Sabbath, January 28, 2017
“At all times and in all places, in all sorrows and in all afflictions, when the outlook seems dark and the future perplexing, and we feel helpless and alone, the Comforter will be sent in answer to the prayer of faith. Circumstances may separate us from every earthly friend; but no circumstance, no distance, can separate us from the heavenly Comforter. Wherever we are, wherever we may go, He is always at our right hand to support, sustain, uphold, and cheer.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 669, 670.
1. What supremely important, comforting promise did Jesus give His disciples before the great trial of the crucifixion? He was soon to return to the Father, but what would the other Comforter do?
John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.
“Before offering Himself as the sacrificial victim, Christ sought for the most essential and complete gift to bestow upon His followers, a gift that would bring within their reach the boundless resources of grace….
“Before this the Spirit had been in the world; from the very beginning of the work of redemption He had been moving upon men’s hearts. But while Christ was on earth, the disciples had desired no other helper. Not until they were deprived of His presence would they feel their need of the Spirit, and then He would come.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 668, 669.
“When Christ gave His disciples the promise of the Spirit, He was nearing the close of His earthly ministry. He was standing in the shadow of the cross, with a full realization of the load of guilt that was to rest upon Him as the Sin Bearer. Before offering Himself as the sacrificial victim, He instructed His disciples regarding a most essential and complete gift which He was to bestow upon His followers–the gift that would bring within their reach the boundless resources of His grace.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 47.
With and in them
2. In this context, what did Jesus say about the Holy Spirit? According to His words, who will receive this special gift? How close would be the relationship between the Spirit of truth and the Lord’s disciples?
John 14:17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
“Christ was about to depart to His home in the heavenly courts, but He assured His disciples that He would send them the Comforter, who would abide with them forever. To the guidance of this Comforter all may implicitly trust. He is the Spirit of truth; but this truth the world can neither see nor receive….” –That I May Know Him, p. 171.
“The Comforter is called ‘the Spirit of truth.’ His work is to define and maintain the truth. He first dwells in the heart as the Spirit of truth, and thus He becomes the Comforter. There is comfort and peace in the truth, but no real peace or comfort can be found in falsehood. It is through false theories and traditions that Satan gains his power over the mind. By directing men to false standards, he misshapes the character. Through the Scriptures the Holy Spirit speaks to the mind, and impresses truth upon the heart. Thus He exposes error, and expels it from the soul. It is by the Spirit of truth, working through the word of God, that Christ subdues His chosen people to Himself.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 671.
Teaching and bringing to remembrance
3. Would the teaching of the Comforter be restricted or limited? What would He bring to their remembrance?
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 disciples still failed to understand Christ’s words in their spiritual sense, and again He explained His meaning. By the Spirit, He said, He would manifest Himself to them. ‘The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things.’ No more will you say, I cannot comprehend. No longer will you see through a glass, darkly. You shall ‘be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.’ Ephesians 3:18, 19.
“The disciples were to bear witness to the life and work of Christ. Through their word He was to speak to all the people on the face of the earth. But in the humiliation and death of Christ they were to suffer great trial and disappointment. That after this experience their word might be accurate, Jesus promised that the Comforter should ‘bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.’ “ –The Desire of Ages, p. 670.
4. Were the disciples in a condition to understand everything that the Master wished to teach them? Therefore, what extensive work would the Holy Spirit do at the proper time?
John 16:12, 13 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.
“Jesus had opened before His disciples a vast tract of truth. But it was most difficult for them to keep His lessons distinct from the traditions and maxims of the scribes and Pharisees. They had been educated to accept the teaching of the rabbis as the voice of God, and it still held a power over their minds, and molded their sentiments. Earthly ideas, temporal things, still had a large place in their thoughts. They did not understand the spiritual nature of Christ’s kingdom, though He had so often explained it to them. Their minds had become confused. They did not comprehend the value of the scriptures Christ presented. Many of His lessons seemed almost lost upon them. Jesus saw that they did not lay hold of the real meaning of His words. He compassionately promised that the Holy Spirit should recall these sayings to their minds. And He had left unsaid many things that could not be comprehended by the disciples. These also would be opened to them by the Spirit. The Spirit was to quicken their understanding, that they might have an appreciation of heavenly things. ‘When He, the Spirit of truth, is come,’ said Jesus, ‘He will guide you into all truth.’ “ –The Desire of Ages, pp. 670, 671.
Inspiration to testify of Jesus
5. What other mission would the Holy Spirit carry out in the name of Jesus?
John 16:14; 15:26 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you…. 15:26But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.
“Of the Spirit Jesus said, ‘He shall glorify Me.’ The Saviour came to glorify the Father by the demonstration of His love; so the Spirit was to glorify Christ by revealing His grace to the world. The very image of God is to be reproduced in humanity. The honor of God, the honor of Christ, is involved in the perfection of the character of His people.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 671.
“The Comforter that Christ promised to send after He ascended to heaven, is the Spirit in all the fullness of the Godhead, making manifest the power of divine grace to all who receive and believe in Christ as a personal Saviour.” –Evangelism, p. 615.
Change and regeneration
6. What deep, powerful work is necessary to convince people of sin and give them the desire and power to be transformed?
John 16:8-11 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
“ ‘When He [the Spirit of truth] is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.’ The preaching of the word will be of no avail without the continual presence and aid of the Holy Spirit. This is the only effectual teacher of divine truth. Only when the truth is accompanied to the heart by the Spirit will it quicken the conscience or transform the life. One might be able to present the letter of the word of God, he might be familiar with all its commands and promises; but unless the Holy Spirit sets home the truth, no souls will fall on the Rock and be broken. No amount of education, no advantages, however great, can make one a channel of light without the cooperation of the Spirit of God. The sowing of the gospel seed will not be a success unless the seed is quickened into life by the dew of heaven. Before one book of the New Testament was written, before one gospel sermon had been preached after Christ’s ascension, the Holy Spirit came upon the praying apostles. Then the testimony of their enemies was, ‘Ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine.’ Acts 5:28.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 671, 672.
Promise and obedience
7. Was the Lord’s great promise of the Holy Spirit limited to the disciples of the first century? To whom has He given this special gift?
Acts 2:39; 5:32 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call…. 5:32And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.
“Christ has promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to His church, and the promise belongs to us as much as to the first disciples. But like every other promise, it is given on conditions. There are many who believe and profess to claim the Lord’s promise; they talk about Christ and about the Holy Spirit, yet receive no benefit. They do not surrender the soul to be guided and controlled by the divine agencies. We cannot use the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is to use us…. But many will not submit to this. They want to manage themselves. This is why they do not receive the heavenly gift. Only to those who wait humbly upon God, who watch for His guidance and grace, is the Spirit given. The power of God awaits their demand and reception. This promised blessing, claimed by faith, brings all other blessings in its train. It is given according to the riches of the grace of Christ, and He is ready to supply every soul according to the capacity to receive.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 672.
“Then let us cease to look to ourselves, but look to Him from whom all virtue comes. No one can make himself better, but we are to come to Jesus as we are, earnestly desiring to be cleansed from every spot and stain of sin, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit…. By living faith we must lay hold of His promise….“ –Reflecting Christ, p. 213.
– What spiritual conditions prevailed in the early church when the Lord granted the gift of the Spirit?
– What wonderful effects followed the descent of the Spirit in the preaching of the message?
– What is the divine purpose in giving the Spirit of truth to His people today?
For additional study
The Desire of Ages, pp. 668-672.
“Christ determined that when He ascended from this earth He would bestow a gift on those who had believed on Him and those who should believe on Him. What gift could He bestow rich enough to signalize and grace His ascension to the mediatorial throne? It must be worthy of His greatness and His royalty. He determined to give His representative, the third person of the Godhead. This gift could not be excelled. He would give all gifts in one, and therefore the divine Spirit, that converting, enlightening, and sanctifying power, would be His donation.” –My Life Today, p. 36.
“Some have asked, What shall I do to receive the Holy Ghost? Ask God to search your hearts as with a lighted candle. Do nothing for selfish gratification. Suppose that Christ’s professed followers were representatives of Christ in our earth; would not worldlings see this and take knowledge of such that they had learned of Jesus? Will not such be a power? We want the religion of Christ. This will bring forth the fruits of love, joy, and peace.” –Christ Triumphant, p. 300.
“The Holy Spirit is Christ’s representative, but divested of the personality of humanity, and independent thereof. Cumbered with humanity, Christ could not be in every place personally. Therefore it was for their interest that He should go to the Father, and send the Spirit to be His successor on earth…. By the Spirit the Saviour would be accessible to all. In this sense He would be nearer to them than if He had not ascended on high.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 669.