The Spirit’s intimate relationship

This is another in a series of excerpts from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” published by the MBC’s High Street Press and available through Amazon and other booksellers.

In the last two columns, we examined biblical evidence for the personhood and deity of the Holy Spirit. In this column, we see how the Holy Spirit enjoys an eternal, intimate relationship with God the Father and God the Son.

Scripture reveals the relationship between the Holy Spirit and the other members of the Godhead. As one example, note how the synoptic Gospel writers report Jesus’ promise to be with His followers when they face persecution:

Matthew 10:19-20 – “But when they hand you over, don’t worry about how or what you are to speak. For you will be given what to say at that hour, because it isn’t you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father is speaking through you.”

Mark 13:11 – “So when they arrest you and hand you over, don’t worry beforehand what you will say, but say whatever is given to you at that time, for it isn’t you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.”

Luke 21:14-15 – “Therefore make up your minds not to prepare your defense ahead of time, for I [Jesus] will give you such words and a wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.” 

These accounts are not in conflict. Rather, they illustrate the inseparability of the divine persons of the Trinity. That is, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, while distinct persons within the Godhead, share the same divine essence and act in perfect harmony. 

We further see this in the Lord’s promise to be with His people: “Jesus answered, ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him’” (John 14:23). 

Jesus promises that both He and the Father will dwell with those who love Him and keep His word. But how is this possible? Because both the Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells His disciples, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you” (John 14:26; emphasis added). 

In the next chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus says, “When the Counselor comes, the one I will send to you from the Father – the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father – he will testify about me” (John 15:26).

Both the Father and Jesus send the Holy Spirit to dwell in the human spirits of the redeemed. Just as the full deity of the Godhead is expressed in bodily form in Jesus (Col. 2:9), so the full deity of the Trinity rests in the Holy Spirit, who resides in the temples of believers’ bodies (1 Cor. 6:19).

The relationship of the three persons of the Trinity is so intimate that Paul describes the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ within a single verse: “You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to him” (Rom. 8:9).

The fellowship that believers experience as a result of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a taste of the supernatural unity that has always existed among the members of the Trinity. Perhaps that’s why Paul and other first-century Christians include all three persons of the Godhead in their praises: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Cor. 13:13).

The Bible is replete with references to the personality and deity of the Holy Spirit. A faithful rendering of God’s Word leads us to the conclusion that the Holy Spirit is an equal partner with the Father and the Son in the Godhead. His role in creation, redemption, and the revealing of Scripture is distinct yet inseparable from the work of the other members of the Trinity. None of the divine persons of the Godhead acts alone. 

While the Spirit in some ways is the most neglected member of the Trinity, Scripture shows Him to possess all the attributes of deity – eternality, omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence, to name a few – while simultaneously exhibiting all the traits of divine personality as the Creator of all and the Counselor to those who follow Jesus.

Next: The Trinity and creation