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The Holy Spirit’s Role in the End Times: A Pneumatological View of Eschatology, by Bernie Townsend

A brief survey of selected theological writings confirm the Spirit’s role in the end times.

Jurgen Moltmann offers an important insight about the end times. He considers that John’s description in Rev 21:1-5, 22 is about God coming to the world to renew it. He writes, “The end of the world is the new day of eternal life. It is not the absolute eternity of God. It is the new time of the new creation, the eternal springtime of the life in which that which has been dried up and withered, blossoms. A new creation which endures forever and never passes away… heaven and earth are waiting to become God’s house, for everything created has been made for love”. He concludes that, “God’s Spirit is in them all (heaven and earth) and throws them open for God’s future. God finds no rest until everything He has created has returned home to Him… New creation means that: He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people… In the Spirit, the new creation of all things begins, with us”[16]. Even though the Holy Spirit is not explicitly mentioned in Rev 21:1-5, 22 in this extract Moltmann makes it clear that His creative actions underpin all aspects of this phase of God’s restoration.

Martin Luther declares the role of the Holy Spirit in the end times. His writing in the Confession of Faith states: “It is He (the Spirit) who on the last day will raise me up with all the dead and give me life” [17]. Kelly Kapic and Wesley vander Lugt link to this consideration when they introduce the concept of Jesus guarantee of resurrected life through His Holy Spirit, and that God’s plan is for believers to reside with the Trinity for all eternity. They write “Just as sure as Christ was raised, believers will be raised by His Spirit, and thus their flesh will be glorified so that they will be with the risen King, who now sits at the right hand of the Father…. The fellowship of the Spirit … is the guarantee that we will be with them both through all eternity” [18].

The role of the Holy Spirit in eternity cannot be viewed in isolation from the very nature of the Trinity. Consideration of the acts of creation and redemption has already shown the unique roles of the three persons of the Trinity. Gary Badcock writes, “That all that the Spirit does emanates from within the Trinity. The Spirit’s actions represent the Trinity’s unified and combined desire”[19]. Moltmann’ s trinitarian view is relevant here. He writes, “In the Cross, Father and Son are most deeply separated in forsakenness and at the same time are most inwardly one in their surrender. What proceeds from this event between Father and Son is the Spirit which justifies the godless, fills the forsaken with love, and brings the dead alive” [20].

Habets introduces the concept of the role of the Holy Spirit in mission, (the bringing of people into relationship with God) [21].  From the time of the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus, the Holy Spirit has guided and empowered believers to share how people can do this.  He writes, “The promise of the Spirit as power from on high is not only for missionary activity but first and foremost power for the transformation of Israel, by making salvation a reality thus making Israel a light to the nations and establishing the church”(Gal 3:13-14) [22]. So the mission for believers is first to Israel and then to all nations of the world (Acts 1:8,9). This mission is still relevant as Israel still needs to acknowledge the resurrected Jesus, and people from all nations still need salvation.

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About the Author: Bernie Townsend, MTh (Laidlaw College, New Zealand), is a retired public servant with significant years of service in finance and financial systems. He is the author of The Life and Works of Octavius Hadfield, a Kapiti Missionary: From a Christian Perspective, a Basic Missiological Primer (2011).

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