“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.” (John 14:16, NIV 1984)
PARACLETE—It’s a name we probably don’t use too often in our prayers. It may ring strange in our ears when we sing it in hymns at church.
What does that name mean and why is it ascribed to the Holy Spirit? “Paraclete” comes from two Greek words: para (“beside”) and kaleo (“call”). Putting these words together yields the word’s basic meaning: “Someone called to be at your side.”
What kinds of things does the Holy Spirit do at our side? His chief work, of course, is to create faith in our hearts. He uses the gospel message of Christ crucified and risen again to lead us to trust Christ as our one and only Savior from sin, death, and hell. The Holy Spirit uses the same gospel to keep us in faith for as long as we live in the hostile environment of this godless world.
Another special work the Holy Spirit performs for Christians is His using the gospel to help us to become more and more Christlike in our speech, actions, and attitudes. It’s true: we came into full possession of all the treasures Christ came from heaven to win for us the very moment the Spirit led us to anchor our hopes in Christ (see Ephesians 1:3-7).
But His work of empowering us to live holy lives to God’s glory is gradual, on-going, life-long. Through the Word that we hear and learn at church, that we read in devotions at home, that we ponder in our hearts throughout the day, the Holy Spirit helps/strengthens/inspires us to pattern our lives more and more after the holy example of Jesus and less and less after the unbelieving people of the world.
All this is to the praise of our Savior-God (read 2 Corinthians 3:18, Philippians 2:13, John 15:8)
It’s a case of ‘already and not yet.’ We are already holy because of Jesus’ righteousness that our heavenly Father has credited to our respective accounts by faith. But we are not yet holy in our walk of Christian discipleship until we are with Christ in heaven.
Until then we rejoice in the knowledge that the Father’s promised Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, is standing at our side eager and ready to serve as our spiritual Helper/Comforter/Counselor.
We pray with boldness, as dear children of God:
Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest,
And make our hearts Your place of rest;
Come with Your grace and heavenly aid,
And fill the hearts which You have made.
Praise we the Father and the Son
And Holy Spirit, with them One;
And may the Son on us bestow
The gifts that from the Spirit flow!
(Lutheran Service Book, #498:1,7)