Holy Spirit – Our true friend

Click here to listen to the audio of this 16-minute message. Or watch the YouTube below, or read the summary text thereafter.

Our reading for today (John 14:16-20) prepares us to celebrate Pentecost in two weeks’ time. Jesus teaches about Holy Spirit who will come and continue his work among us. We learn several important things about Holy Spirit from this brief passage, including:

  1. The Greek word ‘paraclete’ is directly translated as ‘the one called alongside’ or ‘the one called to come alongside’
  2. ‘Paraclete’ is translated in various ways: comforter, counsellor, advocate, encourager, etc.
  3. Frederick Dale Bruner (in his commentary on John) and Eugene Peterson (in his Bible translation, ‘The Message‘) translate paraclete as ‘friend’ or ‘true friend‘. A friend is one who draws alongside us, who comforts and encourages us, who challenges us, and who stands up (or advocates) for us when people trash-talk us.
  4. Jesus describes this true friend as a gift from God to us.
  5. Jesus describes Holy Spirit as another friend. By implication, Jesus is the disciples current friend; Holy Spirit will come as another friend. There is continuity between Jesus and Holy Spirit.
  6. Holy Spirit is a person, not a force or a thing. I try to give practical expression to this in my spiritual life in three main ways:
    • I drop the definite article ‘the’ from ‘the Holy Spirit’. Instead, I speak and think about ‘Holy Spirit’ as a name, like Jesus is a name. We don’t refer to Jesus as ‘the Jesus’ because Jesus is his name; we say ‘the Messiah’ because Messiah is a title of description. I use ‘Holy Spirit’ as a name, since we have no other name for him.
    • I use personal pronouns and avoid ever referring to Holy Spirit as ‘it’ or using ‘which’. These are impersonal, depersonalised words. I try to use the same words I use when speaking about Jesus or God the Father.
    • I refer to Holy Spirit as ‘she’. Not because I think of her as a woman, as female or as feminine. But because God is no more male than God is female. God transcends or incorporates all genders. Since we can’t refer (easily) to the Father or the Son with female pronouns, I choose to use female pronouns for Holy Spirit. If we could evolve the English language to be less gendered, we’d use gender-inclusive or gender-neutral language for God. (I appreciate that many will not appreciate or agree with me. That’s fine. We will learn a lot more about Holy Spirit on That Day.)
  7. We, unlike those who do not believe, can both see and know Holy Spirit. For everyone else, Spirit is invisible and unknowable. But for us who believe, she can be both seen and known. She dwells within each of us as individuals. And she takes up residence among us collectively, as communities of faith. We are united by Spirit, even when we are physically apart.

As we journey closer to Pentecost on 31 May 2020, let become increasingly mindful or receptive to the presence of Holy Spirit in our personal and collective lives and celebrate this precious gift that God has given us.


Featured image: ‘Holy Spirit’ by Danny Hahlbohm, http://www.inspired-art.com/gallery_9_10/Holy_Spirit.html


4 thoughts on “Holy Spirit – Our true friend

  1. davidjohnpowell35be271111 says:

    Hi Adrian  David Powell here from Port Owen.  Firstly I would like to thank you very much for sharing your sermons with me.  I find them truly inspirational and endeavor to start my days with them and failing the start of the day dedicate a quite time during the day to steer my day in retrospect.  A tip I picked up from your Mum who I share a very close Christian friendship with.  Ironically I find this shutdown period a time of incredible growth and positivity despite the inevitable sadness of death and separation from loved ones.  I think I know that the Lord is using this current pandemic for a reason and has individually mapped out a plan for each and everyone of us to fore-fill  or not. That choice is clearly our own personal prerogative and all I ask in return from our Lord is at our eventual end here on this earth he might say well done. I try and lead by example in every sphere of my daily life. Sometimes fail but I hope as a teacher once put in a report :David shows much potential and when he uses that potential he rises amongst his peers however on the flip side he does have his moments ! 40 years later this hopefully still rings in my ears and just try to keep the flip side from flipping too much.  I have lived a blessed life with so much to be thankful for and despite the very hard times I thank the Lord for both as I suppose they make me me.  I share this with your folks as Anne s as Nd Theo have both taught me a lot in the three short years I’ve been blessed with their guidance and advice.  Thank you all for that 🙏🙏David

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone


    • Dear David

      It is lovely to hear from you. Mum told that she was forwarding my messages to you. I’m glad you’ve been receiving them and privileged and touched to hear that they are meaningful and helpful in your spiritual journey.

      Yes, I share your feeling that we struggle through life, sometimes closer and more faithful to God; other times a bit distracted and absent; and sometimes downright rebellious.I’m always grateful that we welcomes us back and gives us yet another chance to start afresh. His mercies are new every morning.

      I pray for frequent reminders from Holy Spirit that he is right there with you.

      Blessings Adrian

      On Sun, 17 May 2020 at 15:41, Reflections of God's Love wrote:



  2. Isobel Wilson says:

    Thanks for the very good explanation.

    On Sun, 17 May 2020, 9:39 am Reflections of God’s Love wrote:

    > Adrian van Breda posted: “Click here to listen to the audio of this > 16-minute message. Or watch the YouTube below, or read the summary text > thereafter. Our reading for today (John 14:16-20) prepares us to celebrate > Pentecost in two weeks’ time. Jesus teaches about Holy Spirit w” >


  3. Thank you Isobel. Bless you. Adrian


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