Jesus claimed that he was “the truth” (John 14:6). But he did not claim to hold on to a monopoly on truth. In fact, quite the opposite: he told his disciples, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:12, 13). In other words, while Jesus is the perfect Word of God, his words, as recorded in the Bible, are not God’s final word.
If guiding us into all truth was simply a matter of imparting knowledge, one could imagine a point at which this work of the Holy Spirit was done: and indeed, some Christians would say that it was completed with the Canon of Scripture; or is now simply a matter of guiding our interpretation of those scriptures. But if guiding us into all truth has to do with enabling us to live life in all its God-intended fullness – the reason Jesus came, and laid down his life, in the first place (John 10:10, 11) – then this is an ongoing adventure.
When I think of the Holy Spirit guiding us into all truth, I imagine truth as a vast continent, of majestic mountain ranges and fertile plains, great rivers and expansive forests. And I imagine the Holy Spirit as a Guide, leading bands of explorers beyond the small corner of the eastern seaboard they had settled, tamed, cultivated, into new territory. And as we follow, finding ourselves in places we have not been before, we discover that though this site is new to us we aren’t the first to have come this way, to have settled here; perhaps pausing on the journey, perhaps settling for generations. We discover the not long kicked-out ring of a camp fire here; a sophisticated ancient city there, sprawled below us as we crest a hill. And as we take a closer look at the artefacts left behind, or the population still living there, we discover evidence of communities we have never heard of; others we had heard of, but never studied to learn from; and still others we are shocked to find here, convinced as we were that they knew nothing of the truth…And maybe there are places on this vast continent that as yet no-one has been led to; and we will get there first, not because we are more worthy than anyone else, but just because this is the moment that the Guide decides to turn in that direction; and, then again, there will remain most of the continent that we will never journey through, at least in this life…And perhaps, just perhaps, it will be at the very moments we exclaim, in joyous surprise, “I would have never thought the Spirit would have led us this way!” or, “…led us here!” that we realise afresh that we are being guided deeper and deeper into all truth, to the glory of the Son by whom all things were first created and through whom all of creation is now being reconciled to God.
truth , spirituality