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

Here, those present are the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb (Jesus – John 1:36, Rev 7:10).  There is no mention of the Holy Spirit. Does this mean that the Holy Spirit has no part to play in the end times?  This research shows that the Holy Spirit does have a significant part to play. It is not explicit (as it is with the Father and the Son) but it is implicit. The research will examine teachings of Jesus from the Gospels about the role of His Holy Spirit in the end times. This is followed by similar reviews of selected writings of Luke in the Book of Acts and of Paul in the epistles. The research finishes with a critique of a range of theologians’ written views. The essay includes some practical applications arising from the review. A Third Article Theological approach will be used throughout the essay to prove the hypothesis.

The role of the Holy Spirit in the end times is relevant for today because many believe we are in the end times, and there is an increased awareness of things spiritual. In the last century this can be demonstrated by spiritual manifestations such as Lourdes and Fatima, by various personal “life after death”[2] and “throne-room” visitation experiences[3], and the rise of New Age movements. Further, revivals and Pentecostal type outpourings over the last few centuries, together with the rise of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements, has demanded a foundational Spirit theology for teaching, discipleship and preparation for the end times.

Myk Habets suggests that these and other considerations within trinitarian theology have meant increased consideration of the role of the Spirit.[4] Early Church fathers provide evidence of a gradual development of a Spirit doctrine; however, these were insufficient and were not universally accepted[5]. Therefore, current events and needs have resulted in a new demand for researching and presenting works attributed directly to the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. Lyle Dabney summarises this approach of Third Article Theology (TAT) well. He writes that such writing has at least four characteristics. It starts with the Spirit, it unfolds the trinitarian mission of God in the world, it finds its focus in the centre of that story – in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and it is ecumenical theology. [6]

Jesus teachings reveal the role of the Holy Spirit in the end times.

The intent of God is that all of created humanity enjoys existence in a renewed state eternally. The Holy Spirit facilitates this process[7].

In the Old Testament, the central act was one of restoration resulting in the deliverance of the Jews from captivity in Egypt; establishment of the nation of Israel in Canaan, the setting up of a new nation: God’s own (restored) people (Joshua 24:11-13, 16-18). In the New Testament, the initial scene is set in John’s gospel, where the Father and the Son were in eternity, (John 1:1-2) but Jesus became incarnate and dwelt among His creatures for some thirty-three years (John 1:14, and Heb 2:7-9). Towards the end of this period, Jesus died on the cross to restore sinful people back to God.  After the resurrection and ascension, Jesus’ restoration process is continued by the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:55 and Rev 1:8-18).

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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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