From the Wesleyan perspective, the transcendent Creator God, the one who at times seems larger than our ability to understand, is also the ever-present, enabling God, the one who at other times seems closer to us than our breath. It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to continue Jesus’ mission of self-sacrificing love in the world. Without Holy Spirit power, we lack the boldness and courage necessary to live in the “not yet” of the kingdom.
That enabling God – the Holy Spirit – inspires our prophetic witness to Jesus Christ (Luke/Acts), and resides within each of us (John). Yet the Holy Spirit, though focused in Jesus Christ and concentrated in those who follow him, is not contained solely within the church. The Holy Spirit is present, active, and involved with all of creation in a life-giving way. (Psalm 139.7; 2 Corinthians 3.6; Romans 8.1-27). The Holy Spirit is the Person of the Trinity through whom God gives Godself away to us, sharing our sufferings, joining us in our misery, binding Godself to us in joy and sorrow, conforming us into the image of Christ.
The grace of the indwelling Spirit allows us to participate in and gives us power through the life of God. This grace is our saving strength. When we ground evangelism in the Trinity, we open ourselves to being both transformed by the indwelling of the Spirit of God, and to becoming vehicles for that transformative power in others. In the space created within us, and between us and others, the Holy Spirit is invited to act for the transformation, not only of the other, but of us as well.
Because God’s kingdom has not yet been made fully known, our experiences of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit are presently incomplete. Yet, these experiences lead to our hope for the future, when God will indeed live completely and fully in God’s creation. As we are enlivened by the Spirit, we have hope that everything God created – human beings, nature, all creation – will be able to share in the fullness of God’s eternal life. The presence of the Holy Spirit, then, gives evangelism its future focus. We look forward to the future, already begun in Jesus Christ, when God will be all in all.
Adapted from Dr. Kim Reisman’s “Embrace” faith-sharing study.