Earlier this week I had a conversation with a friend about metaphors for thinking about the triune nature of God. After several minutes of discussion, for the sake of our physical time-and-space bound intellects, we settled on the image of vapor, ice, and water as being the best physical representation we could think of for the three Persons of the Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Today I have pondered the wonder of Jesus Christ’s birth in a lowly manger, far from a family home, in a city and under conditions that had been foretold generations before. During communion prayer time in the worship service today, I saw in God’s plan a beautiful moving of his Holy Spirit across time and space defined by three stages, or conditions of being, in the world with his creation.
1.) Moving freely across the world- beginning at Genesis 1:2 – “The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” Over and over throughout the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit is seen moving from place to place, usually without the knowledge of when or for how long he would rest upon those with whom God chose to dwell. Notably, individuals like Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Elisha, David, Samuel and others whom God used greatly as prophets, priests, or kings clearly enjoyed a greater degree of God’s Holy Spirit presence with their own human spirit more consistently than most humans experienced. Still, God is moving among his people as needed to accomplish his purpose.
2.) Incarnated in the Person of Jesus Christ from conception to crucifixion- beginning with the Annunciation of Gabriel to Mary in Luke 1:26-37 and ending with Jesus’ own words from the Cross in Luke 23:46, “ And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.” Having said this, He breathed His last.” Even while incarnated in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit still was moving in the homeless, itinerant ministry of the Rabbi. And at last, taking leave from the broken human physical body of Jesus, the Holy Spirit was entirely free once more and appeared in Christ’s resurrection power, remaining among his disciples for a little longer to encourage and teaching them how to move to the final stage of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence in the lives of each person.
3.) Given now to all believers as a continuation of the covenant promise of God to his people, a deposit on the inheritance of one’s permanent life with Christ in all eternity by the simple act of faith through repentance in Acts 2:38-39 , “ “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”
The triune nature of God is not so much about God and how God chooses to present himself to humanity, but about God’s relationship to us which existed from the moment God spoke all creation into existence. It is about where and with whom God abides and how permanently and in what manner……..
– Spirit – Creator and Sustainer, separate, apart and autonomous. Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient. Revealed and experienced as Father, Creator, majestic and transcendent
– Spirit- incarnated in the Person of Jesus Christ to give us a model for receiving his Holy Spirit to ourselves and living humbly into the fullness a Human-Divine communion. Revealed as “Son of God” and Savior, Brother to mankind.
– Spirit – now dispersed to all humanity since Pentecost and available permanently to everyone through faith in Christ and repentance for our sins. Revealed as Helper, Counselor, Physician, and Friend within us where he has promised to remain, never forsaking a follower.
But the three are not consecutive or progressive or linear. They are simultaneous and co-eternal. Where we stand in time, space, and in the needs, desires, and surrender of our hearts and minds determines how we experience this Holy Spirit in each moment. Which aspect of God’s triune nature we experience at any given moment depends upon our need, for which God is fully sufficient. When God says, “I AM.” He is expressing the fullness of his sufficiency for whatever need we have. It is always and ever about God’s love for, provision for, and desire to be with his creation! CBB 12-22-19