Relationship with the Son and Holy Spirit

What is a correct relationship between the Son / Holy Spirit and me? Who can I depend on for strength in time of weakness?

I believe that it is faithful to consider yourself a child of God the Father, a sister or brother of God the Son and as one living with God the Holy Spirit alive within you.

Can I depend on God the Father or God the Son or God the Holy Spirit in time of weakness? I believe the answer to this is yes. We may find ourselves in different times of crisis relating to God in different ways, but I believe that all persons of Trinity are in relationship with us and offer strength in the times of weakness or crisis.

I encourage you to chose a few passages below and reflect on your relationship with God. What are your thoughts? How do you most often relate to God?

Child of God the Father

  • Luke 20:27-39
  • John 1:1-13
  • Romans 8:1-28
  • Galatians 3:23-4:7
  • Hebrews 12:4-13
  • 1 John 3:1-10
  • 1 John 5:1-12
  • Revelation 21:1-8

Sister or brother of God

  • Jesus interaction with his family
    • Matthew 12:46-50
    • Mark 3:20-34
    • Luke 8:19-21
  • Jesus urge to the women to tell his brothers the news of the resurrection
    • Matthew 28:1-10
    • John 20:1-18
  • Hebrews 2:5-14

God the Holy Spirit living within you

  • Romans 8:1-17
  • 2 Corinthians 2:12-3:6
  • 1 Peter 2:4-9

This question came out of a young adult small group taster last Sunday morning in which I taught about the question “What is the Trinity?”

Holy Spirit in the Old Testament

Are there any references to the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament?

The particular understanding of the Holy Spirit as a person of the Trinity comes out of thought around the revelation of Jesus Christ. Thinking about the relationships between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not something that originate out of the Old Testament, but were formed by Christians thinking about God as most clearly revealed in Jesus Christ and what this might mean. However, there are certainly places in the Old Testament in which the spirit of God is referenced. One prominent example of this is in Genesis:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Genesis 1:1-2, TNIV.

The reference to the Spirit of God in this passage has clear resonance with reference to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. One can translate spirit in English from the Hebrew ruah, Greek pneuma or Latin spiritus.

Is the Holy Spirit directly referenced in the Old Testament? There is none of which I am aware. Is the Spirit of God referenced in the Old Testament? Absolutely.

This question came out of a young adult small group taster last Sunday morning in which I taught about the question “What is the Trinity?”

Equality of the Three Persons

Is the Holy Spirit equal to the Father and the Son or is it a go-between? Diagrams…

This question included a drawing of my description of a way of Visualizing the Trinity that Thomas Weinandy’s thesis might suggest. I think that this question points out a possible weakness in this way of thinking about the relationships between the persons. It does seem to put a lower importance on the person of the Holy Spirit.

In answer to your question – I believe that the Holy Spirit is no less than the Father and the Son a person of the Trinity. I recognize my own tendency to assign the Holy Spirit a lesser role as I am less familiar with talking and thinking about the Holy Spirit – as a result of my background in the United Methodist Church vs a background that may put more emphasis on the Holy Spirit (i.e. a more charismatic tradition).

This question came out of a young adult small group taster last Sunday morning in which I taught about the question “What is the Trinity?”

Explaining the Trinity

With the idea of the Trinity being so easy to say “Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” I want some pointers on how to begin explaining to somebody that doesn’t understand (as much as I try to). How do you correct people that say that there can’t be the three separate things and one God?

I think that any attempt to enter into conversation about the Trinity is better than dismissing the question. The Bible does not fully outline what it means to understand God as Trinity, but the Bible is our starting point and ultimately the best resource for learning about God’s revelation in Jesus Christ.

Trinitarianism is a part of the structure of the gospel. It is expressed in the baptism of Jesus as found in the Gospels.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:16-17, TNIV

The baptism of Jesus occurs in all four of the Gospels and provides an example of the Trinitarian nature of God. Jesus is the Son as referred to by the voice from heaven. The Son implies that there is a parent. This is the one who pronounces the words upon Jesus. The Spirit is seen descending like a dove. For other scriptural references you might check here.

Another way that you might approach this question is to think of the relationships between the persons of the Trinity as what brings life and a deeper way of understanding. Each of the persons is given shape by the relationship to the other (For more a more detailed explanation check out deviantmonk‘s comment on Physics of the Trinity)

How else would you respond? What have you found to be helpful in your own understanding?

This question came out of a young adult small group taster last Sunday morning in which I taught about the question “What is the Trinity?”

Activity of the Son

I see the Father and the Holy Spirit as still active but just see the Son as by God’s side. Can you explain how the three are still active today? Is the son’s role over after his death and resurrection?

I believe that God is very active in the world in many different ways and most importantly in bringing God’s kingdom into reality. As to the activity of each of the three persons of the Trinity see Immanent and Economic Trinity.

The Son’s role is not over after death and resurrection. I asked my wife, Nicole, about this and she reminded me that anywhere we see resurrection the power of Jesus Christ is at work in the world. At the death of a loved one, the power of Christ is active in bringing hope that this life is not all there is. When a middle age person decides that her or his life is headed in the wrong direction and makes drastic changes toward living as a disciple, Christ is drawing the person into relationship.

I think that the Son’s activity today may also be thought about in Jesus’ final words in the gospel according to Matthew:

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20, TNIV

All authority on heaven and on earth have been given to the Son and this is why we are sent to make disciples, baptize and teach. Not only that, but Jesus promises presence with us until the end of time.

This question came out of a young adult small group taster last Sunday morning in which I taught about the question “What is the Trinity?”

Immanent and Economic Trinity

Could you explain further immanent and economic Trinity? I am still confused about the difference and how they relate. Are they two different Trinities or just two aspects of one Trinity?

There is one Trinity and the terms immanent and economic are ways for us to think about the Trinity. Referring to the immanent Trinity is a way of referring to God’s eternal existence and the internal relationships between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Referring to the economic Trinity is a way of considering God’s activity in creation.

One way of thinking about the economic Trinity is to think of the…

  • Father as creator.
  • Son as redeemer.
  • Holy Spirit as sustainer.

I think that these descriptions may be helpful but at the same time do not leave much room for mystery. I am not satisfied with this way of assigning tasks to each person of the Trinity, because in the unity of the Trinity all persons are active in each of these roles as well as in many different ways

I believe that the way that God exists eternally (immanent Trinity) is the way that God is active in the world (economic Trinity) and vice versa. I do not believe that God acts in creation in a different way than God exists eternally.

What do you think?

This question came out of a young adult small group taster last Sunday morning in which I taught about the question “What is the Trinity?