The work of the Holy Spirit

This post is excerpted from a lecture by Michael Morrison, dean of faculty and professor at Grace Communion Seminary.

The apostle Paul's understanding of the Spirit's work is anchored in his belief that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost following Jesus' ascension fulfilled Ezekiel's prophecy concerning the ushering in of the Messianic age when God, by the Spirit, would be at work in his people in a new way (Ezek. 36:24-27). Note what Paul wrote concerning the Spirit's work:
What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. (1 Cor. 2:12-13) In his various letters, Paul identifies four aspects of the Spirit's ongoing work. Let's look at each one.
1. The Spirit's work in preaching the gospel…

Trinitarian pastoral care

This post from Grace Communion Seminary faculty member Ted Johnston explores the Trinitarian approach to pastoral care advocated by the Torrance brothers. All three view pastoral care as Spirit-led participation in Jesus' ongoing ministry to and through his Body, the church. This post is excerpted from one of Ted's lectures in his GCS Practice of Ministry course.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Andrew Root after him, emphasize that Jesus Christ, the ascended incarnate Son of God, through the Holy Spirit, ministers personally---sharing the place of every person. As pastoral ministers, we are called to be place-sharers with Jesus. We do so by helping people encounter Jesus Christ who is present already with them in healing ways. We offer this assistance by proclaiming to people the Word of God (the apostolic gospel)---a proclamation made in multiple ways, both verbal and non-verbal. We find helpful instruction about doing so in the writings of the three Torrance brothers. We begin with…

Trinitarian evangelism

This post excerpts a lecture from Grace Communion Seminary faculty member Randy Bloom, given in his Church Planting and Development course. It addresses an approach to evangelism grounded in and shaped by incarnational Trinitarian theology. 

To evangelize is to proclaim the gospel In the New Testament, to evangelize (euaggeliz├│ in Greek) means to announce the gospel (euangelion in Greek). Evangelism is about proclaiming the good news that in and through Jesus Christ, the Father has reconciled all people to himself, thus including all people in his love and life. The gospel tells us that no one is predetermined to eternal alienation from God because Jesus, through his representative-substitutionary human life, has offered to the Father every perfect, obedient human response, thus restoring right relationship between God and all humanity. The message of the gospel then invites people to respond to this good news (Acts 2:38) with repentance (change of mind) and faith (trust in Jesus). The…

Does GCI teach universalism?

Grace Communion International (GCI) teaches that God, in and through Jesus Christ, has reconciled all people to himself---forgiving them and including them in his love and life. Is this a doctrine of universalism? Dr. Gary Deddo, President of Grace Communion Seminary, answers below.

It's about a personal relationship! To understand how and why GCI's doctrine of salvation is not universalism, it's important to note that GCI views salvation as involving a personal relationship between two subjects--God and humans. Though both subjects must be accounted for, the primary one (and the source of the saving relationship) is the triune God who acts toward humans on the basis of grace. This understanding aligns with many passages of Scripture, including these: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son” (John 3:16, ESV); “In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself” (2 Cor. 5:19, ESV); "[Jesus Christ is] the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John…

What about postmortem evangelism?

Can those who have never heard the gospel in this life, hear and receive it after death? Dr. Gary Deddo, president of Grace Communion Seminary, answers this question by explaining how Grace Communion International approaches the topic of postmortem evangelism and conversion.

First, let's be reminded that the nature, character and purposes of our Triune God, as revealed to us in Jesus Christ, are foundational to our faith. We believe that all people are created according to the image of Jesus Christ. Further, we believe Jesus is Lord and Savior of all---he died for all and God does not want any to perish. These foundational truths are explicitly declared in the New Testament by Jesus and his appointed witnesses. On the basis of these truths, GCI teaches that God will do everything to draw all to himself and enable them to receive all he has for them through Jesus Christ.

Understandably, some wonder about seemingly insurmountable barriers to this drawing and receiving. What about ba…

Format change for The Surprising God Blog

Grace Communion International has transferred editorial responsibility for The Surprising God Blog to its affiliate graduate educational institution, Grace Communion Seminary. GCS faculty member Ted Johnston, who formerly served as GCI publications editor, continues as blog editor. Though the comments feature on the blog has been deactivated, comments are received at Trinitarian Theology Forumand Trinitarian Ministry---GCI-affiliated Facebook groups posts on The Surprising God Blog are re-posted.