Who the Holy Spirit Is

John 14:16-17

November 11, 2023 | Brian Bill

Romans 13:7 says, “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” 

“Kavod” (כבוד) is the Hebrew word for honor and literally means a “heavy weight.”  It implies that we assign the greatest possible weight to a person in terms of respect by holding them in “high regard.”  

To honor someone is to consider them to be weighty or heavy; to esteem them highly.  On the other hand, to “dishonor” means to treat someone as if they were “light or insignificant.”  To honor is to treat with distinction; to dishonor is to treat someone like dirt.   

We’re to show honor in both our attitudes and in our actions.  To honor is to elevate and to esteem and to live that out in experience.

I had the honor of being raised by a man of honor.  My dad served in the United States Army and was stationed at Warner Barracks in Bamberg, Germany from 1955-57.  

This past weekend, my dad, along with 87 other heroes, received the honor of traveling to Washington, D.C. as part of the Badger Honor Flight.  I had the privilege of serving as his guardian on the trip.

We visited Arlington National Cemetery, witnessed the Changing of the Guard, the Marine Corps Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the WWII Memorial, the FDR Memorial, and the 911 Memorial at the Pentagon.

Unfortunately, many vets have not received the honor they are due, especially those who served in Vietnam.  I’m thankful for the efforts of the Honor Flights, which operate out of 126 Hubs in 46 states.  To date, more than 273,000 vets have been honored in this way.

There are some heroes in the house today.  If you’re a Vet, would you stand so we can honor you?  Please remain standing as I pray for you.

“On this day that we honor veterans, we also remember the more than 58,000 who gave their lives during the Vietnam War, the brave patriots who suffered as prisoners of war, and those still missing in action.

Jesus, you said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”  We’re grateful for those who have sacrificed their time, strength, ambition, health and even their lives to benefit those known and unknown. 

Many of our warriors carry scars in their hearts as well as on their bodies. Dark memories haunt their dreams at night. Fears cloud their waking hours. May Your faithfulness be their shield that protects them from those PTSD terrors at night and from any arrows that fly during the day. We ask You to heal their tangible and intangible wounds, some inflicted on the battlefield and other pain from disdain when they returned. Be their refuge and fortress, their God in whom they trust. 

You say in Psalm 34 that You are close to the brokenhearted and are attentive to their cries. We ask You to be attentive to their affliction as You minister grace and mercy to those with broken hearts.

Bless the families of soldiers who bear these pains vicariously. Give them patience and wisdom and strength to endure. Bring Your peace in the midst of pain and Your healing to so many who hurt in so many ways. May they find refuge under your wings.

We honor all veterans and are grateful for their service and sacrifice. We ask you to return to them the favor of your blessing, a gift we on our own could never offer. May each one dwell in the shelter of the Most High and abide in the shadow of the Almighty. 

Give them a peace beyond the peace they fought to secure, a peace in their own hearts, wrapped in the joy that comes only from the God of peace who made peace with us by sending Jesus as the ultimate Peacemaker. 

Jesus, on the cross You bore our sorrows and sins, our fears, and failures, and when we trust in You, we can exchange our wounds for Your presence and peace, Your forgiveness and freedom. We thank You for the sacrifice You made by dying in our place and then rising from the dead, which makes it possible for those who believe and receive to have eternal life.

We pray all this in Jesus’ powerful Name, the ultimate Warrior. Amen.”

We must do a better job honoring our vets, and I’m convinced we must do a better job as believers honoring the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

This topic makes me think of a book I read some time ago called, “The Forgotten God: Reversing our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit.”  Here’s something the author said: “From my perspective, the Holy Spirit is tragically neglected and, for all practical purposes, forgotten.  While no evangelical would deny His existence…there are millions of churchgoers across America who cannot confidently say they have experienced His presence or action in their lives over the past year.  And many of them do not believe they can.”

Another author believes evangelicals generally fall into one of two extremes.  

  • Some seem obsessed with Him, relating to Him in strange, mystical ways.  Their experiences with the Spirit seem to coincide with emotionally ecstatic moments.
  • Other Christians react to that perceived excess by neglecting His ministry altogether.  They believe in the Holy Spirit, but they relate to Him the same way they relate to their pituitary gland.  They know it’s in there somewhere, and that it’s necessary somehow for bodily growth and life but have no real ‘interaction’ with it.

Let’s be honest and admit that many Baptists fall in this second category.  There’s no doubt the Holy Spirit is the most misunderstood, ignored, and even forgotten member of the Trinity. 

This week, I ran into a close friend who pastors a charismatic church, and I asked him what he would say to a Baptist pastor starting a sermon series on the Holy Spirit.  He was delighted to hear about the series and asked if I wanted a sarcastic answer or a real answer.  I told him I wanted both.  He told me that for many in Baptist circles the Trinity is “God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Bible.”  

We both laughed (sort of) and then he reminded me what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman in John 4:23-24: “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him.  God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”  My friend smiled and said I could teach him about worshipping in truth and he could teach me about worshiping in spirit.  Actually, we need to have both spirit and truth because they are married together in the Bible.

We’re going to be in John 14:16-17 today.  Let’s put our text into context.  Jesus had just announced He would be leaving His disciples, and they became disappointed and distraught.  Three of them expressed what the others were thinking:

  • Peter said, “Lord, where are you going?” (John 13:36).
  • Thomas echoed, “Lord, we do not know where you are going.  How can we know the way?” (John 14:5).
  • Philip added, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us” (John 14:8).

His closest followers were extremely unsettled.  So the Savior spent three chapters teaching them about the Holy Spirit (John 14-16) to assure them they would not be left alone.  Let’s stand and read these words inspired by the Holy Spirit as we lean on the Spirit to teach us who the Holy Spirit is.  John 14:16-17: “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”

Join me as I lead in a prayer from, “The Valley of Vision.

Three in one, one in three, God of my salvation.

Heavenly Father, blessed Son, eternal Spirit,
We adore You as one being, one essence, one God in three distinct persons.

O Father, You have loved us and sent Jesus to redeem us,
O Jesus, You have loved us and took our nature, the nature of a man,
Shed Your own blood to wash away our sins,
Wrought righteousness to cover our unworthiness,
O Holy Spirit, You have loved us and entered our hearts, implanted there eternal life, revealed to us the glories of Jesus.
Three persons and one God, we bless and praise You,
For love so undeserved, so unspeakable, so wondrous, so mighty to save the lost and raise them to glory.

In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Before we continue, let’s acknowledge that we are on holy ground as we consider the Holy Spirit.  Every time we say His name, we acknowledge He is holy and weighty and honorable.  How can I as a sinful human preach on the sacred topic of the Holy Spirit of God?  I echo one author who wrote: “No subject intimidates me more, yet I can’t think of anything more essential for God’s church everywhere.” 

Here’s our main idea: If you’ve been born of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit is your holy Helper, who will always be with you while doing His work within you.

We can learn seven vital truths about the Holy Spirit from these two verses.

1. The Holy Spirit is God and the third member of the Trinity. 

Let’s begin by observing this section is a prayer from Jesus: “And I will ask the Father…”  Notice the entire Trinity is depicted: Jesus asked the Father to give the Spirit of Truth to His followers.  Both the Father and the Son are active in sending the Holy Spirit.  One author captures it well: “The Holy Spirit is not a lesser or different kind of Being than God the Father or God the Son.  The Spirit is God.  The words ‘Spirit’ and ‘God’ are used interchangeably in the New Testament…when we forget about the Spirit, we really are forgetting God.’”

I appreciate how the Trinity is described in our Articles of Faith: “…that in the unity of the Godhead there are three persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – equal in every divine perfection and executing distinct but harmonious offices in the great work of redemption.”

2. The Holy Spirit is like Jesus and takes His place on earth. 

Jesus prayed for the Father to “give you another Helper, to be with you forever.”  The word “another” means, “one of the same kind or quality.” Jesus was the first helper; the Holy Spirit is our second helper.

Jesus is saying the Holy Spirit is unique, and yet will be like Himself and will take His place.  We see this in John 16:7: “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you.  But if I go, I will send Him to you.”

3. The Holy Spirit is our Helper. 

The Holy Spirit is called “Helper” in three other passages in John’s gospel:

John 14:26: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit…” 

John 15:26: “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth…”  

John 16:7: “For if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you.”

This same word is translated as “advocate” in 1 John 2:1 to describe the work of Jesus: “…But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

It’s difficult to find one English word to describe the Greek compound word “parakletos” because it’s meaning is rich and multi-dimensional.  The word “kletos” means, “called” and the word “para” means, “next to, alongside of.”  I think of mission agencies which work alongside churches to send missionaries around the globe. 

“Parakletos” can be translated as: “Helper, comforter, counselor, attorney, encourager, adviser, pleader, proxy, and advocate.”  It literally means, “One who comes forward on behalf of, and as the representative of another; one who is called alongside to assist and give aid.”  In short, the Holy Spirit sustains and strengthens those who are saved by encouraging and exhorting.  One commentator refers to this title as “the intimate presence of God with His people.”

If you have been saved, when you’re feeling alone and abandoned, remember you have a comforter in Heaven as Jesus intercedes for you and you have a comforter in your heart as the Holy Spirit advocates for you

If you have been saved, when you’re feeling alone and abandoned, remember you have a comforter in Heaven as Jesus intercedes for you and you have a comforter in your heart as the Holy Spirit advocates for you.  Jesus pleads our cause with the Father, and we have another comforter dwelling within us who pleads the cause of God for us.  Revelation 12:10 says Satan “accuses us day and night,” but we have two advocates who stand up for us all the time!

If you’ve been born of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit is your holy Helper, who will always be with you while doing His work within you.

4. The Helper will never leave us. 

We see this at the end of verse 16: “to be with you forever.”  In verse 17, we see He “dwells with” believers.  The word for “dwells” means, “to remain, abide, and live.”  Jesus is about to leave them, but they will not be left alone.  Romans 8:9 says, “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.  Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him.”

In the Old Testament, the Spirit is mentioned nearly 100 times, and He came upon people to enable them to accomplish God-given tasks and then would depart.  He was seen as coming and going.  That’s why David prayed in Psalm 51:11: “Cast me not away from your presence and take not your Holy Spirit from me.”  We don’t have to worry about that now because the Holy Spirit comes in at conversion and stays forever.  In John 14:18, Jesus says, “I will not leave you as orphans.”

Ephesians 1:13-14 says, “In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”  

5. The Helper is the Spirit of truth. 

We see this in the first part of verse 17: “Even the Spirit of truth…”  In verse 26, Jesus said the Spirit of truth will “teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”   John 16:13 says, “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth…”  

Everything the Holy Spirit does and says is true.  He will never lead us to do something contrary to the Word of God.  In a world filled with error and heresy, the propagation and protection of truth is one of the main ministries of the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit of truth guides all disciples into all truth.

6. The Holy Spirit is knowable for believers. 

Those who are still in the world cannot know Him, “because it neither sees Him nor knows Him.”  Non-Christians are completely oblivious to the Holy Spirit, but believers have the privilege of knowing and growing in Him.  1 Corinthians 2:12, 14 says, “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God…the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”  The Holy Spirit is invisible but real and active, like the wind (see John 3:8).

Listen to what Jesus says about His followers in John 14:17: “You know Him…”  Clearly, the Holy Spirit is a “who,” not a “what,” as He is referred to as “Him” three times and “He” one time.  The Holy Spirit is personal and not just a mystical force like in Star Wars or an impersonal power.  He’s not a power to experience but a Person to know.  He’s not an “it,” He’s a He!  He is personal and personable, meaning you and I can have a personal relationship with Him.  R.A. Torrey once said, “If we think of the Spirit as a force or a power, we’ll likely ask, ‘How can we get more of it?’  But if we think of Him as a Person, we’ll ask, ‘how can He have more of me?’”

If you’ve been born of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit is your holy Helper, who will always be with you while doing His work within you.

7. The Holy Spirit dwells within believers. 

Listen to the last part of verse 17: “You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”  The Holy Spirit not only dwells with us, but He is also within believers.  2 Timothy 1:14: “By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” I like how one pastor puts it: “He has always been a God who is close and present but only since Jesus has gone to heaven has He taken up residence inside of us.  And that makes Him closer than ever.” 

Listen to how Jesus described the Holy Spirit’s inward presence in John 7:38-39: “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’  Now this He said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

Action Steps

1. Follow the nudge of the Holy Spirit as He leads and guides you. 

Begin looking for Him to prompt you and push you, and then practice immediate obedience

This nudge is often faint and easy to ignore.  Begin looking for Him to prompt you and push you, and then practice immediate obedience.  I experienced this recently when I was prompted by the Spirit to lead in prayer while I was in a public setting.  We’ll drill into this more in two weeks.

2. Live in light of the Holy Spirit living in your body.

Listen to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?  You are not your own,  for you were bought with a price.  So glorify God in your body.”  After warning believers about being unequally yoked with unbelievers, we read these words in 2 Corinthians 6:16: “For we are the temple of the living God.”

I’ve been challenged by a question one author poses: “If it’s true that the Spirit of God dwells in us and that our bodies are the Holy Spirit’s temple, then shouldn’t there be a huge difference between the person who has the Spirit of God living inside of him or her and the person who does not?”

I came across a very provocative quote by A.W. Tozer some time ago and have been pondering it again: “If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference.  If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.” 

Let me be quick to say that the Holy Spirit will never be taken from us but it’s worth asking ourselves what is it that we’re doing in our own power.  Would you even notice if the Holy Spirit was no longer in your life?  Would anything change?  The Holy Spirit will not be withdrawn but we can withdraw from Him.

If you’re saved, you have all of the Holy Spirit.  But here’s another question: Does the Holy Spirit have all of you?  If you are not yet saved, you are in a very precarious position.  

If you’ve been born of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit is your holy Helper, who will always be with you while doing His work within you.

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”  (2 Corinthians 13:14)

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?