Sermon: The Holy Spirit
What IS the Holy Spirit?
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 04-Jun-95; 82 minutes
We will do just a little bit of a review so that we get a running start on what I am saying. In Part 1 (The Nature of God: Elohim) we saw that the Bible clearly shows that elohim consists of more than one Person within its framework, and that the Bible shows very clearly that it is an institution consisting of more than one Person. But that one institution speaks with one voice. There is agreement within that institution, and that is where Their oneness consists—in the agreement.
We also saw that elohim is in the process of expanding its numbers; and that we, technically, can be considered already as a part of the God family. We are sons and daughters—we are children—of God! Elohim is expanding, and is in the process of adding to its numbers.
We also saw that there is government within elohim, and that the Son submits to the Father. The Son gave testimony that the Father is greater than He, and that He carries out operations that the Father assigns to Him. He also said that He always does what the Father gives Him to do.
Since that is true, and since elohim consists of at least two distinct Personalities, its oneness is in agreement of character, of mind, of purpose. They are not somehow or another mysteriously and unexplainably commingled as one ethereal spirit.
After that sermon, I was talking with Ted Bowling, and he brought up something very interesting that I want to pass on to you because I think that it is worth having in light of this thing about being three-in-one. The people who have devised this and now "understand" the Trinity doctrine (if such a thing is possible—at least they believe in it), realize that the Trinity is a closed Godhead the way the doctrine is understood. That is, that nobody can be added to it. This gives rise to two things—one of which is the one that Ted brought up, and the other I am going to add to that before we get into the body of the sermon.
Since this is true that the Trinity presents us with a closed Godhead, it means then that those who believe in the Trinity had to do something about what the Bible says our destiny is. Those of you who are familiar with what the Worldwide Church of God is now teaching will have to agree that this is true; because, immediately upon bringing out the "God is..." papers, they then—coincidental with this—said that we were no longer going to be God.
They had to make an adjustment with what the Bible says. And so they came to the "conclusion," then, that our destiny is to be something that is greater than angels but less than God. But exactly what, they cannot absolutely say. And they cannot say because that is not what the Bible says! It is that simple.
What I am going to add to this is something that I brought out very early in the series on The Covenants. That is, Mr. Armstrong showed us—he taught us, he used this illustration very many times—that the doctrines of the Bible fit together like a picture puzzle. They are interlocking. One fits into another (just like a picture puzzle does).
Now, if you change a doctrine—especially a major doctrine—then other doctrines no longer fit. They no longer interlock with it anymore. Then what do you have to do? You have to begin making adjustments all down the line. And when you change major doctrines, like they did, it precipitates almost an endless series of change. And the people who now keep track of these things say that they [WCG] have been forced into changing over 300 doctrines.
You can see that what is occurring is a complete revolution of the doctrinal material in the Worldwide Church of God. That is why so much has had to be changed. What Ted pointed out to me was just one change. You change the Trinity, and you therefore change the destiny; and then other things have to begin to be adjusted.
It is very important to remember—an important principle: Everything in the Bible interlocks together and makes a complete picture. The Bible, and all of its doctrines, was put together with perfect wisdom. And whenever the doctrines are correct, they all go together; and you get a perfect picture of God, His nature, and what He is doing.
Today what we are going to be doing is looking into the Bible to discuss something that we did not discuss in the previous sermon; and that is about whether the Holy Spirit is a personality that is co-equal with the Father and the Son and joined with Them to produce a trinitarian Godhead. We are going to do this without going out of the Bible to prove it.
Immediately upon saying that, I am going to go outside of the Bible. But it is not to prove anything. It is to read some things to you so that you understand, at least in simple terms, where the doctrine is coming from in terms of what these people believe. This is, of course, quite simplified; but nonetheless it will give us the picture.
This is from Billy Graham's "My Answer" column. I cut it out of the Charlotte Observer quite a number of years ago. The question is "What is the Holy Spirit?" And here comes a very simple answer:
The Holy Spirit is God Himself, particularly as He comes to us personally and as He works in our world. The Holy Spirit is not an impersonal spiritual force; and, for that reason, we should refer to Him as 'Him" and not 'It.' But He is God Himself, and He has all the attributes and characteristics of God.
Christians, particularly theologians, sometimes talk of God as existing in three Persons—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. By this they do not mean that there are three different Gods. In fact, the opposite is the case. For the Lord our God is one Lord. (Deuteronomy 6:4)
To understand this, it may help you to think of God as having three personalities, or three elements to His character or nature.
We know from the Bible that God is our heavenly Father. He has given life to us, somewhat as an earthly father gives life to us, by creating us and taking care of us.
He also has come to us in Christ, who was God in human flesh—fully God and yet fully man.
And God also comes to live within us as the Holy Spirit when we turn to God and receive Christ in our hearts.
This is a profound truth, and none of us can fully understand its mystery. But don't let that worry you, for the Holy Spirit points us to an important truth you should not miss. God loves us, and He wants us to come to know Him in a personal way.
This comes from the Personal Correspondence Course of the Worldwide Church of God. It is letter #308, and it is a response to what the Worldwide Church of God believes on the Trinity. It begins:
Thank you for your inquiry concerning the Trinity and the nature of the Godhead.
The Worldwide Church of God believes in one God. (Deuteronomy 6:4)
In this context, it teaches the full Divinity of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit—the biblical foundation for all Trinitarian discussions.
Down in the next paragraph:
Though the church considers some positions on the Trinity to be heretical[That's kind of interesting. Some positions are heretical.], it maintains that the particular creeds adopted by the councils since the fourth century come short of an entirely satisfactory explanation of the nature of God.
Now, the councils that they are talking about are things like the Council of Nicea in 325, and the Council of Chalcedon that was held in 451 (where it was finally adopted). It is the councils that have been held by the false church. Not the true church, but the false church. What they are saying is that they are not completely satisfied with what those councils have adopted, but the Worldwide Church of God is going to come up with the true explanation.
Indeed, these credalic statements are often contradictory and unnecessarily divisive.
I will jump now to the last sentence in this paragraph:
In the meantime, believers need not be concerned in the practice of faith [That sounds like Billy Graham.], even though theologians and philosophers cannot agree on the nature of God.
The Worldwide Church of God has made all biblical truths an indispensable part of its teaching, including the doctrine that God is one; but not the specific way in which God is one, which is entirely a philosophical matter. It teaches the full Divinity of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; but it does not enter the debate of whether God is an essential, a personal, or a suprapersonal being in the way these terms are used by theologians.
Now, I am not exactly sure what I said there. But then, again, they always fall back on this thing: You do not really need to understand; and, if you try to understand it, you are going to go 'wacko' anyway.
These quotes, as I said, are not intended to be exhaustive accounts of the Trinity doctrine. But they do serve as an introduction of what is commonly believed. Notice how frequently there were references to theologians and philosophers, especially in the Worldwide Church of God's brief letter. And I want to draw your attention to this because the Bible absolutely does not contain even one clear statement regarding the existence of a third personality, or a third person, in the God family.
In Part 1, I took you to John 5:18, where He said, "The Father is greater than I." That shows us very clearly that He was God. The Jews understood that this was what He was saying. He said, "My Father works hitherto, and I work." He was equating Himself with God, and the Jews understood.
Then came five or six scriptures in a row in which Jesus made reference to the Father and to the Son—making it even clearer (clearer beyond doubt) that the Father is God and the Son, who was in their presence, is also God. And He was very clearly revealing two Personages in the God family.
The reason I am kind of emphasizing this again to you is the fact that not once did He mention the Holy Spirit! He had an excellent [opportunity]—maybe the best opportunity He had in His entire ministry—to introduce the world to the Holy Spirit. And He did not say, "The Holy Spirit is My uncle." He did not say, "The Holy Spirit is My brother." "...My sister." "... My aunt." "...My cousin." He did not refer to the Holy Spirit as being a part of the Family of the institution at all! That is quite an omission if He was revealing the members of the God family.
I also want you to take note of the fact that the Worldwide Church of God's letter mentioned the fourth century. That is important because the Trinity doctrine did not make its appearance as part of the doctrine of the "Christian church" until the fourth century—300 and some years after the time of the apostles.
There is a simple question that it is necessary to ask, and that is: If the Trinity is the central doctrine of the "Christian church," why did not the apostles clearly state it? Why did not Jesus clearly state it?
I will tell you what the answer is that they (the Trinitarian people) give. The answer is that it was there all along, but it was not until the fourth century that people discovered it. You try to figure that out. Jesus told His closest associates—He must have whispered it in their ear and said, "Do not tell anybody this, but hide it in what you write."
Four hundred years to discover the central doctrine of the "Christian church." Come on! The clear truth is that this doctrine is arrived at by deduction, following the disciplines of theology. It is not developed from clear scripture references; but rather beginning with a premise and boldly claiming that premise is true, and then proceeding to develop "proofs" from the scriptures.
But I want to remind you of—and I would like for you to go back and read Earl Henn's article in the April  Forerunner magazine, which is entitled "Can Theology Define God's Nature?" He shows in that article that theology exalts human reason above God's inspired Word; and that their flawed, beginning premise is that the logic that applies to the physical world applies to the spiritual world in the same way.
How do they know that? That is a guess! Is spirit the same as flesh? You know that it is not. Jesus—as a spirit being—walked right through the door, without opening it. It is not the same as flesh. So how do they know that things of the spirit take up space and are affected by time in the same way that humanity is?
You see the proof has to come out of the Bible. None of us have ever been spirit. No man has ever been spirit. He has never had to deal with life from the standpoint of being a spirit. Nobody except Jesus has ever done that. And yet these people build this tremendous theology out of a concept that they have had absolutely no experience on; and they ask us to accept that.
The Trinity doctrine must be read into the Scriptures—not derived from it. The Trinity doctrine is a convoluted mass of words that confuses; and, admittedly, that no one can understand. God is supposed to be revealing Himself to His children.
God says, in His Word, "out of the mouth of two or three witnesses, let a thing be established." There are two witnesses against the Trinity doctrine. The first one is the historical witness (and we have already, briefly, touched on that). It did not even come into the church until 300 and some years after Christ lived and died, and the apostles lived and died. When a new, major doctrine suddenly appears 300 years after the foundation is laid by God Himself through Christ, you have to begin to question something like that.
These people have "sold" this doctrine so well that today a person who is an idolater, or an adulterer, or who is a murderer—but professes that he loves Jesus—is more readily accepted in their churches than someone who is a non-Trinitarian. Believing in the Trinity has become the litmus test, the acid test as to whether or not a person is a "Christian" or whether or not a group is going to be labeled as a cult.
It is interesting to note that the theological beginning of this doctrine was introduced at the same council that was presided over by the emperor Constantine. Not a theologian, but by the emperor—a political figure. And this is the same man who threw the authority of the State behind the changing of the Sabbath to Sunday. You know that he was acting from political motivations and if he threw his weight to worship on Sunday, then he must have believed that he was going to gain politically from it. It was not a matter of what a true doctrine was, but a matter of what was politically expedient. And the same kind of principle is involved in the putting of the Trinity into the body of doctrine of the "church" as well.
We are now going to leave the historical witness behind, and we are going to begin here on the biblical witness. We are going to look, first of all, at a small portion of the Athanasian Creed. The Athanasian Creed is pretty much at the basis, the foundation, of the Trinity doctrine. I am only going to quote three brief sentences from it. They do not all appear in a row, but they are separated. But when the three are put together it makes interesting reading.
And the Catholic [meaning, universal] faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in unity...the whole three persons, co-eternal and co-equal...
He therefore that will be saved must think thus of the Trinity.
That is where we are going to begin. I want to tackle this thing about being "co-equal" right at the start. We are going to go back to John 14. It does not take much to begin to shoot holes in these things. Here comes the word from our Master, and, if anybody ought to know about being "co-equal," it ought to be Jesus Christ.
John 14:28 "You have heard how I said unto you, 'I go away, and come again unto you.' If you loved me, you would rejoice, because I said, 'I go unto the Father,' for My Father is greater than I."
The Father and the Son are not even co-equal! They are equal in terms of what they are—They are God, even as you and I are equal in terms of what we are (we are human beings). But the Father is greater. He is superior in terms of authority and responsibility. There is government, and the Son takes orders from the Father. They are not equal in every area.
And if the Holy Spirit exists at all as a personality, then it is not co-equal either. Again, if it exists as a personality, it may be equal in terms of being God; but it is not equal in terms of authority and responsibility.
We could turn to I Corinthians 11:3, where Jesus gives a very clear order of authority and responsibility, and, again, (through the apostle Paul) Jesus puts the Father as the head of the institution. He is the head of His creation. So in that order He gives, the head of the husband is Christ, and the head of Christ is the Father.
The whole doctrine is shot through with things like that—little things—none of them very large, in and of themselves. But when they are all put together, I mean the Holy Spirit begins to look like a piece of Swiss cheese. It is not longer whole. It is shot full of holes.
Now let us look at something that is central to this doctrine. Again, this is something that was mentioned by Billy Graham. Keep this in mind.
There are a number of scriptures that I could have turned to in regards to this. But here the Holy Spirit is very clearly referred to in the masculine gender, using the masculine pronoun "he." So the Holy Spirit is identified in the masculine. And that begins to make the Holy Spirit look like a living personality.
All of us, I think, are familiar with the fact that the translators are forced to do this in order to be grammatically correct, since "spirit" is a masculine noun. But we teach that the Holy Spirit is an inanimate, impersonal power—a force—that is directed and used by a personal God. In other words, the "he" is shown doing activities that are ascribed to people, to persons.
Are you with me on that? What using the masculine pronoun does is that it causes the Holy Spirit to look as though it is doing things as people would do, or as God would do. We will expand on this a little bit.
John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceeds from the Father, he shall testify of Me.
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 he shall speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify Me: for he shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you.
That is far enough. But you can also write down I Timothy 4:1, where it says, "The Spirit speaks expressly" of the last times.
The argument that is put forth is this: That the Holy Spirit could hardly do these things unless it was a personality with the powers to do them. Such an argument seems pretty strong until one begins to look at other parts of the Bible also concerned with other things similar to what we just read.
I Corinthians 12:15-16 If the foot shall say, "Because I am not of the hand, I am not of the body;" is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, "Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body;" is it therefore not of the body?
Brethren, when was the last time your foot talked to you? When was the last time your ear spoke to you? It has never done it! Are you beginning to see what we are dealing with here? What did Paul do? He personified the foot. He personified the ear. He used his license as a writer to give life to the foot, so that it could speak; and to give life to the ear, so that it could speak.
Why did he do this? It is a teaching vehicle. It gives us insight and understanding, in this case, of how all the parts of the body work together. They cooperate with one another in order for the overall body to accomplish its work. But the foot does not talk, and neither does the ear talk.
Let us go back into the Old Testament. The Old Testament is loaded with these things. This time we will go to the Psalms.
Psalm 96:11-12 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fullness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein; then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice.
The heavens, rejoice? The earth, be glad? The fields, be joyful? The woods, rejoice?
Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.
Is there anyone here, in their right mind, who would say that the heavens actually speak? That the mountains sing? That the trees clap hands—hands that they do not even have? In Psalm 74 it says, "Let the floods clap hands." Writers often do this in order to give us a grasp of what they are trying to get across. And it is risky business to claim that the Holy Spirit is a person on the basis of verses that say that the Spirit speaks, or because it is referred to in the masculine gender. Things that are clearly inanimate are written of in much the same way throughout the entirety of the Bible.
Even today, we refer to inanimate objects as having gender. We speak of ships as "she." There is an advertisement that is on the radio in Charlotte, and it is probably nationwide, in which a guy is talking about his automobile. "She was a good old gal," he says, as it is being towed off to the junkyard. "She gave me the best years of her life."
Now, we do not think that is strange at all. But automobiles do not speak. Automobiles do not have a life. But we give them gender, and we do it. We do things very similar to what the Bible is doing here.
Let us go back for another look at a very interesting scripture, in I John 5:7, where in my King James Bible it says:
I John 5:7-8 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.
Some people will say that there must be a Holy Spirit because here it is written right in the Bible. Most of us understand, but I am going to repeat it anyway, that parts of these verses do not appear in the Bible. They have been inserted by translators who believed in the Trinity. The following words are spurious, beginning in verse 7. It says: "...in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one." Those are the inserted words. They are spurious.
It should read: "For there are three that bear record and there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one." Most modern translations will either omit those [spurious] words, or they will make a marginal reference to warn the reader that these words are in very serious question.
Here is a quote from The Interpreter's Bible—a very liberal, modern Protestant Commentary.
This verse in the King James Version is to be rejected. It appears in no ancient Greek manuscripts, nor is it cited by any Greek father. Of all the versions, only the Latin contained it; and, even in this, in none of the most ancient sources.
I am going to read you a more complete write-up on this. This is taken from an old conservative Protestant commentary. It is Barnes' Notes. This was published in 1879. You will be able to tell immediately that, even in 1879, they knew that this verse did not belong in the Bible. It is very long, and I am not going to read the whole thing. I am just going to catch the essence of it. He actually gives five reasons why it could not be a part of the Scripture.
The reasons which seem to me to prove that the passage included in brackets is spurious, and should not be regarded as part of the inspired writings, are briefly the following: I. It is wanting in all the earlier Greek manuscripts, for it is found in no Greek manuscripts written before the sixteenth century...II. It is wanting in the earliest versions, and, indeed, in a large part of the versions of the New Testament which have been made in all former times. It is wanting in both the Syriac versions—one of which was made probably in the first century; in the Coptic, Armenian, Sclavonic, Ethiopic, and Arabic. III. It is never quoted by the Greek fathers in their controversies on the doctrine of the Trinity...IV. The argument against the passage from the external proof is confirmed by internal evidence, which makes it morally certain that it cannot be genuine...V. The passage is now omitted in the best editions of the Greek Testament, and regarded as spurious by the ablest critics.
That was just very briefly what he said. He went on a great deal more and gave quite a number of comments. So, here is what at first seems to be a very positive stating of the Holy Spirit as being part of a Trinity, and we find that just about every commentator agrees they should not be there.
Adherents of the Trinity assert that the Holy Spirit is a personality alongside the Father and the Son. Why, when the apostles and especially Paul wrote their letters and referred to the Godhead...Let me repeat that, "Referred to the Godhead." Why is mention of the Holy Spirit almost totally absent?
We are going to be turning to quite a number of scriptures; and I am going to give very little comment because it becomes very clear that either the Holy Spirit is not a personality which is part of the Godhead or the apostles are guilty of the most serious gross negligence in their writings.
Anybody who has a concordance, and with just a little bit of thinking, can do what I am going to do here. But remember the way that the Trinitarians perceive God—as three who are one and inseparable, and all of them together are God. They are all equal.
Let us go to a man whose writings we have not looked at yet. Let us go to James. Almost every one of these scriptures is going to be within the first couple of verses of the beginning of a book.
James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
Where is the Holy Spirit? Is James not a servant of the Holy Spirit? Is he a servant only of God and of Jesus Christ?
Now let us look at II Peter 1:2. Sometimes it even helps to read the verse preceding it, because sometimes the God family is mentioned in it as well; and it does here. In verse 1, he mentions Jesus Christ and he also mentions God. "God and our Savior Jesus Christ."
II Peter 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
What about knowledge of the Holy Spirit? And remember that each time here we are mentioning the God family.
I John 1:3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that you also may have fellowship with us: for our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.
No fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Why are they ignoring it?
Romans 1:7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
You see there a greeting from the Father and the Son in each one of these letters, but there is no greeting from the Holy Spirit. This was inspired by God! Is it possible, brethren, that what we are seeing here is evidence that there is no other personality? Little by little, it just keeps adding on. You are probably wondering, "Why is he turning to every one?" The reason I am doing it is that I want you to see it with your own eyes—how the Holy Spirit is ignored every time the God family is mentioned. Father and Son—yes. Holy Spirit—no. Only a couple of times, which we will examine in a bit.
I Corinthians 1:3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
II Corinthians 1:2 Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Maybe the Holy Spirit does not know how to talk. We can joke, but it is a serious joke.
Galatians 1:3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 1:2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:2 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Colossians 1:2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I Thessalonians 1:1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
II Thessalonians 1:2 Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Again, in verse 2, the Father and Son are mentioned.
II Timothy 1:2 To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Titus 1:4 To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.
Philemon 1:3 Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
With just a few variations in words, every one of them ignores the Holy Spirit. Do not you think it would be gross insubordination for the apostles to recognize two in the highest offices in the universe and totally ignore the third? Well, I do!
They did this because they did not know that the Holy Spirit is a personality within the God family, because Jesus taught them no such thing. The Holy Spirit is the power God uses to direct and carry out His purposes within His creation.
Now let us look at it from a different angle.
Romans 8:17 [Paul writes:] And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.
We are heirs of God the Father. We are co-heirs with Jesus Christ, the Son. But the Holy Spirit is not mentioned. We are not co-heirs with him, is what I would have to conclude.
I Corinthians 3:23 [Here is the God family mentioned again.] And you are Christ's; and Christ is God's.
Again, brethren, the Holy Spirit is left out. We do not belong to him. We belong to those Two.
I Corinthians 4:1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
There is the Father and the Son once again. The first word there that is translated "ministers" is more closely related to our English word "attendants." Now, were not the apostles attendants of the Holy Spirit? "And stewards"—a steward equates to a supervisor—"of the mysteries of God." Again, you see, the Holy Spirit is left out.
You can jot down I Corinthians 11:3, where again the God family is mentioned, and the Holy Spirit is not mentioned in the chain of command as a personality. It is not the head over anything. But the Father and Son are mentioned.
Now let us go to I Corinthians 15:28. This is directly attached to an explanation of what Christ is eventually going to do.
I Corinthians 15:27-28 For He [the Father] has put all things under His [the Son's] feet. But when He says all things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted, which did put all things under Him. And when all things shall be subdued unto Him [this is after the Great White Throne Judgment], then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.
Where does the Holy Spirit fit into this? Again, it is left out. There is no mention of the Holy Spirit in the transference of power from the Son to the Father. The Holy Spirit is just bypassed; and, again, the reason is—it is not a personality. It is not in the God family. It is the power of God.
II Corinthians 2:14-17 Now thanks be unto God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ, and makes manifest the savour of His knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.
There again, the God family is mentioned together—the Father and the Son. There is no mention of the Holy Spirit. They spoke for the Father. They spoke for the Son. But they did not speak for the Holy Spirit.
II Corinthians 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and has committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
It was the Father, working in Christ, reconciling the world to Him, and again there is no mention of the Holy Spirit playing a part as a personality in the reconciliation of the world. The key there was "as a personality." You see, we keep having Personalities named—the Father and the Son. But the Holy Spirit is never mentioned in the sense of a personality.
Now, the Holy Spirit does play a part in the reconciliation of the world to God and to Christ—as a power that is used to energize us and to change our minds. But not as a personality!
II Corinthians 12:19 Again, think you that we excuse ourselves unto you? We speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying.
Again, the apostles had the responsibility of speaking before God the Father with the authority of Christ. But, again, the Holy Spirit as a personality is ignored as one having no divine authority. Did they not speak before the Holy Spirit, as a personality?
Ephesians 5:5 For this you know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Again, the Holy Spirit is left out. It is God's Kingdom. It is Christ's Kingdom. But it is not the Holy Spirit's Kingdom, because the Holy Spirit is not a personality. If the Holy Spirit is a personality, why is he leaving him out whenever the God family is mentioned? The reason is because the Holy Spirit, as a personality, has no part in the Kingdom—because it is not a personality.
Colossians 3:1 If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God.
Where is the Holy Spirit? That is where the throne of the universe is. The Father is there. The Son is on the right hand. Now, if the Holy Spirit wre a personality, why did not he say, "and on the left hand is the Holy Spirit," or, "at God's feet," or "at Christ's feet," or "at Christ's right hand, or "standing behind Them"? But you see he gave no place for the Holy Spirit, and that is because the Holy Spirit is a thing. It is an "it." It is a power. It is a force that emanates out from Them. It is that power by which They accomplish whatever it is that They want to accomplish in Their purposes.
There is one verse that I feel is especially strong. Let us go to I Timothy 2:5.
I Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
Now notice: There is one mediator. The Holy Spirit is referred to as the parakletos. That is, the Comforter. It is the guide. It leads us into all truth. "Comforter" means "one who goes along side." If this was a personality, then one would begin to think that this personality (that is also supposed to be God) is in a position that is somewhere between us and the Father. But it is not mentioned. There is only one there! And that "one" is the Son.
This is very similar in its form as I Corinthians 11:3. It clearly shows that, of the Deities that we have above us, there is only one between us and God the Father; and that is the Son. This means that not even the Holy Spirit, which was sent to us to be a Comforter, is a mediator.
Now, if the Holy Spirit were God (similar to the Father and the Son), it would be an affront of the highest order to exclude him from some kind of an intermediary role between us and the Father—when you begin to consider that the Bible assigns you and me (mere human beings) in an intercessory role between us and the Father. By prayer you are to intercede before the Father for one another. That is a form of mediation. We go to the Father in behalf of our brothers and sisters who are in trial, in difficulty, in sickness, or whatever. But the Holy Spirit is excluded, because it is not a personality, but you are.
Psalm 139:8-10 If I ascend up into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall Your hand lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.
Psalm 139:7 Where shall I go from Your spirit? Or where shall I flee from Your presence?
The Holy Spirit is the power of God. It is the means through which He accomplishes His will. Verse 7 teaches us a great deal about this. God is a Personality. The Father is a Personality. He is located in one place, at one time—even as we are. But His ability to insert Himself into and affect events anywhere in His creation is contained within that power which emanates from His mind.
It is His Spirit—that which emanates from Him, from His mind—that enables Him to be everywhere all at once, if He so desires to be. It gives Him the ability to keep track of you, and you, and you, and you. It gives Him the ability to be with us here in Greenville, or with you out in Anaheim, or those of you up in Chicago. Wherever you are, He can be there because by His mind He is able to concentrate His attention in those areas.
We lack power like that. We have small bits of it. And we are able to concentrate our attention in a very limited way, in a very limited scope, into certain areas. But He can concentrate His attention in many areas at the same time by the power of that which emanates from His mind. That is, His mind power.
II Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of our God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.
Do you know what you are looking at? You are looking at one of two verses that the Trinitarians consider to be the strongest in all of the Bible regarding the "personality" of the Holy Spirit. "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of our God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen."
In a way—maybe this seems wrong—but that verse is rather obscure. How many times have you read right over the top of it, not even recognizing the significance that this has to this doctrine? It is one of those verses (like those which come at the beginning of Paul's letters and those which come at the end) that we have a tendency to just jump right over. I do not mean that we ignore it entirely, but we really do not think about it. But they have leaped on this because it is one of the few places that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all appear within the same context.
How do we look at this? First of all, you do not ever allow yourself to get tricked, deceived, into isolating a verse from the context—in this case, of all that we have already seen about the Holy Spirit. We have seen quite a number of verses in which the God family appears, and yet the Holy Spirit is not there. Now we come upon one in which it is there.
If you want to believe the Holy Spirit is a personality, you are going to do something immediately. You are going to read into that verse that the Holy Spirit is a person. That is as natural as anything, because you are looking for "proof." Human nature will do that. It will deceive people into jumping, leaping, to that conclusion.
But I want you to notice that, of and by itself, there is nothing in the context to indicate that the Holy Spirit is a person. It has to be read into it. The key word here is the word "communion," which simply means fellowship or sharing. What is happening here at the close of this letter is that Paul is hoping that the Corinthians will have a sharing with—or by means of—the Holy Spirit.
Now, why would he say such a thing? The answer to that is supplied in a great deal of detail in a book like the book of Ephesians. What is it that we all have in common that makes us one body? It is the Holy Spirit. What is the Holy Spirit? Those of you who have maybe been part of a Pentecostal type church have probably sung this song a hundred times: "Blessed be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love." What is it? It is the Holy Spirit that binds us.
It gives us, in many cases, the only thing that we have in common with each other. We might be different races. We might be different cultures. We are certainly spread out from hundreds or thousands of different families. We come from different parts of the country. We come from different parts of the world. We have different background, different experiences. We have so many differences! This is what the book of Ephesians is about.
But one thing binds us together, and that is that we are all taking on the mind of Jesus Christ. That mind is being injected into us by means of what we all have in common—God's Holy Spirit, by which we have been regenerated.
Do you know what a family is? A family is a group of people who have common ancestry. That is what we all have in common. God is our Father. And the instrument He uses to make us all His Family is the Holy Spirit. So what Paul is saying here is that the Holy Spirit (being the expression of the Divine nature that is given to us by God to begin to make us of His kind), He wants us to continue sharing, having fellowship, within it; and He is hoping that will continue. It is that simple. Nothing complicated about it at all.
Another angle: The Father and the Son are shown by the Bible to clearly express personality. If the Holy Spirit is a being, what personality does the Bible show that he expresses? Right at the very beginning of the Bible, Elohim says that we are created in His image. And so Elohim expresses personality through a body; and that body looks like our body. So He goes on to describe in great detail that He has eyes. He talks about His nostrils. He talks about His ears, and His hands, and His arms, and His legs. All of these things familiarize us with what He is like in His nature.
He expresses personality in the same way we do. We see that He gets angry. He laughs. He weeps. Jesus wept over Jerusalem. Jesus prays. And so it is very easy to determine the personality of the Father and the Son, because we can look at ourselves and we know that we have all of these expressions of personality from Him. So we can get sad, and we know He can get sad. And we can be joyful and laugh, because He gave us a bit of Him. We are in His image.
Do you know that there is only one expression of personality in the whole Bible regarding the Holy Spirit? It appears in the book of John.
John 1:32 And John bare record, saying, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove..."
Is the Holy Spirit a bird-god? It never says anywhere in the Bible that the Holy Spirit walks, talks, cries, laughs, gets sad, gets angry. There are no expressions of personality. This is the only one! This is why you see everywhere around Christendom pictures of a dove illustrating the Holy Spirit—the only animate expression of personality in the Bible.
This is very interesting because in Genesis 1:2 (where it says "the spirit of God moved upon the face of the deep"), do you know that word "moved" is more closely related to our English word "fluttered" than it is to the word "moved"? It fluttered about. I think that is kind of interesting—connecting the two creation chapters of the Bible, John 1 with Genesis 1; and the Holy Spirit flutters. Brethren, there is a lesson there!
I was talking about the form and the shape, from John 1:32—about the Holy Spirit being in a dove form. Does the Spirit then have wings on a body? Does the Holy Spirit really function in this sort of a form?
If it is so, let us begin to look at the complications this makes. Every Christian is begotten by and born of the Holy Spirit. Does that mean that every one of us has a dove inside of us? I am trying to make this ridiculous so we can actually understand. Can a dove be cut into pieces so that little bits of it go into each and every one of us?
This verse does give theologians a problem. They have to, again, fall back on the old thing about it being a mystery because there is no answer to it. They know that this is the only expression of personality in the Bible for the Holy Spirit. We understand all that occurred here was that God the Father allowed John to witness the power of His Spirit coming on Jesus in the form of a harmless and gentle creature.
John 3:8 The wind blows where it lists [or, where it wants to], and you hear the sound thereof, but cannot tell whence it comes, and whither it goes: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
Here Jesus compares the Holy Spirit to wind. Does wind have personality? This is coming right out of the mouth of our Savior. There is no personality there! The Holy Spirit is not a person.
In other places, John 7, He compares it to water—living waters that come out of a person's belly. That does not make sense to any practical thinking person. In another place the Holy Spirit is compared to oil—something that is soothing and spread all over anything that it touches. In Acts 10:45 it says the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Gentiles. Can you pour out a human being—something in human form? It does not make any sense.
The pictures, the figures of speech, the metaphors, the analogies, and the similes that the Bible gives for the Holy Spirit—none of them have anything to do with the form or shape that we know God is. That is, God the Father and God the Son (and those that He said are created in His image).
So you see this whole idea begins to crumble through an overwhelming weight of evidence throughout the entirety of the Bible, that there is no personality that we are dealing with in terms of the Holy Spirit. But let us look at one more verse, in Matthew 28:19. This is the second verse that they say is the strong witness of the Holy Spirit being a personality.
Matthew 28:19 Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Again, speaking "in the name of" something does not necessarily mean that one is speaking of the name of a personality. I am going to give you a cliché that many of you—at least, many of you who are older—have heard over and over again in gang busters, or in robber movies, or whatever. A policeman invariably came running out sometime during the film, and he had his gun drawn and was aiming it at the suspect; and he said, "Stop in the name of the law!" Does the law have personality? Is it a personality? No, it is an inanimate thing. He was commanding the robber to stop in the name of an authority, and that authority was the law.
So just because a person is baptized, and that baptism formula includes within it the authority of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—the Holy Spirit is mentioned, undoubtedly, as the means through which the repentant sinner was brought to the place to where they are being baptized. God tells us very clearly that the Holy Spirit will be given in order to convict us of sin. God stirs up our minds by His mind, using His Spirit to make us think of things in a way that we never thought of before; and He brings us to repentance.
He also, by the same means, reveals to us the real Jesus. And by the same means He gives us the power to believe in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin. So the Holy Spirit, then, is that power that God uses to bring us to that place.
One of the things that I was going to go into here, beginning in Deuteronomy 6:4, was to take you through a number of places in the Bible which show you "the sons of Elohim" (Elohim being plural)—that Elohim is used in quite a number of different contexts.
Elohim can refer not only to God. It refers to angels. It refers to judges. It can refer to ordinary human beings. It can refer to human beings who have the Spirit of God. It all depends upon how God wants to use the term. But in every case it is a term that is attributed to people of power.
What that teaches us is that Elohim just simply is a plural word. It indicates a multitude of people within its context. We are familiar with this application because it comes up in the New Testament. We are made members of the body of Christ, and it is one body.
John 20:22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said unto them, "Receive you the Holy Spirit."
Breath, wind—once again we come back to that expression. When God, in Jesus Christ, wanted the people (them) to understand what was going to happen on the day of Pentecost, He did not blow a dove out of His mouth, or out of His nostrils. He breathed! That pictures, to you and me, more about whether the Holy Spirit is a personality or whether it is an inanimate thing. In one sense, we could say it is all contained right there. Wind is inanimate. It has no personality.
Acts 2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
When this occurred and the Holy Spirit was given, it was given as a mighty rushing wind. No shape at all, no life at all. It was the power the Father and the Son used to carry out Their purposes in this creation. It is interesting also to notice in context that this power not only filled the people but it filled the house. It was indiscriminate in the way that it was directed.
There is no personality in this "third part of the Godhead." That concept is a man-made doctrine that has no home in the Scriptures. It was devised in the third and fourth centuries, and put into the church by the force of the Roman government. It is anti-biblical. It is totally and completely erroneous. There is no scripture to support it—not even one.