In previous blogs I have covered the top ten teachings according to the frequency with which Christ taught (seen on page 133 of the download ‘What on earth have we done with the teachings of Jesus’). We are now covering the Words of Jesus regarding the Holy Spirit. The first of these is His purpose is ‘to dwell within us’.
Going to church as a child I was taught to believe that the Holy Spirit was inside a little glass jar near the altar. I would look at this red flickering light and wonder how He got there and what purpose He could possibly perform in so small a container. Once I came into a deeper understanding of the Word of God and in particular the Words of Jesus, then this mystical Holy Spirit became a little less mysterious.
I will give you an advocate
When Jesus was preparing His disciples for His departure from them, He told them that He had to leave them so the Holy Spirit could come. He said, ‘I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—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,’ John 14.
So instead of living in a little glass jar, Jesus said He would live in us. I have to confess, it is a struggle to shake off my early notions of the Holy Spirit being such a mystical being. But when we realise He is actually the Spirit of Jesus come to dwell within us, to help us, then it becomes more understandable. Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as being The Helper or Advocate four times in the Gospels. His aim is to help us achieve all that God wants for us to be and wants for us to do.
The Holy Spirit has been given many names in the Bible. The following list are the names of the Holy Spirit and where they are found in the Bible (from Torrey’s New Topical Textbook):
- 1. Spirit of glory (1 Peter 4:14)
- 2. Lord, The (1 Thessalonians 3:5)
- 3. God (Acts 5:3-4)
- 4. Spirit of revelation (Ephesians 1:17)
- 5. Spirit of the Son (Galatians 4:6)
- 6. Spirit of God (Genesis 1:2; 1 Corinthians 2:11; Job 33:4)
- 7. Eternal Spirit (Hebrews 9:14)
- 8. Spirit of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2; Acts 5:9)
- 9. Spirit of wisdom (Isaiah 11:2; Ephesians 1:17)
- 10. Spirit of counsel (Isaiah 11:2)
- 11. Spirit of might (Isaiah 11:2)
- 12. Spirit of understanding (Isaiah 11:2)
- 13. Spirit of knowledge (Isaiah 11:2)
- 14. Spirit of the fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2)
- 15. Spirit of judgment (Isaiah 4:4; 28:6)
- 16. Spirit of burning (Isaiah 4:4)
- 17. Spirit of the Lord God (Isaiah 61:1)
- 18. Breath of the Almighty (Job 33:4)
- 19. Comforter (John 14:16, 26; 15:26)
- 20. Spirit of truth (John 14:17; 15:26)
- 21. Power of the Highest (Luke 1:35)
- 22. Spirit of the Father (Matthew 10:20)
- 23. Spirit, The (Matthew 4:1; John 3:6; 1 Timothy 4:1)
- 24. Good Spirit (Nehemiah 9:20; Psalms 143:10)
- 25. Holy Spirit (Psalm 51:11; Luke 11:13; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30)
- 26. Free Spirit (Psalm 51:12)
- 27. Spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:10)
- 28. Seven Spirits of God (Revelation 1:4)
- 29. Spirit of holiness (Romans 1:4)
- 30. Spirit of adoption (Romans 8:15)
- 31. Spirit of life (Romans 8:2; Revelation 11:11)
- 32. Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9; 1 Peter 1:11)
- 33. Spirit of grace (Zechariah 12:10; Hebrews 10:29)
In addition to these names, many references are made to the Holy Spirit, with some scholars counting as many as 126 different labels.
Jesus said, ‘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 depart, I will send Him to you,’ John 16:17.
The disciples were very troubled at the thought of their new-found Saviour, Teacher and Helper leaving them alone in a hostile world. But Jesus said to them, ‘I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you’, John 14:18.
Fear of aloneness
Fear of rejection and of being alone in this world is a plague that affects us all almost without exception. We were made for fellowship with one another. We thrive better in community. Yet in the UK more than 50% of the population live alone. Here Jesus promises His followers that if we truly are seeking after Him and abide in Him, then we never need to fear that sense of abandonment or rejection. For He will be with us always, to comfort and to guide us.
Henry says – Christ here promises to send the Spirit, whose office it is to be their Comforter and to impress these things upon them.
The premise to this is a memento of duty (John 14:15): If you love me, keep my commandments. Keeping the commandments of Christ is here put for the practice of godliness. When Christ is comforting them, He bids them to keep His commandments. We cannot expect comfort except in the pathway of duty. The word given for the Holy Spirit is (parakaleo) which signifies both to exhort and to comfort. In difficult times our care concerning the events of the day should be swallowed up in a care concerning the duty of the day – to obey the Lord.
Keep His commandments
When the disciples were showing their love to Christ by their grieving to think of His departure, He bids them to show their love to Him by their conscientious care to perform what has been entrusted to them, and by a universal obedience to His commands. This is better than sacrifice, better than tears. Do you love Me? Feed my lambs.
Christ gave them precious promises, of the answer to their prayers and of the coming Comforter. Yet He lays down this as a limitation of the promises, “Provided you keep my commandments, from a principle of love to me.” Christ will not be an advocate for just anyone. He was expected as the consolation of Israel. One of the names of the Messiah among the Jews was Menahem—the Comforter. Christ comforted His disciples when He was with them, and now that He was leaving them in their greatest need He promises them another.
The giver of this blessing: The Father shall give him, my Father and your Father; it includes both. The same One who gave the Son to be our Saviour will give His Spirit to be our comforter. The Son is said to send the Comforter (John 15:26), but the Father is the prime agent.
Jesus is King and Priest
This blessing is so given by the intercession of the Lord Jesus: I will pray to the Father. He said (John 14:14) I will do it. Here He said, I will pray for it, to show not only that He is both God and man, but that He is both King and Priest. As Priest He is ordained for men to make intercession, as King He is authorized by the Father to execute judgment. When Christ said, I will pray the Father, it does not suppose that the Father is unwilling, but only that the gift of the Spirit is a fruit of Christ’s mediation, purchased by His merit, and taken out by His intercession.
The continuance of this blessing: That He may abide with you forever. That is, “With you, as long as you live. You shall never know the want of a comforter, nor lament his departure, as you are now lamenting Mine.” It should support us under the loss of any comforts which were designed us for a short time that there are everlasting consolations provided for us. It was not expedient that Christ should be with them forever, for they who were designed for public service, must not always live a college-life. They must disperse, and therefore a comforter that would be with them all, in all places alike, wherever dispersed and however distressed, was alone fit to be with them for ever. The consolations of God will be the eternal joy of all the saints, pleasures for ever.
The Spirit of Truth
This comforter is the Spirit of truth, whom you know, John 14:16, 17. They might think it impossible to have a comforter equivalent to Him who is the Son of God: “Yes,” said Christ, “you shall have the Spirit of God, who is equal in power and glory with the Son.”
The comforter promised is the Spirit, one who would do His work in a spiritual way and manner, inwardly and invisibly, by working on men’s spirits, “He is the Spirit of truth.” He will be true to you, and to His undertaking for you, which He will perform to the utmost. He will teach you the truth, will enlighten your minds with the knowledge of it, will strengthen and confirm your belief of it, and will increase your love to it. The Gentiles by their idolatries, and the Jews by their traditions, were led into gross errors and mistakes, but the Spirit of truth shall not only lead you into all truth, but others by your ministry. Christ is the truth, and He is the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit that He was anointed with.
He abides in you
He is one whom the world cannot receive; but you know Him. He abides with you. The disciples of Christ are here distinguished from the world, for they are chosen and called out of the world that lies in wickedness. They are the children and heirs of another world, not of this. It is the misery of those that are invincibly devoted to the world that they cannot receive the Spirit of truth. The spirit of the world and of God are spoken of as directly contrary the one to the other (1 Cor. 2:12 Now we have not received the spirit [that belongs to] the world, but the [Holy] Spirit Who is from God, [given to us] that we might realise and comprehend and appreciate the gifts [of divine favour and blessing so freely and lavishly] bestowed on us by God.)
Men cannot receive the Spirit of truth because they cannot see Him, neither know Him. The comforts of the Spirit are foolishness to them, as much as ever the cross of Christ was, and the great things of the gospel, like those of the law, are counted as a strange thing. These are judgments far above out of their sight. Speak to the children of this world of the operations of the Spirit, and you are as a barbarian to them.
Our experience brings us acquaintance
The best knowledge of the Spirit of truth is that which is got by experience: You know Him, for He dwells with you. Christ had dwelt with them, and by their acquaintance with Him they could not but know the Spirit of truth. They had themselves been endued with the Spirit in some measure. What enabled them to leave all to follow Christ and continue with Him? What enabled them to preach the gospel, and work miracles, but that the Spirit was dwelling in them? Those that have an experimental acquaintance with the Spirit have a comfortable assurance of His continuance: He dwells with you, and shall be in you, for the blessed Spirit does not shift His lodging.
Those that know Him know how to value Him, invite Him and bid Him welcome. Therefore He shall be in them, as the light in the air, as the sap in the tree, as the soul in the body. This is the favour God bears to His chosen; it is the heritage of those that fear His name.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
The Gift of the Holy Spirit My life was so empty, lost, forlorn At times I wished I’d not been born. For me no hope or future in life, Just constant battles of meaningless strife. Where is the purpose here for Me? Will someone help that I may see? Then slowly things began to change At first it seemed a little strange A different feeling deep inside A peace and joy you cannot hide A whole new world so fresh and new A deepening love so strong, so true, A whole new power in Jesus’ name My life will never be the same. By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer: Father, I thank You for the gift of Your Spirit. May I grow in understanding of His presence in my life and of His power working through me. Help and urge me to be an adherent of Your commands, that nothing may hinder it. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.
The Holy Spirit will dwell within you!