Summary: Jesus calls the Holy Spirit (depending on your translation) a “Helper”, “Comforter”, or “Counselor” (vs 16). This title literally means one who comes alongside to assist us, working in and through us, encouraging us along life’s way.
“I Believe” -Sermon Series on the Apostles Creed
“Spirit-Control” John 14:16-27 Pastor Bob Leroe, Cliftondale Congregational Church, Saugus, Massachusetts
One phrase we hear a lot in church is a way of either introducing worship or ending a prayer: “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.” We also sing the Gloria Patri, honoring our Triune God in 3 Persons, co-equal and co-eternal. We understand God our Father, we especially know Who Jesus is, but many people are kind of vague as to the Identity of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit is a Person, a separate identity of God. The word “ghost” is somewhat archaic and misleading. We think of ghosts as disembodied people scaring trick-or-treaters at Halloween. The “Holy Ghost” or “Holy Spirit” is a personal expression of God. The Spirit isn’t an impersonal “it,” but “He.” We’re going to see that He has other names as well.
You don’t see our Lord’s disciples questioning Who this Holy Spirit is. They weren’t thinking that Jesus was, like an author, introducing a “new character”. They were already familiar with Him, because He is often mentioned in the Old Testament. We first encounter the Spirit of God as far back as Genesis, chapter 1, verse 2: “And the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” At Creation, the Spirit was present and active. The image is that of a mother caring for her young. In the same chapter, God speaks of Himself in plurality: “Let us make man in Our own image” (vs 26). Throughout the OT the Spirit is seen empowering individuals for special tasks. David prays in Psalm 139, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?” The Holy Spirit is omnipresent, everywhere, like the wind.
As the Father elects, the Son redeems, the Spirit draws people to the Cross. He convinces people of the essential truths of the Gospel. He convicts people of their sin, and leads them to faith and repentance. The Spirit takes people who are spiritually deaf and opens their ears; He takes those who are spiritually dead and gives them new life. He takes people who are spiritually blind and makes Scripture understandable. Paul explains that the Bible appears to be nonsense to unbelievers, because divine truth is “spiritually discerned” (I Cor 2:14). We can’t expect anyone to automatically understand us or our Message. The Spirit is the One Who inspired the writers of Scripture; Peter says that those who penned the Bible were “carried along by the Holy Spirit” (II Pet 1:21). When someone comes to trust in Christ, the Bible suddenly comes alive; it starts making sense, because of the indwelling Spirit. The Spirit also brings about our growth; He applies the Bible to daily living and helps us mature in our faith.
When we were stationed overseas, Laura and I were privileged to visit Paris and take a nighttime cruise along the Seine. The Eiffel Tower and the Cathedral of Notre Dame are lit by flood lamps, some from the boat itself and others from stationary locations. It would be foolish and blinding to stare into the lights, which are there to help tourists enjoy the landmarks. In the same way the Spirit does not draw attention to Himself, but illumines Christ, revealing His glory in a dark world of sin and death.
We hear a lot about the “baptism of the Spirit”. What does it mean? Paul writes that “by one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body” (I Cor 12:13). This is the Spirit making people alive who were dead in sin. We are baptized by the Spirit the moment we come to saving faith, and become part of the Body of Christ, the fellowship of all believers (which we’ll be considering next time). Some people believe that Spirit-baptism means speaking in tongues and spectacular signs such as miraculous healings. While I believe the Spirit conveys special abilities, called grace-gifts in the NT, I do not believe like some in a so-called “second blessing”. Spiritual gifts are given to equip believers to do ministry in order to help the church grow. All Christians are Spirit-baptized. Whether we sense His presence or not, we are Spirit-filled if we’re Christians.
Jesus calls the Holy Spirit (depending on your translation) a “Helper”, “Comforter”, or “Counselor” (vs 16). This title literally means one who comes alongside to assist us, working in and through us, encouraging us along life’s way. When we’re perplexed, we seek out people we trust who are wiser and more experienced for advice. The Holy Spirit within us does such work. People of faith are never alone. Jesus assures us that we’re not like “orphans” (vs 18; some translations render this word “comfortless”); we’re never abandoned. The Spirit is the Presence of God within us, helping us live as God intends.