K Neill Foster


a series of essays on the Spirit-filled life
by Del McKenzie

In Jesus’ teaching, known as the Upper Room Discourse in John 14, 15 and 16, He uses a term for the Holy Spirit that is found in only those statements in the New Testament.  The Holy Spirit is identified as the paraclete.  It is a term which translators have found difficult to fully identify and define.  A check of translations will reveal a number of different words used for it.  Comforter and counselor are probably the most common.  The idea is of someone who is called or sent to come along side of someone else.  It is such a full Greek word that no one equivalent is found in English.  Most basically it means advocate.  Jesus is the advocate representing us to the Father, I John 2:1.  He represents us in the court of heaven and pleads our cause when we have confessed sin and repented of it.  In John 14:15 “another” advocate is introduced.  The word for “another” means exactly the same.  He is the Spirit of truth just as Jesus is the truth and this clearly establishes that the Holy Spirit is God, not an influence or force.  He is a person who has been sent to along side of Christ’s followers as they travel their road of faith.

The word, however, takes on a wider and fuller thrust as Jesus describes who this advocate is and what He does.  He will be with and in the believer.  He will be an intercessor, supporter, helper, friend and companion.  In a survey of His ministries to the person whom He fills it seems that the idea of companion can be accurately used.  One of the ministries that we can expect, and ask of the Holy Spirit, is for Him to be our companion as we live out the days of our lives.  It is appropriate to say, upon awakening in the morning, “God morning, Holy Spirit.  You will be my companion today and I set my heart to be your companion.  Enable me to be Your companion today in unbroken dialogue.”  There is never any question about His willingness, desire and ability to be our companion.  God has promised never to leave or abandon us.  It is to believe a myth to say that we are alone.  Loneliness is an extremely common condition in our broken world but it does not come from being alone. God is always present and especially so for the believer who has the Holy Spirit with him and in him.  Every pang of loneliness that anyone feels is probably the voice of the Holy Spirit calling their hearts to God.  The great remedy for that situation is to recognize the Holy Spirit’s presence and reach out to Him for His companionship.  It can happen anywhere, at any time and in any circumstances.  He will make Jesus real to us whatever we are facing.

Companionship is worked out in many ways.  A real companion is a helper.  God has revealed Himself as our helper many times and in many ways in the Scriptures.  We can come to His throne of grace and find mercy and grace to help in our time of need.  As our companion, the Holy Spirit brings this help to us.  He helps us become the person God has designed and provided for us to be.  And He helps us do what God wants us to do.  That help is so broad and takes in so many aspects of our lives that it cannot be fully identified.  What kind of help do we need to be godly and effective people in our personal lives, marriages, families, churches or communities?  The Holy Spirit is with us and in us to give us that help.  He no doubt often helps us when we are not even aware of His help but His help is most fully realized when He is filling our lives.  When we are filled with the Spirit and walking fully with Him we can carry on a conversation with Him as we give ourselves to Him and draw on all that He is.  One of the great statements about His help is in Romans 8:26 where it is stated that He helps us in our weakness, specifically, our weaknesses in prayer.

Another way the Holy Spirit helps is that He gives guidance.   Numerous times in the Scriptures He is credited with prompting people to take action or preventing them from doing something they had in mind.  In Acts 8:29 Philip was told exactly where to go and what to do.  In Acts 16:7 the Holy Spirit kept Paul and his companions from preaching in the province of Asia.  In Acts 21:4 He used the disciples in Tyre to urge Paul not to go to Jerusalem.  We are left with many questions about the details of how this guidance was given.  Is it still available today?  Yes, because the whole thrust of Scripture teaches that it is.  Can anyone claim infallibility concerning it?  No, and certainly not for someone else!  But that ministry of the Holy Spirit is one of God’s great gifts for the people who walk in His fullness.  One of Jesus’ statements is that He will guide us into truth. 

Two words in the New Testament are very closely related: comfort and encouragement.  Both of them are often used in connection with the Holy Spirit.  And both of them are used consistently of the triune God.  He is the God of all comfort.  He comforts and encourages us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  There is much pain and huge trouble in our world.  It can come to us in many ways.  Comfort has the idea of being along side of someone to help carry their grief.  It is to give strength and hope to relieve their mental distress.  To encourage is to add courage.  To discourage is to take away courage.  There are many disappointments in life that can cause a person to lose courage.  A comforter comes alongside to help a person regain courage to face life with the disappointments.  As our companion, the Holy Spirit is with us to give strength, hope and courage to face whatever hard things come our way.  There is a “great discourager” in our world who seeks to steal, kill and destroy.  He will steal, kill and destroy strength, hope and courage if allowed to have control instead of that control being given to the Holy Spirit.  Being filled with the Spirit, giving Him control as the divine companion, connects us with God’s great source of comfort and encouragement.

One of the Proverbs states that “the kisses of an enemy may be profuse, but faithful are the wounds of a friend.”  As a true helper, friend and companion, the Holy Spirit is also a corrector of those He fills.  We can expect Him to do that.  We can trust Him to do that.  He would not be a faithful friend if He allowed us to go on thinking, valuing or acting in a way that brings harm to ourselves and others.  Nor can He allow us to continue if we are bringing disgrace and not glory to God.  True human friends will speak truth to us in love and we should expect the Holy Spirit to do the same.  We have a choice of accepting his correction or rejecting it.  We reject it to our own harm and the hurt of people in our circle of influence.  To respond to His correction will bring spiritual growth and the development of godly character.  It is a process that continues all through our earthly journey and so to harden our heart and stiffen our neck instead of being broken and contrite when corrected by Him is to be avoided at all costs.  As we walk in this aspect of His ministry our relationship with Him gets deeper and more intimate.  It fulfills Paul’s desire for the Roman Christians, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and pace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

It is an awesome experience to walk through life with the Holy Spirit as our companion.  It is no wonder that we are instructed to have a personal relationship with Him that is described as Him filling us.  May we pursue it diligently and continually.