By Victor Knowles
Fourth grade was terrible for me. Our family had moved from a small town in the Midwest to a large city in the Northwest. I left behind all the friends I had ever known. Because I was the smallest kid in my class, some classmates picked on me. I couldn’t figure out math, and I fell behind in my grades—so much so that at the end of the school year, I was not promoted.
The next fall I did a do-over of fourth grade. Now I was singled out for being stupid as well as small. But one of my new classmates, a kid named Tony, took a liking to me. We played together at recess, and he walked me home after school. No one picked on me anymore because I had a helper. He could (and occasionally did) beat up anyone who tried to mess with me in his presence. Heaven knew I needed help, and Tony Stapello was sent to be my helper and friend. (I was not surprised to learn in later years that Tony had become one of Boise’s finest—a policeman.)
Life is hard, and we all need help. Heaven sends us help in the person of the Holy Spirit. One of the words God uses to describe the Holy Spirit is Helper. Jesus told his disciples that after he returned to Heaven he would send them “the Helper” (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7, New American Standard Bible). The book of Acts is really the acts of the Holy Spirit as he helped the apostles teach and testify.
Here are seven ways the Holy Spirit helps believers today:
1. The Spirit transforms us into the image of Christ.
Forget all the action movies you’ve seen—the Holy Spirit is the greatest transformer the world will ever know. “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18, New International Version).
The Holy Spirit transformed cowering disciples hiding behind closed doors into courageous evangelists bursting through open doors. He transformed Saul of Tarsus from being a fierce persecutor of Christians to a proclaimer of Christ. He has and still is transforming the lives of millions of people all over the world to be more like Christ.
2. He strengthens our inner life.
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (Ephesians 3:16).
Corrie ten Boom said, “Trying to do the Lord’s work in your own strength is the most confusing, exhausting, and tedious of all work. But when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, then the ministry of Jesus just flows out of you.” God commands us to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). All believers need help from on high to strengthen our inner lives. We can never exhaust the Spirit’s vast reservoir of power that flows to our inner being.
3. He fills our hearts with God’s love.
Jackie DeShannon was the first to sing Burt Bacarach’s song, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love.” How does the world get that true and lasting love—the wonderful love of God? “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).
John Wesley said, “The Spirit is not in the fundamental nature of humans but is the supernatural gift of God, to be found in Christians only.” The Holy Spirit is the cosmic conduit who carries God’s marvelous love all the way from Heaven into our hearts.
4. God’s Spirit produces a lovely cluster of ninefold fruit.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22, 23). This fabulous fruit fuels us, enabling us to function properly and successfully.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer commented, “The fruit of the Spirit is a gift of God, and only He can produce it. They who bear it know as little about it as the tree knows of its fruit. They know only the power of Him on whom their life depends.” No tree in the orchard gets the glory. It all belongs to God because of his creative Spirit. We have nothing to boast of—except the Holy Spirit who is constantly at work within us.
5. He assists us in our understanding of Scripture.
None of us have a perfect understanding of the Bible. Some Scriptures are hard to understand (2 Peter 3:16). A commentary—as helpful as it may be—is no substitute for the Holy Spirit’s help. This divine interpreter helps us know the “deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10-14). But he also convicts us of sin (John 16:8-15), making us want to change by applying the things we learn in Scripture to our daily lives.
George Mueller confessed, “I seek the will of the Spirit of God through or in connection with the Word of God. The Spirit and the Word must be combined. If I look to the Spirit alone without the Word, I lay myself open to great delusions also.”
6. He intercedes for us in prayer.
This is one of the most important ministries of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.
Romans 8:26 says, “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words” (New Living Translation).
There are no believers anywhere who are so spiritually strong that they don’t need the comfort and help of the Holy Spirit in their prayer lives. The Spirit is also called “the Comforter.” Francis Chan asked, “Why would we need to experience the Comforter if our lives are already comfortable?” Why, indeed?
7. The Holy Spirit assures us of our right relationship with God.
“And he has put his own Holy Spirit into our hearts as a proof to us that we are living with him and he with us” (1 John 4:13, Living Bible).
Everyone wants to know for sure that he or she is right with God. So God implants his own Spirit in our hearts so that we may know that he is with us and we are one with him. No wonder Peter spoke of “the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). He is literal, living, loving proof that God dwells within us. “You ask me how I know he lives? He lives within my heart!” (Alfred H. Ackley).
For five years I sat under the insightful teaching of Judge Herbert Casteel. I shall never forget what he said one day in Sunday school. “The Holy Spirit is our Helper. I wonder why I have not asked for his help more?”
We have help from Heaven. Remember to ask your Helper for help. Just like my friend Tony, he will walk you safely home.
Victor Knowles is founder and president of POEM (Peace on Earth Ministries), Joplin, MO. www.poeministries.org
Have You Forgotten?
In his book, Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit, Francis Chan explores how many modern believers have overlooked the power, work, and potential of the Holy Spirit. “I’m convinced there is a desperate need in the church for the Holy Spirit of God to be given room to have his way,” the book begins.
But the question of the Holy Spirit is personal too: “If it’s true that the Spirit of God dwells in us and that our bodies are the Holy Spirit’s temple, then shouldn’t there be a huge difference between the person who has the Spirit of God living inside of him or her and the person who does not?”