We come to the final person of the Trinity in this podcast --- the Holy Spirit.
We can’t fully explain the Trinity, for that would mean we could explain the essence of God.
The point is that when we think of the Oneness of God we should think of the Threeness of God, and when we think of the Threeness of God, we should think of the Oneness.
Give it a try this week. When we think about God, we should always consider how the Trinity is at work. It can be hard to learn to think this way but it brings great reward.
So for example, Jesus Christ must be understood through the presence and work of the Holy Spirit. He does not act alone, he acts through the Spirit.
Matt Miller brought this out in his recent sermon on Luke 3 and the baptism of Jesus.
And all of it according to the plan of God the Father. In other words, when we watch Jesus act, speak, die, and rise again we are actually watching the Trinity at work.
That is a Christian view of Jesus’ life and work. It was NOT an individual work that Jesus did on His own—which would not be a Christian view. That is unitarian, not Trinitarian.
When the Church gathers to worship and outsiders come in to see and hear, they should be confronted with the fact that God is triune. They should not walk away with a unitarian view of God.
Consider the Holy Spirit theologically before we get into the myriad of passages for today.
The agent in which Jesus is begat in the womb.
The agent to bring communication from divine to human.
The agent to strengthen Jesus to do His works, especially that of being the perfect sin-bearer.
The agent that brings God's grace upon a person through a transforming of the mind and intellect. The bible calls it a new heart.
This too is very Trinitarian. The Spirit gives us life (regeneration) as well as faith to trust in Jesus' work on his behalf, and therefore unites us to Jesus so that we can then relate for the first time to the Father as our Father.
He doesn't just give us life or a new heart and that’s it.
Rather, the work of the Spirit in uniting us to Jesus radically affects us in one way that so many Christians struggle over—prayer.
Because we are united to Christ, all our prayers are channeled through Jesus to the Father.
Your prayers do not stand on their own because you said so, but because, in a sense, they are the prayers of Jesus. So the Father is hearing them because Christ is bringing them to Him.
We wrongly think that we need that hour of prayer every day to really get the Father's attention.
This then leads to a lot of unfounded guilt because you don't find yourself praying like that. Though an hour of prayer is good, consider two key observations in relation to the Trinity.
First, your prayers are never heard by the Father because of your time spent praying them. They are received because Jesus brings them to the Father. And what makes you able to pray is the new life in the Spirit.
And second, do not perceive of yourself as more spiritual because you pray that amount. If you pray for an hour, let it be because you are filled with the confidence that the Father receives the prayers because they come through the Son in the power of the Spirit.
One final point before getting into the Spirit’s deity is that He is the agent of sanctification.
He is the one who makes you holy.
John Owen argued that only the Christian is truly tempted. Why? Because only the believer has the Spirit within them resisting the sin that is in us. And only the Christian has that true life within himself.
Deity of the Spirit:
It’s interesting to note that since the 4th century there’s been essentially no debate whether the Spirit is God. The only time it’s debated is when there’s a question as to whether he is a person or merely a force.
So what’s important to understand is that the Spirit is more than a force or energy. Rather, He’s presented in the Scriptures as God Himself.
So first, we need to see that He’s a person, and that personality is attributed to Him.
-- He can be blasphemed. And to ascribe eternal damnation to this sin only makes sense if He is God.
John 14:16 "And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you.
-- We are able to know Him.
-- We are helped and comforted by Him.
-- He lives with and in us.
John 15:26 "When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me.”
-- bears witness of Christ.
—gives guidance in revelation.
"And the Spirit said to Philip, "Go up and join this chariot." (Acts 8:29)
—Speaks to Philip.
“And while they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." (Acts 13:2)
---- Speaks to the church.
Notice it also says, “set apart for Me,” This shows the idea that He’s God. He’s not saying to set the men apart for God, but for “Me.”
“And they passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia” (Acts 16:6)
---- Here the Spirit forbids and prevents actions.
There’s mystery here. The Spirit is preventing the preaching of the gospel.
---- A passage to think about with regard to free will.
“For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14)
“And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26)
---- Groans in intercession, and prays on our behalf.
---- He also helps us.
1 Corinthians 2:10-13
1 Corinthians 12:11
—dispenses gifts, showing that he has a will.
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Eph. 4:30)
"How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? (Heb. 10:29)
---- Insulted (similar here to blaspheming the Spirit).
In this same passage Jesus is treated in the same way as the Spirit. And it’s without doubt that Jesus was a person.
Second, He possesses divine attributes.
Omniscience—1 Corinthians 2:10 "For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God."
Omnipresence—Psalm 139:7 "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?"
Truth—1 John 5:7 "And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is the truth.
He is the Spirit of life in Romans 8:2.
He is the Spirit of love in 2 Timothy 1:7.
He is the eternal Spirit in Hebrews 9:14.
He is the Spirit of Glory in 1 Peter 4:14.
He is the “Holy” Spirit - all over the Bible.
He is the Spirit of many things in Isaiah 11:2: “And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.”
He is the Spirit of grace in Hebrews 10:29.
So there’s many attributes, but they’re attributes that can’t be attributed to a mere force. They’re attributes that are connected to the idea of personhood, and something which possesses personhood.
Third, there are passages that overtly state that He is God.
"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? 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." (Acts 5:3-4)
---- Note that He is called God.
---- Also note that He is able to be put to the test (verse 9).
1 Corinthians 12:11-18
Both God and the Spirit place believers into the Body of Christ (the Church)
Throughout the passage, what’s important to notice is how casually it goes between the Spirit and God in the working and dispensing of spiritual gifts. They’re one and the same, yet distinct.
Acts 28:25 with Isaiah 6:1-13 (note who is speaking in Isaiah).
“And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word, "The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers...”
The Isaiah passage is the well known one of Isaiah’s vision of God. What’s important to see is how the one talking to Isaiah is YHWH. Which now in Acts 28 is assigned as the Spirit.
This is also the passage Jesus points to as referring to Himself!
1 Corinthians 3:16 with 6:19.
In chapter 3 it says that we are the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in us (the church).
Then in chapter 6 it says we are the temple of the Spirit and that He is from God.
Notice how Paul is able to refer to it as a temple of God in one place and the temple of the Holy Spirit in another.
Ephesians 2:19-22 “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.”
There you go, the Trinity as revealed in the Bible.
This is not a negotiable issue and it needs to be taught in the churches again.
We are not preaching sound theology in our churches.
The people need to demand this from their pastors. This is not a point to be silent about.
We had a couple of folks a few years back who decided that the modalistic view of God was sufficient. It was creating all sorts of questions in the minds of other members. It was this event that brought about a 12-13 part series of sermons on the Trinity.
This is something worth fighting for and it is even something to divide over. It is the gospel in the fullest sense of the word.
Next time we’ll talk about the how the Trinitiarn nature of God works itself out with respect to creation.