Lord and Giver of Life
The Holy Spirit, you could say, is the most misunderstood person in the Godhead. Although not perfectly we have the concept God as our creator and redeemer. Much of theological discussion has centered around Christology or Theology, many systematic volumes spend little time on the Holy Spirit, in one chapter (this I believe is because the work of the Holy Spirit is the tread which ties many of the chapters together, as we will mention below with inseparable operations).
Jesus explains to his disciples in John 16:7, “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.” Jesus explains that it to our advantage that he would depart. The Spirit coming is not a disadvantage but an advantage, one which we rarely have considered. The Reformation is known for the Five Solas or T.U.L.I.P. These ten points are vital to understanding the reformation. However, one aspect that is often not emphasized enough or even taught frequently is the third person of the Trinity and these ten points. The importance of understanding the Holy Spirit is the essential link in all of what the Reformers taught. One dissertation that I have thought needs to be written is the ‘Pneumatology of John Calvin.’ John Calvin’s understanding of salvation is not correctly understood if you don’t grasp his teaching on the Holy Spirit. To properly understand the reformed tradition requires a Biblical understanding of the third person of the Godhead. The reformation did not re-invent theology they just opened the Bible to discover orthodox theology.
The creed explains that the Holy Spirit is the giver of life. It would require a book to unpack the glorious truth of that statement (Which we do not have the space to do so). Job writes that “The Spirit of God made me” (Job 33:4). Without the breath of life from God we would be a clump of dirt (Gen 2:7). Jesus described, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63). The Spirit’s work applies the grace given in the Gospel to the believer. The Holy Spirit gives life, not only has life to be taken up but is the one who gives the gift of life. The Holy Spirit gives life to believers making them willing, and able to Believe (Ezek 36:26-27; John 6:44-45). The Holy Spirit breathes life into our stone-cold hearts. Daniel Burgess said,
“We do now as much need to have the Spirit of God live in us as ever, we did need the Son of God to die for us.”
It would be good to be reminded of the doctrine of inseparable operations which I have mentioned before. The bible does associate certain aspects of redemption and sanctification to the work of the Holy Spirit (2 Thess 2:13). However, we need to be cautious to associate these aspects to the Holy Spirit alone. We cannot separate the external operations of the Triune God because each person is operative in all of God’s external works. Although we might emphasis a certain aspect to one person of the Godhead, it is never that person acting alone. With the case of the Holy Spirit as mentioned by Jesus in John 16:7, the Holy Spirit’s work relates to Christ’s accension and his sending. We will look at this more over the next few weeks. The Holy Spirit gives testimony to our adoption, by the Father, which is purchased through the Son (Rom 8:15-16).