Throughout the writings of John, he, under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, uses a particular word five different times; this word can be transliterated as ‘Paraclete.’  There exists no single translation for this word, for no English word can capture all the nuances of the word.  In each of these passages, John uses the word to communicate a different truth about the office and nature of the Godhead. The first of the five usages of ‘paraclete’ occurs in John 14:16, when Jesus tells the disciples in the upper room, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever.” (ESV) This passage, speaking to the continuing presence of the Godhead among His people, reveals the work of the Spirit, comforting and empowering those He has indwelt.

The declaration of John 14:16 follows the portion of his farewell discourse when Jesus talks about His coming death and ascension, when the disciples (and the church after them) will parted from Jesus, the author and perfecter of their faith. In Christ, they had experienced a closeness with their Creator which had been promised since by the Law and the Prophets. In His words to the disciples, Jesus has revealed that, in His absence, He is going to prepare for His people a place, that they might live in perfect unity with the Godhead.

When the appointed time comes, Christ’s church will be given the object of their desires, as they will see God in His glory.

Until then, they are (in “keeping [his] commandments” {v. 15}) to accomplish greater deeds than He has accomplish in his time on the earth; as we know now, to spread His gospel to the ends of the earth, that the Spirit might work in the souls of men and women, calling them to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faced with this absence and further daunting task, the disciples are very rightfully dismayed. To be faced with a world that hates them, and have the presence of the holy Lord torn from them would have been a crushing blow. However, as Christ reveals in this passage, this will not be the case for the disciples. They are not to have the presence of God removed from them – in contrast, they can look forward to an even more intimate relationship with God in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which will come when the Christ is glorified by His death on the cross. This indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit within them is a sign of their place within the church, for the world cannot receive Him (v. 17). The elect are afforded a foretaste of the intimate presence of God that they will experience in the age to come, and those outside of the church are given a preview of their future eternity stripped from the mercies of God and condemned to punishment.

This promise extends to the church today – it did not cease to exist when the apostles died.  The mission of the church remains the same.

Each Christian is to work to fulfill that mission, to go into all the earth and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Triune God, and training them in all the ways of the Lord.  In this, we have a great comforter – the Spirit of God, the third Person of the Godhead.  This Spirit indwells us, a blessing only given to the church.  Believers should be driven to thankfulness, seeing this; prior to Christ’s death and resurrection, not even Israel, the chosen people of God, had this gift.  It is in the power of the Spirit that the church goes out into the nations, not in human power.  What a comfort, knowing that the salvation of the souls of the world does not depend on any of the missionary’s ability!  In addition, the Spirit acts as a reassurance to people of God.  They may know that they are in Christ if they bear His sign, the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God.  If, driven to despair, they may see upon themselves this sign of their salvation and be comforted.  In this comfort and power, the people of God may seek to accomplish Christ’s commission while awaiting His glorious return.

In all things, to God be the glory, amen.

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