“I Believe in the Holy Spirit”


The Holy Spirit is fully God, the whole God, the only true God. He is God in a different way of being than the Father or the Son, a uniquely and irreducibly distinct kind of divine Person. He is who he is because of the Father and the Son, and they are the Persons they are because of him (mutual hypostatization; they “em-Person-ize” each other and receive identity from each other).

The Father and Son mutually indwell each Other in the communion of the Holy Spirit. The Father gives himself to the Son in the Person of the Spirit, and the Son returns the self-gift in the Person of the same Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the “God-ness,” the very divinity of the God who is love. The Spirit is the holiness of the Triune God, the holiness of a God who exists in mutual belonging. (He is called “the Holy Spirit” because he is God existing in his love, which is so other, so foreign to our sinful existence, yet simultaneously so good for sinners.) The Spirit is the essence of God, insofar as he is the Father’s Being in the Son and the Son’s Being in the Father. The Spirit is the power of God, the freedom to love in complete self-gift. The Spirit is God’s love, God’s joy, personified in the act of being given. The Spirit is the glory of God (John 17:5), the very substance of God, God given to us for our knowledge of and delight in God. He is the promise of God (Acts 2:33, 38-39), the divine nature of whom we partake (2 Peter 1:3-4).

Jesus Christ is who he is because of the Holy Spirit, in both his divinity and his humanity. “Christ” is shorthand for “the Spirit-Anointed Son of the Father.” This same Spirit of Christ’s own Sonship is the Spirit of our adoption (Romans 8:15), because Jesus has anointed us with his own Anointing, baptized us with his own Spirit (Mark 1:8; Acts 1:5). The Spirit of Christ is the Spirit, not just of God, but of the God-man, and so in Christ he is our Spirit. Jesus has given us his eternal Spirit so that his union with God would be our unity in the church (John 17:22; Ephesians 4:3). Through the communion of the Spirit we become “sons” of God (whether male or female), sharing with Jesus his own full rights of divine inheritance. The Spirit takes everything that belongs to Christ and makes it ours: namely, Christ’s relationship with the Father. The Spirit is the Giver of Life, given to unite us to God in Christ, and it is only by his powerful presence that we are regenerated (John 3:7-8), made able to respond to God with faith and a fruitful life (Galatians 5:22-23). The Spirit directs our attention to Jesus Christ for complete redemption and fulfillment (John 14:26). He is the One by whom we are convicted of our sin and our need for Christ (John 16:7-9). He is the one by whom we know that we belong to God and that God belongs to us, the substance of the covenant promise (1 John 2:27; 4:13). He is the one by whose gifts we may truly love and edify one another in the church. The Spirit is the One by whom we are made “spiritual.” Human spirituality has to do with the Holy Spirit, or else it is not true spirituality. Thus, true spirituality is a community affair, and cannot be practiced in isolation or apart from prayer. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship (communion) of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14).

Who has the Holy Spirit? What is the Spirit’s role in prayer? What is the Spirit’s “relationship” to the Scriptures? How does biblical spirituality manifest in a person’s life? What are some current manifestations of the Spirit’s work in your life? Why does it seem like the Holy Spirit is so subtle in his presence and work? How do you know that you have the Holy Spirit? (Hint: think about the whole phrase from the Creed…)

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