“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative. But whatever He hears He will speak, and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.” (John 16:12-15)
“And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it. Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it, and one of the elders said to me, ‘Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.’ And I saw between the throne and the elders a Lamb standing as if slain.” (Rev. 5:3-6)
It’s not uncommon in today’s church settings to hear of the importance of walking in the Spirit, and that is indeed the truth. There has also been a move in recent years to see Jehovah God referred to as “Abba Father,” which has now become “Daddy,” to the exclusion of everything else He is. And while it is true we can come to our loving God through Christ any time we wish, and if we are indeed abiding in Him we live in that love, I wonder if this is all not moving us away from respecting the One to whom the honor, at least in the present, is most due. Let me explain this from the verses above.
Particularly in the Charismatic circles these days, the importance of being filed by the Spirit as evidenced by speaking in tongues, which includes personal prayer language, and walking in the Spirit are paramount. Proponents use as evidence of this the story of Paul and Apollos at Ephesus in Acts 19. In this story, the word concerning the very existence of the Spirit had not gotten out and many were being “baptized into John’s baptism,” not into Jesus’ baptism. Without the name of Jesus, there can be no Holy Spirit involved because, as John 16 above states, Jesus paved the way for Him, sent Him, and the Spirit only speaks or acts as instructed by Jesus. Had these people been evangelized and baptized into Jesus’ baptism, as has been the practice of all evangelists since, the Spirit would have been a part of the package, not a needed separate event.
Furthermore, the idea of a second filling separate from the one we experience when we come to genuine faith in Jesus is, according to that same verse, unbiblical because Jesus says, “When He comes He will glorify Me.” If there is a second and separate filling of the Spirit aside from our placing faith and being baptized in to Jesus, then who is the Spirit bearing witness of and thereby glorifying? Would it not be Himself and not Jesus?
And is the claim the most effective way to pray is your Holy Spirit-led prayer language valid? Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14, “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also. I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also.” I believe there are benefits to speaking and praying in tongues insofar personal communion with God goes, but to think that He either does not hear our prayers as clearly, or respond to them as fully, I believe Paul would have disagreed it would be because we pray them in tongues. Speaking in tongues is a gift set forth clearly in the Scriptures, however, we need to tread very carefully when we start revering the work of the Spirit in us as somehow superior to, greater than, or apart from the clear “Word made flesh:” Jesus.
I do not lay claim to fully understanding the concept of the Trinity any better than anyone else. I choose to think it was God’s way to try to explain the unexplainable to finite beings. However, whatever the case it is clear the Three have entirely unique “domains,” or “functions” within the Godhead, and that is what I choose here to focus on. When it comes to Jesus and the Spirit, I believe the reason Jesus seems to be clearly the preeminent figure in John 16 is the same reason He seems to hold the same position with the Father in the second verse above.
In Revelations 5, the first chapter dealing with the beginning of the end-times scenarios, we find a scene in heaven where the Father is sitting on His throne holding on to a book sealed with seven seals. We find great sadness in heaven because this book that starts off everything cannot be opened. Why? No one is found worthy, “in heaven or on earth,” to open it. This, apparently, includes the One sitting on a throne. Wouldn’t He be the king? Why wouldn’t He be worthy? Again, I don’t believe this is a matter of worthiness as much as of function or domain. But then this sadness is broken as a leader present says, “Don’t worry, there is one who is worthy to open it!” The book is then handed from the One who sat on the throne to a “Lamb standing as if slain” and all heaven breaks in to worship this Lamb who is infinitely worthy “to receive power!” Again, Jesus seems to be the preeminent figure in this scene.
Why would Jesus, in both passages, be the focus? That much is no secret. Revelations says it: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!” How is it the Holy Spirit was able to come and indwell men so we could walk in Him, whereas prior to the Cross He was “placed upon” people? Jesus was slain! Why is it when the time for judgment of the earth comes Jesus will be uniquely qualified to initiate, and then see it through? Jesus was slain! Jesus is the pivot point of it all because He, according to Paul, uniquely emptied Himself of His God-ness, humbled Himself to come to earth, further humbled himself to be born in a dirty manger, live as an itinerant carpenter, be tortured for the sins of man, and then be murdered in the most painful fashion the preeminent purveyors of pain could devise, all to pay for sin and rebuild the bridge between man and God that had been destroyed.
Jesus said in John 5:23 that not even the Father judges anyone anymore but has given all judgment to the Son, so the Son might be honored [feared] as the Father. This mirrors the scene in Revelations 5. Why? Because He is uniquely qualified to judge having been God in heaven and also faced sin in the flesh, been judged, been resurrected, and now uniquely able to destroy sin and the grave. Jesus, as the Son not only of God but also “the Son of Man,” was slain! John 5 goes on to confirm this, “For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself. And He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.” And so, until that day Jesus reigns shouldn’t the priority to be “abiding in Jesus” (John 15), knowing one day we will face the Lion of Judah sitting upon the judgment seat? Until the time after the judgment when sin and death have been put under His feet, true to Paul’s words, Jesus must reign!
Now, it is true when Jesus has accomplished all He came to accomplish He will then become subject to His Father, who then will become our “All in All” (1 Cor. 15). I believe this indicates a merging of the three back in to One who will indeed be our All in All. Jesus will have completed His domain as Savior and Judge, the Spirit will have completed His domain as Helper and Guide for us while on this earth [He will no longer be needed in that capacity when we are in the direct presence of God without the temptations of the flesh], and there will be only ONE: the I AM! But that same verse says, “He [Jesus] must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet” and that hasn’t happened yet. Why must he reign until then? He was slain!
Here is my concern with this emphasis on the Father and the Spirit: for years modern Christendom with its gospel of salvation [see Another Gospel series on this site] has been doing everything possible to dumb Jesus down, making Him nicer and less intimidating in an effort to keep the pews of mega-temples full of people who don’t care to truly commit their lives to Jesus yet want that all-important ticket to heaven punched. He has become [singularly] healer, lover, forgiver and grace-giver. He is not the One to whom the Father has given all judgment, who will tell those who prophesied, cast out demons, and performed miracles “Depart from Me for I never knew you” (Matt. 7), or tell those who were once “in Him” they are going to be “taken away” (John 15). Salvation’s gospel would certainly never tell anyone wanting to follow Him, who had kept the vast majority of His commands, “This you lack,” go and take care of it before you claim to follow Me” (Luke 18).
I am concerned all this talk of “Daddy” and stressing the need to “walk by the Spirit” is just one more attempt to soften the character of our righteous Judge while still holding to the idea we are honoring God. So, while the Father may be Yo Daddy now, and He will certainly be Yo Daddy in eternity, there will be a day when the Book will be handed to the Lamb who was slain, and all judgement in heaven and earth will have been vested in the roaring Lion of Judah alone! As both the verse from Revelations 5 above and the one from John 5:23 attest the Father will judge no one, nor will the Spirit. On that day, my friends, the day known as the Judgment Day, Jesus and Him alone will be Yo Daddy! It will not be cuddle time, our time of walking in the Spirit will be over, and it will be a day of truth and revelation as to whether or not we did, in fact, abide in Jesus and bear the visible fruit of His love.
On that day those who thought their ticket to heaven was punched because they prophesied, did miracles, and cast out demons may never again see Daddy. On that day those who kept the majority of His commands but lacked something else in the Judge’s eyes may never again feel the comfort of the Spirit, and on that day those who knew all mysteries, had all knowledge, faith to move mountains, gave all their possessions to feed the poor, surrendered their bodies to be burned but had not the love of Jesus as the reason may not be able to cuddle up in Daddy’s lap, for no one will be protected from the piercing, all-discerning eyes of our all-mighty righteous Judge! There will be One, and One only, with which we will have to deal when it comes to the disposition of our eternal souls, and that will be Jesus.
Jesus needs to take center stage because He is the link that ties the Trinity and the creation together. Without the Lamb being slain, the Spirit does not come. Without the Lamb being slain, the Father still “does not care for us” (Heb. 8:9). Without the Lamb being slain there is no reconciling God and man and no indwelling of man by the Spirit. Jesus is the One who, indeed, “holds all things together” (Col. 1), by reconciling what was once broken at the Cross. The Father, Spirt, and man all held together by one inescapable act: the Lamb was slain! And so, until that day Jesus reigns shouldn’t the priority be to be “abiding in Jesus” (John 15), knowing one day we will face the Lion of Judah sitting upon the judgment seat? Until the time after the judgment when sin and death have been put under His feet, true to Paul’s words, Jesus must reign!
Oh yes, my friends, the “Name above all names to which every knee shall bow…the Alpha and Omega…the first born of all creation through whom and for whom everything was created and all things hold together, the One before all things, the head of the body, the firstborn from the dead who has first place in everything, the One by whose name alone demons are cast out, the dead are raised, and the sick are healed” needs, for now, to take His rightful place as preeminent in our hearts and our lives! Do you wish to truly walk by the Spirit? Abide in Jesus. Do you wish to please “Abba Father?” Abide in Jesus. Do you wish to invoke the kingdom of heaven on earth? You must do it in the name, and only in the name, of Jesus: the only one who put it all together, holds it all together!