You, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the Helper of the fatherless….If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth….You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. (Psalm 10:14; John 14:16-18)
This continues our series on Scripture themes mentioned by Elisabeth Elliot. She asks: “Where does your security lie? Is God your Refuge, your Hiding Place, your Stronghold, your Shepherd, your Counselor, your Friend, your Redeemer, your Savior, your Guide, your Helper? If He is, you don’t need to search any further for security.” If you missed them, you can read What God Is to Me: Elisabeth Elliot (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3), Christ is My Hope, My Trust, My Confidence; Christ is My Strong Tower; Christ is My Inheritance; Christ is My Rock.
Years ago a 40-foot sailboat was caught in stormy waters off the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Waves rose higher and higher until one giant wave flipped the boat upside down, then right side up, and the boat was badly damaged. A Coast Guard cutter quickly arrived, responding to the sailboat’s SOS, but the passengers could not be rescued because the seas were so violent. So the cutter came as close as possible to the smaller craft, taking the brunt of the waves. The Coast Guard cutter remained alongside the damaged boat and led it into port safely.1
The story illustrates the loving help of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Holy Trinity has been actively helping God’s people since Creation, sometimes in miraculous ways, often behind the scenes. Then God the Son came down in Jesus Christ to help us and save us wonderfully. And the Savior promises to send God the Spirit to continue His work and to be with us and in us forever!
The Greek word for Helper in the ESV is Paraclete and can also be translated Advocate, Comforter, or Counselor. The word literally means one called alongside to help. The Holy Spirit guides and protects Christ’s people through life’s storms, like that Coast Guard cutter escorted the sailboat to safe harbor.
The Spirit buffers us from the raging storms of life—mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual troubles. He is there beside us to teach us, rebuke us, correct us, and train us in righteousness so we are thoroughly equipped for every good work. The Holy Spirit will guide us through this life, until we are safely home with God in the new world to come.
Romans 8 is one of the best loved chapters in the Bible. It describes some of many benefits the Triune God blesses us with and it is the chapter that mentions the Holy Spirit most. Meditate with me on these ways that God helps Christ’s followers. I punctuate my comments with hymn fragments to help us praise and thank the Lord!
- Christ takes away all condemnation and frees us from the law of sin and death.2 Jesus’ death and resurrection save us from eternal separation from God. Sadly, believers still stumble, fall, and sin. Abraham lied about his wife; David committed adultery; Peter tried to kill a man with his sword. We may suffer consequences because of our sins, but never condemnation. We are weak and memories of our sins can make us feel so ashamed that we do not come back to God for pardon and cleansing. We must remember that Christ’s doing, dying, and rising in our place turns away God’s wrath from Jesus’ followers forever. Then we need to confess our sins again, turn away from them again, and receive God’s mercy again all through this life.
Bearing shame and scoffing rude, In my place condemned He stood; Sealed my pardon with His blood. Hallelujah! What a Savior!3
- Christ enables us to obey God now as we walk according to the Spirit. Now our minds are focused on the Holy Spirit’s holy ways and we have abundant life and peace with God instead of living death. We are no longer driven to satisfy our flesh (sinful nature) and our life is now bent toward serving God, not toward rebelling against Him.4
With a child’s glad heart of love, At thy bidding may I move; Prompt to serve and follow thee, Loving Him who first loved me.5
- Christ empowers us to please Him and we want to please Him because we belong to Him. Now our mind is no longer hostile toward the Lord and our spirit is alive to God because of His righteousness worked for us and in us.6 The root of sin is selfishness: “I will do what is right in my own eyes; I want my way.” We cannot live that way anymore. Jesus warns, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”7
Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way! Hold o’er my being absolute sway! Fill with thy Spirit till all shall see Christ only, always, living in me!8
- Christ leads us by His Spirit who is in us and moves us to God-centered living which is the only life worth living. We are God’s adopted sons and daughters and who show that by how we live. We have no obligation to live the old way (the flesh) because that only brought us grief, trouble, and alienation from God. Jesus’ followers now have an obligation to the Spirit. He gave us new birth, revealed Christ to us, drew us to Jesus, and gave us eternal life and all its benefits when we trusted Christ. He is the Spirit of Life who empowers us to obey Christ and be more and more like Jesus in our thoughts, words, and deeds.9
More about Jesus would I know, More of His grace to others show, More of His saving fullness see, More of His love who died for me.10
God the Father, Son, and Spirit comes alongside us to help us through this life and bring at last into a new heaven and new earth, where righteousness dwells.11 God who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ’s return.12 God’s Spirit lives inside us and also walks beside us. He is our Helper.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us not to be anxious, fearful, and worrying. Help us to trust you step by step through today and the rest of our lives. You are our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. You are worthy of our trust. Make us firm, unshakable, and resilient, not because we are strong, but because we depend on you. We pray in your great name. Amen.
To be continued
Notes (various translations used): 1 story from David C. Egner. 2 Rom 8:1-4. 3 from the hymn “Man of Sorrows!” 4 Rom 8:5-6. 5 from the hymn “Savior, Teach Me, Day by Day.” 6 Rom 8:7-8. 7 Matthew 7:21. 8 from the hymn “Have Thine Own Way, Lord!” 9 Rom 8:12-14. 10 from the hymn “More About Jesus.” 11 2 Peter 3:13. 12 Phil 1:6.