Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. (2 Corinthians 13:11-14)
The Personality And Deity Of The Holy Spirit
To possess a personality is to have the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character. This is especially true in the quality of being a person distinct from a thing or an animal. To have a personality suggests a set of behaviors, cognitions, and emotional patterns from the nature of the individual. This is found in the myriad ways human beings differ from one another, defining who they are as individuals with specific characteristics that distinguish them. Among the earth’s six billion inhabitants, six billion personalities are possessed by every man, woman, and child. Still, they share the common denominator of being created in the image of God. One humanity with unlimited personalities.
The character of the Godhead is united under the identification of being God. Yet, each person of the Divine Nature possesses individual traits identifying them as a part of the same. The Father has His identifying marks that make Him Lord God and Father, while Jesus is shown to be the only begotten Son of the Father. Completing the triad of the Godhead is the Holy Spirit, who also possesses personalities and identifying markers showing Him to be God and yet distinct in His own right. He has much the same attributes as the Father and Son. The Holy Spirit utters speech communicating the will of the Father. As a witness, He testifies as the Spirit of truth. Through the word, the Holy Spirit teaches and reminds men of the plan of the Father. Jesus said the Helper (Holy Spirit) would guide men into all truth as the Father directs him. The scriptures show the Holy Spirit guiding men in the work of the kingdom and, on occasion forbidding the plans of men to be carried out. Paul and Silas wanted to preach the gospel in Asia, but the Holy Spirit did not allow them. Paul often spoke of the Holy Spirit and, in his letter to Rome, outlined the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of God’s people.
It is clear the Holy Spirit is a personal being who has a mind, seeking the completion of the work of God, possessing knowledge, and showing love. He is not just an entity that is abstract and mindless. The Holy Spirit is a person of the Godhead sharing in the emotional makeup of a personality. Everything about Him is divine, like the Father and the Son. Like the Father and Son, the Holy Spirit experiences men’s positive or negative responses. It is possible for men to grieve the Holy Spirit and to despise Him. In the days of Jesus, the religious leaders blasphemed the Holy Spirit bringing the wrath of God upon them. Peter rebuked Ananias and Sapphira for lying to the Holy Spirit, and Stephen charged the Jewish council with resisting the Spirit. A personal being can only experience these emotions.
The nature of the Holy Spirit is like that of the Father and the Son. When God created the heavens and the earth, the Holy Spirit was an active agent of creation. John baptized Jesus, and the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove while the Father spoke His approval of His Son. The Spirit carries the identifying marks of a divine personality as one who is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. Jesus was begotten by the Holy Spirit and called the Son of God. Worshiping the Father without showing honor to the Son and the Holy Spirit is impossible. The Spirit bears witness with the spirits of those who are saved; they are the children of God. His role in salvation is secured in the ages as a vital part of the Godhead made up of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. To deny the essential part of the Holy Spirit to the divine revelation of God is to deny the authenticity of the Bible. Knowing the personality of the Father can only come from the reading of the word of God. The Holy Spirit manifested the personal character of the Creator on the pages of the Bible. Without the completed revelation by the Spirit, man would not know God. Reading the Bible reveals the Godhead as complete and whole yet individual and responsive to the needs of men. Thank God for the Holy Spirit.
Kent, do you believe the Holy Spirit works in any way apart from the Word?
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” Romans 8:14. As you know very well I’m sure, many people have abused this passage, along with verse 26 and a couple other passages, to defend their “better felt than told” belief regarding the work of the Holy Spirit.
Although we need to be careful not to think that we, as the created, know the precise moment that God, the Holy Spirit, works in our life, I tend to believe that He does. We like to call it “providence.” I can’t YET explain just how He works apart from the Word. Maybe you can help me…or dissuade me from that personal view that I can’t really explain at this point.
The criticism often heard is that the COC teaches that the work of the HS was finished with the revelation of the Word and we ignore passages like Romans 8.
With some in the church, I think that’s a fair criticism. Many of us tend to completely ignore certain subjects to avoid labels like “liberal” or “denominational.”
What do you think, Kent?
I am not sure what is meant when people say the Holy Spirit works only through the word. I agree the Spirit works through the word but that cannot be the only manner of His involvement in my life. Restricting Him to the word removes the power of prayer. If someone is sick, do I go lay a Bible on them to seek healing? I believe in the overriding presence of God in my life (providence), and He helps me, guides me, and blesses me. Romans 8 (the whole chapter) is a wonderful declaration of His work. Because of so much abuse in religion about the Holy Spirit, many of the Lord’s church have taken a defensive position of denial to the point of ignoring the work of the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit only works through the word, then so does God and Jesus Christ. There are so many passages that show my Father’s work in my life. He does not get me a parking spot close to the door, He does not find a phone number for me, and the Lord does not help me win a football game. Through the word I learn how the Godhead works in my life and blesses me. Whether I can explain it in detail is not important. Thank God for the Godhead.