In dealing with the Spirit, it may seem like something that different churches have different views, even in the local context. But, from John 14-17, we see some clear truths that we can use to anchor our thoughts and views:

  1. Jesus promises that we bear fruit when we abide in Him and His Word.

  2. Jesus' promises are always true.

  3. The illustration of church membership care reflects the nature of the fruit we bear when we abide in Jesus and His Word. Gathering around the gospel necessarily produces fruit of this sort! It isn't that the people in that church are particularly saintly or anointed. It's simply about who (Jesus) and what (His gospel) they are gathered around.

  4. But all of this fruit bearing and abiding isn't something we work out on our own.

  5. The span of John 14-17 reveal that this is something accomplished by the Spirit's clear work in our lives! When Jesus said "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide" (Jn 15:16), He wasn't just making a point about election and our mission. He was also making the point that He provides for those He chooses. And He provides for us by the Holy Spirit, who unites us to Him - the unique communicative work of the Holy Spirit.

  6. All of this is to say that these are normative ways in which we clearly experience the Holy Spirit. Is this the characteristic experience of your life? We should pray for it, desire it, and strive for it in our churches.

We certainly live in a world where there is confusion and dissension in the local church at-large. I wonder what it would look like for our churches to gather around the gospel and bear the sort of fruit Jesus speaks of. I wonder what it would look like for Christians to exult and hunger for the "ordinary", or normative, work of the Holy Spirit by dwelling in God's Word with one another, bearing each other's burdens, and joining in prayer according to God's revealed will. I wonder what it would look like for our collective testimonies to reflect the Spirit's floodlight ministry.

I think it would look miraculously glorious - not a glory of our own, but always, always, Jesus'.