“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” -John 14:16-17
The very idea of a Holy Spirit in Christianity is a strange concept to unbelievers. It really shouldn’t be though, considering all the paranormal, science fiction, extraterrestrials, ghosts, demons, etc. of modern filmmaking and books. Nevertheless, the idea of a Triune God is something which many, even some professing Christians, struggle to understand or believe. There simply is nothing in life to which we can compare this concept to assist our understanding. The Trinity is simply and primarily a matter of faith. God reveals this about Himself in His Word, and we accept it by faith as true.
When we consider life as human beings, we find it, when not weighed down with its problems, an intriguing adventure. In reality, it is all you know. You have nothing else with which to compare the life you are now experiencing but with others around you. After all, we do not now communicate with those beyond the grave. You begin life and live life as the “whole enchilada.” It is your first and last experience, so to speak; we know from the Bible there is simply no “do-over” to your life now.
However, what life presently requires for you to keep your head above water is something quite extraordinary. It necessitates some help, yearns for a comforting hand, and desires a personal advocate. This is exactly what Jesus describes the Parakletos to be – the one whom both the Father and the Son sends to you after Jesus took leave of this earth to return to the courts of heaven.
The Parakletos is actually the third person of the Trinity, one God in three equal persons. Jesus says this “Spirit” is the one He will send to “take His place” and provide His presence to you. The Greek word “parakletos” means “helper,” “advocate,” “comforter,” and “counselor.” It is “comforter” which has captured the heart of most as a favored way to speak of this Holy Spirit. He can be to you the essential comforter in your life until you see Jesus face-to-face. Right now, you do need a comforter, a helper, an advocate, and a counselor all rolled into one. Jesus tells you the Parakletos is just this.
Jesus’ disciples were clearly worried when He ascended into the clouds that He would leave them completely alone. Pentecost erased such worries. Having touched, handled, seen, and communicated with Jesus, they were at a loss while waiting in obedience to Him in Jerusalem, until the Holy Spirit proved His presence and power with visible and palpable signs. He was the fulfillment of Jesus’ promises.
The Parakletos is not only a gift to the disciples but also to the whole church and, of course, to you personally. Read John 14 and 16 and think on Jesus’ promises concerning this Holy Spirit. His tasks are defined and specific. He brings to your mind the words of Jesus, while also reemphasizing them over and over, that you might both act on them and love them.
This Spirit convicts of sin. He helps you combat the evil one, Satan; He exposes his deceit and his deceitful ways. He gives you answers to Satan’s charges and lies, just as Jesus answered him with the right answers during His temptation in the wilderness.
Study this temptation well because all of Satan’s temptations fall into some realm of the same three categories. The devil, of course, variously clothes these temptations to specifically fit you: your personality, your desires, your strong and weak spots. Nevertheless, these are the same categorical temptations which fit us all simply because we are sinful humans with similar corruptions.
The Spirit’s chief purpose, however, is to glorify Jesus. His focus is on the Savior and His work for your salvation. He does not direct attention to Himself so that you do not make Him the most prominent person of the Trinity to the exclusion of the Father and the Son. Clearly, the Spirit does everything to lift up Jesus!
Remember, of the three persons, it is Jesus who is the particular arch-enemy of Satan and the sinful culture he designs in “his” fallen world. All three – himself, the culture, and a fallen world – attack Jesus with Satan’s direction, his cunning, and his chameleon-like masks; Jesus is the primary hated one, a universal swear word, the one who is a stumbling block and offense to every unbeliever. It is against the current and entire politically correct culture to even publicly mention Jesus’ name or speak of Him as He truly is: the sole path to the Father. No other religious figure in the world receives such opprobrium. Oh, how they hate to hear such language of exclusivity! Do not be surprised: You, being publicly united to Jesus, will be under similar attack by Satan, sin, and the world.
Jesus is the cornerstone of your life. He is the foundation without whom you would collapse. He is your all-in-all. It is this same Spirit who points you to the truth of Jesus’ union with you.
The Spirit was evident as a co-active part of the creation while He “hovered over the waters” in Genesis. He is referred to throughout the whole Old Testament, even appearing in Isaiah 11:1-5 and 42:1 as one of the three persons of the Triune God. Do a study with your concordance of “Spirit” in the Old Testament to see for yourself His activity in concert with the other two persons.
He empowered certain Old Testament figures to perform specific tasks, He gave utterance to the prophets in inspiring their writing of God’s Word, He convicted people of sin. In the New Testament, the Spirit came to permanently indwell each born again believer when Jesus completed His ministry on earth and ascended to the courts of heaven. In fact, it is the Spirit who accomplishes your new birth. We cannot survive without this Parakletos to take us through this life all the way to glory.
He will provide interpretation to your groanings, communicating them through your Mediator, Jesus, to the Father. You may not understand all this; it is mystifying, but the Spirit understands. He will enlighten your mind and stretch your faith to understand all this yourself.
It is this Triune God who saves you. All three are active in setting your journey to heaven. Praise the Spirit for bringing spiritual reality to you when you were not physically able to see your Savior with your eyes, touch Him with your hands, or embrace Him with your arms.
The intimacy of this is spiritually known now, but one day in your new body it will be known physically as well. Millennia ago, Job expressed by faith, “In my flesh I will see God.” The Spirit sovereignly interjects Himself into your personal being, bridging the gap of faith to sight. Neither you nor I fully comprehend this, but your Comforter brings it to fruition in your spirit. Jesus promises Him to you for just such a purpose! The Spirit testifies with your spirit that you are a true child of God (1 John 4).
“Come, O come, Thou quickening Spirit, God from all eternity! May Thy power never fail us; dwell within us constantly. Then shall truth and life and light banish all the gloom of night.”
(First verse of Heinrich Held’s hymn, “Come, O Come, Thou Quickening Spirit,” 1664)
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