DIVINE RELATIONSHIPS - PART 6
THE REALITY OF THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH
August 5, 2013
“And after that it must occur that I shall pour out my spirit on every sort of flesh, and your sons and your daughters will certainly prophesy. As for your old men, dreams they will dream. As for your young men, visions they will see. And even on the menservants and on the maidservants in those days I shall pour out my spirit.”
– Joel 2:28-29
The prophet Joel recorded God’s promise to pour out His spirit on every sort of flesh. These verses reveal that this aspect of God’s spirit was not available in Joel’s day. The nation of Israel had divine favor and were being trained and conditioned to recognize and receive the Christ when he arrived. Yet they were clearly lacking something of a spiritual nature that would not be received until some time in the future.
The book of Acts records that Joel’s prophecy was fulfilled at Pentecost of 33 C.E. when God’s spirit was poured out on the 120 disciples of Jesus who had been praying in an upper room. (Acts 2:1-4, 16-18) This portion of God’s spirit was identified by Jesus as the Spirit of Truth that he would send from the Father:
“When the helper arrives that I will send you from the Father, the spirit of the truth, which proceeds from the Father, that one will bear witness about me; and you, in turn, are to bear witness, because you have been with me from when I began.”
– John 15:26-27
Before the Spirit of Truth Arrived
Joel’s prophecy shows that prior to the pouring out of the spirit of truth, mankind did not have truth. He had understanding, knowledge, counsel, and wisdom, but he did not have truth. Note the words of Isaiah:
“And there must go forth a twig out of the stump of Jesse; and out of his roots a sprout will be fruitful. And upon him the spirit of Jehovah must settle down, the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and of mightiness, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah; and there will be enjoyment by him in the fear of Jehovah.”
– Isaiah 11:1-3
Truth pertains to origins and destinies, meanings and values, not only ‘how’ or ‘what,’ but ‘why.’ Truth about origins and destinies was reserved for a future time, namely, when Jesus of Nazareth began his ministry to mankind. (See What is Truth?)
As a preliminary step toward leading man to truth, God prompted Moses to organize a people. Instead of truth and spiritual realities, Moses gave them “a typical representation and a shadow of the heavenly things.” (Hebrews 8:5) The entire book of Hebrews discusses these early primers and shows that, instead of truth, the Israelites were given a tutor leading to truth. (Galatians 3:24)
Additionally, the nation of Israel only had an elementary understanding of God, his nature and his true relationship with man. They viewed God as a wrathful, jealous potentate much like young children view a focused and determined earthly father. Their immaturity prevents them from grasping the love that motivates their father’s actions. It is not until they reach the full stature of a man that they can look back and see a loving and faithful father. We recall that the nation of Israel began as a bedouin tribe of nomads. They were hardly ready for a revelation of truth about their origins and destiny. Moses’ presentation of the story of Adam and Eve sufficiently satisfied their curiosity about who they were and why they had to submit to Moses’ direction. But the more weightier matters surrounding this account had to wait for a further revelation.
Even the prophesies of their prophets alluded them. In all that Isaiah, Ezekiel, the psalmists and others wrote about peaceful conditions, the Israelites always applied them to conditions that would prevail on earth. It never occurred to them that they were being exposed to “the real life” in heaven. (1 Timothy 6:19) It would have been like teaching physics to 2nd graders. Not only would it have been a waste of time, it would have discouraged them from pursuing the worship of Jehovah. It is not an accident that Moses started from the ground up in developing the godly devotion of Israel. And as Joel prophesied, the spirit of truth would have to await a future time.
Not only the Israelites, but no nation had a real understanding of truth. History records valiant efforts to arrive at truth by many nations around the world. A review of ancient books of other nations reveals much knowledge, understanding, counsel and wisdom. Wisdom was the closest mankind came to truth – the ability to use knowledge to live successfully and peacefully with one another. Their attempts to go beyond the mundane and arrive at truth resulted in superstitions, myths and fantasies, many of which continue to fascinate man today. None of these theories or teachings lead mankind to the ‘door’ to truth and to heaven. (John 10:9)
No, man did not have an awareness or cognizance of heavenly matters. Thus, he could not comprehend and accept truth. He had no frame of reference within which to place an understanding of his true origin and destiny. Such matters would have to wait until a greater revelation was given, the revelation contained within Jesus Christ.
The Arrival of Truth
When Jesus began his ministry, the door to truth was opened. Jesus demonstrated the way to enter:
“Jesus said to him: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
– John 14:6-7
Jesus had a way about teaching that was far superior to the manner of the scribes and Pharisees. When he spoke, he instilled confidence that what he spoke was truth. There was something about his spirit that stirred the inner man of those who listened to him.
“Now when Jesus finished these sayings, the effect was that the crowds were astounded at his way of teaching; for he was teaching them as a person having authority, and not as their scribes.”
– Matthew 7:28-29
But Jesus could not remain with mankind forever. He had to return to the heavens to get back to the Father’s business. In his stead, he provided the Spirit of Truth as a helper and comforter to his followers so they would not be ‘bereaved’ at his absence. (John 14:18) He knew they, and all who would come to know of him, would desire his presence and his unique teaching ability, but he could not fellowship with all of them unless he first went away:
“These things, however, I did not tell you at first, because I was with you. But now I am going to him that sent me, and yet not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have spoken these things to you grief has filled your hearts. Nevertheless, I am telling you the truth, It is for your benefit I am going away. For if I do not go away, the helper will by no means come to you; but if I do go my way, I will send him to you.”
– John 16:4-7
The Spirit of Truth is different from the Spirit of the Father. The Spirit of the Father indwells with us.
“What! Do you not know that the body of you people is [the] temple of the holy spirit within you, which you have from God?”
– 1 Corinthians 6:19
The Spirit of Truth is poured out upon us. It hovers over and around us. It ‘fills the whole house.’ (Acts 2:2) The Spirit of the Father bears witness of our sonship with God. The Spirit of Truth bears witness with the Father’s Spirit, further confirming our sonship. (Romans 8:16) And it also bears witness to Jesus. (John 15:26-27) It is Jesus’ way of distributing himself to us individually so that we can attain a conviction of truth as did those who were blessed with his personal presence in the first century.
“For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst.”
– Matthew 18:20
The pouring out of the Spirit of Truth at Pentecost 33 C.E. had profound meaning. It was not just a personal gift for a few. It was poured out ‘on all flesh’ – for the benefit of all mankind. It brought in a new era of understanding, far superior to all of man’s past ability to recognize and know truth. When we look back at the Old Testament, we should view those writings with this in mind. Those men were writing to the best of their ability, presenting knowledge to the height of their understanding. But those writings are not to the height of man’s understanding since the beginning of Christ’s ministry. They were inspired by the spirit of understanding, knowledge counsel and wisdom, but they were not inspired by the spirit of truth.
The new era of the Spirit of Truth elevates worship by removing it from group worship to individual sonship and service. It provides personal and individual guidance according to our individual ability and capacity to learn and understand, and it frees us from relying on the sincere but flawed so-called knowledge of man.
“The hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you people worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, because salvation originates with the Jews. Nevertheless, the hour is coming, and it is now, when the true worshipers will worship the Father with spirit and truth, for, indeed, the Father is looking for suchlike ones to worship him.”
– John 4:21-23
“And as for you, the anointing that you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to be teaching you; but, as the anointing from him is teaching you about all things, and is true and is no lie, and just as it has taught you, remain in union with him.”
– 1 John 2:27
The pouring out of the Spirit of Truth is no small matter. Understanding this change in man’s affairs is important if we are to truly grasp the significance of the Spirit of Truth and if we are to truly appreciate the unique ministry of Jesus.
Usurping the Spirit of Truth
Jesus brought the ‘new wine’ of truth which is not only new, it is of a superior quality. (Matthew 9:16-17) So it is not just its newness that burst the wineskins of the old knowledge and understanding, it is its potency that breaks the antiquated barriers. Thus, the work the Spirit of Truth quickens the spirit of those who accept its guidance which explains the speedy and profound conversions of the Jews and Gentiles who listened to Jesus’ message in the first century.
After the Spirit of Truth was poured out, it was doing an outstanding job in carrying out its purpose in ‘guiding mankind into all truth.’ The book of Acts is replete with accounts of stunning acts of courage and faithfulness, powerful transformations and large numbers joining themselves to the Jesus brotherhood that was called “The Way.” (Acts 9:2) These brothers and sisters demonstrated an enhanced understanding of spiritual matters and wisely set their sights on the kingdom of the heavens. They found a way to endure whatever earthly calamities befell them with a superlative confidence that could not be shaken. Their minds were opened and for the first time, man knew how to transcend earthly life and safely reach their eternal destination without ritual, without financial wherewithal, without confusion and obeisance to men, and without fear.
However, about 300 years later, those who had taken leadership roles in The Way lost faith in the ability of the Spirit of Truth to do its work. They set themselves up as authorities, lords and intercessors, intruding on the faith of the Christians. They crystalized and circumscribed the teachings of Jesus that they were able to understand, and outlawed any teachings they did not understand. They appointed themselves as doorkeepers to the kingdom of the heavens and the sole channel of salvation. They forced, on threat of death, the unswerving allegiance of all who belonged to the Way. They snatched away the ministry of reconciliation and relegated the brothers to passive audience members.
The work of the Spirit of Truth was usurped by self-appointed men whose agenda was not in harmony with the agenda of Jesus. Instead of pursuing the kingdom of the heavens, these men sought to establish their church as representative of the kingdom on earth. Truth was stalled and mankind was thrust back into servitude to a religious organization very similar to the Jewish system from which they just been freed. The blessings associated with the Spirit of Truth were rejected, and after 1900 years, Christianity finds itself no further ahead than the nation of Israel prior to the arrival of Christ. Indeed, the old wine is taught with more regularity and intensity than the words of the Lord to whom they claim to serve.
Today, Christianity as a whole is confused as to the working and significance of the Spirit of Truth. By and large, they confuse it with the Holy Spirit. While the Spirit of Truth is indeed holy, its work is specific, whereas the work of the Holy Spirit is general and all pervasive. It is this failure to comprehend its unique work that prevents them from recognizing the profound change that Jesus’ ministry brought to the world.
A Real Change and a Superb Reality
Jesus did not just bring a new teaching; he brought a heightened spiritual awareness that affects the individual. When we individually accept the guidance of the Spirit of Truth, we change! It is a change from servant to son and from slave to heir:
“Now I say that as long as the heir is a babe he does not differ at all from a slave, lord of all things though he is, but he is under men in charge and under stewards until the day his father appointed beforehand. . . . Now because you are sons, God has sent forth the spirit of his Son into our hearts and it cries out: “Abba, Father!’ So, then, you are no longer a slave but a son; and if a son, also an heir through God.”
– Galatians 4:1, 6-7
But it has an even greater impact. When we allow the Spirit of Truth to work in our behalf, our spiritual vision expands. (See Expanding Our Spiritual Vision.) We become capable of comprehending matters that never even came into the minds of man before. And with that expanded vision, we become aware of the abundant spiritual activity in our friendly universe.
The veil of fear that prevents man from looking up to the heavens is removed. The Spirit of Truth stimulates a hunger to want to know our Father, our celestial family and our future abode. Through faith, and then through personal experience, we come to know that the celestial world is real. We come to believe these accounts:
• The angel’s appearance to Mary at Jesus’ conception (Matthew 1:18-23)
• The angel’s support of Jesus at Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-43)
• The readiness of angels to defend Jesus (Matthew 26:52-23)
• The joy of angels when we repent (Luke 15:10)
• The angels who appeared at Jesus’ tomb (Luke 24:22-23)
• The angels who regularly visit earth (John 1:51)
• The angel who opened the prison door for the apostles (Acts 5:17-20)
• The angel who assisted in Philip’s ministry (Acts 8:26-29)
• The angel who directed Cornelius’ conversion (Acts 10:1-8)
• The angels who carried messages to the congregations (Revelation 2:1-3:22)
And we come to understand that there are angels appointed as our individual guides:
“See to it that you men do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell your that their angels in heaven always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.”
– Matthew 18:10
They are real, brothers, but only for those who accept the guidance of the Spirit of Truth. All others pitifully labor under the delusion that the ‘age of miracles’ is over and that God no longer deals with mankind the way He did in the past. On the contrary! The Spirit of Truth allows an even greater spiritual interaction with man if only we would open our hearts and minds to its reality!
Finally, the Spirit of Truth moves us to contemplate the heavenly career. It is the impetus behind the counsel:
“If, however, you were raised up with the Christ, go on seeking the things above, where the Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Keep your minds fixed on the things above, not on the things upon the earth.”
– Colossians 3:1-2
“I am pursuing down toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God by means of Christ Jesus. Let us, then, as many of us as are mature, be of this mental attitude; and if you are mentally inclined otherwise in any respect, God will reveal the above [attitude] to you. At any rate, to what extent we have made progress, let us go on walking orderly in this same routine.”
– Philippians 3:14-16
If we are to keep our minds on the things above, we must open them to spiritual realities, and not be overly concerned with food and drink:
“So quit seeking what you might eat and what you might drink, and quit being in anxious suspense; for all these are the things the nations of the world are eagerly pursuing, but your Father knows you need these things. Nevertheless, seek continually his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”
– Luke 12:29-31
For generations, man has looked to other men as leaders to show them the way, but in truth such men are as blind as the ones asking for help unless they open their spiritual eyes of discernment and spiritual insight and take notice of the Master’s sublime leadership through the Spirit of Truth. No one can see for another and if it is not the anointing doing the teaching, then one is truly not learning. He is merely mimicking and parroting someone else’s understanding. Each of us must take responsibility for our own destiny and walk with the divine guide, the helper, the Spirit of Truth. In this way, we will all be united and find the ‘paradise of God’ and reach the fullness of life that we so desire.
Yes, the Spirit of Truth is real. He is here along with the loving and kind celestial family who are rooting for our success during this temporary life in the flesh. May we all take advantage of our privileged generation!
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