James W. Goll

B. Childress
Apr 09 2010 08:00 AM

"Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come
unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
"  John 16:7

"Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but
whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
"  John 16:13

"But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth
from the Father, he shall testify of me:
"  John 15:26

Our Papa God has many gifts to give to us.  The biggest gift of all, of course, is His Son, Jesus - yes, Jesus, the beloved
Son, who through the work of the cross purchased for us our salvation, redemption, atonement from our sins and
eternal life and promised to be our Bridegroom that great day in the future.  Our heavenly Father gave us His very heart
in the One Gift.  He is the greatest gift of all.

Jesus, in turn, gives us wonderful gifts of His love: promises He will keep, cleansing, hope, healing, deliverance, hugs,
kisses, and lots of other good things - all of which come from the heart of His Father.  The gift of Jesus' shed blood
alone, with all the power and love that it carries, is beyond our understanding.

Father and Son have sent their best to us by giving each of us disciples one very special gift, a gift that keeps giving us
more gifts.  What could that be?  It's our Comforter, our Guide, the One called alongside to help us out - the Holy Spirit.  
The Holy Spirit allows us to sense out Father God's personal loving touch.  Getting to know what His touch feels like is a
lifelong adventure.  

Getting to Know the Third Person of the Godhead

Although I loved and accepted Christ as my personal Savior at a very young age, for many years the Holy Spirit was just
a ghost to me.  That's what the Apostles' Creed that I recited in church every Sunday stated so simply: 'I believe in the
Holy Ghost."  I don't remember much else being taught about this third Person of the Godhead in the rural Protestant
church where I was reared.  I knew that He wasn't Casper the Friendly Ghost, but I wasn't quite sure who He really was
or what He came to do.  Jesus I knew as my friend; I was getting used to God as my Father.  But who was this Holy

It all remained a bit of a mystery - until I ran into  some wild Jesus fanatics!  They sang strange songs, such as the "Holy
Ghost Will Set Your Feet A-Dancin" (Huh? He will do what?  With whom? Not me, Dude!)  As time went on, I fell even
more in love with Jesus and also grew fanatical about the things of the Holy Spirit.  He quickly became one of my closest

Today, He indeed is my friend, partner, guide and co-conspirator.  He wants to be yours as well.  But to get close to Him,
you may have to push through misconceptions, spiritual warfare, debates about religious theories and a bunch of just
plain old opposition, until you come to the place where you and He are rightly related with one another on good
speaking terms.

My friend Quin Sherrer and her coauthor Ruthanne Garlock wrote:

    What an extraordinary gift the Father bestowed upon his children when he sent the Holy Spirit to be our helper!  
    Is it any wonder that Satan tries to be our helper!  Is it any wonder that Satan tries to minimize the significance of
    the gift and divide and confuse the body of Christ concerning it?

Veteran pastor David Wilkerson, founder of Teen Challenge, adds the following timeless insight:

    Give much quality time to communion with the Holy Spirit.  He will not speak to anyone who is in a hurry.  All of
    God's word is about waiting on Him!...Wait patiently.  Seek the Lord and minister praises to Him.  Take authority
    over every other voice that whispers thoughts to you.  Believe that the Spirit is greater than these are, and that
    He will not let you be deceived or blind.  Be willing to set your heart on Him.

Many Christians know a lot about the Holy Spirit.  They write great detailed books and go into the Greek lexicon to
explain Him.  They quote the Old Testament and the New Testament.  Some can instruct us by descriptively defining all
of His diverse functions.  All of this is valuable.

But in the midst of all of it, stop and ask yourself,
Do I really, really know the Holy Spirit as a person, as someone with
whom I am becoming intimate?  Is He really my friend, my Helper, my Comforter and my Guide?
 Even if you feel you
cannot honestly say that you know the Holy Spirit yet, remember that a love relationship is a two-way street.  He is right
beside you, waiting to be entreated.  He is waiting to be engaged.

The Tutor of God's Personal Touch

The Holy Spirit is our counselor and our teacher, yet He is more than a teacher - more like a tutor.  But He is not just
any tutor; He's the kind who truly loves to spend individual, personal time with each of His students.  He is like that rare
kind of guidance counselor who actually becomes a friend.  He is like the teacher who becomes a personal mentor.

As a good teacher, I respect the Spirit highly.  But as my personal tutor, I have such warm affection for Him.  I never had
that for any other teacher or, in some ways, for any earthly friend.

To help us gain a little more light on the subject, let's glance at how the term "tutor" is described in the dictionary.

    tutor n: a person charged with the instruction and guidance of another as a private teacher.

    tutor vi 1: to have guardianship, tutelage, or care of 2: to teach or guide usually individually in a special subject
    or for a particular purpose: COACH ~ vi 1: to do the work of a tutor 2: to receive instruction especially privately.

Here we see more of the potential for the special kind of relationship we can have with the Holy Spirit.  As a personal
Tutor, He is also a personal coach to help us win out on the playing field of life.

In addition - great news! - He's not like an ordinary tutor or teacher who clocks in and out.  As we graduate from one
level of spiritual development to the next, He remains our lifelong personal Tutor.  We start with the best and we end
with the best.  As we end our days here on Earth, He even prepares us for our postgraduate course in life hereafter!  All
along, He individually instructs us as to what life lessons we need to learn, and even in what order to take them.

Who Has Influenced Your Life?

When asked the question, What one person in your life has influenced you the most? often people answer with the
name of a special schoolteacher or coach they had when growing up.  I know that my answer would be: Besides Jesus
Himself, the Holy Spirit has made more of an impact on my life than any person has.

The Holy Spirit leaves an immeasurable impact upon our lives.  He is able to teach, influence and comfort - all at the
same time, always with the most careful love.  Jesus loves us, this we know, but the Holy Spirit shows us that God even
likes us!  God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, likes hanging out with us, and we with Him.

The quality of the time we spend fellowshipping with the Holy Spirit has everything to do with hearing God's voice.  I love
to ask Him questions.  My mother always said I was a very curious child.  With God we all can be curious cats.  Go
ahead, ask Him questions.  The more specific we become in our asking, the more detailed His answers to us will be.

In fact, pause right now and ask God a question.  He will answer!  Watch out, though, the Holy Spirit might turn around
and ask
you some questions, perhaps even give you some tests to take.

Many Classes to Take

God offers such a variety of tremendous classes in His School of the Spirit.  This Tutor specializes in teaching subjects
that are not the same as the ones we find in worldly institutions, because He has something more in mind than merely
imparting knowledge.  He tutors to transform lives!  He offers classes such as Holiness 101, which, of course is followed
by the Fire of Holiness 102.  Then, after we get a fresh grip on holiness (or it does on us!), we jump up into upper-level
classes such as Humility 301 and Death to Self 302.

In a different department of His school, we consider His revelatory teaching grace.  With Him at our elbow, we learn to
dissect the Word of God instead of frogs.  Instead of learning how to diagram sentences or describe verbs and their
tenses, he introduces us to the Author of the Word of God, launching us on an eternity-spanning exploration.

One of His tutorial specialties is one of my favorites: a class on foreign languages (the gift of speaking in tongues).  
Admittance is open to anyone who has taken the prerequisite class, Salvation 101.  After that, there is another related
course called Interpretation of Tongues 102.  Our Guide will enable us to pray in a language we don't have to study in
the traditional way, with ongoing help to translate what we have prayed.

So it goes.  By the way, all of these lessons hone our study skills - we will get better and better at hearing the voice of
God.  (Our personal Tutor is quite interested in that part.)

By the way, history classes are a very important area of expertise for the Holy Spirit.  His slant on history is one that is
entirely accurate.  It is not biased nor does it favor any one certain economic group, nationality or political view.  All of
life is actually His story.

He teaches us how we fit into the big picture; He builds our personal history with God.  While meeting our needs for the
present moment, He establishes something permanent in us for the future, His unshakeable kingdom.  Thus we are
prepared for the real world, the eternal world, where things that really matter include faith, hope, compassion and above
all, true love.  We learn that holiness, righteousness and honesty are far more important than how to read the stock
market and that sacrificial giving is foundational if we want our life story to show that we have followed in Jesus'

The School of the Future

We find another area of study in God's School of the Future.  Can you imagine a real class in which the teacher actually
knows the future, a professor who can teach history before it happens?  The Holy Spirit knows it all.  He even knows
everything about you!  He is omniscient.  He sometimes releases preview clips of things to come.   As a part of His job
description as our personal coach, He gives us cheat sheets by illuminating a Bible passage, imparting dreams,
unfolding visions, and so forth.  He gives us vignettes of things that are about to take place while preparing us for what
lies ahead.  Now He does not tell us everything, or we wouldn't need the commodities called faith and trust.  It is all quite

I distinctly remember one Sunday morning in May 1975, when I was 22 years old.  I was taking one of my regular prayer
walks with God, strolling through Pertle Springs Park in Warrensburg, Missouri.  Actually voicing the question aloud as
though I were talking with a friend walking right beside me, I asked, "Who's for me?"  To my utter amazement, an
immediate reply came softly right into my heart and mind: "Ann Willard."  Somewhat startled, I stuttered, "Who?"  Again it
came: "Ann Willard."

I reacted at this point: "Well, the last I knew, she was practically engaged to some guy studying to be a Methodist
pastor.  Who?"  Once more the affirming voice of the Lord echoed in the chambers of my heart: "Ann Willard.  Not only
that, but by September you will be outwardly engaged and the following May 15 you will be married."  

I must admit, I did like this news.  In fact, I was elated.  Ann and I had worked at the local hospital together the summer
before and had enjoyed each other's company.  As far-fetched as it might sound, it all occurred exactly as it had been
spoken.  Within four months, Ann Willard and I were outwardly engaged.  And on Saturday, May 15, 1976, we were
wed.  (By the way, our marriage has lasted.  At the time of the writing of this book, we have been married for 32 years,
praise the Lord.)

I wish it were always that easy.  It's not!  Before anyone jumps to rash conclusions and makes some blunder, please
hold on long enough to read the rest of this book!  But this I know with assurance - He is the God of the past, the
present and the future.  As we hold His hand in a posture of trust and dependency, we can successfully walk the path
less chosen, the one on which we can be led by His Holy Spirit in every detail of our lives.

He is the Spirit of Truth, and He always points us in the right direction - toward truth.  The Holy Spirit not only gives us a
revelation of truth, but He also builds truthfulness into the depths of our personalities.  We become like Him as we spend
time with Him.  His characteristics are imparted to us.  They rub off on us, as we've seen it happen in our close
relationships.  Having the standard of truthfulness built into our lives drops a plumb line into our character, which
enables us not only to hear but also to discern the voice of God.

Along with truth, our Helper is willing and able to build into the fabric of our being the many other attributes of God's
character.  As Tutor, He has personal interest in seeing us grow in expressing what God is like as we express what we
hear Him saying.

It is to our Advantage

Have you ever needed to know which way to turn?  What choice to make?  Ever feel like you are caught in the awful
position called "transition," where you wonder if things will ever move forward and change?  Don't you sometimes wish
that a complete guidebook or DVD would just drop down from heaven's storehouse into your lap?  Haven't you
sometimes wished for a personal appointment with the man Christ Jesus so that He could tell you everything you want to

But Jesus said, "It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I
go, I will send Him to you" (John 16:7).  Jesus, the Son of God, who cannot lie, told His disciples that its better that the
Holy Spirit come and be with you than for Me to remain.  Jesus had more things to say to His disciples, but they could
not bear them right then.  He knew ahead of time that they would need some ongoing coaching.  He also knew He would
have a lot more disciples to tutor throughout the centuries to come.  So the Master enacted a grand plan:  He would go
back to His Father and they would send the Holy Spirit to the 12 disciples, to the other believers who were with them -
and to all subsequent disciples.

That is what He did.  After Jesus died, He was buried and He rose from the dead.  He ascended into heaven.  Then 50
days later, on the Day of Pentecost, the very breath of God came as a mighty wind with tongues of fire.  The rest we
know as part of our own history.  We are witnesses of the fact that He is still blowing that same fire around the world and
imparting His Spirit to us today.

God has promised in His Word that He will take care of us and never leave us or forsake us.  He knew that when it
comes to walking into the shadows of the unknown, we very much prefer to hold someone's hand and be guided by the
voice of a wise and strong guide.  That's why our Father gave us our very own personal Tutor - His precious Holy Spirit.

Isaiah the prophet declared, "Your ears will hear a word behind you, 'This is the way, walk in it,' whenever you turn to
the right or to the left" (Isaiah 30:21).  Let's begin to learn how to tune in to hear His voice.


THE BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO HEARING GOD, by James Goll, Copyright 2008, Regal From Gospel Light.