Sunday, May 26, 2024

Post #46 The Doctrine of God - How The Doctrine of the Trinity Is Seen In Paul's New Testament Letters


    We've recently looked at how the doctrine of the Trinity is prepared for in the Old Testament here Growing Christian Resources: Post #43 The Doctrine of God: The Old Testament and Jesus' teaching on the Divine Person of the Holy Spirit, expounded upon in Jesus' teaching in the Four Gospels here Growing Christian Resources: Post #44 The Doctrine of God - Summarizing Jesus' teaching on the Holy Spirit's ministries and relationship to the Father and the Son, and witnessed in the preaching of the Book of Acts here Growing Christian Resources: Post #45 The Doctrine of God - How the Trinity Anchored Practices And Preaching In The Book of Acts

    One persistent pattern emerges about the doctrine of God as we progress into the New Testament, namely in how the Trinity is embedded in the thinking of the Biblical authors' explanations of the Christian life. B.B. Warfield's Treatise on the Trinity points out this observation,

"The phenomena of Paul's Epistles are repeated in the other writings of the New Testament. In these other writings also it is everywhere assumed that the redemptive activities of God rest on a threefold source in God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit; and these three Persons repeatedly come forward together in the expressions of Christian hope or the aspirations of Christian devotion." 

    To attempt to disentangle the practices of prayer, baptism, the Lord's Table, evangelism, and church life from the doctrine of the Trinity is to attempt the impossible. Why? Once the early Christians began confessing the deity of Jesus Christ alongside their confession of monotheism from the Old Testament, the doctrine of the Trinity necessarily followed. 

    I've argued already that what the early church was acknowledging was not so much new as it was a more clearer realization of what they faintly understood from the Old Testament. The One God of the Hebrew Bible was identified a plurality of Divine personalities. In Deuteronomy 32 and Proverbs 30:4 the God of Israel is Yahweh, the Father of Israel. The Divine Father has a Son, being also Yahweh in nature yet distinct, described as begotten of Him (Psalm 2:7). This second Divine figure, no doubt the pre-incarnate Son of God, is called "The Angel" (Isaiah 63), "The Word" (Psalm 33:6,9), the "Son of Man" (Daniel 7:13) and even Yahweh (see Genesis 19:24-25). This underlying theology proper or doctrine of God would follow through the Second Temple or Intertestamental literature, where the Jews developed a "two-powers" theology, recognizing the One God of Israel as having two Personages. 

    It is upon the advent of the Son's incarnation that He brings to full light the foundational underpinnings for the robust Trinitarian theology we see developed in the preaching of Acts and now the New Testament letters. The Spirit of God found in the opening verses of Genesis 1:2 is a third Divine Person, given a gradual revelation of being also a Divine Person (1 Samuel 15:29) and performing the same activities as the Father and the Son (Psalm 104; Isaiah 63). Jesus would equate the Spirit of God with Himself and the Father, promising to have Him sent in His name to His church (John 14:17,26; 15:26; Acts 2). 

What the New Testament letters do with the Trinity

    We find the New Testament Epistles or letters continuing on the Trinitarian trajectory set forth by the Old Testament, expounded upon by Jesus and preached by the Apostles in Acts. We will begin with Paul in today's post, since he is responsible for two-thirds of the 27 books of our New Testament. Paul exemplifies this throughout his letters where he writes for example in 1 Corinthians 8:6 

"yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him."

    As we have stressed in the last several posts of this series, Jesus and the Apostles did not introduce a new doctrinal understanding of God as a Triunity. Rather, they were making explicit was already implied in the Old Testament revelation, that God is One in being and plural in personhood. What I want to do in the remainder of this post is set before the reader how the Apostle Paul expressed the Trinity in His letters. 

The Trinity in Paul's introductions to his letters.

    Whenever we read the books of Romans through Philemon (and if we take Hebrews to be written by Paul), we find truths of the doctrine of the Trinity embedded in the introductions. Take Romans 1:7 as an example, 

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."

    The Father is identified with the Divine Title "God", just as we've witnessed already in previous posts - fair enough. But then you'll notice how Jesus Christ is identified with the Divine title of "Lord", translated from "kurios" in the Greek, which reflects the Hebrew name "LORD" or "Yahweh" in the Old Testament. Both titles are ascribed to the God of Israel. The Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, the Septuagint, came to utilize this Greek term "kurios" for "Yahweh". 

    We find two different titles to distinguish these two Divine Persons, who are by nature the same, holy, eternal God who bestows grace and peace. Virtually every other letter Paul wrote begins with some reference to the Father and the Son bestowing grace, mercy, or peace as One God. 

    So too we see inclusion of the Holy Spirit in Paul's opening remarks in 1 Thessalonians 1:5 

"for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake."

    These citations should give the reader a sampling of the pattern we find throughout the New Testament letters again and again. B.B. Warfield notes,

"In numerous passages scattered through Paul's Epistles, from the earliest of them (1Th 1:2-5; 2Th 2:13-14) to the latest (Tit 3:4-6; 2Ti 1:3,13-14), all three Persons, God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, are brought together, in the most incidental manner, as co-sources of all the saving blessings which come to believers in Christ."

The Trinity is seen in what Paul has to say about prayer and worship in His letters

     Paul is fond of including an awareness of the Trinity in his teaching on prayer and worship. When we look into his letter to the Church at Ephesus, we find such Trinitarian thinking in regards to how Christians are to pray and worship. Ephesians 2:18 "for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father." 

    The reader can notice the pattern for prayer - through Him (the Son), in or by One Spirit (or by One Spirit), to the Father. Prayer's trajectory is Father-oriented, since the Father is the one who chose the believer to be His adopted child from eternity (Ephesians 1:4-5). 

    But then notice, those prayers pass through the Son, Jesus Christ, our Supreme mediator, to whom the Father gave each believer as a love-gift to pay the purchase-price of salvation in His blood (Ephesians 1:7; 1 Timothy 2:5). 

    Yet we see too that we cannot pray without the Holy Spirit helping us in our infirmity as weak, frail, helpless people (Romans 8:26). The Holy Spirit closes the circuit that was begun by the Father, through the Son. The whole of prayer is Trinitarian, through-and-through.

    We find too in the Ephesian letter that the public worship of the church is also Trinitarian. Notice Ephesians 4:4-6,

"There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all." 

     The whole life of the church is caught up in living for and worship toward the Trinity. Each Person of the Trinity tends to point to the others. The Spirit, by the Scriptures, points us to the Son. The Son, in turn, always makes it His point to direct our attention to the Father. The Father, sending forth the Son and Spirit into history and time, urges the Christian to draw strength from the Spirit as they focus their eyes upon Jesus Christ. What Paul is teaching us in his letters is that the doctrine of the Trinity is woven into the very fabric of Christian living itself.

Examples of the Trinity seen in aspects of Christian practice and living in Paul's writings.

    I only have space to give but a sampling of where we see the Trinity in other teachings of the Apostle Paul. Whenever he speaks of how God equips the Christian to serve others with spiritual gifts, the reader finds the spiritual gifts distributes along Trinitarian lines in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6,

"Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons."

    As for certain practices, Paul expounds on the meaning of believer's baptism, he utilizes the doctrine of the Trinity, as witnessed in two passages. We find that water baptism symbolizes the union we have with Jesus from saving faith - united in His death and resurrection to the glory of the Father, as explained in Romans 6:4-5,

"Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection."

    The meaning of water baptism is a sign, a symbol, pointing back to the reality of Spirit baptism granted in saving faith. The sign (water baptism) and the thing signified by the sign (Spirit baptism which united the sinner to Christ upon profession of faith) are together the One Baptism we read of in the opening verses of Ephesians 4. Water baptism, subsequent as it is to saving faith, nonetheless points back to what the Holy Spirit did in uniting us to Jesus at the moment of one's profession of faith. As Paul writes of in 1 Corinthians 12:13,

"For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit."

Conclusion: The doctrine of the Trinity seen in how Paul ends his one of his letters to the Church at Corinth

    There is so much more I could write in this post of where we find the Trinity spoken of by Paul in his epistles. Space and time forbid what merits far more comment. We've seen how Paul is thinking of the Trinity in the openings of his letters, pray, worship, Christian living, and certain Christian practices like baptism. It is appropriate to close out today's post by considering the prime example of the Trinity in the close of Paul's letter of 2 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 13:14,

"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all."

Friday, May 10, 2024

Post #45 The Doctrine of God - How the Trinity Anchored Practices And Preaching In The Book of Acts


    As we continue our Biblical survey of the doctrine of God and the doctrine of the Trinity, we come to the Book of Acts. A pattern we find common in the Bible pertaining to God's revelation of Himself is the cycle of God's works, followed by the revelation of His ways. 

    In Genesis, we see God create - His work. Then we see the exposition or revelation of the way in which He did the work (hence Genesis 1-2). This cycle of God's work, then "ways of revelation", is repeated progressively throughout the Bible. God acted in history, followed by a codifying all He did in creation, providence, and redemption, though means of the Divine inspiration of Scripture. Scripture does not merely witness to what God did, it is the revelation of all He achieved. The entire Old Testament is a testimony of God's work of creation, providence, and redemption, followed up by the ways of His revelation put into writing via the prophets.

    The time between the Old and New Testaments, known in the technical literature as "the second temple era" or the "intertestamental period" witnesses a temporary cessation of this cycle of "God acting, followed by revelation" for four hundred years. We could say that the Jews spent four centuries reflecting upon the revelation they had received through the 39 books of Genesis to Malachi. 

    It is then that the Son of God is incarnated in history as the man Jesus Christ. Once Christ arrives in history through His incarnation, the cycle resumes. Jesus came as the decisive revelation of God in the flesh. He came to work the final work of redemption here on earth, and then to ascend after His resurrection to do His work as Mediator in the Heavens (see Hebrews 10:19-25). The Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and John's Apocalypse serve as the final body of revelatory literature, disclosing God's ways through the incarnate Son of God and the ongoing work of the Spirit. The New Testament, along with the Hebrew Bible or "Old Testament", completes God's written revelation of His acts in creation, providence, and redemption, as well as predicting what will be Christ's return and consummation of the ages. 

The Triune God in the practices and preaching of the Christians in the Book of Acts

    The reader may notice in my introductory comments above how embedded the doctrine of the Trinity is in the fabric of Scripture. We've witnessed the Old Testament's setting the stage for this doctrine. No doubt Jesus spoke time and again about His own relationship with the Father. He further elaborated on His promise of the Holy Spirit. These two-sets of truths show how all three Persons of the Trinity worked together as One God in the drama of redemption accomplished in the four Gospel accounts. But what about the Book of Acts, and the remainder of the New Testament for that matter? 

    The 19th century theologian B.B. Warfield wrote a wonderful article on the Doctrine of the Trinity in His volume "Biblical and Theological Studies", an essay that readers can access in the online "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia" here Trinity, 1 - International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.. What Warfield has to say is relevant to our posting today,

    "The relation of the two Testaments to this revelation is in the one case that of preparation for it, and in the other that of product of it. The revelation itself is embodied just in Christ and the Holy Spirit. This is as much as to say that the revelation of the Trinity was incidental to, and the inevitable effect of, the accomplishment of redemption. It was in the coming of the Son of God in the likeness of sinful flesh to offer Himself a sacrifice for sin; and in the coming of the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment, that the Trinity of Persons in the Unity of the Godhead was once for all revealed to men." 

    When you consider the practices of the early church as demonstrating their consciousness of the Triune character of the God of the Bible, one can begin with the practice of Baptism. Jesus gave the church the practice of Baptism as one of two ordinances or commands. In Matthew 28:19-20 we find Him commanding the disciples to go into all the world and make disciples of all the nations, teaching them, and then "baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit". 

    When we come to Acts 2:41, 8:12, and other places in Acts of the Apostles, we see Christian converts being baptized in the name of Jesus. This isn't a denial of the Trinity in the Baptismal formula. If anything, to be baptized in the name of Jesus was still affirming the plurality of persons in the Godhead, since public identification with all that was entailed in public confession of Jesus was resident in His name (The true deity, co-equality of the Son with the Father, plus He and the Father's promised sending of the Holy Spirit). 

    No doubt the practice of worship, prayer, and preaching in the Book of Acts showed how central the Trinity was in the Christians' minds. For instance, Peter's inaugural sermon on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 explains the event of Pentecost by reference to all three Persons of the Trinity. In Acts 2:17, reference is made to the Father's sending of the Spirit, wherein Peter quotes the prophet Joel "God says 'I will pour forth my Spirit'". Peter later in the sermon mentions all three Persons of the Trinity in Acts 2:33

"Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear."

    Throughout the Book of Acts you'll encounter roughly twenty sermons, half of which center upon the Resurrection of Jesus. In one of the Apostle Peter's sermons, we find him mentioning the Trinity in Acts 10:38

"You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him." 

    The Apostle Paul's preaching is also recorded in the Book of Acts, referencing language that points us to the Trinity. One example is found in Acts 13:33, where Paul quotes Psalm 2:7, a passage that depicts the eternal Son of God and the Father in an inter-Trinitarian dialogue,

"that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘You are My Son; today I have begotten You.’"

    Like I said, there are roughly twenty sermons in the Book of Acts, most of which have woven within them a Trinitarian understanding of God's acts and revelation of Himself. 

    I only need to mention a couple other examples of practices of the early Christians to round out our study today.

1. The Lord's Supper.

    In addition to Baptism, Jesus had given one other command or ordinance to His church, the Lord's Table. In Acts 2:46 we read of how the early Christians were "breaking bread" from house-to-house. It is most likely this was reference to eating of meals together, however we could also include that they observed the Lord's Supper as a church gathered together. 

    The text states they continued in the Apostle's teaching. What was it that the Apostles had taught? In context, Peter had expounded to those gathered on the Day of Pentecost of the promised Holy Spirit, and how He came as a consequence of the ascension of Christ, as promised by the Father (see Acts 2:1-37 for the whole sermon preached by Peter). 

    The Lord's Supper, initiated by Jesus on the Eve of His crucifixion, represented not only His accomplished work of redemption, but also the body of believers. The three-thousand people saved that day were summarily baptized and had occasion to celebrate the Lord's Supper and other acts of fellowship with one another (Acts 2:42-47). No doubt the Trinity informed these practices of the early Christians.

2. Church Discipline.

    Jesus first taught about church discipline in Matthew 18. He expounded what I call "The Great Concern", namely the concern over the holiness of believers in what would be the forthcoming Church birthed on the Day of Pentecost. Accountability is so important in the Christian-life. The local church is designed by God to be a community in which Christians urge one another onto love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:23-25). 

    In Acts 5:3-5 we see the harrowing episode of the deceit of Ananias and Sapphira, a married couple who pretended to sell property to give to the church, while lying about how they secretly held back some of the proceeds for themselves. The Apostle Peter  publicly confronted them. In the passage, we find one of the strongest passages concerning the Personality and Deity of the Holy Spirit,

"But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it." 

    We see in verse three above that this couple had lied to the Holy Spirit. Then in the next verse, Peter tells them they have lied to God. The Lord disciplined these two by way of physically taking their life! This was what the Apostle John would later refer to as "the sin unto death" (1 John 5:16-17). 

    The deity and Personality of the Holy Spirit follows from the doctrine of the Trinity, since the one divine nature is equally and wholly in the Father, in the Son, and in the Holy Spirit. What is remarkable here is that the early Christians, Jews by background, would have had no problem affirming the deity of the Spirit of God, since He is mentioned as God in the Hebrew Bible (as early as Genesis 1:2, and most robustly Psalm 104:30, Isaiah 63:10, plus several other places). To mention one of the of the Divine Persons is to automatically include the other two. Even in this traumatic scene, the Triune God was deeply embedded in the spiritual life of the early Christians - Peter most notably.

Closing thoughts

    Today we looked at how we see the doctrine of the Trinity shaping the preaching and practices of the early church in the Book of Acts. Although I've given only a sampling of the full scope of references for sake of space, the reader ought to perceive how much the doctrine of the Trinity factored into the Church's understanding of itself. This ought to also demonstrate that the doctrine of the Trinity is not just a speculative doctrine, but highly practical in helping the Christ-follower and the Bible believing church to remain faithful to the Biblical revelation of the Triune God.  

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Post #44 The Doctrine of God - Summarizing Jesus' teaching on the Holy Spirit's ministries and relationship to the Father and the Son


       As we move ahead in our study of the doctrine of the Trinity, I've labored these last several posts to set forth the Biblical theological understanding of the doctrine of God. Before we can consider the Systematic theological treatment of the Trinity (that is, theological conclusions we draw from the Biblical text in conversation with other disciplines), we must first have an understanding of how God progressively revealed Himself through the Bible. 

    The task of Biblical theology with respect to the doctrine of the Trinity it two-fold: God's unity of being and plurality of identity as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Once this foundational work is completed, only then can we move onto consideration of what Christians throughout church history understood reflected in the Biblical data (Historical theology). Consequently, once the work of Biblical theology and historical theology are considered, we can then reap the harvest of systematic theological reflection. 

    We surveyed the Old Testament's teaching and revelation of the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. In this post, we will observe how Jesus handled the revelation of the Spirit's identity and work. 

    Much the same way we observed in our studies of Jesus' teaching on the relationship between Himself and the Father, so too we shall see how Jesus' teaches the Personhood and true deity of the Holy Spirit. Such observations will reinforce to us the Trinitarian understanding of the doctrine of God found in the remainder of the New Testament. 

What Jesus taught on the Holy Spirit

    Throughout the four Gospels we find references to the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. Author John Walvoord's book "The Holy Spirit" summarizes these mentions of the Holy Spirit in the life of Jesus by way of five headings.

1. The Holy Spirit in Christ as a child.

    Isaiah 11:2-3; 42:1-4; 61:1-2 all refer to the anointing of the Messiah with the Holy Spirit. It is in passages such as Luke 1:35; 2:40,52 and John 3:34 that we find the Holy Spirit accompanying Jesus from His virginal conception and early life. Let readers be reminded that the incarnate Son of God has two natures or "two ways of expressing His Personality". There is the "Divine nature" which He shares eternally with the Father and Holy Spirit. Then, we have the "human nature" He received when the Holy Spirit united true humanity to the Person of the Son in the virginal conception in Mary (see Matthew 1:20-23; Luke 1:35). 

2. The Holy Spirit and the baptism of Jesus.

     It was the prediction of Old Testament prophecies (such as Isaiah 11; 61:1-2) that the Messiah, as a man, would be marked by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, which was fullfilled by Jesus once He was publically baptized. The Spirit of God's working was with the incarnate Son from the beginning of His human life. The empowerment and Messianic anointing phase of the Spirit's working began at Jesus' baptism, thus initiating Him into public ministry. 

      Scriptures such as Matthew 3:17 record for us the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of a Dove. This public anointing of Jesus was a public way of expressing that Jesus was indeed God's Messiah. Walvoord comments on the scene in Matthew 3:17 - "The Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove, and Christ was coming up from the Jordon. No better instance of the revelation of the Trinity could be desired." 

    Readers may note that in Jesus' baptism, we have the voice of the Father from Heaven, coupled with the descent of the Spirit upon the Son of God incarnate.

3. The Holy Spirit in relationship to Christ's public ministry (Luke 4:18 compared to Isaiah 61:1-2; also see Matthew 12:28; Mark 5:30; Luke 5:17; 6:19; 8:46). 

4. The Holy Spirit in relationship to the sufferings of Christ.

    Walvoord reminds us here of how the Holy Spirit drove Christ into the wilderness to face Satan the Temper in Mark 1:12 and Luke 4:14. No doubt the writer of Hebrews references the Holy Spirit's work in enabling Jesus to endure suffering on the cross, thus presenting His once-for-all sacrifice to the Father (Hebrews 9:14). 

5. The Holy Spirit's relation to the resurrection and glorification of Christ. 

    Jesus had already indicated in John 11:25 that He was the resurrection and the life. In John 10:17-18, Jesus stated that He could lay down His life and take it up at will. As to the Holy Spirit's work in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, Paul calls Him the "Spirit of holiness" that exercised that resurrection power in Christ's lifeless body to raise Him in Romans 1:4. The Apostles commonly credited the Holy Spirit with the work of raising our Lord from the dead (see Acts 2:32-36; 1 Peter 3:18). 

    Coupled with Jesus' resurrection is the Holy Spirit's activity in His ascension, especially in how He works with the Son in the distribution of spiritual gifts to the church (Ephesians 4:12-16; 1 Corinthians 12:1-7). The coming of the Holy Spirit to empower the church at Pentecost was proof positive of Jesus' ascension (see Acts 2:22-36). 

    It is no wonder that Jesus taught so much on the Person and work of the Holy Spirit, since the Spirit Himself was resident in Christ's humanity, as well as active throughout His life, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension. We find the following two ideas summarizing what Jesus taught about the Holy Spirit.

1. The Holy Spirit as the Divine Person of the Comforter.

    The Deity and Personality of the Holy Spirit are evident in what Jesus taught about Him as "the Comforter", "Helper", or "Paraclete" in John 14:16; 15:26-27; and 16:7. This truth of the Holy Spirit as the Comforter calls to mind all of the references to Yahweh as the "Helper" or "Comforter" of Israel (Deuteronomy 33:26; Deuteronomy 33:29; Psalm 115:9; Isaiah 41:14, 44, 49:8;Hosea 13:9). No doubt the Holy Spirit's predicted ministry to believers would come as a consequence of Jesus' accomplished work and the sending forth of the Spirit by Himself and the Father (see John 14:26; John 15:26).

2. The mutual indwelling of the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son.

    A couple of posts back I devoted time to showing how Jesus as the Son taught about He and the Father's mutual indwelling or unity with one another as the One True and Living God. 

    This "He in me" language is Jesus' theological short-hand for summarizing how He and the Father are distinct Persons yet truly God within the Godhead or Divine nature. In John 14:17 and 14:23, we see a prime example of how the Holy Spirit would mutually indwell somehow with the Father and the Son in the indwelling ministry He would come to have in the life of believers. 

    Jesus also used this same "Him in Me, I in Him" language to convey the Holy Spirit's work of uniting the Christian to Christ upon their profession of faith in Him. 

    Such a work is what theologians call the "believer's union with Christ". It is this union with Christ that the Spirit uses to bring to every Christian the Person and ministry of Jesus on their behalf in Heaven, so that they may sense their Savior at work within them (see Romans 6:4-12; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27 and roughly 100 other places in the New Testament that use the phrase "in Christ"). The Holy Spirit weds our humanity to His in a wondrous work that Peter describes as "participation in the Divine nature" (2 Peter 1:3-4). What this means is that all that Christ is and has done is mine to experience, enjoy, and to ground my identity.  

    This closeness of "mutual indwelling that the Holy Spirit shares with Christ is of such nature that seven New Testament passages refer to Him as "the Spirit of Christ" or some other variation (Acts 5:9; 8:39; Acts 16:7; Rom 8:9; Galatians 4:6; Phil 1:19; 1 Pet 1:11). 

    Much like what we saw in the mutual indwelling language of the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit's mutually indwelling work with the Father and the Son entails His "unity of essence" with the Father and Son, while preserving His distinct identity as the third member of the Trinity. 

Closing thoughts for the day.

    We have witnessed how much the Old Testament set the tone for the New Testament's teaching of the Holy Spirit as a distinct member in the Godhead, co-equal in power and glory with the Father and the Son. We also observed how Jesus carried on such a "Trinitarian consciousness" in His teaching about the Holy Spirit. In the next post we will lay out what the remainder of the New Testament teaches about the Godhead with respect to the Divine unity of the Godhead and the three distinct Persons.