Hurtado: God in NT Theology (3) The Spirit of God

Chapter 4 of Larry Hurtado’s book God in New Testament Theology is on ‘The Spirit and God in the NT’

A big point he makes repeatedly in this chapter is that “God” for the early Christians is not an abstract idea to be contemplated but someone to be experienced.

And that experience comes in and through an encounter with the Spirit of God.

In their lives and worship, the almighty and transcendent God was immediately present.

The experienced reality of God, through the Spirit, is an eschatological foretaste of a future reality. There is a tangible and vibrant sense of expectation and excitement in the NT that the visible sign of the Spirit’s presence is ushering in this new age to come.

“The rich bestowal of the Spirit is both consequence and signal of the inauguration of eschatological redemption” (82)

[A laudable desire to ‘rediscover’ this visible experience has, to a large degree, lain behind the rise of the Pentecostal and charismatic movements in the 20thCentury.]

This frequent reference to the Spirit in the NT has a number of distinctive aspects:

– Far greater frequency of use than in the OT

– Reflecting an intense experience of the Spirit in the NT church

– The Spirit is the “power” of God given to believers

– The Spirit is “holy” – distinct from human or any other beings

– The Spirit is regularly and normally experienced by believers;

o   Received; poured out; filled; the Spirit ‘falls upon’ believers; is sent forth by God; mediates God’s immense love to believers (Rom 5:5); and is the medium in which believers are ‘baptised’

o   The Spirit empowers believers to live a transformed moral life

o   The Spirit is an agency of revelation

o   The Spirit is a source of gifts such as prophecy etc

An Open Question

In the NT “there is a tangible and vibrant sense of expectation and excitement that the visible sign of the Spirit’s presence is ushering in this new age to come”

If a church (or individual) is at a place where they long for or desire to experience more of God’s Spirit, both inwardly and outwardly, how do they ‘go forward’? What needs to happen? Or is even asking such questions betraying an assumption that the Spirit can be controlled?

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2 thoughts on “Hurtado: God in NT Theology (3) The Spirit of God

  1. A willingness to repent. Plain. And. Simple. I don’t mean that some great, heinous sin has to be present, only that for the Spirit of God to be free to move, we have to be willing to bend, yield, and change. We have to be willing to let Him “wreck” us.

    Our longing for the Spirit to move in and through us has to be accompanied by a deep commitment to let him challenge our assumptions, our motives, and our habits–and I believe he’ll take as much room as we give him.

  2. Hi Crystal, I like that last line. Makes sense of so much in the NT that talks of our active participation with God: to seek righteousness, obey God’s word, follow the Lord, pursue ‘things above’, pray, ask God’s help to overcome temptation, resist ‘the flesh’, do good, flee from evil, provide good growing conditions for the fruit of the Spirit, love God, love neighbour … etc etc

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