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John 15:26-16:4 Study Guide: Who is the Holy Spirit? Part 3: The Helper Who Glorifies Jesus

Community Group Study Guide — Who is the Holy Spirit? The Helper who Glorifies Jesus 
John 15:26-16:4

Study Information:
This is the third passage highlighting the role of the Holy Spirit as our helper. We’ve learned that the Holy Spirit is God’s presence in us and that he is our Teacher who guides us in truth. Jesus now speaks to the Holy Spirit’s role to bear witness about Jesus and how the Spirit often works through the church to do that. Likewise, our passage addresses the temptation we have to fall away when we’re opposed or persecuted for our faith. It is no secret that many people want to give up when things get difficult. This happens with personal change, academics, sports, work and pretty much any area of our lives including faith. When we face persecution, Jesus wants us to know about the resource we have in the Holy Spirit to keep us from falling away.

Bearing Witness about Jesus
John 15:26-27
The Holy Spirit acts as a spotlight on Jesus, drawing our attention to him and helping us to do the same. This section of John’s gospel focuses on Jesus prepping his disciples for his departure and their own inner turmoil and trials they’d face when he went to the cross. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would guide them into truth and bring them peace in his role as the “comforter,” and that the Spirit would bear witness about Jesus. Notice in John 15:26 that Jesus says that he will send the Holy Spirit from the Father. The Holy Spirit is not a subservient member of the Trinity or 3rd place as God but he does have the role of proceeding from the Father. The Doctrine of the Trinity is that God is one being who exists eternally in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Son is “begotten” of the Father and the Holy Spirit “proceeds” from the Father, as He is sent by the Son. These distinctions are important, not because they show us an order of importance but rather in how they highlight relationship within the Trinity. We also see, in this relational language, that God is characterized by self-giving love rather than self-centeredness or division. Jesus spoke of this when he taught about his mission was to do what the Father commanded or to glorify the Father. We now learn that the Holy Spirit has the same type of ministry in relationship to Jesus, he wants to make Jesus known and bring him glory. Some theologians call this “perichoresis.” The word “choresis” is the root of where we get the word “choreography.” The idea is that there is this “Divine dance” where each person of our Triune God exalts, loves, delights and glorifies the other.  

The Holy Spirit’s does not to exalt himself or shine a spotlight on his own particular work in our salvation, but rather he bears witness to the person and work of Jesus. How does he do this? Jesus answers this question in John 15:27, “you also will bear witness” and in John 16:8-11 where he details out the work of the Holy Spirit on the hearts of those in the world. For our purposes, let’s focus on how the Holy Spirit uses the church to bear witness about Jesus. 

Later, these followers of Jesus get sent out to proclaim the message of Jesus in word and action, testifying to all they’ve seen and heard about Jesus through his ministry. They get to spend the next few decades going all over the Ancient Near East speaking about the message of salvation in Christ and demonstrating it in action. As you read through the book of Acts and study church history you get the picture that some people and places had open hearts to hear and believe and other communities rejected the person and work of Jesus and persecuted the church. The Holy Spirit gave them boldness and helped them to persevere in the faith as they were opposed. 

Persevering in the Faith
John 16:1-4
The heart of Jesus is to keep those who are his in relationship to him. That is why he disclosed all of this so that they would not fall away (John 16:1). Jesus already taught that the Christian life is not smooth sailing and as the hated Jesus so they will hate his people. Not only do you have all the normal aspects of living in a fallen world to endure like suffering, sickness and sin, but you also have the added pressure of opposition because of faith in Christ; specifically the disciples will face rejection and martyrdom. 

First, the early church started as a Jewish movement where they proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah they had been looking for. They tried to bring the message to other Jews which was why they preached at the temple courts and went to the synagogues. However, as they did, they were met with opposition from the same religious leaders who put Jesus to death. Look at John 16:2, Jesus told his disciples that their friends and family and spiritual community were going to reject them. The synagogues shut the door in their faces because of their faith in Jesus. It could be that when you came to faith in Christ that you had friends and family do something similar. Just as Jesus was rejected, so too we will face some level of rejection as we follow him which is why the message of being part of a new family in the church is so valuable and comforting (John 1:11-13). It is painful to have people judge or exclude you from rleatoinsip with them because of your faith. But the good news is that God sent his Spirit and has given us the church, so that we’d be comforted and have courage to continue on in the faith.

Second, Jesus told them that some people would even go as far as to kill them thinking that it was worship to God. This seems really extreme in our modern world but was not uncommon in the ancient world. This is also likely pointing forward to what God would do in and through people like the Apostle Paul who persecuted the early church and oversaw the imprisonment and death of followers of Jesus thinking that it was worship to God (Acts 8-9). It is so hard to imagine someone thinking that the death of another could be an “offering to God,” but the Jewish people had a history of idolatry and God using people to purge false prophets from their midst like Elijah and the prophets of Baal or Phinehas in Numbers 25. Paul, and other like him, likely saw themselves as a new wave of protectors for truth among God’s people. Paul stands as a unique example because of how he met Jesus, repented of his sin and spread the message of Christ. He would later have other Jewish leaders oppose him and seek his life, but God would help him endure and work through things like his imprisonment and missionary travels up until the day he was martyred. 

How do we keep from falling away in the face of things like rejection and martyrdom? The Holy Spirit was sent to be our helper and our keeper. Both rejection and martyrdom are difficult things to endure and Jesus warns us of the temptation to lose heart and to fall away, however, the Holy Spirit as a sign and seal of our redemption so that we’d persevere. Being opposed because of your faith in Christ is not a new thing, find comfort in being part of God’s family and through the Holy Spirit’s work in your life to keep you in the faith. 

At your community group:

Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.

How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week? 

Discussion Questions:
Read John 15:26-16:4

We have been asking the question “who is the Holy Spirit?” over the last few study guides in the gospel of John. What unique thing do we learn about the Holy Spirit in this passage?

Why do you think the various persons of the Trinity highlight or glorify the other members? What do we learn about God from that observation?

What kind of opposition does Jesus warn the disciples to expect? 

When you’re opposed because of your faith in Jesus, how does the Holy Spirit and/or the church community bring you comfort? Do you have specific examples of this?