May 23, 2021
God the Holy Spirit is Your Counselor!
“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (NIV1984)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
We all come to a point in our life when we need someone to talk to, someone who will give us advice, someone who will counsel us. This is especially true when we are experiencing sadness or pain, fear or loneliness. When we are young, we automatically turn to our Mom or Dad at times like this. As we grow older or when Mom and Dad are not available, we usually turn to a trusted friend or to one of our siblings. We may even develop a list of various people we turn to depending on what we need to talk about.
During the three years that the Lord Jesus was with His disciples, He was the One to whom the disciples would turn whenever they needed Someone to talk to. No matter whether they were sad or afraid, confused or simply curious they knew that they could turn to Jesus. For three years Jesus was always there for His disciples. For three years Jesus was both willing and able to help them.
Our sermon text for today brings us back to the end of Jesus’ three-year public ministry. It brings us back into the Upper Room on the night before Jesus was crucified. Jesus had just revealed to His disciples that one of them would betray Him to His enemies. He had just revealed to Peter that he would deny even knowing who Jesus was. He had just told them that He was going away. And, just before the words of our text, Jesus reminded His disciples, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.” As we can imagine, Jesus’ disciples were shocked, confused and sad.
Because Jesus knew what was going through the hearts and the minds of His disciples, He comforted them by speaking the opening verses of our text, “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
As we gather together to celebrate the Festival of Pentecost, we want to use these words to focus on this truth: God the Holy Spirit is Your Counselor!
There are two points I need to highlight before we focus on how God the Holy Spirit serves as our Counselor. The first truth centers on the word that is translated here as “Counselor.” This is the Greek word “Paraclete.” Very literally a “Paraclete” is someone who “calls you to their side.” God the Holy Spirit is your “Paraclete,” my friends. He “calls you to His side” and serves as your “Counselor.”
The second point I want to emphasize centers on the question of how. How does God the Holy Spirit “call you to His side” and serve as your “Counselor”? He does this through the power of His holy inspired Word! Using His power, God the Holy Spirit not only taught Jesus’ disciples “all things,” but He also “reminded” Jesus’ disciples of “everything” Jesus had said to them over the course of His three-year public ministry. Because of this “teaching” and because of this “reminding” we have the confidence of knowing that the Bible is the holy, inspired, inerrant Word of God! With the inspired Word of our God as our foundation, now let’s see how God the Holy Spirit serves as our “Counselor” in some very simple yet very powerful ways.
Since God the Holy Spirit Himself inspired the words of Scripture, He now uses those words to speak to us and to “counsel” us today. What will we hear Him say? There are two main answers to that question. First, using the words of Scripture God the Holy Spirit will convict us of our sin. We like to think that we’re not really all that “bad.” We like to think that deep down inside we have at least a little bit of “good” in us. We like to think that we can do something to “contribute” to our salvation— even if it is just “inviting” Jesus into our heart, even if it is just “accepting” Him as our Lord.
God the Holy Spirit shatters all of those misconceptions through the power of His holy Law. Through the power of the Law God the Holy Spirit reveals to us that deceiving ourselves into thinking that we are not really all that “bad” is completely unacceptable to the God that says, “Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy” (Leviticus 19:2). Through the power of His holy Law God the Holy Spirit crushes the hope that simply striving to be “good” will be “good enough” to gain us entrance into the heavenly Father’s Home. He does this by recording Jesus’ words, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). And yes, using the power of His holy Law God the Holy Spirit deflates the pride and the ego that arrogantly tries to convince us that we can do something— anything— to contribute to our own salvation. He does this by revealing to us that by nature we are born spiritually blind (1 Corinthians 2:14), spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1), and spiritually the enemy of God (Romans 8:6-8).
Once the Holy Spirit uses the power of His holy Law to convict us of our sin, then as our “Paraclete,” as our “Counselor” He “calls us to His side” and comforts us with the glorious, sweet message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Through the comforting power of the Holy Spirit Jesus fulfills these words of our text, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
As our “Counselor” God the Holy Spirit comforts us by using the Scriptures to assure us that because of what Jesus has done for us (Pointing to the cross) we have true lasting peace with the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth. Our sins have been taken away as far as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:12) Since we have been redeemed with “the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:18, 19) there is no reason for our hearts to be “troubled.” There is no reason for us to be “afraid.” We have been justified! We have been “Declared: Not Guilty!” by the one and only living God Himself.
Over and over again our “Counselor,” our “Paraclete” “calls us to His side” and through the power of His holy Word He comforts us. But that’s not the only way that God the Holy Spirit serves as our “Counselor,” is it. When our parents and our Sunday school teachers help us to memorize passages from the Bible so that we always have God’s Word in our hearts and in our minds, when they keep us focused on the fact that the true meaning of Christmas centers on the Son of God coming into our world to be our Savior and the true meaning of Easter centers on the fact that Jesus physically rose from the dead to declare His victory over sin, death and the devil and that through faith in Jesus His victory is our victory for all of eternity, God the Holy Spirit uses their words and their example to comfort us!
But that’s not the only way that God the Holy Spirit serves as our “Counselor,” is it. When our pastor baptizes our child in the Name of the Triune God, God the Holy Spirit comforts us with the confidence of knowing that through “the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5) our dearly beloved child has been “born again” as the dearly beloved child of our heavenly Father. When our pastor gives us the Sacrament of Holy Communion, God the Holy Spirit comforts us with the truth that we are receiving the true body and the true blood of our Lord Jesus Christ as visible tangible proof that all of our sins are completely forgiven.
But that’s not the only way that God the Holy Spirit serves as our “Counselor,” is it. When we turn to a trusted Christian friend because we need to talk to someone about something that is going on in our life, and when that trusted Christian friend shares with us whatever message we need to hear from God’s holy Word — whether it’s the powerful message of God’s Law or the precious message of the Gospel— God the Holy Spirit is working through our friend to serve as our “Counselor.” Paul highlighted this truth when the Holy Spirit inspired him to say to us in 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
But, of course, that’s still not all of the ways in which God the Holy Spirit serves as our “Counselor,” is it. We don’t have time to go into detail about how the Holy Spirit serves as our “Counselor” as He helps us in our weakness by praying for us “with groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8:26), how He serves as our “Counselor” by using His Word to teach us right from wrong and to discern God’s will for our lives, how He serves as our “Counselor” as He helps us to mature in our faith so that we can progress from the “milk” to the “solid food” of God’s Word (1 Corinthians 3:1), and how He serves as our “Counselor” by giving each of us at least one spiritual gift so that we can not only serve each other, but so that we can also serve our God by serving in His Kingdom here on this earth (1 Corinthians 12:1ff).
The work of the Holy Spirit is indeed amazing, my friends. From creating the gift of saving faith in our heart to strengthening our faith through His holy Word and Sacrament, the work of the Holy Spirit is invaluable to us as the children of God. My prayer this morning is that you will not only thank the Holy Spirit for serving as your “Counselor,” but that you will turn to Him and then listen to Him when He “calls you to His side” and shares with you what He knows you need to hear.
To God be the glory!