The Helping Holy Spirit

Blair Smith, Speaker

John 14:15-31 | February 18 - Sunday Evening,

Sunday Evening,
February 18
The Helping Holy Spirit | John 14:15-31
Blair Smith, Speaker

As you sit down, please turn with me to the Gospel of John, chapter 14, and we are going to be looking that second half of this chapter this evening, which is verses 15 through 31. John 14, 15 to 31. Here the Word of our Lord.

““If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. 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. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in the Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 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.”

“Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 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. 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. These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 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. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on Me, but I do as the Father has commanded Me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.”

This is the Word of the Lord.

Please pray with me.

What a grand text You have given us this evening, Father, we thank You for it and we do pray that You would give us eyes of faith to see all that You would reveal to us of Your Christ and of the Spirit here tonight. May You equip me by that same Spirit, preach this text a better sermon than I have prepared, and may You give us all hearts that would burn to know more of You, Father, more of You, Son, and more of You, Spirit. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

Now we continue in our series in the upper room and in these previous weeks we’ve looked at the first half of this chapter, chapter 14, and we’ve also looked at the end of the previous chapter, chapter 13, and you can imagine at the end of that chapter, chapter 13, how the disciples might have felt. They had spent the best three years of their life. They’d spent it with God incarnate, their Lord and friend.

Jesus had just finished telling them three very troubling things, three very troubling things. One of them will betray Him. Another one of them, Peter, one of the closest apostles, will deny Him. And on top of all that, He’s going to be leaving them soon to a place where they cannot go.

They might have thought, so, this is how it all ends, Lord? This is the end of discipleship? Things end not with a bang but with a whimper.

Jesus, knowing full well what’s going on in their troubled hearts, these troubled hearts of His disciples, opens chapter 14 by saying, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” Then He goes on to proceed to tell them why it’s a good thing, a very good thing, that He is going away. Yes, He will be leaving. Jesus will be leaving, but He is not going to leave them destitute.

Along with the Father He will be sending someone just as good, just as powerful, personal, and gracious, just as divine as He is.

And this is necessary for God’s saving kingdom work to be completed, because if you think of it, Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose again now over 2000 years ago. In this sanctuary no one lived and walked with Him, no one living on earth today witnessed His resurrection, saw His ascension into heaven at the right hand of the Father. So how does all of that glorious stuff get to us since it happened so long ago in a different time, a different place? How do we experience Christ’s benefits today, in 2024, if we didn’t know Him in the flesh, we didn’t see Him, we didn’t hear His voice, we didn’t touch Him, we didn’t sit at His feet, we didn’t see the empty tomb?

The answer is found in the One sent by the Father through the Son, the Holy Spirit.

Now as Jesus makes implicitly clear throughout this chapter, accepting this answer, accepting Christ’s ultimate antidote to our troubled hearts, will require us to have a baseline of faith, of belief. That is to say all that exists, all that makes the world turn, all that explains my life, explains your life, is not what we can see, not what we can smell, not what we can touch.

The first disciples, indeed, were privileged. Were they not? In that they knew Christ through the five senses, as it were. On the one hand, Christ was a materialist’s dream. God in the flesh. In the stuff that can be seen, the stuff that can be touched. Now I believe because I see, the materialist might say, because only what he sees and touches and observes is real to him.

But if a materialist spent any time with Christ, he would soon be alarmed for Christ was always talking about these friends that were not present with Him. What’s more, He was not just talking about them, He was talking to them, talking with them.

So as we read the gospels, it is apparent that the most real, the most meaningful, the most sustaining relationships that Jesus Christ had on earth were with ones that no one could see. If that’s the case, should we believe Jesus Christ when He tells His disciples, yes, He’s leaving but don’t be troubled. One who I know, one how Jesus knows, a person who is with Him, He will be with us, with you, and through Him we will have fellowship with Jesus. Should we believe Him?

If we do not have eyes of faith, if we’re immersed in this world system, we won’t because we can’t see Him. That’s what Jesus Christ Himself says in verse 17. But if you believe, and Christ commands His disciples six different times in verses 1 to 14 of this chapter to believe, then and only then will we have any idea, any inkling, of what Christ is talking about in this majestic and mysterious passage before us this evening.

To get inside Jesus’ words, we must have this faith starting point. Otherwise, this is just a bunch of spiritual mumbo jumbo that doesn’t have any bearing in our lives and in reality.

So as we look at verses 15 to 31 now of chapter 14, we’re going to focus on the Holy Spirit and we’re going to look at four different aspects of His person highlighted here and how each of these relates to what He does. Lastly, and in conclusion, we’ll seek to understand how who He is and what He does relates to how we experience Him, how we experience the Holy Spirit.

First. He’s a searcher of God. In a different passage of Scripture in 1 Corinthians 2, it says He, that is the Holy Spirit, searches everything, searches out everything, even the deep things of God. It says there that He, the Spirit, comprehends the thoughts of God and interprets them to those who are spiritual. As a result of this, He is able to bring God and all His benefits to us so that rather than being at a loss because Jesus Christ is no longer walking this earth, rather than being at a loss, we are at great gain because this Spirit can push forward Jesus Christ’s ministry.

Let’s think about how the Holy Spirit does this for a minute. Have you ever in a conversation with a spouse, with a friend, or perhaps in a teaching context many of you know, as Joel mentioned I teach for a living, my full-time job is as a professor, and have you ever been in that context where you’re talking with somebody or teaching and you really would like to get inside somebody’s head to figure out what’s exactly making this person click, and in the teaching context sometimes what is going on inside there where they’re not getting what you’re trying to communicate?

I’ve had this opportunity in teaching over the years to teach to a number of different kinds of students and some of those have had trouble in understanding. It’s in those moments and in those conversations, maybe with spouse or friend, where you just wish you could get inside. Right? You could go brain spelunking. Right? With a cave light and figure out what’s exactly going on inside there and can I find that magic switch just so that they will understand. So communication can take place, where the lightbulb of understanding can go on.

The Holy Spirit knows completely, if I can put it this way, every nook and cranny of God, so can bring a knowledge of God wherever the Spirit goes.

As a Spirit who ministers to human spirits, He is able to bring a knowledge of God to us. He’s interior to God, He’s able to be interior to us and bring a knowledge and understanding from the one to the other. This is what He does in relation to us understanding Jesus Christ. He brings what He knows about God into us and He turns on that lightbulb of faith, illumination, so that we can see Christ for who He is.

Now how exactly does He do this? He always works with the Word of God. He always works with the Word of God, which of course He Himself inspired and He convinces us of its truth. Indeed, in verse 17, Christ calls the Holy Spirit the Spirit of truth. Just earlier in this same chapter, which Mike preached on last week in verse 6, Christ Himself calls Himself the Truth. The Holy Spirit through the Word cures our blindness, opens our eyes, the eyes of our soul, to see the truth of Christ, all that He is and all that He has done.

So the Holy Spirit as the searcher of God, He brings a knowledge of Christ and in doing so actually furthers Christ’s ministry. He proves Christ in the hearts of those who believe by opening to us the vast range of the knowledge of God. He rivets within our spirits so that our spirits confess with the Spirit as to the truth of Christ. In this work by the Holy Spirit, which He has now been carrying on for over 2000 years, He is simply enacting the second phase of a single process whereby the Father has from all of eternity to determine to bring divine truth and life and offer it to us in His Son.

This process is spoken of by Christ. It’s still going on. He says in verse 26, He, that is the Holy Spirit, will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

Now, true, we confess the canon of Scripture is closed. He’s no longer about the business of inspiring new revelation. Yet, He’s continually drawing us, taking us, to the Word in order to open up a deeper knowledge, a fuller understanding of God. The ministry of Christ pushes forward today in 2024 in the Holy Spirit, and when we who are deemed redeemed find ourselves resurrected, free from the weight of our sin, we will enter into that third phase, that third phase of Christ’s ministry, when we are with Him in the new heavens and the new earth and know Him then through sinless eyes.

So this is the first aspect of the Holy Spirit, the searcher of God who pushes forward Christ’s ministry, even in the physical absence of Christ, bringing to us a knowledge of the risen and ascended Lord.

The second aspect to the person of the Holy Spirit that Christ teaches us is that He is a helper, He is a helper. In fact, in verse 26 of the ESV translation, He’s explicitly named the Helper.

Now the Greek word behind this translation is paracletos, or paraclete. It’s a rather elastic word which can be translated a number of different ways and you’ll see that in a variety of different English translations. Maybe advocate is another word that you will see if you do not have the ESV.

But we can be on surest footing if we understand this word helper, paracletos, to mean counselor, because that word encompasses the diversity of His work in this regard, counselor, counselor.

Sinclair Ferguson, who writes beautifully and preaches beautifully the Holy Spirit, he’s noted that when we hear this word “counselor” we often think of two different kinds of people. We may think of a counselor who’s a close friend, or a professional, who comes alongside us, helps us in our lives. Many of you have that kind of friend, right? Who knows you very well, knows you intimately, so knows what to say to you in that time of need.

Or you have spent some time visiting a professional counselor who’s helped you gain some new perspective and aided you in your growth, in your walk.

But we also know a different kind of counselor, don’t we? In fact, this sanctuary may have a few in it right now. It’s those who go into a courtroom with you and speak on your behalf, who plead your case before a judge. So when we hear “counselor,” we may have two or three different types of people in our minds.

But here’s the thing to know, in the time of the disciples in first century Israel, this would have been really one person, able to fulfill the various aspects of what it means to be a counselor.

So if you had an appointment in first century Israel to go see a judge, you would not go into downtown Jerusalem as you might today. Right? Go down, downtown in Charlotte, look for a sign that says “Dewey Cheatam & Howe,” you know, some names of some lawyers. That’s not what you would have done. There were no law firms you would have gone to pay for services rendered.

Nor as far as I know would there have been professional counselors that you would have gone and seen.

The person who would counsel you through difficulty was the same one who would stand with you before a judge, and that is a friend, an intimate, close friend who knows you best, can be trusted to speak for you.

This is the Holy Spirit.

In the first sense, this is what He does for Christ. We could call the Holy Spirit in one kind of colloquial sense, Christ’s best friend, who was with Him wherever He went on earth. Now Christ is saying that helper, that counselor, will be pleading Christ in our hearts.

This is what the Holy Spirit does when He brings a person to faith. He’s proving in that man or woman’s heart that Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Lord and Savior, indeed, God Himself.

The Holy Spirit is also a counselor in another sense, in that He comes to heal us, He comes to put our lives together, or broken fragmented lives are pieced back together again through the deft hands of the Holy Spirit, counseling to our souls the wisdom of Christ so that we may live for the greater glory of God.

So He’s a searcher of God who brings His knowledge to us. He’s a counselor in pleading Christ in our hearts and helping put our lives together.

How is He able to do this? This leads to our third point.

Third. He is one with God. The Spirit is one with God. Indeed, He is God Himself, and as such He’s a person who brings about communion, protection, and peace. Communion, protection, and peace.

The Holy Spirit is a person. I think that can be a little hard for us to get our heads around sometimes. So many of our thoughts have been perhaps shaped by that old rendering in the KJV of Holy Ghost, and for others Holy Spirit is still a stumbling block in thinking about Him rightly because maybe the presuppositions we carry in and around that word “spirit.”

Perhaps it would be helpful to know then that when a pronoun is used in reference to the Holy Spirit in this passage in verse 26 and throughout the next three chapters, the personhood of the Spirit is emphasized. Not an it, but a He.

In Acts we learn that we can lie to the Spirit, we can lie to Him, and in Ephesians we learn we can grieve Him because He is a person. As a member of the trinity, we know Him as an eternal person who has forever lived in communion with the Father and the Son.

The way that Scripture explains the unity and the intimacy of the persons of the Godhead is by saying in this passage and throughout the upper room discourse that they are in one another. In verse 11, Jesus says “I am in the Father and the Father’s in Me.”

Here in our passage it’s even taken further. Christ, in verse 17, explains the work of the Holy Spirit and He says He will be in us and we in Him because the Spirit of truth will be in us. It is the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit who opens the blessed communion that we enjoy by grace in the trinity, placing us in Christ so that through Him we are members of the Father’s family. We are not orphans but we’re literally and truly communing with God as sons and daughters.

If the Holy Spirit was not one with God, if He was not God Himself and a person, this would be impossible, but because He is, you and I can indeed commune with God.

Listen to the most intimate and personal terms Jesus uses to describe this. In verse 23 He says we will come to Him and make our home. Think about those words, make our home, with Him. That’s the believer.

Because God Himself is making a home within, the believer can be assured this comes with all the protection, with all the peace that only God can provide. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither be afraid. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you.

What Jesus is saying is not that we will be sealed off from all the scary and troublesome things of living in this world, rather our souls will be barricaded. Why? Because He has made His house, which is a place of peace, within us. It’s a space where we find strength to flourish in the midst of and in the face of trouble.

The very fact that Jesus emphasizes this protection and peace leads us to believe that there is a reason to be troubled in this world. He says in verse 30 the ruler of this world, Satan, is coming. We know the first Christians, the ones hearing this, many of them would be facing trouble, facing even death, because they lived in a radically pluralistic hostile age that did not want to hear the message of an absolute way, an absolute truth, an absolute life. Many of our brothers and sisters today face trouble, many of you here may face trouble because you’re committed Christians and the world is throwing everything it can at you.

Remember, though, the very reason you are a Christian, because the Holy Spirit has placed you in Christ, that’s the source of your protection and your peace in the midst of trouble.

I am a father, a husband, and I want to protect my family. It’s my joyful duty to do so, but I’m finite and I do not know if something might happen one day that I cannot control. God the Father on a much greater and grander scale wants to protect His family. God the Son wants to protect His bride. And they are infinite, they are all knowing, and they are all powerful. They can seal off the house from spiritual harm. Christ doesn’t guarantee protection from physical harm, but not one of you, if you are in Christ by the Holy Spirit, can be snatched out of His eternal house. In that house you will enjoy an eternal peace that enables you to endure the threats of this troublesome world.

A little child when scared, feeling vulnerable, will come up close to parents and grip their hand, and that provides a sense of protection and peace. When you are alarmed at Satan’s assault, seek the grip of the Father’s hand and know that it is the Spirit who brings your hand to clasp His.

The Spirit is the searcher of God who brings a knowledge of God. One.

He is the helper, two, or counselor who provides, or who proves Christ in our hearts even while He as intimate friends with us puts our life back together.

Three. He is one with God, God Himself, who effects divine communion and all the protection and peace that comes from God, even God making His home within us.

That leads to our last point, our fourth, and that last aspect of the Holy Spirit to understand from this passage is actually in His name. He is the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit. He is holy because He is God, but He also makes holy all those in whom He dwells.

This is what we call the process of sanctification, which has as its starting point the love of Christ. What was the first verse we read? Right? Verse 15. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. And He goes on to say in verse 21 that indeed keeping His commandments is a sign of our love.

What the Holy Spirit does in making us more holy is first pour the love of Christ into our hearts so that we loved by Him love Him in return. As we love Him, the Holy Spirit uses that to create a deep hunger within the soul of the Christian to want to be like Him. The way we become like Him, Christ, is by shaping our lives according to His will.

This happens by the Spirit, the Holy Spirit impressing Christ’s commands on our hearts. His commands are nothing less than the expression of His character. It is the Holy Spirit who works that character within us. As that character is worked within us, we become more holy. Why? Because we become more like Jesus Christ.

Let me put it more simply. The Holy Spirit cannot help but take all those He indwells to Christ. There is this irresistible, divine magnetism between the person of Christ and the Holy Spirit so that if one is caught by the Spirit, you will be swept into that magnetic pull that takes you to Christ. As He draws us, as He draws you and me, He’s softening us so that we become like moist and malleable clay, we’re prepared to be impressed upon by a seal, and that seal for the Christian is the image of Christ, the image of Christ.

The contours of that seal, what gives it shape, what gives the particulars of the image, are the commandments of Christ because these are expressions of His character. The more and more those commandments are obeyed through the power of the Holy Spirit, the more and more the distinct image of Christ will be seen in the Christian.

So where are those commandments which from us according to Christ? They’re found here. They’re found in the Word. We must know this Word. We must know this Word and seek the Spirit’s help if we truly want to be like Christ.

An example of one of His commands is found in verse 34 of chapter 13. Remember there He says to His disciples to love one another. He adds that it is by this that the world will know that His followers are His. In that statement He makes clear for us the tie between His command and His character. As the command is obeyed by the disciples, it is what that is seen in them? It’s the image of Christ that is seen in the disciples. As you love one another, then Christ is shown.

Well, before moving from this point, let me highlight almost here in passing, how there’s an aspect here where we actually are called to be very Spirit-like. We often think of discipleship as being Christ-like, but what about being Spirit-like? The Holy Spirit has a sort of spotlight, if we can call it that. He never shines on a reflector so that it bounces back on Him. He’s always shining it on Jesus. His way of making people holy is to draw attention to the light that He shines brightly on Christ. As soon as any attention would be drawn to the Holy Spirit, He would have us follow that light coming from Himself to Christ.

Let me suggest we, too, should have that bashful demeanor. Whenever anyone would seek to give us undue attention, as Christians we should point them to Christ. If anyone would seek to give us glory, we should say, no, Christ alone. If that is our Spirit, that is the work of the Holy Spirit who works within us of praise and glory to Christ.

So first we saw how the Holy Spirit is the searcher of God who brings a knowledge of God.

Secondly, the Holy Spirit is a counselor who pleads and confirms Christ in our hearts and intimately and graciously helps us put our lives together by His very deft hands.

Then thirdly the Holy Spirit is one with God, God Himself, a person who brings about communion, protection, and peace.

On top of all that, He’s the Holy Spirit who makes us like Him, like God, who is holy.

As we’ve gone through these four points, you’ve undoubtedly seen glimpses of how we experience the Holy Spirit in the midst of His work. We experience Him as one who gives light and understanding, as one who comforts us. That delightful phrase He makes His home within us, He’s a homemaker within us for God. He’s an enabler who frees us to keep the commandments of Christ.

But here in conclusion I want to focus upon the all-important experience of the Holy Spirit in prayer and in worship. This most blessed section of Scripture that we have comes to us from Christ and emphasizes over and over that He’s leaving, yes, but He’s not leaving us as orphans. He will, rather, continually draw us by the Holy Spirit into this mystery of divine sonship. Christ had to leave for this to happen but by arranging this continued ministry of the Holy Spirit, He has created for us an experience of divine life as we enter into prayer in the Spirit through the Son to the Father.

It is the reality of the indwelling Holy Spirit that is the basis for prayer as He places us in Christ so that we plead in Christ, in the Son, to the Father. We pray through Jesus’ name, that habit of praying through Jesus’ name we do that for very real theological, spiritual reasons. We pray through Jesus’ name for this very reason.

There are forms of prayer, sometimes promoted in our culture, which are nothing more than sort of rehashed pantheism that cease to grasp the divine that’s inherit within us, that seek some sort of self-fulfillment. But Christian prayer, Christian prayer is an active prayer in the Spirit where we’re seeking fulfillment beyond ourselves, in God. We cast all our cares on God. We glory in God, we find fulfillment in God, all while being indwelled with the Holy Spirit who is Himself God.

So in the New Testament it uses the language of praying in the Spirit for this very reason. Because we’re so prone, are we not, to bring our own agenda into prayer, cut off from the larger concerns of God. Consequently, we find ourselves frustrated, we find ourselves empty. But praying in the Spirit, praying in the Spirit is praying through Christ to the Father. See the difference of orientation? Being in the Spirit is being caught in the Godward movement of the Spirit, focusing on His pleasure, His will, because the Spirit is always focused on the other persons.

The opposite of being in the Spirit is being in ourselves, being eyes cast down, eyes inward, concerns primarily motivated by self.

Proper God-focused prayer is where you know you are supported by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us and who leads us to the Father through the Son.

It’s the same perspective that should inform our worship as well where we know our own human inadequacy is supported and sanctified by the work of the Spirit as we worship in the Spirit. We worship in Spirit and in truth.

Listen to how Paul puts it in Romans 8 – the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses for we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words, and He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Isn’t that amazing? That we call Abba Father in our prayers and worship, not from somewhere outside or above us, but from within us because it comes from the One who searches the hearts of men. As it comes from the Spirit who is also God, He acts as that divine gracious translator of our worship and prayers before the throne. True prayer, true worship, takes place in the Spirit and burning with His love aims to glorify the Father through the Some.

If you here tonight do not know this Holy Spirit, seek Him for by doing so you will be led to Christ and into the divine family. If you do know Him, seek to do all in Him because then you will know all His divine benefits in your life and you will experience that here on earth even in a special way in those things that we’re doing right now in worship and in prayer.

Let’s pray together. Our heavenly Father, what a great comfort this text is as it teaches us of the divine comforter, our counselor, and we pray throughout the course of this worship service and even in this prayer now that Your Spirit would be translating before Your throne even as Your Son intercedes on our behalf. What a grand picture of lifting back of the veil as it were of all of the beauty of who You are, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and Your divine plan to unite us to You so that we can stand as the Son does by nature, we can stand as sons and daughters by grace, secure in Your family, aided and helped by the Holy Spirit. We pray that as we have a picture of these eternal spiritual realities from John 14 that this would shape our lives, that would shape how we think of what it means to be a Christian, which is as a son or daughter of the Father, strengthened and counseled by the Spirit, but which also is shaped what is the bread and butter of the Christian life, which is to worship and which is to pray. We pray now to You, Father, in the Spirit through the Son. Amen.