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Directors’ Corner

News, writings and thoughts from TFI Directors

  • The Creed (Part 9)

    (Points for this article were taken from The Creed, by Luke Timothy Johnson.1)

    Having covered future events regarding Jesus’ return (or second coming), as well as His judgment of the living and the dead and His eternal kingdom, the creed moves on to address the Holy Spirit.

    It states:

    And we believe in the Holy Spirit,
          the Lord, the giver of life.
          He proceeds from the Father and the Son,
          and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.
          He spoke through the prophets.

    We believe in the Holy Spirit

    By stating that we believe in the Holy Spirit, this section of the creed echoes what was said earlier about the Father and the Son. With the repetition the creed makes the point that the Holy Spirit should be thought of in the same manner as the Father and the Son—that, like them, the Spirit is God. Stating that the Holy Spirit is “Lord and giver of Life,” “proceeds from the Father and the Son,” and is “worshiped and glorified with the Father and the Son” is the creed’s way of stating the Spirit has equality of status with the Father and the Son.

    The Spirit as Power

    Scripture speaks of the Holy Spirit’s work in believers’ lives. In the writings of the apostle Paul, we read that the Holy Spirit is a power working in humans.

    May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.2

    I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me … by the power of the Spirit of God.3

    Our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. … You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit.4

    This power dwells in Christians.

    Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?5

    By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.6

    You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.7

    If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.8

    The power of the Holy Spirit gives believers life.

    If Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.9 

    The one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.10

    The law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.11

    The life the Spirit gives is a first fruit, seal, or pledge of what is to come, a future glory.

    We know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.12

    In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.13

    It is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.14

    We know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.15

    The Spirit as a Person

    Besides being a power that works in believers, the Holy Spirit is also a person. From the beginning of Christianity, believers have spoken of the Spirit as being more than an impersonal force. They spoke of the Spirit as knowing and willing in a manner that only persons can do.

    For example, the apostle Paul tells us that the Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit,16 the Spirit helps us in our weakness and intercedes for us.17 The Spirit teaches.

    We impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit.18

    The Spirit comprehends.

    No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.19

    The Spirit also gives gifts.

    To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom … and to another the utterance of knowledge … to another faith … healing … the working of miracles … prophecy … the ability to distinguish between spirits, various kinds of tongues … the interpretation of tongues.20

    The book of Hebrews speaks of the Spirit “saying,” “indicating,” and “bearing witness.” Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says …21 By this the Holy Spirit indicates …22 and The Holy Spirit also bears witness.23 In the book of 2 Peter, the Spirit is spoken of as “moving” people, meaning guiding or directing them.

    Men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.24

    In the book of 1 John, we read that the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.25

    In the Gospels, the Holy Spirit is seen as a power that comes upon Jesus.

    Jesus … was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.26

    Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness.27

    The book of Acts is sometimes referred to as “the Book of the Holy Spirit,” because the Spirit is often mentioned and played an important role in the early church.

    You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.28

    Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”29

    When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.30

    Lord

    Within Scripture, we find the Holy Spirit referred to as “Lord.”

    Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.31 

    “The Spirit of the LORD speaks by me; his word is on my tongue. The God of Israel has spoken.”32

    Throughout the Old Testament, we find the phrase “the LORD God” referring to God the Father, who is the creator of all that exists.

    Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.33

    In the New Testament, we find Jesus referred to as “Lord.”

    With great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.34 

    Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.35

    For us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.36

    Within the New Testament, we also find the Holy Spirit referred to as “Lord” and as “the Spirit of the Lord.”

    The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.37

    The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.38

    When the creed states that the Holy Spirit is Lord, it is stating that the Holy Spirit is God.

    Giver of Life

    Scripture teaches that only God gives life.

    You alone are the LORD. … You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.39

    In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul refers to God as the one who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.40

    If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.41

    Only God can give life; however, the gift of life is attributed to the work of the Holy Spirit, indicating that the Spirit is God.

    In the book of John we read that the power to give life is found in the Father and the Son.

    As the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.42

    Later in the book of John, Jesus states:

    It is the Spirit who gives life.43

    He proceeds from the Father and the Son

    This phrase was not included in the original version of the Nicene Creed in AD 325, nor in the Nicene Constantinopolitan Creed version of AD 381. Earlier versions stated He proceeds from the Father. At a regional church council in Toledo, Spain, the phrase “and the Son” was added. Over time this was accepted by the Western Church but rejected by the Eastern Church, known as the Orthodox Church, which is prominent throughout Central and Eastern Europe, including in Russia.

    There is no question that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father.

    When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.44

    There are no verses which specifically state that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son. However, there are verses which express the concept that there is a procession of the Spirit from both the Father and the Son.

    For example, the Holy Spirit is said to be from the Father:

    It is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.45

    The Spirit is also referred to as the Spirit of God.

    You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.46

    The Spirit is also called the “Spirit of the Son.”

    Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”47 

    The Spirit is also called the “Spirit of Jesus.

    I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance.48 

    Because of such verses, early Western Christian theologians concluded that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son.

    And with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified

    This clause emphasizes that, like the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit is God and deserves the same worship and homage as the Father and the Son. To glorify God in the New Testament doesn’t mean only to praise God, but also to acknowledge His presence and power.

    Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God.49

    The crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel.50

    The creed tells us that we are to worship and glorify the Holy Spirit, for the Spirit, like the Father and Son, is God.

    He spoke through the prophets

    The prophets in the Old Testament proclaimed God’s message and spoke to others for God and from God’s perspective. The fact that God chose to speak to His people through the mouths of prophets shows that the Creator seeks to communicate with those He created, and one means of doing so is for the Holy Spirit to give His message to and through a human in language that humans understand.

    Those who spoke God’s Word throughout Scripture were prophets, including the four Major Prophets—Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel; the twelve Minor Prophets—Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi; and also others such as Moses.

    “This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.’”51

    The Holy Spirit plays a significant role in our lives as Christians. The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit is a helper who teaches and reminds.

    The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.52 

    The Spirit dwells within us.

    Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?53

    The Holy Spirit is a source of revelation, wisdom, and power.

    The Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. Who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.54

    You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.55

    The Holy Spirit guides us to all truth and gives knowledge of what is to come.

    When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.56

    The Spirit gives spiritual gifts to believers: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discernment of spirits, tongues, and interpretation.57

    God’s gift of the Holy Spirit to those who believe in Jesus is understood as a guarantee of their salvation.

    In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.58

    The Spirit bears witness.

    The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirsheirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.59

    The Spirit makes believers new and gives them eternal life.

    If Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.60

    The Holy Spirit continually works in our lives as Christians by guiding, helping, giving direction, and bringing about personal spiritual growth; as well as convicting us when we sin, and empowering us to spread the gospel.

    (To be continued and concluded in Part Ten.)


    Note

    Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptures are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


    1 The Creed—What Christians Believe and Why It Matters (New York: Doubleday, 2003).

    2 Romans 15:13.

    3 Romans 15:18–19.

    4 1 Thessalonians 1:5–6.

    5 1 Corinthians 3:16.

    6 2 Timothy 1:14.

    7 Romans 8:9.

    8 Romans 8:11.

    9 Romans 8:10.

    10 Galatians 6:8.

    11 Romans 8:2.

    12 Romans 8:22–23.

    13 Ephesians 1:13–14.

    14 2 Corinthians 1:21–22.

    15 2 Corinthians 5:1, 5.

    16 Romans 8:16.

    17 Romans 8:26.

    18 1 Corinthians 2:13.

    19 1 Corinthians 2:11.

    20 1 Corinthians 12:7–10.

    21 Hebrew 3:7.

    22 Hebrews 9:8.

    23 Hebrews 10:15.

    24 2 Peter 1:21 NAS.

    25 1 John 5:6.

    26 Mark 1:9–10.

    27 Luke 4:1.

    28 Acts 1:8.

    29 Acts 2:38.

    30 Acts 4:31.

    31 2 Corinthians 3:17.

    32 2 Samuel 23:2–3.

    33 Genesis 2:7–9.

    34 Acts 4:33.

    35 Acts 16:31.

    36 1 Corinthians 8:6.

    37 2 Corinthians 3:17–18.

    38 Luke 4:18.

    39 Nehemiah 9:6 NIV.

    40 Romans 4:17.

    41 Romans 8:11.

    42 John 5:21.

    43 John 6:63.

    44 John 15:26.

    45 Matthew 10:20.

    46 Romans 8:9.

    47 Galatians 4:6.

    48 Philippians 1:19.

    49 Luke 18:42–43.

    50 Matthew 15:31.

    51 Acts 7:37.

    52 John 14:26.

    53 1 Corinthians 3:16.

    54 1 Corinthians 2:10–11.

    55 Acts 1:8.

    56 John 16:13–15.

    57 1 Corinthians 12:4–11.

    58 Ephesians 1:13–14.

    59 Romans 8:16–17.

    60 Romans 8:10–11.

     

  • May 19 The Creed (Part 8)
  • May 12 The Creed (Part 7)
  • May 9 Thoughts on the King
  • May 5 The Creed (Part 6)
  • Apr 28 The Creed (Part 5)
  • Apr 25 Perfect Peace
  • Apr 21 The Creed (Part 4)
  • Apr 14 The Creed (Part 3)
  • Apr 11 Dogs: One of God’s Wonders
   

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