The Spirit of Truth

“TRUTH” is a word which was used by Jesus to describe the Holy Spirit. As his earthly ministry was drawing to a close, Jesus, keenly aware of the uncertainty in the minds of his disciples, promised to send the Holy Spirit to give comfort in their disappointment. Some of the thoughts of our Lord are recorded in John 14:16,17. I will pray to the Father and he shall give you another Comforter, the Spirit of truth. Later in this same conversation, Jesus repeated this expression. I have many things to say unto you, but you cannot understand them now. When the Spirit of truth comes it will guide you into all truth, and it will show you things to come.—John 16:12,13

After Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples did not have long to wait for the fulfillment of this promise. Fifty days later, on the day of Pentecost, the Spirit of truth came, and was made manifest just as Jesus had previously described. Even though certain accompanying signs were evident, such as tongues of fire and the miraculous ability of the apostles to speak in foreign languages, nevertheless, in principle, the things that it “heard” were what it “spoke,” as Jesus had said. It “spoke” by way of opening to the minds of the apostles an understanding of certain portions of prophetic scripture (the things that it “heard”) which prior to that time were a mystery to them.

One of these prophecies was Joel 2:28-32. Peter, newly endowed with the power of the Holy Spirit, came to a sudden awareness that this scripture was beginning to have a fulfillment. He realized that the recorded prophecies, visions, and dreams which God had visited aforetime upon his people of old, but shrouded in mystery for ages and generations, were now commencing to be understood for the purpose of giving vision, hope, and a message of prophetic truth for the call of a new age then beginning. He said: “But this is that which was spoken by the Prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days [afterward—Joel 2:28], saith God, I will pour out of my spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophecy and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.”—Acts 2:17,18

After long centuries of obscurity, this portion of God’s Holy Word was being unveiled. Indeed, the descendants (sons and daughters) of historic Israel, as they were represented in the apostles and their associated Jewish disciples, were on that very day “prophesying,” giving public witness to the call of a new dispensation, the call into Christ. They were the “young men” (Hebrew—select men) selected to interpret past visions. They were also the “old men” (Hebrew—elders) chosen to “dream dreams” (Hebrew—bind dreams), to make firm an understanding of things long past received from God and written as if in dreams, for the instruction of those called as servants (servants and handmaids) of God. This call would be to the Jew first, but eventually to those called “out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation.” (Rev. 5:9) This new and broader aspect of God’s dealings, to be accomplished by the pouring out of his Spirit, was concluded in Peter’s sermon with these words: “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”—Acts 2:39

Other vital truths began to unfold to the apostles as the Scriptures took on new meaning. They were able to understand that Psalm 16:10 was not written about David, but was a prophetic statement pointing to the death and resurrection of Jesus. Peter’s oration on that day included a quotation from Psalm 110:1, where he applied this verse of scripture to mean that Jesus’ kingdom was future and would be a heavenly or spiritual government, a truth which heretofore was not understood. It confirmed what Jesus had implied many times, that his kingdom “was not of this world.”

Based on this new understanding, Peter as spokesman for the apostles appealed to his listeners to join with them in accepting a call to be joint-heirs with Jesus in a heavenly kingdom—a kingdom, the preparation of which was to be accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit of truth. “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”—Acts 2:38

The close association of the Holy Spirit with the Word of truth was expressed by Paul in his letter to the Corinthian brethren. He wrote, “But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glorification. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (I Cor. 2:7,8, RSV) The Scriptures which hold the secret and hidden wisdom of God were written in ages past for the glorification of the saints of the Gospel Age. But no one, not even the nation of Israel in whose care the oracles of God were entrusted, understood this ultimate purpose of God written within their lines. Supporting this fact with scripture, Paul quotes from Isaiah 64:4, “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.” This brief observation, made some 700 years before Christ, ends Isaiah’s treatment of the matter, but Paul who was writing to those for whose glorification the Scriptures were ordained, hastened to add: “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep [mysterious] things of God.”—I Cor. 2:10

The deep things of God are in reality the simple truths of the Bible which reveal to us the various features of his plan necessary for our justification and sanctification. (James 1:18) They are called “deep” or mysterious because others not enlightened by God do not see them. Paul says that this special enlightenment comes through the influence of the Holy Spirit of God. “The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freeely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth: comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” (I Cor. 2:11-13) Through this enlightening process which God brings about in various and individual ways to those whom he has called, the Scriptures are no longer shrouded in mystery and misunderstanding, but reveal the “things that are freely given to us of God” so that we might conform our lives to his will and purpose.

The Apostle Paul, in the first chapter of Ephesians, systematically outlines three basic truths disclosed to us through God’s Word, which form a foundation of knowledge necessary to intelligently yield ourselves to the counsel of God’s will, and be “sealed” thereto “with the Holy Spirit of promise,” as an “earnest [evidence] of our inheritance.”

Beginning with verse three he writes: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children [sonship] by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”

Here the apostle beautifully expresses the first of these important truths so inseparably linked to the work of the Holy Spirit: the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. He tells us that before this present world (kosmos—order of things) came into existence, God, foreseeing the evil environment of this time, preordained to use it as a testing ground for the selection and preparation of a spiritual family—children to be associated with Jesus in his own divine household. The accomplishment of this supreme act of grace by the good pleasure of his will, required those called to be thoroughly tested and perfected in the heart qualities of faithfulness and holiness, being without blame before him in love. This unique and important feature of God’s plan is so concealed in the abstruse language of the Bible that it is not clearly discerned except by those who, by God’s grace, are given understanding to “rightly divide the word of truth.” It was God’s purpose that the high calling be accomplished through the call and selection from among mankind of those who would be willing to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, heeding his invitation to take up their cross and follow him. In order to do this objectively, like Jesus, they too must be made aware of their calling. Like Jesus, they must find in the “volume of the book,” all the scriptures, which, taken together, reveal in scope the hope of their calling, and what is the “riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,” and what they must do to qualify for such a great reward. As the logic of the Apostle Paul subsequently unfolds in this first chapter of his letter to the Ephesians, his sound reasoning asserts that a knowledge and appreciation of this great truth of the high calling is vitally essential to the children of God in order to have the Holy Spirit effectively work further in their lives toward the achievement of this “great and precious promise” of God.—I Pet. 1:3,4

As the first chapter of Ephesians continues, Paul points out a second essential truth necessary for our understanding: redemption through the ransom sacrifice of Jesus. He writes in verses seven and eight: “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence.” The ministry of sacrifice performed by Jesus as a perfect man at his first advent provided the means preordained by God through which the high calling is made possible to us. We have redemption (deliverance) from the fallen condition of inherited sin through faith in his blood (the value of the ransom price), and receiving forgiveness of sins (being justified) we accept the invitation of our Lord to take up our cross and follow him. (Luke 9:23) If we share with him in his suffering, we shall also be partakers of his glory. In making known this great truth, Paul says God has abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence (intellectual insight).

No other doctrine of truth has been so carefully and convincingly verified and established in the Word of God as that of our redemption through the ransom sacrifice of Jesus. The documented life of Jesus, his dedicated fulfillment of the sacrificial types and prophecies of the Old Testament, and the salient interpretations by the apostles in their writings concerning this outstanding feature of God’s plan, has laid for us a proven foundation of knowledge—knowledge which reveals the path of attainment to the high calling—knowledge which if added to with “patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity” will make us “neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ,” through which in giving “diligence,” we can make our “calling and election sure.” (II Pet. 1:5-10) Thus used, this truth becomes a powerful agency by which the Holy Spirit works out the will of God in the justification and sanctification of all who are called with a knowledge of the truth, God “having made known unto us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself.”—Eph. 1:9

The third feature of truth mentioned in verses ten and eleven of this interesting sequence of verses in the first chapter of Ephesians, speaks of the object of our calling: the future work of restitution. It reads, “That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: in whom also we have obtained an inheritance.”

It is noteworthy to observe how closely the Scriptures throughout the New Testament relate the preparatory experiences of the church to their ultimate purpose for the world’s salvation. How well this point was expressed by Paul when he stated that God is now writing in the hearts of his people, not with ink, but with his Spirit, his purpose being to make them able ministers of the New Covenant. (II Cor. 3:3-6) The New Covenant, to be mediated by the Christ, will be the means through which all things in earth might be gathered together and eventually brought back into harmony with God. Christ and his church, possessing a heart appreciation of God’s law, will be able to convey its precepts to the resurrected people of earth in such a way that they too will be caught up in its spirit of righteousness. Taking it into their own hearts, they will learn to love its principles and desire to live by them. This crowning achievement, the Law, written in ages past on tables of stone (the expression of the letter of the Law), was never able to accomplish. Thus by coming to love God and his law of righteousness, all things “which are in heaven and which are on earth” will be gathered together “in him,” Christ Jesus. And then Paul adds these inspiring words, “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance.”

The three foundation truths of the Gospel—the high calling, the ransom, and restitution—so nicely sequenced in this letter, are compositely referred to in the thirteenth verse as “the Gospel of your salvation.” Paul says that this Gospel forms the basis upon which we are “sealed” with the Holy Spirit, not by hearing it only, but by believing. Believing implies understanding, and as suggested by Strong’s Concordance, such understanding would form a “foundation for faith.” Verses thirteen and fourteen read: “In whom ye also trusted after that ye heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation, in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession.”

In the apostle’s day, as also today, seals were used to validate contracts or covenants. Our covenant of sacrifice with God, based on our faith in the high calling, our acceptance of redemption through Jesus, and our desire to suffer with him to share with him in the glory of the kingdom is validated by God with his seal. Paul says that this fiducial seal of God is his Holy Spirit of truth. As we see its influence working in our lives to help us toward the fulfillment of our covenant, it becomes to us an “earnest” or pledge from God, which assures us that, if faithful unto death, “we shall enter upon our heritage, when God has redeemed what is his own.”—Eph. 1:14, NEB

How beautifully this is expressed in our concluding text: “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power [Holy Spirit] to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.”—Eph. 1:17-20

Dawn Bible Students Association
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