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Deity And Personality

The nature of God

Job was asked "Canst thou by searching find out God?"; the answer is, No. Men can make gods in their own image, gods which exist only in their own imaginations, but it is unreasonable to expect that the great transcendent, self-existent, immutable, holy God can be defined by the unaided minds of created beings. What we know of the Being of God can only be what He tells us; and it is not surprising that God's self-revelation describes a Being wholly different, from any creature. Nor is it surprising that it is difficult to understand the description. It is a description which is inevitably incomplete, partly because of our limited comprehension, and also because the unique nature of God precludes comparison with anything else in creation. This article takes as its basis the scriptural record of God's self-revelation, and examines what it teaches about the mode of existence and Personality of the Holy Spirit of God. Later articles will examine His work. God has revealed these things for our spiritual benefit, and we can receive them, even if we cannot synthesize a complete concept of the divine nature.

Scripture reveals that God is the Originator of all life, and He is the only Being intrinsically to possess life (John 5:26). He is transcendent, unlimited by the created universe (1 Kin. 8:27), and eternal, unlimited by time (Ex. 3:14). He is holy, loving and truthful; more than this, He is the ground and origin of all moral excellence, love and truth. He is the sole God, and no other can share His glory. These claims originate from Scripture, but they agree with our instinctive definition of God as the one perfect Being.

The Deity of the Holy Spirit

The attributes of God mentioned above are some of those distinguishing characteristics of the divine nature which are inseparable from the idea of God. They are fundamental qualities of His Being, and if it can be shown

that Scripture attributes them to the Spirit of God, then it follows that the Spirit is fully divine, in the same sense in which God whom we call the Father is divine. This, Scripture frequently does.

He is called the "eternal Spirit" (Heb. 9:14), and His omnipresence is indicated by Ps. 139:7; both of these attributes belong to God alone. The Spirit carries out the works of God in the inspiration of Scripture (2 Pet. 1:21), conviction of sin (John 16:8) and regeneration (John 3:8). He is called the Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2), the Spirit of truth (John 14:17) and the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). He is directly linked with the Father and the Son in the baptismal formula (Matt. 28:19), and it is noteworthy that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are together described by the singular Name. The church in Corinth was told, "ye are a temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you" (1 Cor. 3:16), showing again that the Spirit is not a mere emissary of God, but God Himself, entitled to all the reverence and fear due to the Almighty. A consideration of all the relevant passages will show that the Scriptures clearly testify that the Holy Spirit is God, and any system which gives Him an inferior place is in serious error.

The recognition of the deity of the Holy Spirit is important in building up a true doctrine of the Godhead, but it also has its practical implications. The Lord Jesus promised His disciples "another Comforter" (John 14:16) who would be with them for ever, and we should realize that we today are at no disadvantage compared with the original disciples, for we have within us One who is of the same divine status and loving nature as the Son.

The Personality of the Holy Spirit

Both Old and New Testaments consistently emphasize that there is one God, and exaltation of any other into His place is very serious sin; indeed, this is the basis of all sin. Having established that the Holy Spirit is God, it might be argued that He is one mode of manifestation of God, or a personification of the influence of God upon men's minds. This avoids any suggestion of a plurality of gods, and might be said to give a rational explanation of what is meant by "the Holy Spirit". However, these conclusions are not consistent with Scripture. While to our natural thinking, in terms of human relationships, each person is a separate entity, Scripture reveals a Being outside our experience, and Scripture only can be authoritative about His nature.

The Lord Jesus spoke of the Parakletos who was to come and be with the disciples in His place (John 16:7-14). This word can be variously translated as Comforter, Advocate or Helper, but not as 'comfort' or any other indication of abstract influence. The Lord regards Him as One like Himself (John ~: 16), and uses the masculine pronoun "He" when speaking of Him. The Spirit performs the acts of a Person; for example, He speaks (Acts 13:2), makes intercession (Rom. 8:26) and convicts (John 16:8). He is affected as a Person by the acts of others, so that He can be grieved (Eph. 4:30) and blasphemed against (Matt. 12:31). The conclusion must be that the Holy Spirit is to be regarded as a 'Person'. This term describes that which, in our own experience, is nearest in kind to the distinctions within the Godhead. In our case it implies complete individuality, but in the case of God this is not so. God has one undivided essence, but three personal distinctions, of which the Holy Spirit is one.

This doctrine has its practical implications, too. A divine power for us would be a great blessing, but a divine Person within us is a greater. He is able to help us personally, interceding for us (Rom. 8:26,27) and guiding us as a strong friend helps a weaker.

Father, Son and Holy Spirit

The Spirit, who proceeds from the Father (John 15:26), was sent through the Son's request (John 14:16). He represents, the Father and the Son in the heart of the believer (John 14:23), and so is referred to as the 'Spirit of Christ' and is even identified with Christ Himself (Rom. 8:9,10). The whole of chapter 8 of Romans illustrates the interlocking of the functions of the three Persons, while speaking of them individually. Each Person has His part to play in the great work of the divine plan of redemption, and in this is displayed to us the expression of the eternal reciprocation of love in the Godhead. Job considered some of the works of God and said, "Lo, these are but the outskirts of His ways: and how small a whisper do we hear of Him" (Job 26:14). When we consider the nature of God Himself, we feel that we can comprehend it even less, but we can understand it in part, as it has been revealed, and rejoice in "the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit" (2 Cor. 13:14).