Our Other Advocate
Last week we introduced that the Apostle John tells us much more in John, chapters 13-17, about the last night Jesus had with His disciples prior to His arrest than the other Gospel accounts tell us. With that we also looked at what John also told us in his first epistle and chapter 2, verses 1-2. We highlighted that John referred to Jesus as our Advocate in His epistle and that Jesus tells us that He was sending “another Advocate” in John 14:16. John is the only one of the NT writers that uses this term to describe Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
In the discussion last week, we highlighted a definition that Tim Keller gives in his short book or study guide, “The Two Advocates”. There Tim tells us that Jesus’ role as our Advocate or Counselor or Intercessor is to say before the Father, “Look at what I have done and now, accept them in Me”. We looked in detail at how Jesus Christ, The Righteous One, makes us righteous because we are “in Him”.
Today we want to look at this “other Advocate” that Jesus told His disciples was going to come after He ascended back to the Father. This “other Advocate”, is the Holy Spirit.
I recognize the topic of the Holy Spirit has been and continues to be a very broad topic in the church. Many books have been written about Him and His function in the church and the world. What you believe about the Holy Spirit and which verses in the Bible you focus on most, may actually and sadly for the church overall, determine what denomination or type church you belong to. Satan loves to divide us while the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit work in unison to try and unite us. Many focus on what John tells us in his Gospel while others focus on what Luke tells us in Acts or what Paul tells us in his many Epistles but most especially 1 Corinthians. In truth, we should focus on it all including the Old Testament revelations of Him as well. Today I want us to continue in the vein of what we looked at last week focusing on a portion of what Jesus reveals about the Holy Spirit as our Advocate this last night with the disciples prior to His arrest and crucifixion. We will look at more about the Holy Spirit through other passages over the coming weeks and finally conclude in five weeks, back in John looking at this last night one more time.
Here, this last night with His disciples, Jesus knew what they were going to go through the next three days. He felt He had to give them something to hang on to during those most trying hours of their lives up to that point. I would encourage you to read these chapters (13-17), in totality in John’s Gospel and see the strong focus that Jesus puts on the Holy Spirit and the role He would play in the lives of the disciples and hence us, after Jesus ascends back to the Father. Everything in these chapters occurs this last night of the Passover Meal as recorded by the eyewitness, John.
Here are a few of our reference passages for today, all taken from the NIV:
John 14:16 – And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to help you, and be with you forever.
John 14:26 – But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
John 15:26 – When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father – the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father – He will testify about me.
John 16:7 – But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocatewill not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.
By calling Him the other Advocate, Jesus has given us a great clue to understanding how the empowering of the Holy Spirit works. The first Advocate is speaking to God for you as we outlined last week. A key role of this second advocate is speaking to you for you. I hope you can see why this short description is true after you have finished this note as well as over the next five weeks.
Throughout the Farewell Discourse, as some call it, from Jesus in John chapters 13 - 17, Jesus keeps saying that the job of the Spirit is to take all the things Jesus has done on our behalf—all the things that the disciples had still not yet grasped—and to “teach” and “remind” and “enable” the disciples to finally understand all that Jesus had taught them about His saving work (John 14:26). One theologian taught that “the Holy Spirit’s ministry is much like that of a floodlight. If you walk by a building at night and it’s floodlit, you say, “Look at that beautiful building. You may not even see where the light is coming from. The floodlight’s job is not to show you itself but to show you the beauty of the building, to throw all of its features into relief.” As John 16:14 says “He (the Holy Spirit) will glorify Me (Jesus) because it is from Me that He will receive what He will make known to you”. The Holy Spirit speaks to us about Jesus and the Father just as the unnamed servant for Abraham did in Genesis 24. There the servant only spoke about his two masters, Abraham and Isaac, as he was searching for a bride for Isaac. (See lesson we covered on February 12th of this year). Similarly, the Holy Spirit does not draw attention to Himself today. He manifests Himself for the common good of all believers, the church. We will go over this passage from John 16:14 more in our last lesson on the Holy Spirit planned for September 17th. In that note we will look at yet another description of the Holy Spirit that the old preachers used for centuries, describing Him like a conduit or water pipe that is connected to, and flows between, us and the throne of God.
In the upper room the night before the cross, the apostles still don’t have the slightest idea of how much He loves them, what it will cost Him to love them, or what His love will accomplish for them. All of that still escapes their comprehension. Although they have actually lived with Jesus for three years, they haven’t encountered the real Jesus. They still don’t know Him as they are going to know Him. But the Holy Spirit will come. He will not merely hold their hand or give them power — He will teach them deep, life-changing things of Christ and of the Father and of the Word. He will finally help them see the depth of their sin (John 16:9). And He will finally show them what Jesus truly did for them. He does the same for us today.
Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit is not merely an instructor, but an Advocate. Though the Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of truth” as stated three times by Christ this last night, He does not merely teach and inform us; He calls us to live according to what He is telling us, exemplifying that by obeying His teaching as was foretold in Jeremiah 32 and Ezekiel 36 where the prophets told us about the coming New Covenant. He convicts us and challenges us (John 16:8–11). He says in effect, “You are a sinner, yet you are also righteous in Christ—adopted and welcomed into the family”. Are you living with the boldness and freedom and confidence exemplified by that fact? Are you as free from the need for worldly power and approval and comfort as you should be?” He argues with us, He exhorts, pleads, and entreats us (all good translations of the Greek word parakletos that John used as we covered last week). He does this so that we can live lives in accordance with the accomplishments and realities of Christ’s sacrifice. And this is why Jesus says that through the Holy Spirit he will finally “show” himself to His friends (John 14:21). They will finally see Him and know His loving presence even more than they do now looking at Him face-to-face.
Do you see the implication? The apostles did not—could not—truly know Jesus until He went away bodily and sent the Holy Spirit to them. In other words, right here and now, through the Holy Spirit and through the Holy Spirit only, you can see Christ and know his presence and his love better than the original disciples could in that moment in the upper room.
If you’re a Christian, it’s likely that you’re not living as if this is true. Sadly, most don’t. You probably don’t see the magnitude of what is being offered to you in the Holy Spirit. You are not listening to the second Advocate about your first Advocate. He is speaking to you for you and you don’t hear it. You are not living in joy. You are forgetting that the only eyes in the universe that matter see you not as the “phony little fake” you have sometimes been, but as a person of captivating beauty, someone the Father purchased with the blood of His only Son. You are precious in His sight. These are just a few of the points the Holy Spirit, as the other Advocate, wants to help you see and experience every minute of the day.
Without the Holy Spirit’s help, you have totally lost touch with your identity. As a Christian, you’re a spiritual billionaire but you are wasting your life wringing your hands over ten dollars you misplaced. It’s the job of this other Advocate to argue with you in the court of your heart, to make the case about who you are in Christ, to show you that you’re rich. And it’s your job to listen. Oh, that we would all simply do as a former pastor of mine by the name of Joseph Dearinger would testify. He finally saw this one day and described seeing a treasure chest over his head being opened up and the blessings of God pouring out upon Him. He was never the same afterwards. He saw the Holy Spirit as a gift, just as he would also testify that salvific faith to believe in the first place is a gift. God was not holding the Spirit back. We hold Him back and are reluctant to receive Him fully.
If you don’t experience the work of the second Advocate, your loss is tremendous and literally cannot be measured. Jesus tells them this last night (John 14:27), “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.” This was the primary point Cory was trying to drive home to us in his sermon series “Shalom”. Without the work of the Spirit, you cannot know Jesus or know His peace. How is the world’s peace different than Jesus’ peace? Many in the world will tell you just to not think about the many bad things in this world and you can be at peace. After a year of Covid and repeated news on TV or in the papers or on Facebook that literally was intended to instill fear in you and keep you out of church, out of the Word, and glued to the repeated news cycles filled with fear, it would be expected that people struggle with the term “peace”. The peace Cory was talking about and the peace Jesus is talking about and giving us is an ongoing supernatural act. It is nothing that you will hear on the news on TV or in the newspaper or on Facebook. True peace comes from the Holy Spirit telling those of us that are children of God, who we actually are and what we have in Christ. Peace comes from the Holy Spirit reminding us of all of the things that Christ tells us about ourselves “in Him”. He speaks to us for us. Ron Corzine echoes this message by repeatedly telling us we must be mindful of what God’s Word tells us about who we are. It is the role of the Holy Spirit to continually do this, if you let Him speak or flow to you through that conduit of Himself leading directly to the throne of the Father and the Son.
Why this talk of “peace”? Well, Jesus later that night beginning in John 15:18, tells them that they will suffer persecution just as He suffered persecution. Why the persecution? Because we are going to testify about Christ, verse 15:27, through what the Holy Spirit tells us to testify. The world has hated Him and thus, the world will hate us. He goes on in chapter 16 to tell them more about this persecution. He tells them that He had not told them about this before because He was there to take care of them. Now, He is leaving and will physically not be with them any longer. The other Advocate though is coming and He will be with them in an even better way than Jesus could. The Holy Spirit can be all places at the same time. Jesus in bodily form could not. He will be with all of us, God’s children, wherever we are in this world.
The Holy Spirit tells you the Father loves you; your eternal bliss is guaranteed. In other words, Christ gives us true things to think about that overcome the darkness of this life, while the world can only say, “just hum loudly and look away.” The Spirit leads us out of darkness and into light. (Refer back to the weekly note from September 25, 2020 – Dark to Light.)
The world’s peace is an intermittent peace. The peace of Christ though, meant for all Christians, is constant. Christ’s peace is based on what He has already done, has already completed. The world’s peace is based on circumstances, things that are always changing. People like you, the money is coming in, your job is fine, you’ve just made a deal, you’re in a beautiful setting, the kids are not in any trouble, your health is good, helping you feel peaceful. But when the stock market’s down and you’ve had a failure, or your health is not great, you’re down. You’re agitated. Why? Because your own personal peace depends on your circumstances. We must instead rely upon the peace of Christ. That is why He promised to give us His peace.
Tim Keller in his book, The Two Advocates, tells the story of an eighteenth-century Welsh preacher who, when he was just a teenager, was standing with his family around the deathbed of one of his aunts. His aunt had been a strong Christian, but now she was slipping away. Everyone thought she was unconscious and someone said out loud, “It’s a shame; she’s had such a hard life. She’s seen two husbands die, and she’s often been sick, and on top of it all she has died poor.” Suddenly the dying aunt opened her eyes, sat up, looked around, and said, “Who calls me poor? I am rich, rich! And I will soon stand before Christ bold as a lion.” And then she laid back down and died.
Understandably that experience had quite an effect on the young man that later became a minister. This woman had the peace that Jesus spoke of because she had listened to the second Advocate. She was saying, “I’ve got the only husband who can’t die. I’ve got the only wealth that can never go away. And my Savior dealt long ago with sin—the only disease that can really and truly kill me. How can you call me poor?” The second Advocate had told her about the first Advocate, so she could say in the face of great loss, as the hymn writer did, “It is well, it is well with my soul.”
And so, it can be with you. The Spirit, the second Advocate, may even be speaking to you right now. Let him tell you how Jesus is your Advocate. Let Him tell you how beautiful Jesus is and that you are “in Him”, if you have indeed put your faith in what He has done and not what you have done. If you have received Jesus, if you have embraced Him and stand on the work that He has performed and not on your own goodness, you too can stand bold as a lion. God sees you spotless and without blemish because you are “in Christ”.
That is what Jesus was telling his disciples in the upper room. This was his lifeline to those who had failed Him in life and hid (all except John) while Christ was on the cross. This lifeline, this other Advocate would come upon them and would change the world through them after Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension. Listen to the Spirit telling you about Christ and His infallible case and He will give you an infallible peace.
We will continue a review of the One whom is the third part of the Trinity the next five weeks.