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The Holy Spirit is the third member of the Trinity. To speak of the Holy Spirit is to use a description, as well as a name. Another descriptive name Jesus gives this Person is the Helper. In John 14:15ff. we find the things Jesus said about the Spirit of God. He is talking to his disciples—and that means us: “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 orphans, I will come to you . . .. Because I live, you also will live. In that day, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, I in you” (John 14: 15-20).
There’s a lot in these six verses, much we need to know about the Holy Spirit. First, this is a clear teaching on the Trinity itself. Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit as a person—one who lives “with” the disciples and will soon be “in them.” But this Helper Jesus also calls “the Spirit of God.” God and his Spirit cannot be separated, but the Bible treats the Father and the Spirit of God as separate Persons. We have to remember that Jesus also said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10: 30). We don’t question the personhood of Jesus—again the individuality is something we take for granted. Yet this is one God, and we Christians are monotheists. We have to remind ourselves of that basic. We just know that the Bible treats the three members of the Trinity in individual ways. Why not? God can manifest himself any way he wants, right? And we can know him as the Father, Jesus the Son, the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus calls the Helper and the Spirit of God.
The name Jesus uses when he promises to send the Holy Spirit, also known as the Spirit of Jesus in the New Testament (See Acts 16:7, Gal 4: 6, and Phil 1: 19), tells us more. The Greek word is parakletos. Definitions include the following: “intercessor, consoler, advocate, comforter (Greek and Hebrew Study Bible, Pawnee Group); ‘one called in for support,’ one who speaks in favor of another, helper (Pocket Lexicon to the Greek New Testament, Souter); one present to render various beneficial service[s] (Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament, Mounce). In these lists, we find one basic idea though expressed in several nuances, telling us that we’ve been given access to comfort and help, advocacy, intercession, and a wide range of “beneficial services.” What gifts! Remember that Jesus said, “I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you” (John 14: 18). He’s saying the same thing Paul told the Galatians and Philippians: The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus. When he says, I will not to leave you orphans, I will come to you,” he’s means the Holy Spirit, his Spirit.
Do you catch yourself saying, “If only I lived back in Jesus’ time . . ..” It would be wonderful to actually be in one of those crowds and hear Jesus’ teaching. I’ve thought that too. However, according to what he tells the disciples in John 14, Jesus is coming back to them—in the Person of the Spirit! “I will come to you,” he says.
Another thing Jesus says in these verses from John 14 is that the Holy Spirit will not just be with us but in us. This is what salvation is. Paul says “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?” (1 Cor 6: 19). The cross provides us with a means of cleansing from sin. Jesus took that punishment for us, and we can have the forgiveness and cleansing he made possible. This means that your body and mine become a fitting place for the Spirit of God, who is holy. We can actually become, in Paul’s words, “a temple of the Holy Spirit.” We have the help of Jesus himself through the activity and counsel, the presence of his Spirit!
What is more, the Spirit “will be with you forever.” This isn’t a one-time thing. We have the presence of Jesus through the Spirit—and that, permanently. Finally, this is the Spirit of truth, Jesus says. In a time when truth seems a rarecommodity indeed, this additional name of the Spirit is a treasure we shouldn’t miss. In the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus promised to send, we have the help we need. He is the Helper.