The Arrival of Truth
When Jesus began his ministry, the door to truth was opened. Jesus demonstrated the way to enter:
“Jesus said to him: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
– John 14:6-7
Jesus had a way about teaching that was far superior to the manner of the scribes and Pharisees. When he spoke, he instilled confidence that what he spoke was truth. There was something about his spirit that stirred the inner man of those who listened to him.
“When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.”
– Matthew 7:28-29
But Jesus could not remain with mankind forever. He had to return to the heavens to get back to the Father’s business. In his stead, he provided the Spirit of Truth as a helper and comforter to his followers so they would not be ‘bereaved’ at his absence. (John 14:18) He knew they, and all who would come to know of him, would desire his presence and his unique teaching ability, but he could not fellowship with all of them unless he first went away:
“I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”
– John 16:4-7
The Spirit of Truth is different from the Spirit of the Father. The Spirit of the Father indwells with us.
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”
– 1 Corinthians 3:16
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?”
– 1 Corinthians 6:1
The Spirit of Truth is poured out upon us. It hovers over and around us. It ‘filled the whole house.’ (Acts 2:2) The Spirit of the Father bears witness of our sonship with God. The Spirit of Truth bears witness with the Father’s Spirit, further confirming our sonship. (Romans 8:16) And it also bears witness to Jesus. (John 15:26-27) It is Jesus’ way of distributing himself to us individually so that we can attain a conviction of truth as did those who were blessed with his personal presence in the first century.
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
– Matthew 18:20
The pouring out of the Spirit of Truth at Pentecost 33 C.E. had profound meaning. It was not just a personal gift for a few. It was poured out ‘on all flesh’ – for the benefit of all mankind. It brought in a new era of understanding, far superior to all of man’s past ability to recognize and know truth. When we look back at the Old Testament, we should view those writings with this in mind. Those men were writing to the best of their ability, presenting knowledge to the height of their understanding. But those writings are not to the height of man’s understanding since the beginning of Christ’s ministry. They were inspired by the spirit of understanding, knowledge counsel and wisdom, but they were not inspired by the spirit of truth.
The new era of the Spirit of Truth elevates worship by removing it from group worship to individual sonship and service. It provides personal and individual guidance according to our individual ability and capacity to learn and understand, and it frees us from relying on the sincere but flawed so-called knowledge of man.
“[B]elieve me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”
– John 4:21-23
“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
The pouring out of the Spirit of Truth is no small matter. Understanding this change in man’s affairs is important if we are to truly grasp the significance of the Spirit of Truth and if we are to truly appreciate the unique ministry of Jesus.
Usurping the Spirit of Truth
Jesus brought the ‘new wine’ of truth which is not only new, it is of a superior quality. (Matthew 9:16-17) So it is not just its newness that burst the wineskins of the old knowledge and understanding, it is its potency that breaks the antiquated barriers. Thus, the work the Spirit of Truth quickens the spirit of those who accept its guidance which explains the speedy and profound conversions of the Jews and Gentiles who listened to Jesus’ message in the first century.
After the Spirit of Truth was poured out, it was doing an outstanding job in carrying out its purpose in ‘guiding mankind into all truth.’ The book of Acts is replete with accounts of stunning acts of courage and faithfulness, powerful transformations and large numbers joining themselves to the Jesus brotherhood that was called “The Way.” (Acts 9:2) These brothers and sisters demonstrated an enhanced understanding of spiritual matters and wisely set their sights on the kingdom of the heavens. They found a way to endure whatever earthly calamities befell them with a superlative confidence that could not be shaken. Their minds were opened and for the first time, man knew how to transcend earthly life and safely reach their eternal destination without ritual, without financial wherewithal, without confusion and obeisance to men, and without fear.
However, about 300 years later, those who had taken leadership roles in The Way lost faith in the ability of the Spirit of Truth to do its work. They set themselves up as authorities, lords and intercessors, intruding on the faith of the Christians. They crystalized and circumscribed the teachings of Jesus that they were able to understand, and outlawed any teachings they did not understand. They appointed themselves as doorkeepers to the kingdom of the heavens and the sole channel of salvation. They forced, on threat of death, the unswerving allegiance of all who belonged to the Way. They snatched away the ministry of reconciliation and relegated the brothers to passive audience members.
The work of the Spirit of Truth was usurped by self-appointed men whose agenda was not in harmony with the agenda of Jesus. Instead of pursuing the kingdom of the heavens, these men sought to establish their church as representative of the kingdom on earth. Truth was stalled and mankind was thrust back into servitude to a religious organization very similar to the Jewish system from which they just been freed. The blessings associated with the Spirit of Truth were rejected, and after 1900 years, Christianity finds itself no further ahead than the nation of Israel prior to the arrival of Christ. Indeed, the old wine is taught with more regularity and intensity than the words of the Lord to whom they claim to serve.
Today, Christianity as a whole is confused as to the working and significance of the Spirit of Truth. By and large, they confuse it with the Holy Spirit. While the Spirit of Truth is indeed holy, its work is specific, whereas the work of the Holy Spirit is general and all pervasive. It is this failure to comprehend its unique work that prevents them from recognizing the profound change that Jesus’ ministry brought to the world.