I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever (John 14:16).
Today is communion Sabbath. Often we don't take seriously Jesus' gifts to us. His death on the cross meant He went away to the Father in heaven. But the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary opened the way for Him to send the Holy Spirit to us in the fullest way.
We sometimes live as though poor, as though Jesus had given us no help. And yet, all three agents of the Godhead are engaged in equipping us with what we need to serve Him.
Christ has promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to His church, and the promise belongs to us as much as to the first disciples. But like every other promise, it is given on conditions. There are many who believe and profess to claim the Lord's promise; they talk about Christ and about the Holy Spirit, yet receive no benefit. They do not surrender the soul to be guided and controlled by the divine agencies. We cannot use the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is to use us. Through the Spirit, God works in His people 'to will and to do of His good pleasure.' Philippians 2:13. But many will not submit to this. They want to manage themselves. This is why they do not receive the heavenly gift. Only to those who wait humbly upon God, who watch for His guidance and grace is the Spirit given. The power of God awaits their demand and reception. This promised blessing, claimed by faith, brings all other blessings in its train (The Desire of Ages, p. 672, emphasis in original).
God's gifts for souls hang all on this one gift: the Holy Spirit. At communion we think especially of the fellowship we have through Jesus who took human flesh like ours, lived in it, and overcame in it. We think of His sacrifice. Less often we think of His gifts for souls. Yet they--all--hinge on this one gift from Jesus to us.
Three Distinct, Non-interchangeabe Persons
Jesus, a distinct person in the one God, prays to the Father, a distinct person in the one God, and the Father sends to us "another Helper," or, as KJV has it, "Another Comforter." This, of course, is another distinct person of the three, the Holy Spirit.
Jesus departs from us temporarily. But He sends to us, in fuller measure than before, the Holy Spirit. He has the authority to do this. From The Desire of Ages, p. 664:
Christ had not ceased to be God when He became man. Though He had humbled Himself to humanity, the Godhead was still His own. Christ alone could represent the Father to humanity, and this representation the disciples had been privileged to behold for over three years.
The members or persons of the Godhead are not interchangeable. There are things distinct to each of the three. There are things distinct to Jesus only. And yet, the three each are perfect.
Christ was God, is God, and still is God. He took humanity but never ceased to be God. The Father accepted His sacrifice, and then the next step in heaven's plan became doable. Our Father was able to give to us, in greater measure than ever before, the power of the Holy Spirit. Always before the Holy Spirit had helped, as it were, from a distance. Now the Holy Spirit would come and indwell believers in a powerful, fresh, direct manner.
Three Indwell Each Other
The three persons of the Godhead are distinct from each other, and yet they are one God. Here is something very interesting: They each indwell each other.
The Father indwells the Son and the Son indwells the Father. In John 14:11 Jesus says,
I am in the Father and the Father is in Me."
Similarly, the Holy Spirit indwells the believer. John 14:17 says,
He abides with you and will be in you.
Through this mutual indwelling, it is also true that Christ indwells us and we indwell Him. John 14:20:
In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.
And, in 22-23:
The glory which You [the Father], have given Me [Jesus] I [Jesus] have given them [the disciples], that they [the disciples] may be one, just as we [Jesus and the Father] are one; I [Jesus] in them [the disciples] and You [the Father] in Me [Jesus], that they [the disciples] may be perfected in unity [in one], so that the world may know that You [the Father] sent Me [Jesus], and loved them [the disciples], even as You [the Father] have loved Me [Jesus].
The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit indwells the believer. This is plain not only in John's gospel but numerous texts, including
- 1 Corinthians 3:16 ("The Spirit of God dwells in you")
- 2 Timothy 1:14 ("The Holy Spirit who dwells in us")
- Romans 8:9 ("You are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you"), and
- Romans 8:11:
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Jesus Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you."
No one doubts that the Father is a person distinct in himself, or that Jesus is a person distinct in Himself. Jesus is not the Father and the Father is not Jesus. Father and Son indwell each other. Even though Jesus indwells us as believers, none of us doubt that He is a person distinct from us. Then is there any problem with the idea of the Holy Spirit indwelling the believer, one distinct person indwelling another distinct person?
Then there is the idea the Jehovah's Witnesses have, that the Holy Spirit is the power of God but is not a person distinct from the Father or Jesus. And yet, the Spirit can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30), lied to (Acts 5:4), has a will (Acts 16:6-7), can speak and be obeyed (Acts 10:19, 21). These abilities and others make it clear that the Holy Spirit is more than an impersonal batterypack; He is a person distinct in Himself.
One and Three, Not Two
Some have decided that the Father and Son are God but that the Holy Spirit somehow is not a person distinct from the two of them. In other words, that there are not one or three but two in heaven. (This idea is called binatarianism). But Ellen White as well as the Bible both describe the three persons of the Godhead together in one:
In her book Evangelism, p. 616, Ellen White speaks of "The eternal heavenly dignitaries, God, and Christ, and the Holy Spirit."
She groups the three together again in Upward Look, 148: "The eternal Godhead--the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost."
And of course there is Matthew 28:19, where we see the one God and the three persons mentioned together:
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Notice: one name, one God, three persons. The three are grouped together in other places, like 2 Corinthians 13:14:
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.
Our Extraordinary Assigned Mission
we receive not one person, or two, but three. The church is assigned an enormous mission. Much help is needed. Listen:
'Verily, verily, I say unto you,' Christ continued, 'He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also.' The Saviour was deeply anxious for His disciples to understand for what purpose His divinity was united to humanity. He came to the world to display the glory of God, that man might be uplifted by its restoring power. God was manifested in Him that He might be manifested in them. Jesus revealed no qualities, and exercised no powers, that men may not have through faith in Him. His perfect humanity is that which all His followers may possess, if they will be in subjection to God as He was (The Desire of Ages, p. 664).
Jesus has "His divinity." He united His divinity with our humanity. He is the prototype we might say, displaying what happens when divinity is united to humanity.
He came to earth to demonstrate openly the glory of God. The display benefits all the universe. But in particular the display is for humans, so that "man might be uplifted" by the restoring power of God's glory.
Jesus had glory with the Father as a distinct person before Jesus acted as agent in the creation, and before Jesus came down and became incarnate in humanity. Even with the fullness of that glory not displayed before the cross He asks the Father for it to be displayed in His imminent sacrifice (John 17:1, 5, 24).
How many qualities did Jesus reveal that we cannot reveal? None. How many powers did Jesus reveal that we cannot reveal? None. What is necessary to experience Jesus' qualities and powers? "Faith in Him."
Faith in Him must mean having faith also in the gifts He gives to us, His "gifts for souls." And it is the gift of the Holy Spirit who brings all other gifts in His train.
And so in the end,
His [Jesus'] perfect humanity is that which all His followers may possess, if they will be in subjection to God as He was.
Jesus was Himself God. But who was He in subjection to? The Father. Therefore we know that we, you and I, are called to be in subjection to the Father "as He was." Is that doable? On our own, never. But by the power of the Spirit of Jesus, Yes.
We shall carry our fallen humanity with us until the moment of glorification. But this statement speaks about how we can live now. We can have Jesus' perfect humanity, now. What is meant by this?
Having Jesus' Perfect Humanity
This phrase about our having "Jesus' perfect humanity" occurs only here. So our best clues about the inspired author meant will be derived from closely studying what our author says in the same chapter. One main hermeneutical principle is that, to understand a passage, as much as possible to ascertain what the author herself meant. Then consider this, from the same chapter just a few pages later, p. 668:
All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His service. When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to us.
As Christ lived the law in humanity, so we may do if we will take hold of the Strong for strength. But we are not to place the responsibility of our duty upon others, and wait for them to tell us what to do. We cannot depend for counsel upon humanity. The Lord will teach us our duty just as willingly as He will teach somebody else. If we come to Him in faith, He will speak His mysteries to us personally. Our hearts will often burn within us as One draws nigh to commune with us as He did with Enoch. Those who decide to do nothing in any line that will displease God, will know, after presenting their case before Him, just what course to pursue. And they will receive not only wisdom, but strength. Power for obedience, for service, will be imparted to them, as Christ has promised. Whatever was given to Christ--the 'all things' to supply the need of fallen men--was given to Him as the head and representative of humanity. And 'whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.' 1 John 3:22. (The Desire of Ages, p. 668).
I want to live "a life of continual obedience" to God. I want to possess Jesus' perfect humanity. And the help for this that is offered us, is Jesus gifts for souls. It is the personal help and presence of the Holy Spirit.
Let us consider one final passage from the same chapter (pp. 669-670). Listen to the logic in this. Here is what you will hear: Jesus was pleased that, while He could not remain on earth and be with His disciples in person, the Holy Spirit would remain fully present on earth and be with His disciples in person. And, that since the three persons of the Godhead indwell each other at all times, Jesus would continue to be with His disciples, indeed, being with them even more closely than had He not departed and sent the Comforter to them:
The Holy Spirit is Christ's representative, but divested of the personality of humanity, and independent thereof. Cumbered with humanity, Christ could not be in every place personally. Therefore it was for their interest that He should go to the Father, and send the Spirit to be His successor on earth. No one could then have any advantage because of his location or his personal contact with Christ. By the Spirit the Saviour would be accessible to all. In this sense He would be nearer to them than if He had not ascended on high. . . . At all times and in all places, in all sorrows and in all afflictions, when the outlook seems dark and the future perplexing, and we feel helpless and alone, the Comforter will be sent in answer to the prayer of faith. Circumstances may separate us from every earthly friend; but no circumstance, no distance, can separate us from the heavenly Comforter. Wherever we are, wherever we may go, He is always at our right hand to support, sustain, uphold, and cheer (The Desire of Ages, pp. 669-670).
- Jesus gives us gifts for souls. He gives the Holy Spirit who comes to us in person and brings with Himself all other blessings, all other soulwinning gifts
- The Bible teaches there is one God manifest in three persons, and that the three persons indwell each other continually
- The church is assigned an awesome and perilous mission. In order to do God's will, every believer needs the personal presence of Jesus. This experience is only available to us through God's Holy Spirit indwelling us
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