convINced | IN the Holy Spirit

A response to the "small group questions" for the 20 October 2019 message at First Pres, Boulder. 1

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

excerpt from the English Standard Version of the Gospel according to John 2

How would you describe the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to someone who is not familiar with this teaching of the Bible?

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 3

We as humans are broken relative to our purpose, and our spirit misunderstands the difference between good and evil. Through Christ we are able to return to the created purpose, and our spirit is superseded by God's, which leads us toward Good.

What role(s) does the Holy Spirit play in our lives?

The Spirit is the life God breathed into creation. Our life died when man chose to follow his will over God's; but through Christ we are able to live again, and the Spirit leads us in the will of God.

What are the different names/descriptions for the Holy Spirit throughout the pages of scripture?

I've got to be frank: I'm going to Wikipedia for this one. 4

  • Spirit of God

  • Spirit of "Yahweh"

  • Spirit of Wisdom

  • Spirit of Christ

  • Spirit of Truth

  • Paraclete (advocate; helper)

I don't know why I haven't noticed this before; but the Holy Spirit (such as is described in the Gospel of John) is the literal opposite of the Satan in creation. The Satan is the accuser or the adversary. The Holy Spirit promised by Christ is the advocate or the helper. Both refer to a legal context, as in a trial, with הַשָּׂטָ֖ן ("the satan") being not unlike a prosecuting attorney, and ὁ Παράκλητος ("the paraclete") being not unlike a defense attorney.

One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to convict us regarding sin. How would you define sin? How has the Holy Spirit recently convicted you regarding your own personal sin?

My understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit is that he is the replacement of our wills with that of the Father's. By giving us a spirit of Truth, a spirit from God, we know what is truly good for us, whereas before our will was broken and choses what is not part of God's creation. Part of this is a conviction of sin, where we are pointed away from the good that God has for us, so that we can recognize it and replace it with a desire for what is good.

The Holy Spirit is working in my life most recently (and, in reflection, throughout most of my life) toward having a right heart that is pointed at God and not as an accuser myself, even tangentially. I am habitually a creature of justice, and my desire is to bring the world around me into better alignment with "the good"; but when I am unable to do so (either by my own ignorance or by the fact that it is outside of the sphere of my control) I too easily allow myself to behave incorrectly out of frustration. It is a kind of worry, I think: that if I cannot bring about good outside of me, it somehow indicates a deficienty in myself. But it is precisely the worry that is the deficienty, and I must focus on having a heart after God without external dependency.

Why is it important for the Holy Spirit to convince us of righteousness?

The scripture says that the Spirit ἐλέγξει ("will convict" in the ESV; but potentially significantly more ambiguous 5) of righteousness because "I [Christ] go to the Father, and you will see me no longer." Because we will not have Christ incarnate in the world to serve as an example for righteousness, the Spirit will show us what is good. He will question, check, and test our understanding of good; control, check, and monitor our pursuit of it; and audit our behavior to help us better understand the good into the future.

How should an awareness of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit affect our daily lives? In what ways has it affected your life personally? How do you hope it affects your life in the future?

My mind keeps bouncing around in scripture; but I settle most on Romans. 6

I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

The Spirit, sent by the Father and come in the name of the Christ, fills us with the Word and frees us from our bondage to sin. To set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. I pray that this peace will continue and expand, that I will live more tomorrow than I do today.


IN the Holy Spirit: convINced


John 16:7-11


2 Corinthians 5:17


Holy Spirit in Christianity: Names


Wiktionary: ελέγχω


Romans 7:18-8:6

wINd | IN the Holy Spirit

A response to the "small group questions" for the 13 October 2019 message at First Pres, Boulder. 1

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested[a] on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

excerpt from the English Standard Version of the Acts of the Apostles 2

Last week Erik humbly said that his theology of the Holy Spirit is more robust and developed than his personal experience of the Holy spirit. How about you? Which is more developed--your understanding of the Holy Spirit or your experience with the Holy Spirit? What does that tell you about yourself, if anything? Share one way that you like to grow personally as we continue through this series.

I like this question a lot. I think my experience of the Holy Spirit might be more developed than my understanding of him. As should likely be obvious from my last post in this series, I am unconvinced of many of the Trinitarian perspectives on the Spirit; but his work in my life is clear, at least to me. My life is an ever-increasingly-unlikely series of serindipity, and I attribute this to God's Spirit at work in my life. Even just examining my heart, and comparing it with my younger self: I know I have further to go, but I can not take credit for how I have changed.

We explored the name Ruach/Pneuma or Wind/Breath for the Holy Spirit. What stood out to you from the message and the scripture? What was your take-away or lingering question?

Jane used The Bible Project's video on the Holy Spirit 3 to impart this context, and I must say that it's stuck with me. I think we miss out on a lot of useful metaphor in the scripture because we don't have the same anthropology as the authors, and it's great to have that illuminated. I've been watching so many of their videos 4 and listening to their podcasts 5 since then.

Take some time to read these various passages: Ezekiel 36:24-37:14, John 3:1-8, John 20:19-22, Acts 2:1-21. Make note of all the references to the Holy Spirit. What do you notice? What questions do you have? enjoy your time together exploring God's word.

The Spirit is life. New life.

I am fascinated to see John record the coming of the Holy Spirit to his disciples from his breath before pentecost. I don't think I knew it was so explicit.

What practices do you currently have in your life that help you be open to the Holy Spirit at work in you? Are there practices you would like to try? Talk together about how you might do something together to be more open and surrendered to the work of the Spirit. Commit to it until you meet again--be sure to check in next time you are together.

Say "yes" to things. Have a heart for God, and attribute leadings toward and in him to the Spirit. You wouldn't be afraid of it if you didn't think you were going to be required to do it.


IN the Holy Spirit: wINd


Acts 2:1-4


The Bible Project: Holy Spirit


The Bible Project


The Bible Project Podcast

TrINity | IN the Holy Spirit

A response to the "small group questions" for the 6 October 2019 message at First Pres, Boulder. 1

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

excerpt from the English Standard Version of Genesis 2

What is your own best understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity? How do you explain it? What Scriptures, if any, help you?

I scarcely know how to begin with this question.

That's a lie: I know that my fist reaction is, "I can't believe that a message on the Spirit has immediately become about the Trinity in stead." It strikes me as very Presbyterian, that the Spirit is too uncomfortable, too mysterious, to actually talk about for too long, so we have to talk in the abstract about the Trinity in stead.

Erik's message purported to embrace an admittedly detached Presbyterian mindset by defending a discussion about the Spirit before really getting to know the Spirit. This seemed fair enough to me; but then these three things were:

  • is God (that is, the Holy Spirit is actually God)

  • is love (but, already, the message went far away from being particularly about the Holy Spirit, in stead saying that "the Trinity", or God in his entirety, is love)

  • is transformation? (talking about the redemptive work of God in creation; but, again, this was largely talking about God in his entirety, not necessarily or specifically the Holy Spirit)

So I come away from this disappointed that a series purportedly about the Holy Spirit is already in this first message almost entirely about the doctrine of the Trinity, not the least because I consider the doctrine of the Trinity extra-biblical and likely completely incorrect.

The second helvetic confession states that "there are not three gods, but three persons, consubstantial, coeternal and coequal"; but even this simple, essential facet of Trinitarian theology is anti-scriptural.

The prompt asks what scriptures help me with my understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity. I recognize that this isn't the intent; but I can think of no more succinct defense of my leaning than to quote Christ:

You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

excerpt from the New Living Translation of the gospel according to John 3

If the Father is greater than Christ, then they are not coequal. And if they are not coequal, there is no Trinity.

I further and specifically reject the assertion that life without the Spirit leaves us with a "two-thirds God" as Erik claimed in his sermon. The Spirit is a comforter to us in our life as inheritors of the kingdom of God; but the Father is not "one third" of God, nor is Christ. Israel was not worshiping one third of God when they worshiped the God of Abraham; and Christ's disciples were not restricted to the presence of one third of God when they followed him.

I have been overly negative here, and I think with purpose; but I am aware that I have failed to answer the question, "What is your own best understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity?" My views on this matter are incomplete, and I am afraid they will remain so until the Spirit has broken my will over the study that will be necessary to complete it. Hopefully that will appear here some day. Not today.

Many protestants work with a functional "Bi-Une" God, focusing primarily on the Father and Son. Why do you suppose that is?

The Father and Son are relatively easy to consider in the abstract, as actors in history or the cosmos relatively distinct from ourselves; but to understand the Spirit is to invite God into your life. To be transformed. "Life," such as we think we know it, without the Spirit is the lie of our age. It is the temptation we are each confronted with: to know good and evil by our own wisdom, rather than to surrender our spirit to God's redeption as his.

What gets lost in our faith and our understanding of God if we set aside the Holy Spirit?

Christ is the promise of an escatalogical salvation from damnation or destruction. The Spirit is the living comfort of salvation from the hell of our broken creation today. In Christ we have hope of life into eternity. In the Spirit the new life starts now.

Throughout this series we will be reminded of the Holy Spirit's vital role in our faith. As we get started, what role does the Holy Spirit have in your life now?

I recognize the Spirit's action in my life, and often. I attibute much of my life and my being to the work of the Spirit, and I consider this attribution an intentional declaration of faith and an act of worship.

John 14:15-31; Romans 8; and Galatians 5:13-26 are some of the prominent places where teaching on the Holy Spirit can be found. What do you notice about the Spirit's work there?

I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

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.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

Many of these passages reflect the role of the Spirit as comforter, as originally promised by Christ to his disciples. I do think that many of the uses of the word spirit (πνεῦμα) in Romans 8 are misattributed and coarsely interpreted to be explicitly the Holy Spirit. Paul explicitly distinguishes the Spirit of God with Πνεῦμα (a capital Π), even though the ESV grossly categorizes all uses of the word as Spirit (with a capital S).

This is notably not the case in Galatians, where most (all?) of the instances of the Spirit are rendered with a capital Π.

How can you seek to be more aware of God as Trinity this week? What may happen if you do this?

Since I'm coming to this three weeks later, I suppose I have missed the call; but, as I expect I've made clear above, I question the validity of the doctrine of the Trinity, so I don't think this call carries much weight to me.

Now if you want to know what might happen if I seek to be more aware of the work of the Spirit this week, that's a whole 'nother deal. I can always use more awareness of God at work in my life, and his presence is felt in my relationships with my family, my community, and even myself. He convicts me when I do not want to do what I ought. He convicts me when I do what I ought not do. And he comforts me with a heart that ever-increasingly desires the things of God. 4


IN the Holy Spirit: TrINity


Genesis 1:26-27


John 14:28


Romans 7:13-25