“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.” John 16:12-13
You will probably all remember that Norwegian proverb that says, “All good things come in threes.” You may have seen a recent commercial that has capitalized on that saying. Well, Jesus capitalized on it long before it was spoken by the Norwegians, as he introduced his disciples to the Holy Spirit that would come to them after he had departed into heaven to be with the Father. He explained that the Holy Spirit would be their Advocate and guide them into all the truth about him and about the Father. The Holy Spirit would be their heartline connection to what God and Jesus would teach them as they carried the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world.
As a child I had an aunt who tried to explain the Holy Spirit to me. She understood it as only being evident in the speaking of tongues. I went to church with my aunt and uncle at their Pentecostal Church several times during my summer visits with them and sure enough there were people at the altar at some time or other during the worship services speaking in a language I could not understand, some very loud and some almost in a whisper. She prayed for me that I could receive that same outpouring of the Spirit, and I wanted to please her and please God, so I prayed for it as well. To make a long story short it never happened, and I felt a bit like I was either too young, too stupid, or simply just not worthy of that gift of tongues that was evidence of the Holy Spirit in my life. I grew up believing that I would probably never know the voice of the Holy Spirit. That sense of inadequacy stayed with me for several years. I was probably in my late twenties before I began to understand that the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit, had actually been speaking to me and guiding me in God’s truth all those years as I read God’s Word, listened to a sermon, listened to a teacher of the Bible, listened to beautiful music or saw the beauties of God’s world in nature.
That understanding came to me most clearly when I first read Luther’s explanation of the third article of the Creed. “I cannot by my own understanding believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.” Wow! The Holy Spirit had been speaking to me and sometimes through me all along, ever since my childhood. What a wonderful revelation and gift to know that hearing the Holy Spirit did not depend on my worthiness. The Holy Spirit is a gift of God’s Grace poured out on his children.
The Triune God gives us opportunities everywhere we turn to know God more fully by communicating to us through the Holy Spirit. The result of which is what Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” The Spirit of Truth comes to guide us into a deeper relationship with God the Father and God the Son. Perhaps this is the best example that, “All good things come in threes.” Thanks be to God!
Rev. Sue Beall -National Lutheran Secretariat Spiritual Director