of truth, will guide the disciples into all the truth; He will speak only what He hears and will tell of what is to come; He will glorify Jesus and communicate what He receives from Jesus.
Jesus taught the disciples that the Spirit would testify to the Father and would continue the ministry of Jesus in the disciples to the world. The Spirit will convict the world: Just as Jesus exposes the world’s guilt, by showing that what it does is evil, so the Spirit will continue this work. ‘Convict’ has the sense of shaming the world and convincing it of its own guilt, thus calling it to repentance. Convicting the world of sin, righteousness and judgement would mean that it is exposure and guilt that is under consideration in each case.
The world is guilty of sin because it does not believe in Jesus: the Spirit’s ministry is to bring people to acknowledge this guilt. The world is guilty in regard to righteousness: Jesus has exposed the world’s lack of moral purity; by His light He has exposed the world’s darkness and hypocrisy. Now that Jesus is going, the Spirit will continue this ministry in His absence. The world is guilty in regard to judgement: Jesus’ ministry, climaxing in HIs crucifixion and resurrection, has achieved the condemnation and driving out of Satan. This is a preview of the Devil’s final demise on the Day of Judgement. The Spirit will bring people to a realisation of their position regarding final judgement – some will respond by turning to Jesus; others will remain in the world.
The Spirit will lead the apostles ‘into all truth’ and thus bring glory to Jesus. He will guide the apostles into all the truth about Jesus and the Father.This will enable them to persevere and to accomplish the Father’s work – bearing fruit (15:8), doing greater things (14:12), testifying to the world (15:27) and bringing glory to God. In a nutshell, the Spirit’s work is to convict, the apostles’ work is to testify – and the church’s work is to continue this testimony. In that sense, the work and ministry of Jesus continues in the ministry of the Spirit and in the lives of the disciples.
Christ related the mission of the Spirit to the will and purpose of the Father and the Son. The Father will send the Spirit, says our Lord Jesus, ‘in my name’ – that is, as Christ’s deputy, doing Christ’s will and acting as His representative and with His authority (14:26). Just as Jesus had come in HIs Father’s name (5:43), acting as the Father’s agent, speaking the Father’s words (12:49), doing the Father’s works (10:25), and bearing witness throughout to the Father as HIs emissary, so the Spirit would come in Jesus’ name, to act in the world as the agent and witness of Jesus. Having sent the eternal Son into the world, the Father now recalls Him to glory and sends the Spirit to take His place. We need to see the Trinity in this: the different roles of the Three Persons of the Godhead’; yet all three are equal and equally divine, although each may cheerfully subordinate Himself to the Other for the purpose of fulfilling the will and desire of the Triune God.
To the apostles, the Spirit testified by revealing and inspiring (including understanding of all that God desires and the writing of the New Testament), to the rest of us, down the ages, He testifies by illuminating: opening blinded eyes, restoring spiritual vision, enabling sinners to see that the gospel is indeed God’s truth, and Scripture is indeed God’s Word, and Christ is indeed God’s Son. Without the Holy Spirit, in one sense, there is no gospel and no New Testament; without the Holy Spirit, there is no faith and no new birth (regeneration).
Our response: do we acknowledge the authority of the Bible, the prophetic Old Testament and the apostolic New Testament which He inspired? Do we read and hear it with the reverence and receptiveness that are due to the Word of God? If not, we dishonour the Holy Spirit. In our life and outworking, do we apply the authority of the BIble and live by the Bible, recognising that God’s Word cannot but be true, and that what God has said He certainly means, and will stand to? If not, we dishonour the Holy Spirit, who gave us the Bible. In our witness, do we remember that it is the Holy Spirit alone who authenticates our witness; do we look to Him and trust Him to do so, and not depend on human cleverness and methods? If not, we dishonour the Spirit and fail to honour Him as His people and as His church.
The Holy Spirit is indispensably involved in our preservation or perseverance in the faith. This is elaborated in Ephesians: the Spirit is said to be the seal of our final redemption (Eph. 4:30). A seal is often regarded as a mark of ownership; to be sealed with the Spirit means to be set apart as one who belongs to God. In this verse, there is an added dimension: it also means that the Spirit will keep us in fellowship with God until the final day of redemption. (See also Eph. 1:13-14) – Here the Spirit is noted as a pledge, or a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance in Christ and nothing can take that away from us. In other words, if we have the Spirit within us, we have the assurance that the future glory which is our inheritance in Christ will someday be ours. He, the Holy Spirit, in a mysterious and wonderful way, enables us to persevere in the Christian walk until the day when we shall enter into our final inheritance on the glorified new earth.
Living by the Spirit’s guidance means waiting on the Spirit, asking what the Spirit would have us do, and where the Spirit would have us go. This entails daily study of the Bible, since the Spirit does not lead us apart from HIs Word. The better we know the Scriptures, the better we shall know how to live by the Spirit. Negatively, living by the Spirit’s guidance means to silence the clamor of fleshly voices, to quell the energy of fleshly haste, to restrain every impulse until it has been proved to be of God. Positively, it means to be guided by Him, to listen to Him as He reveals Himself in HIs Word, and to yield to HIm continually.
Living by the Spirit’s strength means leaning on Him for the necessary spiritual power. It means believing that the Spirit can give us strength adequate for everly need, asking for that power in prayer whenever we need it, and using that power by faith in meeting our daily problems. The only way we can live by the Spirit’s strength is to keep in constant touch with Him. An analogy may be helpful: there is a difference between a battery-operated radio and a plug-in radio. The latter must always be plugged in to the source of power in order to operate. The Spirit gives us strength, not on the battery principle, but on the plug-in principle: we need Him every hour!