THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY (12)
The Holy Spirit
His Deity and Personality
Our studies, in this fundamental doctrine of the Christian Faith, bring us to the third person of the Holy Trinity; The Holy Spirit. Those who deny the Doctrine of the Trinity will inevitably have unscriptural views with regard to the Holy Spirit. The Arians (who spawned the modern Unitarian Movement) deny the deity and personality of the Holy Ghost while Sabellianism (the root of the Oneness Doctrine found in some Pentecostal Churches) teaches that the Holy Ghost is the mode by which Father operates in the world, denying his individuality. It is vital that our knowledge of God is rooted in Scripture. The Holy Ghost is the person of the Trinity who applies the Work of Redemption in our lives. It must surely be grieving for Him when professing Christians wilfully follow false teaching with respect to His person.
1: The Terminology for the Holy Spirit
The English term “Holy Spirit”is rare in Biblical usage occurring only seven times in both Old and New Testaments. “Holy Ghost” is much more common, being employed by the translators on some ninety occasions but only in the New Testament. There are of course the other terms employed such as “the Spirit of the Lord” etc… What is much more useful is an examination of the Greek and Hebrews words, which are translated with the English “Spirit”. The Hebrew word “ruach” and the Greek “pneuma” both basically mean “to breathe”. Therefore the Holy Spirit is the breath of God or the wind of God. Therefore He appeared on the Day of Pentecost as a “rushing mighty wind” and Christ employed the metaphor of the wind when describing the Spirit’s work to Nicodemas. As the wind He is ever invisible yet very powerful.
Throughout the Scriptures divine appellants are ascribed to the Holy Ghost, underscoring His deity as the third triune person. In Exodus 17:7 the Israelites tempted Jehovah in the wilderness. Turning to Hebrews 3:9 we find the Holy Ghost expressly stating that in the wilderness is was He who was grieved. When Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit, they attempted to deceive God (Acts 5:4). The Christian in being the temple of the Holy Ghost is also the temple of God (1st Corinthians 3:16). When the Spirit of Jehovah inspired David, the God of Israel was speaking (2nd Samuel 23:2-3). Therefore when Paul wrote to Timothy about the origin of God’s Word he spoke of “the inspiration of God” (2nd Timothy 3:16).
2: The Individuality of the Holy Spirit
The Spirit of God is a unique individual who, while subsisting within the Trinity, exists as His own individuality in the same way that the Father and Son are distinct personalities. Therefore Jesus Christ related to the Holy Ghost as being a separate entity from Himself:
“But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” (John 15:26)
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” (John 16:7)
It logically follows that if the Father and the Son are to be viewed as personalities, then the Holy Ghost must be viewed in the same light. Furthermore these references are important in that they reveal the relationship that the Holy Ghost has with the Father and the Son. He proceeds from them and is sent by them, yet He remains their equal and shares their substance.
As a person we would expect the Holy Ghost to be described as behaving in a way that is consistent with personality and individuality:
“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches…” (Revelation 2:7)
“Thou gavest also thy good spirit to instruct them…” (Nehemiah 9:20)
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit…”(Romans 8:16)
“…the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” (1st Corinthians 2:11)
“It is the spirit that quickeneth…” (John 6:63)
“…the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Romans 8:26)
“So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost,…” (Acts 13:4)
“…which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers…” (Acts 20:28)
“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God…” (Ephesians 4:30)
3: The Characteristics in the Holy Spirit
Throughout the Scriptures the Holy Ghost is attributed as being in the possession of characteristics, that are the reserve of God. Therefore, He is not merely a distinct personality but as a person He acts as God, making him co-equal with the Father and the Son.
As God the Holy Ghost created the universe (Genesis 1:2), regenerates sinners (John 3:5-6) and is the cause of the resurrection (Romans 8:11).
He performs these notable feats because he possesses the attributes of God. The Holy Spirit is omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-10), omniscient (Isaiah 40:13-14), omnipotent (1st Corinthians 12:11) and eternal (Hebrews 9:14).
It therefore follows that Holy Spirit is wholly deserving of our praise and worship. Baptism is performed in His name as in the name of the Father and the Son (Matthew 28:19). The Apostolic Benediction includes His name with that of the other triune persons, therefore arguing that due reverence must be ascribed to Him:
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.” (2nd Corinthians 13:13)