“And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.” John 16:8-11
The Spirit came at Pentecost and from then till now he has reproved the world. But who are the world? John Gill thinks they are the Jews. I think he is partly correct and this was fulfilled in the first place during Peter’s sermon when 3,000 were convinced, but surely the world who are convinced of sin, righteousness (Christ’s) and judgement (Satan’s) are the world God loves (John 3:16) and who are irresistibly saved? Gill expounds on the nature of this conviction which includes the exposure of original sin, actual sin and the insufficiency of man’s own righteousness. Only the almighty Spirit of God can do this! How is this accomplished? By the preaching of the apostles and all their successors (Calvin). Calvin homes in on “unbelief” because it encompasses all who have not saving faith and hence includes all who are lost. But Calvin goes further and believes the “world” is not only the elect but also the reprobate! I cannot agree with this. The spirit convinces the world of what true righteousness consists, this he does through doctrine. The judgement, I believe, is that of Satan as a liar and murderer and also, as Calvin says, the judgment is that which is opposed to the confusion (and deception-JK). Thus the Spirit of truth leads Christ’s beloved sheep into the truth about sin, righteousness and judgement-this he does not do with the reprobate! Any conviction of the reprobate that does not lead to repentance is no conviction at all, and postulates a common working or grace of the spirit that does not save-a grace that is no grace at all! In fact the opposite is true-the Spirit hardens them through the word they reject and do not love. Reprove and convince, used almost interchangeably in the N.T. are the same Greek word and of course a person may accept reproof and learn from it or reject it and carry on in their folly.