A MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR. JACK VAN IMPE
Pneumatology, the doctrine of the Person and work of the blessed Holy Spirit, has often been misunderstood and abused. This is particularly true in our 21st century. The basis for the present confusion is a lack of knowledge of the Word of God. This situation is totally unnecessary because hundreds of scriptural portions describe in detail the Person and work of this wonderful third Person of the Trinity. Our study will take into consideration scores of these verses. In discussing this blessed third member of the Trinity, let us consider (1) His divinity, and (2) His personality.
The Holy Spirit is divine - that is, He is God. He is as much God as the Father or the Son. The fifth chapter of Acts makes this emphatically clear. Ananias and Sapphira plotted to cheat the Lord. As they were about to enact their hypocritical deed, Peter cried out in verse 3: Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost . . . ? Then in verse 4 Peter continued: . . . thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. The Holy Spirit of verse 3 is the God mentioned in verse 4.
This God is also called the spirit of the Lord in Isaiah 11:2, and His attributes are gloriously described in such terminology as: ". . . the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord." He is called the Spirit of God in Genesis 1:2 and the Spirit of Christ in Romans 8:9. We see then that the SPIRIT who is so closely identified with the Father and the Son is GOD, the third member of the Trinity He is also the Eternal Spirit (Hebrews 9:14). He always was, is, and shall be.
Genesis 1:1, 2 reads: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. The word God in the clause In the beginning God created . . . is the Hebrew word Elohim, a plural noun, meaning more than one or simply a trinity We find this same plural in Ecclesiastes 12:1 which states in the original Hebrew Old Testament: Remember now thy Creators in the days of thy youth . . . This same Trinity creates man in Genesis 1:26, for God said: . . . Let us make man in our image.
Most people agree that God the Father created the world and mankind, but argue angrily when one suggests that Christ and the Holy Spirit were part of the plurals just mentioned. However, let's allow the Word of God to speak for itself. We know that Christ helped create the world and mankind because John 1:10 states: [Christ] was in the world, and the world was made by him . . . . And Colossians 1:16 adds: For by [Christ] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth . . . . The Holy Spirit also was a partner in this creation, for Job 26:13 declares: By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens . . . . So we see the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as coequal laborers in the beginning. It is as plain as the nose on one's face. Because of their limited grasp of spiritual truths, men mock the doctrine of the Trinity. God says: But the natural [or unsaved] man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (I Corinthians 2:14). True believers are enlightened by the Holy Spirit, who wrote in I Corinthians 2:12: Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
The Holy Spirit Wrote the Bible
Continued evidence that the Holy Spirit is God is found in the fact that the Holy Spirit wrote the Holy Bible. Second Timothy 3:16 states: All scripture is given by inspiration of God . . . . Who is this God? Which member of the Trinity is given the credit for writing the Holy Book? Second Peter 1:21 answers this question: For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Yes . . . God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God (I Corinthians 2:10).
Peter, in the great Pentecostal address, declares that David's prophecy concerning Judas came by the Holy Spirit. He says: Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus (Acts 1:16). There is no doubt about it - the Old and New Testaments were written by God and this God was and is the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit's Titles and Attributes
Further proof of the Holy Spirit's deity is found in His titles and attributes. He is called the Spirit of Grace, Holiness, Judgment, Knowledge, Life, Love, Might, Promise, Prophecy, Revelation, Supplication, Truth, Understanding, and Wisdom. He is described as omnipotent (all powerful) as to Christ's resurrection, because Christ was quickened (made alive) by the Spirit (I Peter 3:18). He is also omniscient (knowing all things) because I Corinthians 2:10, 11 states: . . . the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. He is also omnipresent (everywhere at all times). The psalmist cries out in Psalm 139:7-10: Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. It is clear that the reference is directly pointing to the Holy Spirit in this contextual setting.
This same Spirit, like Christ, is Truth, for "the Spirit is truth" (I John 5:6) and also Holiness. His name the "Holy Spirit", certainly verifies this attribute. Because of this title, it is He who copes directly with the sin nature in the believer and is the only existing power by which that nature is ever controlled. This does not imply superior holiness over the Father and the Son. It is impossible for the inner character of one Person in the Godhead to be more holy than that of another; distinction must lie then within the sphere of that which is the official responsibility of the Spirit. This third Person undoubtedly has a special appointment to manifest, as well as defend, the infinite holiness of God. This holiness of each member of the Trinity is praised by God's angels in Isaiah 6:3 as they cry: Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. There is no doubt about it - all these, and other scriptures clearly define His divinity and His standing as God the Holy Spirit.
Second, let us consider the Person or personality of the Holy Spirit. He is definitely a person, distinct from the Father and the Son. He is not an energy or an influence but is distinctly personal, as are the Father and the Son. One of the reasons for not clearly understanding this truth is an unfortunate translation of the original Greek text into the English Bible. For instance, I refer to Romans 8:16, where we read: The Spirit ITSELF beareth witness with our spirit . . . (emphasis mine). Because the impersonal pronoun "it" is used instead of "he" many have regarded this blessed third Person as a mere influence. However, the majority of texts use the correct personal pronouns, as in John 16:13, 14: Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. In discussing His departure, Christ informed the world that He would send another to take His place upon the earth. One can readily see that Christ was not sending an influence but another Person. John 14:16,17: And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
The Attributes of a Person
This same Holy Spirit has all the attributes of a person, as you and I do. He can speak (Acts 13:2). He strives with sinners (Genesis 6:3) and can be resisted (Acts 7:51). He can be vexed (Isaiah 63:10) and tested (Acts 5:9). He has feelings because Ephesians 4:30 states: And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. It is abundantly clear, then, that He does what other persons do.
Many people still have a difficult time thinking of the Holy Spirit as a person because of the term "spirit." Religionists believe that the Father is a Person, as well as the Son, but reject this truth when it comes to the third member of the Trinity because of the label "spirit." If this has been your theological interpretation, listen to this. The Father was and is a Spirit (John 4:24). The Lord Jesus Christ was a spirit who became flesh to die for sinners. Philippians 2:5-8 states that He was in the form of God (spirit form) but took upon himself the form of flesh. So originally all three were in spirit form. Presently, the Father and Holy Spirit - along with innumerable angels - are still in spirit form. Are they [the angels] not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? (Hebrews 1:14). On this basis, God the Father is not a person, Christ was not a person, and the Holy Spirit is not a person, nor are the myriads of angels personalities if "spirit" means a mere emanation from God. We now have only three emanations in eternity past and no source from which to emanate. Perish the thought! All three are persons. Just because human eyes cannot presently visualize the spirit world is no proof that the spirit world cannot be seen with spiritual eyes. We will possess these when the dead shall be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed (I Corinthians 15:52). There are three Persons presently in heaven - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father and the Holy Spirit are still in spirit form. Only Christ is in the heavenlies with a human body. That is why Colossians 2:9 states: For in [Christ] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. This does not mean that the other two are not as much a reality as Christ. It only means that one of the three was chosen to take a body containing blood in order to die for sinners because without shedding of blood is no remission [for sin] (Hebrews 9:22).
The Holy Spirit is God
In conclusion, I trust that you will realize that the Holy Spirit is God, that He is not a mere influence or emanation from the Father or the Son but a real person. When the Bible speaks about Him being the Spirit of God and of Christ, it means that He is the Spirit of the Father because He is sent of the Father. He is also the Spirit of Christ because He is sent by the Saviour. This blessed Holy Spirit is also received at the moment Christ is received. Listen to the Word of God. John 3:5 says: . . . Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Romans 8:9 says: . . . if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. One receives the Holy Spirit when he believes - in fact, it is impossible to believe and be saved apart from the Holy Spirit. This is why I Corinthians 12:13 declares: For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body . . . . Every Bible scholar will tell you that the placing of an individual into Christ's body accompanies salvation. Notice that it is the Holy Spirit's baptism which produces the miracle. This baptism is not a second experience, but a transformation into Christ's body performed by the Holy Spirit at salvation. Call your experience by other descriptive titles if you so desire but do not call it the "baptism" because that is a once-for-all experience which the Holy Spirit administers at salvation.
The promise of the Saviour takes place at salvation. Jesus said: . . .I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever . . . he . . . shall be in you (John 14:16,17). Paul could say: . . . the Holy Ghost . . . is given. unto us (Romans 5:5). This text in context teaches that the Spirit is given alike to all who are saved. The word us is not a select group of believers, but all who have been washed in the blood. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God . . . (I Corinthians 2:12). No consideration could even be given for a moment to the assumption that the Spirit is intended only for a restricted company among the saved. No, we have all been made to drink into one Spirit (I Corinthians 12:13). If you have salvation you have the Spirit; if you have not the Spirit you have never been saved. . . if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his (Romans 8:9). Now, the Spirit can have more of us and that is called the filling of the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) which we shall study in a later chapter. However, let's get one thought straight: If you are saved, you have the Spirit; if you are lost, you do not. If you receive Christ today, the Father and Spirit will also become a part of you, as you become a partaker of the divine nature (II Peter 1:4). Do it now let the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit into your life.