Abba, Father – The Spirit of the Trinity

Abba, Father – The Spirit of the Trinity

Abba, Father – The Spirit of the Trinity.

“Unless I go away, the Helper (Paraclete) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you… When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth.”  (John 16:7, 13).

In this series “Abba, Father” I have been discussing different aspects of the Trinity, our God who is Three-in-One. This central idea in the Christian faith is of course impossible to pin down definitively. If you think peace passes our understanding, try the Trinity. All analogies fail at some point, and any attempt at systematic definitions are sooner or later frustrated and insufficient. We have been taught about the Trinity down through Church history, but our human minds will not be able to acquire knowledge of all the eternal ins and outs of our triune God.

In this series’ first article, I discussed how Jesus described God the Father through the parable of the Prodigal Son. Jesus explored the character of His Father through His description of the father in the story, and His description of the Father compels us to love and trust the Father more than we did before we read that parable. The second article brought out some Scriptures that related to our adoption into the family of the Trinity, and these verses clearly lay out our family responsibilities as children of God. The third article tried to describe the profound intimacy enjoyed between the Father and the Son. Their love for each other through the Spirit, and their shared character, have proven to be the inexhaustible source of all love and virtue in the world. Their unfathomable intimacy, and their eternal knowledge of each other, is a mystery to us mere mortals. The fourth article attempts to explain the deep truth that we are invited into that trinitarian intimacy. The love and life within the Trinity is intended to be shared with humanity. The relationships enjoyed within the Trinity are available to the human race through faith in Jesus Christ. The Trinity did not hoard their love and joy, instead it is available to every person through Jesus. And now this fifth article in the “Abba, Father” series will highlight the role of the Holy Spirit, especially as outlined by Jesus in the gospel of John. The Spirit is named by Jesus as the “paraclete.” Just as the Holy Spirit is the bond of love between the Father and the Son, the Spirit continues in His role as a spiritual lover and yearns to have a special friendship with us inside the fellowship of the Holy Trinity.

God’s eternal Spirit was present at creation, of course, “brooding like a bird over the watery abyss.” (Gen. 1:1, MSG). No surprise there. All three Persons of God existed together eternally before creation began, and they will be intimate spiritual companions forever after the world’s recreation as well. At creation, the Spirit was like a mother bird hatching an egg, bringing beauty and order out of nothingness and chaos, waiting to take us under His wing. Since this same trinitarian Spirit has made a home in us, the Spirit dwells within us to transform us into the likeness of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18), and to pour God’s love into our hearts (Romans 5:5). But there is still more to the Spirit’s influence in our lives.

In John 14, Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the “Paraclete,” and He paints a picture of the many roles of the Spirit in our lives. “I will pray to the Father, and He will give you another Helper (Paraclete), a Friend who will live with you forever… He dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17). And in John 14:26, Jesus said that “the Helper (Paraclete), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My Name, will teach you all things.” Jesus used sort of a nickname for the Spirit, the Paraclete, and we need to know what it means.

Paraclete is a Greek word that is one of those rich biblical terms that means many things and has many layers. The meaning of paraclete unfolds in many ways, often depending on the context. The word itself literally means “called to come alongside of.” So Jesus is saying that the Holy Spirit is called to come alongside each of us to fulfill many roles as our bosom buddy. The Spirit is called to dwell in us and alongside us to be the ultimate Helper and Friend. The Paraclete, the giver of life, is given to each of us to produce a fruitful life that is being renewed daily. The Paraclete Spirit, the intimate companion, who is called to come alongside us as He:

Points us to Jesus and glorifies Him;

Advises and counsels us;

Reminds us of Jesus’ words and teachings;

Advocates for us and defends us;

Comforts us and brings us peace;

Listens to Jesus and communicates with us;

Exhorts us and convinces us of sin;

Teaches us and guides us into truth;

Encourages us and inspires us;

Between the actual meaning of the Greek term and in the contexts found in John 14, 15, 16, the above qualities unpack the role of the Holy Spirit in us as the indwelling Paraclete.

Because the triune God is united and inseparable, the Father and the Son is everywhere the Spirit us. If the Spirit dwells in us and alongside us, so does the Father and the Son. If the Father and the Son have promised to make a home in us, the Spirit is right there as well, arm-in-arm in their trinitarian Presence, establishing a dwelling place in us. Since we are welcomed inside the relationship of the Trinity, the Spirit helps make that happen. Since we are adopted into God’s family as His children, we can be sure the Spirit was a part of that process. We can be assured the Spirit will work to sustain us in the trinitarian circle and fellowship.

St. Paul’s trinitarian blessing that closes his second letter to the Corinthians contains an interesting observation concerning the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 13:14). After praying for them to be blessed in the grace of Jesus Christ and the love of God, Paul completes the blessing by praying that they would experience the “koinonia” of the Holy Spirit. Koinonia is another rich Greek biblical term, meaning communion, participation in, companionship, intimate partnership with, deep fellowship with. We are not only joined into the community of the Trinity through the Spirit, but we are plugged into a profound fellowship with other believers as well. There would be no communion with other people were it not for the source of all communion, the intimate unity of the triune God. We are one with other believers only because of our oneness with the Trinity. Believers are welcomed into the relationship of the Trinity, and through that spiritual source of oneness we have the possibility of intimate fellowship with fellow believers. The Holy Spirit dwells within us, along with the Father and the Son, and thus we are able to live inside the Trinity while the Trinity lives within us and we live within the community of believers. The Holy Spirit, our true Companion, our intimate “Friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).