During Jesus’ final days on earth, both before His crucifixion and up to His ascension, He began promising the disciples that another Counselor would come to carry on His work. He said, “If you love me, you will keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive him because it doesn’t see him or know him. But you do know him, because he remains with you and will be in you” (John 14:15-17).
This is a wonderfully trinitarian statement—the Son asks the Father to send the Counselor. But before we get the wrong idea and somehow think that these three Persons are somehow independent of one another, Jesus adds, “I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you” (John 14:18). Just as the Son and the Father are one, the Son and the Spirit are one. So though Jesus goes away to the Father, the Counselor comes and Jesus is still present.
Such is the mystery of the Trinity as revealed in Scripture. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are distinct yet one at the same time, and we always need to hold these two revealed truths together—God is one; God is Trinity. We can’t make sense of this. It’s not a riddle to solve but a wonder to behold in faith.
So when Jesus promised the Holy Spirit, He was also promising Himself. This makes sense of the fact that Scripture tells us Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father (see Eph. 1:20; Heb. 8:1; 12:2) and He is with us always, “to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). When the Holy Spirit is sent to us, God is present, and that, of course, means that Jesus Himself is present with us.
How should the revelation of God as Trinity shape the way we pray?
The way we worship?
Here’s how the Book of Acts describes the coming of the Holy Spirit:
1 When the day of Pentecost had arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying. 3 They saw tongues like flames of fire that separated and rested on each one of them. 4 Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them.
How bewildering it must have been for the disciples as they obeyed Jesus’ final words. For the next ten days, the disciples gathered together in an upstairs room in Jerusalem and prayed and waited for the Father’s promise to be fulfilled (see Acts 1:4-5,12-14). And then, without warning, the Spirit rushed into the world, rushed into the room, and rushed into their hearts as He manifested Himself in what appeared like flickering flames of fire resting on each one of those present in the room.
In the coming of the Spirit, Jesus’ promise to be with us always makes sense, as does the prophet Joel’s promise that one day God would pour out His Spirit on “all humanity” (Joel 2:28). Likewise, the coming of the Spirit reveals the unique role that Christ’s followers will play in the world—not merely as a faithful group that exists to remember what Jesus did but as God’s agents for good in the world and as the very vessels God will use to carry out His mission. God’s kingdom will continue to advance as God continues His work through His church in His world through His Holy Spirit.
What thoughts or expectations do you have regarding the filling of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life?
How should the indwelling of the Spirit change the way believers live?
This is an excerpt from Mike Cosper, The Gospel Project: The Spirit Who Empowers © 2017 Lifeway Press®. Used by permission. Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®. Copyright 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission.