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The Holy SpiritA Comprehensive Study of the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit
By John F. Walvoord
ZondervanCopyright © 1991 Zondervan
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTHE PERSONALITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
It is a fundamental revelation of Scripture that the Holy Spirit is a person in the same sense that God the Father is a person and the Lord Jesus Christ is a person. The Holy Spirit is presented in Scripture as having the same essential deity as the Father and the Son and is to be worshipped and adored, loved and obeyed in the same way as God. To regard the Holy Spirit in any other way is to make one guilty of blasphemy and unbelief. We tread therefore on most holy ground in thinking of the Holy Spirit of God and the truth involved is most sacred and precious.
The personality of the Holy Spirit has been subject to denial and neglect through the centuries of the Christian church and is seldom understood by twentieth-century Christians. The heretic Arius who stirred up a rebellion against the Scriptural teaching concerning the person of Christ and the person of the Holy Spirit denied the eternity of Christ and the personality of the Holy Spirit. For him the Holy Spirit was only the "exerted energy of God" manifested in the created world. While his view was repudiated at the Nicene Council in 325, it foreshadowed the defection from Scriptural teaching which was to follow. Socinius and his followers in the sixteenth century held that the Holy Spirit was merely the eternally proceeding energy of God. This laid the foundation for modern Unitarianism. Variations in the doctrine of the Holy Spirit have been many through the centuries, but in the main the great body of conservative and orthodox Christians have regarded the Holy Spirit as a Person according to the revelation given in the Scriptures.
I. His Attributes Affirm Personality
Every aspect of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit contributes to His personality, but a study of His attributes in themselves demonstrates the truth of His personality beyond question. Personality is commonly defined as containing the essential elements of intellect, sensibility, and will. All of these elements can be found in the Holy Spirit. His intelligence is manifest in all His mighty works. It is expressly claimed for the Holy Spirit, "The Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For who among men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit of God" (1 Cor. 2:10-11). He is the Spirit of wisdom (Eph. 1:17) and the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah (Isa. 11:2). His sensibility is revealed in that the Spirit can be grieved by sin (Eph. 4:30). His will is shown in the sovereign bestowal of spiritual gifts on men which is accomplished "as he will" (1 Cor. 12:11). Sustaining these essential elements of personality is the whole broad doctrine of the deity of the Holy Spirit. If God possesses personality, and the Holy Spirit is a person of the Trinity, it follows that He has personality. A denial of His personality is a denial of the doctrine of the Trinity.
II. His Works Affirm Personality
The most tangible and conclusive evidence for the personality of the Holy Spirit is found in His works. The very character of His works makes it impossible to interpret the Scriptures properly without assuming His personality. In view of the discussion of His works in detail which follow, it is necessary only to mention illustrations here. All the works of the Holy Spirit are such that personality is required. His work in creation (Gen. 1:2), empowering (Zech. 4:6), teaching (John 16:13), guidance (Isa. 48:16; Rom. 8:14), comforting (John 14:26), prayer (Rom. 8:26), convincing the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8), restraint of sin (Gen. 6:3; Isa. 59:19; 2 Thess. 2:7), and His commands (Acts 8:29; 13:2; 16:7) make it evident that the Holy Spirit is a true person. A mere influence or emanation does not create, empower, teach, guide, pray, or command. In the history of the church, opponents of the personality of the Holy Spirit have found it necessary also to deny the inspiration and accuracy of the Word of God in order to sustain their teaching.
III. Use of Personal Pronouns Affirms Personality
In normal discourse, personal pronouns such as I, thou, he, they are used of persons. While personification occurs in literature frequently, it is always quite apparent and does not leave the meaning in doubt. Personal pronouns are used of the Holy Spirit in such a way that personality is affirmed. In the New Testament the Greek word pneuma is neuter and would normally take a neuter pronoun. In several instances, however, the masculine pronouns are found (John 15:26; 16:13-14). The only explanation for the masculine is that the pronouns refer to a person. Relative pronouns are used in the same way in Ephesians 1:13-14. These indirect evidences confirm that the Holy Spirit is commonly regarded as a person in the Scripture. As Charles Hodge states: "He is introduced as a person so often, not merely in poetic or excited discourse, but in simple narrative, and in didactic instructions; and his personality is sustained by so many collateral proofs, that to explain the use of the personal pronouns in relation to Him on the principle of personification, is to do violence to all the rules of interpretation."
IV. The Holy Spirit the Personal Object of Faith
Christians who have an intelligent comprehension of the truth regard the Holy Spirit as an object of their faith. This is done unconsciously rather than deliberately, their relation to the Spirit drawing out this response. According to the Scriptures it is possible to sin against the Holy Spirit (Isa. 63:10), grieve Him (Eph. 4:30), reverence Him (Ps. 51:11), and obey Him (Acts 10:19-21). It is impossible in the light of these Scriptures to regard the Holy Spirit intelligently without viewing Him as the personal object of faith. This is further confirmed by the baptismal formula in Matthew 28:19 where the Holy Spirit is associated on an equal basis with the Father and the Son, whose personality is generally accepted. Likewise the apostolic benediction of 2 Corinthians 13:14 indicates an equality of personality of the Trinity.
The only tenable position for those who accept the revelation of Scripture is to believe in the full-orbed personality of the Holy Spirit. This certainly has been the position of orthodox Christians from the beginning. As Charles Hodge expresses it, "The personality of the Spirit has been the faith of the Church from the beginning. It has few opponents in the chaotic period of theology; and in modern times has been denied by none but Socinians, Arians, and Sabellians."
Chapter TwoTHE DEITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The deity of the Holy Spirit has been a cardinal doctrine of the Christian faith from the beginning. The Arian controversy in the fourth century of the Christian era settled for all time the orthodox doctrine on both the personality and the deity of the Spirit. Arius, who held that the Holy Spirit was a created being, though he originally adhered to the personality of the Spirit later denied both His personality and His deity. His views were denounced by his contemporaries, and Arius was branded a heretic. From that day to this, orthodox Christianity has affirmed the deity and personality of the Spirit. As Hodge expresses it, "Since the fourth century his true divinity has never been denied by those who admit his personality."'
In the sacred Scriptures, the evidence for the deity of the Holy Spirit is superabundant. In general the doctrine is supported by the names and titles of the Holy Spirit, His identification and association with God, His procession and relation to the holy Trinity, His divine attributes, and His many divine works. These combine to confirm and enhance the significant contribution of each to the whole and harmonize in a great symphony of Scriptural testimony.
I. The Titles of the Holy Spirit
An examination of the Scriptural revelation on the Holy Spirit will indicate that He is nowhere assigned a formal name, such as we have for the Second Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, but is rather given descriptive titles, of which the most common in Scripture and in ordinary usage is the Holy Spirit. As His person is pure spirit, to which no material is essential, He is revealed in the Scriptures as the Spirit. The descriptive adjective holy is used to distinguish Him from other spirits which are creatures.
Excerpted from The Holy Spirit by John F. Walvoord Copyright © 1991 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission.
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