The Promised Comforter

the comforterThe greatest joy in the Word of God is experiencing the victorious “Christ in you the hope of glory.” Why? The answer is simple and for each Christian it is their confidence. “Being confident of this very thing that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6) The experience of having the man, Christ Jesus, in you in the fullest sense has not always been possible on this earth. There were 4,000 years when men and women labored for the cause of the man Christ Jesus but never were able to enjoy the promise.

From Adam and Eve to Malachi God’s people looked for the promise. “Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” (Hebrews 11:35-38)

They knew that God the Father had prepared that promise for the future but always had hope that the Christ would come in their time. The Lord declared unto Israel, “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” (Psalm 40:6-8) These men and women could understand the deeper significance of the words of the Psalmist. This offering had been prepared in the eternal purposes to do the very work which God would do for fallen man. Yet they themselves did not receive the promise during their lifetimes.

“And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise, God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11:39, 40) What was it that the disciples received that was better than what the prophets received? It was the Spirit of the victorious man, Christ Jesus, living in them.

We May Receive the Promise

“And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore [or, this is how] thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” (Galatians 4:6-7) By receiving the life-giving current of the man, Christ Jesus, we can experience what it means to be sons and daughters of God.

“And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.” (Acts 13:32, 33) After raising Jesus from the dead the long-awaited promise would be fulfilled. Now the One who overcame sin in our fallen human nature would live in us. “Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.” (Acts 3:26) Inspiration declares that it is Jesus who is turning you away from your iniquities! That’s what a comforter does.

Our human nature craves, even requires, a person who has experienced the same hardships to help us with our problems. It might be sickness, discouragement, or the loss of a loved one but whatever the problem is, the greatest comfort is found in someone who has experienced the same trials we are going through.

“This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.” (Acts 2:32, 33) Often I have wondered why the holy Spirit has more emphasis in the New Testament than in the Old? The answer is found in the Word of God.

John 7:37-39 says: “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)”

The holy Spirit that now comes from God the Father is the promised Comforter. The greater emphasis of the holy Spirit in the New Testament comes through the victorious man, Christ Jesus! He would now be able to shed the Father’s Spirit in yet a more precious way than ever before: “God having provided some better thing for us.”

“Another Comforter”

Jesus “being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.” (Acts 1:4) Jesus had told them earlier of the promised Comforter and exactly who it would be. He said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever. 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. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (John 14:15-18)

The word “another” should be considered here but not as another individual other than Jesus Christ. Micah 5:2 teaches us that Christ was born twice, but in two separate forms. The first was the form of God; the second form was as a man. “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting [the days of eternity].” (Micah 5:2 margin)

We can see clearly that Christ did not come in the form He had in heaven. He came in another form, the form of a man, yet He was still the same person.

The Father had sent Michael to His people as their mediator to comfort them for four thousand years. The comforting promise of placing enmity between mankind and Satan would only be fulfilled through His death and resurrection. Christ was a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. He stood with Joshua and Daniel and with the Psalmist as he wrote, “thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)

Now the Father was preparing to give us another Comforter. The Comforter He would send was one with another experience—the same person, but after experiencing humanity He would be able to further enter into our experiences and help humanity in a manner not before available. “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour[help] them that are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18)

The Comforter whom we have is Jesus, who will “abide with you for ever.” Jesus is the Spirit of truth, for it is He who is “the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) The world will not receive Him because it cannot see Him nor does it know Him. Now here is the promise spoken in no uncertain terms to His disciples: “…but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (John 14:17, 18)

Jesus makes it abundantly clear to the believer that he or she may rest in the fact that our Comforter is one who has experienced humanity and was victorious in the fallen nature. In John 14:20 He says it will be He and His Father in us. In verse 21, He says that He will manifest Himself to us.

When one of His disciples questioned how this could be, Jesus patiently answered, “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” (John 14:23) This was being fulfilled when the Father gave of His Spirit through His Son at Pentecost.

The Bible proves over and over again that Christ is our Comforter, the one Who could be tempted in all points such as we are. We are also reminded that Christ is “that Spirit” that brings unity to the Church. Paul states, “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)

A Teacher of Righteousness

The Old Testament prophet Joel spoke of the future outpouring of the holy Spirit: “Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain [a teacher of righteousness] moderately, [according to righteousness] and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.” (Joel 2:23 margin)

At the time of the former and the latter rain the Father will send “a teacher of righteous according to righteousness.”

Christ has been sent to us as our teacher, “But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master [Greek: kathegetes—teacher], even Christ; and all ye are brethren.… Neither be ye called masters [kathegetes]: for one is your Master [kathegetes], even Christ. (Matthew 23:8-10) Jesus tells us that He is our one teacher.

When we know Christ is our teacher John 14:26 becomes easy to understand: “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.” (John 14:26)

There are many in the religious world who have a teacher other than Jesus as their Comforter. They have a concept of a teacher that has not come in the name of Jesus. This teacher was not born of a woman therefore he does not know, nor could he know, of the saving grace of Jesus. Our Saviour said, “…I go away and come again to you.”

Beloved, there is only One who has died the death and has been raised from that death to turn us away from our iniquities. His name is Jesus.

“But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.” (John 15:26) Compare this verse to Acts 2:33. “Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.” In this verse Christ rightly takes the credit for shedding or sending the holy Spirit which originally proceeds from God the Father.

It was no coincidence that before the Comforter could return to the earth, Jesus had to return to the Father. “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.” (John 16:17) “Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28) John wrote of Christ stating, “(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)” (John 7:39)

Jesus spoke of the holy Spirit in this way: “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” (John 16:10-12) The question would be, when will He reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, of judgment, and say the things that the disciples could not bear at that time?

After His death Jesus said, “All power [Greek: exousia - authority] is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” (Matthew 28:18) Who reproves the sinner? It is Jesus: “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin.” (John 15:22) “Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.” (Acts 3:26) Also read John 3:18-21.

“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16:13)

Much talk has been given to the idea that the holy Spirit is a third being of a Trinity and that He is so humble He wouldn’t even speak of himself.

Our Savior said that He didn’t speak of Himself and yet He said, “I am the bread,” “I am the light,” etc. He could say things concerning Who He was because the Father told Him what to speak: “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.” (John 12:49, 50)

The Spirit of truth has the identical character of the Son of God for it is the inner man of Jesus. When He comes as the Comforter He will not speak of Himself.

The Parakletos

One important and insightful point that should be mentioned is that the Greek word for “Comforter” in John chapters 14-16 is parakletos. This word is used five times in the Bible. The first four times it was translated “Comforter.” (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7)

In 1 John 2:1, parakletos was translated into the English word “advocate.” “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate [parakletos - comforter] with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1) The writer of the Gospel of John was the same writer of the epistle of 1 John. He uses the same word to express two similar thoughts. The concept of “advocate” as given in 1 John and the concept of the “Comforter” as recorded in John are therefore synonymous. The Bible teaches plainly that the Son of God is our parakletos, or Comforter.

First Corinthians 1:30 says, “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” It was Christ who discussed the creation of man together with the Father. It was Christ who formed us with His hands. It was Christ who placed enmity between the church and the spirit of Satan. He spoke with Abraham, Noah, and Moses; led the Children of Israel through the Red Sea, the Jordan, and the captivity of Babylon. It was Jesus who was born of a woman, grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. Christ led the disciples for three and a half years. Then He told His disciples that though He lived with them He would go away so He could live inthem.

In closing, the Bible teaches us that there is a fallen angel who wants to hide our Comforter, Jesus Christ, from our view. He wants to receive the worship due to God and His Son. Isaiah describes the desires of Satan: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” (Isaiah 14:12-14)

Satan desires that the whole world should worship him instead of Christ. Beloved, false concepts of God such as the doctrine of the Trinity will prevent you from understanding the beautiful truth that the Son of the living God is your Comforter. In fact, these false views pave the way for the acceptance of the spirit of Satan in place of the Spirit of the Lord. Beloved, I pray that the Lord Jesus will bless you and that you may receive Him as your Comforter.