Shared Life

[Jesus] receives that Spirit from the Father for us vicariously in His humanity that out of His fullness He might baptise the Church by the Spirit at Pentecost into a life of shared communion, mission and service.

—James F. Torrance, “The Doctrine of the Trinity in Our Contemporary Situation,” in The Forgotten Trinity, 11

The Life of the Church

After the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit in the conception, life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we find the ‘other Paraclete’ (John 14:16) given to the apostles (John 20:22-3), the ‘Promise of the Father’ (Luke 24:29; Acts 1:4-5) made good at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-21; see also 33).  Henceforward the Holy Spirit will be the Life of the church, itself the ‘first fruits’ of God’s new creation (James 1:18) and an instrument in God’s hands for the achievement of God’s purposes among humankind.  The Holy Spirit works from the very beginning to constitute and compose the church and its members, coming to them and abiding in them corporately and individually, starting to transform them in the direction of God’s kingdom and enabling them to bear witness to the gospel for the sake of its extension.

—Geoffrey Wainwright, “The Holy Spirit,” in ed. Colin E. Gunton, The Cambridge Companion to Christian Doctrine (Cambridge Companions to Religion), 284

The Spirit in Us

Believers call upon God in prayer as ‘Abba! Father!’ because the Spirit of God’s Son has been sent into their hearts (Gal. 4:6).  Believers bear ‘fruit’ because the eschatological age has dawned and the Spirit has been poured out upon them (Isa. 32:15; Gal. 5:22-23).  Even the suffering of believers at the hand of the world signifies that ‘the Spirit of glory and of God rests’ upon them (1 Pet. 4:14).

—Andreas J. Köstenberger and Scott R. Swain, Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John’s Gospel, 148

Glorifying the Son

Who, then, is the Spirit according to John? He is the one who descends from the Father upon the Son that he might flow through the Son to all who believe, bringing forgiveness and renewal, life and light. His coming signals the replacement of God’s former dwelling in tabernacle and temple with the triune indwelling of the children of God. His role is to confirm believers’ interest in the Son, and thus in the Father as well, and to continue the mission given by the Father to the Son through the church in the world. The Spirit effects all these things ‘that the Father may be glorified in the Son’ (14: 13 NASB).

—Andreas J. Köstenberger and Scott R. Swain, Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John’s Gospel, 148

A Holy Expectancy

We worship with our sails raised, expecting great things of God, and enjoying, rather than engineering, a contagious spiritual energy. When worship is not about how hard we pray, how comprehensively we confess, how beautifully we sing, how much water is used at the Easter Vigil baptism, or how carefully we follow a rulebook. When instead it is about how open we can try to be to the Spirit’s power, recognizing that the Spirit can work with forms and patterns, norms and names, but is not bound by them—then we can worship with a kind of holy expectancy.

—Ronald Andrew Rienstra, Church at Church: Jean-Jacques von Allmen’s Liturgical Ecclesiology, Location 2737

The Blessed Transfer

From a cognitive, psychology perspective, hope happens when we believe that we have the power and when we believe that we have a path and a plan, but as Christians, we say we don’t need to have the power, and we don’t even need to have the plan or the path. We believe in the God who is all-powerful and the God who makes a way where there seems to be no way. And so every time we worship, when we sing “How Great Is Our God,” “Great Are You, Lord,” we’re saying—we’re transferring, in a sense; we’re transferring agency upward.

—Glenn Packiam,


Be Filled

When in Ephesians 5:18 Paul urges the church to “be filled with the Spirit,” this is not simply an exhortation to individual piety.  It is a charge to be “joined together” (Eph. 2:21) as the people of God, and so, to be the temple.  The command to be filled with the Spirit draws on all of the temple imagery we have surveyed.  Here Paul says, in effect: be the gathered people of God, in whose midst God dwells; be the new temple of God, the place where his presence is made manifest on earth; be the tabernacle of God, the place in the center of the community filled with the radiant glory of God’s Spirit.  The imperative command of verse 18 “is not just another in a long string; rather, it is the key to all the others” [Gordon Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, 791). Indeed, this command can be seen as the culmination of the entire book.

—Steven R. Guthrie, Creator Spirit: The Holy Spirit and the Art of Becoming Human, 78-79


Because the Spirit’s coming includes the coming of the Father and the Son in so far as He mediates and manifests their presence in and among believers (14:23), the Spirit’s presence establishes the trinitarian dwelling of God with His people both now and forever (14:1-3, 16). As such, the Spirit’s coming is in perfect continuity with Jesus’ earthly mission, and complements it in the divine economy of salvation (14:17-18). Through the indwelling of the Spirit, the ancient covenant promise (again) is fulfilled in a distinctly trinitarian way: ‘I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be My people’ (Lev. 26:12; cf. Rev. 21:3).  God’s personal presence is mediated to believers by the Spirit of the Father and the Son.

—Andreas J. Köstenberger and Scott R. Swain, Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John’s Gospel, 188

“He will glorify Me” (John 16:14) (4)

[Acts 2] Notice how Peter’s sermon effectively moves from the signs that the crowd has witnessed, back to Jesus, who is Himself the center of it all. The marvels of that Pentecost gathering are seen merely as pointers to the One who is the center.

—Edith Humphrey, Grand Entrance: Worship on Earth as in Heaven, 52


“He will glorify Me” (John 16:14) (3)

Babel is inverted Pentecost and Pentecost is Babel turned right side up. It is so because God takes the initiative and does His building from His throne, at whose right hand the risen and ascended Christ is seated. I think it safe to say that at Pentecost stylistic singularity went out the window and a thousand tongues turned out not to suffice.

—Harold Best, Unceasing Worship: Biblical Perspectives on Worship and the Arts, 170

“He will glorify Me” (John 16:14)

Think of it this way. It is as if the Spirit stands behind us, throwing light over our shoulder, on Jesus, who stands facing us. The Spirit’s message is never, “Look at Me; listen to Me; come to Me; get to know Me,” but always, “Look at Him, and see His glory; listen to Him, and hear His word; go to Him, and have life; get to know Him, and taste His gift of joy and peace.”

—J. I. Packer, Keep in Step with the Spirit, 66

Through the Spirit

The question may well be asked how it can be that the Word of God made flesh in Jesus Christ can possibly come to us as Word of God through the instrumentality of some minister in the pulpit…this is precisely the same question as to how the Word of God made flesh can come to us in water, bread, and wine through the instrumentality of some minister at font or table.  The two problems are no different, and for both Scripture has an identical answer: whether Christ comes to us from pulpit, font, or table, he does so through the operation of the Holy Spirit.

—John Witvliet, The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Theology and Practice of Christian Worship in the Reformed Tradition (dissertation), 203

Objective and Subjective

For the true hearing of the Word of God, two things are necessary: the inward working and the outward facts.  Apart from the outward facts there is no Word of God.  The Holy Spirit will not speak unless He bears testimony to Jesus Christ.  But apart from the inward working there is no understanding of the facts.  It is the Holy Spirit who must bear testimony to Jesus Christ.

—G. W. Bromiley, “The Spirit of Christ” in Essays in Christology for Karl Barth, ed. T.H.L. Parker, 142

Objective and Subjective

The subjective operation of the Holy Spirit is complemented always by the objective facts of the Gospel. The subjective operation is necessary. Without it the Gospel is to us mere history.  Jesus is, shall we say, a great religious teacher. The death and reported resurrection are incidents which call for discussion and explanation as best we can.  But the objective facts are also necessary.  Without them faith is subject always to the arbitrary pressure of individual preference and speculation.  Apart from the subjective work, we cannot say that Jesus is the Lord, or His death a death for sin, or His resurrection the first-fruits of the new creation of God.  But if the subjective work is really of the Holy Spirit, it will always be Jesus of Nazareth who is the Lord, and the divine forgiveness and re-creation will be inseparably connected with the historical life and death and resurrection of that man Jesus.

—G. W. Bromiley, “The Spirit of Christ” in Essays in Christology for Karl Barth, ed. T.H.L. Parker, 141

Graced Encounter

Christian liturgy is a graced series of personal, relational acts of encounter between God and the gathered community, acts that are made possible through the mediation of Jesus Christ and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

—John Witvliet, The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Theology and Practice of Christian Worship in the Reformed Tradition (dissertation), 298