Posts Tagged With: Thorsen

Father, Son, and Who?

‘Trinity,’ it’s a word never found in scripture, but represents a very important biblical doctrine to the Christian faith. The term is derived from ‘Tri’ meaning three, and ‘Unity’ meaning one, Tri+Unity = Trinity. It is a way of recognizing what the Bible reveals to us about God: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. God known as three “Persons” who have the same essence of deity; yet the emphasis is that there is only ONE God. Thus, the study of the Trinity seeks to bring a clearer understanding of the relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as set forth in the scripture; and yet the absence of the term used to describe the doctrine does not necessarily mean the term is not biblical. Unfortunately with this definition, much debate continues to swirl surrounding the identity of the Holy Spirit. As the twenty-first century has shown, contemporary views regarding the Holy Spirit has been challenged by the emergent church movement and an ever-growing environment of political correctness. This has led some to interpret the Holy Spirit as a fairy-tale like power. Others recognize the Holy Spirit as being more of an impartial influence that God provides to those who follow Christ. Yet, to find the truth, one need only ask themselves, how is the identity of the Holy Spirit described in the Bible? In its simplest form the Bible proclaims that the Holy Spirit is God. However, to better understand this concept, this article will look to identify three areas of the Holy Sprit. These are God as Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, and the identity of the Spirit.

“The term ‘Spirit of God’ appears many times in the Old testament, but the first appearance of ‘Holy Spirit’ is in Psalm 51:11 when David pleaded with God to not take away His Holy Spirit from him, which was tantamount to being cast out of God’s presence” (Dulle 6). Today there is a fundamental disagreement whether the Spirit of God is defined correctly. Contemporary views have led to idealistic interpretation and fallacy of what the Spirit of God actually is; thus, significantly changing ones view of the Trinity. As I discovered, the Spirit, “Properly describes, not one of the three divine persons, but the whole activity of God in his relation to man: ‘the Spirit of God’, is to be understood, not as referring to a divine hypostasis distinct from God the Father and God the Son or Word, but as indicating God himself as active towards and in His human creation” (Webster 2). As Paul wrote, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6). From this verse one can see why the scripture attests to God being the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is in a sense, the innermost heart of God. What one comes to recognize is that God’s activity in our lives, provided by the Holy Spirit, serves as a reminder of certain aspects of God’s self-revelation to man.

Man’s understanding of the Spirit of Christ is crucial to how one comprehends its position with regards to submission and influence on the work of Christ incarnate. “Through the Spirit, Father and Son are compacted into loving unity. Such a conception clearly ties the Spirit very closely to Father and Son, sometimes to such an extent that it is difficult to see how it is personally differentiated from the first two persons” (Webster 3.) This misunderstanding has led to many contemporary views not supported by the Bible. However with proper research one can find evidence to support that the obedience of Christ is what is responsible for purchasing our salvation. As the Bible states, “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9). What this verse shows is that for man to have the Holy Spirit inside him, then the Spirit of Christ must essentially flow unto us from Christ; the same Holy Spirit that flows through Christ Himself. “This Spirit is the agent of the subjective realization of Christ’s objective accomplishment of salvation. The Spirit of Christ discloses His words and deeds, His Cross and His resurrection to us, as the divine reality bearing upon us, embracing us, giving to us” (Webster 3). Thus, the Spirit becomes identified by the influential role it takes in effecting the union between the believer and Christ.

“Although church history has not always focused much attention on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit has traditionally been referred to as a person – the third person of the Trinity” (Thorsen 223). In fact, the Bible refers to the Holy Spirit as being a divine person, one that has emotions, a mind, and its own will. As one finds, this can be confirmed in scripture. To begin, as Paul shows us in Ephesians, the Holy Spirit has emotions, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). Second, the Bible shows that the Holy Spirit not only thinks, but also knows, “These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10). Lastly, the Holy Spirit makes choices according to His own will, “To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:8). From these scriptures we can conclude that, “The Spirit is the one in whom God moves beyond himself in provoking mission and worship. If this is true, then we are able to see that the Spirit has an identity of his own, though one essentially bound to that of Father and Son” (Webster 6).

Today, the study of the Trinity seems to be traditionally discreet with its assertion of the identity of Holy Spirit as described in the Bible. However one must remember that God has only attempted to convey things about Himself using human language. While not all answers surrounding the concept of the Holy Spirit can be addressed in such a short article, I believe the information provided offers a clearer understanding of the identity of the Holy Spirit and how it relates to the triune life of God. There is no question that contemporary concerns have led to false assertions about the Holy Spirit. Yet one must not disregard some of these assumptions as fallacy. For who God is, and the relationship of Holy Spirit within the Trinity may seem definable; yet, in essence do we have the ability to put our finger on who God actually is? As Michal Bauman concludes in his book, Pilgrim Theology, we must remain realistic, “Sometimes our theological reach exceeds our grasp. We simply do not know much of what we think we know” (Bauman 96).

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Works Cited
Bauman, Michael. Pilgrim Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1992. Print.

Dulle, Jason. “Understanding the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Onenesspentecostal.com. 2011. Web. April 27, 2011.

Thorsen, Don. An Exploration of Christian Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2010. Print.

Webster, John. “The Identity of the Holy Spirit: A Problem in Trinitarian Theology.” Theologicalstudies.org.uk. 1983. Web. April 27, 2011.

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Salvation: Answering the What? Why? How?

Most people in today’s society have heard expressions liked ‘saved,’ ‘born again,’ or ‘converted.’ Yet, no matter how many times they may have heard these terms, throngs of people have never made the effort to accept salvation through Jesus Christ. Ironically the reason for this may not be because they have never been approached; but for the simple fact they do not know what salvation is or how one obtains it. It is my hope that if you have somehow stumbled across this article, by the time you are finished reading it you’ll be able to walk away with a much clearer understanding of three very important questions concerning God’s plan for salvation. These questions are; What is salvation? Why do you need salvation? And, how do you obtain salvation?

One of the most renowned biblical verses in all of Christianity is, “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). As this verse shows, salvation is a free gift of everlasting life that is only made possible through Jesus Christ. However, what is the definition of salvation? For believers in Christ we know that our source of life stems from God the Father. Yet, due to the entrance of sin we were forever separated from God. In essence, our only source for eternal life has been separated from us. Salvation is God’s plan that was designed to bridge the gap between sin and man. It is though Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that we are reunited with our father and provided everlasting life. As Thorsen states, “Salvation ultimately represents a gift from God, secured by Jesus, and affected in the lives of people through the Holy Spirit” (Thorsen 277).

With salvation now defined, you may be asking yourself, “Why do I need salvation?” Most people have heard of the story of Adam and Eve and how they lived in harmony and love with God in the Garden of Eden. Yet, man was tempted and disobeyed God’s Word when instructed not to eat from the Tree of Good and Evil. It was this action that brought irreversible death to us all. An event so sinful in God’s eyes that man would inherit this sinful nature for generation to generation to come. And since God can’t have a harmonious relationship with sinners, we are each born apart from our Creator from the very moment we take our first breath. As the scriptures confirm, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). Thus, because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, we are forever banished and separated from God. Yet, the good news is, everyone has the ability to be saved. The removal of sin can occur, and we can be brought back in fellowship with our Heavenly Father. Salvation is the answer and it provides us each with an eternal lease on life. When one believes in the Gospel and gives up his or her life for Christ, we receive benefits unimaginable to the non-believer. These benefits include our sins being forgiven, a realignment with our relationship with God, eternal dwelling in Heaven instead of Hell, and a new life lived in the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

Now that we have recognized that everyone needs salvation, maybe you’re wondering how do you go about receiving it? In short, it is a determination to make a life-long change. “To become a beneficiary of Christ, one must first repent – become sorrowful for ones wickedness and forsake ones evil ways. Then in the second place, one must accept Christ by faith, and commit ones soul to ones Savior for salvation” (Webb 272). When one takes these first two steps a justification between man and God occurs. We are reinstated in the divine favor we once had before the Fall of Man. To better understand this, one can look to 1 Peter 3:18 which states, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18). “God’s remedy through the Lord Jesus is justification. This means that if we believe in the Lord Jesus, He looks upon us as though we are righteous. It may help us to think of it like this. When I am justified it is JUST-AS-IF-I’D never sinned” (Sherring 7).

If before reading this article you never fully understood the true meaning of salvation, I hope that you are now able to walk away with a clearer understanding. I really hope you recognize that God loves you no matter what. And He wants nothing more than to deliver you from sin and the assuredness of spiritual death. I also want you to know that if you desire to receive God’s free gift of salvation, it doesn’t have to occur in a church. You don’t have to wait. Your eternal security can be changed, right here… right now as you read this. And it begins by praying something like this to God:

“Dear God, today I turn away from all of my sins (name them). This day I put my trust in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. He is the only way for me to be saved. He is ‘The way, the truth, and the life.’ Please forgive me, change my heart, and grant me Your gift of everlasting life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

If you’ve taken the time to say this prayer I would like to congratulate you for making the commitment to follow Jesus Christ. Your obedience to God is proof of your love for His Son. From here you should go out and find a good church to help you grow. Don’t wait for an invite; if you have questions, call a local church and ask to speak to a pastor. The decision you have just made is not taken lightly, and it comes with eternal rewards. As the Bible says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Today is the beginning of your new life in Christ Jesus!

If you’ve made the decision to commit your life to Christ or have any questions, please use the contact me form at http://pastordodd.com/about/contact-me/ to reach out and let me know.

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

 

Works Cited
Legge, David. “Love the Lost.” Preachtheword.com. March 2005. Web. May 2, 2011.

Sherring, Brian. The Meaning of Salvation. London, England: Berean Publishing Trust, 2000. Print

Thorsen, Don. An Exploration of Christian Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2010. Print.

Webb, Robert Alexander. Christian Salvation: Its Doctrine and Experience. Richmond, Virginia: Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1921. Print.

Categories: Judgement, Salvation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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