(Jesus said:) “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
Have you ever suffered from an information overload? That’s when you get so much information at one time, that the brain locks down because it can’t assimilate any more. This seems to be happening to the apostles here. Jesus has been telling them all kinds of things — mostly cryptic, as always — and they are beginning to shut down. Jesus can see it, so he tells them, “Ok, chill. I’m done talking. But you still have a lot to learn. So, once I am gone, I am gonna send the Holy Spirit, and he will teach you the rest of it.”
And, of course, that’s what happened. Jesus ascended into heaven, and ten days later the Holy Spirit descended. He taught the apostles what they needed to know and helped to lay the teaching foundation of the early church. Now, here is a question that is really pertinent to us today. Has the Holy Spirit stopped talking to the church? Of course, not. Over the past few days we have been discovering that he is speaking to us, helping us to understand the truths of God. Which leads to another, even more pertinent question. How do we know it’s the Holy Spirit doing the talking?
There are many ways of discerning this, but if you keep these two points in mind it is hard to go wrong. One, as Jesus says today, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth (see John 16:13). Truth has to be universal. If there are 40,000 variations of the truth, there is something wrong somewhere, no? How can there be 40,000 different truths? I am not bashing anybody — I try never to do that in these reflections — I am just holding a mirror up for everybody to see. That’s the purpose of a REFLECTION so let’s just look into it and see where we may be going wrong.
Two, the Holy Spirit is also a Spirit of unity (see Ephesians 4:3). He will not divide God’s people. As we heard numerous times recently, there is one Shepherd, one flock. While there may be many shepherds (small ’s’) looking after many flocks all around the world, if the flocks are divided to the point of fighting, are the shepherds really listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit? The early church was united in its beliefs. There were, of course, just like today, a lot of people propagating heresies, claiming they were speaking for the Holy Spirit. However, the church came together, prayed, and discerned what was right. Please read Acts 15 to see how the early church resolved differences.
Does the church do this anymore? When I say church, I refer to the universal body of believers, not one particular institution. Nobody talks to each other. Everyone is so sure they is right, they just want to do their own thing. This leads to more and more fragmentation, more and more disunity. There is also so much rubbish being taught, nobody knows what to believe anymore, who to listen to. So, what’s the solution? There is no point in highlighting problems without having a solution. As always, I can only point you to the word of God, and Paul has some really wonderful things to say. Please listen to this, and read it over and over again, because I want this to be our faith philosophy.
“I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:1).
One God. One Father. One Savior. One hope. One faith. One baptism. One people.