Another Counselor
John 14:15-16-21

© Copyright 2010  Rev. Bill Versteeg


What would you do if Jesus came into church and sat right beside you today? Jesus, in the flesh, right beside you? What would you do? What would you say? How would you react? What suffering or sickness would you ask him to heal? What pain in your broken heart would you ask him to address? What family struggle would you bring him? What faith undermining question would you ask him? What weakness would you surrender? What faith driven request would you ask?

Today, he is doing more than sitting beside you. He is seated at the right hand of the Father in Glory. And there, Jesus intercedes for us. He intercedes for us with his blood and his requests to the Father on our behalf. We have a representative in heaven working on our behalf. And Jesus who is seated in heaven representing us has all the power and all the authority to do whatever is needed.

But there is more. Shortly before his death and resurrection, Jesus told his disciples of his imminent departure. Their hearts on hearing it turned to sorrow. To lose their master, their friend, their teacher, their Savior, their hopes and dreams for what might come through him, was overwhelming. In response to their sorrow, he said these words:

15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”

Jesus promised Another Counselor. If ever there was a comforting, strengthening promise, this is the one that ought to warm our hearts and fill us with joy. Notice the essence of what Jesus is saying.

First of all, Jesus is telling us that while he was present on earth, he was the counselor, Isaiah called him a Wonderful Counselor, the Prince of Peace. The actual word for Counselor in this text is the Greek word Paraclete. It literally means “one who stands beside” and was an idiomatic expression for someone who is present with, who represents and defends, who teaches and leads, who loves and gives comfort. Jesus was that kind of Counselor to his disciples in every way. He was Immanuel, God with us, God in a man beside us. But then he was crucified at the hands of sinful men who loved the darkness of sin rather than the light of truth. He was buried and after three days, he arose again. He appeared again and again to his disciples, ate with them and then he ascended to their amazement to the right hand of the Father.

And there, at the right hand of the Father, he asked the Father to send Another Counselor. Please stop right there. Please let the words of this promise sink right in. By the promise of Another counselor, Jesus is saying that everything that he was to his disciples, now this new counselor, this other counselor, the Holy Spirit, is to us. Anything that Jesus was to his disciples while he was on earth is what this new counselor is to us while we are on earth, and not only while we are on earth, Jesus says forever. So the promise of the Holy Spirit is the promise of his presence with us for eternity.

And Jesus promises in this passage that just like the disciples who lived with Jesus for three years got to know him, know his voice, know his character, know the benefits of his presence, so to, we will know the Spirit, his character, his voice, his power and his presence in our lives because not only is he with us, he is in us.

Now my hearts desire is that each of us come to realize deep within our hearts what this means for us, something that my words cannot do, something which only God can do by revelation through his Spirit in our hearts. I invite you to reflect on these themes that arise from this passage and other portions of scriptures as I try to summarize the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

First the Holy Spirit is the source of life in us. Jesus says, Because I live, you also will live. Jesus continues to live at the right hand of the Father. Here he is saying that his life will be given to us, and that by the power of the Holy Spirit.

This is a truth that we are discovering from the church especially in the developing world like Africa. There to become a Christian is often relationally very expensive. To convert to Christianity is to die to relationships that used to give you life, it is to die to gods and spiritual forces that used to give you life, it is to die to those social connections that support life, it is to die to an old way of life. African Christians take conversion as a death very seriously. And if to convert is to die, than they ask, how can I continue to live. And the answer is, through the life giving power of the Holy Spirit. How can we continue to live? Paul puts it this way: 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Why are people reluctant to become Christians? Because it means their death to a way of life, their death to the freedom of many choices, their death maybe to relationships. But the Spirit gives us life, in abundance, friends, relationships, loved ones, brothers and sisters.
The Holy Spirit enables us to live through the death of conversion.

Second, The Holy Spirit is the source of soul assuring love.

This is Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit to us. It is by the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit that we come to know that God really loves us. Paul says it this way in Romans 5
5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
In the years that I have been a pastor, I have run into really good people, people who for decades have worshiped with us in church, who have confessed their faith, but who still deeply struggle with the question “Can God really love me? Sinful me? Does God really love me?” Oh how debilitating that doubt can be. It hamstrings our obedience, it casts a shadow on our joy, it silences our witness. Can we really be loved by God? Can we really know that we are loved by God? The answer is Yes, without a doubt, we can know that through the love of God poured into our hearts through the revelation of the Holy Spirit. Do you know that assurance in your heart? Have you heard Jesus saying to you, through the power of the Holy Spirit that the Triune God loves you?!

The Holy Spirit is our Teacher
It is the Holy Spirit that teaches us. Jesus said in John 16
13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.
In fact, the Paul would say that to those who do not have the Holy Spirit, spiritual truths are foolishness. Spiritual truths just do not make sense. The simple truth is that without the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, reading this book is just words, just words, but when the Holy Spirit, our teacher who leads us into truth is at work in our hearts, these words become life giving truths to live by. These words become manna for our hungry souls. They become the very voice of Jesus teaching us how to be his disciples. Without the Holy Spirit, our inner spiritual life is nothing.

Are you stuck, not learning what you heart would like to learn about God, about his grace, his love, theology makes little sense to you. Then God’s answer to your need is the Holy Spirit. It is by the Holy Spirit that we grow in faith, in discipleship.

The Holy Spirit is our Healer

One of the very clear dynamics that we discover as we look at the ministry of Jesus was that he came healing and setting people free from the tyranny of the devil. If you read the gospels, you cannot but notice that what Jesus came and did seems so different from today. Today, our faith seems to be about teaching, about truth, about a 5 step self help program, a dramatic illustrative story. Jesus came, he told truth simply, and then he healed people and set them free. The Holy Spirit today is the power of God on this earth to set people free and heal them. And so after Pentecost, after the Spirit was poured out, the church and its leaders were given by the power of the Spirit the ability to give Christ’s healing to others. Today, in our spiritually blind culture, where we give ourselves to science and the knife repeatedly for healing, the power of the Spirit is for us to bring us healing.

The Holy Spirit is our source of Power to Witness

Have you ever wondered what happened to these uneducated fishermen disciples of Jesus? Jesus died, they abandoned him. Jesus rose again, they got all excited, but in truth, they remained in hiding. They did not fully comprehend Jesus words when he said: 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” But when the Holy Spirit did come, suddenly these 120 who had remained hidden in prayer became very public about their faith and the church could not contain all the converts to Christ. There was boldness in their witness that pulled no punches.
Connected with that,

The Holy Spirit is our Defence Counsel.
When Jesus was with his disciples, his prayers were for them, his words were for them. When the rulers of the day questioned the qualifications and the actions of his disciples, Jesus came to their defence. That Jesus’ disciples need defence only increased after their witness started. Opposition arose from the religious leaders of the day, opposition arose from entire cities and yet with great boldness they proclaimed, they continued their witness. And so Stephen, even as he was being martyred for his faith could proclaim with confidence the gospel of Jesus.
8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia. These men began to argue with Stephen, 10 but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke.
The early disciples including Stephen recognized that they had the best possible defence counsel right with them, right within them, and within the courtroom of this world, they could witness with confidence knowing that their words and their witness would have the best possible effect through the power of the Holy Spirit that was with and in them.
Now this is a partial list, let me give you just one more.

The Holy Spirit is our Lord who leads us in obedience.
Have you notice in our passage Jesus repeated emphasis on obeying his commands. What will it take for us to learn the kind of obedience that in our lives demonstrates that we love him. The answer of scripture is the very presence of Christ in our lives, his Lordship experienced day to day through the leading, guiding, correcting and convicting work of his Holy Spirit. Paul describes that work of the Holy Spirit in 2 Corinthians 3
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
The simple truth is that when we claim that Jesus Christ is Lord of our lives, we are equally making the claim that in our day to day existence, the Holy Spirit is Lord of our lives and we are committed to listening to him in our conscience, our mind, our emotions, our actions.

Last Sunday, we looked at Asaph, the Psalmists hunger for God. Whom have I in heaven but you and there is nothing on earth I desire besides you. My heart and my flesh may fail, but you are my portion forever.
Can you today say those same words about the Holy Spirit? 

The truth is, without the Holy Spirit, as Christians we are without life, loveless, wandering without understanding truth, without hope of healing and without God, powerless in this world.  He is Lord of our lives, and his coming for us was as important as the incarnation, as important as Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  And the Ascension, which most of the western church neglects, in which Christ ascended to the right hand of the Father is as important as all of them including Pentecost.  For without the Ascension, we would not have the Spirit

It is one week till Pentecost.  Are you hungry like Asaph was (Psalm 73)?

Prayer.

 


(NIV) Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

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