A Call to Intimacy:
The Holy Spirit in John’s Gospel and Epistles
D. A. Carson— Johannine Theology
Wed, Dec 8, 1993
The disciple whom Jesus loved (1) — John— who had the most intimate relationship with Jesus, who was entrusted with the Revelation of the future, and who it seems was chosen to have the most longevity (John 21:20-23) — this person of seemingly great sensitivity writes the Gospel and an accompanying epistle that provide for us the most intimate call to relationship with Jesus and the Father. And this call to intimacy with God is now possible because the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead has been sent by Jesus and now indwells all true believers, enabling us to have communion with the Father and the Son and with each other. The holy catholic church, the communion of the saints credal terminology illustrates the Christian church as a union of believers under one God, joined together by himself. In John, Jesus calls us to unity with each other with an uncompromised decree which can only result from a very sensitive, intimate communion with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Then the world will know much about the Father and the Son because they have seen God’s love demonstrated by his radiant church.
…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me (John 17:21-23).
The glue in John that binds us to each other and to God is love, which we receive as a fruit as we position ourselves in him and under his directing guidance. John presents an illustration of us as the branches either connected to or not connected to Jesus, the vine, the only source from which we can bear genuine fruit— the only type of fruit that Jesus considers permanent and true (John 15:1-16). This mystical union between the Creator and his church is a necessity if we are to flourish and grow into complete union, not being a dormant, lifeless thing which is an embarrassment to God. D. George Vanderlip states regarding John 15: 4-6, the vine and the branches:
John is talking of a vital relationship in the literal root meaning of that word. It is a matter of life and death. Jesus is the source and channel of life for the branches, that is, the believers. When the branches “remain” in the vine, life-giving energy flows through the vine to the branches. This guarantees both health and fruit-bearing,. When the branches are separated from the vine, an inevitable result follows: the branches simply wither and dry up. Since no nourishment reaches them, they will bear no fruit. (2)
In order for the church to gain the respect of the world we must abide intimately in Christ so we will have the ability to completely love each other.