|Posted on October 10, 2018 at 10:30 AM|
One of the least understood functions of the Spirit of God in today’s world is that which Jesus promised over two thousand years ago. At the close of his last “ministry training class” with his disciples he told them it was necessary for him to leave them. Of course, they were shocked and discouraged by that announcement because they were expecting him to set up an earthly kingdom in which they would live happily ever after with him in this chaotic world. Despite his earlier assurance that he would not leave them as orphans but would give them another “Comforter” (the indwelling Holy Spirit) they were still grieved and confused.
Knowing their sorrow Jesus went on to tell them, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement; Of sin because they believe not on me; of righteousness because I go unto my Father and you see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged” (John 16: 7-11). He gave them a thumbnail sketch of the miraculous work the Holy Spirit would be doing in the lives of those who would be living in the world with them. He had promised them earlier that the indwelling Spirit would comfort them, guide them, teach them, and make Jesus real to them. But now he told them what the Holy Spirit was going to do with others around them.
With regards to people of the world Jesus said the Holy Spirit would be the one who would convince them of sin, of righteousness, and of judgement. This fact alone relieves us believers of a great, self-imposed burden that often leads to discouragement and a false sense of guilt. It is not our job to convince anyone of anything! We don’t have to refine our arguments or sharpen our debate skills to convince others they are sinners in need of salvation to avoid God’s judgement. Neither do we need to feel responsible to change people’s thinking and behavior. Our job as ambassadors for Christ is to simply share the good news of what God has done for us as witnesses to God’s amazing grace. The Spirit’s job is to do the convincing.
These early disciples would soon be facing a world that was hostile to their testimony concerning Jesus and his revelation of God’s grace. Regardless of where and how their message was proclaimed Jesus promised them the Holy Spirit would do the work of convincing folks to believe it. While not everyone they spoke to received the message and many even rejected both them and their message, the disciples were not responsible to convince them of the truth. Their job and ours is to simply share the truth we know with those who will listen. It is the Spirit’s job to change their thinking and convince them of sin because they believe not, of righteousness because they cannot see Jesus, and that the prince of this world, their accuser, has been judged by the sacrifice on the cross.
There is no need to try to sharpen our debate skills or enhance our persuasive speech. In fact, as soon as we enter into any argument with another about the truth of the gospel message we have cheapened our message. It is not our responsibility to convince others of the love of God and all that he has done for them, but rather to share the good news through our own personal testimony.