by Dr. Ray Self
The Holy Spirit's Work as a
Comforter, Teacher, and Voice of God
The Holy Spirit's Work as the Comforter
John 16:7 says, "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you." The word comforter in context means another of the same kind. The Holy Spirit came to us as another comforter. He was and is to continue the work of Christ. Jesus departed as the Christ who suffered, He has returned in the form of the Comforter.
In John 14:18 Jesus is recorded as saying, "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." The word comfortless translates orphans. We are never alone because He is within us by the way of The Holy Spirit. In John 14:16 Jesus explains, "And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever." It is a mistake to view Jesus as living a long distance away in heaven when He is within our hearts in the form of the Holy Spirit.
The Greek word for comforter is parakletos. The word shows us that the Holy Spirit gives comfort by giving us strength that we could not obtain through our own self will. He comforts us and also gives us strength for victory. This word also means advocate. An advocate is one who represents or pleads the cause of another person. This advocate helps us in our weaknesses: "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities" (Romans 8:26). The Holy Spirit intercedes from within us on our behalf. Jesus also intercedes for us, at the Throne of Grace. This form of intercessory prayer is vital in the life of all believers.
Parakletos also means to beseech and to exhort. Romans 12:1 says, "I beseech (parakletos) you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." The Holy Spirit is a convicter, persuader, and teacher. John 14:26 says, "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, Whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things." The Holy Spirit, as the Comforter, beseeches and exhorts us by teaching us God’s truth.
The Holy Spirit’s Work as a Teacher
The Holy Spirit is the complete teacher. "Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13). He contains the revelatory knowledge of Jesus Christ and guides us into the truth of God’s word. His teaching always glorifies Jesus. Jesus is the whole truth. The Holy Spirit teaches us the whole truth of God. Half truth is worse than total ignorance. In the book of Revelation the Lord plainly tells us that He would rather us be hot or cold than lukewarm (see Revelation 3:15- 16). I Corinthians 2:14 shows us that we need the Holy Spirit to understand God because our natural self cannot fully comprehend Him: "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." Until the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, they were very ignorant of the parables, teachings, and prophecies of Jesus. "For as yet they knew not the scripture, that He must rise again from the dead" (John 20:9). Without the Holy Spirit none of us have anything to lean on except natural understanding.
God is spirit and to understand Him takes a working of the Holy Spirit within us. The Holy Spirit opens up our ability to comprehend in ways that we could never do naturally. Understanding God is not a matter of intellect; it is a matter of being filled with the Spirit and then being led by Him. In the book of Acts, chapter four, we read that ignorant men (Peter and John) suddenly possessed great knowledge of the scriptures. This was by a work of the Holy Spirit. The Sanhedrin observed that Peter and John were ordinary men and uneducated but they were amazed by their speech (see Acts 4:13). Even worldly people can see the effects of the Holy Spirit even though they do not understand what is going on. The change in Peter is a dramatic example of the working of the Holy Spirit. He changed from a coward hiding out to a man who, when filled with the Holy Spirit, openly confronted the same people he had been afraid of, with the truth of Christ. This change is commonly known as Holy Spirit boldness.
The Holy Spirit as the Voice of God
The Holy Spirit acts as God’s mouthpiece: "…for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come" (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit follows the instructions of God as given to Him by Jesus. He reveals the future things of God to prepare us and to build our faith. The Spirit speaks to us in many ways. It is vital to learn to hear His voice. His voice can be an inner knowing, a sudden thought that is not your own, a voice that you hear like when you hear your own words just before you speak. The Holy Spirit also speaks plainly through the reading of the word of God. Many times scriptures seem just to leap off the page, touching our heart in deep ways as the Lord speaks through His written word. Some believers have testified that they have heard an audible voice. The Lord desires for believers to hear His voice and the Holy Spirit is the vehicle that He uses for communication with men.
Paul in his letter to the Galatians stated where his revelation came from: "For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ" (Galatians 1:12). His understanding of the gospel was communicated to him by the Holy Spirit. Paul makes it clear that the revelation was not taught to him by man or by the church. This gave credibility to his words so that his listeners knew that he was speaking and writing from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
The inspiration for the writing of all scripture came from the Holy Spirit. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God" (II Timothy 3:16). The Bible contains stories written by man, but that the words are God inspired and can be absolutely trusted. This gives the reader peace that God Himself was in control of what was written and that the message we read in the Bible is from Him.
The Holy Spirit also speaks guidance to the individual Christian’s heart. "And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, 'Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert'" (Acts 8:26). He also guides by telling us where not to go as shown in Acts 16:6: "Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia." He lets us know when something about to happen is from the Lord as in the case of Peter: "While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee" (Acts 10:19).
He will show you things that are to come. "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God" (I Corinthians 2:9-11; see also John 16:13). What the Lord has prepared for us can only be learned or revealed to our understanding by the Holy Spirit. Paul spoke of an enlightenment that would allow us to see our calling and our own amazing inheritance from God. This is written about in Ephesians 1:18: "The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints." To be able to know and see what the Lord is doing in your own life takes a work of the Spirit.
He also tells us what is ahead for the church and the world. Amos 3:7 tells us, "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets." Prophets are messengers of God and the prophetic gift has been sent to help us in our hearing of the voice of God. Genesis 18:17 reads, "And the Lord said, 'Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?'" God wants us to know and understand the future in order to be able to understand what is of Him and what is not. When the Spirit reveals a future event and it comes to pass it is an incredible faith builder. The Lord’s message to the church and to the world needs to be heard. The body of Christ must be prepared for what God is about to do. All believers should pray for better hearing of the Lord’s voice.
Chapter Five Review – The Holy Spirit - Lesson 5
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