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BAPTIST FAITH AND MESSAGE: Article 2c: God the Holy Spirit

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–This article begins where it must, by affirming that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God and as such is fully divine. He possesses with the Father and Son the one undivided divine nature. Only because he is himself divine, yet the third member of the Trinity, can we understand the string of activities he is said to perform.

Notice the verbs. This article says of the Holy Spirit that he “inspired,” “enables,” “exalts,” “convicts,” “calls,” “effects regeneration,” “baptizes,” “cultivates,” “seals,” “enlightens” and “empowers.” One thing is clear — the Holy Spirit is intent on and active in carrying out the will and purposes of God.

Consider four main areas of his work noted in this article.

The Holy Spirit inspired the Scriptures. He worked in the minds of biblical writers and so moved in them (2 Peter 1:20-21) that what they wrote as their own words was concurrently the fully authoritative, reliable and inerrant Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Further, the Holy Spirit illumines the minds and hearts of believers to help them understand and apply that divine word to their own lives (1 Corinthians 2:14). The Spirit inspired the Bible so that he might use it mightily in transforming us by its truth.

The Holy Spirit brings sinners to salvation. He comes most fundamentally to exalt Jesus Christ (John 16:14). The primary way he accomplishes this is as he convicts us of our sin, calls us to behold the beauty of Christ’s saving work and regenerates us so that we respond now to God in hope and love, through faith in Christ Jesus.

On our own, we consider the cross of Christ foolishness and weakness (1 Cor 1:18-25); but because the Spirit opens our blind eyes and enlivens our hearts (2 Corinthians 4:4-6), we come to faith in Christ and begin the sure and certain path to our ultimate and complete transformation in Christlikeness, which is the Spirit’s goal (2 Cor 3:18).

The Holy Spirit transforms believers through empowering their ever-increasing sanctification. So many today rush directly to the empowering work of the Spirit in his supernatural gifting for service. While this is a vital ministry of the Spirit, this article is correct to stress first the Spirit’s empowering work to bring about character transformation.

He cares more about Christlike character and conduct in God’s people than any service they might render apart from these qualities. To be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) and to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16) and to bear the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) express the internal work of the Spirit in making us wholly new people in Christ.

The Spirit is God’s seal and guarantee (Eph 1:13-14) that this internal work will continue until we are fully glorified. In Christ, by the power of the Spirit, we are assured the certainty of our full and final sanctification.

The Holy Spirit equips us for meaningful and fruitful service in the church. One of the ways in which God brings about his transforming work in our lives is through the ministry of the Body of Christ. Each member is gifted by the Spirit as he so wills (1 Cor. 12:11) so that the Body may be edified. Our worship of the true and living God, our love for one another and our service in the name of Christ — all done in the power of the Spirit — fulfill the goal God set for us to grow into Christlikeness.

Through Scripture, salvation, sanctification and service, then, the Spirit works to honor Christ in making us like him, to the glory of God forevermore.
Ware is senior associate dean of the school of theology and professor of Christian theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

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Full text of Article 2: God

There is one and only one living and true God. He is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being, the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe. God is infinite in holiness and all other perfections. God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures. To Him we owe the highest love, reverence, and obedience. The eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.

A. God the Father

God as Father reigns with providential care over His universe, His creatures, and the flow of the stream of human history according to the purposes of His grace. He is all powerful, all knowing, all loving, and all wise. God is Father in truth to those who become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. He is fatherly in His attitude toward all men.

Genesis 1:1; 2:7; Exodus 3:14; 6:2-3; 15:11ff.; 20:1ff.; Leviticus 22:2; Deuteronomy 6:4; 32:6; 1 Chronicles 29:10; Psalm 19:1-3; Isaiah 43:3,15; 64:8; Jeremiah 10:10; 17:13; Matthew 6:9ff.; 7:11; 23:9; 28:19; Mark 1:9-11; John 4:24; 5:26; 14:6-13; 17:1-8; Acts 1:7; Romans 8:14-15; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 4:6; Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17; Hebrews 11:6; 12:9; 1 Peter 1:17; 1 John 5:7.

B. God the Son

Christ is the eternal Son of God. In His incarnation as Jesus Christ He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. Jesus perfectly revealed and did the will of God, taking upon Himself human nature with its demands and necessities and identifying Himself completely with mankind yet without sin. He honored the divine law by His personal obedience, and in His substitutionary death on the cross He made provision for the redemption of men from sin. He was raised from the dead with a glorified body and appeared to His disciples as the person who was with them before His crucifixion. He ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God where He is the One
Mediator, fully God, fully man, in whose Person is effected the reconciliation between God and man. He will return in power and glory to judge the world and to consummate His redemptive mission. He now dwells in all believers as the living and ever present Lord.

Genesis 18:1ff.; Psalms 2:7ff.; 110:1ff.; Isaiah 7:14; 53; Matthew 1:18-23; 3:17; 8:29; 11:27; 14:33; 16:16,27; 17:5; 27; 28:1-6,19; Mark 1:1; 3:11; Luke 1:35; 4:41; 22:70; 24:46; John 1:1-18,29; 10:30,38; 11:25-27; 12:44-50; 14:7-11; 16:15-16,28; 17:1-5, 21-22; 20:1-20,28; Acts 1:9; 2:22-24; 7:55-56; 9:4-5,20; Romans 1:3-4; 3:23-26; 5:6-21; 8:1-3,34; 10:4; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2:2; 8:6; 15:1-8,24-28; 2 Corinthians 5:19-21; 8:9; Galatians 4:4-5; Ephesians 1:20; 3:11; 4:7-10; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:13-22; 2:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; 3:16; Titus 2:13-14; Hebrews 1:1-3; 4:14-15; 7:14-28; 9:12-15,24-28; 12:2; 13:8; 1 Peter 2:21-25; 3:22; 1 John 1:7-9; 3:2; 4:14-15; 5:9; 2 John 7-9; Revelation 1:13-16; 5:9-14; 12:10-11; 13:8; 19:16.

C. God the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, fully divine. He inspired holy men of old to write the Scriptures. Through illumination He enables men to understand truth. He exalts Christ. He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He calls men to the Saviour, and effects regeneration. At the moment of regeneration He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ. He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and bestows the spiritual gifts by which they serve God through His church. He seals the believer unto the day of final redemption. His presence in the Christian is the guarantee that God will bring the believer into the fullness of the stature of Christ. He enlightens and empowers the believer and the church in worship, evangelism, and service.

Genesis 1:2; Judges 14:6; Job 26:13; Psalms 51:11; 139:7ff.; Isaiah 61:1-3; Joel 2:28-32; Matthew 1:18; 3:16; 4:1; 12:28-32; 28:19; Mark 1:10,12; Luke 1:35; 4:1,18-19; 11:13; 12:12; 24:49; John 4:24; 14:16-17,26; 15:26; 16:7-14; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4,38; 4:31; 5:3; 6:3; 7:55; 8:17,39; 10:44; 13:2; 15:28; 16:6; 19:1-6; Romans 8:9-11,14-16,26-27; 1 Corinthians 2:10-14; 3:16; 12:3-11,13; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30; 5:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:19; 1 Timothy 3:16; 4:1; 2 Timothy 1:14; 3:16; Hebrews 9:8,14; 2 Peter 1:21; 1 John 4:13; 5:6-7; Revelation 1:10; 22:17.

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    About the Author

  • Bruce Ware