John 14:16-18 – …He will give you another Counsellor…
Thursday, August 1, 2013
Listening Room: help from the Helper
JESUS THE LIVING WAY
THE Bible is really important in helping you hear God’s voice – but it isn’t enough in itself. Countless people over the centuries have studied the Bible for years and still missed God’s purpose and kingdom life. Bible-quoting people have supported racial segregation, slavery, demeaning of women and a host of other evils and oppressions. Jesus had His own run-ins with some of the more controlling and intransigent first-century Bible scholars, and spoke to them in these terms:
You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life.
The Bible may be central to our faith, but it is not the centre – Jesus is. The Bible is written to reveal God and to point us to Him, to illuminate the way, as this well-known verse from Psalm 119 summarises:
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
God’s Word lights our path, like the headlights of a car at night. It shows the way but it isn’t the way itself. Jesus defined the Way for us:
I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
The apostle Peter, leader of the church in its earliest days, had his own moments with the Scripture-cognisant religious hierarchy. Following a miraculous healing of a crippled beggar, he and John were seized and imprisoned and brought before the court of the high priests’s family, rulers, elders and teachers of the law. Peter, in his defence speech, made this statement, as confrontational then as it is today in our everything-relative nothing-absolute postmodern 21st century world:
Salvation is found in no one else [but Jesus], for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.
– What other ways have you tried? What sort of results did you get?
THE PROMISE OF THE HELPER – THE SPIRIT OF JESUS WITH US NOW
To help us deepen our relationship with Him, Jesus gives us someone special who is known in Scripture as the Helper, Encourager, Counsellor or Advocate. Just before His death, Jesus gave his followers these clear-cut promises about Him:
I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counsellor, to be with you for ever, the Spirit of Truth…you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.
I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will bring glory to Me by taking from what is Mine and making it known to you.
(If you click the links, you can read these NIV verses in another good contemporary version for comparison.)
Based on the promises in these verses, are the following statements true?
- The Holy Spirit is a counsellor (special companion, adviser) to us
- Jesus continues to guide us today by the voice of His Spirit
- The Holy Spirit’s purpose is to bring glory to Jesus
- Experiencing the Holy Spirit’s presence is almost the same as having Jesus Himself physically present with us.
These are all true, you may say. Not quite right! In reality, no. 4 sells the situation short. Let’s work with the two John 16 verses. Jesus says in John 16:7 that the presence of His Spirit is better than Him being physically with us. Put this verse together with 16:14 – He is not only WITH us, He is IN us. The Holy Spirit is the means by which Christ speaks from within us as our constant Helper and Counsellor.
PRACTISE LISTENING TO THE SPIRIT
This requires a little teasing out. In the past, your thoughts flowed just from your mind. However, thoughts from the Spirit don’t originate in your own thought processes, but from God’s Spirit in your innermost being. So this is not a furrowed-brow try-harder exercise but rather the opposite – quieting the whirl of our thoughts so we can sense the inner promptings of the Spirit.
We are not to be ‘mindless’. God renews our minds, and uses them, too. We need to check things out. But there’s a distinction. This is about learning to make room for, and to sense the promptings of the Spirit as distinct from thoughts that you generate,
As you become more aware of the spiritual realm, you will become more comfortable with this. Answer these questions as true/false to help you see to what extent you have been unaware of the spiritual realm and have relied only on your mind:
T or F? In the past, reality for me has been in the physical world alone, not physical and spiritual realms combined.
T or F? I tend to have calculated and analytic thoughts, rather than letting the Spirit place flowing thoughts in my mind.
T or F? I base my decisions on my own wisdom or experience, rather than waiting on God for His insights, burdens and visions.
T or F? I interact with the Bible on an intellectual level rather than letting God impress special truth upon me by His Spirit.
Here are some practical tips to help you identify the promptings of God’s Spirit.
- When it’s from the Holy Spirit there’s a sense of both peace and power.
- Thoughts from your mind are meditated – but insights spoken by God’s Spirit to your human spirit are spontaneous ideas, words, feelings or images.You sense the thoughts coming from your heart, not from your mind.
- Acting on what the Spirit prompts you to do will result in joy and freedom (never constraint and condemnation)
- The Holy Spirit is not ‘predictable’ and often uses unusual content – insights or instructions you wouldn’t have come up with yourself.
Remember: God speaks, but it is your job to pay attention to Him and listen for His voice among all the others.