And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
Their mutual and distinctive relation to the work of redemption, to the life of believers, and to the service of the Church.
I. WHAT DOES THE WORD "PARACLETE" MEAN? Nearly all the ancient interpreters render it comforter or consoler. This accords with one use of it and its related words in both the Old Testament and the New. It does not cover the whole ground, since the Holy Ghost not only comforts, but does a great deal more than that. In some cases the word is equivalent to master, teacher, interpreter. In other cases it means a pleader or advocate — one engaged to take up a cause and to carry it through. Hence the word comes to mean — one by whose grace and love the entire case and cause of men are undertaken: who will soothe, comfort, advocate, plead, teach, interpret — yea, who will stand by us and render any needed aid whatever! For this reason the word "advocate" is, like the word "comforter," too restricted. We want a word of wider significance than either. The word helper is the best that we can find.
1. A helper — a large and beautiful word, which, in the fulness of its meaning as here used, nought but the experience of God's love can unfold to us.
2. A Divine Helper. And we have two Divine Helpers, both working together to make the help complete. But who are they who have causes in hand that need such help? Manifold and complex is our need. We want help in every form. As sinners, we want such help as One can give who has a right to say, "Thy sins are forgiven thee." As penitents, we want One who can grant us access to the Father. As learners, we want One who can take of the things of God and show them to us. As suppliants, we want One who can receive and answer our requests. As believers, we want One who can lead, sustain, and inspire. As confessors of Christ and ambassadors for Him, we need One who can convict men of sin, and who can speed our words directly to their hearts. Strong, constant, varied help do we want.
II. Then let us look at our TWO HELPERS AND SEE HOW THEY COMPLETE EACH OTHER'S WORK.
1. One Helper is in heaven, is a link joining on heaven to earth; the other Helper is on earth, as a link uniting earth to heaven. Hence one Helper remains for us above; the other remains in us below.
2. The help of the Son is by the appointment of the Father; the help of the Spirit is through the ministration of the Son.
3. By the help of the one Helper we have a great sacrifice for sin; by the work of the other Helper men are convicted of sin.
4. Hence another and not less striking correspondence appears. The Lord Jesus Christ presents Himself to us as the object of faith; the Holy Ghost, working within us, enters into the region of an inward experience, and enables us by the power of a spiritual intuition to verify what we believe.
5. Further: In every detail of Christian truth and life these two Divine Helpers supplement and complete each other's work. Christ reveals the Father to us; the Holy Ghost creates the spirit of adoption in us, so that we cry, Abba, Father. Christ gives us, when we believe, the right of being sons of God; the Spirit bears witness with our spirit that such we are. Christ is in Himself the truth; the Holy Ghost gives us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. Christ is the object in whom we rejoice, but the joy itself is imparted by the Holy Ghost.
6. One Helper intercedes with the Father; the other Helper intercedes in the children. In one case the scriptural expressions are, "We have an Advocate with the Father"; "He ever liveth to make intercession for us." In the other case, "The Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."
7. But we must not omit to give distinctness to the thought of the advocacy of our two Helpers. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Advocate, Pleader, and Defender of our cause above; the Holy Ghost is the Advocate, Pleader, and Defender of our cause below. Christ above, that sin may not bar us from the throne; the Spirit below, that the world may not put us to shame.
8. One Helper is graciously preparing a place for us; the other Helper is engaged in preparing us for the place.
III. In view of the combined work of these two Divine Helpers, we can see THE COMPLETENESS OF REDEMPTION'S PLAN. Had our Redeemer wrought alone, His work had been unappreciated by man; but let another Helper come, creating men anew, convicting, regenerating, enlightening, educating, and training, then we see the Divine completeness of the Redeemer's mighty work, and learn how surely the Redeemer will see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied. On recognizing and laying hold of both these Helpers will depend our completeness as Christians. Our own piety and power in Christ are a prime condition of power for Christ. The degree to which the Spirit of God works by us surely depends on the measure in which He works in us. So also the efficiency of Church life depends on realizing and utilizing this double help. Not merely has soundness in faith to be guarded, but vigour of life has to be carefully watched. On this double help depends the efficiency of private members. It is also, and only, in the full use of this double help that the Christian ambassador is completely equipped. While we hold up Christ as the Light of the world, let us also equally extol the Holy Ghost as the Power of the Church.
(C. Clemance, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;