Someone recently asked me if he could have the “Cliff Notes” version of the book. “You know—the short synopsis.” I had to answer, “I’m sorry, but no, there are no shortcuts”.
And the reason for this is that it contains truths that many readers may find difficult to bear. To make it possible for the reader to bear these truths, I’ve created a story in which the main characters gradually reach conclusions which they would not have been able to reach if they had not lived through their traveling experience. Similarly, many readers themselves will be only be able to understand and accept these truths if they travel along through the story rather than jumping ahead to its end.
In Jesus’ final discussion with His disciples, just before He was betrayed by Judas, He spoke of the many things which His followers would learn at a future time, when they would be capable of understanding and bearing these larger truths. In the Gospel of John, Chapter 16, He said,
12 I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
These verses show us that God, in His mercy, teaches us only according to our capacity to understand at the time of the teaching. In the future, when we can understand more, He once again sends forth “the Spirit of truth”–a Prophet who can “declare to you the things that are to come.” Jesus did not described the future re-appearance of the Spirit of truth in physical terms. But in the next two verses, He simply gives us some spiritual criteria to look for, and He makes it clear that, although the Spirit of truth will be similar to Him, it will not be the same as Him:
14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
What does this tell us about the next message coming from God?
First: Although it will be similar in many respects to Jesus’ message, it will NOT be the same as the message given previously. The Spirit of Truth teaches us new things—things that would have been too difficult for the disciples of Jesus’ age to bear back in that age.
Second: These new teachings may be difficult even for us to bear today. If, in Jesus’ day, the teachings were too difficult for the disciples to understand, they may still be somewhat difficult for us to bear in our more modern times. If new teachings were easy, we would not need a renewed appearance of the Spirit of Truth to provide them to us.
One of Jesus’ teachings was to de-emphasize the literalism in the Jewish manner of following the laws of Moses. (See Matt 5:17 to 7:29). It had become rigid and spiritually lifeless. But even this teaching was too much for the Pharisees and other religious leaders of Jerusalem to bear. Generally, religious leaders are the least able to bear any new teachings. Therefore, it becomes the responsibility of each individual to weigh the truth of any new teachings for him/herself. One cannot ask others to decide for them.
This was God’s way in the past, testing those who claim to be followers. It remains His way today.
To follow Zach and James as they pursue their quest, expand their horizons and learn more about the coming of the Spirit of Truth: