John 14:26 - The Counseling Ministry of the Holy Spirit
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.John 14:26
As a pastor, every now and then, I have to make a visit to the hospital. Sometimes when I do this, I just cannot help but let my mind wander a little bit. As I leave my car parked on the parking lot and walk towards the entrance of the hospital, the brokenness of life stares me straight in my face. Already outside the hospital, I see patients sitting on a bench, enjoying some of the outside air or just sitting there smoking a cigarette. When I enter the hospital, the scene does not really change all that much. Wherever I look, I see nurses and doctors, or patients sitting in wheelchairs or lying in their beds. Some have broken bones; others have some external injury; still others are suffering from all sorts of internal problems.
The Brokenness of Life
As I see all of this brokenness and more, I think to myself that this is what life is like, now that we live outside the Garden of Eden. Wherever you look you see the brokenness of life. Relationships become strained and often break down. Husbands do not get along with their wives and wives do not get along with their husbands. Parents do not get along with their children and children do not get along with their parents. Employers do not get along with their employees and employees do not get along with their employers. People who once were close friends now live their lives separated because of dishonesty and hurt. There just is no end to all the aches and pains that are felt in this world. Some are aching because of grief; others are burdened because of sorrow. Some are oppressed because of troubles; others are unsettled because of worries. Some are distressed because of affliction; others are hurting because of heartaches.
In the light of all of this it should not surprise us that there are a lot of cries for help. People want relief from their heartaches and affliction! People want to be freed from their worries and troubles! People want to live without their sorrow and grief! In short, people yearn, long, crave for lives that are whole and sound again! For lives that are filled with peace and contentment and that have some sense of meaning, purpose and direction!
In order to attain some of this peace and contentment, this wholesomeness and soundness, many people make their regular trips to counselors. Some go to marriage and parenting counselors; others go to grief and sorrow counselors; still others make their weekly trip to their drug and alcohol counselors. All sorts of counselors abound and they all offer their services, their expertise, their help in trying to get your life whole and sound again and in enabling you to experience some measure of peace and enjoyment.
The text of our meditation also deals with counseling. It is a text that forms part of a conversation Jesus Christ is having with his disciples just before He is about to die and, once He has arisen from the dead, return home to his Father. In this conversation, Jesus has already spoken about this Counselor. When he did, he referred to Him as another Counselor (John 14:16). By designating the Holy Spirit as another Counselor, Jesus is in essence saying that He himself had been a Counselor when He was with them here on this earth. He would continue to be their Counselor once He had ascended into heaven and returned to his Father, but now alongside his own counseling ministry Jesus would send another Counselor. As the Father had once sent Him to earth to counsel a people lost and forlorn in sin, and to help this people in many and varied ways, so the Father would again send Someone to earth once Jesus had returned to heaven. This time, He would send the Holy Spirit.
When the Holy Spirit would be sent, He would teach Jesus’ disciples all things and would remind them of everything He had said. This clearly means that once Jesus had ascended into heaven, the Holy Spirit would come and take Jesus’ place on this earth. And once He did, He would tutor the disciples, give them private instruction and review with them what Jesus had already told them. I’m sure you know what a tutor does. Sometimes a student does not do so well in a certain subject at school. For some reason, he has difficulty in understanding the concepts. The teacher arranges for someone else to come in and give extra help. This other person, also known as a tutor, will review the material the teacher has already taught the student. She will do her best to explain it to him in simple and easy to understand words. She will try to give the student further insight into the material that has been taught. And she will do her best to train his memory. In a somewhat similar manner, the Holy Spirit, the other Counselor is also the tutor of Jesus’ followers. He is called in alongside of them to enable them to remember what Jesus said and give them further insight into these things. In doing so Jesus’ disciples will be able to fulfill the task to which Jesus Christ had called them.
For what was this task again? Was it not to witness to the ends of the earth to what Jesus had said and done? In order to do this, they would have to preach about what Jesus had told them. They would also have to write letters to churches instructing these churches in this teaching of their Saviour. How in the world would they ever be able to do this? Their memories were broken so that they could not always remember what Jesus had told them. Their insight was limited so that they could not always understand the truth of the gospel. Their courage was sometimes waning so that they did not always dare to speak up when they had to speak up. “Well,” says Jesus, “do not worry about all of this and more. As I have counseled and helped you while I was with you during my ministry on earth, so I will continue to counsel you and help you when I continue my ministry from heaven. I will send you another Helper, another Counselor, the Holy Spirit himself. He will teach you all things and He will remind you of everything I have said to you.” What an encouragement this must have been for those disciples gathered together with Jesus! Living outside the Garden of Eden as they did! Living in a broken world! Not being those perfect people their first parents has once been! And yet, not having to worry! There was help! There was counsel! There was assistance!
Counsel for You and Me
A similar counsel is also there for you and me. For also you and I live in a broken world. Whether we like it or not, there is not one of us who escapes this brokenness of life. A visit to a hospital will remind you of this. A visit to a prison will do the same. So does our own daily experience. How are we going to deal with this brokenness? How are we going to deal with the strains and challenges in our homes and outside our homes? The answer to this question is really quite simple. The only way to deal with our strains and challenges, the only way to deal with our pains and aches, is to go to the Word of our heavenly Counselor. We must allow Him to do his tutoring work in our lives, reviewing with us what it is that our God wants us to do and giving us further insight into this will of our God.
Reading and Studying your Bible
In order for us to undergo the influence of this Counselor, we have to take time to read our Bibles. Furthermore, we have to study these Bibles and meditate on what we have read and studied. When we do this in faith, the Holy Spirit will truly counsel us with this Word. He will give us guidance and direction in the midst of our darkness and confusion. He will show us what is pleasing to God and what is not pleasing to Him. He will show us what will truly lead to peace and contentment and what will not. Simply asserting yourself and standing up for your rights will, for instance, not do this. Denying yourself and looking out for the interests of others will. Simply focusing on your own dignity and value will also not give you this peace and contentment, at least, not in a lasting and enduring way. Focusing on the dignity and value you have because you have been created by God, will. Then you will learn to see your life in the light of God’s authority over you and you will learn to do things his way, and not your own. Doing things God’s way always leads to true peace and contentment.
Faithfully Attending church
Besides reading and studying your Bible on your own, you should also faithfully attend church. For it is here that you will also undergo the counseling ministry of the Holy Spirit as you place yourself under the faithful proclamation of the Word of God. At the same time, you will undergo the counseling ministry of the Holy Spirit as you fellowship with your fellow believers. Christians who are filled with the Spirit want to be a hand and a foot to each other, helping each other in any way they can.
If you are in need of counsel – and we are ALL in need of counsel – then I urge you to make it your custom to spend some time with your God as you daily read the Scriptures on your own and with your family. At the same time, I urge you to faithfully attend the worship services and listen to the proclamation of God’s Word with an open mind and a receptive heart. There may be a lot of brokenness in this life. There is no need to neglect and refuse the help and counsel that is offered.