The Holy Spirit can often be misunderstood in our lives and in our theology. He seems mysterious and by design the Holy Spirit intentionally takes a back seat so that he can push Jesus Christ forward as our Savior. Of the three persons of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is the one that we literally know the least about. However, what we do know is that without the Holy Spirit we cannot believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, but are rather called to faith, enlightened with gifts, sanctified and kept in the true faith by the Holy Spirit (Luther’s Small Catechism).
The apostle John records Jesus saying “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. ‘I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you’” (John 14:16-18 ESV). John also records Jesus saying “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you (John 14:26 ESV). In both of these passages what we translate into “Helper” in English is the Greek word “παράκλητος” (paraklētos). In English this Greek word means an intercessor, consoler, advocate, and comforter.
The first use of this Greek word means “one who pleads another’s cause before a judge, a pleader, counsel for defense, legal assistant, an advocate.
I don’t think the primary thought of most counselors, and certainly not how I’m intending to use my training in counseling, is that they intend to use their skills in the court of law. However, metaphorically there are many past hurts, childhood wounds, and sins that would still bring condemnation, guilt, shame, and judgment in a person’s life just as if they were standing before an earthly judge. Christian counselors can come alongside people in this situation and the Holy Spirit can work in them to help “plead another’s cause.”
The second use of this Greek word means “one who pleads another’s cause with one, an intercessor.
Here we have a similar concept, and have the idea of interpersonal relationships represented in this definition, but we move away from the court of law. Most of all counseling has to do with interpersonal relationships. In that case we can come alongside them and help them find the Holy Spirit’s intercession in their lives. Ultimately this work will be completed when Jesus Christ pleads with God the Father at the final judgment, but this work is started now in us by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The third use of this Greek word means “in the widest sense, a helper, succourer, aider, assistant. As you go deeper into this meaning you find that the Holy Spirit will “lead them to a deeper knowledge of the gospel truth, and give them divine strength needed to enable them to undergo trials and persecutions on behalf of the divine kingdom.
Yes, the Holy Spirit will come along side humans, but the question to consider is how does he do that. He doesn’t just open up our heads and download files into us from heaven. It is my conviction that the Holy Spirit does work within Christians to come alongside others for the sake of bringing comfort. It is often a literal coming alongside of another person, putting your arm around them, listening to their hurts, pain, sin, and brokenness and then being able to minister healing, relief, forgiveness, and healing. He uses pastors to teach us, parents to nurture us, counselors to guide, friends to help us find strength, and the like.
As a Christian I believe that this understanding of the Holy Spirit as our parakletos will help us in our Christian walk by first and foremost keeping us in prayer and in a continual seeking of the Holy Spirit’s guidance. I believe that it is only by the Holy Spirit that we can have discernment and make proper decisions. That being the case, we need to be listening to the Holy Spirit for His leading.
I also believe that this understanding of the Holy Spirit will give us a sense of compassion for others. If we understand others as under a burden of judgment, needing an intercessor, and needing help than we will want to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to help bring these gifts of the Holy Spirit into their lives. Our desire will be to claim the very promise of Jesus that he will indeed send the Holy Spirit into their lives so that they may not be left as orphans.