It might have happened to you too. Somebody would say: don’t worry, this is the better way and you would gasp in exasperation and confusion as to how on earth this could be better. Maybe it happens to children more often, when they just cannot grasp the full extent of circumstances and adult decisions. We are God’s children and we often don’t understand. Sometimes we say things to superficially explain things with empty words. Success would come because of luck, good fortune, “things” working out, the stars lining up. Pain and failure would be ascribed to bad luck, misfortune or cruel judgments on a person’s own inability to handle life or cope with demands.
I have often made the case for revelation knowledge. It is one of the central themes of my life and the goal of all my study and writing.
My first experience of God’s word becoming the “spoken” word, “hearing” in my inner being and being aware that God is speaking into my specific moment and immediate situation, came when I was just 14 years old. For a few years of my elementary school we lived on a remote farm. I went to the local school, but when finances dwindled and my parents had to move back to the city, I was in Grade 7 back into the school I left four years previously, towards the end of the academic year. It was clear that I was academically far behind my peers. It took me all of Grade 8 to try and catch up and by the end of Grade 9 I felt a little more confident. Exams were formal and strict.
I was really stressed on the evening before I wrote Latin and Maths with just a short break in between the two papers. At the time my mother was studying the Bible with desperation to “hear” from God in our very severe financial crisis. That evening I took my Bible and thought I would open in the middle and read a Psalm, any Psalm to calm me down. I opened to the book of Isaiah, which I didn’t even know existed and read the first verse that my eye fell on. It was the following:
Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God,
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
Slowly the deep realization established itself in my heart that this was God speaking to me. Today I know it is the conviction of the Holy Spirit that communicates the truth of the Word to the inner man. I was overjoyed. My stress and fear were answered and I was calm to study further and sleep well. I had great success in that exam, but I cannot even remember the details. What I do remember is my experience that God spoke into my situation. My situation was not important in the greater scheme of things, not even particularly in my life, but God answered the cry of a stressed schoolgirl. On this day, 44 years later, this incident is fresh in my mind, quickened by the Holy Spirit to write as a testimony to God’s love and His provision in our lives.
It is here in John 16 that I much later learned the teaching of Jesus on my experience. He discussed the role of the Holy Spirit when His physical presence leaves earth.
In their grief-stricken bewilderment after the crucifixion, the disciples remembered that Jesus said it is good that He goes away because the Holy Spirit would come. In the body He was confined to place and time. In the Spirit there is no limitation.He is with us always, just as He promised in Matthew 28:20.
We have the gift of uninterrupted fellowship.
Jesus gives a perfect summary of the work of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit convicts. The word is elegchein in Greek and it was used in the cross-examination of a witness.
Questioning somebody until a person admits his errors or acknowledge the facts in such a way as to shed light on the case, often happens in court when human legal experts have to establish facts and truth. The testimony of a witness will convict of weakness or strength of argument.
We have the perfect litigator in the Holy Spirit who knows every detail of our hearts and lives better than we ever could. He convicts in love to show our weaknesses and failures to our own self in order to cleanse, redeem and restore.
1) The Holy Spirit will convict of sin [amartias = to miss the mark, failure in goal] in the most loving way so that our conviction will lead to restoration with God.
Sin is not always clear. The Jews were convinced they were doing the right thing to kill Jesus. Later, touched in their hearts (Acts 2:37) they confessed. Only the Holy Spirit can convince people they are sinners.
2) The Holy Spirit convinces of righteousness [dikaiosunēs = condition acceptable to God, a state approved of God, integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting].
Just like the centurion at the Cross (Matthew 27:54) in that moment came to the supernatural conclusion that Jesus was the Son of God, the truth of who Jesus is, is ministered to our hearts. Isn’t it amazing that the trust of the church is in a Jewish criminal executed so long ago? Belief in the resurrection is a work of the Holy Spirit.
3) The Holy Spirit helps us to judge with insight and understanding [kriseos, krisis=selecting and distinguishing to make a decision]. Our circumstances and life situations are complicated and not always clear. We need true wisdom to make the right decisions.
By the Cross evil is condemned and defeated for all eternity. The discernment of evil is a work of the Holy Spirit.
All these together are our salvation and liberty in Jesus. He is our Saviour and our punishment for sin was on Him.
What is truth? The Holy Spirit is the spirit of Truth,who reveals to us who Jesus is.
Revelation is a process – it is more and deeper for those who seek it out. We start out with the basics and then move on to more life-changing revelation.
All revelation has consequences.
Faith explores revelation.
In truth we will understand the full revelation of God also in the more complex passages of the Old Testament. The wiping out of heathens and idols is for the preservation of the faith, to be interpreted spiritually as the discernment of evil and the full liberation of our lives from any bondage.
God’s revelation is dynamic. God speaks, God works, God saves and blesses continually. Jesus is alive and is therefore the living truth.
Truth is a gift from God. It is not man’s discovery. We learn it slowly, but it is there and the source of it is God.
Revelation of truth is to reveal the significance of Jesus to us. Jesus is inexhaustible. We will never fully grasp it; we will never know Him in full. The more we become like Him the more we know Him.
He is the only person on the face of the earth that ever said I am truth. All the people who claim to be God or the Messiah have never made such a bold, all-inclusive statement, to be remembered and upheld by so many over such a great span of time.
Can we be still, open our hearts and receive from the Holy Spirit the deep conviction of who Jesus is?