Another Helper: A Study on the Holy Spirit
June 12, 2022 | Another Helper: A Study On The Holy Spirit| John 14-16
(Click here for the sermon audio)
Last week, in examining the events of Pentecost, we saw the birth of the church age and the beginning of the last days concerning God’s redemptive plan. Today, on what is called Trinity Sunday in the church calendar, I want us to see that it is also the age of the Holy Spirit. What do I mean?
“The Bible portrays for us a history of redemption with three major divisions that reveal progressively the three persons of the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Before the first coming of Christ, the great testing truth was "the oneness of God's nature and his monarchy over all," especially with respect to the person of the Father. When Christ came, the great question was whether a people orthodox on the first point would recognize and receive the incarnate Son of God in whom all the fullness of deity dwells. Then, after the Son had gathered a people who received him, he was put to death, raised up, and exalted to the Father's right hand, from which he sent the Holy Spirit with new prominence upon the church. Before Christ's coming . . . the prominence of God the Father; during the days of Christ's earthly life . . . the prominence of God the Son; and since the ascension of the Son . . . the prominence of God the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we live in a unique, climactic period of redemptive history, the days of the Spirit.” -John Owens
John Piper, in commenting on Owen's work goes on to emphasize that, because of this truth, we bear a special responsibility to understand who the Holy Spirit is and what his work is in and among the church. I wholeheartedly agree, so this morning we are going to look at what Jesus said concerning the third person of the Trinity on the final night he was with his disciples.
Let us briefly get our bearings on what is happening in this moment in John’s gospel.
Jesus has had the Last Supper with his disciples, and washed their feet; Judas has left to betray him, Jesus has told the disciples he is going away and they cannot follow him at this time, and they are confused and saddened. After this section, we have Jesus' great priestly prayer recorded for us in John 17 and then he is betrayed and the events that lead directly to the cross begin. Mock trials, beatings, etc…
It is between the supper conclusion and his prayer in the garden that Jesus gives this teaching. It has rightly been called his encouragement discourse or his farewell encouragement.
Today is a different kind of sermon. Where we usually take a piece of scripture and dig into it, this will be more of an overview sermon, where we will look at three chapters of John and try to get to the essence of what Jesus says concerning the Holy Spirit, which is his primary source of encouragement to his disciples.
There are many ways to engage God’s word. The various approaches have been compared to traveling. If you have ever flown, you get a large view of the area, you can identify large landmarks, you get a lay of the land and a more complete picture. Then if you drive through a place, you get more detail of that place, but you have to be more intentional to see where it all fits together with the surrounding area, you can walk through a place and get details you could not have seen otherwise, but you will be dealing with a much smaller area, and finally you could camp out in a specific area and take in the most intricate of details. Right?
We spend a lot of time walking through scripture on Sunday morning, which is, by far, my personal favorite approach, but I think sometimes it can be good to get a larger view of the area, so this morning that is what we are going to do. Drive through this encouragement discourse, stopping from time to time to get a closer look.
One of the navigational notes to make as we begin is the overwhelming trinitarian nature of these passages. Jesus references himself, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit over and over again as distinct persons, but also seamlessly moves between his work, the Spirit’s work, and the Father’s work in a united and cohesive way where distinctions are difficult to make.
This is the very essence of what we must acknowledge when dealing with the doctrine of the Trinity.
It has been said, if you talk about the Trinity long enough you will inevitably fall into heresy. There is a reason we call it a mystery, because our finite, human minds can never fully comprehend this truth, but we can, by following scripture and the influence of the Holy Spirit, apprehend the truth of the Trinity that God is One in essence, three in persons.
This is important because as we discuss the Holy Spirit we have to maintain the tension of distinction between the persons while not dividing the essence of God.
As stated in the Athanasian Creed, ‘We worship one God in trinity and the Trinity in unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the divine being.’
Open your bibles to John chapter 14. As you turn there, here is the road map we are going to follow today.
We will start with the Promise of the Spirit’s presence, continue with the explanation of his work, and conclude with Jesus’ declaration of his ministry.
The presence of Holy Spirit Promised
One one of the first things we notice in Jesus’ teaching on the Holy Spirit is the personal pronouns he uses repeatedly throughout the discourse. He does not refer to The Spirit as an it, or an impersonal force, but as a person. Jesus says you know him, he dwells with you and will be in you. He will teach you many things, He will bear witness of me, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict, and finally he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
After clarifying his own relationship to the Father and declaring himself the way to the Father in the first 14 verses, he begins encouraging the disciples by promising the Holy Spirit.
Let’s begin in verse 15.
John 14:15-17 (ESV) 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 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.
Not only does he use personal pronouns, he describes the Spirit’s role in personal terms.
Beginning by calling him another Helper, he identifies his own earthly presence with the disciples as similar to that of the coming Holy Spirit. He would carry on, or continue Jesus’ ministry of presence with the disciples.
Another Helper- The term translated helper here is the Greek word paraklētos. Translated comforter, counselor, or advocate in other English translations. I like the way the ESV translated it because helper covers all of those aspects well.
Yes, he is the comforter, the counselor, and the advocate, but in the way Jesus introduces him in this promise is that he would come and continue Jesus’ ministry to the disciples with his presence, I think helper is an appropriate description of who he is.
Think about how Jesus helped his disciples with his presence. He taught them in words and actions, he corrected them, he empowered them, he served them, he interpreted situations in light of the truth of who God is and what he is doing. He helped them not only enter the kingdom of God but to understand it better day by day.
The Holy Spirit would continue this for the disciples by his presence, not only with them but in them. Where they had walked with Jesus and had the Spirit with them, now God would dwell in them, his presence more manifested to them than it had ever been.
In 1 John, John says, concerning Jesus’ time on earth that they heard him, saw him, touched him with their hands. He was literally and bodily in their presence day after day. However, he says that his presence didn’t end when he ascended, rather they still have fellowship with Him and the Father, which is because they are now experiencing the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Therefore we understand that the Holy Spirit is a person of the Godhead, and we can experience his presence in our lives through the indwelling, because he has been sent by God the Father on behalf of God the Son, which is what Jesus promised his disciples would happen. Let’s briefly look at the promise Jesus made in John 14.
Jesus promises that he will ask the Father and the Father will give you another Helper, the Spirit of truth to dwell in them. Furthermore, the promise is that the presence of the Spirit is neither temporary nor arbitrary.
The permanence is seen in Jesus’ statement ‘He will be with you forever’.
The manner is seen in Jesus’ statement ‘whom the world cannot receive’.
...the promise is that the presence of the Spirit is neither temporary nor arbitrary.
When Jesus fulfilled this promise at Pentecost, it was not an indiscriminate pouring out of his spirit. Yes, as we saw last week it was an inclusive one, on young, old, male, female, free, slave, Jew, and Gentile, but there was and is a prerequisite for being indwelt by the Spirit. It is belonging to and being obedient to Jesus.
The promise was made to those who love him and keep his commandments. Jesus reiterates and explains this in the following verses.
John 14:21-24 (ESV) 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.
When you get to the heart of the commandment of the Father, it is to believe in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the commandment of the son is to believe in him, and having believed that he is God in the flesh, obeying what he has commanded and taught, chiefly to repent and follow Him.
On this side of Pentecost, when you repent and confess Jesus is Lord, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in you.
That is the promise, that God will manifest his presence to you in the Holy Spirit.
Next, let’s look at the work of the Holy Spirit.
The Work of the Holy Spirit Explained
We have already acknowledged that the Holy Spirit will continue the work that Jesus began in his disciples, by being another Helper, but Jesus specifically highlighted two primary works of the Spirit.
He will teach and he will bear witness.
First, let’s look at John 14, at verse 25.
John 14:25-26 (ESV) 25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
Jesus spent around three years teaching his disciples. Day in and day out living with them, teaching, instructing, expounding, correcting. But he acknowledges here that their learning is not complete, and a little later, that they apart from the indwelling of the Spirit would not even be able to bear some of what they needed to learn.
He will teach you all things- In essence Jesus says here that the Spirit will be the teacher that teaches you everything you need to know. Not everything there is, because there are still things we cannot know in our finite state, but the Spirit withholds nothing we need for life and faith.
Bring to your remembrance- I like the Strong’s Concordance literal definition of this word ‘to remind quietly’. It is the closest way I can describe my experience with the Spirit’s work in this area in my life. He brings something to mind in a conversation, or while reading scripture he provides a connecting verse, or when I am counseling someone and a verse or scriptural truth comes to mind. He is drawing from my previous encounters with the Truth. This is where we have to acknowledge, if we have a lack of His work in our lives, it may be because we are not spending time in the Truth the way we should. You cannot remind someone, or bring to mind something that they have never heard before.
In the same vein, it is interesting to see Jesus himself do this for his disciples in this very discourse.
(ESV) 15:20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’
The Spirit’s continued teaching work would be similar, it would include both teaching further things and bringing to remembrance what Jesus had already taught them and what they witnessed concerning him.
John testifies of the reality of this back in John 12 when he adds this commentary to his gospel account of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
John 12:16 (ESV) 16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him.
Even as early as the second chapter of John, he was adding these little notes. John 2:22 (ESV) 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
His teaching work in the disciples is recorded for us in the New Testament, in Acts, in the Epistles, in Revelation, as well as sprinkled throughout the gospels as we have seen in John’s account.
Before we move on to the second work Jesus mentions, I think it is important to stop and make a few remarks regarding the Spirit’s work in the believers life concerning his teaching ministry. It is my position, one that I feel is scriptural and true, that the Spirit, after the canon of Scripture was closed, is not teaching new things.
That is to say, the revelation of God is complete in Christ and we have recorded for us in the Holy Scriptures, everything we need to know. The Spirit’s teaching role has changed from one of inspiration to one of illumination.
He certainly can give us insight into our situations, he can and does help us understand what he has previously inspired, but be wary of anyone who claims to have a word directly from God, apart from his written Word.
I will not limit what God can do, but I will say, as I understand his work, that is not normative, or to be expected.
Less than I can count on my finger has God impressed something so forcefully on my heart and mind that I would describe it as hearing from the Lord in what would almost be an audible sense, and all those times drove me deeper into obedience to His word. It is important that we understand the way he teaches so that we will not be led astray by our own desires of the flesh.
...the revelation of God is complete in Christ and we have recorded for us in the Holy Scriptures, everything we need to know.
In addition to teaching, Jesus says the work of the Spirit will be to bear witness of Jesus.
After spending much of what is labeled chapter 15 in John’s gospel, testifying of himself as the true vine, his choosing of the disciples, and the unbelief of the world, Jesus says this.
John 15:26-27 (ESV) 26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
The Spirit would continue to bear witness consistent with what Jesus said concerning himself.
I recently watched a funny YouTube video that, although humorous, got to an essential point in discussing popular topics in society concerning what Jesus did and did not say on topics of sexuality and topics politics. It essentially said, if you don’t believe Jesus is God and that he is alive, I really don’t care about what you think about anything else he said. Until we can agree on his testimony concerning himself, then any further discussion is unprofitable.
John says it this way in his first letter, ultimately fulfilling what Jesus said here.
1 John 5:6-12 (ESV) 6 This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. 9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
John testified in agreement of the testimony of the Spirit, which is the same testimony Jesus gave when he was with John. ‘That God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.’
This is essential for our understanding of the work of the Spirit. In 1 John 4:1-3 (ESV) 1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.
The test of whether or not someone has the Spirit of God in them and is speaking the truth is that they confess the same thing the Spirit says of Christ because that is one of the primary works he came to do.
So far we have looked at the promise of the presence of the Holy Spirit and the work of the Holy Spirit, as we come to our final stopping point in this discourse, we will look at the ministry of the Holy Spirit, you could think of it as the combined result of his presence and his work, in both the life of the believer and the life of the non-believer.
The ministry of the Holy Spirit Declared
When we talk about ministry in this way, we are always talking about the culmination of both presence and work, right? This makes sense.
My ministry here wouldn’t be a ministry without those two things, would it? One, if I wasn't here, among you, it would be hard to call anything I did for you, ministry. Two, if here among you, I didn’t do anything, you would be hard-pressed to call it ministry.
We come now to the text where Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit and the work he ascribes to him, becomes an encouragement to the disciples in the form of his coming ministry.
First, let’s look at his ministry to those apart from Christ.
John 16:4-11 (ESV) “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless, 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. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
The promise is repeated, if I go, I will send him to you.
And when he comes, he will convict the world…
Convict- the idea of conviction is to expose something that is wrong, with the general idea that shame will accompany the exposing. A great example of Jesus using this word in a different context is when he is instructing his disciples in how to handle a brother sinning against them.
Matthew 18:15-17 (ESV) 15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, (same word)
In a similar manner, the Holy Spirit will expose the sin of the world, to their shame.
The world- all those apart from God and their systems are represented here.
His ministry of conviction here is given three areas, he will convict the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment.
Sin- because they do not believe in me (unbelief is the source from which all sin originates. Jesus states here that they are in sin because they do not believe in Him. To reject Christ is to reject God and remain in your sin.
John 8:24 (ESV) 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.
Righteousness- because I go to the Father (Jesus going to the Father, sitting down victorious and pouring out the Spirit are signs of his righteousness before God, his perfectly sinless life. He is the standard of righteousness. As the Holy Spirit reveals the righteousness of Christ, man realizes the depths of his unrighteousness before God.
Judgment- because the ruler of this world is judged. Christ defeated sin, death, and the grave on the cross, rendering Satan powerless and once and for all displaying his victory over evil.
How does the Holy Spirit convict the world? By holding up Jesus as God’s Messiah, The way, truth, and the life, the only righteous one who defeated Satan in his death, burial, and resurrection.
Do you see why I said his ministry is the culmination of his presence and his work? Jesus says here, that as He bears witness to Christ through his presence men and women come face to face with their sin, unrighteousness, and guilt before God.
The second aspect of his ministry is to believers. Jesus says it this way.
John 16:12-15 (ESV) 12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
He will guide you into all truth- In the same way Jesus guided the disciples into the truth, the Holy Spirit would continue his work among his people.
Here the unity of the trinity is beautifully illustrated. The Father sent the son, the son sent the Spirit, Jesus spoke only what the Father commanded, and now he says the Spirit will do the same.
In the same way Jesus declared the things of the Father, the Spirit will declare the things of the Son.
By being with Jesus and witnessing his work and hearing his words, their capacity to understand God had increased; in the coming of the Holy Spirit, they would be able to receive further revelations, which we have recorded for us in the New Testament. The Son made the Father known and the Spirit makes the Son known.
He guides us into the truth, so that we may fulfill our ministry of being witnesses, who are being conformed to the image of Christ, and that we may declare the kingdom of the Son to all who would hear. In sending the Spirit, Jesus ensured that we would have everything we need to live out our calling to follow Him.
He (The Holy Spirit) guides us into the truth, so that we may fulfill our ministry of being witnesses, who are being conformed to the image of Christ, and that we may declare the kingdom of the Son to all who would hear.
That was his encouragement to his disciples in his final hours and that is his encouragement for you today.
The person of the Holy Spirit has come as promised to dwell in all those who believe.
And although we have barely scratched the surface of who he is and what he does, I pray that you understand who he is and why he came just a little better than you did when we started.
For the believer, my encouragement would be to lean into your relationship with the Holy Spirit. Listen for his guidance, spend time in the word so that he may have a deep well to draw from when he brings to mind God’s truth, and allow him to work through your testimony to reach those in the world. God desires to walk and talk with you in this life, so much so that on behalf of Christ who died for you, he has sent his spirit to be your helper, your comforter, and your guide.
For the one who may not be sure about this whole Christianity thing yet, I pray that you heard today that God calls you to a relationship, that he wants to be your God and Father, not some distant divine idea. He does that through the work of the Holy Spirit’s conviction. He may be speaking to you today, concerning your sin or rebellion against God by not believing in his one and only son and his atoning death for your sins, concerning your righteousness in comparison to Jesus’ and his sinlessness, and the coming judgment against all those who reject Christ as God’s savior. I pray that you would heed his call.
The eternal triune God desires that none would perish but that all would come to saving knowledge of Christ through repentance.