The Spirit Reminds

“These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:25-26

Jesus spoke these words the night He was betrayed. The next day He would die on the cross. He knew it, and so did His disciples. These stunned and bewildered men felt their hope dying within them. The Gospel of John provides unique insight into those tremulous hours, recording Jesus’ efforts to teach and encourage them (chs. 13-17).

Several themes emerge from these fascinating chapters, and they provide a very good summary of the gifts God grants you this week and the attitudes He wants you to embrace. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would come and remind them. What would He remind them of? What does He remind you of?

You have peace. Peace is a major theme of this section. In fact, the 14th chapter begins with the exhortation “let not your hearts be troubled.” Those same words are near the end of the chapter. We also find the words “peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you” immediately following the teaching about the Holy Spirit.

Christians should be possessed of a certain inner tranquility. The storms may rage around you, and they certainly will, but you know deep inside that God is holding you together. That is part of the meaning of the word peace. Wholeness. Togetherness. Your spiritual center remains untouched because God guards your heart and mind through Christ (Phil. 4:7). You are whole and secure where it matters most. Listen to the Spirit remind you of this peace.

You have joy, another theme of this section (see especially 15:11). This second fruit of the Spirit is often absent among many Christians I observe, but today I want to highlight the fact of its presence in places you would not expect to find it. I have seen many Christians have a certain lightness of heart in the direst circumstances. A good-natured attitude in the pre-op room or even in ICU is not unusual. This is the laughter of the soul that knows its eternity is secure even though the next day may not be.

You have confidence.  One of the most remarkable verses in this section is 16:33, “In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” The word translated as “good cheer” is derived from the same root word that means to be full of hope and confidence. We must admire Jesus’ transparent honesty. He did not promise a life free from trouble, in fact He said precisely the opposite, which is why the encouragement to be confident has a particular ring of truth.

This confidence comes from the abiding presence of Christ in your life, a related major theme of this section (see 15:1-10). Certainly this abiding presence of Christ makes Christianity unique. You are joined with your Lord, the Spirit, and the Father (see the remarkable statements in 17:21 and 23). Whatever you face this week, you are not alone. You can be confident in God’s presence.

British minister Alan Redpath summed up the confidence you can have in this way: “There is nothing—no circumstance, no trouble, no testing—that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has gone passed God and passed Christ, right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose, which I may not understand at the moment. But as I refuse to become panicky, as I lift up my eyes to Him and accept it as coming from the throne of God for some great purpose of blessing to my own heart, no sorrow will ever disturb me, no trial will ever disarm me, no circumstance will cause me to fret, for I shall rest in the joy of what my Lord is. That is the rest of victory.”

Disciples in the 1st  or the 21st century can be so overwhelmed by trouble they forget the assurance that should sustain them. Samuel Johnson wrote, “People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.” That quote seems to apply particularly to the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit within you whispers the reminders. Take a moment to listen.


Dr. Terry Ellis

March 14, 2011