Prosperity theology is not unbelief, but misbelief. God never promised that all believers will be physically healthy and materially wealthy, and teaching such will inevitably lead to disappointment.
Jesus is much more realistic. In chapter 14, we learned Jesus did not want His disciples to be anxious. Here in chapter 16, He does not want them to go astray or defect (v. 1).
The disciples can expect persecution and expulsion from the synagogue (v. 2), but this is no cause for despair. As in John 15:26-27, they are to take heart: the Holy Spirit will co-testify with them to a hate-filled world; the Counsellor will bring conviction to this world (v. 8). In fact, Jesus says His ascension is to our advantage, because He will send the Holy Spirit to us from heaven (Acts 2:33), by whose coming we will be greatly advantaged (Acts 1:8).
The Spirit’s convicting means to prove the world wrong, about sin, righteousness, and judgment. We see evidence of this ministry on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), where those who heard Peter’s sermon and came to him were pierced through the heart.
The Spirit convicts first about sin, because people have not believed in Jesus (v. 9). This unbelief is the most cataclysmic sin and the only one that, if continued, cannot be forgiven, since Jesus alone is the source of such forgiveness.
Second, the Spirit convicts with regard to righteousness. The Jews rejected Jesus as a pretender, deeming Him unrighteous because only a wicked person would be hanged on a tree to suffer God’s curse (Deuteronomy 21:23; Galatians 3:13). But God vindicated Jesus as His righteous Servant, raising Him from the dead to sit at His right hand (v. 10). Note how the sermon at Pentecost contrasts what God’s people did to Jesus and what God did (Acts 2:22-24). The Spirit convicts men of their wrong view of Jesus, and of what true righteousness is, when the gospel is proclaimed.
Third, the Spirit convicts in relation to judgment, ″because the prince of this world now stands condemned″ (v. 11). It was Satan who was judged at the cross, not Jesus. Satan has no hold on Jesus (John 12:31; 14:30) because Jesus never earned death-He never sinned. As the coming judgment (for both Satan and man) is proclaimed, the Spirit convicts people and prepares them for salvation (see Acts 17:30-31).The days in which we live are days of open-mindedness, days in which everything is tolerated and everything is relative; we are postmodernists. However, the Holy Spirit continues to be active in proving to people how wrong they are, and pointing them to the only One who can set them right.
As disciples of Jesus, we are to be people of witness and pray that as we witness, the Comforter will convict, so that people will ″repent and be baptised . . . in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins″ (Acts 2:38).
What might be some of the biggest problems encountered when you share Jesus with postmodern society?
The Spirit convicts us of sin, righteousness, and judgment. His is not a ″soft gospel″ or a gospel of prosperity. How can this truth encourage us in being His faithful witness?