by Chester K. Lehman
Chapter 4 of The HOLY SPIRIT and the HOLY LIFE


"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the Gospel" (Mark 1:15). With these words on Jesus' lips Mark crisply introduced our Lord's public ministry. Even a casual reading of the Gospels will show how central the kingdom of God was to the mission of Christ. Knowing also that Luke attributed the power of the Spirit to Christ in the initial stage of this ministry, we are prepared to understand Christ's words when He said, "If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you" (Matt. 12:28). Furthermore, in close proximity to the petition, "Thy kingdom come" (Luke 11:2). of the Lord's Prayer, we have the words, "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?" (Acts 11:13). All this tells us that the Holy Spirit was empowering Jesus to set up the Messiah's kingdom. The casting out of demons meant the establishing of Messiah's rule. The Father would bestow the Holy Spirit to those who would ask Him. As we examine some of the aspects of the kingdom of God, its righteousness in particular, we gain full assurance that Jesus had been anointed with the Spirit (Luke 4:18) to preach the Gospel of the kingdom. He through the Spirit was revealing its nature and pattern.


The Sermon on the Mount is in truth the very constitution of this kingdom. Its central idea flashes on our consciousness when we hear from Christ's lips, "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness" (Matt. 6:33). In this manner Christ through the Spirit encountered His hearers with the true concept of righteousness. The Beatitudes gave a new look to ethics. Christ made it clear that He was in antagonism, not with the law, but with the pharisaic perversion of the law. The Pharisees had robbed the law of its true ethical character. Christ, on the other hand, gave the law its true meaning and fullest content. Entrance to the kingdom of heaven required a far higher righteousness than that maintained by the scribes and Pharisees. Christ ruthlessly exposed their perversions of the moral codes of Moses. He condemned anger, the lustful look, divorce, swearing, resisting of one who is evil, and the hatred of enemies. "You, therefore, must be perfect," Jesus said, "as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). The standard or model of perfection is God. The Pharisees had whittled away at the law to the point of being able to fulfill it in their own estimation and then boasted of their righteousness as though God owed them a reward for doing so many good deeds. But the standard of godlike perfection would not be changed for them. The standard did not really shrink when they tried to pare it down) nor would it be lowered by their not living up to their claims. Perfection is perfection; it is not according to human measure nor human claim of attainment. Seeking His kingdom and His righteousness is man's first responsibility. To sharpen their consciences, Jesus warned of the possibility of a schism between hearing and doing.

The words on Jesus' lips, "You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect," clearly reflected, if not actually quoted, God's earlier commandments to Israel, "You shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy" (Lev. 19:2) and "Thou shalt be perfect with Jehovah thy God" (Deut. 18:13, ASV). Jesus was therefore building solidly on Old Testament foundations. Guided perhaps by the Septuagint translation of Deuteronomy 18:13, Jesus used the word perfect. We have seen the Old Testament use of this word and should now observe how Jesus enriched its meaning. As the words blameless ( perfect) and righteous were brought into close relation in the cases of Noah and Abraham, so Jesus in His description of righteous conduct climaxed His words with the command to be perfect with a heavenly Father kind of perfection.

Jesus caused righteousness and perfection to stand out in still greater glory as He exposed the inner nature and sinfulness of sin. We have already noted that in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus traced murder back to hatred and adultery to the lustful look. Elsewhere He taught that the tree would have to be made good in order that the fruit might be good. "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matt. 12:33-35). To the people Jesus exposed the error of the Pharisees who held that defilement arose from eating with unwashed hands. "For out of the heart," Jesus said, "come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man" (Matt. 15:19, 20). The greatest besetting sin of the Pharisees condemned by Jesus was hypocrisy. With a fantastic show of righteousness the Pharisees "do all their deeds to be seen by men," love the places of honor, the best seats, and salutations. They shut the kingdom of heaven against men. Splitting hairs over trivialities, they "neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith."

These concepts of righteousness and perfection, as well as of sin, give meaning to Jesus' call to repentance and faith as found in Mark 1:15. Hunger and thirst for righteousness express deep soul needs and issue in change of heart and mind in regard to sin. Deep penitence prepares the way for an abiding faith in Jesus Christ. Perhaps we gain the proper sense of the present imperative tense of Christ's command by translating, "Keep on repenting and believing the Gospel," as though these two experiences are continuous or repeated rather than once-for-all acts. The Gospel of Luke records two most touching scenes of genuine repentance which picture radical changes of mind and sorrow of heart. One is the story of the woman who anointed the feet of Jesus; the other, that of the prodigal. Both had sinned much, both felt unworthiness, both gave genuine evidence of a break with sin and of placing themselves at the mercy of God, and both experienced forgiveness.

The experience of faith is just as vividly portrayed. Jesus guided incidents so as to elicit faith from those in need. Whether it was a case of healing, such as the centurion's servant (Matt. 8:5-13), or one of spiritual cleansing, such as the woman of Samaria (John 4:7-30), the projection of faith in Christ was the same. In all cases the individual's helpless and undone condition, as well as his absolute dependence on Christ, was apparent.

Christ had still another way of representing these experiences. It took form in the principle of discipleship (Luke 9:23-26, 37-62; 14:25-33 and parallels.) Following Christ involves self-denial and a cross. A disciple must take up his cross as Christ did; there is no escape from suffering reproach with Him. Discipleship to Christ involves self-sacrifice and conflict; its demands take precedence over all personal satisfactions, obligations, and heart attachments. Anyone pretending to follow Christ and having his heart and affections in the world is not fit for the kingdom of God. A terrific tension exists for the disciple. Love for Christ must rise above all natural affections. There is either an all-out devotion to Christ or there is none. "Who-ever of you does not renounce all that he has," Jesus said, "cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33). In this teaching Jesus made clear the sort of commitment required of His followers. It is the Christian's response to His lordship.

Let us yet look at Jesus' pronouncements on the two great commandments in the law. They bear repeating: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind," and "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt. 22:37, 30). These resolve righteousness ultimately to love (agape). How ethical in content they are, we see when love is translated into action. To love God is to love Him who alone is good. As to neighbor love, the carping Jews thought it was essential to determine who their neighbor was-a question entirely unthought of in the law. In the story of the Good Samaritan Jesus said, to the shame of the Pharisees, that the Samaritan, who was despised by the Jews, was neighbor to a Jew by showing mercy to him in his dire need. Here belongs mention also of the Golden Rule, which when honestly practiced gives pause to all conduct affecting others. And so we might continue with the whole gamut of Jesus' teaching-such as humility, service, stewardship, inner piety, and the like-all of which show so many facets of the great word righteousness. James Stalker's summary comments on the two great commandments are fitting here. Having noted that both commandments are found in the Old Testament, he says, "There, however, they lie far apart and are buried out of sight. The second of them was still more deeply buried under a misinterpretation of the scribes, to which reference is made in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus rescued them from oblivion; He showed the vital and indissoluble connection between the sentiments which they enforce-love of God and love of man-which had long before and violently separated; and He lifted them up into the firmament of ethics, to shine for-ever as the sun and moon of duty" (James Orr, op. cit., article, "Ethics of Jesus," Vol. II, P. 1029).

In full realization of human depravity and helplessness, some have earnestly asked, "How can we attain to the standard of righteousness maintained by our Lord?" Jesus did not leave this inquiry unanswered. Very clearly and pointedly He showed the way to righteousness. Those possessing the kingdom of heaven are the recipients of kingdom blessings. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness shall be satisfied. The pure in heart shall see God. When inner piety prompts almsgiving, praying, and fasting, God rewards accordingly (Matt. 6:2-18). "Every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened" (Matt. 7:8). As an earthly father gives good gifts to his children, "how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?" (Luke 11:13) Jesus insisted that men "ought always to pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1). Jesus laid responsibility to "enter by the narrow gate" (Matt 7:13). His loving invitation reads, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). On the eve of His ascension Jesus said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.... Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matt. 28:18-20). This promise activated by another, "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you" (Acts 1:8), completes the picture of more than adequate provision for achieving righteousness. Added to all this is the unspeakable promise of our anointed-with the Holy Spirit Lord, our great Exemplar, to give the same Holy Spirit anointing to His disciples.


Among the differences between the Synoptic and Johannine Gospels are the extent and nature of the latter's witness to the Holy Spirit. John's record of the Holy Spirit is a veritable treasure chest filled with distinctive gems not found elsewhere in Holy Writ.

John carefully reported the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ at His baptism and the word of the Baptist that this One upon whom the Spirit descended was He who should baptize with the Holy Spirit. This prepares the reader for the special attention to be given to the Holy Spirit in John's Gospel. It seems altogether providential that in this Gospel the first teaching on the Holy Spirit centers in the necessity of man's being born of the Spirit (John 3:1-15). Nicodemus had not anticipated such a forthright statement from Christ. In his fumbling efforts to grasp the truth he drew from Jesus the needed words of enlightenment. One must be born anew in order to see the kingdom of God. It is a birth of the Spirit. How the birth is brought about, we cannot explain. But the fact of the Spirit's bringing into being a new spiritual life remains. This at once lifts the conditions for entrance into the kingdom of God to a new plane. Undoubtedly Nicodemus thought that any revival which a teacher come from God might institute would be in terms of some refinement of Mosaic precepts. But Jesus didn't proceed to revise the law. He took hold of the condition that made Nicodemus' full obedience to the law impossible. Being a teacher of Israel, even he needed something he could not gain for himself. He was so occupied with interpreting the law that Isaiah's and Ezekiel's teaching on the Holy Spirit seemed never to have impressed him. Now he learned this lesson. The Holy Spirit effects a spiritual birth. This birth is the beginning of a new life. The Spirit indwells a believer in precisely the same manner as He dwelt in Christ. The fact of the new birth is evident, but how or in what manner it comes to pass is beyond human understanding.

The story of the woman of Samaria (John 4:1-42) is unintelligible without the operation of the Spirit in it. The "living water," a spring of water welling up to eternal life," is language which suggests the Spirit. True worship is no longer tied to a place, whether Jerusalem or Gerizim. They are the true worshipers who worship the Father in spirit and truth. This is the condition because "God is [a] spirit." There must be established, then, a channel for Spirit communication. This is possible through the Holy Spirit who, as we learn elsewhere, indwells the true worshiper.

In the discourse on the Bread of Life Jesus confronted the Jews with His own spiritual nature. The conversation growing out of this message likewise becomes plain if we posit the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus claimed to be the living bread which came down from heaven. "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood," said Jesus, "has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.... [He] abides in me, and I in him. . . . [He] will live because of me" (John 6:54-57). When the Jews took offense at this language, Jesus added, "It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the 'words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life." (John 6:63). Here then are great spiritual realities. They are intelligible alone on the basis of the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in Christ. This life is given to us by the Spirit who indwelt Christ. The Spirit indwelling Christ gave the words of Christ the dynamic of "spirit and life."

On the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus gave more light on the Holy Spirit. Prompted perhaps by the cessation of the water offering on the last day of the feast, Jesus said, "If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, 'Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.'" John explained, "Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:37-39). Here Jesus was promising a quenching of spiritual thirst. From within should flow never-failing streams of spiritual life and power. The indwelling Spirit was their source. In this lies the explanation of the dynamic of men and women of God. There is also the inherent idea that these streams of Holy Spirit power flow outward to others, leading them to a similar faith in Jesus Christ.

We look to the upper room discourses for Jesus' fullest revelation of the Holy Spirit. In a context of loving intimacy Jesus was speaking of the disciples' doing greater works than He was doing. The reason for this lay in His going to the Father. "Whatever you ask in my name," Jesus said, "I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son" (John 14:13). Love to Christ was to be proved by keeping His commandments. In such a setting Jesus said, "I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you" (John 14:16-18). Then in verse 26 He added, "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you."

Another pointed to a Counselor of the same kind as Jesus. Counselor, a word of Jesus' own choosing, very designedly comprehended all that Jesus meant to the disciples and what the coming Spirit should mean to them. Translated Counselor (RSV), Comforter (KJV, ASV), Advocate (Weymouth, ASV margin), Helper (Moffatt, Williams, ASV margin), Someone else to stand by you (Phillips), the Greek word pardkletos is passive in form and means literally called to one's side. Some authorities would adopt Paraclete so as to conserve all the connotations of the Greek original; perhaps in the mid-twentieth century we should choose Helper as its nearest English equivalent (Consult terms in Greek lexicons, Bible dictionaries, encyclopedia, and word books. See commentaries in loco).

More important than to fasten on one word to express the meaning of pardkletos is it to grasp Christ's use of the word. There is that in which the Spirit takes the place of Christ in this world, and yet Christ does not cease to act or to be present among His people. In the presence of the Spirit Jesus has not left His followers desolate; He has come to them. As Jesus is the truth, the Counselor is the Spirit of truth. How this language is to be interpreted in relation to Pentecost is a difficult exegetical question, but there is no particular need to have it settled. In the fullness of the Pentecost experience the Spirit is with (Gr. meth-in the midst, in companionship with) His followers, dwells with (Gr. Par--by the side of) them, and is in (Gr. en--within) them. Jesus unfolded the Spirit's mission further, "He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (Jon 14:26). Here then are promises of the Spirit's teaching all things needful for carrying out Jesus' commission and also of His power to recall all that Jesus had taught.

The Spirit's work is one of bearing witness to Christ ((John 15:26). Jesus said, "He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you" (John 16:14). This teaching gives direction in understanding the nature of the Spirit's work, All that the Spirit does is centered in Christ. The enthroned Christ is present in the Spirit. Our Lord carries on His Messianic function through the Spirit. He operates in the power of the Spirit precisely as He did during His earthly ministry.

Deep mystery surrounds the statement that the Spirit could not come unless Christ went away. Perhaps we should understand that Christ's continued state of humiliation limited His operations through the Spirit. Only by exaltation and enthronement could the Messiah truly wield universal authority and power through the Spirit.

The definitive statement of the work of the Holy Spirit comes to us in Jesus' familiar words: "And when he comes, he will convince the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in me; of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged" (John 16:8-11). These words hardly need explanation. But let us examine the manner in which the Spirit works. It is a convicting, a convincing, a reproving, a rebuking, an exposing, a confuting-men of sin, a proving guilty (See valuable note in William Hendrickson's, The Gospel of John (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1954, Vol. II, pp. 324, 325), or as Trench puts it, "a bringing sin home to the conscience" (Synonyms of the New Testament (London: Macmillan)). The Spirit encounters the whole being of man-the mind, the heart, and the conscience. It is the Spirit of God engaging the spirit of man. The end of the Spirit's work is a convicting of sin and of righteousness and of judgment. Convicting of sin leads to a consciousness of the sinfulness, blameworthiness, and damning effects of sin. Convicting of righteousness lays on the conscience the perfect moral standard of God to which one should attain. Convicting of judgment warns of the outpouring of God's wrath upon those who refuse to conform themselves to the likeness of God and who love sin and wickedness.

The Spirit uses certain facts to bring conviction of sin home to the conscience. The first is man's refusal to believe in Jesus. John had already shown (John 3:19-21) that the basis of unbelief is a love for darkness rather than light. Faith is more a matter of the heart than of the intellect. The record of John had demonstrated the cogency of the signs which proved "that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God," together with the corollary truth, "that believing you may have life in his name" (John 20:31). The second fact is that Jesus has gone to the Father. His ascent to heaven is a matter of historical record. The Father reversed the sentence of Pilate and vindicated Christ's righteousness by raising Jesus from the dead and by exalting Him at His own right hand. The third fact is that the "ruler of this world is judged." In Christ's resurrection, judgment was passed on Satan; he is in a state of condemnation. The breaking of Satan's power is manifest in all whom Christ "has delivered ... from the dominion of darkness and transferred ... to the kingdom of his beloved Son" (Col. 1:15).


John's teachings on the Holy Spirit and on the holy life are but parts of one grand whole. He allowed Peter to lead us to the heart of the matter by reporting the words of his confession to Jesus. "You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God." (John 6:68, 69). For Peter, Jesus' teaching centered in eternal life. Through faith he had come to know a great fact. It was: Jesus is the Holy One of God. From this we may gather that this Book constitutes one grand body of teaching on how one gains eternal life. Briefly, it is to come to know Jesus as the Holy One of God. At once we seem lifted to the highest plane of ethical and spiritual thought. Life is measured in terms of the eternal. It is attained through knowing the Holy One of God. It follows that to know the Holy One of God there needs to be a conformity to the likeness of the Holy One. The main thrust of the argument of the Book becomes, then, the way to conformity to the likeness of the Holy One of God.

To point the way to life eternal John employs six great words. They are: life, belief, light, truth, knowledge, and love. These become the ethical and spiritual conditions of eternal life. Their interlocking nature may already have been observed. Let us study some of the teachings which embody these great concepts. Truly they are gateways to life eternal.

The record of Nicodemus' visit to Jesus, viewed in the foregoing section, gives most of these controlling ideas of John's argument. The first thing Nicodemus had to learn was that mere revival of legal requirements did not avail for entrance to the kingdom of God. Hence human effort was impotent to accomplish the goal. Nicodemus needed to learn that the kingdom of God is spiritual and therefore his problem was not one of more intense effort to attain righteousness by perfect law obedience, it was not one of fully conforming to God's standard, nor was it one of achieving likeness to God by human effort; rather, it was one of a new birth, an internal renewal, a spiritual transformation to be wrought in Nicodemus by the Holy Spirit. In brief, the Holy Spirit needed to create a spiritual life within. One must be born of God. For this experience Nicodemus would have to yield himself in faith to God. "He who believes in the Son has eternal life." Nicodemus needed to learn also that this new birth is ethical in character. Believing in the Son and not obeying the Son are as opposite as light and darkness. With utter frankness John wrote, "men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19). Light and darkness stand in irreconcilable moral antagonism. At a later time Jesus declared, "I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12). And still later He said, "I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness" (John 12:46).

The fourth ethical word arising in John 3:1-21 is truth, "He that doeth the truth cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, that they have been wrought in God" (John 3:21, ASV). Light and truth are twin ideas, both inherently ethical. Truth) as used by John, rises far above the common philosophical sense of being in exact agreement with reality Truth is reality itself. "I am . . . the truth" (John 14:6), Jesus said. It is characteristic of truth that it leads to action. He who does the truth comes to the light, in order that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God. Jesus drew the ethical character of truth still more clearly in John 8:31-47. Speaking to believing Jews, He said, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free" (John 8:31, 32). The element of obedience is the condition for knowing the truth. Truth possesses the power to make one free. Jesus made it clear that "every one who commits sin is a slave to sin" and "if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed." In verses 39-47 Jesus presented the moral issue completely. The devil "has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But, because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? He who is of God hears the words of God; the reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God." It is apparent that truth does not compel belief. Being ethical in nature, one can choose to reject the truth. Even though no one could convict Jesus of sin, He could not compel anyone to believe the truth. "He who is of God," he who has been born of God, he who has the nature of God, hears the words of God.

It is according to this concept of truth that Jesus prayed, "Sanctify them in the truth: thy word is truth.... For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth." (John 17:17-19, ASV). Jesus had just prayed that God should keep His disciples from the evil one. A real problem existed. To carry out their mission in the world the disciples could not be taken out of the world. Jesus chose sanctification as the way both of keeping the disciples from the evil one and of preserving them against "being of the world."

All through Old Testament times this was God's way of keeping His people from evil. The verb to sanctify, we learned, has two general senses: first, to set apart for God or to declare as belonging to God, to consecrate; second, to make holy, to cleanse, to purify, to make conformable in character to God. Used of Christ, it can mean only the former, for He needed no cleansing. Used of God's people, there was first the formal setting apart for God; but since God is holy, there had to follow a process of purifying, of making one conformable in character to the holy God. While careful study of the Old Testament led to the discerning of these two senses, at no place did it formally distinguish between them, else the one word could not have been used for both. Perhaps we should see a blending of the two in Jesus' prayer. (Scholars are divided on this point. See lexicons, translations, and commentaries.) The tenses of the verb suggest a formal consecration, and the relation of the truth to the work of consecration (sanctification) suggests a cleansing. They are to be sanctified in (Gr. en) the truth. The exact relationship is difficult to determine. It may mean by or through the truth or more likely in the sphere of the truth. In either case the truth cleanses. What a wonderful approach to sanctification! Truth cleanses. Westcott very aptly comments, "The end of the truth is not wisdom - .. but holiness." (F. C. Cook, Ed., The Holy Bible Commentary, London: John Murray, 1880, "St. John's Gospel, Commentary and Critical Notes," Vol. II, p. 245.)

Jesus made two further affirmations: first, "Thy word is truth"; and second, "For their sake I consecrate [sanctify, ASV] myself." The former gave highest value to the Word of God. It is the very embodiment of truth, even as Jesus is the truth. The latter affirmation expressed Jesus' consecration to His supreme work of redemption. Truth has played a most significant role in the ethical unfolding of this Gospel. Since the Holy One of God is the very embodiment of the truth, it most naturally follows that the truth possesses the dynamic to transform one into the likeness of this Holy One.

Returning once more to Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus, we find the fifth ethical condition to eternal life. The learned teacher of Israel did not know the earthly things of which Jesus was speaking. To know, as used by Jesus, rises above intellectualism. One knows when he believes the testimony of those who have seen. Peter reiterated this in his brave confession noted earlier (John 6:68, 69). The sequence of believing and knowing is important. "We have believed," said Peter, "and have come to know." The knowledge gained was the spiritual fact that Jesus is the Holy One of God. This knowledge was not gained by human apprehension.

The ethical aspect of knowledge appeared again in John 7:14-24. Debate was centering in the source of Jesus' teaching. "My teaching is not mine," Jesus said, "but his who sent me; if any man's will is to do his will, he shall know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority." (John 7:16, 17). By this language Jesus made man's willingness to do God's will the condition for knowing. In a different setting. but with the same turn in meaning. Jesus said later, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free" (John 8:31, 32). Here, knowing the truth is promised to those who continue in His Word; and inability to understand (know) follows when one cannot bear to hear His Word. The formula, then, for gaining knowledge of the Holy One of God lies in the areas of belief in Jesus as the Christ, of willingness to do God's will, of continuing in His Word, and of hearing the words of God. How marvelously gaining a knowledge of the Holy One of God shows the way to conformity to the likeness of this Holy One!

Jesus placed the capsheaf to knowledge as a condition to eternal life when He said, "This is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). More accurately, this knowledge is eternal life.

John's witness to the ethical conditions of eternal life came to a climax in the love relationship of disciple and Lord. "A new commandment I give to you," Jesus said, "that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples" (John 13:34, 35). The bearing of this new commandment on ethics thrusts itself upon us when we read Jesus' later words, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments" (John 14:13). Love to Christ is love to the Holy One of God. This means a love of holiness. Keeping His commandments is love's response to the Holy One of God.

By way of summary we conclude that John gives a most potent witness to the ethical and spiritual conditions of receiving eternal life. He accomplishes this through the use of great ethical words, such as life, belief, light, truth, knowledge, and love. Each is a gateway, as it were, to eternal life. Here, again, is evident the vital connection of the Holy Spirit with the achievement of conformity to the likeness of the Holy One of God.

The source of this booklet is

Chapter IV. of The HOLY SPIRIT and the HOLY LIFE by Chester K. Lehman. Copyright 1959, renewed, by Herald Press, Scottdale, Pennsylvania. Copyright now owned by Leland M. Haines, Northville, MI 48167.


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June 22, 2000