Being Guided By the Spirit of Truth
We asked in the introductory paragraphs, Why would Jesus even say such shocking speech to a crowd of spiritual babes? The reason is two-fold: (1) to manifest their intentions, and (2) to expand the spiritual horizons of those with good intentions.
There was so much that Jesus wanted his apostles and disciples to know.
“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.”
– John 16:12
And while he certainly ‘pushed the envelope’ on occasion, he was careful not to go so far that his true followers were harmed. But it is true that whenever someone expands his horizons, that person is being taken out of his comfort zone. And that can be quite uncomfortable. How will such a person react? Like the faithless, fleshly minded Jews, or the stunned but humble apostles?
Today, spiritual men and women understand what Jesus was saying. They are not stumbled at hard to understand or perplexing statements. Unlike the faithless Jews who were stumbled at Jesus’ words, spiritual people today recognize that there is much they do not know, and they trust that the Spirit of Truth will do its work on their behalf.
We no longer have Jesus with us in the flesh to speak his truths and explain his teachings. But we have something just as helpful in the Spirit of Truth:
“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.”
– John 16:12-14
Clearly, the Spirit of Truth is here to expand our horizons – our spiritual vision. He would guide us into the truths that Jesus was unable to speak. That means that we will be exposed to new and different ideas and the Spirit of Truth, which is better described as the ‘conviction’ of truth, would work with our spirit to bear witness to its accuracy. He allows us to experience the ‘ring of truth’ in wise sayings. (See The Bestowal of the Spirit of Truth.)
When we maintain a circumscribed world of what we accept as truth, the Spirit of Truth cannot do any work on our behalf. There is no room for new truth. (See Expanding Our Spiritual Vision.) If we limit our world of truth to what we have already learned, we are no longer learning. – we are simply re-processing old data. But know that when we step out of our little world of truth, we will unquestionably experience discomfort. Will we ‘go off to the things behind’ or will we move forward in our faith with the Spirit of Truth as our guide?
An examination of Jesus’ teaching methods show that he used illustrations, not concrete facts, to teach his followers new truths. Likewise today, when we seek to expand our horizons – our spiritual vision – the best method to do so is by way of illustrations where we use our imaginations to comprehend spiritual truths. Our imagination is a gift from the Father. It is the means by which we exercise faith. Paul tells us:
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
– Hebrews 11:1
If we cannot actually ‘behold’ the things we ‘hope for,’ how else can we exercise faith except by way of our imagination? We are also told:
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
– Colossians 3:2
How can we apply that scripture except by the use of our God-given imagination? Surely Paul is not telling us to just become stargazers!
Unfortunately, so many Christians today have become ‘institutionalized’ in their religious thinking. They are locked inside of old teachings and old dogma, and cannot, or will not, come out, notwithstanding that Jesus freed us almost 2,000 years ago. Jesus taught that his wonderful truths would be expanded by the Spirit of Truth. And John wrote that our anointing continues to guide us into new truths:
“As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.”
– 1 John 2:27
Overall, we see three potential reactions to new spiritual ideas that do not conflict with known truth: (1) we can be quick to reject it because it does not fit into our current world view; (2) we can accept that there are things that we do not know and though we do not understand it at present, we leave open the possibility that we may understand more about it in the future; or (3) we can remember that Jesus told us there would be more truth to learn and then trust the Spirit of Truth to work on our behalf.
As for us, we take the third option. We will continue to introduce new ideas for our readers to ponder and we will let the Spirit of Truth do its work, while at the same time respecting the sensitivities of our audience. We believe this is the way Jesus taught and we can imagine no greater teacher or teaching method.