When The Helper Comes, More Help Comes

John 15:26 – 16:4 “But 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. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

16:1 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.


We had a modified staycation last week. Thanks for sending us away and thanks for welcoming us back.

I was able to listen to John’s sermon on Tuesday morning. Well done, John. There is much we can all learn from John’s grasp of biblical theology. I especially appreciated John’s description of God’s nature and its implications for our lives.

To quickly bring you up to speed, we’ve made our way, passage by passage, through the fifteenth chapter of John’s Gospel. In his Gospel, John recounts much of the life and ministry of Jesus, and all for the primary purpose of convincing his readers (original and continually) that Jesus is the Christ/Messiah that God promised to send. And that, in order that his readers might believe in Jesus and be saved from our sins and reconciled to God and His creation. May that be the effect among us today and until Jesus returns!

To zoom in a bit, the words Jesus spoke in chapters thirteen through seventeen were all said on the night before His crucifixion. They were spoken to His disciples (minus Judas).

To zoom in one more time, in my last sermon (on 15:18-25) we read of Jesus’ promise that His followers would be hated by the world around them to the degree that the world around them hates Jesus and they lived as Jesus commanded and modeled.

That’s rough news and Jesus knew it. That’s why our passage begins with the word “but.” Jesus told His followers that while He alone is the way, the truth, and the life, living in light of that in this fallen world would be hard…BUT when the Helper comes, more help will come.

Two sermons ago in John, Jesus described one means of God’s grace to defend against and heal from the sting of the world’s hatred: The love and friendship of other Christians. In our passage for this morning, we find a second significant means of God’s grace to protect and heal His people from the world’s persecution: The Helper whom Jesus promised to send.

Do you live among a people who hate the idea of Jesus being the Son of God? If so, life will be hard for you if you truly follow Jesus. At the same time, however, it will be much more bearable if you are surrounded by other Christians who love you well and if you have the Spirit dwelling in you.

The big idea of this passage is that the Helper, the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity, will help us when honoring God is costly. And the main takeaway is to courageously live godly lives in complete confidence that the Spirit makes every righteous risk right.

Let’s pray.


Our passage records the third time (of four) that Jesus has mentioned “The Helper” in John’s Gospel. All four occur during His final, upper room discourse.

In the first, John 14:16, Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever…” in that context, Jesus promised the Spirit to help His followers keep His commandments.

In the second, just a few verses later in John 14:26, Jesus said, “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 that I have said to you.” There Jesus promised the Spirit’s help to the disciples to remember the things He’d shown and taught them throughout His life and ministry.

The fourth and final time is, perhaps, the most important. We’ll see that next week in John 16:7, “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.” There, Jesus’ point is that His leaving will certainly be hard, but the coming of the Helper is actually to the benefit of His followers. While He was on earth, Jesus’ ministry was limited in certain ways. When the Spirit came, however, He would be equally in the hearts of all believers at all times.

The main point of each of these passages is that the Helper will bring more help to God’s people as we seek to follow Jesus in this hostile world.

Our passage for this week is much the same. In it, Jesus describes four different and specific helps the Sprit will bring to His persecuted followers: (1) The Spirit will help by bearing witness about Jesus, (2) The Spirit will help by empowering Jesus’ followers to bear witness about Jesus, (3) The Spirit will help by keeping Jesus’ followers from falling, and (4) The Spirit will help by reminding Jesus’ followers of Jesus’ promises so that Jesus’ power will be clear. That’s a lot of help!

Let’s consider each of those now.

The Spirit Will Bear Witness about Jesus (15:26)

To see the first help of the Helper, look again with me at v.26.

26 “But 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.

In this verse, there are three clauses that describe the nature of the Helper. Let’s briefly take a look at them before coming to the final clause that describes the help of the Helper.

The fist descriptive clause (“whom I will send to you from the Father”) lets us know that the Helper is obedient to the Son. He will come to God’s people when Jesus sends Him from the Father; not before and without delay. There is much to learn here (like the fact that being submissive does not necessarily mean being inferior), but that’s a different sermon for a different day.

The second descriptive clause (“the Spirit of truth”) lets us know that the Helper is the Spirit of truth. There is no falsehood in Him. All His witness is true. This too is rich in significance (like the fact that the Bible’s inerrancy is rooted in this aspect of the Spirit’s nature), but that too is another sermon for another day.

And the third descriptive clause is the one that’s gained the most ink. Many, especially historically, have taken this clause (“who proceeds from the Father”) to refer to the nature of the Spirit/Trinity. A great division arose many centuries ago between the Eastern and Western church over this (over whether the Spirit proceeds from the Father alone or the Father and Son). The final clause of the Nicene Creed was written to address this (“we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son”). The separate sermon on this clause would deal with the nature of the Trinity and the importance of rightly interpreting the Bible.

While we’re not going to probe the depths of these attributes of the Helper, it’s important to recognize that each of them (obedience, truth, and Triune) gives us greater clarity and confidence in the help He will bring.

With all of that, what is the help of the Helper according to this verse? It is to bear witness about Jesus. But what does that mean?

Is it simply another way of describing v.27, the witness of Jesus’ followers? It is true, as we will see in the next point, that the Spirit will bear witness about Jesus through the witness of Christians. But that’s not what this verse is talking about. In fact, it is meant to stand in contrast to the Spirit’s witness through Jesus’ followers. That’s why v.27 begins with “and you also will bear witness”. The Spirit helps by bearing witness by Himself and the Spirit also helps Jesus’ followers bear witness. Two separate witnesses.

What is the nature of the Spirit’s witness? Most likely, it’s what we find in the fourth and final mention of the Spirit (next week’s text), 8 He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment…”

In other words, the Spirit bears witness to Jesus in the world by making true righteousness apparent, bringing conviction of sin, and showing the rightness of God’s judgment. This He continually does in the hearts of mankind as part of His ministry. And we can trust this because He always does so in obedience to the Father and Son, in perfect truth, and as the third person of the Holy Trinity.

This is helpful to persecuted saints in two key ways. First, the witness of the Helper is what drew us to Jesus and makes our witness to the world effective (next point). And second, it is helpful in that where the Spirit works like this, the persecution of the world will fade. This is why it is good and right to pray continually for the Spirit to bear witness in your home, neighborhood, nation, and in the lands in which our missionaries labor. Apart from this witness of the Spirit, consciences are seared, sin consumes, and none of our efforts will bear fruit.

O, what sweet help this is, Grace. Again, let us seek it earnestly. Every time you see any kindness or generosity or goodness in the world, it is the Spirit’s witness. Every time a person’s conscience holds back their evil desires or restrains a person’s evil actions, it is the Spirit’s witness. Let’s learn to recognize this continual help and continually thank Him for it as we follow Jesus in a world that often hates the things of God.

The Spirit Will Empower Jesus’ Followers to Bear Witness about Jesus (15:27)

We find the second specific help of the Helper in v.27.

27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

The Spirit continually bears witness to Jesus apart from us, but we never bear witness to Jesus apart from the Spirit. This help of the Helper here concerns His empowering of the witness of the followers of Jesus. But again, we need to begin by considering two preliminary aspects of it. First, bearing witness concerning Jesus—telling the world the good news that Jesus is King and Savior—is exactly what elicits the hatred of the world. It is interesting, isn’t it, that in God’s design, the help is also the source of our need for help. Praise God for His simultaneously marvelous and mysterious grace.

And second, to get this help of the Spirit requires us to bear witness. We must tell people about Jesus if we want all the grace Jesus intends us to have in this hostile world. If the help is empowering our witness, we must witness to get the help.

Share your faith, Grace Church.

Think of someone in your life who does not yet treasure Jesus above all. Determine to share the good news with them that Jesus is the greatest treasure. And before you open your mouth to them, thank God that the Spirit will help by going go before you, convicting them of sin and making them eager to hear of God’s means of rescue.

As you contemplate potential rejection, embarrassment, or even physical persecution, remember this promised help of the Helper. As you consider the fact that they might ask questions you aren’t prepared to answer, remember this promised help of the Helper. As you are discouraged by the fact that you’ve shared the gospel with them repeatedly and to no apparent avail, remember this help of the Helper. As you consider taking the gospel to unreached people groups and the persecution and hardship it may entail, remember this help of the Helper. And as you now experience conviction of your evangelistic and missions apathy or fear, remember this help of the Helper.

With that, and once again, the second help the Spirit brings is empowering the witness of God’s people in the hostile world. The primary context is with the disciples (“because you have been with me from the beginning”), but this same commission would soon be given to all who follow Jesus as well (Matthew 28:18-20).

We just saw that the Spirit Himself bears witness concerning Jesus. He first bears witness to Jesus in us, helping us by convicting us of our need to share our faith, and empowering us to do so. He also bears witness to Jesus in the hearts of those who we bear witness to, helping us by making our witness effective. As we proclaim Christ, the Helper is the one who makes the world see the glory of Jesus, the sinfulness of their sin, and the rightness of trusting in Jesus. Awesome help indeed.

The Spirit Will Keep Jesus’ Followers from Falling (16:1-3)

OK, remember, Jesus’ primary point in this section of John’s Gospel, His final words to His followers, is that while those who hate Him will also hate His followers, He promised to provide help to His followers in the midst of the hatred.

So far we’ve seen that the Spirit will help by going before Jesus’ disciples in bearing witness to Jesus in the hearts of men and by empowering the disciples’ witness as they proclaim Christ.

The third help of the Spirit is to keep Jesus’ followers from “falling away”.

16:1 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me.

Jesus said these things (the things concerning the hatred of the world) to keep His followers from falling away—He told them what to expect and how to respond to it. And it is the Holy Spirit who effects this persevering grace.

When it is really hard to be a faithful Christian, when the world hates you because you are following Jesus, the temptation will be to give up and walk away as so many did in Jesus’ day. How much are you willing to endure for the Name of Jesus? How much suffering is worth it? You need to think long and hard about whether remaining faithful is worth it. That’s the heart of Jesus message in Luke 14 (26-33).

26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Well, as you probably noticed in our passage, Jesus names two specific acts of persecution that will befall His disciples: excommunication (“they will put you out of the synagogues,” v.2) and execution (“whoever kills you,” v.2). It’s hard to picture two more severe consequences of following Jesus. To be killed is pretty self-explanatory. But to be excommunicated in that day meant something considerably different than it does today. To be put out of membership today usually just means heading up the road to another fairly similar church and starting fresh. It’s awkward and inconvenient, but fairly inconsequential. It shouldn’t be that way, but it often is.

For Jesus’ followers, however, it meant being cut off from virtually all family, religious, social, cultural, and economic opportunities (which is why the other help, the love of Christians, is so significant—again, more so than it often is today). For a first century Jew to be “put out of the synagogues” was the most disruptive thing that could be done…short of the first persecution (death), anyway.

When the greatest threats you can imagine are placed in front of you, what will you do? More importantly, what will the Spirit do for you?

The Spirit will remind you that every cost is infinitely and eternally worth it. The Spirit will persevere you in your trust in Jesus. The Spirit will help you by keeping you from falling entirely into sin or doubt. The Spirit keeps us from falling into unbelief.

To add to the craziness of all of this, Jesus mentions that the world’s hatred for Jesus makes people so crazy that in defying the living God and refusing the Rescuer He offers, in committing the most treacherous kind of persecution and murder, the world believes itself to be “offering service to God” (v.2). Like the Apostle Paul did before he came to trust in Jesus, they believe that their rejection of Jesus and persecution of His followers is the will of God.

And once again, Jesus reveals that all of this craziness is the result of their ignorance of the true nature of God (Father and Son). This is still true today for billions of people. Many believe they know God, but prove themselves mistaken, because they understand Him to exist apart from the Son. Those who claim to believe in God but deny that Jesus is God know neither Jesus nor God.

The world (by definition) always mistakenly believes it knows God. And often the world mistakenly believes it is God. And it is this ignorant ignorance that keeps the world stuck in sin and hatred for Jesus and His followers.

When we encounter this hostile craziness, in all its various forms, Jesus told His followers that the weight that would otherwise crush them will be carried by the Helper. He will keep them from falling away because of it. The Spirit will keep us united to Jesus. As you find yourself straining to obey through trial and difficulty, battling doubt and disbelief, ask the Spirit to help and He will. That’s why He was sent by the Father and the Son.

The Spirit Will Remind Jesus’ Followers of Jesus’ Promises, So that Jesus’ Power Will Be Clear (16:4)

The fourth and final help of the Helper mentioned in this passage is found in 16:4. It is a familiar one.

4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.

Jesus has promised this kind of help more than once before (13:19; 14:29). The Spirit will help the followers of Jesus to persevere in faith in spite of the hatred of the world by reminding us of Jesus’ perfect keeping of all His promises.

It is right to give yourself to seeking out the promises of God for His people in His Word. And it is right to order your entire life around those promises. They are certain. And as you do, the Spirit will help you remain strong in your faith by reminding you of, and amazing you with, the promises as they come to pass.

An interesting aspect of all of this is in coming to recognize that what we often think of as “normal” is actually the supernatural work of the Helper. The common grace that we walk in 24/7/365 is the help of the Helper. It seems normal to us that our neighbor doesn’t rob or murder us, but that’s the help of the Helper. The fact that anyone has ever understood and believed the gospel usually feels “normal” but it is the work of the Spirit. That you keep believing in Jesus in spite of the fact that you can’t see Him is not “normal.” It is the work of the Spirit. And simply remembering the promises of God as they are fulfilled in your life is the Helper’s help. With this in mind, we ought to be able to see that the help of the Helper is both far more “common” in and truly essential to our daily lives than we might otherwise recognize. As we come to see experience this, we find sufficient help to endure ever hardship.


If the world around you hates Jesus, the world around you will hate you if you live like Jesus. To help us in our persecution, Jesus calls His followers to love each other. He also promised more help in the Helper. And as we just saw, the Helper’s help takes the form of His own witness, empowering our witness, keeping us from falling, and helping us to recognize the times in our lives that are the result of God’s promise keeping.

As a result of all these things, we ought to live lives that appear risky to the world; that are risky in the way of physical comfort and health; but are anything but risky in the way of everything that lasts and the help that is ours in the Helper. That is, we ought to live in ways that only make sense if God is real and His promises are always true. The Spirit will help us with this as we turn to Him for it in faith.