By Diane Barstow
Read the word for yourself daily
Make it personal
Ask for help from the author
As I began to study for today, I asked myself a couple of questions. Who is the Helper, and how does He help me? In order to keep bible study from becoming academic, it needs to be infused with personal experience, that is, now that I have the knowledge, how MUST it be applied to my life?
Our ‘Helper’ - that term help made me ask myself – what does help mean? The Greek word is parakletos, one who comes along side to help. In English ‘help’ is to make it easier (or possible) for someone to do something by offering one’s services or resources. Say you needed help to accomplish a task, and asked a friend to help you, would you sit back, do nothing, and watch her do what needs to be done? No you asked her to help you. The unpopular truth here is that the Holy Spirit helps us to DO WHAT WE SHOULD DO, not do it for us. More than that, we are called to do what we’re unable to do without His help, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 15:5). He will not impart His word, but illuminate it. He promises to remind us of what Jesus said, not miraculously make you know something you never learned.
In John 14:16 Jesus tells the disciples that He (in person) will ask the Father to give them another Helper, Who will be with them forever, not ever to leave them as He is doing. In John 14:18 He tells the disciples that He will not leave them orphans, but will come to them as the Holy Spirit. Jesus would not leave them without replacing Himself. In John 16 (during the same discourse) Jesus tells them that it is to their advantage that He goes away, so the Father can send them the Holy Spirit. They had yet to understand HOW THIS COULD POSSIBLY be better than having Him there with them (John 16:7). It reminded me of when Saul was anointed king and the Holy Spirit came upon him. Due to his disobedience the Spirit withdrew from him, we can see the devastating effect his had had on him. He was a changed man thereafter. In the same way, Jesus knew the Father would withdraw from Him, turn His back and look away as Jesus bore the sins of the world on the cross. More than the physical suffering, I believe this is what Jesus was referring to when He asked the Father if this cup could pass Him by in the garden. He knew the pain of separation that was coming and He wanted to assure the disciples that though He was leaving, they would not be bereft. Jesus was limited by time and space, meaning He could only be at once place at a time. He was not as incarnate Deity omnipresent.
So WHO is the Helper? He is the 3rd equal person of the Godhead, co divine, co-creator, co-accomplisher of God’s will. As we know, He has been with mankind since the beginning, speaking, convicting, and drawing us toward God (John 16:8-10). He came upon select men at select times to accomplish God’s purpose. Now He brings our dead-in-sins spirit alive by regeneration, He indwells us producing the fruit of holiness, and for good measure He comes upon us, and gives us dynamic power just for the asking! In Acts it’s recorded that the disciples prayed for the power of the Spirit twice, once at Pentecost and then again after they were ordered to stop preaching in the name of Jesus! So it’s not just a once-and-done thing!
As God He possesses the common attributes of the Godhead, and some which are peculiarly His. The one attribute that spoke to me the loudest was love. God is love, so it follows that the Holy Spirit is also love. In the first place it means we can trust Him to do what is absolutely best for us because everything is done in love. How is this heart of God expressed and how does He comfort and help us? At regeneration, as He dwells in us by faith, He transmits love into our inner-most being (Romans 5:5). Not the natural kind of love each human possesses, but supernatural love for God and all things godly, such as joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self- control (Gal 5:16ff). Just as water is required for every cell in our body, so love is required for every spiritual function - Love is spiritual power for spiritual work.
Because He is love He ignites love for Jesus and everything having to do with him. And because love for all-things-Jesus dwells in me it impacts what I think, what I believe, and what I do.
What I think : Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind;’ How does this happen? Because He dwells within us He’s privy to our thoughts and feelings. When a thought floats through our consciousness, He convicts us that it’s in error, or commends us for right thinking. Do you ever wonder, ‘Am I right? Is this true?’ Those are questions of the Spirit’s prompting, and so you ask Him. Thought by thought, in this way, we exchange worldly thinking patterns for godly, righteous thoughts. We learn the truth which supersedes all the lies we’ve been told by the enemy all our lives. The very act of learning the Word bears fruit in our heart and in the function of our brain!
What I believe : The Holy Spirit leads me into ALL TRUTH (John 16:13). Truth about God, about myself, about the world. This is how He Helps us know what’s false doctrine, what’s right and wrong morally, what’s foolish or wise. Drugs, alcohol, sex, abortion, racism – all these moral issues are revealed in scripture and then counteracted by love. And conversely guide us out of all falsehood, misunderstanding, and ignorance.
What I do : Are my actions in accordance with God’s character, God’s revealed will in His word. love? Do I have a walk worthy of my calling? He also overflows our hearts with love for one another! You love people you’d never have reason to meet, let alone love. You pray fervently for people you’ll never see this side of heaven! You love people that have been dead for millennia! Race, sex, denomination – none of these things matter because the ‘love of God is poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who was given to us’ (Rom 5:5). He inspires love for the lost (our own family/friends) as well as strangers with the willingness to share the gospel – now that takes love! We love who He loves!
Go a little deeper – the Holy Spirit helps me develop a taste and desire for God’s word, He reinforces its value, its meaning, and helps me to remember what it says and where it’s found. Delight, that’s what a word of scripture should cause! The Spirit calls us to stop what we’re doing, put aside our phone and listen to the voice of Jesus from His Word! He says, ‘Don’t be foolish! Don’t be ignorant! See what this says here. Hide this in your heart!’ He also prompts curiosity about a biblical topic. See these visual aids? The microscope represents that desire in your heart to know more about a topic, person, or particular scripture – to look closer! Think of studying the Greek as looking on the cellular level. That drawing only comes from the Spirit. And the binoculars, that’s the desire to understand the grand plan of God, big topics such as sin (as a noun and a verb) regeneration, justification, and sanctification – the big picture, again only of the Spirit. If the goal is to appreciate, understand, acquire knowledge, but go away unchanged, it’s academics. Remember the natural man can’t accept or understand the things of God (1 Cor. 2:14). We’re a privileged people to have the author of God’s love story living right inside us. Who knows the mind of the Lord, but the Spirit of the Lord (Rom 11:34)?
Another way He helps us is that He provides a defense for the hope that lies within us (1 Peter 3:15), when we’re accused by bringing truth to mind (Luke 21:15).
Finally, He, as promised in Ezekiel, carves certain Scriptures into our hearts, for each one of us particularly. More than simply memorized words, it is part of who you are. Do you have a life scripture, something that has brought hope or comfort, and something that always elicits a thrill when you think of it?