Jesus’ Favorite Name for the Holy Spirit
Have you ever wondered what was Jesus’ favorite name for the Holy Spirit?
I thought of the Third Person of the Trinity as the Holy Spirit because of His title. But is a title the same thing as a name? The title “Father” for the First Person of the Trinity designates a name (see John 17:1). This was Jesus’ favorite name for God.
The Second Person of the Trinity is Jesus: “You shall call His name Jesus” (Matt. 1:21). Yet, Jesus’ favorite name for Himself was “Son of Man,” a title He used more than any other.
The name or title “Spirit” is used approximately 500 times in Scripture in reference to the Third Person, and the combined term “Holy Spirit” is used approximately 100 times. The expression “Holy Ghost,” used 91 times in the King James Version, should be translated as Holy Spirit.
Jesus’ favorite name for the Holy Spirit was probably “Helper.” Of all the things the Holy Spirit does, He helps us obtain the personal salvation that was accomplished for us on the Cross. In the King James Version, the name “Helper” is translated “Comforter.” Jesus promised, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever” (John 14:16). The Greek word “helper” is parakletos, and May be translated “helper, comforter, advocate or one called alongside.” This term is related to the compound verb with the prefix para meaning “alongside” and the verbal base kaleo meaning “to call.”
Although the name “Helper” for the Holy Spirit occurs only four times, I think it is Jesus’ favorite name because it best identifies what the Holy Spirit does. Each time this name is used in Scripture, it is used by Jesus (see cf. John 14:16,26; 15:26; 16:7). Jesus repeated the name “Helper” during the Upper Room Discourse, perhaps the most intimate of all the recorded sermons of Jesus. I think it is Jesus’ favorite name for the Holy Spirit because it relates to salvation.
WHY WE DON’T RECOGNIZE HIS NAMES
I have friends who are similar to a lot of people who think of the Holy Spirit as an influence, an attitude or a corporate opinion. Some of the titles in the King James Version have contributed to misinformation about the Holy Spirit’s name. The name “Holy Ghost” makes people think of Him as a Halloween spook, and the name “Comforter” makes people think of Him as a quilt on a bed, or someone who comes and comforts people at a funeral.
Perhaps people do not recognize the names of the Holy Spirit because of certain implications in Scripture. First, Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would come but He also emphasized a major thrust of His ministry would be glorifying Christ (see John 16:14). Because the Holy Spirit talks more of Jesus than Himself, many Christians have concluded they should not glorify the Holy Spirit. They do not speak to Him and do not know Him. But as the Third Person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit should receive glory just as much as the Father and the Son.
Another reason people do not recognize the Holy Spirit’s name is because of His task. The Father initiates the process of salvation, and the Son carries it out on Calvary. But the Holy Spirit works in the heart of the believer to effect that which the Son has done. This work of the Spirit can be compared to the construction of a large building. The owners of the building who initiate its construction are remembered as well as the engineer and the architects. But most people do not remember the workers who do the actual work. In a similar way, most people do not give attention to the Holy Spirit, who actually applies salvation in our hearts.
Another reason the Holy Spirit is not recognized is because He did not come in the flesh. No one doubts that Jesus was a person or that He had a corporeal body on earth. The most obvious physical manifestation we see of the Holy Spirit is when He descended as a dove upon Jesus at His baptism (see Mark 1:10), and as tongues of fire on the Day of Pentecost (see Acts 2:3).
In the Old Testament, however, the Holy Spirit is identified with the pillar of cloud and fire through which the Lord guided the Israelites at the Exodus and in the wilderness wanderings (see Exod. 13:21; 19:16-19; Isa. 63:11-14; Heb. 12:29).
Also, Paul identifies the Spirit of the Lord as the source of the glory and radiance seen on Moses’ face after he had entered the Lord’s presence in the cloud covering Sinai (see Exod. 19:9; Deut. 31:15; Ps. 99:6,7; 2 Cor. 3:17,18). Ezekiel shows the Spirit of God manifesting Himself in glory, radiance and fire (see Ezek. 1:27-2:2).
As you read this teaching, ask for “Holy Spirit eyes” so you can see Him in Scripture. You will find more than 100 references to the names, titles and descriptions of the Holy Spirit in appendix 1. One person said to me, “Wow! I didn’t know He had that many names.” Perhaps that is because we are not accustomed to looking for them. Many Christians have “Holy Spirit blindness.” They are blinded to the Holy Spirit because of the nature of His task, or because of some bias that grows out of their experience.
Let us STOP here before we continue and repeat this prayer.
Lord, give me eyes to see the Holy Spirit in our lives and in the Scriptures. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
WHY A FAVORITE NAME?
Most of us like the name that best describes us. Certain women like to be called “Mom” because they see their main task as raising children. There was a certain salesman who was transferred from Chicago to Atlanta, and because he considered himself a good salesman, he decided to sell his house without the aid of a real estate company. He advertised and got a few people to come and walk through his house. The salesman gave a strong sales pitch to each prospect. But his hard-sell tactics produced no sales. After six frustrating months and the loss of time and money, he finally listed his house with a real estate agent.
What the salesman did not realize was that an agent counsels customers before showing them a home. The agent qualified customers so that he showed the salesman’s home only to those who had the financial ability to purchase it. Also, the agent found customers who had a desire for a home similar to the salesman’s home.
Once he had shown the home, the agent could continue to point out the advantages and answer questions.
The work of the Holy Spirit in salvation is similar to that of the real estate agent. The Holy Spirit works conviction in the hearts of the unconverted long before they come to a gospel service. He witnesses to the person the positive reasons for salvation and warns against procrastination. The Holy Spirit is the Helper (paraclete) who gets a decision and seals the contract. Although this analogy cannot be pushed to every aspect of the Holy Spirit’s work in salvation, it is illustrative of the process.
THE HELPER IN OUR CONVERSION
Before returning to the Father, Jesus promised that He would send “another Comforter,” using the Greek word allos for “other,” which means “another of the same kind.” Jesus could have used the word heteros for “other,” meaning another of a different kind. But Jesus used the word allos, which means the Holy Spirit is another Helper just as Jesus is our Helper.
First, He reproves sin (see John 16:7-10), which means He is like a prosecuting attorney who helps the state prove a case of wrongdoing.
Second, the Holy Spirit is the restrainer (see 2 Thess. 2:7), which means He is like the crossing guard that protects children on their way to elementary school. He helps by holding back harm and danger.
In His conversion ministry, the Holy spirit regenerates (see Titus 3:5), which means He is like an interior decorator who renews an old room, making it new. Then the Holy Spirit indwells us (see 1 Cor. 6:19), which means He is like an apartment manager, one who comes to live in the complex to protect it, making sure all of the equipment is functioning. Finally, the Holy Spirit is our seal (see Eph. 4:30), which means He is like the notary public. He helps to guarantee the accuracy of the signature, and if necessary will testify in court.
In His post conversion ministry, the Holy Spirit fills the person (see Eph. 5:18). He is like an administrative assistant who comes in to help get the job done. Next, He is the sanctifier (see 2 Cor. 3:18), serving as a search committee chairman who helps the group select a leader, set the leader apart and put that person in a place of prominence. The Holy Spirit is the illuminator (see 1 Cor. 2:12), like the teacher who helps believers to understand and apply the Word of God to their lives. Then the Holy Spirit helps believers to pray (see Rom. 8:26,27), which is like a lawyer who helps people by presenting their cases before a magistrate.
HOW THE HOLY SPIRIT HELPS
The Helper/Prosecuting Attorney
The Holy Spirit is sent to help people become Christians. Before they can become saved, however, they must realize they are lost. The Holy Spirit helps unsaved people by revealing their sin to them. In this role, the Holy Spirit could be called the convector, or reprover. Like a prosecuting attorney, He convicts people of their sin, enabling them to seek salvation.
As the helper or the prosecuting attorney, the Holy Spirit helps to convict us of sin in three ways.
First, He helps people see their sin. Jesus said the Hotly Spirit will help convict people “of sin, because they do not believe in Me” (John 16:9). Before salvation, people have difficulty believing in God. Jesus said, “He who believes in Him [the Son] is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (john 3:18). Therefore, the Holy Spirit helps people accept salvation by pointing out unbelief and bringing them to Christ.
Second, the Holy Spirit helps prosecute people concerning righteousness. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would convict “of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more” (John 16:10). Hence, the Holy Spirit helps people see themselves in relationship to Jesus Christ. People do not measure up to Jesus Christ, who is God’s righteous standard, so the Holy Spirit helps them see their shortcomings.
Third, the Holy Spirit helps people come to Christ by convicting them “of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged” (John 16:11). This judgment does not refer to the coming judgment of all believers at the Great White Throne, but to the judgment of Satan and sin at the cross of Christ (see John 12:31).
The Helper/Crossing Guard
As bad as things are in the world, they are not as terrible as they might be if the Holy Spirit were not present in the world to restrict the persuasive influence of sin. In the role of restrainer of sin, the Holy Spirit is like a crossing guard who restrains children from running into the path of traffic. He helps the children by protecting them from harm. As the Restrainer or Crossing Guard, “He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way [at the return of Christ]” (2 Thess. 2:7).
The Helper/Interior Decorator
The Holy Spirit helps us with our new life when we are saved. The Greek word translated “regeneration” is used only once in the Bible in the context of salvation, and it relates to the ministry of the Holy Spirit. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). Regeneration is the theological word for being “born again.” Jesus told Nicodemus, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (john 3:5). This regeneration of the Holy Spirit gives us new life, makes us part of God’s family, and gives us eternal life. This is not just life unending; it is a new quality of life (i.e., God’s life). The Holy Spirit is like an interior decorator who takes a shabby old house and renovates it, making it like new.
The Helper/Apartment Manager
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is like the manager of an apartment building. He lives in the building to tend to problems, to make sure the building is not damaged and to help people enjoy the apartment complex.
One of God’s purposes from the very beginning was to live with His creatures. He walked with Adam in the garden, lived in the Tabernacle among the children of Israel in the wilderness and came to dwell in Solomon’s temple. Likewise, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in Christians to help them live the Christian life. “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Cor. 6:19). The Holy Spirit uses our body as a temple. This indwelling is the basis on which He helps us in every other area of our lives.
When we realize that the Holy Spirit indwells us as our Helper, we should first yield our bodies to God (see Rom. 12:1). Second, we must assist Him by properly caring for our physical bodies, keeping them pure and clean. Third, we should glorify God in our bodies by doing those things that please Him.
The Helper/Notary Public
The Holy Spirit seals us with Himself to guarantee our salvation. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is more than One who seals us; He is our seal. “You were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession” (Eph. 1:13,14).
Our lives consist of many seals. When a man and woman agree to marry, the man usually gives the woman an engagement ring, which is the seal of his commitment to her. Paul used a first-century custom to tell how the Holy Spirit is our seal. In the ancient world, a person would seal a letter with candle wax, then place his signet ring into the melted wax as the seal. When the recipient got the letter, the unbroken seal in the hardened wax guaranteed that the content was genuine.
In like manner, the Holy Spirit is our Notary Public in that He guarantees God’s “signature.” He seals the salvation God has given to us against the day when we fully experience it in heaven. It is important that we “do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30).
The Helper/Administrative Assistant
The Holy Spirit comes every time we ask Him to fill us for service, just as an administrative assistant is available to perform a job until it is completed. The Holy Spirit dwells in us and, when we will allow Him, He will help us in our Christian lives and service. The Bible calls this the filling of the Holy Spirit (at other places in this teaching it is called the anointing). Paul encourages, “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). This imperative is in the present tense, which means God commands us to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit for effective service.
Many people think that the filling of the Spirit is like taking an empty glass to the sink and filling it up. In one sense, we already have the Holy Spirit in our lives because of His indwelling in the experience of conversion. When the Holy Spirit fills us, He fills us with His grace and power. This means He fills us with His ability to accomplish much for God. Jesus promised His disciples the power to witness (see Acts 1:8), and on the day of Pentecost they were filled with the Spirit (see Acts 2:4). On another occasion, Peter needed filling (see Acts 4:8). And later, in a prayer meeting, the building shook when the people were filled with the Holy Spirit (see Acts 4:31). These verses indicate you can be filled many times.
The Helper/Search Committee
The Holy Spirit is our sanctifier, which means He helps us become holy. Actually, the word “sanctify” means to set apart. A twofold action occurs when the Holy Spirit sanctifies. First, He sets us apart from sin. In this action, He works in our hearts to motivate us to repent of and turn from sin. In the second action, the Holy Spirit sets us apart to God. We are motivated to seek God and His righteousness.
The Helper/Search Committee actually does the work of searching us out, just as a pulpit search committee seeks the proper person for the position. Then the Helper/Search Committee recommends the person and prepares the way for the candidate to get the position. The Holy Spirit or the Helper/Search Committee works internally in our lives to make us holy, and externally in heaven to secure our position/standing before God. In heaven we are declared righteous (justified), standing perfect before God.
The Holy Spirit illuminates the believer to see spiritual truth. In this role, He is the teacher of spiritual truth. “The god of this age has blinded, [those] who do not believe” (2 Cor. 4:4). This means the unsaved person cannot understand spiritual truth. But when a person is converted, the Holy Spirit becomes the Helper to teach or illuminate so the person can understand spiritual truth.
The job of teaching or illuminating the believer has several names in the New Testament. At one place it is called “the anointing.” “But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you” (1 John 2:27). This does not mean the believer should not have human teachers, but that the Holy Spirit is the Teacher who causes the believer to understand, whether or not a human teacher is involved in the learning process. The apostle Paul noted, “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God … because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). In contrast, “We have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God” (1 Cor. 2:12).
Returning to the illustration of the Helper/Teacher, John the apostle puts these two together: “But 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 things that I said to you” (John 14:26).
Let’s look at each aspect in greater detail.
The Holy Spirit is our Attorney who presents our case before the judge (The Father). A lawyer is usually hired by a defendant because,
(1) the lawyer knows the law;
(2) the lawyer knows the legal system; and
(3) the lawyer has the ability to argue (logically present) the matter before the judge.
The Holy Spirit also is the Intercessor who prays for the believer and with the believer, and in the place of the believer.
“For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:26).
We are not always aware of the perfect way to approach the Father in prayer. Perhaps we come begging when we should be worshiping Him. We are human and the Father is infinite. So the Holy Spirit makes sure the believer always prays properly.
That means no matter how the believer prays or what the believer prays, the Holy Spirit makes the words come out right when presented to the Father in heaven. “The Spirit also helps in our weaknesses… [making] intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:26). What is the result of the Holy Spirit’s work as our Helper/Lawyer? “He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom. 8:27).