By Rev. Eric Brown
The Holy Spirit is called the Helper... or is it Advocate... or is it Comforter... or the Counselor. Well, what in the world is going on here? Well, it's this. The word in Greek is “Paraclete” (which you may have noticed in LSB 500 “Creator Spirit, by Whose Aid”) - and that's a big word. A paraclete in the ancient world was the person who would stand alongside you (para) at a trial or a court case and talk to you. Sort of what we would call today your defense lawyer. He helps you, he advocates for you, he comforts and calms you down, he gives you advise. Often in the Scriptures when we see the verb “exhort” or “instruct” it's this the verbal form of this.
So, what does all this mean? It means that the Holy Spirit is the one who uses the Word of God for your benefit. That's what a paraclete did – a paraclete spoke for your good and told you what you needed to hear. And that's what the Holy Spirit does – He takes the Word of God and applies it to you for your benefit.
Consider what we confess in the third article of the creed – I believe I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. All those things the Holy Spirit does are Him using the Word for your good. Often, that will be using the Law, to humble you or direct you. But His goal is always the Gospel, bringing you comfort and hope in Christ Jesus – pointing you to Christ so you know that in Jesus you have the victory, no matter what trials you find yourself in. And the Holy Spirit is quite good at His job. He calls you, enlightens you, makes you holy and keeps you in the faith – all by the Word.
So, whatever term gets used for the Holy Spirit – it works. He is the Advocate who Helps you by Comforting you with the Gospel and Consoles you by pointing you to Christ. He comes to you by the Word whenever the accusations of Satan rain down upon you, and He reminds you that Christ has died for you, and so you are innocent because of Christ. And that's a great thing.
Rev. Eric Brown is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Herscher, Illinois and the co-host of the HT Gospeled Boldly Podcast.
Created: May 9th, 2017