The Basics 6c – The Holy Spirit Helps

One of the many mysteries concerning the Holy Spirit goes to identity. His name is not revealed in scripture. God the Father revealed His own name to Moses at the burning bush – I am that I am, YHWH. God the Son is Jesus, or more properly Yeshua – YHWH Saves. There are also other descriptive titles for God and for each of the Trinity.

In John 14:16 Jesus revealed the Holy Spirit’s descriptive title as the helper, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.” (John 14:16, NASB95) The actual Greek word in John’s text is parakleton, a word filled with the complex meaning of a comforter, encourager, and legal advocate all rolled into one. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary defined it as “’a person summoned to one’s aid.’ It may refer to an advisor, a legal advocate, a mediator or intercessor.” [1]

The closest example may be that of the advocate who stands with, speaks for, and encourages someone. They may have a legal function but are really there to help someone navigate governmental, legal, business, and public systems. Think of a child’s advocate or senior advocate. A stronger, wiser, more mentally aware person whose responsibility is the welfare of the person they are advocating for. For someone in that role there are three duties, to comfort and encourage, to provide guidance and assistance, to intercede on behalf of; to stand between the powerful and the weak.  Each of these is also the works of the Holy Spirit.

Comfort and encourage. Jesus said, “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 said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:26–27, NASB95)

One of the most common testimonies concerning the work of the Spirit is the sense of peace amid life’s turmoil. That calming presence which overwhelms the moment of conflict, loss, or confusion. In those painful moments, we are often more keenly aware of God’s presence than when everything is sunshine and roses. The Psalmist wrote, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4, NASB95)

Guidance. Also, in John 14:2-27 is the promise of a teacher. Someone to inform and to guide our steps. To remind us of things forgotten and reveal truths not yet encountered. That is also part of the advocate’s role. Like “helper,” there is a multi-faceted experience within this role. Sometimes the Spirit reveals truth; either Biblical truth or the truth about a situation or truth about us. Other times He reminds us of things we learned, perhaps showing us a new or unexpected application to a truth. But always in this guidance, the Holy Spirit is pointing and prodding us towards Jesus.

Intercessor. The Advocate also stands between and intercedes for us. Paul wrote, “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26–27, NASB95) On this aspect or role, there is overlap with Jesus. John wrote, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;” (1 John 2:1, NASB95)

As believers, we don’t have one intercessor but two, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. This one fact should inform our prayers. We don’t need to talk to God according to a formula or specific words or length of time. The intercession of the Holy Spirit fills in the gap between our expression and all else that is needed. Nothing wrong with praying specifically, it is in fact encouraged. But “God, HELP!” is also a highly effective prayer because the Holy Spirit intercedes in ways we don’t even know. Sometimes this intercession is simple advocacy, at other times it has more of a legal flavor.

There is a difficulty in explaining the legal side of this advocacy since we tend to relate it to our modern adversarial legal systems. A courtroom where there is a judge, a jury, a prosecuting attorney, defense attorney, and witnesses. We know from Jesus’ own trial that ancient legal systems were very different. But whether it is like the raucous hearing before Pilate, the confrontational hearing before the Jewish Ruling Council, the private testing of Herod, or the accusing words of Satan – we have the best legal representative ever in our corner through Jesus – the Holy Spirit.

Here are the beauty and grace of the whole. No matter where we are at or what we need, the Holy Spirit is there to comfort, encourage, teach, guide, remind, and intercede for us. Today we may need His peace, tomorrow His intercession as we confess sin, the next day His guidance. Or, more likely, we need all of the above each day of our walk with Jesus. We do have an advocate helper and a mighty one at that.

[1] Merrill C. Tenney, “John,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: John and Acts, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 9 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 146.

Dale Heinold
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