So today, let’s continue our look at the Holy Spirit by looking at what His ministry is towards us. We have titled this series “The Commission of the Holy Spirit” because we are learning what is assigned to do on our behalf.
So, we have been looking at the things that the Lord Jesus said that He would do for us in John chapters 14-16. And we have seen that He will, first of all, abide with us forever. That’s a big one because we must first know that He will always be with us in order to know that all of the other ministries that He will perform in our lives will always be there as well.
So, in John 14:25&26, we saw that the Holy Spirit is specifically commissioned to teach us all things. And we learned that all of the things that the Holy Spirit wound up teaching Jesus’ disciples were the things that we have recorded in the Epistles of the New Testament. So, we learned that one of the ways that the Holy Spirit teaches us all things is by teaching us out of our New Covenant doctrine contained in the Epistles. But we also learned that the Holy Spirit will also teach us through the wrong teaching that is out there. This is why we can be confident that we will always know the truth—because the Holy Spirit is always there to teach us.
But then we learned last week that not only will the Holy Spirit teach us new covenant things, but He will also remind us of the things that the Lord already spoke to us. Now we learned that this can apply towards the things recorded in the four Gospels—which obviously contain many of the things that the Holy Spirit reminded the disciples of after Jesus’ departure. Therefore, the Holy Spirit reminds us by putting in our hearts the things that He had reminded Jesus’ disciples of. But we also saw that the Holy Spirit reminds us of other things—such as, the things that the Lord had spoken to us in the past.
We looked at some examples of these “rhema reminders” and saw how they serve various purposes: On one account, they put a sword in our hand when we are faced with spiritual warfare. In other words, these rhema’s are our offensive weapon against the wiles of the devil. But we also saw that there are other benefits to these Holy Ghost reminders. The apostle Peter said that they stir up our pure minds, and the apostle Paul said that they further establish those things in our hearts. Therefore, we saw that reminders do three things: Number one, they equip us in times of need—putting a sword in our hands to combat thoughts, fears, and temptations with. Number two, they “cement” those truths in our heart—further establishing them in us. And number three, they “stir up” those truths in our mind—thus making them pure & fresh.
So, you see, we not only have the Holy Spirit here to abide with us forever, to teach us all things, but we also have Him here to remind us of the things He has already spoken to us.
Now let’s move on to John chapter 15 and see something else that Jesus said the Holy Spirit has been commissioned to do…
Beginning in verse 18, Jesus began to warn His disciples of the persecution they would endure after His departure by saying, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’”
You know, it is important to be prepared for tough times like this. Many times, when we endure persecution and go through trials & tribulations, the enemy of our soul likes to deceive us into thinking everything from “what’s wrong with me that I’m going through this” to “I must have missed God and lost His favor in my life.” Yes, the accuser of the brethren will fill our minds with the lies that God is through with us, that He doesn’t love us, or we are too far removed from His salvation. All of these are LIES, church!
The fact is, if we are living for God, we will have more opposition than we would have if we weren’t. The truth is that the more diligently we are seeking His kingdom, the more he will try and oppose us. And oftentimes this occurs through people—for he will stir up people to hate us, to ridicule us, and to simply discourage us.
So, this is why Jesus was preparing His disciples for the persecution that they would go through after He was gone. But I love what Jesus goes on to promise them in verse 26: “But when the Helper (i.e. the Parakletos) comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.”
Now it is important to note that even though Jesus said these things in the future tense, they are no longer to be understood as something yet to come—for He has already come! Yes, in Acts chapter two, the Holy Spirit has come, He was sent to us by our Heavenly Father and has proceeded from Him. Therefore, He is here to testify of Jesus! So, we see here that one of His jobs is to “testify” of Jesus!
Now the Greek word used to translate “testify” here is the word where we get “martyr” from—which is someone who suffers or is even killed for their “testimony.” This word literally describes “being a witness, to bear witness, or to give a testimony.”
So, how does the Holy Spirit do this? How does He testify of Jesus? Well, one might think that He does that through us somehow—either by giving us the words, the gifts, etc. that bear witness of Jesus. But notice what Jesus said in verse 27: He went on to say, “And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.” The words “bear witness” in this verse come from the exact same Greek word that was used in verse 26 to describe the Holy Spirit “testify(ing)” of Him. Therefore, I don’t believe we can say that what Jesus was saying in verse 26 is that the Holy Spirit witnesses of Jesus through us because in the next breath, Jesus said, “and you also will bear witness…”
So, yes, we are bearing witness of Jesus through our words, actions, lifestyle, etc., but the Holy Spirit is also somehow bearing witness of Him as well. So, I would submit to you that the Holy Spirit is not just bearing witness through us; he is bearing witness to us. Then the question I ask is—How? How is He doing this?
BEARING WITNESS OF THE LIGHT
Well, let’s look at another passage of Scripture that uses this word in order to illustrate it, and it is found in the Gospel of John as well. (In fact, this word used for “testify or bear witness” is obviously a loved word by the apostle John. He uses it in 31 verses in his gospel!)
And in this one found in John 1:6-8, we have what I believe to be a great description of the attitude that the Holy Spirit has: John says, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.”
The word martyreo is used a couple of times in these verses, but what I want you to notice is how John the Baptist’s commission is similar to that of the Holy Spirit’s: In verse 7, we are told that he “came for a witness,” and did you know that this is why the Holy Spirit came? To be a witness according to John 15:26. A witness of what?
The apostle John goes on to say that John the Baptist came “to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.” So, like John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit was also sent here to testify of Jesus—the True Light of the world—in order that all might believe through on Him.
And so, this is what we need to understand that the Holy Spirit does too. He always points us to the Light! When it comes to unbelievers, He seeks to draw them to the Light and out of the darkness they are living in. But He also does this with us: When we are walking in darkness, whether that be that we are believing something that is wrong or we are making poor choices, He will point us back to Jesus! Praise God!
Then notice how the apostle John goes on to say in verse 8 regarding Jesus’ forerunner, “He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.” So, we are clearly told here that John the Baptist was not that Light, and have you ever noticed how John made sure to tell the people he preached to that the One who was to come after him was mightier than he, etc.? So, John was constantly pointing people (i.e. testifying) to Jesus—bearing witness of the True Light.
Church, this is what the Holy Spirit does as well. Just as John the Baptist was not the Light himself, we likewise need to understand that the Holy Spirit is not the Light either. His job is to simply point us to the Light, and to testify of Him.
You see, while we certainly need to learn about the Holy Spirit and His ministry in our lives, we still need to maintain the mentality that it is all about Jesus. This is what HE (the Holy Spirit) would tell us. But again, this obviously does not mean that we never talk about the Holy Spirit; it just means that we need to always remember that Jesus is the Light that we should be desiring to see through it all. Amen?
So, this is exactly how the Holy Spirit testifies: He was sent from the Father to serve as a witness of the Light of the world—the Lord Jesus Christ. He is not here to be the Light Himself, but is on the earth to bear witness and testify of Jesus, that we might believe on Him. Amen.
HOW HE WITNESSES
So, let’s look at this word and its possible meanings to help us to understand how the Holy Spirit testifies of Jesus—for there are two major functions of our lives that are enveloped in this word: the word “witness” and the word “testimony.” And we are to both do and possess them both:
The first one that we’ve seen this word martyreo means is to give witness or to bear witness. So, let’s consider how we “witness.” When I witness to unbelievers, what should my primary intention be? To share Jesus with them and point them to His goodness & grace.
I know there are some out there that see “witnessing” as an opportunity to tell people what low-down, dirty sinners they are. You’ve probably heard of or seen these groups that will hit the streets preaching hell, fire, and damnation messages—telling people they are sinners and are going to hell. And if you go to them and ask what they are doing, they might say, “We are preaching the gospel!” Well, gospel means good news, not bad news—and telling people they are lost sinners who are going to hell does not contain any good news.
No, saints, it is the goodness of God that leads people to repentance, not telling them how bad they are. In other words, what people need to hear is the solution to their dilemma, and not just what their current situation is. As the old proverb states—you’ll catch more flies with honey than you will with vinegar. In other words, you will win more people with the good news than you will with bad news. It works this way in everything.
Now, yes, some people are only going to respond through fear, but in my experience, most people respond better to love, goodness, kindness, etc. The reason for this is because fear simply changes the borders and boundaries, but it doesn’t change the heart. In other words, while hearing only the consequences might produce some outward conformity, hearing the gospel will produce more of a willing obedience. Amen.
So, when it comes to witnessing, we need to seek to point people to the good news, to salvation, and to Jesus Himself. This is what people need to hear.
And this is exactly what the Holy Spirit does! He will share God’s goodness with folks! He will convey God’s extraordinary kindness to both us and the world! Church, there is no better witness than the Holy Witness Himself!
I can give you example after example of how the Holy Spirit does this—like just the other day, I was in the woods and while I was seeking to avoid any poison ivy, looking for those three leaves, the Holy Spirit just gently helped me to notice how there are a lot of plants that grow all around us that have three leaves. And what He showed me was how even nature teaches us of the Trinity in that we have all of these plants that have three leaves on one plant. Glory!
You know, this is what Saint Patrick was known for doing in what we know today to be Ireland—when he went to their land and was witnessing to its natives, he taught them of the Trinity by using the three-leaf clover.
But this is what the Holy Spirit lives to do—to use even things like nature around us to witness to us and others of the glory of God!
Didn’t the apostle Paul teach us all of this in Romans chapter one?
In Romans 1:16, he says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” So, it is the gospel of Jesus Christ that holds the power for salvation, right? Therefore, if we want to see people saved through our witness, then the gospel of Christ is how it is going to get done. Then Paul goes on to say in verse 17, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’” For in what? In the gospel of Christ! In it, the righteousness of God is revealed. This is what we want people to see, believe, and receive, church—the righteousness of God and that it is received simply by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ.
But then notice what Paul goes on to say in verses 18-20, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse…”
In these verses, the apostle Paul was saying that God’s wrath—a far cry from God’s righteousness—is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. And he goes on to say that God is the One who has already shown it to them. So, what this means is that we do not need to go around telling people that God hates sin and He is against all of their ungodliness and unrighteousness. No, God has already made this manifest to them. Sure, this doesn’t mean that we never need address these things, but it absolutely means that we do need to major on these things. God has already done it. People already know God is against sin and there is a judgment to come. Now it might seem like they don’t, but have you ever noticed how the ungodly are so quick to call out a Christian who is being hypocritical about there sin? Oh, yeah—they know.
And then in verse 20, Paul goes on to describe how God has shown these things to them—through creation. Yes, if people would just open their eyes, they would see that all creation points us towards the existence of God, and as Paul says here, even to His eternal power and Godhead. Yes, God’s creation—from the stars of the heavens to the plants on the earth—points us towards God’s omnipotent power and through that, to His Triune Godhead. Praise God!
So, as Paul says at the end of verse 20, there is no excuse for not believing. I know people will say, “Well, what about all of the people who never heard the gospel? How will God be able to righteously judge them?” Friends, everyone has the opportunity to hear the gospel because if they do not hear it from another man or woman, the Holy Spirit is here to testify of the Way, the Truth and the Life Himself. All they need to do is open up their hearts and humble themselves—asking this “unknown God” what His name is.
Well, as we can see in verses 21-25, what happens is that mankind has this tendency to form their own gods even when they have this general knowledge of God. In other words, even though they had the knowledge of God’s existence, they chose not to seek for a deeper knowledge of Him and glorify Him as the One True and Living God.
Let me give you a real-life example of what these people should have done: There was this woman who was attending a Bible College and, while seeking the Lord as to His plan for her, she had Him give her a name, a name of a place that she was unaware of. Well, as she did some research, she found out that this place was a remote island where no one had been before. Therefore, she concluded that the Lord was sending her there. So as her plane arrived on this island, she was met by a local tribe and their chief greeted her. He began praising God that this prayer was heard! You see, this tribe was praying to an unknown God to tell them His name. In other words, they knew that there had to be a god through that inward intuition these verses speak of, therefore, they just humbly prayed to the God they didn’t know yet and asked Him to reveal himself to them. So, God arrested this woman and sent her across the world to preach “Jesus” to them! Glory to God! But most people have not been this wise throughout history. The majority of people have made up their own gods like the children of Israel did in the wilderness when they created a golden calf as an image to worship. This is the epitome of pride and foolishness.
My point is, that if there is already an inward intuition in the world that God is real and that He is against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of man, and what this world needs to hear is the gospel of Christ and have the righteousness of God revealed to them, then why would the Holy Spirit be any different? He isn’t! He is here to testify to the goodness and righteousness of God! So, if we as believers or even the ungodly would open up our hearts to hear what the Spirit is saying, we would hear things like “God loves you. He has a wonderful plan for you. He has made His righteousness freely available. Just cry out for mercy. His grace is sufficient. Open up the door of your heart because Jesus wants to move in and dine with you.”
HOW HE TESTIFIES
Now, as I said earlier, the word for “testify” also describes giving a testimony. So, let’s look at how we not only witness, but how we give our testimony as an example of what the Holy Spirit does.
You know, when you and I stand up and give our testimony before people, did you know that our intention should be to point people to Jesus? Yes, our testimony is not to have people look at us but to help people believe! Believe what? That Jesus is the Answer to everything! That He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life—and that He is the Light! In other words, when we testify, our intention should be to point people to Jesus—that they might believe that what He has done in our life, He will do in theirs as well! Amen!
Church, our testimony is so vital in the grand scheme of God’s kingdom being spread in this world—because it is the number one thing that will cause the world to believe. No, it is not our wonderful sermons; it is your testimony—consisting of both the words you speak and your actions. This is what will either bring people to Christ or bring a reproach to Christ.
First of all, how we behave is what people are looking at. For example, say we leave church today and it is obvious that we have been to church by what we are wearing, etc. And we go to a restaurant and treat our waitress like dirt. But she saw us praying over our food. Did you know that this can turn her off to Christianity? We have to be sensitive to things like this, knowing that people are always watching.
And when it comes to our words, I believe we have all seen how some people’s “testimony” does not draw people to Christ. Yes, we’ve seen those who stand before a group and give their “testimony” but it doesn’t point people to the Light, but to darkness. What I mean is that it is filled with all the bad things they went through, all the heartaches and struggles, etc. And don’t get me wrong, I understand that we need to give the background to tell people where we’ve come from, but we need to keep the background in the background. Jesus and His salvation need to always be in the foreground! Hallelujah!
And this is how the Holy Spirit gives a testimony: He doesn’t ramble and waste a lot of words telling us all of the negatives. No, He gives us the truth in a nutshell, wrapping so much power in the few words He shares with us.
You see, have you ever noticed how when the Lord speaks to you that it is short, concise, and to the point? Yep, rarely does the Holy Spirit give us a long, drawn out statement of truth. This is why those two gifts of the Spirit are not called the “paragraph of knowledge” or the “story of wisdom.” No, He gives us a “word of knowledge” and a “word of wisdom.”
So, when we testify, our intention needs to be to glorify Jesus—not the bad things we did, not the evil we experienced, and certainly not anything involving, “I, me, my, etc.” Sadly to say, when you hear some people’s testimonies all you hear about is their “Test” and their “Moanies.” Lol! And as I made the point of earlier, this is exactly how the Holy Spirit testifies—He doesn’t like to talk a lot about Himself, but prefers to revolve everything around the Light of the World, the Lord Jesus Christ.
So, in conclusion, the Holy Spirit knows how to witness, and He knows how to give a testimony. And in both situations, He points people to Jesus! He glorifies Him! He strategically and systematically points people to the Light, attempting to help both the church and the world to believe on Jesus. So, whether we as the Lord’s body are struggling and need some encouragement, the Holy Ghost will step in and give a testimony of how Jesus is our answer. Or whether an unbeliever is walking in darkness and needs to know Jesus, the Holy Ghost will take advantage of every open door that He is given and point them to the Way, the Truth and the Life. Yes, He will testify of Jesus because this is His commission! Amen.