In the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth, chapters of John we have instruction that was given to his disciples by our Saviour just before he left them; and in these chapters we find some most precious lessons. The promise is the gift of the Spirit. I will first sketch through these chapters somewhat brieﬂy, and then take up more particularly some of the instruction given in them. In the early part of the fourteenth chapter our Saviour spoke of his going away, and of his promise to return again. Then he spoke of the fact that those who saw him, really saw the character of his Father in him, and that they were to believe him for the very work’s sake.
Beginning with the fifteenth verse, I read, “If ye love me keep my commandments, and I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever.” That is, I will ask the Father, I will make a request of him; and there is the promise, “he shall give you another Comforter.” Christ is speaking to them of a second, or another Comforter. Who was the first Comforter? If there was to be another, there must have been a first one.
There is, perhaps, a general misapprehension as to the real meaning of this word Comforter. It is not simply one who comforts in distress, although he does all that. The idea is more that of a helper. So the Revised Version suggests as a rendering, this word, “helper.” “I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Comforter, another helper, another advocate.”
The same word exactly is found in this scripture: “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 2:1. We have an Advocate, we have a Comforter, we have a Helper with the Father. Now this was written after Christ had ascended, but it was after the gift of the Spirit in that special way, after the Comforter had come to the disciples on the earth. The idea of a counselor, a helper, on adviser, is all in this word, and you may look at it in this way: that Christ sitteth at the right hand of the Father; he is an Advocate, or Helper, or Comforter there. The Spirit is with us here. That is our Comforter, Helper, Advocate here. If we take up the legal figure of an advocate; “he ever liveth to make intercession for us.” Not in the sense that his work is to incline the Father to be favorable to us when he otherwise would be unfavorable, but he ever liveth at the right hand of the Father as our Advocate, our Helper, our Comforter, to talk with the Father about us. That is the idea of it.
But we have an adversary who is talking also. He says, How can you save such sinful creatures as these are? they are all covered with sin. We do not deny the charge; we cannot do that; but we trust in Christ and his blood to cleanse. When the adversary stands in the presence of God and makes that charge, as represented in the third chapter of Zachariah, when Joshua stood before God clothed with filthy garments, and Satan stood there to accuse him, and oppose him,-when Satan makes that charge in the presence of the angels, we have an advocate there who speaks just as our advocate speaks, “The blood of Christ cleanseth. “He speaks that word to us when Satan opposes here. When Satan opposes us there, we have an advocate who ever liveth and talks with the Father about us; and when the adversary says, How can you save such sinful creatures? they have sinned, they have rebelled, they have disobeyed, the advocate says, True, but, My blood! my blood! my blood!
So we have an advocate there, a counselor who is always at court, who is always watching, as it were, to see whether the enemy would suddenly bring up our case and cause it to go against us. We have an advocate right there who ever liveth to speak to the Father about our cases when they come up. But besides that, we have, as it were, an advocate right with us, a kind of confidential counselor who stays right by us, who speaks the same words of comfort, the same words of hope, the same words of instruction to us as are spoken in our behalf in the heavenly courts, when our cases are considered there.
So the promise is, He shall give you another comforter, another helper, another advocate, another counselor, that he may abide with you forever; that he may be with you forever. It is interesting to notice that this is just the promise of Christ before he went away: “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” He shall give you another Comforter that he may remain with you, abide with you, be with you forever.
Christ is going away, but the Comforter that he sends to take his place, to be the other Comforter, the other advocate, the other helper, was not to go away. He was to be with us forever, to the “end of the age,” all the time; “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. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” The better word is, I am coming. We use our present tense in that way-I am coming; it gives a more emphatic idea of the suddenness or nearness of the thing. So, we might say, I will not leave you comfortless; I will not leave you bereft of a Comforter, a helper, an advocate, a counselor; I am coming to you.
“Yet a little while and the world seeth me no more: but ye see me; because I live, ye shall live also. At that time ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me and I in you.” Verses 19, 20. Now that is the union by the Spirit of Christ. When that comes you will know that I and the Father are one, and you will know that you and I are one.
I noticed an illustration the other day which seemed to me very striking for a simple one, how it was that we can be in Christ and Christ in us at the same time. It was this: You ﬁll a bottle with sea-water and drop it in the sea. The bottle is filled with the sea, and the sea is in the bottle, and the bottle is in the sea; but the sea that is in the bottle and the bottle and all are buried in the sea, and there is room for lots of bottles full in the sea. Of course you do not want to carry that figure too far and say, Bottle it up and keep it there.
The idea is simply, Christ in us, and we in him, and all lost in him, so to speak; he in us, and we in him; that closeness of union. “He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will live in him, and will manifest myself in him.” Verse 21. We can render it this way: I am about to manifest myself, or I am going to manifest myself to them. “Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?” You see he had been with them in the world, and the world could see him just as plainly as the disciples could see him. Now he says, I am going away; but I am coming again, and I will manifest myself to you, and the world shall not see me.
That was a very natural question for one who did not understand the spiritual meaning of it. How is that going to be? How is it that he will manifest himself to us and others cannot see him? “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my word: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.” Verses 23, 24. Notice, through all that the idea s that the Spirit is in his word and the word is Christ and “he that loveth me and keepeth my words, and I come; “and then the word of Christ dwells in him richly in all wisdom.
“These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you; but the Comforter, [the helper, the counselor,] which is the Holy Ghost [Holy Spirit], whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance whatever I have said unto you.”
“The Father was to send another Comforter. Christ has been a comfort, a help, a counselor and a friend to his disciples. Now he would send the Holy Ghost, another Comforter. Christ is still an advocate, a helper, a counselor right now; and he shall teach you, shall instruct in all things, and bring to your remembrance all things whatsoever I have said unto you. Now notice that the characteristic of the Spirit that I spoke of the other evening begins to come in here as a natural result of the promise of the Spirit. You will remember that when Christ had passed into the holiest, and the faith of those who were looking for him there, reached him, they prayed, “My father give us thy Spirit. Then Jesus would breathe upon them the Holy Ghost. In that breath was life, power, and much love, joy and peace.” Having given the promise of the Spirit, he begins to tell right away what would be the consequences of receiving it. There would be peace and joy. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Now understand this principle that pervades the whole Scripture, that what Christ says to his disciples, he says to every disciple of his from that time to the present. When he spoke to his disciples, he saw all of his disciples, to the very last one. So he saw us. Hence his words to them are just as much to you and me as to them. So he says, Peace, and this comes when we receive the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, etc. And he says: “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Ye have, heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.”
Now comes in the instruction with reference to the union of Christ and his disciples, that wonderful lesson based upon the vine and the branches. But that union is the natural result of the Spirit. These chapters really all deal with the gift of the Spirit and the result of receiving it, and these explanations that come in between the passages where the Spirit is spoken of are only showing the results of its reception. Therefore, these lessons are upon the union of the disciples with him. This same Spirit which brings a union between the disciples and him brings a union also between the disciples themselves. On this point I read from this little “Testimony to Ministers,” page 32:-
“The people of God can be united only through the power of the Holy Ghost, and this is the union which will stand the test.”
You see we are dissimilar in tastes and purposes, and thoughts, and all that. And the meaning of this is, that it brings us into harmony. There must be the power of the Holy Ghost which unites us to Christ, which brings his mind, his likeness to us, and which brings us near together, into union and harmony one with another.
“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” Verse 10, chapter 15. The first fruit of the Spirit is love, and so he is speaking about abiding in love. “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” Verse 11. You will remember that with the manifestation of the Spirit there is not only light and power, but much joy, much love, much peace. So then this comes in naturally about this instruction concerning the gift of the Spirit and its offices. “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” Verses 12-14.
“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” Verses 18, 19. Why does this instruction about the world hating one come in here? To my mind the reason is this: The gift of the Spirit separates one from the world; gives him a character entirely different from the character of the world. Now the one thing that stirs up a feeling against the Christian more than anything else is that he shall manifest the character of Christ. The devil does not care how much we profess Christianity: in fact, he likes to have a goodly number merely professing Christianity; he likes to have them nominally accept the Sabbath and this message, because they do more harm in that way than as though they rejected Christ.
But one who really receives Christ and his Spirit in his heart becomes at once an aggressive disciple of Christ; and an aggressive disciple of Christ will stir up opposition always. It does not mean that he goes out in a ﬁerce, deﬁant spirit; but there is this controversy between light and darkness, between Christ and Satan, and just as soon as anyone manifests any zeal in behalf of Christ, just that moment the opposition is stirred against him. So when one receives the Spirit of Christ, and is endowed with it, and goes out as an aggressive disciple of Christ, he will at once meet with opposition, and the world will hate him; hence this instruction. This is true of all genuine disciples of Christ. “The friendship of the world is enmity with God.” “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” It is to “come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing,”-sin in any form. Then there will be a mark of distinction, and the world and the flesh and the devil will hate such an aggressive disciple of Christ, who is endowed with the Spirit.
“Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his Lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.” Verses 20, 21. “But 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.” Verse 26. Then the servant of Christ, in whom the Spirit dwells will have just one theme, and that is to testify of Christ, to preach Christ. That will be his whole theme, because when that Comforter is come “He shall testify of me.” He will testify to us of Christ, and then through us he will testify to others of Christ. He will bear witness of Christ.
“And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.” Verse 27. Do you bear witness also? He shall bear witness of me; he shall instruct you about me. Now when he instructs you about me, and he dwells in you, Do you also bear witness of me, because you have been with me from the beginning? “These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.” “They shall put you out of the synagogues [the church]: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he death God service.” They shall be put to death unless they yield obedience to the beast and to his image; and they will think that in doing that they are doing God service. “And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.” John 16:1-3. “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you.” Verse 7. That is, it is for your advantage that I go away, so that the Comforter, the helper, the counselor, the advocate, should come.
“And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment;” or, He will convince the world concerning sin, and concerning righteousness, and concerning judgment. “Of sin, because they believe not on me of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit 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.” Verses 8-13. You will remember that Christ did not speak of himself: “As the Father said unto me, so I speak.”
“For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me.” “He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.” Verse 14.
Now notice that these are deﬁnite promises to you and to me. We have read these scriptures over too easily altogether, and now we want to get them as deﬁnite, personal promises. Is he showing us things to come? “All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.” Verses 15, 16. Then they began to make inquiry of him and ask questions; and he answered them and told them that he was going away, and the last words of this chapter are:” These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Verse 33.Be of good cheer; be of-good comfort; cheer up! cheer up! Almost his last words with them were, I am going away; ye shall have tribulation; but, cheer up! It’s all right; be of good courage. Do not let your heart be troubled. I am your comfort. I am with you always. Go on!
Then comes this remarkable prayer of the seventeenth chapter. I will not take time to read it all. You are familiar with it. I begin at the twentieth verse: “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.” I want to think, every time I read that prayer, that Christ prayed for me just as much as he did for those disciples, and had me in mind just as much as those disciples who heard him in prayer, and that, I can take the comfort to myself that Christ prayed for me, and that that prayer is still for me. He prayed not alone for them, but for all, “That they all may be one as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” Verse 21. That is the result of receiving the Spirit. It brings unity. He gave gifts unto men. It was that they might get into the unity of the faith.
There is a bond of union in the Spirit that binds together as nothing else will do. And this prayer of Christ for us,—for you and me, was that we might be one, just as he and the Father were one. If that were so, brethren, there would not be the least bit of bickering, there would not be the least bit of suspicion about one another. What a blessed condition of things that would be that oneness between brethren that was between Christ and the Father. Why! He delighted to do his Father’s will. They were one in thought; one in purpose; one in act; theirs was the perfection of union. He said to Philip, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” Their characters were the same exactly. He manifested the character of God.
Now we are to manifest the character of Christ for he said to his disciples:” As the Father hath sent me, even so send I you,” and the Spirit of Christ the mind of Christ, dwelling in the hearts of the believers draws them together and binds them together in the bond of Christian love and fellowship God wants all estrangement, all alienation, all suspicion, all questioning, all bickering, and everything of that kind to be put aside. That is not the fruit of the Spirit; it is the very opposite of it. It is the devil working to bring in strife, to bring in difference; it is the devil working to bring in anything and everything that will turn us away from Christ, and what Christ is for us. And anyone, and I say it plainly, who allows himself to be used to speak words of suspicion, words of estrangement, words of accusation, words of alienation, is simply a mouthpiece for the devil. That is just what he is. And it is ever so much worse for one to do that who has known God and the pardoning love of Christ. It is worse in; him, and the results are worse. Let us not do it any more.
Now let us go back a little, because these chapters bear a very close and careful study Chapter 14:16 The first promise is,” I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever.” Now let us see in this study that the promise of the Spirit is the promise of Christ himself; that it is through the Spirit that’ Christ is with us. Remember that expression in “Early Writings “to which I call attention again, that when the Spirit was given, that is, when Christ breathed the Holy Ghost, there was much love, joy, and peace with it. These are the fruits of the Spirit Turn with me now to Steps to Christ, 84. Speaking of the disciples after the ascension of Christ and of their bringing their requests in the name of the Father, we read.:-
“And Pentecost brought them the presence of the Comforter, of whom Christ had said, ‘he shall be in you,’ And be had further said, It Is expedient for you that I go away; for If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but If I depart I will send ﬁlm unto you.’ Henceforth through the Spirit, Christ was to abide continually in the hearts of his children.”
Let us read Ephesians 3:16, 17. “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be Strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” With that scripture put this thought: Henceforth through the Spirit Christ was to abide continually in the hearts of his children. Their union with him was closer than when he was personally with them. Have you ever thought that if you could have lived when Christ was here upon earth it would have been a very easy thing to believe on him? and it would have been a wonderful experience if you could have seen right there with him; but if we only receive him through the Spirit the union is closer now than it was then. The truth is, we do not believe that it is so and that is the reason why it is not fulfilled to us. The way to believe that is to thank God that it is true, and then we can rejoice in it.
Let us read the next sentence in this Testimony: “The light, and love, and power of the indwelling Christ shone out through them, so that men, beholding, marveled.” The light, and love, and power is the Spirit that is to be given to us. There was to be much light and power in it, and also much love, joy, peace. Here it says: “The light, and love, and power of the indwelling Christ shone out through them.” This is true, and the union is to be closer than when he was upon the earth. Now is that so in our experience? Is he with us always? We do not have to go to Jerusalem to see if he will come to the feast. He is at this feast; he is with you at home and abroad; no matter where I am, he is with me. Now that is a beautiful theory, but what we want to do in order for it to beneﬁt us, is to open the door and let him in, and believe he is there and does abide with us continually.
Then his indwelling presence will appear in our lives. When he comes to dwell with us he wants to make use of us as instruments of righteousness. He is not the minister of sin. Every word that is spoken should be a word of Christ; every ‘act that is performed should be an act of Christ. O, well, then, you say, we are to be infallible, and that is fanatical, and so I cannot go with you on that theory. I do not want you to go with me on that theory; I want you to go with me on that practice. You just let the Lord take care of that, and see how nicely he will do it.
It is a fact, now, that we stand and wait for every thing to be explained, when it cannot be explained. It is utterly useless for me to take time to try to explain these things. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God,” “because they are spiritually discerned.” The only way to learn these things is by experience, and that experience comes by believing them before we understand them; and the way to understand them is to believe them; it is the only way that his ever been known. You find a person who has known the spiritual life and experience, the blessed experience of Christ’s dwelling in him, and he is not around asking you how it can be so. No. He is around praising the Lord that it is so; it is a great deal better experience to praise the Lord that it is true. Do not ask how these things can be so. I cannot understand it, do not try to understand it; let Christ come in himself.
You will remember that the Tabernacle did not have any windows at all, and the covering outside looked black, almost ugly. Suppose someone had come along in the wilderness and seen the Tabernacle, and said, What a homely, dark object that is, I would not think the priests would like it. But, when they went inside it was all filled with light and beauty. Come inside, brethren, it is all light, beauty, joy, glory inside. But, if we stand outside and look at it, it does not look that way. Don’t stand outside; come inside. There are mysteries connected with the indwelling of Christ in the heart that we shall study to all eternity, and we shall just praise God to all eternity for the wonders of his grace. Yet, so far as this is concerned it is just as simple us that two and two are four, because we enjoy the experience when we cannot explain it when we are not called upon to explain it.
Why, if we were obliged to explain everything which we enjoy before we enjoy it, we should never enjoy many things, because when we come right down to try to explain to a man how it is that when, he puts bread and grains, fruit and milk, and other articles in the mouth, and they become flesh, bone, etc., he could not do it. When you come to me and say you will not eat again until you understand how that is, it will be very inexpensive board for you, brethren, for some time to come. It is the same thing with the spiritual. Why should anyone stand outside, and refuse to receive the light and power and blessing of Christ dwelling in him, because he cannot explain that power and cannot answer every objection to it. Go right on eating, even if you cannot explain everything. Christ dwells within by the Spirit that comes to us.
We can have enough in that one promise that we took up there, to make our hearts glad to all eternity. It has seemed to me as we have taken up this study, that some of us were waiting for something beyond, without taking the blessings that are right here. They are just as full of light and glory and power as they can be, Now, the Lord wants us to receive his Spirit right, now; he wants our hearts open all the time to receive it. The heart is opened by confession and repentance of our sins, by a spirit of contrition, by a permanent sense of unworthiness, and not being lifted up when he gives us of his grace and his power. And we are to receive the Spirit in that fullness that we are to rejoice in the Lord all the time.
“My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.” “He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.” I can say that all the time; if anyone asks me, Have you lived so many years without sin? I will lay hold of the Lord: “He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.” “Be strong in the Lord.” “Rejoice in the Lord.” Everything is in the Lord. Let us receive the light and receive everything in the Lord.
Taken from the General Conference Daily Bulletin, February 23, 1893