Teaching series from John

The Help of the Holy Spirit

John 14:1-27

Teaching t22489


John was an eye-witness account. We have come to Jesus’ final conversation with His disciples before just before His arrest and crucifixion. In this conversation (Jn.14-16), He lays a bomb on them: “Beginning this evening, I am leaving you in a hostile environment and commissioning you to be My witness to all peoples.” No wonder their hearts are troubled (14:1), they are filled with sorrow (16:6,22)!

But amazingly, Jesus tells them that His departure is to their personal advantage (read 16:7a)! Amazingly, He says that His departure will enable them to accomplish more for God’s kingdom than even Jesus did in His public ministry (read 14:12)! Why? What could possibly be better than to have access to have Jesus’ physical presence and help? Jesus’ answer is: the Holy Spirit (read 16:7b; 14:16,17). He is the Helper (Advocate; Counselor; Encourager) just like Jesus (i.e., personal & divine) – only He will be with them forever (vs. only when Jesus is physically present) and actually in them (vs. only external assistance).

This promise of the Holy Spirit as Helper was not just for Jesus’ disciples; He is Jesus’ promise and gift to all Christians (Eph.1:13,14; Rom.8:9). The Christian life is not trying to remember our dead Founder and imitate Him by our own moral will-power. The Christian life is the Spirit-filled life—a dynamic life of daily receiving His supernatural help in order to live Jesus’ life of radical love that attracts others to Jesus. It is, in fact, Jesus living His life in us through the Spirit (Acts.1:1; Gal.2:20). One of the main reasons why Christians are spiritually impotent and unattractive is that they are ignorant of the Holy Spirit’s help and/or that they do not appropriate His help! Which description fits your Christianity? Could this be your problem? How much do you know about the Holy Spirit's help? How often do you ask for/depend on His help?

We’re going to spend the next three weeks addressing this super-important subject. The next two weeks, we will learn about four kinds of help that the Holy Spirit provides (passages in Jn.14-16). The third week, we will learn how to appropriate the Spirit’s help (Jn.15).

HELP #1: Personal assurance of God’s love

Jesus regularly spoke of God as His Father who loved Him (Jn.3:35; 5:20; 15:9,10; 17:26), and whose love was the security of His life (16:32). His disciples experienced God’s love when they were in Jesus’ physical presence (1:14,16), which changed their lives. This is the main reason why the prospect of losing Jesus filled them with grief.

But Jesus says 14:18-20 (read). He will not leave them as orphans—cut off from His love through His death. Jesus is not referring to the fact that they would see Him physically again after He rose from the dead. He is saying something better than this—that through the Holy Spirit, they will receive the same personal assurance of God’s love that Jesus has. The Spirit will somehow enable them to be included in the “inner circle” of love between Jesus and His Father.

The Holy Spirit’s personal assurance of God’s love is not just for Jesus’ disciples. Read 14:21,23 – note “whoever” and “anyone”). Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus and His Father will actually “move into” the heart of each of His followers and personally communicate their love to them. This assurance of God’s love is foundational to a healthy Christian life.

Young children need to know they are loved by their parents in order to be secure and flourish. Hundreds of studies confirm that a stable home of consistent parental investment and loving discipline is crucial for a child’s development, and that parental neglect (let alone abandonment) hinders or prevents it. Many of us know this first-hand because we are wrestling with the personal insecurities and relational self-protectiveness and even diminished functional capacity that comes from growing up without this assurance that we are loved.

But praise God, this is not the end of the story! The moment you receive Christ, you get a new Father who loves you deeply, and His love can overcome parental dysfunction to heal and mature you over time. This is why He not only tells us in His Word that He loves us (objective promise), but also gives us His Spirit to us so we can experience His love. Sometimes we experience His love in intense and dramatic ways, but even more healing is the undramatic but consistent assurance that grows in us as we relate to Him day by day. This is what Paul describes in Rom.8:15,16 (read).

“It is wonderful to revel in the love of God. Truly to experience that love, to live in the warmth of its glow, invests all of life with new meaning and purpose... Forgiving others becomes almost natural, because we ourselves, thanks to God’s immeasurably rich love, have been forgiven so much. Others may despise us, but that makes little difference if God loves us... Our speech, our thoughts, our actions, our reactions, our relationships, our goals, our values—all are transformed if only we live in the self-conscious enjoyment of God’s love.”

Don’t you want this assurance of God’s love? Don’t answer too quickly! Some of us want this from other people more than from God—but they can’t deliver this. Some of us want this from God, but as a reward for how great we are. But “to consent to be loved by God, while realizing all the more our unworthiness—that is the great secret.”

That’s why you have to be willing to ask Jesus to “move into” your heart even when it is a dirty mess (Rev.3:20 vs. cleaning it up first).

That’s why, once you’ve received Jesus, you need to ask Him regularly for the Spirit’s help to grow in your comprehension of His love (Eph.3:16-18 NIV).

That’s why you need to do this “together with the Lord’s people” (vs. living in isolation &/or withdrawing when you’re doing poorly).

This is the first great help that the Holy Spirit brings. Let’s look at another one...

HELP #2: Personal tutoring in God’s Word

Jesus is God’s Word made flesh (1:14). He revealed God’s Word to His disciples so that it became alive and relevant to them in a way they had never experienced before. Even with Jesus’ help, though, they still often forgot what he taught them (e.g., HUNGRY IN THE BOAT) or, worse yet, just plain didn’t get even His main points (e.g., THE NECESSITY OF THE CROSS; Jn.13:7). So the prospect of losing Jesus as their Tutor would be like being plunged back into blindness after receiving partial sight.

But just the opposite happened! Jesus left, but they became masters in their understanding of God’s Word. The books of Acts records their profound preaching, and their letters are a gold-mine of insight into Jesus and what he has given us through His death and resurrection. What happened? Did they get brain-transplants? Did they enroll in an online course on spiritual enlightenment? No, they received the Holy Spirit, who personally tutored them in God’s Word.

This what Jesus promises in 14:25,26 (read). The Holy Spirit would enable them to understand what was over their heads now, and He would remind them of what He taught them. This is why they could write the gospels which record Jesus’ teachings. This is why they could write letters which explain the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection and apply it to our lives

This is what Jesus promised in 16:12,13 (read). The Holy Spirit will guide them into “all the truth”—not all truth generally (e.g., ASTRO-PHYSICS), but all redemptive truth, all the truth about the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Holy Spirit will also “disclose what is to come”—not a horoscope for what will happen tomorrow, but revelation about direction of human history and especially about life in God’s eternal kingdom.

This promise applies first of all to Jesus’ disciples, as a promise of inspiration (DEFINE). But it also applies to all Christians as a promise of illumination—to help us understand both the meaning and personal significance/relevance of what Jesus has given us (read 1Cor.2:12). The Holy Spirit makes the Bible (and especially the gospel) “come alive” to us in a way that is profoundly encouraging (Rom.15:4) and attractive.

How do Christians replace anxiety with peace? Re-read 14:26; then read 14:27. What is the connection between 14:26 and 14:27? It is that Spirit-tutored instruction and reminders of Jesus’ teaching is how Jesus gives us His peace. The normal way to a heart that is not troubled or fearful is not will-power or mental distraction or chemical medication, but going to the Scriptures (especially its promises) and asking the Holy Spirit to give us a fresh illumination of these promises. As we do this, He crowds out our anxieties with the confidence that Jesus is with us.

How do Christians replace fear of the future with hope? Re-read 16:13. Not by hiding our heads in the sand, or by obsessing over how to prevent every potential problem, but by going to what the Scriptures say about “what is to come” when Jesus returns, and by asking the Holy Spirit to ignite these promises into hope in our hearts. This is how the Holy Spirit helped the early Christians (1Pet.1:3-8). This is how the Holy Spirit helped Paul (2Cor.4:16-18). And this is how the Holy Spirit will help you and me, if we ask Him as we go to the Scriptures (Ps.119:10)!


Summarize the first ways the Holy Spirit help us. NEXT WEEK we’ll look at two more ways He helps us. TWO WEEKS FROM TODAY we will look at how Jesus says about we can regularly appropriate His Spirit’s help.

But don’t get the cart before the horse! Before you can appropriate the Holy Spirit’s help, you first need to you receive Him! And the way to receive the Spirit is a simple but definite decision to believe in Jesus as your Savior (read Eph.1:13,14 NLT). Have you ever made this decision? If not, why not do it now? If you’re not sure, why not be sure by asking Him to forgive you and give you His Spirit?

We should be careful not to turn 14:21a,23a into a legalistic condition for receiving this assurance of God’s love. These phrases are synonyms for being a follower of Jesus. Jesus’ main emphasis here is what He will do for us (through His Spirit), not what we must do for Him.

D. A. Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation (Baker House, 1994), p.197.

Paraphrased from William R. Newell, Romans Verse By Verse, “A Few Words about Grace.”