The role of the Holy Spirit within the Trinity

Once again we had several very good questions texted to us during the sermon Sunday.  I answered a few then, and am going to try to answer a couple more on the blog here.

What is the Holy Spirit’s role in the Trinity?

In his book Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem says the work of the Holy Spirit is “to manifest the active presence of God in the world, and especially in the church.”  This definition is helpful in understanding this question.  Throughout the Scriptures the work of the Holy Spirit manifests God’s presence in ways that demonstrate God’s power and purpose in the world.  In every act of God, all three members of the Trinity are involved and purposeful.  Clearly God is unified in purpose and in His acts, but His unity is expressed as each person within the Trinity fulfills roles.

Generally, the Father is the leader and sets purpose, the Son secures that purpose, and the Holy Spirit applies that purpose as he is the active presence of God.  A couple examples.  In Creation, God the Father speaks the worlds into existence, but the Bible also teaches that all things were created through and for the Son (Colossians 1:16, John 1:1-3, Hebrews 1:1-3).  We also find that the Holy Spirit is hovering over the face of the waters in the act of creation (Genesis 1:2), and Psalm 104:30 indicates that God creates by sending forth His Spirit (see also Psalm 33:6 understanding that the word breath – Hebrew ruach – also means Spirit).

A second example is the ministry of Jesus.  At Jesus’ baptism (Matthew 3:13-17), all three members of the Trinity are revealed.  Jesus, the Divine Son of God is baptized by John and the heavens open.  The voice of God speaks and the Spirit of God descends.  While Jesus did not divest himself of a single attribute of God, He did accept the limitations of humanity.  The Gospels show us that the ministry of Jesus was done in the power of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:28, Luke 4:1, Luke 4:21, John 3:34).

The third area we see the work of the Trinity is within the mission of God.  God is a sending God.  Within the Divine counsel of the Trinity and the mystery of God, the Father has decreed His purposes.  The sending of God in mission is one of the themes of the Bible and especially in the Gospel of John.  Jesus declares several time that the Father sent the Son (John 6:44, John 6:57, John 17:18) and that the Father and Son sent the Spirit (John 14:16, John 14:26, John 15:26).  As each member of the Trinity fulfills His aspect of God’s mission people are saved and the people of God are created.  God then sends His people as an extension of Trinitarian mission (John 17:18, John 20:21-22).

All of this relates to God’s purposes in redemption and salvation.  The Father decrees and initiates our Salvation for His purpose and Glory.  The Son secured our Salvation with His death on the cross.  The Holy Spirit applies our Salvation by giving us life (John 3:5-7, John 6:63), convicting us of sin (John 16:8-10), and making us new (Titus 3:5).

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