The Holy Spirit, Our Comforter
by Pastor Jack Hyles
(Chapter 17 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Meet The Holy Spirit)
John 16:7, 8, "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. And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment."
One of the works of the Holy Spirit is to comfort the believer. The word "comforter" means "one to run to our side and pick us up." This is what Jesus had done while He was on the earth. I John 2:1, "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." The word "advocate" is the same word as "comforter" in John 16:7, 8. Hence, Jesus is our advocate, or comforter, or the one who runs to our side to pick us up. Especially was this true during His earthly life, but when He went back to Heaven, He sent us ANOTHER comforter. John 14:16, 17 and 26, "And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. 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." In a sense, the Holy Spirit came to be the babysitter for the Christians. Jesus was the One Who ran to our side; now He goes back to Heaven. He sends the Holy Spirit to do to all of us what He did when He was here.
Yet, according to I John 2:1, in a sense, Jesus is still our comforter, so the Holy Spirit is not exactly a substitute but an additional one to run to our side.
It is interesting to note that the word "comforter" was also used for legal aid or the counsel for the defense; so the Holy Spirit is that. Jesus is our aid at the right hand of the Father; the Holy Spirit is our aid on earth. Jesus is a positions advocate in Heaven; the Holy Spirit is a conditional advocate on earth.
Someone has described it this way. God made a will. When Jesus died, it became valid to those who trust Him. He went to Heaven as our attorney at the right hand of the Father. The Holy Spirit distributes that will for Jesus on earth. There are two things in this will. First, Ephesians 1:7, "In Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." Notice the words, "The riches of His grace." This is salvation by grace through faith in the finished work of our Saviour on Calvary. Second, "the riches of His glory." Ephesians 3:16, "That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man." This will come at the rapture when we see Him as He is.
Perhaps the reason Jesus had to return to Heaven was twofold. First, He went to do His work. Hebrews 7:25, "Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them." Second, He went to give the Holy Spirit HIS work to do.
As the comforter, there is another thing the Holy Spirit does. He helps our comforters. John 14:18, "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." In other words, He uses human instruments to do His comforting. There are times when the Holy Spirit will comfort you himself without human aid.
There are other times when He will empower and strengthen OTHERS to say just the words you need and give you just the comfort you need. This does not mean the Holy Spirit is not doing the comforting. He is leading and strengthening someone and using him to comfort us and strengthen us in our time of need. At times He runs alongside to help and there is no human aid in sight. At other times, He leads someone to come to us to be our aid, our comforter, to pick us up. In either case, this is the work of the Spirit. He simply sometimes chooses not to use human help and other times He chooses to do so.
In my own life there have been many times the Holy Spirit alone has been my comforter. When I paused at the casket of my unsaved father I touched his face. It was cold and hard as a stone. Suddenly I felt a hand grip my arm. I turned to see who it was, and there was no one there. I could definitely feel fingers touching my arm. It was blessed Holy Spirit coming HIMSELF to give me comfort. Then this same Holy Spirit led the pastor to speak words of comfort to me; He led loving friends to encourage my heart. He was comforting and strengthening me both WITH and WITHOUT human instruments. The Christian should yield himself to the Holy Spirit in order that the Spirit may use him to comfort, strengthen and restore others. When the Christian writes a note of comfort, he should ask the Holy Spirit to deliver it for him and to use it as a strength and comfort. When a word of comfort or strength is spoken to a bereaved or weary friend, the power of the Holy Spirit should accompany that word. Hence, the Christian should speak to the Holy Spirit BEFORE he speaks the word of comfort, asking Him to speak words that he cannot speak and to leave impressions that he cannot leave in order that he may be used as a tool of the Holy Spirit to comfort and strengthen the discouraged, weak, lonely, bereaved or fallen brother. There is a wonderful truth in John 14:26, "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." Notice the words, "and bring all things to your remembrance." The Spirit-led and Spirit-filled Christian may so yield himself to the Holy Spirit that when he comforts , the Holy Spirit will bring to mind what he ought to say. The Christian will enter into the very work of the Spirit Himself as a tool to be a comforter.
Thank God for those times the Holy Spirit Himself has come to life me up and strengthen me and to comfort me. Thank the Lord for those times when He has touched a friend and spoken through him as a human instrument to comfort me and strengthen me and lift me up. And thank God for those times when He has used me as a tool to comfort others! Oh, Holy Spirit, use me again and again and again and again to strengthen the weak, lift up the fallen, encourage the discouraged, offer fellowship to the lonely, give a smile to the sad and comfort to the bereaved and weary.
It is interesting to note that in a sense Jesus had to leave in order for the Holy Spirit to come, that the Christian might be benefited to the fullest. For one thing, Jesus can serve us better in his glory and we can do greater works because the Holy Spirit came. John 14:12, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father." Jesus entered the very presence of the Father; at the Father's side He can help us and intercede for us. He knows our needs more. He felt them while He was here, so He can send the Holy Spirit to dispense the fulfillment of our needs. Hence, He helps the Father tot know our needs. Though He doesn't have to persuade the Father to help us, He does remind Him of what help we need.
When I was a young pastor, I did so many things I do not do now. I once filled the baptistery, prepared the communion cup, cooked the unleavened bread, cleaned the building, turned on the lights, built the fire, printed the church bulletin and even led the choir. However, with the passing of the years and the increasing of the church membership I have had to have others to do what I used to do. Though I miss the personal contact and many of the tasks, it is expedient for my people that I administrate so that greater works can be done than were once done when I did it all myself. I could say to my people, "It is expedient that I go to administrate, for I can send many others to do the work that did and get more done."
There is a sense also in which the Lord Jesus can teach us better from the right hand of the Father. When He was on earth, for example, He was in the flesh. Mark 13:32, "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in Heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." The word "neither" means "not yet". Jesus did not know the day nor hour of the Son of man's coming; at least, not yet, but in His resurrection body, seated at the right hand of the Father, He would know. Consequently, from that position, He can teach us better than through His earthly body here with us.
In summary, our Lord was our comforter while He was here. Though in a sense He continues to comfort from the right hand of the Father, He has sent us the Holy Spirit to comfort us and through that Holy Spirit greater works can be done than were done when our Lord was here.
I am dictating this chapter from the Lucerne Conference Grounds in Lucerne, California. I am in my room. It is 1:30 a.m. If Jesus were in Jerusalem tonight, I would catch the first plane tomorrow morning and I would fly to see Him, but I may not get to see Him or talk to Him, for millions of others would be seeking the same privilege as I. If He were here on earth, it just may be I would never get to touch His hand, see His face or talk to Him personally, but now that He is gone and has sent the Holy Spirit, He is in this room with me in the wee hours of the morning, and I feel His presence. I can talk with Him. In this sense, it was expedient for me that He go away, for through the Holy Spirit, I can be with Jesus anywhere I am, even in the wee hours of the morning in a quiet hotel room in the mountains of northern California.
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"I am an old-fashioned preacher of the old-time religion, that has warmed this cold world's heart for two thousand years." —Billy SUNDAY