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. 

No comments:

Post a Comment