John 16:15


He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. Thus our Lord sums up the work of the Holy Spirit within the Church. He had just said that the Comforter is not to come as it were on an isolated and independent mission. "He shall not speak of himself." For, though he is another Comforter, he is not a second Mediator between God and man. He is not a second Redeemer, Prophet, Priest, and King. No; there is but one Name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. The office of the Holy Spirit is to reveal to us that Name. He is to limit himself, if we may so speak, to bearing witness concerning Christ. This may be said with perfect reverence. Doubtless to the infinite Spirit of the Eternal all secrets of creation and providence, and all the most hidden things of the Divine counsels, lie open; they are all his own. But mark! it is not to reveal these that he comes as the Church's Comforter, the one economy of grace that is the sphere of his mission, the one mystery of godliness that he has taken upon himself to disclose. He is to continue Christ's own instructions. He is to guide the disciples, step by step, "into all the truth," the whole truth as it is in Jesus.

I. THIS PROMISE WAS LARGELY FULFILLED IN THE MINISTRY OF THE APOSTLES THEMSELVES AFTER PENTECOST. They knew all the facts of our Lord's history already - his birth of a virgin, his death on the cross, and his resurrection and ascension into glory. But they were not left to themselves to interpret these facts and explain their spiritual meaning. Far from it; their eyes were opened, and their understandings guided from above. They and the Apostle Paul, who was ere long to be added to their company, had the mighty work entrusted to them of explaining to all ages the true significance of the mission of Christ in the flesh. They were inspired to do this. A wisdom not their own was given to them. They were no longer "fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets had spoken." Formerly they had been like children; now they were men of full age, and became the authoritative heralds and expounders of the gospel. Paul was fully conscious of this when he said, "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts," etc. (2 Corinthians 4:6). It is important to observe the order, so to say, of the Spirit's revelations concerning Christ. The great outstanding facts, as just noted, of our Lord's manifestation to men are

(1) his incarnation;

(2) his cross;

(3) his crown.

It is around these that all the doctrines of the faith are clustered; out of these facts they may be said to grow. From the very first - that is to say from Pentecost - the Holy Spirit bore a certain witness concerning them all. But in what order did he bring them into prominence? Which did he first show forth in light and glory to the eyes of men? Plainly it was not the birth of Christ, but his exaltation to the right hand of God. This was the great and urgent theme of Pentecost and of the days which immediately followed (see the Book of Acts). The words of the Apostle Peter," God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified both Lord and Christ," - these words were the beginning of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. And then, as time went on, the full meaning of the cross was unfolded, and the Apostle Paul, who, above all things, preached Christ crucified, was inspired to declare it as no one else had done. And, last of all, the deep mystery of Christ's incarnation, how "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us," - that in its turn was chiefly explored by the beloved disciple John. Thus, through the illumination of the same Spirit, the crown shed its light upon the cross, and the cross and the crown shed their united light on the cradle. The ripe fruit, the imperishable record of all this, is to be found in the Scriptures of the New Testament. How did the Spirit of truth glorify Jesus in guiding and inspiring their human authors! What a revelation do they contain of the Person and work, the mind and heart, of the Holy One, never to be superseded by any newer Testament so long as the world lasts!

II. THIS PROMISE HAS BEEN FURTHER FULFILLED IN THE SUBSEQUENT HISTORY AND LIFE OF THE CHURCH. It was by no means exhausted when the eyewitnesses and first ministers of the Word had gone to their rest, leaving behind them the memory of their oral teaching and the Books of the New Testament. So far from this, it has ever been by the Spirit of truth that the voice of Christ, even in the Scriptures, has continued to be audible and mighty, and that his presence in any of the means of grace has been realized. We are warned that the letter killeth; and, alas! there have been Churches whose candlestick has been removed out of its place. But in each living Christian community there are men whose lips and hearts are touched by fire from God's altar, that they may interpret the gospel to their own times and their own brethren. Like householders, they bring forth out of their treasures things new and old. By their spoken words, by their written treatises, perhaps by their hymns of faith and hope, they declare afresh to those around them the unsearchable riches of Christ. In its essence and substance their message is still the same - "That which was from the beginning;" in its form and expression it varies with the aspects of providence and the problems of human life. In Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and the age will never come when these treasures shall be exhausted, or the Spirit's ministry of revelation shall cease. "The world will come to an end when Christianity shall have spoken its last word" (Vinet). Great, indeed, is the responsibility of Christian pastors and teachers, called as they are to be fellow-workers with God. The means of grace, the lively oracles, are committed especially to their trust. It is theirs to trim the lamps of life in a dark world; it is theirs to feed the flock of Christ, to stand by the wells of salvation and draw water for every one that is athirst. And who is sufficient for these things? But it is the Master's work, and here is the promise which he has given for the encouragement of all his servants. Light and power from on high are assured by it, and God will give his Spirit to them that ask him.

III. THIS PROMISE IS CONSTANTLY FULFILLED IN ALL TRUE CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE; for in the case of each individual believer the Holy Spirit takes of the things of Christ, and shows them to his soul. It is no doubt true that the gospel record is the common property of all mankind, and that any man in the mere exercise of his natural intelligence can see clearly enough how the great doctrines of the faith are founded on the record, and grow out of it. And thus, in point of fact, there are thousands who look upon Christ as a great historical Teacher, and content themselves with making what we may call an intellectual study of his own words and those of his apostles. But his true disciples go further, much further than this. How shall we express the thoughts of their hearts about Christ? May we not say that these correspond to his own words, "Behold, I am alive for evermore;" "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world"? They think of him not as a Being separated from them by eighteen long centuries of time, but as One who is really, though spiritually, present with them, at once human and Divine. They habitually rejoice in his exaltation as "Lord of all." They feel a present peace in the blood of his cross. They bow before the mystery of his taking on him our nature. His authority over them is supreme, and altogether welcome. His example is ever immeasurably in advance of them, though they humbly seek to follow it; and his words are like no other words - spirit and life to their hearts. And we may say that these feelings and convictions of Christ's disciples are altogether reasonable - that is to say, they are entirely in accordance with the supernatural fact that Jesus is the Son of God. But whence came these convictions? Whence their depth and their permanence and their power? There is but one explanation, and we find it in the promise before us: "The Spirit of truth shall receive of mine," etc. Not that he brings any fresh tidings from the invisible world concerning Christ, or adds a single fact or truth to what the Scriptures contain; but to those who resist not his teaching he manifests what is already known in its reality and glory. He opens their eyes, purges their vision, sweeps away the veil that comes between them and their Lord. And it is ever the same Christ that the Spirit of truth reveals to the soul of man; and yet under his teaching what room there is for variety and progress of spiritual apprehension! The same sun puts on a different glory every hour of the longest day. His light is as various as the lands on which he shines; and so it is with Christ, our unchanging Sun of Righteousness - himself "the same yesterday, and today, and forever." He has an aspect for every period of life, and for all life's great vicissitudes, to those who believe. In childhood he may chiefly appear as a gentle Shepherd, in youth as an earnest Counselor, in manhood as a mighty King, and in the evening of life, when its battles are well-nigh over, and its companions scattered, as a faithful, never-dying Friend. What is the result of this teaching of the Spirit of truth? Under his illumination the soul cannot remain unchanged. It is true that here below Christians see through a glass darkly - not yet face to face. Still, amid all the imperfections of the life of faith, what they do see of the glory of Christ makes them see all things in new light, and judge all things by a new standard. The world cannot be to them what it was before, for their horizon widens out far beyond its frontiers. Self can no longer be their idol, for they have become conscious of a Presence which raises them above themselves. In their own measure and degree "they have the mind of Christ." Grandly and powerfully does the Apostle Paul describe the ultimate effect of the Spirit's teaching: "We all, with open face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are changed," etc. (2 Corinthians 3:18).

IV. In conclusion, WHO SHALL PUT BOUNDS OR LIMITS TO THE FULFILLMENT OF THIS PROMISE IN THE FUTURE? We know that men shall be blessed in Christ, and all nations shall call him blessed. On this earth, where he was despised and rejected, he is yet to be crowned with glory and honor from the rising to the setting sun. Human life in all its departments is to be gladdened by his presence, inspired by his example, molded by his will. Through what means, or after what convulsions or shakings of the nations, this is to be brought about we cannot tell; but it will not be by human might or power, but by the Spirit of the Holy One, that the grand result will be achieved. It is written that "he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations;" and when that veil is rent from the top to the bottom, then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. - G.B.







All things that the Father hath are Mine.
I. CHRIST HAS A LEGAL RIGHT TO THE PROPERTY OF THE FATHER. Because He has —

1. A natural right to it, as He is God.

2. A federal right as Mediator, i.e., God the Father and God the Son are represented in Scripture as having agreed together in a covenant respecting the salvation of the human race. It was in this agreement that God the Father made over all the blessings that He had unto Jesus Christ.

3. A donative right as Saviour (John 3:35).

4. An acquisitive right as Conqueror. Suppose two individuals are combating for some property or privilege, and this is to belong to the individual who comes off victorious; you say of him afterwards, "he has acquired that." Just so Christ came into the world to contend with sin and Satan for us, and He came off victorious.

5. A hereditary right as God's Son and Heir (Hebrews 1:2.)

II. SOME OF THOSE "ALL THINGS" WHICH JESUS CHRIST IS SAID TO HAVE.

1. All the perfections of God. If, as is said, in 1 Corinthians 1:24, He is the power of God and the wisdom of God, then all the rest must be His.

2. The glory of the Father (Hebrews 1:3).

3. All the fulness of the Father (Colossians 1:19; Colossians 2:19).

III. IN WHAT SENSE ARE ALL THINGS CHRIST'S?

1. Substantially, not figuratively or nominally, but really.

2. Communicatively. Some persons may possess great and inestimable treasures, but they may not have the power of communicating them. But Christ possesses "all things" for the express purpose of communicating them (John 1:16). He has pardon for our sins, and we have received it; He has justification for our souls, and He has imputed it, &c.

3. Sufficiently (Psalm 107:9).

4. Efficiently. It shall be really applied to the heart, and go to the extent which necessity requires. There may be many things that may be said to be sufficient and yet not efficient. Some of us may have enough for ourselves and others, but it is not efficient unless they partake of it.

5. Unchangeably.

6. Eternally. "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life."

IV. FOR WHAT REASON IT IS SO ARRANGED THAT THE FATHER'S PROPERTY IS CHRIST'S.

1. The right and the property of no party is lost. The Father has the same property as the Son, and the Son has the same property as the Spirit.

2. Herein is seen the pleasure of the Father, the pleasure of the Son, and the pleasure of the Holy Spirit.

3. Here is God's honour in choosing His people; Christ's honour in redeeming them, and the Spirit's honour in regenerating them.

(T. B. Baker, M. A.)

I once heard a father tell, that when he removed his family to a new residence, where the accommodation was much more ample, and the substance much more rich and varied, his youngest son, yet a lisping infant, ran round every room, and scanned every article with ecstasy, calling out, in childish wonder at every new sight, "Is this ours, father? and is this ours?" The child did not say "yours," and I observed that the father while he told the story was not offended with the freedom. You could read in his glistening eye that the infant's confidence in appropriating as his own all that his father had, was an important element in his satisfaction. Such, I suppose, will be the surprise, and joy, and appropriating confidence, with which the child of our Father's family will count all his own, when he is removed from the comparatively mean condition of things present, and enters the infinite of things to come. When the glories of heaven burst upon his view, he does not stand at a distance, like a stranger, saying, "O God, these are Thine." He bounds forward to touch and taste every provision which those blessed mansions contain, exclaiming, as he looks in the Father's face, "Father, this and this is ours." The dear child is glad of all the Father's riches, and the Father is gladder of His dear child.

(W. Arnot.)

The Holy Spirit is given for the purpose of restoring to spiritual truth its natural and reasonable efficiency. It is as though we had our eyes fixed on a book in the deep gloom of twilight. We believe that the page reveals truth, we know the language in which it is written; but the light is so imperfect, that, though here and there we can distinguish a capital letter, and now and then decipher a word, yet we are unable to make out distinctly a single sentence. But let light now fall upon the page, and every word and every letter is instantly revealed, the thought of the writer beams upon our understanding, and the channel of communication between His mind and ours is, for the time, fully established. Very similar to this is the case before us. We read and we hear about God, the Judge of all, and Christ, the Redeemer of men, about sin and repentance, heaven and hell, the wages of guilt and the reward of holiness, and we care so little about them that the words hardly awaken a thought, or leave a trace upon our recollection. But let now the Holy Spirit show these things of Christ unto us, and they are at once invested with the terrors or the joys of a most solemn reality.

(F. Wayland, D. D.)

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