The concept of the Comforter is an important one in the Bible that speaks to God’s desire to be present with and comfort His people. As Evangelical and Charismatic Christians, we believe the Bible teaches that the Comforter is the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, who was sent to be our helper and advocate after Jesus ascended to heaven. In this comprehensive blog post, we will explore the biblical foundations of the Comforter, how He comforts and helps believers today, and how we can experience more of His presence and power in our lives.
The word “Comforter” is used in the King James Version to refer to the Greek word “Paraclete” that Jesus uses in reference to the Holy Spirit in John 14:16. Jesus says, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.” This term speaks to the Holy Spirit’s role as our encourager, strenghthener, and helper.
As Christians who believe in the continuation of the gifts and works of the Spirit today, the doctrine of the Comforter is an important and practical one. Experiencing the nearness of God’s presence through the abiding Holy Spirit provides supernatural aid, wisdom, power, and comfort in our walk with Christ.
In this post, we will explore:
- The biblical basis for the Comforter
- The identity and divinity of the Comforter
- The work of the Comforter in conviction, revelation, and empowerment
- How to walk in step with the Spirit and experience His comfort and help
- Practical tips for cooperating with the Comforter
Gaining a better understanding of the Comforter will help us better experience this promised divine help in our lives and ministries. Let’s explore what the Bible teaches about this member of the Godhead sent to be our supernatural advocate and aide.
The Biblical Basis for the Comforter
The concept of the Comforter has its roots in the words of Jesus himself, particularly in John 14-16, where Jesus prepares His disciples for His death and departure. Jesus does not want His followers to be alone after He goes back to the Father, so He promises to send another Helper who will be with them forever (John 14:16).
This Spirit of Truth is called the Comforter or Advocate in most English translations. The Greek word used is Parakletos, which literally means “one who comes alongside.” This speaks to the Holy Spirit’s role as our supernatural counselor, encourager, and aide.
In John 14:26, Jesus calls Him the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in Jesus’ name to teach believers all things. Through the Spirit, believers are reminded of Jesus’ teachings. In John 15:26, Jesus says the Comforter will “testify of me.” This shows the Spirit’s role in revealing the truth about Christ.
John 16 provides more detail about the Comforter’s work and ministry to believers. Here Jesus explains that it is actually to our advantage that He goes away, for then He can send the Spirit (John 16:7). The Comforter will convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8), guide believers into all truth (John 16:13), and glorify Christ by taking what is His and making it known to His followers (John 16:14). Jesus summarized the Comforter’s ministry as one of convicting, guiding, teaching, reminding, testifying about Christ, and glorifying Him.
Therefore, the doctrine of the Comforter comes directly from Jesus Himself as He prepares His disciples for the Day of Pentecost when the Spirit will come upon them in power. This Parakletos is the promised supernatural Helper who will empower believers to walk closely with Christ even after His bodily ascension to heaven.
The Identity and Divinity of the Comforter
It is clear from Scripture that the Comforter Jesus promised His disciples is the Holy Spirit. John 14:26 identifies Him specifically as the Holy Spirit. When the Day of Pentecost arrives in Acts 2, the disciples are baptized with the Spirit and empowered, just as Jesus had promised. Peter explains that this outpouring was the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to send the Comforter (Acts 2:16-21).
The Holy Spirit possesses the attributes of deity and divinity. He is eternal (Hebrews 9:14), omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-8), omniscient (1 Corinthians 2:10-11), and omnipotent (Luke 1:35). The Spirit participated in creation (Genesis 1:2) and the inspiration of Scripture (2 Peter 1:21). Lying to the Spirit equates to lying to God (Acts 5:3-4). Blasphemy against the Spirit is unforgivable (Matthew 12:31). The Holy Spirit can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30) and resisted (Acts 7:51). All these factors reveal the Spirit as fully God, worthy of worship and obedience.
The Spirit is also distinct from the Father and Son as demonstrated at Jesus’ baptism where the Spirit descends on Him and the Father speaks from Heaven (Luke 3:21-22). He is regularly listed alongside God and Jesus in apostolic benedictions (1 Peter 1:2). Therefore, the Comforter is the third person of the Triune Godhead, equal in essence to the Father and Son.
The Work of the Comforter
When Jesus introduced the Comforter, He emphasized the many vital functions this Spirit of Truth would perform in the lives of believers. As Evangelicals and Charismatics, we believe the Spirit is still actively performing these works today to help us follow Jesus effectively. Let’s explore some of the key works of the Comforter.
Conviction of Sin
Jesus taught that the Comforter would convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). Because unbelievers are dead in their trespasses and blinded by the god of this world (Ephesians 2:1, 2 Corinthians 4:4), the Spirit must initiate the convicting work to show people their need for a Savior leading them to repentance.
Conviction is different than condemnation. It is the Spirit lovingly revealing and impressing upon people areas of sin and unbelief so they can turn to Christ (John 3:18-21, John 6:44). This conviction leads to repentance and faith. The Spirit continues convicting believers of righteousness and judgment, helping us walk in holiness (Ephesians 4:30).
Revelation of Christ
The Comforter glorifies and reveals Jesus to us (John 16:14). 1 Corinthians 2:10 states the Spirit searches the deep things of God and reveals them to us. Through spiritual illumination, the Spirit provides personal insight into the character of Christ, helping us know Him better (Ephesians 1:17). The Spirit inspired the writers of Scripture to accurately testify of Christ (John 16:13, 2 Peter 1:21). Today, He illuminates God’s Word to our minds and applies it to our hearts.
A vital work of the Comforter is empowering believers with supernatural abilities and gifts to serve Christ (Acts 1:8). At Pentecost, the disciples were filled with power to be witnesses (Acts 2:4). The Spirit still baptizes believers into the body of Christ and distributes spiritual gifts to edify the church (1 Corinthians 12:13). As Evangelicals, we believe the miraculous gifts like tongues, prophecy, and healing are still distributed by the Spirit today. The Comforter works through us to accomplish God’s purposes. Relying on the Spirit enables us to do what we could never do in our own strength.
Another ministry of the Comforter is providing guidance to believers, just as Jesus said He would guide us into all truth (John 16:13). The Spirit guides us into God’s will, ways and truth. He provides personal direction to individual believers as we seek His wisdom in decisions and life choices (Acts 13:2, Acts 16:6). We can rely on the Spirit’s inner promptings to lead and guide us. He also guides us corporately as the church through providing insight into sound doctrine and biblical truth.
Comfort and Help
True to His name, the Comforter provides supernatural comfort, encouragement, and assistance to believers in times of need. His very presence brings joy (1 Thessalonians 1:6). He intercedes for us in our weakness with divine utterances when we do not know what to pray (Romans 8:26). The Spirit brings hope and reassurance from God to our hearts (Romans 15:13). He strengthens our inner man with power when facing trials (Ephesians 3:16). We are never alone because the Spirit of Truth dwells within us!
Walking in Step with the Spirit
The Comforter provides amazing help, power and comfort for every believer. But in order to experience the Spirit’s work in greater dimensions, we must stay in continual step with Him in our daily lives. Here are some tips for cooperating with the Comforter’s ministry and maintaining sensitivity to His inner promptings:
- Cultivate spiritual disciplines like worship, prayer, meditating on the Word, solitude and fasting. These positions of humility invite more of the Spirit’s presence.
- Deal with any known sins that could be grieving the Spirit and hindering His work in your life (Ephesians 4:30-32).
- Pursue holiness and spiritual growth. The more we yield ourselves to the Lordship of Christ, the more the Spirit can work through us.
- Ask for fresh fillings of the Spirit. After Pentecost, believers were repeatedly filled with the Spirit (Acts 4:31). We need continual renewing. Be hungry for more!
- Exercise childlike dependence on the Spirit. He wants us to rely fully on His guidance, strength and wisdom, not our own.
- Remain sensitive to the Spirit’s inner nudges and promptings. The more we obey His leadings, the more He can guide us. Stay spiritually attuned.
- Step out in faith. The Spirit often leads us out of our comfort zone to accomplish great things for God.
- Use the spiritual gifts He gives you. Practice the gifts to develop skill in utilizing all the Spirit empowers you to do.
- Give the Spirit glory. Point others to Jesus and what the Spirit is doing, not yourself.
As we walk in step with the Spirit each day, submitting ourselves to His Lordship and relying fully on His strength, we’ll experience more of the outworking of His comfort, help and power in our lives.
Experiencing More of the Comforter
One of the greatest needs of the hour is for believers to have greater encounters with the living God. The Spirit wants to reveal Jesus to us in fresh ways, empower us for ministry, and comfort us in difficult times. Here are some keys to experiencing more of the Comforter:
- Ask in faith. Keep praying for fresh fillings, divine encounters, spiritual gifts, and to know God’s heart better. Expect the Spirit to move when you pray in faith.
- Yield every area of your life to the Spirit’s control. Hold nothing back from His Lordship.
- Make room for spontaneous moves of the Spirit. Avoid over-programming church services and personal devotions.
- Foster an atmosphere of worship. The Spirit manifests powerfully in homes and churches saturated with praise, worship and prayer.
- Hunger for more. Develop a spiritual appetite for deeper experiences with the Comforter. More of God is available!
- Get equipped. Take advantage of resources on spiritual gifts, healing, prophecy, and deepening your prayer life with the Spirit.
- Take risks and be obedient to promptings of the Spirit even if they make you uncomfortable or seem unconventional.
- Surround yourself with others hungry for more of the Spirit’s work. Their passion will rub off!
The Spirit wants to do so much in and through every believer! As we posture our hearts and lives to welcome Him, we’ll experience greater measures of His miraculous power and closeness. Let’s eagerly pursue deeper relationship with the Comforter!
The doctrine of the Comforter reveals God’s amazing grace in not leaving us as orphans after Christ’s ascension, but sending His Spirit to dwell within every believer forever. This Parakletos helps, guides, leads, convicts, comforts, and empowers us supernaturally. Jesus’ teaching on the Comforter promises us we don’t have to walk through life alone.
This overview aimed to provide the biblical foundations for this vital doctrine and offer practical advice for tapping into more of the Spirit’s work. My prayer is it stirred hunger in your heart for deeper relationship with the Comforter. He wants to reveal Jesus to you intimately, empower you for ministry, and comfort you in all of life’s challenges. We serve a God who understands our weaknesses and needs, so He provided His omnipotent Spirit to come alongside us with help and power from on high! Get ready for fresh fillings!
- The Comforter is the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity sent by Jesus to indwell believers
- He possesses full divine attributes and personhood
- His ministry includes conviction, revelation, empowerment, guidance and comfort
- We must walk in continual step with the Spirit to experience His work more
- Asking in faith and hungering for more of the Comforter leads to greater experiences of His power and presence
My prayer is this overview ignites fresh passion in your heart for deeper relationship with the Comforter. He wants to reveal the wonders of Jesus to you, empower you for service, and comfort you through life’s ups and downs. He is the promised supernatural Helper who resides within every believer. Let’s welcome Him to do more in our lives!