Monday, August 5, 2013

The Holy Spirit: It or He?

"… in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit."
Matthew 28:19

The Holy Spirit is often thought of as just the force or power of God at work in the world, merely His voice, or an influence. But the Holy Spirit is a person, one of the three Persons in the Trinity. And many verses affirm His person. (Note: when I say “person,” I am not referring to a human being, but to a living being rather than a force or energy.)
            Firstly, the Holy Spirit is a person because He is referred to as just that: “He.” John 14:26, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things…” (emphases added). John 15:26, “…the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me” (emphases added). John 16:13-14, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you” (emphases added). These verses use the masculine pronoun “he” (Greek ekeinos) instead of the neuter pronoun ekeino, which would grammatically fit the neuter “spirit” in the Greek language. The Holy Spirit was specifically called a person, not a thing.
            Secondly, the Holy Spirit is a person because He has personality. He thinks (1 Corinthians 2:10), He loves (Romans 15:30), He can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30), He wills things (1 Corinthians 12:11), He teaches (1 Corinthians 2:13), He forbids (Acts 16:6-7), He intercedes (Romans 8:26-27), He guides (Romans 8:14), and He speaks (Acts 8:29; 13:2), to name a few qualities of His person. Also, the word “comforter” or “counselor” (Greek Parakletos) used in John 14:16, 26; 15:26; and 16:7 is a term which speaks of a person who helps or gives counsel to another person.
            Thirdly, the Holy Spirit is a person because if He was merely the power of God (if you allow me to refer to the almighty power of God as “mere”), a number of passages would not make sense. Take Luke 4:14: “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee.” If the Spirit is simply God’s power, the passage would read, “Jesus returned in the power of the power of God into Galilee,” and that just doesn't make sense. Neither would Romans 15:13. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope,” would translate, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the power of God you may abound in hope.” The same principle applies to Acts 10:38 and 1 Corinthians 2:4.
So the Holy Spirit is a person and not just the power of God. His person can take different shapes and appear to man in different ways, like the tongues of flame in Acts 2:2-4, or a dove in Luke 3:22. And like Jesus is the Son of God and yet fully God, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God and fully God. And although He is not always the first Person to come to mind when one thinks of God, He is nevertheless equal in the Trinity (Acts 5:3,4). All three relate to each other differently and have different roles regarding the world, but all are equal in power and glory.
            I can sincerely affirm the words of Rev. Charles Spurgeon when he said, “But when I come to deal with the Holy Ghost, his operations are so mysterious, his doings are so secret, his acts are so removed from everything that is of sense, and of the body, that I cannot so easily get the idea of his being a person; but a person he is.”
A. W. Tozer put it this way, “Spell this out in capital letters: THE HOLY SPIRIT IS A PERSON. He is not enthusiasm. He is not courage. He is not energy. He is not the personification of all good qualities, like Jack Frost is the personification of cold weather. Actually, the Holy Spirit is not the personification of anything... He has individuality. He is one being and not another. He has will and intelligence. He has hearing. He has knowledge and sympathy and ability to love and see and think. He can hear, speak, desire, grieve and rejoice. He is a Person.”


Bible Doctrine by Wayne Grudem


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