Wednesday, April 10, 2013
The Spirit's Message in John's Writings
1 John 2:28-29 "Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. 29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him."
In yesterday's blog we considered the Apostle John's treatment of the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit in his writings. We noted that with regards to the Gospel of John we see a primary emphasis upon the Majesty of the Spirit, a theme which is also stated once in 1 John 2:25. We also observed that in the Epistle to 1 John, a second emphasis is stated about the Holy Spirit - namely His Ministries. In all of John's writings we see reference to the Spirit's ministry, but it seems that in 1 John, that is the main emphasis. It was in 1 John 2:26-27 in particular that we saw three such ministries: Inspiration of scripture, illumination of scripture and the sealing of the believer in their salvation.
With those first two emphases outlined, we can note another emphasis about the Holy Spirit in John's writings: namely the message of the Spirit to God's people. We will now consider the Holy Spirit's message to God's people in both 1 John and the Book of Revelation.
The Holy Spirit's message in 1 John
As is often the case through scripture wherein we see reference to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit's message always points the saints to Jesus Christ. In this instance of 1 John 2:28-3:3, we see mention of Christ's second coming. As the Holy Spirit speaks in this text, we see two words repeated again and again:
1. Christ's "appearing", which emphasizes the physical, bodily element and visibile signs associated with Christ's second coming. (1 John 2:28 and 3:2)
2. Christ's "coming", which emphasizes the element of Christ's actual "presence" along with the visible, physical signs accompanying His return. (1 John 2:28 and 3:2)
Now these two terms have behind them Greek words that are used in ancient literature to refer to the arrival of a king in a given city following the king's victory over an enemy. In such instances, much fanfare followed, with the citizens coming out to meet their king and he in turn accompanying them back to the city. It was obvious when a King returned back to a city - since you could hear the cheering of crowds, smell the incense and see the King himself accompanied by his army.
The Holy Spirit is using John's words to encourage and inspire hope in the hearts of those reading 1 John. As the Holy Spirit prepares Christians for the day of Christ's return, the overwhelming message is to hope in Jesus Christ. (1 John 2:28-3:3) By hoping in Jesus Christ, two other points follow: hatred of sin and having love for the saints. A summary of these thoughts is outlined below:
1. Hope in Jesus. 2:28-3:3
2. Hate Sin. 3:4-10
3. Have love for the saints. 3:11-12
The Holy Spirit's Message in Revelation
The seeds of thought we just explored in 1 John with regards to the Spirit's message become fully grown trees of thought as we travel to the Book of Revelation. Overwhelmingly the Spirit's message is the key point of Revelation, aiming to point the reader towards the full revelation of Jesus Christ. For now I won't event attempt to cover all that the Spirit has to say in Revelation, however there are some thoughts worth mentioning.
1. Hope in Jesus. The Spirit's message points to Jesus. The Spirit reveals the full length Jesus in Revelation 1, detailing nearly 40 different titles that unfold the Person, work and character of the glorified and ascended Christ.
2. Hatred for sin and having love for the saints. John states seven times in Revelation 2-3 "hear what the Spirit is speaking to the churches." Clearly the Holy Spirit speaks to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 about Jesus' words and thoughts about each of them. Many of their traits can be applied to churches we may see in our own day and time or elements that typically operate at times in the church at large.
As you can see, the Holy Spirit is speaking forth a more detailed form of the message He communicated through John in 1 John, as well as two other additional thoughts:
3. The Holy Spirit reveals to us Jesus Christ, who in turn points our attention to the Father. Therefore the Holy Spirit reveals the throne in chapters 4-5.
4. Then in Revelation 22 we see the Spirit, along with the church, making the final evangelistic appeal of the Bible: "The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost." The Holy Spirit's message and ministry always point to Jesus, since He, along with the Son and the Father, share the same identical Majesty.
We could say more, however I hope you see the wonderful ways in which John speaks to us about the Holy Spirit throughout his writings.