If you’re going to build a house you talk to an architect. If you’re going to develop a savings plan for your retirement, you call a financial planner. If you plan to go to college, you consult a high school counselor.
Ours is the age of counselors. We’re just not up to the complexities of life entirely on our own.
Yet we Christians can easily be in danger of neglecting or ignoring the greatest counselor of all – the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said to his distraught followers, “And I will pray the Father and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever (Jn 14:16 RSV)
His word is Paraclete and he called the Holy Spirit a Paraclete at least four times (Jn 14, 26; 15:26; 16:7).
The King James Version translates the word, “Comforter.” But in present English that word has shifted from its earlier meaning of “Strengthener” to something more like “consoler.” Consoler is only one aspect of what the Holy Spirit does.
Other translations use terms like “helper” which is essentially correct but not specific enough. Taking in its root meaning a Paraclete is one who stands at our side cheering us on; or a specialist we may summon for aid.
Today we can think of a Paraclete as a track man’s coach in a hard race, or a client’s lawyer in a tough case. He is available, knows what’s needed, and thus gives direction and encouragement.
What did Jesus mean by referring to him as “another” counselor?
If a man suggests a plan for a vacation to his wife and she replies, “I have another idea” she means “different” or maybe “opposite.”
But if a man and his wife are driving toward a toll bridge and they are pooling their resources and he says, “I have a dollar bill” and she says, “I have another,” she means “the same” or “duplicate.” There are two words for these differences in the Greek but our English has only one.
Jesus had been a Paraclete or Counselor to his disciples. By his promise of “another” counselor he means that the Holy Spirit whom he was to send would provide not a different but a duplicate ministry to his in their lives.
For example, the Spirit would bring to remembrance all things that Jesus himself had said to them. Thus, when we Christians come alive to the Holy Scriptures so that we turn to them with heart and mind the Paraclete illuminates their meaning.
The Holy Spirit duplicates Jesus’ counseling ministry to his followers today. But what Jesus did locally the Holy Spirit does to Jesus’ followers universally – in the Philippines, Brazil, wherever there are disciples.
Is this merely a novel idea? According to James Denny, “The watchword of the men who penned the New Testament was not believe in the Holy Spirit but receive ye the Holy Spirit.”
God’s Holy Spirit is more than a doctrine to be understood. He is a person to be experienced. He is the Paraclete sent from the Father to be with us forever.
In the fury of our times, there’s a quiet revolution going on. The Holy Spirit leads, making Jesus and his teachings real to disciples new and old.
If you want to get in on this quiet movement, expose yourself daily for two weeks to Jesus’ words about the Paraclete. Open every recess of your life to him. Answer his call in depth to complete obedience and expect the Counselor to make his presence and leadership real and felt to him.