Our Advocate

Earlier today I published a blog post on my main blog titled, Let Us Pray,” since today, May 5, 2022, is the National Day of Prayer here in America, and it is commemorated by Presidential proclamation every year on the first Thursday in May. You can read that post at this link.

I ended that post with the words written by Paul found in Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV) which state:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Over the course of the past dozen years, I’ve learned some things about life that I knew nothing about before they occurred, and even then it took a long time to understand the implications–sort of like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. It reminds me of a quote I included on the main page of this blog by A.W. Tozer (1897-1963), pastor, author/editor, and spiritual mentor who was often thought of as a 20th Century “modern day prophet.” Tozer stated: “I rarely know where I am going in my life’s journey but… I look back and see that God has been leading my every step and I did not even know it” (quote source here).

Proverbs 16:9 states: We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” My own personal plan included working until normal retirement age or longer (which didn’t happen), and there was no way I could have ever foreseen in advance what actually transpired during the past dozen years and where it has led me. Over time I have learned that there is far more going on in this world than we can imagine, and certainly more than we have the ability to control. James 4:13-14 expresses this sentiment:

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

When it comes to prayer, there is nothing in this world that is more important then prayer, even when we have no clue what to pray about or how to go about praying for something we aren’t even sure how to pray about. But prayer is talking to God about what is on our heart–all of it–the good, the bad and the ugly; worries, fears, anxiety; the unknown future; why things are happening that we never expected; and the sheer tiredness of waiting. However, as Paul reminds us in Romans 8:26-28 (MSG): “… the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”

The NIV states Romans 8:26-28 as follows: In the same way, the Spirit helps us 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 the 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, who have been called according to his purpose.”

In John 14, Jesus is comforting his disciples before his crucifixion and resurrection. In John 14:1, Jesus starts by telling them, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” Then in verses 15-21 Jesus introduces the Holy Spirit–the Spirit of truth–to his disciples:

If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But 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. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.

And a few verses later, in John 14:25-27, Jesus states:

All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

GotQuestions.org gives us a description of the Holy Spirit as our advocate and counselor in answer to the question, “What does it mean that the Holy Spirit is our Paraclete?” (the term Paraclete means advocate, counselor, intercessor, helper):

After Jesus announced to His disciples that He would be leaving them soon, He gave them a statement of great encouragement: “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of Truth” (John 14:16–17).

The Greek word translated “Comforter” or “Counselor” (as found in John 14:162615:26; and 16:7) is “parakletos.” This form of the word is unquestionably passive and properly means “one called to the side of another”; the word carries a secondary notion concerning the purpose of the calling alongside: to counsel or support the one who needs it. This Counselor, or Paraclete, is God the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity who has been “called to our side.” He is a personal being, and He indwells every believer.

During His earthly ministry, Jesus had guided, guarded, and taught His disciples; but now, in John 14—16, He is preparing to leave them. He promises that the Spirit of God would come to the disciples and dwell in them, taking the place of their Master’s physical presence. Jesus called the Spirit “another Comforter”—another of the same kind. The Spirit of God is not different from the Son of God in essence, for both are God.

During the Old Testament age, the Spirit of God would come on people and then leave them. God’s Spirit departed from King Saul (1 Samuel 16:1418:12). David, when confessing his sin, asked that the Spirit not be taken from him (Psalm 51:11). But when the Spirit was given at Pentecost, He came to God’s people to remain with them forever. We may grieve the Holy Spirit, but He will not leave us. As Jesus said in Matthew 28:20, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” How is He with us when He is in heaven, seated at the right hand of the Father? He is with us by His Spirit (the Helper—the Parakletos).

To have the Holy Spirit as our Paraclete is to have God Himself indwelling us as believers. The Spirit teaches us the Word and guides us into truth. He reminds us of what Jesus has taught so that we can depend on His Word in the difficult times of life. The Spirit works in us to give us His peace (John 14:27), His love (John 15:9–10), and His joy (John 15:11). He comforts our hearts and minds in a troubled world. The power of the indwelling Paraclete gives us the ability to live by the Spirit and “not gratify the desires of the sinful flesh” (Galatians 5:16). The Spirit can then produce His fruit in our lives (Galatians 5:22–23) to the glory of God the Father. What a blessing to have the Holy Spirit in our lives as our Paraclete—our Comforter, our Encourager, our Counselor, and our Advocate! (Quote source here.)

So what is the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives today? GotQuestions.org gives us this answer:

Of all the gifts given to mankind by God, there is none greater than the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit has many functions, roles, and activities. First, He does a work in the hearts of all people everywhere. Jesus told the disciples that He would send the Spirit into the world to “convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:7-11). Everyone has a “God consciousness,” whether or not they admit it. The Spirit applies the truths of God to minds of men to convince them by fair and sufficient arguments that they are sinners. Responding to that conviction brings men to salvation.

Once we are saved and belong to God, the Spirit takes up residence in our hearts forever, sealing us with the confirming, certifying, and assuring pledge of our eternal state as His children. Jesus said He would send the Spirit to us to be our Helper, Comforter, and Guide. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever” (John 14:16). The Greek word translated here “Counselor” means “one who is called alongside” and has the idea of someone who encourages and exhorts. The Holy Spirit takes up permanent residence in the hearts of believers (Romans 8:91 Corinthians 6:19-2012:13). Jesus gave the Spirit as a “compensation” for His absence, to perform the functions toward us which He would have done if He had remained personally with us.

Among those functions is that of revealer of truth. The Spirit’s presence within us enables us to understand and interpret God’s Word. Jesus told His disciples that “when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). He reveals to our minds the whole counsel of God as it relates to worship, doctrine, and Christian living. He is the ultimate guide, going before, leading the way, removing obstructions, opening the understanding, and making all things plain and clear. He leads in the way we should go in all spiritual things. Without such a guide, we would be apt to fall into error. A crucial part of the truth He reveals is that Jesus is who He said He is (John 15:261 Corinthians 12:3). The Spirit convinces us of Christ’s deity and incarnation, His being the Messiah, His suffering and death, His resurrection and ascension, His exaltation at the right hand of God, and His role as the judge of all. He gives glory to Christ in all things (John 16:14).

Another one of the Holy Spirit’s roles is that of gift-giver. First Corinthians 12 describes the spiritual gifts given to believers in order that we may function as the body of Christ on earth. All these gifts, both great and small, are given by the Spirit so that we may be His ambassadors to the world, showing forth His grace and glorifying Him.

The Spirit also functions as fruit-producer in our lives. When He indwells us, He begins the work of harvesting His fruit in our lives—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). These are not works of our flesh, which is incapable of producing such fruit, but they are products of the Spirit’s presence in our lives.

The knowledge that the Holy Spirit of God has taken up residence in our lives, that He performs all these miraculous functions, that He dwells with us forever, and that He will never leave or forsake us is cause for great joy and comfort. Thank God for this precious gift—the Holy Spirit and His work in our lives! (Quote source here.)

GotQuestion.org has answers to 75 specific questions on the Holy Spirit including the gifts of the Spirit, and all of those questions and links to the answers are available at this link. It is a great resource for any question you have regarding the Holy Spirit. Do check it out.

I’ll end this post with the words of Paul found in Galatians 5:22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience/forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control….

Against such things . . .

There is . . .

No law . . . .

YouTube Video: “Spirit Lead Me” by Michael Ketterer & Influence Music:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

Advertisement

Where the Wind Blows

“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” –Jesus speaking to Nicodemus in John 3:8What is something that we all know exists, yet nobody can see it? It’s the wind. We can see it’s effects and feels it’s breeze, but we can’t actually see the wind.

The wind is one of many symbols used to describe the Holy Spirit. Regarding the Holy Spirit, Wikipedia states, “For the majority of Christian denominations, the Holy Spirit, or Holy Ghost, is the third person of the Trinity: the Triune God manifested as God the FatherGod the Son, and God the Holy Spirit; each entity itself being God.” (Quote source here.)

GotQuestions.org gives a more detailed description of the Holy Spirit as follows:

There are many misconceptions about the identity of the Holy Spirit. Some view the Holy Spirit as a mystical force. Others understand the Holy Spirit as the impersonal power that God makes available to followers of Christ. What does the Bible say about the identity of the Holy Spirit? Simply put, the Bible declares that the Holy Spirit is God. The Bible also tells us that the Holy Spirit is a divine person, a being with a mind, emotions, and a will.

The fact that the Holy Spirit is God is clearly seen in many Scriptures, including Acts 5:3-4. In this verse Peter confronts Ananias as to why he lied to the Holy Spirit and tells him that he had “not lied to men but to God.” It is a clear declaration that lying to the Holy Spirit is lying to God. We can also know that the Holy Spirit is God because He possesses the characteristics of God. For example, His omnipresence is seen in Psalm 139:7-8, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” Then in 1 Corinthians 2:10-11, we see the characteristic of omniscience in the Holy Spirit. “But God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”

We can know that the Holy Spirit is indeed a divine person because He possesses a mind, emotions, and a will. The Holy Spirit thinks and knows (1 Corinthians 2:10). The Holy Spirit can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30). The Spirit intercedes for us (Romans 8:26-27). He makes decisions according to His will (1 Corinthians 12:7-11). The Holy Spirit is God, the third Person of the Trinity. As God, the Holy Spirit can truly function as the Comforter and Counselor that Jesus promised He would be (John 14:162615:26). (Quote source here.)

The Holy Spirit has many roles in the life of a Christian, and “the Bible is quite clear that the Holy Spirit is active in our world” (quote source here.) A listing of those roles includes: Author of Scripture; Comforter/Counselor/Advocate; Convicter of sin; Deposit/Seal/Earnest; Guide; Indweller of Believers; Intercessor/Revealer of Truth; Spirit of God/The Lord/Christ; Spirit of Life; Teacher; Witness (source here including a brief description of each role).

In an article titled, Symbols of the Holy Spirit,” by Dr. Jack Hayford, founding pastor of The Church On The Way and Chancellor of The King’s University, he states that the Holy Spirit comes as (1) Rain, (2) Rivers, (3) Wind, (4) Oil, (5) Wine, (6) Fire, and (7) as a Dove (see descriptions for each at this link). For the purposes of this blog post, we’ll focus on the Holy Spirit described as “Wind.” Dr. Hayford writes:

The Holy Spirit, coming as wind, depicts His power and His guidance. When Jesus tells Nicodemus about the new birth experience (John 3:8), He tells him that it is not like a tangible birth where you can see the baby is born and check the clock for its time of arrival. The work of the Spirit breathes into a life, and something transpires that people cannot recognize. There’s a dynamism but also a gentleness, like the wisp of a breeze. You can’t necessarily see where it came from or where it goes, but all of us can attest to times when God has come and dealt with us, and no human being knew how it happened.

At Pentecost (Acts 2:2-3), it wasn’t a wind that blew in; it was the sound of a rushing wind—like a hurricane. That sound, not the sound of the people speaking in tongues, is what drew the crowd in. The Holy Spirit as sovereign God is dynamic, irresistible, and unstoppable. (Quote source here.)

In an article titled, The Holy Spirit Is Like Wind,” by Rick Renner, author of over 30 books, who along with his wife, Denise, pioneered three churches, a Bible school, and a ministerial association that serves thousands of Russian-speaking pastors throughout the former USSR as well as parts of the Middle East (source here), he writes:

We’re all aware of the potentially destructive power of wind. But if properly harnessed, wind can also bring tremendous benefits. Think how much it would impact the world if there were no wind. The earth would be stagnant, stinking from pollution and from the normal decaying process that is occurring on the planet.

Just think how essential wind has been to the very development of civilization. For example, if there were no winds, exploration never would have occurred. Consider the great ships of the past that had no mechanical or nuclear energy to drive them, yet they glided across oceans with ease as their great sails caught the winds. The world was explored and conquered by men who “set sail” and traveled the globe, fueled by the force of the wind.

In fact, if no wind were blowing, there would be no movement. Windmill blades would never turn—and the production of materials would be slowed and diminished. Wind is essential for progress to be made. Without wind, we would be hundreds of years behind where we presently are in history.

Wind cannot be seen, but its effects can be felt and heard—just like the Holy Spirit. We cannot see Him, but we can feel the effects of His presence and His power. On the Day of Pentecost, Acts 2:2 says, “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.” Today I want us to look at the comparison of wind to the Holy Spirit in this verse to see what we can learn about why the Spirit came in this manner on the Day of Pentecost and what this means to you and me.

In Acts 2:2, 120 disciples were gathered in the Upper Room, waiting for the promise of the Father as Jesus had commanded them (see Acts 1:4). The Bible says that as they were waiting, “suddenly” there came from Heaven a certain sound. The word “suddenly” was translated from the Greek word “aphno,” which carries with it the idea that something took them off-guard and by surprise.

Acts 2:2 goes on to say, “…Suddenly there came a sound….” This phrase “there came” is a translation of the word “ginomai,” which in this case describes something very similar to the Greek word “aphno”—something that happens unexpectedly or that catches one off-guard.

The word “sound” in this verse is the Greek word echos. This is the very word that is used in Luke 21:25 to describe the deafening roar of the sea.

Verse 2 continues, “…A sound from heaven….” The phrase “from heaven” is from the Greek words “ek tou ourano.” The word “ek” means out, and “tou ourano” means of Heaven. This leaves no doubt that this sound had originated and emanated from Heaven itself.

Then Luke compared this sound from Heaven to a “rushing, mighty wind.” The word “rushing” was translated from the Greek word pheromones, the present-passive participle of “phero,” which means to be carried, borne, or driven and agrees with the idea of something borne or driven downward very loudly. When this sound from Heaven came, it was loud—so loud that the writer used the word “rushing” to describe what Jesus’ disciples heard that day in the room where they gathered.

Furthermore, the Greek text also uses the word “biaias” for “mighty,” a word that could be better translated as violent. Hence, this “sound” thundered like the roaring of a sea or a mighty wind that swept downward very loudly and violently.

The word “wind” itself comes from “pnoe,” which describes wind so loud that one may be tempted to cover his ears from the overpowering noise of it. This means when the Spirit was poured out, it was no quiet affair. It was loud, noisy, and violent—not violent in terms of destructive, but rather it was strongly felt.

Just as wind moves ships, empowers engines, drives windmills, and disperses pollution from the earth—when the Holy Spirit moved on the Day of Pentecost, He released power strong enough to transform 120 disciples into a mighty force for God!

When the wind of the Spirit blows upon a near-dead church, it can blow life back into that congregation again. When all of our organizing is done and is nearly perfect, yet we still lack power, it is the wind of the Holy Spirit that can blow strongly upon us and cause a vision or organization to come alive with the life of God.

If you are someone who desires a “quiet” relationship with God, I must warn you that when the Holy Spirit’s wind blows, it is rarely a quiet affair. It is usually noisy and attention-attracting—or as we’ve seen, it’s a powerful force that sweeps downward from Heaven like the roaring of the sea.

When God formed man, He formed him perfectly. But man had no breath in his lungs until God breathed the breath of life into him (see Genesis 2:7). Likewise, when the Church was assembled on the Day of Pentecost, it had no power until the Holy Spirit breathed into that assembly. When that loud “boom” exploded overhead in the room where they were gathered, the power of God came upon 120 disciples, and they became an empowered, mighty force in the earth as a result.

Wind is a good word to describe the power of the Holy Spirit. Change happens when winds blow—and when the Holy Spirit moves, He brings change like wind. Energy is produced by wind—and when the Holy Spirit moves in this manner, He supplies supernatural energy. He empowers us to do what we could not naturally do on our own. Oh, how we need the supernatural wind of the Holy Spirit! (Quote source here.)

In an article titled, How is the Wind like the Holy Spirit?” (author’s name not mentioned) on ChristianAnswers.net, the author states:

This question brings to mind John 3:8: “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

The word spirit in both Hebrew and Greek means “breath” or “wind.” Both a breath of air and a breeze are appropriate images for the Holy Spirit.

Consider several properties of the wind:

  1. Wind is moving air, and this fresh air is needed continually for life itself. Even seeds often require wind for their dispersal and subsequent growth. Similarly, the Holy Spirit is the presence of God, the source for all life.
  2. Wind has no material shape or form. It is invisible; we cannot see the source or the destination of wind. It is a mysterious, unseen force. Nevertheless, its presence is known by its effects.Likewise, the unseen Holy Spirit can be experienced in a refreshing way. His presence is displayed in the work he does in human lives by transforming, sanctifying, encouraging, and teaching.
  3. Wind is a powerful force. It cannot be stopped or controlled by people. Likewise, the Holy Spirit is not subject to human control. The moving of the Holy Spirit is God at work.
  4. There is great variety in the wind. It may be a soft whisper gently rustling the leaves on the trees, or it may be a hurricane uprooting trees.Likewise, the Holy Spirit may gently bring a person to Christ, such as a little child raised in a Christian home, or he may work in some climactic, dramatic way to bring conviction and conversion to the hardened sinner. In Acts 16, contrast Lydia, whose heart the Lord opened (verse 14), and the jailer, who needed an earthquake to jar him to his spiritual sense (verse 30). In both cases, the Holy Spirit did the regenerating work. (Quote source here.)

I’ll end this post with the same words from John 3:8 that I began this post with which is Jesus speaking to Nicodemus in John 3: The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going…

So it is . . .

With everyone . . .

Born of the Spirit . . . .

YouTube Video: “Which Way the Wind Blows” (1974) by The 2nd Chapter of Acts:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here