“Jesus’ Promise of the Holy Ghost - Part I”

In John chapter 14:26, Jesus gives a most wondrous promise, He says that “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.”

There is no doubt that there has been much misunderstanding about the doctrine of the Holy Ghost, and yet it’s also true that this is a subject that we, as God’s people need to understand. Otherwise we will be as those of whom the Apostle Paul wrote about in Eph 4:14, that are “children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.” It’s my intention to try to dispel some of the current confusion concerning the understanding of the work of the Holy Ghost, as we look at the Lord’s promises concerning Him in John 14. These are the words of spiritual truth spoken to us…whom He says in verse 15, where He says, “if ye love Me, keep my commandments.” Notice that the Lord says, “IF…ye love Me keep My commandments.” These words are directed at those who are His followers, the ones who have denied themselves, and taken up their crosses, and followed Him. The promise of our Lord Jesus is NOT to the world, but only to His elect, and further more it is specifically to the “very elect” (see Mat 24:24). And He goes on to give us many answers to such questions as; who is the Holy Ghost? Is the Spirit a person, or simply a power? Why does the Holy Ghost come? And why does it matter to me?

We as Old Baptist are not to live our lives without understanding; we have the words of Jesus as our guide, and so it’s my desire to understand the PERSON of the Holy Ghost, as well as his ministry.

To start with lets look at a passage of scripture preceding chapter fourteen. John 13:31 down to verse 36, Jesus is telling His disciples that He is about to go away, and Peter in verse 36-37, says to the Lord, “whither goest Thou?” And Jesus answered saying, “whither I go, thou canst not follow Me now; but thou shalt follow Me afterwards.” To which Peter said, “Lord, why cannot I follow Thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake.

Which brings us down to chapter 14, verse 1, with the words of Jesus again, He said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me.” Troubled? Troubled about what? The answer to that question was that Jesus was about to die and be buried and then ascend into heaven. And that’s why He was giving them His assurance that even though He was leaving them; He was not going to leave them abandoned and all alone. Yes, He was going away, and now understandably His beloved disciples were of a heavy heart, and Jesus knew this, and now He was giving them the comfort of a very special promise. And we can also take comfort in the knowledge that because it’s Jesus who was making the promise, and that He’s not only willing to make the promise, but that He also has the eternal integrity and ability to keep His promise.

Among the many profound and significant promises our Lord made during His life and ministry on earth, few have more of a day-to-day and an immediate impact on us than His promise of the Comforter, which He declares to be the Holy Ghost? Jesus was saying “Yes, even though I'm going away, the Holy Spirit is coming to minister to you in My place.”
In verse 12 Jesus says,” I go unto My Father.” The fact that they couldn’t follow after Him was giving the disciples much trouble. But He told them that they would understand it all later on. Then He went on to say, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also,” (John 14:1-3). This is the reason that He came and now it’s perfectly clear that now He was going away.

Oh, how His heart must have ached for His FRIENDS, (see John 15:13-15) who were now so troubled and confused because they felt like He was abandoning them! He was indeed going away…but NOT to prepare a place for them in heaven’s glory world. He was preparing a place for them in His Kingdom Church.

But what Peter and the others couldn’t see right then, was the bigger picture of the work of Christ. And its no wonder, after all they’d been together for three years now. This small band of disciples had shared experiences together that went beyond their ability to fully understand or describe. They’d had experiences that would not even be clear to them until after His resurrection: John 12:16 says, “These things understood not His disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things unto Him.”

The miracles that Jesus had done were still fresh in their memories. Also the thunderous shouts of the multitudes saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest,” (Matt. 21:9,) were still ringing in their ears, but right then all they could see was the moment. All they could do was stare at the One who, at His greatest moment of recognition, seemed determined to walk away from it all.  Only Jesus, and Jesus alone could see beyond the agony of the next few hours. Only He could see why it was so important for Him to die and then to return to the right hand of His Father (Matt. 26:64). He knew that He must go away because:

• He had to return to the Father as our great Mediator and Advocate (1 Tim. 2:5; 1 John 2:1).
• He had to return to the Father so that He could prepare the home in His Kingdom that He has promised (John 14:2).
• He had to go to the Father so that He might enter the heavenly sanctuary as our Great High Priest (Heb. 6:19-20).
• He had to go to the Father to receive the glory that was His even before the foundation of the world, as the obedient, victorious Son (John 17:24).
• He had to go to the Father so that He could gloriously return and gather up all of the elect. (Matt. 26:64).

When Jesus said that He MUST go to the Father, this wasn’t just a matter of Him changing His location, no this was a change of operation. The eternal plan of the Godhead for our redemption, and for the glory of God, was never less than the work of Christ on the cross--but it was eternally more.

Jesus Christ, in His wonderful priestly ministry, promised as He prayed to the Father on behalf of His own elect: “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever” (John 14:16). We can’t take such intercession lightly. Jesus Christ is even NOW, just as He prayed for His disciples, praying for all those who are His elect from before the foundation of the world!

Jesus Christ, our High Priest is even now present as our Advocate to God the Father. The writer of the Book of Hebrews tells us in Heb. 7:25, “Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.”

When Jesus said, in John 14:16, “I will pray the Father,” we see this priestly ministry for us as the intercessory ministry of our Great High Priest. He was saying that He must go to the Father and this being true, that He would then send the Holy Ghost to be with His children.

But what is the work of the Holy Ghost? Before we look at that question we need to understand that the Holy Ghost has not been idle up until this point in time, no not at all, in fact He’s been active throughout all history. For example in Genesis 1:2, we find that when “God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God’ [the Holy Spirit] ‘moved upon the face of the waters.” And again when God created man from the dust of the earth, it was the Holy Spirit which “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul,” (Gen 2:7, see also Exod. 31:3; 1 Sam. 19:23; 2 Chron. 24:20). And even in the New Testament in Matthew 1:18, at the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, Mary, His natural mother “was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” And then in Matthew 12:28, Jesus declares to us that Jesus had the authority to “cast out devils by the Spirit of God.” 

But we can clearly see that this promise was no doubt a new work in and among all those who would come into the Church Kingdom of God, to those who had taken up the cross of Christ into discipleship (see Matt. 10:38; 16:24; 27:42; Mark 8:34; 10:21; Luke 14:27; John 19:19).

The Holy Ghost has always been the One who brought about the new birth to all that the Father had given to the Son even before the world began. Now He was about to do a new work in and among all those of the elect who are led by Him, enabling them to see and embrace the true gospel of God, and be baptized into the body of Christ, i.e. the church.

In the New Testament, God the Father is seen as the first person in the Godhead, of which the Apostle Paul says that in Jesus “dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col 2:9). The Father planned in eternity past and provided for His elect family on earth whom He gave to His Son. In the incarnation, Christ is seen as the Son of the Father who redeems the elect by paying the ransom price for their sins. The Holy Spirit brings spiritual life to those whom the Son brings to the Father; each member of the Godhead works in perfect harmony to carry out His distinct role for the accomplishment of the eternal purpose.

And in God’s eternal purpose He created a perfect man…Adam; able to stand, but liable to fall. He placed him in a wonderful garden with only one commandment; “of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” (Gen 2:16-17). Adam sinned, and fell, and we fell in him, [AND GOD DID NOT CAUSE THE FALL!] but even before the fall the perfect sacrifice was already provided as the remedy.

And in this eternal purpose, God the Son is the Creator (John 1:1-3), and He is the source of His chosen people’s provision. He was, and is the One and only perfect sacrifice for sin, becoming a man and sacrificially dying in our place, by doing for us what we could never do for ourselves!

In God’s eternal purpose, the Holy Ghost gives eternal life to the redeemed. In giving spiritual life the Spirit provides divine strength to all of those chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, enabling them to believe and to follow after the Son as their example and Saviour.

And once Christ returned to the Father, the Holy Ghost came down in His place in the Church Kingdom of heaven to bring understanding of God’s wonderful eternal purpose for all of the elect. Through this eternal purpose all the elect receive eternal forgiveness. Every believer receives understanding of the gift of that forgiveness. They also are able to possess the abundant life in Jesus Christ their Saviour while they live in this time world. This is the promise spoken of by the Apostle Peter in Acts 2:33, “Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.” Jesus’ promise, “I will pray to the Father,” to His disciples was that the Holy Ghost would come and wrap them up in His love and open a new chapter in His dealings with His disciples who had chosen to follow Him and live in His blessed Kingdom. The Holy Spirit is profoundly at work for the glory of the Son helping them to worship God in Spirit and in truth.

Jesus said, “I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; 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.” We see that “HE WILL GIVE!” Oh, what a wonderful promise! And this is a promise that He has fulfilled. Let’s notice again the relationship in the Godhead. The Son is absolutely equal to the Father, and yet He, the Son submits to Him His request for His will to be done. And look at the Holy Ghost who, though He too is absolutely equal with the Father, is sent forth by the Father to accomplish the Father's will. This is the Godhead in its pure form-NOT three gods, but ONE eternal God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost! The Son prays to the Father and the Spirit is dispatched, and it’s the Father who gives the Spirit to His people. Again, I say not three gods, but one eternal being who is God!

Next time we will continue by God’s grace to explore Jesus’ Promise of the Holy Ghost. May the Lord bless us to have a better understanding of the Person and work of the Holy Ghost.

Elder Thomas McDonald    
Jesus’ Promise of the Holy Ghost – Part II