A Conclusion to The Holy Spirit: His Work and Ministry in the Gospels

This post brings to an end the series on: “The Holy Spirit: His Work and Ministry in the Gospels.” As we started this series we focused our attention to how the Spirit worked in the life and ministry of Jesus. From there, we moved on to what Jesus specifically taught about the Spirit. The work of the Holy Spirit is vast in a believer’s life. It is one that empowers us to live, work, minister and worship. He enables us to do more things that we could ever imagine. It is a reminder that every single breath we take is a gift of our Father. The Spirit helps us in every aspect of our lives. He encourages us and will lift our prayers up to be in perfect harmony with the Father.

As we conclude this series, I posed this question earlier and will restate it: Think of the the ways you not living dependently on the Spirit. Ask God for wisdom to lead you and reveal those areas. But also ask for wisdom to start living a more dependent life on the only thing that can truly help us.


 

It is only by this Holy Spirit that Christians can conduct their ministry of witnessing to all people about Jesus. Just as the disciples received the Holy Spirit, so believers receive “power from on high” (Luke 24:49) to spread the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Gospel writers show the Holy Spirit is the identifier in both Christ and believers, is vital for proclaiming and understanding the gospel, is given on faith in Christ, and will guide believers into all truth. His ministry to unbelievers includes conviction of sin, righteousness and judgment. Luke emphasizes the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ ministry more sharply than the other Gospels; in it, Luke “reveals the reality of the Spirit’s power and presence as he is poured upon Jesus. He traces the Spirit of Christ in his public ministry: from his baptism to the cross; from his transfiguration to his resurrection; to the glorious portrait of Christ ascending into heaven.”[1] John provides evidence of the Spirit’s filling by bringing the one in whom He abides to an ever increasing understanding of the Scriptures with all their sanctifying power (John 17:17).[2]

The Gospel writers show that the Holy Spirit was involved in Jesus’ life from conception, while in the womb, in others like Simeon, Zechariah, and Elizabeth, and in His baptism. The Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted. The Spirit empowered Jesus for His earthly ministry to preach, teach and do the miraculous signs and wonders.

The Gospels provide the reader with Jesus’ own teaching on the divine Person and work of the Holy Spirit. Just as the Spirit empowered Jesus for ministry, Jesus taught that the Spirit will empower the believers to preach the good news to all nations and baptize them. He taught that the Counselor will guide believers into all truth and strengthen them to speak in times of trial. The Spirit will reveal the Scriptures and remind the believers of Christ’s teachings. Jesus taught them that the Spirit will indwell the believer as Jesus goes to the Father to intercede for them. The Spirit will make known the message to the believer that originated with Christ. Jesus told us that the Spirit’s work is in glorifying the Son and will lead believers to greater worship of the Father. The Gospels show that the Spirit is an answer to Jesus’ prayer and reveal how the believer needs the Holy Spirit every day, in every way, and in everything.


[1] R. C. Sproul, A Walk with God: An Exposition of Luke, (Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1999), 14-15.

[2] Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 6, 222.


Bibliography

Blum, E. A. “John.” In The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, edited by J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2, 266-348. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1985.

Carson, D. A. The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992.

Chafer, Lewis Sperry. He that is Spiritual. Moody Press: Chicago, 1918.

______. Systematic Theology, vol. 5. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1993.

______. Systematic Theology, vol. 6. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1993.

Constable, Thomas. “Notes on John.” Sonic Light. 2015. Accessed 25 January 2015. http://soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/john.pdf.

Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology, 3rd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013.

Harris, W. Hall “A Theology of John’s Writings.” In A Biblical Theology of the New Testament, edited by Roy B. Zuck, 167-242. Chicago: Moody Press, 1994.

Huffman, D. S. “Luke, Gospel of.” In The Lexham Bible Dictionary, edited by J. D. Barry et al., section “The Holy Spirit.” Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014. Logos Bible Software.

Manser, Martin. “Holy Spirit,” Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies, section 3200. London: Martin Manser, 2009. Logos Bible Software

Martin, J. A. “Luke,” In The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, edited by J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck, vol. 2., 198–266. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1985.

Mathews, S. H. “The Holy Spirit in the Gospel of John.” American Journal of Biblical Theology. Accessed 25 January 2015, http://www.biblicaltheology.com/Research/MathewsSH01.pdf.

Schweizer, Eduard. The Holy Spirit. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1980.

Sproul, R. C. A Walk with God: An Exposition of Luke. Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1999.

White, J. E. “John.” In Holman Concise Bible Commentary, edited by D. S. Dockery, 463-492. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998.

Wiersbe, W. W. “John.” In The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1996.

Zoccali, C. “Spiritual Gifts.” In The Lexham Bible Dictionary, edited by J. D. Barry et al., section “Gospel Accounts.” Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014. Logos Bible Software

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The Teaching of Christ Concerning the Holy Spirit

This post continues the series on “The Holy Spirit in the Gospels.” We have just concluded looking at how the Spirit impacted the ministry of Christ, so we must now turn our attention to what our Lord Jesus spoke of this Helper, Comforter, and Counselor. We remind ourselves that before Christ left this earth, He offered the disciples several words of encouragement about the coming Spirit. This post will provide an introduction to the next section of the overall paper, and will foreshadow what is to come.


 

The Teaching of Christ Concerning the Holy Spirit

The Gospels record Christ teaching about the Spirit in a variety of different ways. As Jesus lived in the Spirit and the Spirit was active in Jesus’ life and ministry, Jesus knew that He must prepare His disciples for his departure. Speaking to the disciples and people of that time, and with future believers in mind, the Gospels record Jesus speaking at lengths about the Spirit: who He is, what He will do, how He will come, why He will come, and when He will come. Jesus taught what it means to live in the Spirit, which includes: the Spirit will indwell them (John 14:17), blasphemy against the Spirit is unpardonable (Matt 12:31-32; Mark 3:29-30; Luke 12:10), the Spirit will guide them into all truth (John 16:12-15), and provide wisdom and words (Matt 10:20; Mark 13:11; John 14:15-16; 16:16). As Jesus ministered in the Spirit, it was important that they knew what it meant to minister in the Spirit, such as: Jesus promised the Spirit to the disciples and all who believe (Matt 10:20; Mark 13:11; Luke 11:13; 12:12; John 7:37-39; 14:15-17, 26), the Sprit would empower, teach and guide believers to preach the Gospel (Matt 28:19; Luke 24:48-49; John 14:26; 15:2-27; 16:13-15; 20:22), open their minds to being born in the Spirit (John 3:5-6, 8). Finally, Jesus knew that in order to live and minister in the Spirit, they must know the Spirit is worthy of worship since He is God, and the Spirit would facilitate true worship to the Father (John 4:23-24). Jesus said it was better that He go and the Spirit would come (John 16:7) since the Spirit is the “Counselor” (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7) so that the Spirit would remind the believer of the words of Christ and have communion with the Godhead (John 4:23-24).

Jesus Living by the Spirit

Continuing the study on the ministry of the Spirit in the life of Christ and what Jesus taught on the Spirit, this post will focus on the life and ministry of Christ and how He lived in the Spirit. Right after Jesus was baptized, He was led into the wilderness by the Spirit. From there, we see how the Spirit was active in the life of Christ as He walked this earth fully human, yet fully divine. We see how Jesus depended on the Spirit during the wilderness temptations, which gives modern believers an amazing example we are to follow during our times of trials and temptations.


 

Jesus Living by the Spirit

Jesus’ ministry was conducted through the Spirit’s power and direction. The immediate result of Jesus being filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1) after His baptism was the series of temptations at the inception of His ministry.[1] Jesus is described as being led (Matt 4:1; Luke 4:1-2) or sent (Mark 1:12) by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness where the temptation took place. What is noteworthy here is that the presence of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ life brings him into direct and immediate conflict with the forces of evil.[2] Being led by the Spirit into the desert, and through His victory over temptation, Jesus was now ministering “in the power of the Spirit.” The Spirit’s power was the source of Jesus’ authority, which Luke describes in chapter 4-6.[3]

Luke introduces Jesus’ ministry as a fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1-2, which affirms Jesus will be empowered by the Spirit to fulfill His role as God’s agent of deliverance.[4] Jesus read from Isaiah 61:1–2, and asserted that it was now fulfilled in him (Luke 4:18–21), thus claiming that this ministry was a result of the working of the Holy Spirit in and upon Him.[5] Through His teachings and miracles, Jesus’ whole life was “in the Holy Spirit.” “Jesus was ‘full of joy through the Holy Spirit’ (Luke 10:21) when the seventy-two returned from their mission. Even his emotions were ‘in the Holy Spirit.’ This is a description of someone completely filled with the Spirit.”[6] The Gospel narratives show Jesus and His disciples performing activities that are empowered by the Spirit, such as exorcism (Matt 12:28) and healing (Matt 11:2-5; see also Acts 2:22, 43).

John 3:34 says, “For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.” This describes that the Father gave the Son the Spirit without limit which is different from the Old Testament prophets where the Spirit came on them for a limited time and purpose (cf. 1 Cor 12:4-11).[7] There is no evidence of growth of the Holy Spirit’s presence in Jesus’ life. “Other than the conception and the baptism, there is no series of experiences of the coming of the Holy Spirit. However, there is a growing implementation of the Spirit’s presence.”[8] The Spirit-led ministry of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke foreshadows the activity of the Holy Spirit initiating and empowering the Church for ministry in the book of Acts.[9] “The New Testament Gospels attest to the activity of the Spirit surrounding the advent and activity of the messianic movement of Jesus of Nazareth.”[10]


 

[1] Eduard Schweizer, The Holy Spirit, (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1980), 51.

[2] Erickson, Christian Theology, 793-795.

[3] J. A. Martin, “Luke,” 214.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Erickson, Christian Theology, 794.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Thomas Constable, “Notes on John,” Sonic Light, 2015, accessed 25 January 2015, http://soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/john.pdf.

[8] Erickson, Christian Theology, 785-86.

[9] D. S. Huffman, “Luke, Gospel of.”

[10] C. Zoccali, “Spiritual Gifts.”

The Work and Ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Gospels

Today we begin a new series on the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit as presented in the Gospels. This series will not examine the various stories of the Spirit in the Old Testament or the activities linked to the Spirit in Acts and the Church age. The goal of this series is to examine two particular topics: (1) What role did the Spirit have in the life of Jesus; and (2) What did Jesus teach about the Spirit? This second question will be examined as to how it applies to the modern believer. For now, let us look at a further intro into this exciting series.


There is much to learn about the activities and workings of the Holy Spirit and much said about the Spirit of God in Scripture. From the Spirit moving upon the face of the waters  (Gen 1:2), working in men like Balaam, Samson and David to accomplish the Lord’s will, and even being linked to the prophecies concerning the future Messiah (Isa 11), the Old Testament discusses the Holy Spirit frequently throughout its pages. The theme continues in the New Testament as the Person and work of the Holy Spirit is set forth; the Book of Acts displays the Spirit coming upon the disciples at Pentecost, enabling healings, and empowering miracles. But what about the Gospels? What did Jesus say about the Spirit and what role did the Spirit have in the life of Christ and His ministry? The Gospels present the Holy Spirit as a divine Person sent by the Father and the Son to dwell in each believer guiding them in truth to worship and fulfill the will of God for each person just as the Spirit abided in Christ and empowered Him. This paper will examine the ministry of the Spirit during Jesus’ life, specifically the conception, baptism, temptation, and how the Spirit empowered Jesus in His ministry. Jesus’ teachings about the Spirit will be examined by looking at what Jesus taught regarding daily living, ministering, and worshipping in the Spirit. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus describes the Spirit as indwelling, training, educating, cleansing, and revealing truths to the believer.

Prayer: A weapon in this spiritual war

I wrote this paper for a Trinitarian class as a final project for the semester. It was written as Christmas approached and our new baby girl was less than a month old. Having a child causes a person to do much reflection, as well as much praying. I prayed a lot for grace and help to be a new dad. I prayed so often just to know what to do with this child. A child we had waited so long for, yet as she cried, we were left scratching our heads many times trying to figure out what to do. A child is a beautiful gift that we were blessed to have, but just as marriage reveals our own selfishness, adding a child to the mix increases that to another degree.

Prayer is one of the most beautiful, special and powerful gifts a Christian has. There are many distractions and things that take us from this act. It doesn’t have to be done in a certain place or in a certain way, God just asks us to talk with Him. We get the chance to have a discussion with the Almighty. We can thank Him and offer up requests. We can give our anxieties away. Through it all, He is there. He is listening. Waiting. Wanting to talk with His children.


 

It is the Christmas season at the time of this writing and as this writer thinks of what all this means, images of the Father sending His only Son to this fallen world for the purpose of redeeming the lost keep coming to mind. This world was blessed in the form of Jesus Christ, Immanuel, when God became man and walked this earth. The Father at times may seem distant and seem uninvolved, but the Christians great Father gave this world exactly what they needed in the form of Christ. To quote John Owen in talking about the Father, we must “remember he is our most loving Father.”[1] In Matthew 7:7-11, Jesus compares the fathers of this world with His good and perfect Father. As the worldly fathers that are full of evil can give their children good gifts, then how much more will the Father in heaven give good gifts to those that ask Him. As this world spends so many billions on that perfect Christmas gift, I am reminded of the perfect gift the Father gave in His Son. Our Father in heaven is never distant or far away, but always with us, especially in the form of the third member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.

As a new father, I realize I will not always be there for my child or be able to provide them the right gifts. I will try to give her what she needs, but what is provided may not be the right gift, action or whatever else. I may say yes to something that should be a no or vice versa. In comparison, each member of the Trinity knows exactly what we need at the appropriate time. As we come before the Father in prayer and our two mediators, the Messiah and the Spirit, intercede for us to the Father, I and all of us can be confident that the Almighty Father is working everything out for good. We may not see it or even know it, and might even question it. But as this exercise has displayed, we have the beautiful gift of prayer to come before the throne of grace and ask, seek, and knock (Matt 7:7-8). We have a loving Father that has given us this gift of prayer to not only communicate with Him, but also with our Savior and the Comforter.

Prayer is one of those foundational tools that can be easily neglected. We get in a rush to get to work that we either do not pray or just say a quick prayer to check off a mental box to make ourselves feel better. We know that we should, but we do not pray like we should. In this regard, prayer becomes a thing to do before a meal or another religious, legalistic instrument that really does nothing else but take up time and make us feel guilty. But, prayer is truly a way to build intimacy with the Father, the Son and the Spirit. It is a way to admit our inadequacy and discuss our great need for God’s help throughout the day. It is a way to bring our urgent cares to request God’s intervention, but we can also bring our Father the normal, everyday concerns that may be small, but matter to us.

The application of this paper is simply to pray to the Father through the Son and in the Holy Spirit. It is this writer’s intention to remember the separate roles of the Trinity, not only in prayer but in the everyday life, and the harmony that each Person has with the other. It is to remember that while each is different and has a distinct role, everything that one Person does, the other two are also involved in. The application is to pray, all the while enhancing my relationship with the Triune God. Why would we not want to talk to the Almighty? He is our help, our strength, our refuge and our everything.


[1] John Owen, “Communion with God,” in The Works of John Owen, ed William H. Goold, 24 vols, (1850-1855; republished, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1965-1991),  2:36.


Bibliography

Anselm. Proslogium. LaSalle, Ill: Open Court Publishing, 1903.

Barth, Karl. Prayer. London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002.

Bloesch, Donald. God the Almighty. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2005.

Bloesch, Donald G. The Struggle of Prayer. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1980.

Bunyan, John “A Discourse Touching Prayer.” Internet. Accessed 2 December 2014, http://acacia.pair.com/Acacia.John.Bunyan/Sermons.Allegories/Discourse.Touching.Prayer/2.html.

Cole, Graham. Engaging with the Holy Spirit. Wheaton: Crossway, 2008.

Grenz, Stanley J. Theology for the Community of God. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2000.

Hamman, Gauthier Adalbert. Prayer – The New Testament. Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1971.

Heiler, Friedrich. Prayer. Trans. and Ed. Samuel McComb and J. Edgar Park. New York: Oxford University Press, 1958.

Lewis, C. S. Mere Christianity. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 2001.

Owen, John “Communion with God,” in The Works of John Owen. Ed William H. Goold. 24 vols, 1850-1855; Republished, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1965-1991.

Perman, Matt. “What is the Doctrine of the Trinity?” Desiring God. 2014. Accessed 30 November 2014, http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-is-the-doctrine-of-the-trinity.

Piper, John. Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist. Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2012.

Reeves, Michael. Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2012.

Sanders, Fred. The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything. Wheaton: Crossway, 2010.

Ware, Bruce A.  Father, Son, & Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles & Relevance. Wheaton: Crossway, 2005.

Wright, Tom “The Prayer of the Trinity.” Internet. Accessed 1 December 2014, http://ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Prayer_Trinity.htm.

Summary of Praying to the Father Through the Son in the Spirit

In an effort to recap what has been talked about over the last few posts, I want to provide a summary of what it looks like for praying to the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. Also, we will bring our discussion about prayer, its benefits, the reasons to pray, and what prayer looks like following the instructions of Christ.

Summary of Praying to the Father Through the Son in the Spirit

By borrowing the sonhood of the true Son, the believer can approach the throne of grace and call on God as Father, who will receive them because they pray in the style that was taught by the Jesus, the Son of God: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matt. 6:9).[1] Jesus and the Spirit are divine Persons who occupy the offices of intercessor and mediator to bring us before the Father. There are few prayers to Jesus in the New Testament and no recorded prayers to the Spirit.[2] “As John 14 makes clear, the closer we come to understanding the threeness of God, the more we are summoned to fully Christian prayer.”[3] “The Holy Spirit may be prayed to. He is God. But the Holy Spirit is not to be prayed to in such a way as to mask the mediatorship of Christ and our location in Christ as members of his body.”[4] Christian prayer has double intercession, the Son and the Spirit, built into it. “The Father not only welcomes prayers, but he has provided mediation and perhaps even mediation of the mediation. Your prayer life is secure in the two hands of the Father. That built-in logic of mediation is the grain of prayer.”[5]

Conclusion

“One’s understanding of prayer is indeed correlative with one’s doctrine of God.”[6] Prayer is an act of worship, in that it is an act of worshipping the Persons of the Godhead in a dependent and powerful way by seeking the kingdom of God, praising His name, and being still in awe of the glorious God that has called us His children by the work and authority of Christ. To pray in a Trinitarian way is to remember that the doctrine of the Trinity is vitally important. The doctrine of the Trinity helps us know and understand more about this unfathomable, incomprehensible, and infinite God. We should allow this doctrine to deepen our love and appreciation for God. We exist to worship God and He wants us to worship Him “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Christians must always seek to go deeper in their worship of God. One of the greatest writings on Trinitarian prayer comes from C.S. Lewis in his acclaimed Mere Christianity where he discusses God as the goal of an ordinary man being caught up in something extraordinary:

An ordinary simple Christian kneels down to say his prayers. He is trying to get into touch with God. But if he is a Christian he knows that what is prompting him to pray is also God: God, so to speak, inside him. But he also knows that all his real knowledge of God comes through Christ, the Man who was God—that Christ is standing beside him, helping him to pray, praying for him. You see what is happening. God is the thing to which he is praying—the goal he is trying to reach. God is also the thing inside him which is pushing him on—the motive power. God is also the road or bridge along which he is being pushed to that goal. So that the whole threefold life of the three-personal Being is actually going on in that ordinary little bedroom where an ordinary man is saying his prayers. The man is being caught up into the higher kinds of life…he is being pulled into God, by God, while still remaining himself.[7]

 The goodness of the Father is shown in that He loves, hears and honors our prayers even when they are not addressed correctly. The Triune God invites us into fellowship with Him and has provided a way for us to talk with Him. The amazing part of it all is that the Creator God wants to talk with us. He eagerly awaits our conversation. But in the fast paced world of today, one of the most important tools we have to fight evil, face the daily battles, and be strengthened for each day is prayer. Many take this wonderful opportunity for granted and do not seek out the help and strength of the Triune God. But, as Christians we find an infinite well of courage, faith, strength and help in a prayerful conversation with God. “If we are truly speaking of the true God, then the truest form of that speech can never be abstract discussion about God.  It must be speech addressed to God. It must be worship. It must be prayer.”[8] It can be daunting and difficult to think of a finite being reaching out to an infinite and holy God. When one truly thinks about the distance and dissimilarity between us and God, it is easy to wonder whether we have the ability to pray and whether coming into God’s presence is a good idea anyway.[9] Our fellowship with God should only be enhanced by consciously knowing that we are relating to and seeking a tri-personal God. We must echo what St. Anselm said, “Let me seek Thee in longing, let me long for Thee in seeking; let me find Thee in love, and love Thee in finding.”[10]

We have an opportunity to bring our experience and our awareness into alignment with the structure of the economy of salvation. As the economy of salvation has revealed God’s tri-unity, we come before God the Father in a way that retraces the path of His sending the Son and Spirit to reveal Himself and redeem us.[11] God is inviting us into a conversation that is occurring between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When we pray, we are joining that conversation. An advantage of Trinitarian prayer “is that it aligns your prayer life in particular with your spiritual life in general.”[12]


[1] Sanders, The Deep Things of God, 217.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Tom Wright, The Prayer of the Trinity, Internet, accessed 1 December 2014, http://ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Prayer_Trinity.htm.

[4] Graham Cole, Engaging with the Holy Spirit, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008), 64.

[5] Sanders, The Deep Things of God, 213.

[6] Friedrich Heiler, Prayer, trans. and ed. Samuel McComb and J. Edgar Park, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1958), 353.

[7] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 2001), 163.

[8] Wright, The Prayer of the Trinity.

[9] Sanders, The Deep Things of God, 212-13.

[10] Anselm, Proslogium, (LaSalle, Ill: Open Court Publishing, 1903), 6.

[11] Sanders, The Deep Things of God, 215.

[12] Ibid.

How to Pray Through the Holy Spirit

Living in the Spirit and our dependence upon Him is one of the most important concepts a Christian can learn to do. Often times, we try to do things in our power and by our own strength. We are taught from an early age in the West to be independent people, that we should not rely on anyone else. I think of the old saying about getting out of hard times, to just “pick yourself up by the bootstraps.” 

Christian life calls us to boast in our weakness and live a life of complete dependence on God. In the same way, when we are praying to the Father it is through the Spirit. The Spirit is often called the Counselor. He lifts our requests up to God in a way that aligns with God’s will, otherwise, we will pray and be out of align with the will of God. The Spirit intercedes for us and will pray for us through wordless groans. The Spirit is a tool that we often forget, but He enables the believer to have true communion with God and pray to the Father as we should.

Praying through the Holy Spirit

Christians should be “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Eph 6:18). “Prayer is to be incited, as it were, by the Spirit. The Spirit moves within our hearts and assists us in bringing our prayers and petitions to the Father, in the name of the Son. Prayer is in the power of the Spirit, as He empowers all else that we do to the glory of Christ in our lives.”[1] Romans 8 verse 26 is a reminder of the help the Spirit offers us, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

“For without a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart to God, it is but lip-labour; and if it be not through Christ, it falleth far short of ever sounding well in the ears of God. So also, if it be not in the strength and assistance of the Spirit…it is not possible that it should be ‘according to the will of God’ (Rom 8:26, 27).”[2] Praying in the Spirit keeps the believer centered in the love of God as he awaits the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ to bring them into eternal life (Jude 1:20-21). Praying in the power of the Spirit is doing so in reliance upon His help and intercession. The Spirit comforts us and makes communion with the Father and the Son both real and delightful.[3] The Spirit enables the believer to truly worship and enjoy it. He enables and works in the believer to express honor, majesty, greatness, and glory of Christ in their worship and prayer.[4] We must keep in mind that the Spirit acts as the “silent” member of the Trinity. Rather than drawing attention to Himself, He manifests His presence by exalting the Son and the Father. Spirit-filled prayer, therefore, moves from the Spirit through the Son to the Father, for generally the Spirit prompts and empowers us to address our heavenly Father through the name of Jesus.[5]

[1] Ware, Father, Son, & Holy Spirit, 152-53.

[2] Bunyan, A Discourse Touching Prayer.

[3] Michael Reeves, Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith, (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2012), 97.

[4] Ware, Father, Son, & Holy Spirit, 154.

[5] Grenz, Theology for the Community of God, 498.

Praying by the power and authority of the Son

The Delighting in the Trinity series continues in this post by looking at praying to the Father in the Son. The next post will add the final piece to the equation of praying through the Spirit. This post focuses on what it means to pray in the Son, mainly, is there something Christians must do or is it done by the power and work of the Son and we come in submission. This posts reminds us of what Christ did and how that translates to all areas of a Christians life. This will help believers to pray God’s will.

A gift of the Son

“For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit” (Eph 2:18). As seen in Matthew 6:9, we are to direct our prayers to the Father, who is the supreme authority over all, even the exalted Son. Jesus, who sits at the right hand of the Father (Eph 1:20), and who the Father put all things under (Eph 1:21-22; 1 Cor 15:27-28), has given us “access to the Father.” Our prayers are to be extended to the Father through Jesus Christ, because it is through Jesus Christ that we are saved and have access to the Father. Thus Christians are to direct their prayers to the Father but come “in the name” of the Son. Christians are to recognize that the only way to come into the presence of God is to come in Christ’s authority, clothed in Him.[1] “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God,” (Heb 10:19-21) we can draw near to God with a sincere heart and a confident assurance that only faith in Christ can bring. Jesus Christ, then, is our only access to the Father, and by His name and atoning work, we can enter the throne room of grace with confidence where the Father sits awaiting those clothed in the righteousness of Christ.[2]

Therefore, Christians are clothed in Christ’s righteousness, but because Jesus died, was raised to life, and now sits at the right hand of God, He is “also interceding for us” (Rom 8:34). There are times we may feel separated from God, or there are those who say there is no God, but God is never without humankind. Humanity is in the presence of God and He knows humanity, sees everything and judges it, and does it all through the person of Jesus Christ, who was obedient and the object of the Father’s delight.[3] “God looks at Christ, and it is through him that he looks at us. We have, therefore, a representative before God.”[4] Calvin even says that “we pray through the mouth of Jesus Christ, who speaks for us because of what he has been, because of what he has suffered in obedience and faithfulness to his Father. And we ourselves pray as though with his mouth, inasmuch as he gives us access and audience, and intercedes for us.”[5] John 14 displays the power of Jesus as a Christian’s intercessor. Jesus promises that we can ask for anything in His name and He will do it so that the Father may be glorified (in accordance to the Father’s will). In addition, Jesus “will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth” (John 14:13-14, 16-17).

[1] Grenz, Theology for the Community of God, 356.

[2] Ware, Father, Son, & Holy Spirit, 152.

[3] Karl Barth, Prayer, 14.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

Trinitarian Prayer – Praying to the Father

This post will look at what it means to pray to the Father following a Trinitarian model. Depending on our past and our experiences, seeing God as Father can be tough and extremely difficult. What is amazing is that the Father invites us before Him to truly have a conversation with us. He knows our requests, yet He still wants to talk with us. He truly is our Source and Sustainer, yet all too often we look to ourselves, others, or things to provide for us or comfort us. Today, we all need to turn to our wonderful Father, myself included and more than anyone. He is listening and there to help us in our struggles, battles, and the daily grind.

Praying to the Father

So why should we not just pray to God or the Father? The Triune God has chosen to relate to humankind in different ways. If we were to pray just to God the Father, we might lapse into a patriarchal monotheism. In the same way, if we just prayed to Jesus, we may not see Him as Lord or would possibly follow egalitarianism.[1] The doctrine of the Trinity reminds us that the Father is the Source and foundation of all things, both of creation and salvation. Consequently, prayer is properly addressed to the Father as this glorious basis and source (Rev 4:8-11). “For this reason, in prayer, we come before the Father. We praise him for who he is, thank him for what he has done, and petition him in the face of need, because he is the good and wise supplier of all that we lack.”[2] “The Father, then, as supreme authority over even His own Son and the Spirit, is the One to who we gladly, but humbly address our prayers.”[3] A final reason to approach the Father is to confess our sins since it is always against God the Father. Sin destroys the fellowship that the Christian enjoys with the Father, and the Father is the One that forgives, we are to confess our sins to Him.[4]

[1] Ibid.

[2] Grenz, Theology for the Community of God, 75.

[3] Ware, Father, Son, & Holy Spirit, 151-52.

[4] Grenz, Theology for the Community of God, 356.

The Power of Praying Like Christ

In our continued series, “Delighting in the Trinity,” we have been looking at what it means to delight in God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Previously, we have looked at prayer and why to pray, including praying like Jesus. In this post, we take a deeper look at how Christ prayed and how that can relate to us as His followers.


 

“We can enjoy renewed meaning and power in our prayer life as we grow in our understanding of the nature of the triune God who calls us to pray and who responds to prayer. Cognizance of the doctrine of the Trinity will facilitate a consciousness of whom we address in prayer.”[1] Because God is Triune – Father, Son, and Spirit – our prayers should reflect a more theologically mature manner of praying and should be addressed to the three Trinitarian Persons in accordance with both the purpose of the specific prayer being voiced and the function of each Trinitarian Person.[2]

As humans who try to get their own way, we often move toward tritheism as opposed to Trinitarianism and have the temptation to individually address each member of the Trinity to answer our prayers. In the past ages, prayers were directed to Jesus instead of the Father because the Father was associated with judgment and wrath, rather than mercy and grace. Some have even prayed, and continue to do so today, to Mary because the Father and Son seem too intimidating.[3] In this respect, the Holy Spirit is then usurped of His divine role and forgotten altogether. Christians do not pray to the Father over the Son or to the Son and Spirit apart from the Father, for this again is to verge toward tritheism.[4] Christians pray to the Father in the Son and through the power of the Spirit. We pray to Christ who proceeds from the Father and who is made available to us by the Spirit. Christians pray to the Spirit through the intercession of Christ and by the grace given to us by the Father. Because of the perichoresis, each member of the Trinity is fully present in the being and acts of others. A prayer to Christ is also a prayer to the Father and vice versa.[5]


 

[1] Ibid, 74-75.

[2] Ibid, 75.

[3] Donald Bloesch, God the Almighty, 193.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.