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Understanding The Holy Spirit



Jesus is having the last supper with his disciples and giving them some of his most important words. Sometimes it’s said that a man’s last words are his most important. These are some of Jesus’ last words. Soon they will leave for the garden where Jesus will be arrested. He knows this is coming, so he wants his disciples to hear critically important truths they need before he is killed. In today’s passage we will see what he has to say about the Holy Spirit.

How would you describe the Holy Spirit and his work in your life?

John 15:26-27. “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.”

When you hear the Holy Spirit described as a helper, what comes to your mind? What is a helper to you?

Helper (παράκλητος, paraklētos). To come along side. A word also used of Jesus in I John 2:1. In John 14:16 Jesus calls the Spirit “Another” helper, meaning, another of the same kind. IE, also deity. 

Spirit of truth – Truth is foundational to the Spirit’s character.

This reminds us of John 14:6 when Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Jesus calls the Spirit, “Truth” in this passage. Jesus also called him our “Guide,” which implies a way in terms of a way to live. In John 6:63 Jesus says, “The Spirit gives life.” This is another testimony to the deity of the Holy Spirit. He is truly “another” like Jesus. 

Proceeds – He is part of the Godhead. God is one being but three persons.

Bear witness about [Jesus] – Tell others about Jesus. The word literally means to “Report,” as in a news report or a town crier, reporting about what Jesus has done. 

The Spirit does not glorify himself. He focuses us on Jesus. But the Spirit does want us to know the truth about himself. Jesus also wants us to know about the Spirit. He said that the Spirit would guide us into all truth, which includes the truth about the Spirit. The Spirit authored scripture (II Peter 1:21), and thus we have passages to help us know him.

John 16:7-15, “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. 8And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

12“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

Why do you think it is to our advantage that Jesus went away?

To our advantage – Why is it to our advantage? 

Because Jesus can only be in one place at a time. Though Jesus is fully God, he is also fully human. This means that he has retained some of the limitations of humanity. 

Jesus sends the Spirit – Jesus sends.

Remember that Jesus is given ALL authority in Heaven (Matthew 28:18). It might be said that Jesus did not have all authority yet. However, Jesus was looking ahead to the time when he will possess that authority. He says, “If I go, I will send him to you” (V.7). It’s like when a President-Elect says he will do certain things even though he isn’t in the office yet.

Convict – Pronounce a judicial verdict by which guilt is defined and fixed. 

I Thessalonians 1:5 talks about the Gospel coming with, “Full conviction.” Hebrews 11:1 talks about the “Conviction” of faith. 

Notice that Jesus doesn’t talk about sin as in the breaking of the moral law. Rather, his emphasis is on the sin of not believing in him. In one perspective, all sin is forgiven by Jesus’ death because Jesus died for sin. Therefore, condemnation comes to a person no longer because of specific sins, but because of unbelief in Jesus who took the punishment for our sin. Thus, the sin for which we are condemned is our unbelief in Jesus, not specific sins. However, not everyone agrees with this perspective.

Cannot bear them now – Revelation is progressive. For instance, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit wasn’t fully developed until the coming of the New Testament.

Not his own authority. 

As part of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit has all of the authority of God. However, he does not act on his own, but acts upon the will of the Father and Jesus.

Whatever he hears.

All the father has is mine, the Spirit takes and declares. Also goes back to Matthew 28, all authority.

What have we learned so far?

  • The Holy Spirit is deity like Jesus, he is “another” helper.
  • His job is to lift up Jesus so that Jesus will become known.
  • He is ever present, guiding Christians into truth and the direction of our lives.
  • He takes all that belongs to Jesus and declares it to us.


Let’s talk interpretation. What do you think John is telling us about the Spirit?

Let me give you three points of interpretation.

The Spirit is a necessary part of the Christian life. Without the Spirit we cannot live the Christian life.

  • Without the Spirit we would have no conviction, no word from God, no relationship to God.

Some people think the Spirit is just a power or force of God. But these scriptures show that the Spirit has all of the attributes of personhood. We can know him just as we know Jesus, perhaps even more so since he lives in us!

Everything about the Christian life in terms of the Spirit is relational.

Notice: helper, truth, convict, guide, speak, declare, glorify. Elsewhere: Fruit of the Spirit. Sin is always relational, but so is righteousness through the Spirit. Therefore…

The Spirit loves you just as much as the Father and the Son.

II Timothy 1:7. Galatians 5:22. Romans 5:5; 15:30. 

Because the Spirit is close to the Father and the Son, and he lives in you, you can be intimate with the Spirit, Father, and Son also.


Jesus addressed the topic of the Spirit because the disciples were about to struggle with losing Jesus. Indeed, the disciple were about feel afraid and alone during the period when Jesus was in the grave. Therefore…

We often feel alone and wonder if God is really there. 


Jesus’ solution is to send the Holy Spirit to live in us and empower us. He did not leave us as spiritual orphans (John 14:18). 

To live by the Spirit (Galatians 5:25). 

To be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). 


Trust, by faith, that the Holy Spirit lives in you if you profess Christ.

Submit the direction of your life and activities to the guidance and Lordship of the Holy Spirit.

Always seek to please the Lord, through the power of the Spirit, in all you do. 

As we do these things, our intimacy with the Spirit will increase, and thus our closeness to the Father and the Son. 

Tom Terry is head of Global Broadcast Strategy for JESUS Film Project and serves as General Manager of The Better FM, an online radio station for Asia. Tom is also the author of several books, including Bible studies and "Like An Eagle," his biography about living in Mongolia for ten years.
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