Jesus said: “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you”
The Holy Spirit is one of the strangest topics in Christianity and one of the most controversial. This leads to people choosing to just not talk about it, which we think is a big mistake.
Scripture talks about how God reveals himself in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. Most of the time though churches will teach about God (the Father) and Jesus but will ignore the Spirit, treating him like a lesser part. We want to make sure that we talk about the Spirit because when it comes to the everyday life of a believer it is the Spirit of God that is the one that we experience.
A Who, Not an It
Just a super quick note: the Spirit is a person, not a “force” or a concept. That means when we talk about the Holy Spirit we refer to it with the pronoun “he” and we will ask the question ; who is the Holy Spirit? rather than what is the Holy Spirit? Look at the passage above and you’ll see that Jesus clearly sees the Helper (the Spirit) as a person.
Who is the Holy Spirit?
The Spirit is one with God
From the verse above we can see that Jesus sees the Holy Spirit as an adequate replacement for himself on earth. He says it’s actually beneficial for the whole world that he (Jesus) leave the earth because the Spirit will be a more effective person to take Jesus’ message to the world.
Jesus even says, later in the chapter:
“There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me.” (John 16:12-14)
So he’s saying that everything the Spirit speaks comes from Jesus. He’s Jesus’ telephone to the world, telling people exactly what he’s saying.
Now this can lead people to believe that they’re hearing Jesus when they’re really not. That means we need to be careful when we say “the Spirit told me…” we need to always test what people say against truth in scripture.
So the Spirit is the presence of God on earth, we call it Spirit because it has not physical form within the three dimensions that we’re able to comprehend. This allows him to be everywhere all the time.
The Spirit is all About New Creation
The first time we see the Spirit is in the creation of the world. We see that the Spirit of God is what shaped and formed the earth into what it is. God gives life wherever he goes, so when his Spirit touches things he brings them to life. This was true in creation but it’s also true throughout the scriptures up though today.
When someone believes the good news of Jesus the Spirit of God breathes new life into the person, bringing them from death into life. He gives special abilities (Spiritual Gifts) for the building up of the church, in other words he equips people to breathe new life into the community.
Jesus shows us in John 16 that the Spirit will convict us, showing us where we’re going wrong and how to correct us. This is not to judge us, but to direct us to the source of life; God himself.
So everything the Spirit does has to do with creating and bringing new life.
The Spirit is our Comforter
The craziest thing about the Spirit is that he lives within every believer. Read that sentence again and think about what that means. Scripture talks about how we as followers of Jesus have authority and power, and that’s because we carry the presence of God with us everywhere we go. It’s not our authority but God’s.
This reality that God is present with us everywhere we go should give us insanely high levels of confidence and boldness as we tell people about Jesus. It also should make us extremely thankful because we are so undeserving of having God be present in us. This is why scripture calls the Spirit our comforter.
The Spirit is our Advocate
Ready to get super smart?
So the New Testament was written mostly in Greek. Read the verse at the top of the post again. The word Helper is the greek word parakletos. Helper isn’t the best english translation though, and your Bible might have a better word in it: advocate.
Parakletos has a legal dimension to it. Imagine you’re in court and your about to get convicted for a crime. It looks like it’s all over, your going to be sent to prison. In that moment the door to the courtroom bursts open and the best lawyer in the world comes in and begins testifying and arguing on your behalf. That person is a Parakletos, your advocate, the one who speaks on your behalf.
A lot of us feel unworthy, not good enough, like we don’t measure up. God would actually agree, in Romans it says that all have fallen short of God’s standards, no one is good enough. That’s why it took an act of divine sacrificial love, for Jesus to pay the price for our failures so that we can be forgiven.
That means one day, as we’re being shown our failures in divine court we will not be sitting there at the judgment seat with no hope, because we have our Parakletos with us as our advocate before the judge. He will not argue for mercy but for justice, that the crimes that I have committed have already been punished.
It is not just when we die that this takes place though, it is every day that the Spirit if before the Father speaking on our behalf.
So the Spirit is a person, he is one with God and is focused on creating new life where there is none. He relates to us though his presence as a comforter, to convict us and to be our advocate.
He speaks to us God’s truth and empowers us to make disciples.