May 3, 2018

Helper God

associate pastor

associate pastor

Ken Rathburn

“Following and believing God would have been so much easier in biblical times.”

“If Jesus were still around on earth, it would be so much easier to live the Christian life.”

Those two statements sure resonate with us, don’t they? I have heard them uttered by Christians of every age and in every ministry context of which I have ever been a part. It is not that we don’t want to trust God by faith, believing he is good—we do. It just feels hard to have a relationship with an invisible person who seems so distant. But, there is a major problem with those two statements: They are completely untrue.

In John 16:7-15, Jesus gives us what should be one of the most comforting and paradigm-shifting passages in the New Testament, and perhaps in the entire Bible. But yet, almost none of us live like we believe it:

7Nevertheless, 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. 12I 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. 14 He 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.”

Think about that. Jesus says sending the Helper instead of staying with us is to our “advantage.” This means living in the present age of the church is the greatest age to follow God!

Think about that. Jesus says sending the Helper instead of staying with us is to our “advantage.” This means living in the present age of the church is the greatest age to follow God! Jesus says the Holy Spirit will convict us of our unbelief and the sin in our hearts. He will help us to walk in righteousness. He will guide us into the truth, reminding us of Jesus’s words to us. He will glorify God through and in us. The Holy Spirit, the third Person of our Trinitarian God, can be so hard to understand. But, all this confusion begins to fade when we grasp the simple word Jesus uses to describe the Holy Spirit:  “Helper.”

The Bible is not a story of people witnessing God’s amazing acts and then following him well in response. Instead, they witness God’s amazing acts and then quickly forget him altogether. It is a story of people in desperate need of a Helper. From Adam and Eve’s rebellion in Eden, through the constantly misguided behavior of Israel, to the disciples bumbling around like fools in the gospel accounts, all the biblical figures fail to follow the God they’ve seen do so much. That is, until the Helper arrives. Read Peter’s sermon at Pentecost in Acts 2. This was the fisherman who denied Jesus three times and was reinstated by Jesus just a couple of weeks earlier. He didn’t have time to study up and get his life in order in that short period of time. But in Acts 2, after the disciples have received the Holy Spirit, Peter’s sermon perfectly connects the entire Old Testament to Jesus and calls the Jews to repent and believe the Gospel. And as it says in v.41, “… there were added that day about three thousand souls.” The church was born by the coming of the Holy Spirit in a completely new way. No longer does he dwell in the Tabernacle or the Temple, but in the heart of each and every believer (Rom. 8:9). He is a Helper who is anything but distant or disconnected. 

At NAPC, we define our mission as “glorifying God through lives changed by Jesus Christ.” We try to do this by carrying out the church’s work of fulfilling the Great Commission (Matt. 28:16-20), which cannot be done without help from our Helper. We walk by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16) when we are filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18) as we pray in the Holy Spirit (Jude v.20) and put sin to death by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:13).

This week, pray to God knowing it is God the Spirit who guides your prayers. Read the Bible and ask the Holy Spirit, the Bible’s true author, to illuminate the Word in profound ways. Boldly step out in faith, engaging in spiritual conversations as you trust the Holy Spirit to give you the words to say. He is our great Helper.

By the Spirit’s power,

Pastor Ken