The Coming of the Comforter

May 19, 2002 / No. 3098

Dear radio friends,

     On this Pentecost Sunday our text will be John 14:26, these words of Jesus:  “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” 

     Those words of Jesus Christ were spoken in His farewell message to the eleven.  He was telling them, on the eve of the cross, that He was going to go away.  He was going to go to His Father through His death on the cross and resurrection and ascension into heaven.  But He assures them that this will be OK because He will send, in His place, the Holy Spirit.  In fact, so precious and so valuable does Jesus see the coming of the Holy Spirit that, as we read the chapters 14-16 of John, it becomes very plain that He considers it better that the Holy Spirit were to come than if He were to stay with us in the flesh.  For instance, in John 16:7: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away:  for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”  He says, “You must not think that because I will ascend up into heaven that you are left lonely and in the lurch and you can only hope to see Me one day in heaven — that you are left as poor sheep in the wilderness.  But before I go, I want to give you a soothing promise:  I will send you another Comforter, One who will be all that I have been to you and more; One who will console you in all of your sorrows, comfort you in your trials, strengthen you in your temptation; One who will seal you by His power to the day of redemption; and One who will do all in you what I would have done had I tarried among you.” 

     That is the gospel that we proclaim today on this Pentecost Sunday, the day in which the church rejoices in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  Fifty days after Jesus arose from the dead, ten days after He ascended into heaven, according to the promise He left, Jesus Christ poured out the Holy Spirit upon the church.  And that is the great thing in Christianity.  The great thing is the gift of the Holy Spirit to be our teacher, to open our hearts to believe and to know all the truth as it is in Jesus Christ.  Jesus says, “I will send the Comforter to you, the Holy Spirit, whose work will be to bring to your remembrance all that I have ever said to you.” 

     Now let us ask a question:  Exactly who is the One who comes to us in the gift of Pentecost?  We know it is the Holy Spirit.  But Jesus refers to Him as the Comforter.  We read, “The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name.”  Jesus says to us that God the Father will send to us the Holy Spirit in the authority of Jesus Christ in order that the Holy Spirit might be ours in our hearts. 

     This certainly teaches us that salvation is entirely the work of God.  It was God who planned and prepared our salvation in His decree of eternity.  Jesus was aware of this.  In John 10 He spoke of the fact that His Father gave Him the sheep, and that for those sheep, chosen of the Father, He would lay down His life.  He would tell His disciples again, “Ye have not chosen me ( John 15), but I have chosen you.”  The Father determined who would be saved.  But the Father also sent His Son to secure that salvation.  Jesus knew that, too.  In John 6 He says, “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.”  And what was the will of the Father?  The will of the Father was that He would not spare His own Son but deliver Him up for us all ( Rom. 8).  

     Thus did God plan our salvation in eternity and accomplish it in the gift of His Son.  Now what is God’s provision for us today, for us who are on earth?  God’s provision is this:  He will send the Comforter.  The Comforter, the Holy Spirit, will be sent to us to abide in our hearts.  That is the great blessing of God.

     He comes on the authority of Jesus Christ.  Jesus says, “The Father will send Him.  It is all of the Father, it is all of God.  But He will send Him in My name.”  And “in My name” means, in My authority.  He will come in the authority of the risen Jesus Christ, the great authority of His salvation.  The Holy Spirit, then, is not a mere influence.  He is not merely a motivator.  But He comes to us in all the royal power and great authority of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The Holy Spirit is endowed, He is filled with, the salvation of Christ.  And He comes in Christ’s name to apply that salvation.  So to speak, Christ says, “I know My sheep for whom I have died.  And now, upon My authority as the risen Savior of those sheep, I give the Holy Spirit, and He shall enter them and comfort them by bringing My salvation to them.”

     Christ, then, sent to us the Holy Spirit enriched with all of His salvation, to take that salvation and, by the great grace of God, to work it in the hearts of believers.  That is the truth of salvation.  The truth of salvation is that whenever it takes place it is the great work of the Holy Spirit, sent by Christ into the hearts of those given to Him of the Father and for whom He died, to apply to their hearts that salvation. 

The truth of salvation is that
whenever it takes place
it is the great work of the Holy Spirit. 

     That is a glorious thing.  The Holy Spirit fills us and strengthens us with salvation. 

     How have God’s people been made fearless to confess the name of Jesus Christ before those who threaten to kill them and burn them upon a stake?  Through the Holy Spirit.  How is it possible that you, as a young man, run the gauntlet of mockery in a college or a public high school, when all are mocking you for your faith in Jesus Christ?  How is that possible?  Through the Holy Spirit.  How is it possible for a widow with three young children to find comfort and strength to go on?  Through the Holy Spirit.  How is it possible that someone who is smitten with cancer and about to die testifies to the hospital staff and to the nurses who are caring for her of her perfect hope and peace and of her assurance that she shall be saved eternally in her Savior?  How is that possible?  Through the Holy Spirit.  Because Jesus said, “I will send the Comforter to you.”  How does a young girl acquire strength to be holy in an evil world in which everyone is looking at her in the way of sin?  How is she going to get that strength?  By the Holy Spirit. 

     The Holy Spirit is given to be in our hearts to bring Christ to us and His salvation into us.  Therefore, we stand by the strength of God’s Holy Spirit.  Shall we not praise God?  Shall we not praise Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?  Let us not stand around today confused, asking the question:  Pentecost, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, now what does that mean?  Does that mean that we are supposed to have some kind of showy signs in the church and then we will know that the Holy Spirit is in our hearts?  Is that what it means — that we should have some ability to speak in tongues (whatever that is), or ability to heal people — then the Holy Spirit is in us?  No!  That is not the Word of God.  That is a bunch of nonsense.  This is the truth:  The Holy Spirit’s presence and power in the life of the believer is that the Holy Spirit is the Comforter, to take the salvation of Christ powerfully and to bring it into my heart so that I stand by faith and I know my Savior and I remember His Words and I experience the power of those words and confess in every situation of life that I am His child.  That is the blessing of Pentecost.

     Jesus emphasized that it would be especially the work of the Holy Spirit to teach us all things and to bring all things to our remembrance, whatsoever He had said to us.  The work of the Holy Spirit is:  teaching.  Or, we could say, illumination — to convict us of the truth of God and to bind the truth of Christ to our heart.  So, in the Bible (Eph. 1:7), He is called the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. 

     And again Jesus will emphasize in John 16 this work of the Holy Spirit being the teacher.  He will say in John 16, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth:  for he will not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak:  and he will show you things to come.  He shall glorify me:  for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.”  What does that mean?  That means that there could not be a saving belief of the truth of Jesus Christ without the work of the Holy Spirit.  There could be, perhaps, an intellectual understanding of what the Bible is saying.  There could even be a scholarly analysis of its content.  We could have learned seminars and discussions on Pauline theology and different aspects of the truth.  But there could never be humble conviction, overwhelming awe of the truth.  There could never be faith in the holy Scriptures apart from the work of the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit’s work is to bring saving knowledge to the people of God, to assure us of all that Jesus has spoken to us.

     That teaches us the truth that, by nature, you and I are ignorant, willfully so, of spiritual truth.  We read in I Corinthians 2:14 that the “natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God:  for they are foolishness unto him.”  Our eyes are blinded.  We do not want to know God.  We deny God.  We exalt ourselves before God.  And we know nothing as we ought to know it.  We see all of life under false colors.  We mock the things of God.  The Word of God, of itself, would bounce right off our hearts as off a rock. 

     But the Comforter?  The Holy Spirit?  He powerfully alters things.  He opens the eyes of our understanding.  He gives to us a heart to believe.  He calls us out of darkness into light.  He gives to us the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  The Holy Spirit opens the heart to understanding. 

     Yes, you are to witness.  You are to teach.  And you are to speak, as a child of God, of the wonderful things of your faith.  But no amount of your persuasion, no amount of your wisdom, and no amount of your words can write the truth upon the heart of another.  That is the work of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit uses means for sure, He uses your witness, He uses the Word of God.  But the Holy Spirit must do it.

     The Holy Spirit works through the holy Scriptures.  Jesus said, “He will bring to remembrance whatsoever things I have said unto you.”  Now, if you would consult I Peter 1:11, you would discover that the Bible teaches that the entire Scriptures (the 66 books of the Bible) are all written by Jesus Christ, by the Spirit of Christ, who inspired each of the human writers of the Bible.  So when Jesus says that He will bring to remembrance whatsoever He has said unto you, He means the Holy Spirit will reveal to you the whole truth of the Scriptures.  And He means that the Holy Spirit will work through the Scriptures. 

     Now there is a great error that exists in the Christian church today.  We speak in love in order that Christians might have the understanding of the Scriptures.  That great error is that there is still extra revelation, that God somehow spoke to me through the wind or the cloud this and that.  Now Christ tells us that the Holy Spirit does not reveal anything new.  But He shall teach you all things I have said to you.  That is, He will teach you the truths of the Scriptures.

     Where is the Holy Spirit, then, present?  In what church?  Well, He is present in that church where the Word of God is taken as the “yea” and “amen” of God, where the Scriptures are honored as the infallible, sufficient, and authoritative Word of God.  The Scriptures have been written.  God has given to us His Word.  Look into them and read.  That is the revelation of God.  God does not give new revelation from the sky.  But He gives the Holy Spirit to give us an understanding of the Word that He has given.  The Holy Spirit becomes the lamp in our heart to see the wonderful truths of the Scriptures.   

The Holy Spirit becomes the lamp in our heart
to see the wonderful truths of the Scriptures.  

     He shall bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.  He will stir your memory.  Remembrance is something more than just mere teaching.  Remembrance is to bring back, to recall.  Remembrance is when a truth is brought back to your consciousness in such a way that it illumines you and shines upon your pathway and comforts you.  You see, we do not carry our Bibles with us necessarily every moment of every day.  And we do not spend every moment of every day reading our Bible.  We have duties.  We have work and school and recreation.  We become engaged in these things, in our work.  We become filled with struggles.  But the Spirit works in our memory.  He brings the Scriptures to our minds so that the Scriptures speak to us.  So that we might say with Jeremiah in Lamentation 3, “This I recall to mind, therefore, have I hope.”  Or in Psalm 77:11, “I will remember the works of the LORD:  surely I will remember thy wonders of old.”  In this way, the Spirit comforts us.

     The Spirit works in us in the hours of sadness.  He brings to our remembrance the Word of God.  That means that you have to be taught the Word of God.  You have to lay it up in your heart.  But it is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring it to your remembrance so that in your moment of sadness and weariness you remember the Scriptures:  “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” ( Ps. 27).  

     There are times that we stand in the midst of darkness and heaviness.  It is the Holy Spirit who pulls back the veil of heaven and shines into our hearts the truth of Jesus Christ.  He also does this in the communion of saints.  Very often in your experience and in mine, it can be an off-hand word from a fellow-saint, a word of encouragement or a word of reflection on his own life of what the Word of God has meant to him.  Perhaps he did not know your situation at all.  He did not know what you were going through.  But through that communion of the saints the Spirit ministered to your heart and you said, “Ah, yes.  My soul is blessed by that Word.”  The same Holy Spirit works in all the children of God.  Spiritual discussion is so important for believers.  Spiritual discussion is not simply when you talk directly about the Bible or you quote to each other a verse of the Bible.  But spiritual discussion is when you view your life spiritually.  And you so talk that you bring the truth into your discussion, into your experiences of the past week, into your struggles.  Sometimes even a little child will do this to us.  Perhaps you are at the kitchen sink preparing dinner or doing whatever, and it is written all over your face, Mom, that you are discouraged.  And you are out of it.  Then maybe just that two or three or four-year old comes up and pulls on your skirt and says, “But Mom, God is in heaven, right?  Jesus is our Savior, right?  He lifts us up in joy, doesn’t He?”  And out of the lips of your child the Holy Spirit comforts you.

     Comfort.  That is the work of the Holy Spirit.  Comfort through the Scriptures.  Are you looking for peace and comfort in your life?  Do not go on a vain search.  You do not need to climb a mountain in Tibet and sit in the yoga position.  You do not need, as a young person, to search and scour over all types of mystical religions and sit down with a learned look on your face and begin to wonder, “Well, is there such a thing as ultimate truth?  We’re being taught all these things in college and is there ultimate truth?”  That is not the way to find comfort and peace in your heart.  You will never find it there.  Here it is.  We have the perfect teacher.  We have one given to us by the Master, Jesus Christ.  He is the One who takes the holy Scriptures and writes them upon our heart and illumines us so that we may say with the psalmist in Psalm 119, “I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.”

     Do you possess the Holy Spirit?  Does He do this great work in you?  Praise God!  Do you know this gift of God to you?  Do you fall down in thankfulness to Him?  And do you reverence the Word of God in your heart and life?  Do you say, “Thy word sheds light upon my path”?  Then you have comfort.  Then you have the great gift that Jesus died to purchase for you — the Comforter, the Holy Spirit in you — to bring to remembrance all that Jesus ever said.

     Let us pray. 

     Father, we thank Thee for Thy Word.  We ask for the Holy Spirit to take the Word and place it in our hearts through Jesus Christ.  Amen.