by Martin Luther
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. (John 14:16)
It’s correct to say that the Holy Spirit is our Counselor, because that’s what he does and is supposed to do. Right now, I don’t want to debate about his divine being or substance. Christ indicates here that the Spirit is a distinct person–the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son. But in John 15, we also see that the Spirit is God–the Holy Spirit is one in essence with the Father and the Son. For now, it’s enough to learn that he is called a counselor for us.
The word counselor shows us how we should think of the Holy Spirit. A counselor is not a lawgiver or someone like Moses, who frightens us with the devil, death, and hell. No, a counselor fills a troubled heart with joy toward God. A counselor encourages us to be happy that our sins have been forgiven, death has been conquered, heaven has been opened, and God is smiling upon us.
Whoever understands what it means for the Spirit to be our Counselor will have already won the battle. That person will find nothing but pure comfort and joy in heaven and on earth. Because the Father is the one who asks him to do so, this sending is certainly not done out of anger. Instead, it flows from a fatherly, heartfelt love. So Christians should remind themselves of this name for the Holy Spirit. He is a counselor, and we are the troubled and timid ones whom he helps.
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