THE TEACHING MINISTRY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
by Bob Wheeler
Jesus had just promised us that if we love Him and keep His commandments, “My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23; NKJV); and, as we have seen, this refers primarily to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Jesus now goes on to elaborate on what the Holy Spirit will do for us: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to you remembrance all things that I said to you” (v. 26).
The primary reference here, undoubtedly, is to the apostles. They would be witnesses to His resurrection, and would be appointed to be His personal representatives to the world. As they would elaborate on the meaning and significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Holy Spirit would give them direct revelation. The apostle Paul, for instance, could describe the process this way: “. . .we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained . . . But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of God . . .” (I Cor.2:7-10) “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, combining spiritual things with spiritual” (vv. 12,13). The “words” which the Holy Spirit teaches are logois – concepts, ideas which come from the mind of God Himself.
Jesus also said that the Holy Spirit will “bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” This points to the preaching of the apostles, and especially to the writing of the four gospels contained in the New Testament. Matthew and John were both written by apostles; Mark was written by a close associate of Peter and Luke by a close associate of Paul. The implication is that the four gospels give us an accurate representation of what the historical Jesus actually said and did.
But the Holy Spirit’s work of “teaching you all things” should not be confined to just the apostles. There is also work which the Holy Spirit performs in the lives of believers throughout the church as well. Here again, when the apostle Paul prays for the Ephesians, he asks that God “may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, they eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe . . .” (Eph. 1:17-19).
The Bible is written in human language; it has a vocabulary and a grammatical structure. Almost any educated person can read it and gain at least a general idea of what it says. But little of it will be real and meaningful to him if the Holy Spirit has not renewed his heart and enlightened his eyes; so that he can genuinely understand the things that the Bible is describing. These things are spiritual realities, and to gain a proper appreciation of them we must first gain an understanding of them and how they affect us personally. Significantly Paul asks that the Ephesians would know the “hope” of Christ’s calling, “the riches of the glory” of His inheritance, and “the exceeding greatness” of His power – in other words, the subjective qualities of these things. And this is something that the Holy Spirit must give us, the “Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.” It is the Holy Spirit’s work of illumination.
This, then, is the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit. Without it the preaching ministry of the church cannot be successful. Only the Holy Spirit can enlighten minds and give us spiritual understanding. And so we must be earnest in prayer that God would pour out His Spirit upon us, and that our hearts would be quickened and we can adore and praise the Savior accordingly.