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John 14:15-24 Study Guide: Who is the Holy Spirit? Part 1 - The Presence of God in You

Community Group Study Guide — Who is the Holy Spirit? God’s Presence In You
John 14:15-24

Study Information:
What would the disciples of Jesus do without him? Jesus was about to be betrayed and arrested and would soon go to the cross. When he taught about those events the disciples were troubled and could not understand how or why he would leave them. The comfort Jesus offered his disciples was that they would not be left fatherless but that God would would come to them in the person of the Holy Spirit. It may sound shocking with how we normally think, but Jesus told his followers that they were better off with him going so that the Helper would come to them (John 16:7). You may not feel like it, but you are in a better position to grow in your love for God and obedience today than you would have been if you were walking around during the time of Jesus. The Spirit can be everywhere present and because God has given us his very presence in us through the Holy Spirit we can actually grow in love and holiness. Let’s explore. 

A Helper Like Jesus
John 14:15-18
Who is the Holy Spirit? He may be the most mysterious person of the Trinity for us to understand. We can grasp the image of God as Father and Jesus as the Son because we understand those relational images. Many naturally think of the Holy Spirit as a force or a power but that would be a misunderstanding of who he is; he is a person. Notice all the person language in this passage. The Holy Spirit is described as a helper, Jesus called the Holy Spirit “him” and promised that he would dwell in them. He is better than a force or a power, he is a person who enable relationship and connection with God to be possible. 

Jesus taught three specific things about the Spirit’s ministry to his followers in John 14:16.

First, he’d be “another” helper. This word “another” is the Greek word Allos meaning “another of the same kind.” There was another Greek word for “another”, Heteros, which was another of a different kind. Jesus told them that in his absence God would send them the Holy Spirit who would not be the exact same as Jesus but would be another of the same kind. This helps us see the divinity of the Holy Spirit; just as Jesus is God so too the Holy Spirit is similar to Jesus in also being God. 

Second, the Holy Spirit would be a “helper” to them. The word helper can also be translated as advocate, comforter or counselor. It is the Greek word “paraklete” which means “called alongside.” The idea of advocate has behind it the image of courtroom lawyer who makes a defense, a counselor points you forward and guides you, a helper offers comfort and encouragement. Jesus loved to use these terms that carried a variety of meaning. The main idea is that as Jesus was with them for three years, so too the Holy Spirit would be alongside them helping to guide and encourage them. 

Finally, the Holy Spirit would be with them forever. Jesus’ earthly ministry was limited in time but the ministry of the Holy Spirit would be forever. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit would clothe or empower people for a specific task, but for followers of Jesus he’d be a permanent resident who dwells with the people of God through faith, making them into a temple for God. The Holy Spirit would be familiar to them because as Jesus dwelt with them, so the Spirit would dwell in them. 

This means that if you’ve been given the Holy Spirit, you’ve been given a helper like Jesus forever.  The Holy Spirit does not give up on you when you need him because he is a counselor, advocate, comforter and helper given to you precisely because of your need to depend on God. We are also given the Holy Spirit as the personal presence of God so that we know we are loved and to grow in obedience. 

Growing in Love and Obedience
John 14:19-24
There is a connection between what we do and what we love. Jesus already told his disciples that if they loved him they’d demonstrate that by keeping his commandments and now he tells them that as we keep his word and love God then we will be loved by the Father (John 14:15, 21). How does one grow in love for God and in their ability to obey his commands? Jesus strongly implies that we are only able to do that by the presence of the Holy Spirit. When the Old Testament prophets talked about the promise of the New Covenant they always talked about it in the context of receiving a new heart and new spirit (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Ezekiel 36:27). We need new affections and to be made alive by God’s spirit in order to follow his commands and grow in holiness.

The Holy Spirit as God’s presence in us is the engine that makes this love and growth possible. Jesus used the language of God making a home in them through the Holy Spirit. This chapter of John began with Jesus having told his disciples that he was leaving them to go and prepare a place for them but here he tells them something surprising, that he’d send the Spirit to make them a home for God (John 14:2, 23). We see this in the connection of the word for “rooms” in verse 2 and the word for “home” in verse 23; they are the same word. Just as Jesus went to prepare a place for them he simultaneous left them to send the Spirit to make them a place for God. Jesus made some outstanding promise to them; just as he is in the father so we would be in him and he’d be in us (John 14:20). The Holy Spirit dwells in the people of God and therefore helps us grow in holiness as we follow Christ in faith. If it was just about your effort and your abilities you’d be unable to love and obey God, but God has graciously empowered us in this task with his own presence in the Spirit. 

What does all this mean?
The disciples fear was based on Jesus physically leaving them which is why Jesus assured them that he would come back to them but he also talked about coming back in a better way through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. His time would not be short, but would be forever and as they church grew so too the Spirit could be with every follower and not just a few at one time. This first means, we can be assured that in Christ, we are not on our own when it comes to remaining faithful. God has given us a church community as a family of faith and he has filled his people with his presence in the Spirit. Second, we should put forth godly effort to be holy, but also know that the Holy Spirit’s job is to lead us in truth and help us grow in obedience. This happens through conviction of sin, growing in love and exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Finally, God’s comfort and encouragement is real. One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to minister God’s comfort to us which is why the word “paraklete” is often translated as comforter. Suffering in this world is real and hardship comes to everyone, do not neglect the gift you’ve received in having access to God’s comfort in the Spirit. He does not dismiss the trouble we face, but offers comfort and consolation and will be with us through it. 

At your community group:

Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.

How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week? 

Discussion Questions:

Based on these verses, who is the Holy Spirit and what does he do in the life of a follower of Jesus?

What does it mean that the Holy Spirit is the “Spirit of Truth?” Has Jesus talked about truth earlier in the gospel of John and if so how does that help us interpret this title for the Holy Spirit?

How does one’s love for God and their ability to obey his commandments impact each other? 

What is the most encouraging truth about the Holy Spirit you learned in the sermon, study guide and scripture? How does that personally influence your faith right now?