When the Spirit is Come
January 16th, 1966 @ 8:15 AM
WHEN THE SPIRIT IS COME
Dr. W. A. Criswell
John 15, 16
1-16-66 8:15 a.m.
Dear people, you are sharing the services on the radio with the First Baptist Church in Dallas. Now the title of the sermon is When the Spirit is Come; and this is the pastor bringing this message. In the Book of John, chapter 15 closes with these words: "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me" [John 15:26]. Then in the middle part of the sixteenth chapter:
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 judgment.
Of sin, because they believe not on Me;
Of righteousness, because I go to My Father, and ye see Me no more;
Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
This is the outlined assignment of the Holy Spirit of God, whom the Lord Jesus sent in glory and in power into this world at Pentecost [Acts 2:1-4]. And He abides with us in wondrous working, miracle delivering power to this present moment.
The word spirit, isn’t it unusual? In the Old Testament, in the New Testament, in Hebrew, in Greek, the same imagery, the identical imagery is used. In the Old Testament, the word is ruach, "breath, wind, spirit." In the New Testament, it is pneuma, "breath, wind, spirit." John 4:24, "Jesus says, pneuma ha theos," emphatic, "God is Spirit, pneuma." There is in it a conception of great power.
If you lived in Texas, you know of a tornado. If you have seen a great heavy train hurtling down a track, it is controlled by pneuma, air. In a granite quarry in North Carolina, the foreman said, "Out of this quarry came the granite for the building of a municipal building in New York City." And he said, "I can raise a solid acre of granite, ten feet thick, to any height desired." And a man said, "How?" And the foreman said, "With air"; power.
There is also in the imagery the delicate, soft presence that can just be so easily dismissed like a dove. Do you remember in the story of Elijah as he stood at the entrance of the cave, there was a great storm, and God was not in the storm? There was a great earthquake, and God was not in the earthquake. And there was a great fire. God was not in the fire. Then there was a still small voice; and God was in the stillness, gentleness, ruach, pneuma, "breath" [1 Kings 19:11-12]. And how easily dismissed: like a man can shut out a great sunset just by closing his eyes or blot out the whole created universe above him just by closing his eyes, so the Holy Spirit can be so easily dismissed.
And He is called by the nomenclature of our Lord, He is called a parakletos: "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the parakletos will not come; but when the parakletos is come…" [John 16:7-8]. There’s not a word in our language that even begins to reach the meaning of that Greek word parakletos. So many translations of the Bible, Mr. Zondervan, will just spell out the Greek and call it the Paraclete; "But when the Paraclete is come" [John 16:8]. The Greek word is this: para, paralea, parallelogram, para, "alongside," para; and kaleo, "to call, to call alongside, the one called alongside."
So you could translate the word comforter, helper, encourager, intercessor, the attendant presence of God; the one called alongside to guide, to teach, to encourage, to instruct. As the Lord walked along by the side of the two on the way to Emmaus, they were so discouraged and so sad. And the Lord opened the Word of God to them, and instructed them in the way sovereign of the grace of the Lord! [Luke 24:13-32].
So the Holy Spirit, the One who walks alongside, a parakletos; but also, the Lord speaks of Him here, "And when He is come, He will reprove, reprove, elegcho, elegcho, He will convict," let’s say, "He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" [John 16:8]. So He is not only a parakletos, a Paraclete, One alongside, but He is also the speaker to our souls and the reprover and convicter of God in our hearts [Romans 8:12-17].
And the Lord outlines that ministry: "And when He is come, He will elegcho the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" [John 16:8]. Then He delineates, He describes the office work of the Holy Spirit in His convicting power in our souls: "Of sin, because they believe not on Me" [John 16:9]. There is one sin, the sin; there is one sin that is the foundational iniquity of all other sins. That one sin is the sin of refusing Jesus our Lord.
And all of the other sins are but a brood and a progeny of that one first rejection. And there’s not much use to patch up a life here, and mend it here, and put a poultice there, and some kind of ointment there, when the trouble is there is a wrong relationship with God, and the iniquity is in the bloodstream.
I’ll never in this earth forget the first time I ever heard the word "penicillin." In my pastorate was a lovely family, and they had a little girl about thirteen years old. And that little child had suffered the most agonizing pain, as abscesses would form in her body. First, it would be in one place, then the doctor would be able to heal it. Then another place, then another place, then another place, and finally an abscess had formed in a most vital part of her body.
And the doctor said, "There is no hope. The child will die." And I went to see the father in the hospital room as he stood so forlorn and disconsolate by the side of that little girl.
Then he said to me, "But pastor, there is a ray of hope. There is a ray of hope. There has come word to us that there is a new wonder miracle drug, and it is called penicillin, penicillin." And he said, "What little there is, is under the direction and care and in the possession of the Surgeon General of the United States in Washington D.C. They have just discovered it, penicillin."
I thought, "What a strange name, penicillin." And he said, "Through our senator, we have made appeal to the Surgeon General of the United States, if they will not take of the precious and small supply and give just enough to us for the saving of our little girl." Well, I bowed my head with him. I prayed that it might come to pass, and it did. The Surgeon General of the United States government took that small and precious quantity that they then had, just discovered, and sent it down. And they injected it into the bloodstream of that precious child. And she lived! She got well.
That is all humanity. There are abscesses in us. There are eruptions in us. There are all kinds of breakings out in us. But the poultice will not do and the ointment will not do, for the trouble lies in the bloodstream, and there must be some wonder miracle of grace that can cleanse us and heal us in our souls. There is only one sin; the sin, the rejection of the mercy and love and grace of Jesus Christ [John 3:36, 16:9], and all of the rest are just corollaries and concomitants.
By that I mean this. Young people, young people, oh, they say, "If I become a Christian and if I accept Jesus as my Savior, I won’t have a good time any longer. It sucks out life from me, and my days are sterile and barren. I cannot accept Christ." You see, they don’t trust Him that real joy and real gladness and real blessing would come in Jesus. But in rejecting the Lord, they fall into all of those compromises that destroy their beautiful lives.
Or take a man who thieves and steals and robs. He doesn’t trust Jesus. "Today, give us this day our daily bread" [Matthew 6:11]. But instead of trusting the Lord, that God would honor his life and give him bread to eat and all of the necessities of life, he will steal, or rob, or kill somebody, or shoot a president of a bank down. Or, the Lord says, "Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the Lord" [Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30]; but instead, a man rejecting God will be angry and will do violence and murder. All the sins you can name are but a brood and a progeny of that one sin; rejecting the Lord, no trust, and no commitment, and no faith in our blessed Savior, "Of sin, because they believe not on Me" [John 16:9].
Then that elegcho of the Holy Spirit, "Of righteousness, because I go to My Father, and you see Me no more. Righteousness, because I go to My Father, and ye see Me no more" [John 16:10]. You see, as long as Jesus walked among us in the days of His flesh, how easy to bring to our Master, "What is right and what is wrong? And what should I say, and what should I do? And what choice should I follow? And what decision should I make?" But when the Lord is gone, who shall guide us into all righteousness? And to whom can we take our problems, and before whom can we ask counsel and wisdom for our decisions? Who shall teach us in the way and guide us in our thoughts and in our lives?
The Holy Spirit of God shall take the place of our blessed Lord, or rather and better, shall be in us our blessed Lord [John 16:7, 13]. And attending us, and walking alongside with us, He can speak to us in the middle of the night, in the middle of the day, in the summer and in the winter, in days of sadness and sorrow, in days of joy, in days of decision. There is no problem, and there is no way, and there is no forking of a road, and there is no parting, there is not anything but that the Holy Spirit of God can be to us Jesus our righteousness [John 14:16-17].
Our Lord’s gone away, and we don’t see Him. But the Spirit of God speaks to our hearts and He will tell us [John 14:26]. There’s not any decision ever that a man shall make, never, but that the Holy Spirit of God will answer him certainly, and finally, and definitely.
And that’s why the apostle Paul will write so earnestly, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, by which we are sealed unto the day of redemption" [Ephesians 4:30]; for when the Spirit of God speaks to us, and we grieve Him and disobey Him, then our course of righteousness and our direction and guidance into the things of God is destroyed.
And oh, what sadness inevitably is attendant thereunto and that follows thereafter, grieving the Spirit of the Lord. Over here in the life of Saul, "But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul" [1 Samuel 16:14]. Saul was a saved man. I listen to people discussing in Sunday school classes and around as to whether Saul was saved.
Why, Samuel said to Saul, "Today thou shalt be with me" [1 Samuel 28:19]; and Samuel was God’s great prophet. "And Jonathan," said Samuel, "will be this day with me" [1 Samuel 28:19], and Jonathan was the fairest flower of the Old Testament economy. Saul was saved like we are saved. But he disobeyed. He said no to the Spirit of God.
And the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul [1 Samuel 16:14]; the Spirit of prophecy left him. And any man that lives, no matter how high exalted, or how wonderfully God has used him in days passed, even Paul himself says, "I keep my body under subjection, lest I, having preached to others, should become a castaway!" [1 Corinthians 9:27]. Any man can sin away his ministry and his life of service to Jesus; and Saul did. "And an evil spirit from the Lord afflicted him, troubled him" [1 Samuel 16:14].
Or take this sad description, the last part, the last half of the sixty-third chapter of Isaiah, and into the sixty-fourth chapter, is one of the most beautiful psalms in this world, one of the most glorious; and he is describing how God has nurtured and carried His people like a shepherd. Then he says, "But they rebelled, and vexed the Holy Spirit; therefore the Spirit turned to be their enemy, and He fought against them!" [Isaiah 63:10]. Oh, oh, that the Holy Spirit of God, when we grieve and vex and disobey, should be the instrument for our undoing and our judgment to cut us down!
You remember grieving God in rejecting the Lord: for forty years they wandered in a wilderness until every one of that generation had died except Joshua and Caleb. Oh! [Numbers 32:11-13]. "And the Holy Spirit, when He is come, He will convict us of righteousness, because I go to My Father, and you see Me no more" [John 16:10].
Those are sad words, that we could grieve and vex Him [Ephesians 4:30]. But these are triumphant words: when we follow the directive of the Holy Spirit of God, we are invincible and unbeatable – said that when they looked upon the face of Stephen, it shined, it was as though they looked upon the face of an angel, the Spirit of God upon him [Acts 6:15]. And the Holy Scriptures say in Romans 1:4 that it was by the Spirit of God, the Spirit of holiness, that the body of Jesus was raised from the dead. We are invincible and unbeatable when we follow the directive of the Spirit of God, His teaching, His guidance, His leadership. That’s been the testimony of God’s saints through the ages.
Do you remember the beautiful introductory quatrain of verses of Sir Tennyson’s, of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s "Sir Galahad"? In the Knights of the Round Table, it was not Lancelot; it was Galahad who found the Holy Grail. And do you remember the words?
My good blade carves the casques of men,
My tough lance thrusteth sure,
My strength is as the strength of ten,
Because my heart is pure
"Of righteousness, because I go to My Father, and ye see Me no more" [John 16:10].
Then the third, "Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged" [John 16:11]. The Holy Spirit has a word for us, a revealing word for us, a revealing and a warning word for us. "Elegcho, He will convict, He will speak to our souls of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged, or condemned"; his cause is lost. Satan is in a sinking ship. He belongs to a doomed dominion.
And what the Lord is saying here is that those who identify themselves with the kingdom of Satan shall also be condemned! For Satan is lost irretrievably, eternally, inexorably, forever and forever! And those who identify themselves with the life and kingdom of Satan are also doomed, and damned, and judged, and lost forever.
In the tenth chapter of the Book of Luke, our Lord says, "I saw," and in the King James Version, it is translated, "I saw Satan as lightning, falling from heaven." Oh no, oh no! What the Lord said was, when those disciples came back and reported the marvelous power of the Holy Spirit upon them [Luke 10:17], what the Lord said, "I saw Satan as lightening fallen from heaven, fallen from heaven, already!" [Luke 10:18]. There’s no doubt about this outcome.
There is no discussion allowed or permissible or possible about who shall prevail in this earth. It shall be our Lord Christ. And Satan belongs to a condemned judgment; and that judgment is brought to our hearts by the Holy Spirit of God, "Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged" [John 16:11]. And when we give our lives to him, or when we follow him, or when we are beguiled or seduced by him, we are giving our souls and our destiny to a lost kingdom, and a damned and doomed dominion! And the Holy Spirit whispers that to us.
I see that everywhere, everywhere. If we had hours, we could talk about it. I want to take one in a little different kind of a way than you might suppose for. A family, affluent, socially minded, successful, known, gracious, worldly and unbelieving, and upon a day, their one little boy becomes ill. They’d never taken him to Sunday school. They’ve never brought him to church. They’ve never named the name of God to that little lad except in an oath and in a curse. He knows nothing of Jesus and of the grace and mercy of the Lord.
And upon a day, the doctor says, "The little fellow will soon die." And all medical science and all of the wealth in the world cannot spare the life of the little lad. So, the parents tell the little fellow that he cannot live; he is going to die. And the little boy, knowing nothing of Jesus, and knowing nothing of the Lord, and knowing nothing of all of the preciousness that our Savior is to us, the little fellow is terrified. Oh, oh, oh, oh! And finally, the little fellow says, "Oh, Daddy, don’t take me out some far away place, don’t. Please, Daddy, let me stay here close to you and Mommy. Bury me by the door. Bury me by the door. Let me stay close to you. I’m afraid. I’m afraid."
Isn’t it strange how these things are? That remembrance came back to me two weeks ago when I had finished preaching the dedicatory sermon at the First Baptist Church in Bossier City, Louisiana. And I had closed that message with the vision of John in the fourth chapter of the Revelation: "And I saw a door opened in heaven; and a great voice as of a trumpet, saying, Come up hither" [Revelation 4:1]. I closed the message with that vision of the opened door into glory.
And when I had finished, there came a mother up to me on the platform, and she said, "Oh, oh, I cannot tell you what God has done for me this evening!" She said, "Our little boy has leukemia. Our little lad has leukemia. And he is dying, and it’s a matter of days." And she said, "It has been so dark and so hopeless, and I’ve been so crushed"; but she said, "I don’t know why I never saw it before, but for the first time, while you were preaching tonight, I saw a door opened into heaven, and our little lad is just one whom God hath chosen before the time to Himself in glory, a door opened in heaven."
That’s what God will do for you. That’s what the Spirit of Jesus will do for you. You identify yourself with this world and with Satan, and it’s a doomed and a lost kingdom, just wailing and wringing hands and tears and lamentation. But you open your heart to the pleadings of the Holy Spirit, and there is light, and life, and glory, and a door opened into heaven.
Oh, precious people, what God hath purposed in the leadership of the Holy Spirit, if we would just open our spiritual eyes to see, and open our spiritual ears to hear, and follow in the blessedness of the leadership of His presence! God grant it to us who name His name.
Now we must sing our song of appeal. Somebody today give himself to Jesus, you. Somebody today to come into the fellowship of our precious church, in this balcony round, on this lower floor, as God shall say the word to your heart; on the first note of the first stanza, come. When we stand up in a moment, may we stand up coming, and God give us victories and souls this day, while we stand and while we sing.
THE PLEADING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Dr. W. A. Criswell
John 15:26, John 16:7-11
A. Language can hardly describe the Spirit of God
1. Ruach, pneuma – "breath, wind" (John 4:24)
a. Imagery of power and gentleness (1 Kings 19:11-12)
2. Parakletos – the one who is called alongside (Luke 24:13-32)
3. Elegcho – "reprove, convict"
II. Sin – the rejection of Christ
A. The mother of all sins (Matthew 12:31-32)
B. Only unpardonable sin
1. All others forgiven
a. Young people, "I want to have a good time."
b. Trusting God to provide
c. Trusting God will repay (Hebrews 10:30)
III. Righteousness – the representative of Christ
A. Jesus no longer on earth to show us the way
B. A terrible thing to crush His leadership (Ephesians 4:30, 1 Samuel 16:14, 28:19, 1 Corinthians 9:27, Isaiah 63:10)
C. When following His leadership, we are invincible (Acts 6:15, 7:55, Romans 1:4)
IV. Judgment – the tragedy of the lost cause
A. Prince of this world already judged (John 16:11)
B. Those who identify themselves with him face inevitable judgment (Luke 10:18)