From the Gateway Austin website:
“We talk about Him like he’s not here, like He’s an ‘it.’ He’s the often misunderstood third party of the Trinity. He’s the one who brings the party – the love, the joy, the peace and everything else we long for and were made to experience. Join us as we explore the mystery of the Holy Spirit.”
Here are some of the insights he shared:
The Context of John 13-17
Jesus’ final words to his disciples before his death are found in John 14-17. It’s a confusing and troublesome scene for this band of brothers. They gather for Passover dinner in the upper room of a friend’s house – with Jesus, their leader of three years, the man who had walked right up to each of them as they tended their fishing nets or tax collector booths, and he had said, “Follow me.” And they had. What amazing ride it had been. Teaching like they had never heard. Crowds. Travels. The blind had seen. The lame had walked. Peter had stepped out of a boat and strolled on water. Lazarus was risen. And everywhere they went, hope was restored. But this is the weirdest of nights. They arrive, and Jesus is waiting with a towel and water basin. He washes their grimy feet and dares them to be servants. And in a more direct way than he has ever spoken, he says he will be betrayed. And later they will deny. And soon he will die. Judas bolts from the table. A chill runs through the room. An hour before, they loved their lives. Now everything is uncertain. It’s the most traumatic moment of their lives.
Jesus begins to comfort them: “If you abide in me. If you will continue to follow my ways and pray and fill yourselves with my Words, if you will just abide in me. Everything will be okay. In fact, it will be better. You will do even greater things than we’ve done these past three years. Help is on the way.”
Jesus concludes John 15 with these words about the help, the Holy Spirit. “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.” (John 15:26) We’re just going to camp on this one verse today, and find some truth for ourselves. Jesus promises, I’m sending the Advocate, in other versions, the Comforter.
How you view traumatic or challenging events really says a lot about your perspective. Isn’t interesting how two people who experience the very same thing can have completely different takes?
When difficulties arise, do you become The Victim or The Hero?
Jesus says, if you will abide in me, if you will stay connected to my nourishment (that’s all of John 15), then there is a third story to tell yourself about the traumas in life. The victim and the hero are false narratives. The third story is what is true about you. And that truth is told to you, it is testified by the Advocate. The Holy Spirit.
Question #1: Who is the Holy Spirit?
Well, first he is God. We see this from the very beginning of the Bible.
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters . . . Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness.” (Genesis 1:2,26)
There He is. He’s not an it, not a spook, he’s not a junior varsity member of the Godhead. He is a personal being. People don’t have that much trouble with the Father image of God. He is all-powerful, all-wise, all-knowing. And they don’t have trouble with the idea of Jesus being God. He was God in the flesh, sent to show you and me how to live and then to give his life as a sacrifice for us on the cross. But if you know the Father, and if you know Jesus, then you know the Spirit. He has the same attributes as the Father and Son – love, compassion, justice, all of that, but he plays a different role, manifesting God’s presence here among us.
Since Jesus ascended to heaven, almost all of God’s activity in this world and in your life is done through the HS. That’s why Jesus gives the Holy Spirit this name here. The Advocate. The Helper. The Comforter. These are translations of his name from the Greek, the original language of the New Testament. The Greek name is Parakletos. A name that is the combination of two words – kelo (“to call”) and para (“alongside). The Holy Spirit is presence of God is called to come alongside us as we live our Christian lives. Isn’t the cool? Jesus went away. But the Spirit comes alongside. Parakletos is often used as a legal term – someone who comes on your side and pleads your case. That’s why it’s translated “Advocate” or “The Comforter.”
Question #2: What is the Trinity and how do they work together?
Let’s just say it’s a mystery. The word Trinity never appears in Scripture. It’s a theological construct to explain why the Bible, from beginning to end, talks about the same God in three manifestations.
The Greek word which describes the love relationship that takes place between the Trinity is Perichoresis. It’s a beautiful word. What does it mean? “circuition, circling with, flowing in and out of.” Literally, perichoresis means “to dance.”
Relationship is the fundamental reality of the universe. For God to be love, there must be someone for Him to love. I know this is a huge mystery, but there is a dance between, a give and take between the persons of God. Look at John 5:19-20
I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does.
The members of the Trinity love one another and serve in perfect unity, and they love us in different ways.
- The Father created us and provides for us.
- Jesus loved us enough to model and teach for us and die on a cross for our sins.
- The Holy Spirit comes alongside us.
Question #3: How do I get the Holy Spirit?
Remember Jesus says:
“[The Spirit,] whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father.”
Jesus and the Father sent the Spirit to you as a gift when you cross the line of faith, when you give your life to God.
Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. – Acts 2:38
The Spirit comes to you as a gift when you become a follower of Jesus. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit dwells in our spirit. If you study the Scripture, you’ll see that our spirit is also referred to in the Bible as our heart or our will. It is the executive center of our lives where all decisions are made; and it is difficult, if not nearly impossible, for a human being to understand what’s in our spirit, let alone speak into the depths of our spirit. However, this is where the Holy Spirit dwells and has full access. In John 15:26, Jesus calls him the Spirit of truth. He has access to speak, to whisper truth into the deepest part of us.
Question #4: Can I lose the Holy Spirit once He indwells me?
A lot of us get concerned that maybe the Holy Spirit has left us, because there are long stretches when we just hear nothing.
- No truth.
- No comfort.
- No direction.
Even still, no matter what you do, no matter how little emotion you feel, no matter how little desire you have for prayer or the Bible, God’s Spirit will not leave you. He does not un-fill. That’s what Jesus means in John 15.
You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. (Look, you’re already saved. You’re a Christian. You have the Holy Spirit. Nothing will change that.) Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
Jesus says, it’s not enough to just have the Spirit. You’ve got to let him be active in your life. When he is active in you, Jesus says, you bear fruit. You have love and joy and peace and patience in your life. You get guidance from the Spirit when you need it the most. God feels near. You’ve got to allow the Spirit to be active in you. Jesus says it’s simple: “Remain in me. Stay connected with me throughout the day.”
This is the most important challenge for Christians given in the entire bible. If you are in a dry time spiritually right now or you don’t feel like the Spirit has ever been active in your life, try to connect with the Spirit of God with the Soul Revolution app.
No, you can’t lose the Holy Spirit. But you can leak. You can live a dry life spiritually and miss out on all of his power. Unless you abide.
Question #5: What does the Holy Spirit do in my life?
With the direct access the Spirit of God has to your spirit, he inspires, convicts, gives you words to say, offers guidance, helps make sense of Scripture, and gives you special gifts to be used to contribute in the faith community and make an impact in the world, and so much more.
I want to hone in on what it says in John 15:26. Jesus says, I and the Father will send the Spirit of truth to you, and, he will testify about me.
The Advocate, the Comforter, the Helper, the Paraclete comes alongside you and testifies. He speaks to the deepest part of you and tells you the truth. He brings comfort and tells you the truth about your story. He does this in two ways as described in Romans 8.
The Holy Spirit testifies:
The Spirit tells you that you are God’s child.
You are not a victim in this story. You are not a hero. You are God’s child.
“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God . . . The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. . ..” – Romans 8:14-17
Paraclete, Advocate is a legal term. One who comes alongside in court. Paul wants you to picture a court room scene. You’re on trial, and up on the witness stand is whatever trauma you are in the middle of or whatever dark thing you went through in the past. There are negative circumstances, and other people who are testifying that you are worthless; but the Holy Spirit says, “I object. I have another testimony. This person that you’re declaring as worthless is in fact the most valuable thing in the universe to God. I don’t think you realize who this person is. This person is a child of the living God.”
Incredible! This is so mysterious, but hear it. The Holy Spirit constantly whispers to our spirit, that place that very few people can penetrate, that we are children of God. We do not have to live in fear. We don’t have condemn ourselves a weak victim or falsely elevate ourselves to hero-hood. When we’re in the middle of the worst times in our lives, just as the disciples were in John 15, the Holy Spirit speaks up for us, and whispers to our inner spirit, “No worries. You are a child of God. And regardless of what’s happening right now, nothing will ever take that away from you.
The Spirit tells you that everything will work out.
In the same way, the Spirit helps in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows that mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him. – Romans 8:26-28
Some of you never knew this about the Holy Spirit who lives in you, did you? He’s your interpreter when you don’t know to pray. Sometimes we need someone to clean up what we are trying to say.
Have you ever been in a really dark season in your life, and you just don’t know what to pray? Hope just seems lost? You’re hemmed in by worries. God’s not riding to the rescue on a big white horse?
The Apostle Paul says in Romans 8 that about all you can do is groan. Oh God, I don’t know what to pray! Help me! [Groan.]
Paul says, part of the way the Advocate testifies is He will intercede for you and take those wordless groans that you were just grunting out. And listen to this: He puts the prayer in the form of God’s will for you. He helps shape your groans and prayers with all of their mixed motives into the right prayer that conforms to God’s will. He asks for what you need most.
As a result, it says in Romans 8:28, a verse many of us have memorized:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.
This promise changes everything, doesn’t it? You’re hurting. You don’t know what to pray. You’re stuck. And the Holy Spirit, if you are abiding in Christ and giving him control, the Holy Spirit interprets your desires and prays them in a way that conforms to the will of God. And then the Father begins to shape your circumstances together for good according to those prayers.
There’s no promise here that God will take the pain away right now. There’s no pledge that he’s going to do anything on your timeline, but the Spirit prays the right prayers for you.
The Spirit speaks back to you: “It’s all going to be good. God’s weaving together something beautiful you can’t see right now. Be patient. Be still and know that he is God.”
Some don’t hear the voice of the Advocate because they haven’t been abiding in the vine. What we hear is a different voice in our head. Galatians 5 calls it the Flesh.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. – Galatians 5:16-17
The flesh, lies to us about reality. As you can see in that verse, the flesh is literally at war within us against the desires of God. The core question your flesh asks in any situation is, “Can I get my own way? What is my quickest way out of this? How can I feel better ask quickly as possible?”
Secular people, evolutionary biologists often refer to this phenomena as the Lizard Brain. There is part of our brain, the most primal part, the amygdala that is all about fight or flight. It’s all about getting as much food and shelter and sex as possible. And whenever we are fearful, the amygdala speaks. The Lizard Brain tells us to run like a victim or take control like a hero. The Lizard Brain tell us we are on our own. God doesn’t care. It’s up to us. We hear the voice of the flesh in our heads when we are experiencing trauma.
What voice is testifying to you these days? You have a story right now, and the reality of it comes down to which story you will believe about yourself. Victim. Hero. Or what the Advocate speaks to your Spirit – You’re a child of God, and everything will work out.