Recent Posts
Lowell Brueckner

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Seeking the Spirit of the Kingdom, chapter six





Chapter 6 is taken from this book.
In John 14-16, Jesus mentions four times that the Holy Spirit is the helper or comforter, depending on the version you use. I think many versions are trustworthy and we can read them with confidence, knowing that what we read is legitimately the word of God. Comforter or helper is a good translation of the original Greek word parakletos. Nevertheless, it is also true that sometimes the translators have erred or, more commonly, have not given all the significance that comes from the Greek. The truth of the matter is that not always can they do so, because the English vocabulary does not provide a word that is equivalent to the original Greek.

The one who seriously studies the Bible, at times must be willing to dig a little on his own account into the classical Greek language. He does not have to learn it entirely, nor become a Greek expert, especially in these days, when we have been given much help. Anyone can get a Strong’s concordance, which includes a good Greek and Hebrew dictionary that will give you the literal meaning and, at times, the roots of the words. Also a Greek concordance of the New Testament is very useful and I like an interlineal Greek-English New Testament. Then, it is easy to find a study book about biblical words. Perhaps one of the best is the edition by W. E. Vine.

I mention all this, because we have before us an exemplary word, parakletos, that should encourage us to go deeper into a study of the word of God. This is not to say that Helper or Comforter is not a good translation, but the word means much more. The prefix para means alongside of, and kletos signifies called, so that literally the meaning of the word is one called alongside of. It is a legal term used for a defense attorney. A synonym is an intercessor. Since we are dealing with God and His love for us, the biblical teaching for Christians is that Christ prayed the Father that He would send the Holy Spirit to be at our side forever, defending us in love. Therefore, we have a true comforter, God, the Holy Spirit, called down from heaven to be with us. Here is the verse: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (parakletos), that He may be with you forever” (John 14:16). That is of immeasurable help and ought to give us a lot of comfort, especially if we are aware that there is someone else who accuses us before God day and night! (Rev. 12:10)

Now, knowing the meaning of parakletos, we can better understand Paul’s teaching in Romans 8:26: “The Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Someone, who finds himself involved in a legal matter and does not know how to defend himself, needs a lawyer to represent him. So we are defenseless and speechless before the Supreme Court of the universe, confronted with all kinds of guilt that the accuser, with supernatural eloquence, heaps upon us. His accusations are too strong and concrete, based on evidence that we cannot deny. The power of his arguments takes us aback.

Nevertheless, at our side is the Holy Spirit defending us, not with words, but directing groans heavenward from so deep within us that we cannot extract them in order to express ourselves. These are understood by the Judge, because “He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (verse 27). His intercession is effective. It is based on the good will of God Himself and upon the work that Christ did for us. The final decision of the Supreme Court follows: “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us” (Rom. 8:33-34). Although our mind may be disturbed and our emotions may betray us many times, our legal position before God is secure. Christ is at the Father’s side defending us in heaven, but the Holy Spirit is at our side, in charge of our case on the earth. Our Helper, our Comforter, helps us to triumph again and again.


His function as the parakletos is to be at our side as an intercessor and comforter, but Jesus promises even more: “He abides with you and will be in you” (John 14:17). That is the reason that Jesus could say these words, which were so surprising and difficult for the disciples to believe. “It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you” (16:7). They had walked with Him step by step and experienced His presence for 3½ years. They were witnesses of things that the human eye had never seen before. Since the foundation of the world, no one had ever heard of a person receiving his sight, who had been born blind. When in the history of the world did 5,000 men with their families eat bread and fish to the full in a desert place? They had even seen a man revived, who had been dead for four days. Jesus was always there to supply every need that they had. On one occasion, He gave Peter money, taken from the mouth of a fish, to pay taxes.

How could it be to their advantage that He distance Himself from them? It was inconceivable. At that time, they could not appreciate the statement He was making or the magnitude of the supreme gift that the Father was giving them from heaven – the gift of the Holy Spirit. It was all about a person. God was not only giving one of his incomparable, heavenly riches; He was giving them Himself. We need not be seeking “the things” of God, but God Himself. The Father is giving us the third person of the trinity, who possesses all the attributes of God. As the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit also is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.

The astounding truth was that this Helper, this Comforter, was to live inside the disciples. Before, since the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, for 3½ years he was living with them. The Holy Spirit came upon Him before He began His ministry, which was simply a demonstration of the power of the Spirit. But now He is teaching them that “he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do” (14:12), and four verses later, He tells them why… because the Father would give them another Helper. They followed Jesus wherever he led them, but this Helper would guide them from inside; He Himself would be in them.

There have been millions of believers, who have not had the same opportunities as the first disciples. Only a few, more than five hundred Paul tells us, were witnesses of the resurrection. However, we now have something better within our reach in this 21st Century, as have all Christians down through the ages, since the church has existed. In the same way as the people, of which Luke wrote in the book of Acts, we also have the Holy Spirit at our side as the parakletos, and inside, teaching, guiding and directing our lives. So we are not at a disadvantage, because the Holy Spirit is able to reveal Christ to us in our spirits in a way that is more real to us, than if we could see Him with our eyes.

Paul spoke to Timothy, his dear son in the faith, of a great mystery, which he called, “the mystery of godliness” (1 Tim. 3:16). He referred to something that demons would never confess or admit. It is the act of God becoming flesh. Think about this: He who inhabits eternity, who made that which is from what is not, whose universe cannot contain Him, who measures the oceans in the hollow of His hand and the skies with his palm, with three fingers He collects all the dust of the earth… How can He become like one of His creatures, surrender Himself as a baby into the arms of a woman, the fruit of His creation, and trust her to nourish and raise Him? It is entirely a mystery!

Now, we will consider another mystery: The Holy Spirit, with all the attributes of God, as we just mentioned, was sent from heaven to dwell in human bodies. These are not perfect bodies without spot, which had never known sin, as was the body of the Son of God. They are bodies of sinners, plagued with imperfections. My father captured this great mystery and I remember particularly a time, when he expressed it to a conference of Mexicans. First, he showed them his hands and said, “Look at these hands! They are not mine, but the hands of the Holy Spirit!” Then, he pointed to his feet and exclaimed, “Look at these feet! They are not mine; they are the feet of the Spirit of God!” That’s why Jesus said, “It is to your advantage that I go away”. It is not hard to understand that those people, moved by the truth that they had just heard, spontaneously began to applaud, something which was not common to do in those days. They were not applauding the messenger, but the truth that had been presented.

We will be astounded and amazed, as well, if we seriously consider this truth: The Holy Spirit wants to identify with us. I cannot take the space to cite the many times that Christ, up to this point in the Gospel of John, identified with the Father. Among many other affirmations, He said that He did nothing without the Father, that the Father gave testimony to Him, and that His doctrine was not His, but the Father’s.

However, in chapter 13, He includes in this fellowship the people that He is sending out. Meditate upon this, which He says in verse 20: “He who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives me receives Him who sent me.” On many occasions, Jesus, as we have already said, mentioned that the Father identified with the Son, but now, He is identifying with those He sends, present and future. He, who rejects them, rejects the Son of God. How can so much authority and responsibility reside in a human being? It is because the Holy Spirit is sent from the Father and the Son to inhabit these humans, who he is sending to present the gospel of Christ to the world. So then, he that rejects the Spirit, who works through the men and women redeemed by the blood of Christ, at the same time is rejecting the Son and the Father. The Holy Spirit identifies with them.

Once again in chapter 15, Jesus continues to teach the same: “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me” (verses 20-21). Because of the evidence of the powerful testimony of the Holy Spirit in the Christian (verse 26), glorifying Christ, they will be persecuted, as Christ was also. Those who persecute will do so because they do not know the Father, who sent the Son. They are deceived in their concept of God, concerning His person and that which He approves. For that reason, they cannot recognize the work and the word of the Spirit. Jesus repeats it in John 16:2-3: “An hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me.” However, this word is only for the one that is taught, anointed, and controlled by the Holy Spirit, who does not speak of Himself, but of that which He receives from Christ, who, in the same manner, takes from the Father (16:14-15). Therefore, it is impossible to function in the Kingdom of God, if we are not guided by the Spirit.

The book of Acts confirms the word that Jesus taught His disciples. There, we do not see them as orphans in the world, but powerfully backed and settled in the person of the Holy Spirit. Taught by the Spirit, they declare the word of God with boldness. Anointed by the Spirit, they do the same works that Jesus did. Controlled by the Spirit, they submit to His will, permitting Him to guide with His voice. They represent deity in the world and live only to give glory to God.

When a man and a woman tried to deceive the congregation of Jerusalem, Peter considered it to be a lie and an insult against the Spirit. “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?” And to Sapphira, he asked, “Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test?” (Acts 5:3, 9). Similarly, Paul saw resistance to His word as a rebellion against God Himself. “Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him, and said, ‘You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord? Now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind’” (Acts 13:9-11).

We noticed in our last chapter how Paul and his team were directed clearly to Macedonia. Throughout the book of Acts, we observe how precisely the Holy Spirit led the disciples. The relationship between the Holy Spirit and the apostles was so intimate that they could feel what He felt. “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication” (Acts 15:28, 29). However, this sense in them was not based on personal experience or opinion; it was not stemming from their imagination or way of thinking, but it was really backed by the Scripture. The Spirit had instructed them through the old words of the Lord. As James said at that moment, “With this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written… says the Lord, who makes these things known from long ago” (15:15-18) and he cites Amos 9:11-12. The Spirit only identifies with those, who want to go deeply into the Bible.

John began his first epistle with some interesting words that we should consider: “Indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). I remember a time that I read this and had the following question: Why does it not mention that our fellowship is also with the Spirit? I believe that God gave me the answer: It is because it is not possible to have fellowship with the Father and the Son as mere natural men, but only as people anointed by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we can see the Spirit forming part of the pronoun our, so that we can paraphrase: “The Holy Spirit anoints us and leads us into a true fellowship with the Father and the Son.”

I know no place in Scripture where one can find a prayer directed to the Holy Spirit and I believe it is for the same reason. We cannot pray legitimately without the Spirit and the Spirit does not direct our prayers to Himself, but to the Father and the Son. It is common to hear someone say, in our congregations, that we should begin to praise the Lord, in order to bring His presence into the meeting. But I ask, how can we really praise, if we are not already in the presence of the Spirit? No, all these things must be done through the Holy Spirit in union with our spirit. Without Him, all effort is in vain.


In this epistle of John, with a purpose to give proof to the true Christian so that he may have confidence that he is in the faith, John wrote one necessary characteristic in chapter 4, verse 6: “We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” In his third epistle, he named in particular someone in the church, Diotrephes, and described him as one who loved to have a position of preeminence; that is, he wanted to have the most relevant place and take control of the flock of God. This man had a deep problem in his heart. John said that he “does not accept us… does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church” (3 John 9, 10). Those who are truly full of the Spirit and are led by Him, open their hearts to God’s entire community and to all ministry and teaching that proceeds from Him. They are not limited by denominational barriers, nor reduced to the fellowship, love or vision of the group, with which they are affiliated. The Spirit of God is not a sectarian spirit.

The following is also a work of the Spirit: “By one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). The one who is led by the Holy Spirit recognizes the Body of Christ. When you see someone limiting other Christians jealously and stubbornly to his own ideas and manners, you know that that person is acting by his own faculties of understanding and not after the mind of Christ. If you study the revivals of Charles Finney, you will see that he would not accept an invitation to work with a church, unless it was willing to cooperate with other true churches in the vicinity. God blessed those united efforts with tremendous revivals, resulting in the salvation of thousands of souls.

This characteristic is in all the well-known, Spirit-filled people, whom God has used in His Kingdom throughout the ages. That does not mean that they were ecumenical. They did not unite with the great churches, which, although they were called Christian, were dead and corrupt to the roots. They knew to reject false prophets and the doctrines of error, because the Spirit gives discernment. Nevertheless, their hearts were too big to permit them to limit themselves only to fellowship among “their own” and exclude any true believer.

We, who are true, are part of a great body, which consists, as Paul said, of Greeks and Jews, free and slaves… To that number, you can add the different nationalities, social classes, and different groups of sincere Christians that you please. As A. W. Tozer said, “I was never a good denominationalist. I always loved all my brothers.” We cannot exist alone. The Holy Spirit, if we permit, will direct us to other people and their ministries - all that is necessary for our growth and spiritual health. As I wrote before, when he has a true encounter with God, the new believer will be led, as were Cornelius and Saul, to the ones who will be beneficial to them. It will be someone through whom God can speak words of healthy edification. This is also the Spirit’s work.

Some ignore that the body includes “the spirits of the righteous made perfect” (Heb. 12:23), meaning, the saints who are already in heaven. We can still profit from the ministry of our brothers, Paul, Peter, John and James, since we have their word in written form. “Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God” (1 Cor. 3:22-23). The written word allows us to benefit from the ministries and the sound doctrine of many others, mature in the faith, whom God has given to us throughout the history of the church. Of course, we cannot give them the same respect or confidence that we give to the ones, who received a special unction to write the inerrant word, which is the Bible.

Even though the anointing teaches us all things and the Bible is the maximum authority in our lives, we cannot ignore the fact that the church has to do with a body, which has many different functions. For that reason, no one can consider himself sufficient to understand all the secrets of God or to believe that he can develop his own spiritual life without the help of others. If you genuinely know the voice of God, He, and no human being, will teach you to whom you should pay attention for your spiritual growth.

In the same way, in which God has placed people in my pathway to encourage, rebuke and build me up in the faith, He also has placed in my hands books, written by authors who are now in heaven. There are others today, who I cannot know or hear personally, but I can find profit from their ministries. Personally, I am conscious of many times, in which God has spoken to me just at the right moment, when I most needed a word, because of the work of authors full of the Holy Spirit.

At the moment, two examples come to mind of well-known people, who were converted by reading a book. The first is one of the most potent evangelists of all history, George Whitefield, who, although he disciplined himself well in reading the Scripture, was not converted until he read the book by William Law entitled, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life.

Exactly the same happened to the founder of one of the most powerful missionary movements that has ever existed, A. B. Simpson. He was raised in a Christian home, had a great fear of God and a fervent longing to serve Him, but at the age of 17, he entered a terrible depression. God put into his hands a book entitled, The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification by Marshall. He read, “The first good work that you will do is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ… In the moment that you do so, you will enter into eternal life, you will be justified from all your sins, receive a new heart and all the things that the Holy Spirit has prepared for you.” Immediately upon reading these words, he believed and received salvation and peace in his heart.

Some years ago, I visited my Navajo friend, Herman Williams, in his house in Arizona. Herman never had the opportunity to go to school as a child, due to illness, but when he was born again, the desire to study God’s word caused him to make the effort to learn to read and he achieved it. He took me into his office and showed me bookshelves along every wall – he told me there were about 1,500 and that he had read almost all of them. At the same time, and I say this without exaggerating, I have never known anyone more cognizant of the voice of the Spirit and more directed by Him. Even though he continued to be a simple man of faith, he knew and understood the Bible like an expert. (Herman met face-to-face with Jesus on November 12, 2009, due to multiple physical problems.)

Dr. A. W. Tozer could only attend eight years of school as a child and he held an honorary doctorate, not one achieved through study in a seminary. He received Christ at the age of nineteen and began to study the Bible and many other books for his benefit with an insatiable hunger. In listening to recordings of his messages, one will notice the accent of a simple farmer. That had been his occupation previous to his conversion. At the same time, the listener will be aware of the deep thinking and careful presentation of a university professor. Today, he is one of the authors most read by serious Christians. My father had the privilege of hearing him on numerous occasions, after he came to Christ in 1935 at 30 years of age. My father is another example of one with little formal school, six years of grade school, who also dedicated much time to reading, first the Bible, but also hundreds of books.

Having emphasized the need to profit, as much as possible, from the ministry of other members of the Body of Christ, I am preoccupied with those who, in a quest to satisfy their thirst, go to corrupt cisterns. They are attracted to that which is not expedient. They reject what is solid and go after that which is strange, doubtful, radical and extreme. I remember a friend teaching years ago about those who have “itching ears” (2 Tim. 4:3). He said that the itch is produced by some infirmity in the ear. Because the ear is not sound, that person will not endure “sound doctrine”, as the verse says. The one who does not have defective hearing, will profit from the acclamation of Jesus to the seven churches, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). To cure the itching that leads to false teaching, there must first be a recognition of that spiritual weakness, followed by a humble repentance.

Please allow me to express the opinion that personal reading is better than a recording or movies. These can be very good, but they are not substitutes to take the place of getting alone and reading. In general, a book presents the truth in a more complete and correct form than a movie does. Movies tend to dramatize and exaggerate and sometimes their contents completely contradict the facts. The problem with listening to a recording, even recordings of Scripture, is that the reader will give emphasis, according to his interpretation. Practically speaking, when you read, you will fix your attention and concentrate better upon each word and it is easy, if you are distracted, to return to the place where you lost attention. My advice is that you learn and accustom yourself little by little to reading, if that has not been your practice in the past, more than to any other form of communication.

Speaking of books, I also recognize an unpleasant truth that today there are too many traps, errors and deceit in them. Sadly, the great majority of Christian books, written by modern authors, are very poor, just as is the Christianity most often presented on television, radio and other media. Personally, I don’t bother to read books that are “fads” and achieve great popularity. I can’t think of any recent one that has not done more damage than good (recognizing, that I could easily be ignorant of some).

Still, God has not abandoned us to ignorance in these days and has given us some very good modern authors. Besides, we can always find a rich mine of classical books that have been read by Christians for decades and even centuries. I want to especially recommend the biographies of great Christians. There is little else that will encourage you to live a life worthy of the name of Christ, as these biographies will do. By that means, the lives of these victorious people, who have gone to their reward, can form part of our lives today. Also, by reading books, we can take advantage and be edified, as good Christian authors in our times share the spiritual secrets that have been revealed to them, but even more so, we can profit from the great teachers of the past. That is as it should be and it is the work of Him, who identifies with the church of Christ and baptizes each new believer into His body, which is the church.


Post a Comment