Everyone likes to receive good gifts. Even though Jesus said, “it is more blessed to give than to receive,” there is something special about receiving a gift. (Acts 20:35) Consider something for a moment. Suppose you had many places to go, and you did not have any transportation or way to get around, except to walk. Now suppose that I give you a nice, new car so you can get around easier. I park the car in your front yard, and slide the keys under your door with a note explaining that this new car is a gift for you. If you ignored the note, did not realize the car was yours, and continued walking wherever you went, would you get any benefit out of the gift? Of course not! The only way a gift can be beneficial is if the gift is recognized, accepted, and put to use.
God delights in giving good gifts to His children. James wrote, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17) God has given us many good gifts but, sadly, they are not always recognized, accepted, or utilized.
The best gift that God ever gave is the gift of His only begotten Son, whom He gave to die for our sins, that we might live forever. (See John 3:16) Yet, that gift would be of little effect for us if He had not given us another gift.
In His final discourse to His disciples, the night before His death, Jesus told His disciples about another gift that would be given to help them after His departure.
Jesus 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 for ever;” (John 14:15, 16) The purpose of the gift of the Comforter is that He may abide with the disciples forever. This was excellent news to the disciples, for they were sad to hear of Christ’s soon departure. Jesus continued His discourse, stating that He would send “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.” (John 14:17)
Jesus said that the world could not receive the Spirit of truth, because it did not see him nor know him. Just like the gift of the new car that I mentioned earlier, the world cannot receive the good gift of the Comforter, because it does not recognize this gift. It does not see that this gift is available to them, nor does it know the Person who is the Comforter.
Immediately following this explanation Jesus said something startling. He told His disciples, “but ye know him.” How could the disciples know the promised “Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit,” (v. 26) [Every time in the Bible where you find the term, “Holy Ghost,” it should have been translated “Holy Spirit.” Sometimes the translators of the Bible chose to translate pneuma agion into “Holy Ghost,” and other times they translated the same phrase as “Holy Spirit.” Holy Spirit is the most accurate translation, and I will use it throughout this article.] if Jesus had not yet prayed for the gift, and it evidently had not yet been given? John stated, “the Holy Spirit was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” (John 7:39)
Jesus explained, “ye know him; [because] he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” (John 14:17) Who was dwelling with the disciples? Jesus Christ, of course! Jesus explained that soon this Person who was dwelling with them would be in them. It certainly would be better for the Comforter to dwell in the disciples rather than dwelling outside of them. That is exactly what Jesus said a short time later. In the same discourse, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth; It is expedient [profitable] 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 16:7)
Jesus said that His disciples would be better off if He left them, went to His Father, and sent the Comforter to dwell in them. He also pointed out that the coming of the Comforter depended upon His departure, and glorification. As long as Christ was living on the earth as a man, it was not possible for this promised Comforter to come to live in the disciples.
As we continue reading in John 14 we find that Jesus did not end His conversation in verse 17. In the next verse He said, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (John 14:18) This sheds a great deal of light on the subject. It explains why the Comforter could not come until after Christ went away and was glorified, for Christ said that He, Himself, would come back to His disciples to comfort them.
Let’s continue reading Christ’s discourse to see if He reinforced this point. He said, “Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” (John 14:19, 20) A few moments earlier Jesus had said to His disciples that the Comforter “shall be in you.” Now, Jesus says that when the Comforter comes, “Ye shall know that I am in you.” Jesus assured His disciples that He would not send someone else to comfort them, but that He would come Himself to be their Comforter. Isn’t that beautiful! The disciples had become close friends of Christ; so close that John felt comfortable leaning on His bosom. It was a comfort to them when Christ was near. Now Jesus tells them some wonderful news. He tells them that after He goes to His Father, He would come back to them as the Comforter, and they would know that it was He who was dwelling in them—they would recognize that the same Person who was dwelling with them was now in them, by His Spirit.
Next, Jesus said something that caused one of His disciples to inquire of Him how this could take place. Jesus said, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, 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 14:21-23)
To remove any possibility of being misunderstood, Jesus made it abundantly clear that after He left the world, He would come back to make His abode in the hearts of His disciples. Not only would He return, but His Father would come with Him, so that both of them would live in the hearts of His children, not physically, but by God’s Spirit. In this way, the disciples could have intimate communion and fellowship with both the Father and His Son. John emphasized this when he wrote, “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3)
John expressed this lovely truth of both God, the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, living in us in several other verses. He wrote, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” (2 John 1:9) In 1 John 2:22, 23 he wrote, “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.” It is truly a blessing to have personal fellowship with both the Father and His Son, and I am very thankful that God has made this available to us.
The Promised Comforter
As Jesus was about to ascend to heaven, He commanded His disciples “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 pointed His disciples forward to the day when the Holy Spirit would be poured out upon them with great power. He continued, “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
The disciples waited in the upper room at Jerusalem for the Spirit to be poured out, as promised. Then it came, and they preached the gospel of Jesus Christ with power to the many Jews who were assembled at Jerusalem. Concerning the outpouring of the Spirit, Peter said, “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 Spirit, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.” (Acts 2:32, 33)
The gift that was poured out at Pentecost is still available to us today, and we can have it if we recognize and accept it. Yet, the gift of the Holy Spirit was not always available in the same way. In fact, the Bible tells us that God has provided something better for us, than He did for all those who lived before Christ came to this earth. We read about this in Hebrews chapter 11. After giving an account of the mighty faith of the patriarchs and prophets, the chapter ends by saying, “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) That is wonderful! God has provided something better for us, than He provided for all those mighty men and women of faith in Hebrews. They all died without receiving the promise of the Comforter that Jesus spoke about in John 14 and in Acts 1.
Please do not get me wrong, the Holy Spirit was working upon the hearts of people long before the day of Pentecost, helping them to overcome sin. The Patriarch David wrote, “Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.” (Psalms 51:11) This shows that the Holy Spirit was at work before Christ came to earth. Not only that, but to be more specific, the Bible says that the Spirit of Christ worked in Old Testament times. Peter wrote about the prophets, “Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” (1 Peter 1:10, 11) The Spirit of Christ was living in the prophets, long before the day of Pentecost, but, according to Scripture, there was something special about the coming of the Comforter at Pentecost; something different and better than had ever been poured out before. Let us read about this better gift.
In Hebrews 2:18 we find the key that explains what was better about the Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It says: “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour [help] them that are tempted.” Here is the answer! This is something better that is available to us, today, that could not have been available to the prophets of old. Even though the Spirit of Christ lived in the prophets, Christ had not yet been tempted, and therefore He could not help them in the same way that He can help us now. The word “succour” in this verse was translated from the Greek word bohqew, which means, “to aid, to relieve, to help,” and, as Thayer’s Greek Lexicon puts it, it also means, “to run to the cry of those in danger.” I like that definition! The verse is telling us that because Christ has suffered being tempted, He is able to come to us swiftly to help us, when we cry unto Him for help with our temptations. The Bible says, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” (Psalms 50:15) When we are being tempted, we are in serious trouble, and if we call upon the Lord for help, He will come to our aid immediately, and give us the victory we so desperately need. Christ is able to do this for us in a way that He could not do it for the prophets of old, because today, He has already experienced what it is like to be tempted. This is why Jesus called the Comforter, “another Comforter.” The Greek word alloV, which was translated “another” in this verse was used in the Greek version of the Old Testament, in 1 Samuel 10:6. Here, it says of Saul, “And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.” (1 Samuel 10:6) Saul became another man, because of the experience he went through. Jesus became another Comforter because now He has experienced what it is like to be tempted.
Think about something for a minute. Suppose your teenage son died in a plane crash, and the next week, your spouse died in a car accident. Now suppose that I come up to you and say, “I know exactly what you are going through,” even though I had never been through that experience. Would I be able to comfort you with these words? Certainly not! If I have never been through what you are going through, it is very hard for me to understand what you are going through, or how to help you through it.
The Bible says that Jesus Christ, “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) Jesus Christ experienced what we are going through when we are tempted and, because of this, He is able to help us when we are tempted in a greater way than He could before He came to earth. Praise the Lord that our Comforter knows what we are going through in our struggles with temptation. We are given a precious promise in 1 Corinthians 10:13. It says, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” The way of escape that God has ordained for us is to call upon the Lord for help. Whenever we are tempted, if we call upon Him, He will help us. And God has promised that He has made this way of escape for every temptation. That old saying, “the Devil made me do it,” is absolutely false. The Devil cannot make you do anything. He can use strong enticements, but he can never force you to sin. There is always a way of escape, and our Comforter is eager to help us gain the victory.
Jesus said that when the Comforter is come, “he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” (John 16:8) This is exactly what the Bible says Jesus would do when He comes back to us as our Comforter. The Bible says, “Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:6) And in the book of Acts we read, “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) After God raised His Son from the dead, He sent His Spirit into our hearts, to bless us in turning us away from our sins. Jesus Christ is the best Person qualified to do this job, because He “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) Praise the Lord that we have a Comforter who knows what we are going through in our struggles with temptation, and can help us through it better than anyone else.
This is the gift that God is eager to give to all those who ask. (Luke 11:13) This is the gift that “the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him.” (John 14:17) The world does not recognize that this gift exists; they do not know who their Comforter is, and therefore, they cannot receive Him. Friends, God does not want you to be like the rest of the world, He wants you to know who your Comforter is, so you can receive the full benefits of this blessed gift. Jesus said, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (John 14:18) Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is our Comforter. In fact, John told us exactly that in 1 John 2:1. Notice what he wrote here: “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate [paraklhtoV: Comforter] with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” The other four times paraklhtoV was used in the Bible it was translated, Comforter.
What is a Spirit
We have learned that God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts to comfort us, but what is a spirit? Some people think that a spirit is a ghost, some bodyless phantom that floats around. Is this what God sends to the world to comfort us? Certainly not! According to The American Heritage Dictionary, ghost means: “The spirit of a dead person, especially one believed to appear in bodily likeness to living persons or to haunt former habitats.” The Holy Spirit is not a ghost as described above. Let us read the Bible and see what it has to say about a spirit.
In the book of Job it says, “There is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” (Job 32:8) Daniel explained, “I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body.” (Daniel 7:15) A spirit is the part of a person that can be grieved. In Mark’s gospel we read, “And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?” (Mark 2:8) A spirit is the part of a person that can perceive or understand things. The king of Babylon had a dream, and he told his wise men, “I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream.” (Daniel 2:3) A spirit is the part of a person that can be troubled. These few Bible texts confirm the definition of “spirit” found in The American Heritage Dictionary, which says, “The part of a human being associated with the mind, will, and feelings.”
Man has a spirit, but does God have a Spirit? Notice how Paul compared the spirit of man with the Spirit of God: “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:11) Here the spirit of man is likened to the Spirit of God. Just as man has a spirit, so God has a Spirit, and His Spirit, just as man’s spirit, is the part of Him “associated with the mind, will, and feelings.” The Holy Spirit is “the holy Spirit of God.” (Ephesians 4:30) Just as the spirit of man, God’s Spirit can be grieved or vexed. God’s Spirit belongs to God, just as my spirit belongs to me.
Suppose I told you, “I know that we have met before, but have you ever met my spirit? I would like to introduce you to my spirit, he is sitting over there on that chair.” What would you think? You would immediately recognize that I have a twisted concept of what my spirit is. It is not some other person, separate and distinct from me. My spirit is really me, it is who I am. If I say, “My mother is very pleasant to be around, she has an excellent spirit,” you would not suppose that I am talking about two persons. I would only be talking about one person, my mother, who has a pleasant personality and character.
I would like you to notice something about how the term “Holy Spirit” is used in the Bible. Luke records a conversation that Jesus had with His disciples. Jesus said, “When they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: For the Holy Spirit shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.” (Luke 12:11, 12) Matthew records this same conversation, but notice the different words he uses to describe the Holy Spirit: “When they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” (Matthew 10:19, 20)
Here we see that the Holy Spirit is called, “the Spirit of your Father.” This is very appropriate, because later Jesus said, “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) Here Jesus explained that “the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit” (John 14:26), proceeds from the Father. In other words, the Father is the source of the Holy Spirit, because it is His Spirit. Please do not get confused here. We saw earlier that Jesus Christ is our Comforter. Notice, in the verse we just read, Jesus said that He would send the Comforter, which comes from the Father. This is just what Peter said on the day of Pentecost, when he explained that Jesus, “being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.” (Acts 2:33) The Comforter comes from the Father, through the Son, to us. Paul explained it this way, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.” (Titus 3:5, 6)
So we see that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father, which He sends to us through Jesus Christ, and when we receive the Spirit, we are receiving both the Spirit of the Father, and the Spirit of His Son. Two Persons come to live in us, and we have fellowship with both the Father and His Son.
Two Divine Persons
Some people get confused regarding the Holy Spirit, as if it was a third individual, separate and distinct from God, the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ. I would like you to notice some facts from the Bible.
There are 27 books in the New Testament. Fifteen of them begin with a greeting similar to this: “Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:3) Out of all of these greetings, not one of them mentions the Holy Spirit as a separate individual. [Revelation 1:4 mentions “the seven Spirits which are before [the Father’s] throne,” but this does not refer to a separate individual called, “the Spirit.” If so it would refer to seven individuals. In Revelation 3:1 Jesus is said to have “the seven Spirit of God,” showing that the seven Spirits belong to God. Seven is a perfect number, indicating completeness. The seven Spirits of God represent the complete manifestation of God’s Spirit, rather than a separate individual from God, the Father.]
When Jesus’ authority and truthfulness were challenged by the Jews, Jesus mentioned two individuals that bear witness of Him: Himself, and His Father. He said, “If I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me. It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.” (John 8:16-18) If Jesus knew of a third divine being who could bear witness in His behalf, He would have mentioned him here, but He didn’t.
When Jesus spoke of the Jews who hated Him, He said, “He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.” (John 15:23, 24) Jesus spoke repeatedly about Him and His Father, with no mention of another individual.
When Paul charged Timothy to observe the things that he had been taught, he called heaven to witness this solemn charge. He wrote, “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.” (1 Timothy 5:21) If Paul knew of a third divine individual, he would have mentioned him here, but he did not. Instead, Paul would have injured this third person by not mentioning him, and to add insult to injury, he even mentioned the angels instead of him. Obviously Paul did not believe that a third divine person existed.
When John speaks of fellowship with divine persons, he only mentions two: “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3) John also wrote, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” (2 John 1:9)
Think about something for a moment. There are many places in the Bible where the Son speaks to the Father. There are also many places where the Father speaks to His Son. But, there is never any record that the Father spoke to a third person called, “the Holy Spirit.” Neither is there any record of the Son speaking to the Holy Spirit. Nor is there any record of the Holy Spirit speaking to either the Father or the Son.
Also, please consider something. We know that God loves us very much, because He sent His only begotten Son to die for our sins. We know that Jesus Christ loves us very much, because He came down to earth to die for us. But, if the Holy Spirit is a third individual, we have no way of knowing that he loves us, because he neither gave his son, nor gave himself. In fact, he gave nothing for us, so his love is unrecognizable. Nor is there any verses in the Bible that speak of the love that the Holy Spirit has for us. When Jesus spoke of God’s love, He always directed people to the love of the Father. Jesus told His disciples, “For the Father himself loveth you.” (John 16:27) Yet, Jesus never explained that the Holy Spirit loves us, as if the Holy Spirit was a third distinct individual from the Father and the Son.
The gift of God’s Spirit is one of the most precious gifts God has ever given to us. To receive the benefits of this gift as God intended, we must recognize it for what it is. The gift of God’s Spirit is the impartation of His life in us, the means by which He and His Son can personally live in our hearts. The great blessing of the Pentecost experience is the reception of God’s Spirit coming to us with the added benefit of the Spirit of God’s victorious Son coming into our hearts to help us in our struggle against sin and temptation. Satan would like you to think that Jesus Christ is not in us, but that He sent someone else to take His place. Friends, that is an invention of Satan, specifically designed to take away your hope of glory. Paul wrote, “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)
Don’t let anyone take away this hope, this precious gift of Christ in you. If a gift is not recognized, it will not be utilized. Take full advantage of the ministry of Christ in your behalf; let Him come into your heart, and do a work that only He can do. Ask Christ into your heart, and He will come in, and bring His Father with Him. Jesus says to you now, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20) Let Him come in, and you will be glad you did. I cannot tell you how happy I am that I asked Him into my heart. Even though I was a very wicked sinner, involved in many wicked things, when I opened the door of my heart to Him, He gladly came in.
Friends, no matter how wicked you may be, Jesus has promised that He will accept you if you come to Him. He said, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37) Come to Him now, accept Him as your Saviour, and accept the gift of His Spirit into your life to help you in your struggle with temptations. You will never, never be sorry you made this decision.