What is the Holy Spirit?
I am not going to try to answer that question because I do not want to try to confine the Holy Spirit in a definition or limit the Holy Spirit to a concept.
For thousand of years, people of faith have discussed and debated the nature and role of the Holy Spirit. According to a search for “Holy Spirit” in blueletterbible.org, “‘Holy and Spirit’ occurs 216 times in 103 verses in the RSV (Revised Standard Version), including 93 exact phrases…” This includes references to verses in both the Old and New Testaments.
In general, throughout the Bible, there is testimony from many books that the Holy Spirit is real and that God works through and reveals truth through the power of the Holy Spirit. Many Jewish, Christian and Islamic scholars have discussed and debated the nature. identity, and even gender of the Holy Spirit down through the centuries.
In the New Testament, all four gospels, the book of Acts, and numerous epistles mention the Holy Spirit. Every one of these references and testimonies to the Holy Spirit will provide valuable insight enriching the life of faith of those who read them and pray or meditate about them.
In combination, Matthew, Mark, Luke (in his gospel and Acts), Paul, Peter, and Jude provide access to an inexhaustible spiritual treasure house of wisdom and experience regarding the understanding and experience of the Holy Spirit.
Obviously, what is of utmost importance for a person is to experience the Holy Spirit in one’s own life. Jesus promised that those who love God and keep his commandments will indeed experience the Holy Spirit for themselves.
Rather than trying to explore the whole treasure house, I want to look only at one small teaching in John 14 where the Holy Spirit is presented as the παράκλητος (paraklētos). The word means “helper” and is translated in the RSV as “counselor.”
John 14: 16 “And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.”
John 14:26 “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
These are indeed powerful verses of practical import in our lives of faith.
Jesus here describes the Holy Spirit as the Counselor, the Spirit of Truth, who
- dwells with us,
- will be in us,
- will teach us all things and
- will bring to our remembrance all that He has taught.
Once, during a period of time when I had not been reading the Bible much, I was sitting at a picnic table drinking a latte. It was a period of time when I was worried about the future and worried about money.
Suddenly a still small voice said, “Do not be anxious about the morrow for the morrow will take care of itself. Sufficient unto the day are the troubles thereof.”
I recognized this as teachings of Jesus I had read before. I was astounded at how revolutionary the words were. I accepted them in prayer and thanksgiving and I felt reassurance and peace.
Very simple, the Holy Spirit counseled me by bringing to remembrance what Jesus had taught.
A guide or a counselor does not usually teach us everything all at once. He teaches us what we need to know according to where we are on the path.
It is wise to ask a teacher to teach us what we need to know at any given instance in time. It is wise for a seeker of Truth to ask the Spirit of Truth to teach us as much as we are capable of understanding. It is wise to ask a Counselor what He thinks we should do each day. Then it is wise to do it.
Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God.