Explore the Bible Study: When the Spirit Comes

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Have you ever had someone stand by or walk alongside you when you needed help? How did this experience strengthen your relationship with him/her? How did it help you deal with the circumstances you were facing? The Explore the Bible Study: When the Spirit Comes focuses on Jesus speaking once again to His disciples regarding the One whom He would send to stand by them as they testified of Him after He was gone.

In John 15 Jesus continues to prepare His disciples for what was to come after His death. Jesus returns to His conversation He had previously started in chapter 14 regarding the work of the Holy Spirit. He reminds them in John 15:26 that “When the Counselor comes, the one I will send to you from the Father —the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father—He will testify about me.”  

The “Counselor” is the Greek noun Paraclete [PAR uh kleet] literally referring to someone who is “called alongside” to render help. The Spirit is a Person not a “force.” He is called alongside of and dwells within all who believe! He is sent by Jesus from the Father. Again, we see the perfect harmony demonstrated in the Trinity. The Holy Spirit works in concert with the Father and the Son so that the lost can believe, and so that believers can understand, act on, and proclaim the truth revealed in God’s Word.

What was true then is true now. The Spirit is at work in your life if you are a believer.  

First, the Holy Spirit is standing beside you . . . 

When Your Testimony Meets Hostility – John 15:27—John 16:4 

When Jesus explained to the disciples, in verse 27, that the coming of the Holy Spirit would lead them to “testify, because you have been with me from the beginning” the disciples still had no idea what was to come in those next few hours and days. But Jesus knew someone would be there to stand by them and work in and through them after He was gone. Burdened with all that was taking place, He wanted to help them know that His leaving wasn’t an ending but a beginning!

Although verse 27 speaks specifically of the 11 faithful disciples who had been with Him from the beginning, there are specific actions and reactions that will take place when they and we testify about Christ.

Notice the ways Jesus said people will react to the message of the disciples. 

What are the parallels to what we see taking place today in our country? 

What was the response Jesus desired for them to have when this took place?

When we face criticism and other challenges when testifying about Christ, what are we to remember, and how do we know to remember it?

Have you ever experienced hostility as a result of telling someone about Jesus? How does knowing we have the “Counselor” standing beside us help us face difficulties when testifying?

While we may face more scrutiny, cynicism, and opposition today in our country than in any other point in history, we are still fortunate compared to what other believers face around the world. Yet it seems we are more silent about our faith than we should be. We must ask ourselves if we truly believe what Jesus said regarding the Holy Spirit. However, it doesn’t matter if we believe it or not; it is truth. Our silence really reveals what we truly believe about the power of the Holy Spirit to work through us and in those who are lost to bring about salvation. 

Do you truly believe that the Holy Spirit is standing beside us as we live out and testify about our faith? Do your actions reinforce your beliefs? What do you need to do to adjust your belief to the reality that Jesus is teaching?

Next, we see that the Spirit is standing beside you . . . 

When Sorrow Fills Your Heart – John 16:5-7

Notice that sorrow filled the hearts of the disciples, yet none of them asked for clarity regarding where Jesus was going.

Why didn’t they ask for clarity from Jesus while experiencing sorrow?

Knowing what we know about the Holy Spirit and Jesus, how can we react to sorrow differently?

How can we deal with sorrow when we feel as if Jesus is not present with us?

What can we assume about Jesus’ presence in our lives, based on these passages?

The inauguration of the new covenant through Jesus’ blood would pave the way for the new age, when the Holy Spirit empowers the church to carry the gospel message to all nations (see Acts 2:16-21). Today, we as Spirit-filled believers can depend on the Holy Spirit to live in us, to comfort us in times of sorrow, and to propel us forward in the gospel mission. 

But the Spirit is also standing beside you . . . 

When You Share Christ with Others – John 16:8-11

We understand that the primary ministry of the Holy Spirit would be directed toward believers. However, the Spirit would be crucial in the church’s mission to reach the lost with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus affirmed that they would witness in the power of the Spirit, but they lacked the power to bring human hearts to conversion. It is only the Holy Spirit who can convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment.  The word convict means the Holy Spirit reveals the truth in a way that makes one morally accountable for their sins. This conviction exposes the reality of a person’s heart—their attitudes and intentions, as well as actions. 

It is through conviction that God’s offer of salvation through repentance is truly revealed. If someone doesn’t believe they are a sinner and that their sin results in eternal separation from God, then they have no need for a Savior. The Holy Spirit’s conviction forces us to see ourselves in the mirror of God’s righteousness. Then, we can turn from sin and embrace the Savior. 

What happens when we take responsibility for convicting the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment?

When we fill like a failure or are afraid to share Christ with someone, what is the reality we must believe based on these passages?

Believers must depend on the Holy Spirit to convict others about sin. While we should learn ways to share the gospel, we must remember that a polished presentation is not the answer. Nor can we yell, scream, or legislate people to experience conviction for sin, righteousness, or judgement. Only the Spirit can convict people of their sin, their desperate need for a Savior, and that they will one day stand in judgement before a Holy God who can’t look upon sin. Yet we will and should do what Jesus said the early disciples would do. We should “testify” about Him through the empowering of the Holy Spirit.

Finally, the Spirit is standing beside you . . .

When More Understanding Is Needed – John 16:12-15

What is the assurance we can have, based upon this passage, when we struggle with understanding the Word of God or God’s ways?

How would you paraphrase the personal approach the Holy Spirit will take in teaching us His truth?

What can we assume about God’s Word based on these passages?

Jesus had so much more to share but time and comprehension was limited. The Spirit revealed truth by inspiring holy men of old to write down God’s Word, the Scriptures (see 2 Timothy 3:15; 2 Peter 1:20-21). The revelation of Scripture would be limited to the human writers God selected and inspired. The Spirit’s work of interpreting and illuminating the Scriptures is His ministry to all believers. Because the Spirit lives in believers, He assists them in understanding and applying spiritual things (see 1 Corinthians 2:14).

Can you recall a time when the Holy Spirit guided you into a deeper understanding of God’s Word? What were the results of that understanding in your devotion to Christ? 

We know the Holy Spirit will teach us God’s truth. We also know this doesn’t take place without a concerted effort on our part to study God’s Word so that the Spirit can help us understand. Consider how you can make personal Bible study a higher priority. Consider removing distractions while you are studying God’s Word so you can give the Holy Spirit your full attention as He speaks and works through God’s Word. We have the assurance that God’s Spirit will declare, reveal, and illuminate everything we need to know Christ and to serve Him faithfully.

The Holy Spirit and You

The Holy Spirit is there, standing alongside of you and dwelling in you . . . 

  • When your testimony meets hostility.
  • When sorrow fills your heart.
  • When you share Christ with others.
  • When more understanding is needed.

Evaluate if you are truly depending on the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in your life. Can the world see the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in your life in the way that your respond to life and in the way you live?

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study, along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. 

Download PDF Version

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LifeWay Explore The Bible Resources

These teaching helps are intended to be used as a supplement to your study of Lifeway's Explore the Bible curriculum resources. Portions of this material are taken directly from content copyrighted to Lifeway Christian Resources Explore the Bible and is used with permission.  This material has not been reviewed by Lifeway Christian Resources. 

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