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

Richard Hays affirms the current examination of the strategic role of the Holy Spirit. He summarizes that God’s plan is to redeem and transform His creation, not abolish it. He writes, “The eschatology at the end of the Book of Revelation (Rev 21:1-5, 22) does not inculcate passivity in its readers; instead it calls them to an alert resistance to the seductive powers of the present age, and an active obedience to a merciful God, who makes all things new.  Nor is the eschatology otherworldly, it is not insignificant that the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven to earth and that the proclamation of final salvation declares, “The dwelling of God is with human beings”” [23].  Clark Pinnock agrees with this and suggests an eschatological role of the Holy Spirit when he writes; “Spirit is also associated with hope (Roms 15:13). The Spirit brooded over the waters of creation to bring life and order out of chaos (Gen 1:1-2). The Spirit makes dry bones live (Ezekiel 37:1-30) and raises Christ up as first fruits of those who sleep in death. He belongs to the future and creates hope in people, being the power by which the present world will be transformed into the Kingdom of God – God’s goals for history being pressed towards fulfillment” [24].

Early third century church father, Irenaeus of Lyons (in his “Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching No. 6”) writes of the importance of the role of the Holy Spirit[25]. He writes, “The Spirit, by whom the prophets prophesied, and the fathers have learnt the things of God, and the righteous have been guided in the way of righteousness, at the end of time has been poured forth in a new way on our humanity to renew humankind over all the earth in the face of God” [26]. Jean-Noel Bezaneon and his editor’s clarify the method of recognizing the Holy Spirit’s guidance. They write, “We are living in the time of the activity of the Spirit. The work of the Spirit is immense, yet infinitely varied; it respects the mystery of individuals. It is for each man and woman to welcome the love of the Spirit, to allow himself or herself to be conformed to Christ by this love. This is so that they can become in Him a son or daughter of the Father and be able to say with Paul, “It is no longer I that live, but Christ that lives in me” (Gal 2:20). For us, we need to adapt ourselves to this (indwelling) of the Spirit which transforms us and unites us to the spiritual adventures of Christ” [27]. This makes more sense when one considers, Dennis Edwards description of the continuing and futuristic work of the Holy Spirit. He describes the Holy Spirit as “relentlessly creating hope and meaning out of chaos”. He writes, “The Spirit is at work in the creation of all things as the giver and gift of divine communion. Each creature is brought by the Spirit into its unique relationship with the life of God” [28]. This statement is especially relevant for believers approaching the chaos leading up to the end times. (Matthew 24, Mark 13).

The final word is with Yves Congar, who also highlights the continuing creative role of the Holy Spirit implicit in the end times. “The Spirit is the one who completes all things and brings a perfection in which we (humanity) can rest in peace. This creation calls for a renewal that will pass from persons to a time itself and from man to the cosmos (Roms 8:18-25). The eschatological era has already commenced since Jesus exaltation resulted in the gift of the Spirit, and that one leads to total salvation, the Kingdom of God” (Acts 2:33)[29].

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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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