He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness – That’s Guidance!

Psalm 23_TitleHowbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, [that] shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16:13 KJV)

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come. This points to the definite promise already made (conditioned by his own departure, and so rendering that departure “expedient”) when the Spirit of truth is come, having been sent by me from the Father. He will be your Guide (so that you will not be mere passive instruments, but living agents.

“Things” may be transported, but “persons” only can be “guided.” The pillar of fire and cloud led the way, and Israel struck its camp and followed) into the truth in all its parts.  The “many things” which would thus be said must be presumed to have been said on highest authority; and hence the unapproachable dignity of the apostles themselves; hence the secret of all their binding and loosing power; hence the revelations they have been able to supply with reference to Christ and salvation, glory, duty, and eternal life, and all the laws of the kingdom.

From this vast promise we see the sufficiency of the apostolic teaching, and by implication the portion of it which is committed to writing. Our Lord had delivered to his disciples “nothing but the truth;” but from the nature of the case they must wait for the truth in its completeness, the whole truth of salvation and deliverance. But our Lord proceeds to show that the infallibility of the Holy Spirit is not that he will be a secondary, or tertiary, or independent Divinity. Like Christ, the Son of God, who was in the bosom of the Father, (Joh 7:17, 18 8:28) so he who proceedeth from the Father will not speak from himself, as from any spontaneous, independent source.

He is, in his gracious operations, no rival Deity, but the Spirit of the Father and the Son, (comp. Joh 8:44, where the essence of the lie is that the devil speaketh of his own) and whatsoever things he shall hear (or, heareth, or, shall have heard), that shall he speak. The verb “hear” is used absolutely, and has been variously completed with the words, “of me” or “of the Father,” whether verbally supplemented or not. We learn that the Holy Spirit is limited by the revelation already involved in the great fact of the Incarnation. “He will speak” of that which he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are coming. The revelation will concern Christ and the future. The whole New Testament, so far as it is apostolic, is here declared to be the work inspired by the Spirit”s guidance of the apostles” mind into the truth in all its completeness and in all its parts. Some, like Westcott, refer the ercomena to “the constitution of the Christian Church;” but the most satisfactory view is that the Spirit would himself be the Source of the prophetic hope and wondrous vision of the future which pervades the apostolic writings. Hengstenberg runs here into great detail. His remark is of deep interest that such a promise should be found in the Fourth Gospel, precluding those sublime premonitions which the beloved disciple, when “in the Spirit,” received and recorded concerning the things which are and are to come. (Rev 1:19)
Not only in the writings of John, but of Peter, and in the prophetic spirit given to Paul, we see how the Lord the Spirit fulfilled the promise.
Vers. 13, 14. The guidance of the Spirit.
In the preceding verses our Lord has described the work of the Spirit in reference to the world; he here very fully, though succinctly, declares what is the work of the Spirit on behalf of the Church.

I IT IS NOT THE OFFICE OF THE SPIRIT TO ORIGINATE AND EMBODY TRUTH. This is an error into which Christians of different Churches and different tendencies have fallen an error sometimes designated “mysticism.” Good men have often looked to the enlightenment of the Spirit for a manifestation of new truth. Light proceeds from a visible object directly or by reflection, and by the light we see the object and its visible qualities; but the object must be there in order that the light may reveal it. So is it in the spiritual realm. The Spirit does “not speak from himself;” this is not his office. The truth is embodied in revelation, in the Law, the Gospel, especially in the Lord Jesus, who is “the Truth.” If men turn away from the revelation and look to the Spirit alone for illumination, they will mistake their own tastes and prejudices for the truth of God.

II IT IS THE OFFICE OF THE SPIRIT TO LEAD THE MIND TO RECOGNIZE AND APPRECIATE DIVINE TRUTH. The words here used by Jesus concerning the Spirit are decisive upon this point; he will “guide” and “show.” The truth exists in the revealed counsels of God, and especially in the character and the mediation of Jesus Christ. But for the ignorant, the untaught, the unspiritual, the truth is as though it were not. The work of the Spirit is to witness to the soul, i.e. to bring the soul into harmony with the Divine revelation, to remove the dullness, the coldness, the sin, which would prevent men from realizing God”s truth. A landscape in the dark midnight can afford no man pleasure, however artistic and sympathetic be may be by nature; but when the sun arises and irradiates the scene, and pours the light, in all its power to reveal the beauties of form and color, into the eyes of the beholder, then his pleasure is perfected. So is the case with the soul of man, which needs Divine illumination in order to value and enjoy Divine truth.

III THE SPECIAL OFFICE OF THE SPIRIT IS TO REVEAL AND THUS TO “GLORIFY CHRIST HIMSELF. He knows the way, and guides God”s people into it; he hears the truth, and repeats it in the spiritual hearing of the susceptible; he receives, and what he receives he imparts to those who are prepared to accept it. In these verses the substance of the revelation is represented in three different lights. There is the Person Christ, only to be apprehended by the spiritual quickening which enables the mind to discover in him the Gift of God himself. There is the truth, all gathered up in Chest, and made in him an object of faith and delight to the soul. There are the things that are to come, the unfolding of the counsels of the Mediator in the growth of the Church and the universality of the kingdom.

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