The Spirit brings beauty out of fallen flesh and wayward hearts (Romans 8:9–11). The church becomes an instrument of Christ’s beaming radiance in the world through the individual expressions of the work of grace by the Spirit in the lives of believers.
The Ministry of the Spirit
Any discussion on the church would be severely lacking without a close look at the presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit. Without him, the church would never have been founded. Godly leaders would never have been called, believers added, gifts distributed, service rendered, or growth realized.
The Holy Spirit is mentioned some fifty-six times in the book of Acts as filling, helping, guiding, calling, aiding, growing, sanctifying, maturing, organizing, assisting, regenerating, teaching, testifying to, interceding for, reminding, grieving over, and loving believers, who make up the church. Without the ministry of the Holy Spirit, there is no church. But with the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the church shines forth beautifully as he makes her his glorious dwelling.
To comfort the hearts of his despondent disciples, who have just learned that Jesus will soon be leaving them, he promises them a “Helper” (John 14:16). Jesus unveils the identity and ministry of this divine Helper in subsequent verses:
The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:26)
When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. (John 15:26)
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:7)
The church exists to be a reflection of God’s indescribable love. In this concise version of Dustin Benge’s The Loveliest Place, learn to see beyond methodology and structure into the church’s eternal beauty.
The Greek word used here in reference to the Holy Spirit is paraklētos, which means “one called to another’s side, specifically to help and aid.” It can also denote an intercessor, an assistant, or someone who pleads another’s cause before a judge. The word itself reveals the all-encompassing role of the Spirit within the body of Christ. He is our Helper, Intercessor, Assistant, Advocate, Comforter, Counselor, and Sustainer.
What love Jesus has for the church! He doesn’t leave her to fend for herself with her own devices, inventions, creativity, or wit. Surprisingly, he says, “It is to your advantage that I go away” (John 16:7). If we listen closely, we can almost hear the disciples bemoan Jesus’s words. “What could possibly be good about you leaving us, Jesus?” Peter is so steadfast in his resolve that Jesus will not be leaving that he takes Jesus aside from the others and rebukes him (Matt. 16:21–23).
Yes, the disciples have a daunting and seemingly insurmountable task of walking in Jesus’s footsteps and continuing his ministry on earth. The proclamation of the gospel to the nations, the organization of the church, discipling believers, caring for orphans and widows, and all the rest—“You can’t leave us, Jesus! How are we to accomplish all of this?” In his love and comforting care of his disciples, he essentially says, “My Father will give you a Helper.”