The Third Person of the Trinity Léonce Crump By Léonce Crump October 4, 2016
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This blog post serves as a preview to what we will hear from Léonce Crump at the 2016 Acts 29 US Southeast Network Conference. You can find more information about the conference and registration by clicking here.

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“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” – Jesus

The apostle John recorded these words of preparation, as Jesus readied His beloved disciples for His eventual departure. When you read John 16:4-15, it is clear that the disciples are a bit dismayed in this moment. Jesus has called them friend, and indeed they feel the impact of losing not only their Lord/Teacher, but also their big brother. Can you imagine this? Can you place yourself there? Can you feel the fear, confusion, and immense sadness?

Jesus meets this moment with a profound answer—“nevertheless,” it is better for you that I go, rather than stay. Better? BETTER? Why? “Because when I go, the Holy Spirit will come.” The first question you would be asking as a disciple in this moment (perhaps even now) is, “why does that matter?” I would wonder why I had to lose my master, and friend for the Holy Spirit to come. What possible “advantage,” could there be?

The advantage is that Jesus’ leaving, and the Holy Spirit’s coming signals the inauguration of a new age! This is the much anticipated moment that evidences the age and era of God’s in-breaking Kingdom, His saving reign, His new Covenant Community, in Christ-Jesus. Jesus insists it will be better! Before the coming of the Spirit, and the full inauguration of the Kingdom age, millions ignored the claims of the True God. But Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit, transformed that limitation, and by His power—the Holy Spirit’s power—millions have been brought into joyous submission to God!

Without the Holy Spirit, the world would still be waiting for the full inauguration of God’s saving reign, and the full revelation of His in-breaking Kingdom.

Without the Holy Spirit, the world would still be waiting for the full inauguration of God’s saving reign, and the full revelation of His in-breaking Kingdom.

So the disciples should rejoice that the Kingdom is here, the Spirit is sent, and His work is clear! Love does win, but it is not the capricious definition we’ve manifested culturally, but the divine treasure of the heart of God, as seen in and through the work of the Spirit. And this work of the Spirit? Well, Jesus tells us:

“And when He (the Holy Spirit) comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”

First, the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world concerning sin. How so? Just as Jesus revealed to people their proclivity for evil and need of a savior, so the Holy Spirit continues this work. When the Holy Spirit came, He was able to extend the ministry of Jesus in ways the disciples could not fathom.

The convicting work of the Holy Spirit then is gracious, His purpose to show us our need, and woo us to Jesus.

This conviction of the Spirit doesn’t happen in some disembodied way—though Romans 1 tells us that all the world has a knowledge of God, which is there implanted through the work of the Spirit—The Holy Spirit most commonly convicts through the lives and witness of Jesus’ disciples, and it is ALWAYS founded in the truth and the power of the gospel! This is why our witness is so important. When we witness to the work of Christ, and the truth of the gospel, the Holy Spirit convicts the hearts of men and women. The Holy Spirit convicts the world of its sin because they do not believe in Jesus, and this unbelief not only brings an impending condemnation, but an ignorance of their need. This unbelief not only ensures that they will not receive eternal life, but that they CANNOT perceive that they presently walk in death. The convicting work of the Holy Spirit then is gracious, His purpose to show us our need, and woo us to Jesus.

The Holy Spirit most commonly convicts through the lives and witness of Jesus’ disciples, and it is ALWAYS founded in the truth and the power of the gospel!

The work of the Holy Spirit is also to convict the world concerning righteousness. Now this seems strange at first, doesn’t it? Because just as we tend to give the word “conviction,” an automatic negative overtone, we tend to think of righteousness only in positive terms. So we have to ask then, what does it mean to convict the world concerning righteousness? The Prophet Isaiah wrote, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” Here Isaiah, in STRONG language, describes the nature of self-determined, self-defined, human-generated righteousness as a polluted garment. Our English bibles don’t capture the weight of his words fully. In Hebrew, it’s a menstruous cloth.

Any righteousness humanity defines or manufactures is filthy, unfit, worthless, and weightless when held up to the standard that is God. Though we believe ourselves “right in our own eyes,” (Proverbs 21:2), right being righteous in our position, we are grossly mistaken. True righteousness can be nothing less than that which is granted from God, in Christ. What Jesus did while walking the earth, the Holy Spirit continues. In nearly every encounter Jesus had with the self-defined “righteous” of His day, He exposed their self-determined righteousness and pointed to the righteousness of the Father as the standard. Jesus has gone to the Father, so He can no longer expose man-made righteousness. The Spirit has come to continue Jesus’ work. How? Again, primarily through Christians who, empowered by the Holy Spirit, live lives that are growing in such conformity to Christ that the same impact on the world is observed as when Jesus himself lived out a Spirit-led life before the world.

Lastly, the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world concerning judgment. “The judgment of which the Spirit convicts the world is its multifaceted spiritual blindness, supremely displayed in its treatment of Jesus.” (Carson, D. A. 1991) Jesus exhorted men and women to “stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” What was He saying? He was telling them that their judgment was off, profoundly wrong and morally perverse. They have not and cannot, without intervention, discern correctly the truth from the lie. The Holy Spirit then, convicts the world of it’s false judgment of what truth is, knowing that in the impending triumph of Jesus, on the cross, the Devil stands condemned. It is from Him, the Great Liar, that all false judgment proceeds. And if he stands condemned by the victory of Christ on the cross, the false judgment of those who follow his lies will be doubly exposed. The need, then, for conviction of this false judgment and the inability to discern correctly the truth from the lie, is more than urgent!

Those without the Holy Spirit cannot discern Jesus’ words, or intentions, or the revelation of His person, rightly.

And if you have the Spirit Whom Jesus sent dwelling inside of you, then Jesus’ second promise applies as well. He, the Holy Spirit, will “guide you into all the truth…” This phrase literally means that the Spirit will guide you, if you are a Christian, into the heart of truth. This is the precise opposite of the judgment for which the world is convicted, isn’t it? Those without the Spirit cannot discern Jesus’ words, or intentions, or the revelation of His person, rightly.

Yet, the Christian has a promise—we don’t have to second-guess what is true. We have the gospel. We have God’s word. We have the Spirit, who guides us into all the implications of truth, the revelation that is intrinsically bound up in the person and work of Jesus. This means we have an orientation toward God, and absolute truth, that affects how we experience all the information highways of life. They must first pass through what is absolute, before they can be determined as true or not.

It is by Him, the Holy Spirit, that revival is sparked, movements are made and maintained, and the Church marches on to her glorious future.

The Holy Spirit then is not simply the means by which the scripture was written, or the means by which God makes our hearts alive in Him, and gifts us belief. The Holy Spirit is the active presence of God in the world, without Whom we could not survive, and without Whom the world would be utterly lost in unbelief, self-righteousness, and poor judgment as to what is true and what is not. It is by Him, the Holy Spirit, that revival is sparked, movements are made and maintained, and the Church marches on to her glorious future.

So we praise God in thanks for the Third Person of the Trinity, for without Him we have a powerless gospel, powerless proclamation, powerless churches, and a lost world.


This blog was written by Léonce B. Crump, Jr. purposed to provide a preview to Léonces’ topic for the 2016 Acts 29 US Southeast Network Conference. You can learn Léonces’ life and ministry by clicking here.

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