Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 14 No. 10 October 2012
Page 2

Editorial

THE HOLY SPIRIT:
A DIVINE PERSON

Louis Rushmore“Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device” (Acts 17:29). This verse and two other passages (Romans 1:20; Colossians 2:9) specifically cite the “Godhead” and imply divine personality. The number of divine persons comprising the Godhead from other Scripture is learned to be three. Thus, men often apply the human terms “triune” and “Trinity” to God or the Godhead, suggesting “three persons in one.” These three Divine Persons of the Godhead are uniformly identified in the Bible as God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ) and God the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 8:6; John 1:1; Acts 5:3-4).

The Bible doctrine of three divine persons in one Godhead is fully documented in God’s Word (Matthew 3:16-17; John 15:26; Romans 15:30). “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19). However, man experiences difficulty in fully comprehending the fact of the Godhead because there is nothing on earth to which he can completely compare it. Students of God’s Word accept: (1) the fact of the Godhead and (2) that it is made of three divine persons. Whatever divine and personal qualities are biblically ascribed to the Father and the Son apply equally to the Holy Spirit as well. The Holy Spirit is not in Scripture relegated to consideration as an “it” or a mere influence, and He is not properly addressed as such by mortal man either.

The Holy Spirit Has Personality

The Holy Spirit, like the Father and Jesus (at least before his incarnation), has no physical form (John 4:24; Luke 24:39). However, this does not detract from personality. Personality is the product of personal expression, not physical traits, alone. The absence of personal expression (e.g., among the mentally deficient) does not make one an animal, but personal expression verifies that the one making the expression is not animal, an “it” or merely an influence. So, the Holy Spirit, because He expresses Himself is not an “it” or a mere influence.

The Bible applies personal pronouns to the Holy Spirit, incidentally attesting to the individual personality of the Spirit (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13). The Holy Spirit also is ascribed these personal characteristics by Scripture: (1) He speaks (1 Timothy 4:1). (2) He testifies (John 15:26). (3) He teaches (John 14:26). (4) He guides (John 16:13). (5) He searches (1 Corinthians 2:10). (6) He has a mind (Romans 8:27). (7) He has knowledge (1 Corinthians 2:11). (8) He has affection (Romans 15:30). (9) He has a will (1 Corinthians 12:11). (10) He has goodness (Nehemiah 9:20). (11) He can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30; Isaiah 63:10). (12) He can be despised (Hebrews 10:29). (13) He can be blasphemed (Matthew 12:31-32). (14) He can be resisted (Acts 7:51). (15) He can be lied to (Acts 5:3) (Sweeney 35-39). (16) He chose certain men (Acts 13:2) and he makes intercessions (Romans 8:26) (Howard 11-12).

The foregoing personal characteristics of the Holy Spirit are tempered with divine qualities. The Holy Spirit is: (1) eternal (Hebrews 9:14); (2) omniscient (1 Corinthians 2:10-11); (3) omnipotent (Micah 3:8) and (4) omnipresent (Psalm 139:7, 10). He also participated or participates in: (5) creation (Genesis 1:2; Job 26:13), (6) providence (Psalm 104:30), (7) redemption (John 3:5), (8) the coming resurrection (Romans 8:11) and (9) was the source of miracles (1 Corinthians 12:9, 11) (Sweeney 39-42).

Lastly, as one would expect of a person, the Holy Spirit is addressed in God’s Word by name. (While it is true animals and objects also may have names, typically every person does have a name.) Someone has suggested there are “...18 different names used in referring to the Spirit in the Old Testament and 39 in the New Testament for a total of 52 different names in the Bible since five of them are common to both Old and New Testaments” (L'Roy 6). These references include: the Spirit of God; Spirit of the Lord; my Spirit; Holy Spirit; Spirit; thy good Spirit; Spirit of truth; Spirit of Christ; Spirit of the Living God; Spirit of his Son; Comforter; right Spirit; free Spirit; Spirit of wisdom and understanding, of counsel and might of knowledge and fear of the Lord; Spirit of Holiness.

Works Cited

Howard, V.E., The Holy Spirit, second edition, West Monroe, Central Printers & Publishers, c. 1975.

L’Roy, Elmer, The Holy Spirit, Shreveport, Lambert Book House, c. 1966.

Sweeney, Z.T., The Spirit And The Word, Nashville, Gospel Advocate Company, n.d.


Some Additional Teaching
about the Holy Spirit

Paul Clements

Paul ClementsTo understand the New Testament teaching on the subject of the Holy Spirit, it is needful to know: (1) The New Testament was written initially to churches and individuals, many of whom possessed miraculous gifts (e.g., the Corinthians were behind none in possession of spiritual gifts, 1 Corinthians 1:7). First Corinthians 12-14 discuss proper use of gifts of the Spirit. So when Paul says in 3:16 that the Spirit dwelt in them, to what would they think he was referring? (2) The Holy Spirit’s connection to the scheme of redemption had to do with the revelation and confirmation of God’s will. The reason men had gifts of the Spirit was to prove that what they taught was true and from God. (3) It is imperative that we allow the Bible to be its own interpreter.

Consider some New Testament passages where when it refers to people receiving the Holy Spirit, it is obvious that it is a reference to the miraculous (e.g., Acts 2:4; 8:14-18; 19:1-6). Other passages do not (so it seems in the immediate context) show a reference to the miraculous. Acts 2:38 is one such verse. Yet, this verse is in the midst of many references to the miraculous. Just a few verses prior (33), Peter referred to the miraculous. Acts 5:32 is a passage that teaches God gives the Holy Spirit to the obedient, but it does not tell us the manner that the Spirit dwells in the believer. However, if we consider the context, we will note verses 12-16 have to do with the miraculous. Against this background, Peter referred to the Holy Spirit being given. His statement in 5:32 was to argue that the apostles were obedient to God. Peter’s point was simply that God gives the Holy Spirit only to those who obey him; God had given the Holy Spirit to the apostles as evidenced by their miracles; therefore, they were obedient. This argument would have no strength without the miracles. What is under consideration is that the apostles possessed miraculous powers of the Holy Spirit to prove that they were not liars and disobedient as they had been charged.

If the Holy Spirit was influencing Christians directly with something new or different than what is revealed in the Bible, it would be an impeachment of the all-sufficiency of the Scriptures and make null and void such passages as 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:3 and Jude 3. If the Holy Spirit makes no new revelations, offers no additional motives to serve God or adds no new reasons to obey other than that found in the Word of God, what advantage would a direct, personal indwelling be? What the receiving of the Holy Spirit in the first century provided through the miraculous is now provided by the written Word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit.

The phrase “gift of the Holy Spirit” in Acts 2:38 is understood by many able scholars to refer to the miraculous endowments belonging to the first century. It is significant to note the word “gift” is used elsewhere obviously to refer to the miraculous. In the events surrounding the Samaritan Christians receiving the Holy Spirit through the laying on of the apostles hands it is referred to as the “gift of God” (Acts 8:20). Cornelius received the “gift of the Holy Spirit.” This was miraculous as evidenced by them speaking in tongues (Acts 10:44-46). In reference to “gift of the Holy Spirit” in Acts 2:38, it needs to be taken into account that the second chapter of Acts is replete with references to the miraculous. Would it not be unusual for every reference to the Holy Spirit in the chapter up to verse 38 to be miraculous and the verses following verse 38 to deal with the miraculous but have verse 38 be a reference to the non-miraculous? Verse 39 is a summary of Joel’s prophecy (miraculous). Acts 2:38 does not teach that the miraculous continues today. Remember, those endowments of the Spirit were temporary (1 Corinthians 13:8-10).

As with any subject, the study of the Holy Spirit needs to be approached with caution and with an open mind to only those things taught in the sacred Scripture.


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