Recommended Resources on God

Living in the United States in the 21st century, we are blessed with a plethora of theological resources. The Bible, the gospel, and the things of God have never been so accessible as they are now in our society. Below are some of the books and articles that have been most helpful to me both to know God better and to love God better, the focus of Article II of Friendship’s statement of faith.

Resources on the Attributes of God

All That Is in God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism by James E. Dolezal

God’s Greater Glory: The Exalted God of Scripture and the Christian Faith by Bruce Ware

Knowing God by J. I. Packer

The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul

Resources on the Trinity

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance by Bruce Ware

Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief by John M. Frame

Resources on God the Son

God the Son Incarnate: The Doctrine of Christ by Stephen J. Wellum

The Person of Christ by Donald MacLeod

Resources on the Holy Spirit

God’s Indwelling Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments by James M. Hamilton Jr.

Spiritual Gifts: What They Are and Why They Matter by Thomas R. Schreiner

The Holy Spirit by Sinclair Ferguson

“The Witness of the Spirit in Romans 8:16: Interpretation and Applications” by Daniel B. Wallace. Pp. 37-52 in Who’s Afraid of the Holy Spirit? An Investigation into the Ministry of the Spirit of God Today, edited by Daniel B. Wallace and M. James Sawyer. (He has published an online version of this essay at

The Holy Spirit and the Church

The Baptist Faith and Message first describes the Holy Spirit’s relationship to Scripture. Having concluded that paragraph by discussing the Holy Spirit’s use of Scripture to convert sinners, the next paragraph about the Holy Spirit focuses on his relationship to the church, both individual Christians and local congregations. “He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and bestows the spiritual gifts by which they serve God through His church. He seals the believer unto the day of final redemption. His presence in the Christian is the guarantee that God will bring the believer into the fullness of the stature of Christ. He enlightens and empowers the believer and the church in worship, evangelism, and service.”

The Holy Spirit in the Individual Christian

The Holy Spirit cultivates Christian character. Paul famously talks about this as the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). The Holy Spirit produces these fruits to replace the works of the flesh: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these (Gal 5:19-21). The works of the flesh characterize non-Christians. Works are the flesh are things that come naturally for us as sinners. However, the fruits of the Spirit are unnatural to us in sin; they are the result of the Holy Spirit’s ongoing grace in our lives, as he dwells in us and empowers us to grow in righteousness (Gal 5:16-18, 24-25). Paul also wrote about the Spirit’s work in Christians’ lives in Romans 8. Our bodies are still dead because of sin, but the Holy Spirit within us is giving us life (Rom 8:10). The Spirit has set us free from the law (Rom 8:2) so that we Christians no longer live for the passions of the sinful flesh (Rom 8:12) but rather put to death those sins that once characterized us so that they characterize us no longer (Rom 8:13).

The Holy Spirit also comforts us Christians. The Holy Spirit’s comfort is the emphasis of the next verses in Romans 8:

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him

(Rom 8:14-17)

The Holy Spirit assures us of our adoption as God’s sons. He doesn’t make us fear that we are slaves of sin. He bears witness to us that we are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ. He comforts us as we suffer for Christ that we will one day be glorified with Christ. He comforted the early church so that it multiplied (Acts 9:31). He comforts us Christians with his constant presence (John 14:16). He also comforts us by teaching us through the Scriptures (John 14:26; 15:26).

The Holy Spirit bestows spiritual gifts on Christians. In fact, the gifts are “spiritual” gifts precisely because they come from the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:1-11; Rom 12:3-8; 1 Pet 4:10-11). Whether a gift is more extravagant or more low-key; whether a gift is to speak or to serve physically; whether a gift blesses many people or only a few, all spiritual gifts come from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives each Christian spiritual gifts so that the church may be built up and strengthened.

Finally, the Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee of our salvation. Paul calls the Holy Spirit “the guarantee of our inheritance” (Eph 1:14; cf. 2 Cor 1:21-22). The Holy Spirit is the evidence we need that the Lord Jesus one day will come again and make all things new. God has also similarly sealed us with the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13; 4:30). We can know that we will in fact persevere to the end and be saved because the Holy Spirit is indwelling us.

The Holy Spirit in the Church

As the Holy Spirit indwells each individual Christian, so the Spirit is also active in the church as a whole. “He enlightens and empowers the believer and the church in worship, evangelism, and service.” The Holy Spirit empowers the church’s worship. Jesus told the Samaritan woman, “the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth” (John 4:23). The Holy Spirit causes us to worship God, and he enables us to worship God (Phil 3:3). We have access to God only because of the Spirit (Eph 2:18). We pray to God “in the Spirit” (Eph 6:18).

The Holy Spirit also empowers the church’s evangelism. Jesus told his disciples that the Holy Spirit would bear witness to him, and they would bear witness to him (John 15:26-27). This progression of thought implies that the Holy Spirit empowers Christian evangelism. After his resurrection, Jesus instructs his disciples not to go out and bear witness beyond Jerusalem until they have received power from the Holy Spirit to do so (Acts 1:8). Later, the Holy Spirit fills Christians so that they continue to speak the word of God with boldness in the face of increasing persecution (Acts 4:31).

Finally, the Holy Spirit empowers the church’s service. The spiritual gifts mentioned above point to this reality. Furthermore, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and subsequent conversion of thousands of people resulted in Christians being “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). The Holy Spirit birthed the church in Thessalonica and empowered them to forsake idols for the living God and to be a very united church in spreading the gospel in their area (1 Thess 1:4-10).


We at Friendship Baptist Church are thankful for God’s gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We are thankful for the fruit he has graciously produced in our lives so far, and we trust that he will continue to produce more and more fruit in our lives that glorify God. We also long to be faithful to follow the Spirit’s leadership in equipping us for worship, evangelism, and service. May we be faithful temples of the Holy Spirit every day of our lives, to the glory of God and for the sake of spreading his gospel!

The Holy Spirit and Scripture

The Baptist Faith and Message first confesses of the Holy Spirit: “The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, fully divine. He inspired holy men of old to write the Scriptures. Through illumination He enables men to understand truth. He exalts Christ. He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He calls men to the Saviour, and effects regeneration. At the moment of regeneration He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ.” This paragraph of Friendship’s statement of faith focuses on the Holy Spirit’s relationship to Scripture. The Holy Spirit inspired the writing of Scripture in the past. He presently illuminates the meaning of Scripture to Christians and applies it to non-Christians in conversion to regenerate them and make them Christians.

The Holy Spirit’s Inspiration and Illumination of Scripture

The first article of The Baptist Faith and Message described the Holy Spirit’s inspiration of Scripture. That topic is also the subject of the first blog post in this series.

The Holy Spirit illuminates the meaning of Scripture so that people can understand it in the present. As Paul told the Corinthians, “we have received … the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God” (1 Cor 2:12). The Spirit makes it so that Scripture takes root in a Christian’s heart (1 Cor 2:13). Non-Christians cannot comprehend Scripture or its message of salvation on their own, apart from the illumination of Scripture (1 Cor 2:14-15). We Christians can understand and apply Scripture to our lives only by God’s grace through the power of his Holy Spirit at work in us (1 Cor 2:16).

The Holy Spirit especially illuminates us Christians to understand how Scripture exalts Christ, and he teaches us through Scripture how we are to exalt Christ in our everyday lives, by our thoughts, words, and actions. Such was one of the key themes of Jesus’ Upper Room Discourse following the Last Supper. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would bear witness about him to the disciples (John 15:26). Twice Jesus later told his disciples that the Holy Spirit “will take what is mine and declare it to you” (John 16:14, 15). The apostle Peter also taught that the Holy Spirit exalts Christ through the Old Testament prophets: “Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories” (1 Pet 1:10-11).

The Holy Spirit’s Application of Scripture in Conversion

In addition to illuminating Christians’ minds to understand the Bible, the Holy Spirit also uses God’s word to convert people. The Holy Spirit takes people who are dead in their trespasses and sin and makes them alive in Christ (Eph 2:1-10). The Baptist Faith and Message summarizes Jesus’ teaching about the Holy Spirit in John 16:8-11 by saying, “He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.” James Hamilton explains these verses: “The world stands condemned by the righteousness manifested in God’s judgment of sin at the cross because it has not believed in Jesus” (God’s Indwelling Presence, p. 90). Jesus had previously taught his disciples, “‘Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die” (John 12:31-33). Jesus taught that after his death and resurrection, he would send the Holy Spirit to convict people of the judgment that God rendered at the cross. Jesus defeated Satan at the cross. At the cross, Jesus paid the sin debt of anyone and everyone who would ever trust in him for salvation. The Holy Spirit applies the redemption that Jesus accomplished at the cross. He is the one who convicts sinners to feel the weight of their sin and the just condemnation it has earned them.

Connected to his work of conviction, the Holy Spirit “calls men to the Saviour.” The Holy Spirit does the work both of the gospel call and the effectual call. The Holy Spirit calls all people everywhere to repent as they encounter God’s word, the Bible, either by reading it for themselves or by hearing it read or preached. People are responsible to respond to the call of the Holy Spirit in the gospel, but on their own they resist him (Acts 7:51). In sin, a person’s natural response to the gospel is to reject it. Those who reject the gospel are not rejecting the preacher of the gospel but the God of the gospel (1 Thess 4:8). However, the Holy Spirit also effectually calls people to Christ, as Paul writes: “those whom he called, he also justified” (Rom 8:30). The Holy Spirit by his grace and power makes people to feel the weight of their sin, he calls them to the Savior, and by his power they respond in faith.

Those who are effectually called by the Holy Spirit in this way respond in faith because the Holy Spirit regenerates them. As The Baptist Faith and Message says, the Holy Spirit “effects regeneration.” Jesus told Nicodemus clearly, for a person to be saved, he or she must be born again, born from above, born of the Spirit (John 3:1-8). Jesus chides Nicodemus for his inability to understand Jesus’ teaching about regeneration, since God had promised to regenerate his people in the Old Testament (Ezek 36:25-27). One of the blessings of the new covenant would be that God would give people new hearts and put his Spirit within them so that they would be able to obey him from the heart (Jer 31:31-34).

The New Testament closely relates regeneration and baptism. Paul writes that God “saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). In the earliest church, people were baptized the same day that they were reborn by the Holy Spirit. Baptism is an outward sign of the inward reality of regeneration. The Baptist Faith and Message explains why that is the case: “At the moment of regeneration He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ.” There is no biblical evidence for a second baptism of the Holy Spirit that is normative for Christians throughout time and across diverse cultures. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is just another way of talking about regeneration (1 Cor 12:13). The baptism of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was a special event to fulfill John the Baptist’s prophecy that Jesus would baptize people “in the Holy Spirit and in fire” (Luke 3:16; Acts 2:3-4). Later in Acts, we get the normative experience of Christian conversion described by how the first Gentile converts received the Holy Spirit and were regenerated and promptly baptized (Acts 10:44-48). (Those Gentiles spoke in tongues as a special sign confirming to the Jewish Christians there that the Gentiles had in fact received the Holy Spirit just as they had.)


The Holy Spirit inspired the Bible and continues to illuminate its contents to people today. Apart from the Holy Spirit, none of us can truly understand God’s word and apply it to our lives properly. The Holy Spirit applies Scripture in conversion to non-Christians. The Holy Spirit convicts people of their sin, calls them to repent and believe in the gospel, and regenerates their hearts. A person goes from being dead in sin to alive in Christ by the Spirit. When the Spirit regenerates someone, the person is simultaneously baptized into the body of Christ.