The Divinity of the Holy Spirit

What I am about to explain is far from an easy task. I have to admit my human limitations in trying to explain the divinity of the Holy Spirit. Even Ellen White admits, “The nature of the Holy Spirit is a mystery. Men cannot explain it, because the Lord has not revealed it to them. Men having fanciful views may bring together passages of Scripture and put a human construction on them, but the acceptance of these views will not strengthen the church. Regarding such mysteries, which are too deep for human understanding, silence is golden.”[1]

It is noteworthy that Mrs. White indicated that “it is not essential for us to be able to define just what the Holy Spirit is.”[2] However, she proceeded on describing who the Holy Spirit is. She states, “Christ tells us that the Spirit is the Comforter, ‘the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father’.”[3] In other words, when trying to describe what the Holy Spirit is, we are treading on the mysterious ground. On the other hand, when we are striving to conceptualize who the Holy Spirit is, the Bible is clear. Thus, this is not an easy subject to deal with. When there is not much information from the Bible regarding the nature of the Holy Spirit, we must be careful not to go beyond what the Bible reveals to us.

It is vitally important that we must recognize and accept our human limitations in our attempts to explain anything related to God. We cannot put God into a box of certainty in trying to understand the essence of God. It stands to reason the same goes for the Holy Spirit in terms of applying faulty explanations which may not be in alignment with what God wishes to reveal. Therefore, we should let the Word of God speak for itself and accept its affirmation on the topic of the divinity of the Holy Spirit. As Deuteronomy 29:29 reminds us, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law” (NASB).

Trying to understand divine reality from a human perspective may lead to inaccurate ideas about God. Describing Him using our human language maybe inadequate. But it should not deter us from pursuing it. The fact that He revealed Himself to us, for example, through His written word, then any effort to understand Him is a worthy task.

Most biblical references to the Holy Spirit are indirect to His divinity. One of the direct references to the Holy as God is in Acts 5:1-4. In that passage, Peter said to Ananias that he lied to the Holy Spirit (v. 3), and then later in the text, he expressed to Ananias “You have not lied to man but to God” (v. 4). Based on this parallelism, the Holy Spirit is called God. Not only, He is called God, He is described as a person to whom Ananias lied.

The Holy Spirit’s divine attributes indicate that He is God. He is omniscient as are other members of the triune God. He “searches all things, yes, the deep things of God” and “no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10, 11, NKJV). He raised Jesus from the dead and can even give life to our “mortal bodies” (Romans 8:11, NIV). Mere human beings cannot do what the Holy Spirit can do. A mere influence or force cannot resurrect Jesus from the dead. Indeed, He is a divine being.

It is clear that what the Bible is revealing to us is not so much on what the Holy Spirit is, but who the Holy Spirit is, and how He works for our salvation. I think this is a crucial consideration with regard to the Holy Spirit. This suggests that the Holy Spirit is not an inanimate impersonal concept to deliberate and philosophize about, but a Person to know and to trust. We can trust Him because He is God.

This leads us to what is really important to our personal lives and to our salvation when we try to understand the Holy Spirit as revealed in the Scriptures. Apostle Paul declares, “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5, NKJV). The Holy Spirit plays a very important role in renewing our minds and changing our lives.

The functions and works of the Holy Spirit are some of the reasons why it is challenging to elaborate His divine nature. He works in the background and speaks not of Himself but more of Jesus Christ. Jesus points out to His disciples that Holy Spirit “will not speak on his own” (John 16:13, NIV).

It is ironic that although He is a divine being, yet He will not speak on His own, “He only speaks what He hears” (John 16:13, NIV). The Holy Spirit, in spite of His supposed authority and power, His divinity further reflects and reveals the servant nature of God by working without seeking attention. He does not seek to assert himself or seek recognition simply because it is not part of the nature of God nor how God works. Ostensibly, the Holy Spirit functions as an insignificant divine being. That is probably one of the reasons why the divinity or even the existence of the Holy Spirit has been questioned. We do not appreciate His unassuming personality and His divinity. We do not appreciate His work in us, but the Holy Spirit teaches us important lessons of the servant nature of God. Indeed, the unselfish nature of the Holy Spirit is divine. He is not thinking only of Himself and His welfare. He works cooperatively and unselfishly with the other members of the Godhead for the salvation of human beings.

The Holy Spirit’s role and function are not remarkable as the Father and the Son. It is interesting that in both Hebrew and Greek languages, the word “spirit” is the same word for “breath” or “wind.” Wind conveys power while breath associates with life. The work of the Holy Spirit in us is not as conspicuous as we would expect it to be. He works silently and yet powerfully. Jesus declared to Nicodemus, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So, it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:8, NIV). Yahweh spoke to prophet Ezekiel and said, “I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live” (Ezekiel 37:14, NKJV). Apostle Peter adds another important function of the Holy Spirit which is His “sanctifying work” in us, enabling us to “to be obedient to Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:2, NIV).

Let us start recognizing the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and to know Him more fully. In conclusion, I will use the words of Alister McGrath of this third person of the Godhead, “The Holy Spirit has long been the Cinderella of the Trinity. The other two sisters may have gone to the theological ball; the Holy Spirit got left behind every time. But not now.”[4]

[1] Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles: In the Proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press, 2005), 52.

[4] Alister E. McGrath, Christian Theology: An Introduction (3rd ed.; Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2001), 307.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7846

a technical remark: the links behind the footnotes are from the original document and leading to an inaccessible document on onedrive… :wink:

I am embarrassed for you, Ferdinand, and for Seventh-day Adventism as a whole: you know not the Spirit of God, the very Spirit by which you breathe and have being. For had you known - had experience - the Holy Spirit would not leave you limited to your human ignorance in conveying Its divinity. The denomination as a whole has avoided the Holy Spirit like the plague: note the lack of denominationally-approved investigations, documentation, etc. of the work, gift(s), and fruit of that Spirit. It’s not even anticipated in the baptism of new communicants! Thus it cannot but advocate heresies such as self-righteousness: conforming to Christ by personal effort for which the failure is the cause of God not returning when you think should.

Give it up! Your experience with Christ and God the Father are just as limited, thinking it is sufficient to know about them. “You search the scriptures for you think that in them you find eternal life; indeed they testify of Me! Yet you fail to come to Me that you may have this Life.”

Indeed, I shall include you and so many others in my prayers that such ignorance and arrogance be crucified that you may be resurrected in Christ unto eternal life.

"Come out of her My people that you be not partakers in her sins."

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How could your overlook John 4: 24? “God is Spirit.”

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It is difficult to balance meekness with passion.

I simply cannot comprehend the statement that “the Holy Spirit functions as an insignificant divine being.” The terms “insignificant” and “divine being” just don’t go together. Yet we can quote that “no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10, 11, NKJV)."

I grew up with the quotation from EGW in para 1. I have no idea what fanciful views Ellen White was talking about and what passages of scripture she was referring to that were given a human construct. The unfortunate result of this one short passage is that for too long we did maintain a code of silence, even referring to the Holy Spirit as “It” when He was mentioned.

We have a Comforter who lives with us forever. We Know Him and He lives in us.

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I agree with this statement and I am glad to see someone making an attempt in this forum to begin discussion on what is probably the most complex mystery of the Universe. Both, Scriptures and the SOP, speak about this mystery and just as Jesus wanted to describe it to Nicodemus as recorded in John 3:1-13, he wants us to study more diligently, from what is revealed to us through His Word.
Without a better understanding of who the Holy Spirit it and His role it is impossible to have a good grasp of the mystery of the plan of salvation and the “infinite Cost” to God as described by EGW - this is not to say that I believe we will have a perfect understanding of it here on Earth, this fact was known to EGW who said we would spend an eternity in Heaven learning about it, but it would certainly help many of us also better understand Christ’s ongoing work on our behalf transforming us and sanctifying us through the indwelling of His Spirit - see Romans 8:16 and Galatians 4: 4-7.
Paul certainly spoke of this mystery in a remarkable way in Col. 1:26-27 “The mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. For to them God would make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the nations, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory”

Even the Apostles had differing levels of understanding of this mystery, while Paul has great examples of it, it is Apostle John who provides the best and most beautiful renderings and insights of who the Holy Spirit is. Any serious study of this subject must include an in-depth discussion of John 14.

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The Spirit is like and unlike the wind, In one way it is a gentle force that leads but in one direction only. The Canon is the only sure guide to that direction. Ne’er the less trained men and women who can read the original languages are great helps to our understanding. The Old Testament points to the Christ, The. Holy. spirit tells us to accept His life, Death, and Resurrection As our savior and example. . Let us walk humbly with our God in the direction that the Spirit blows. In these times let us be sure that the General conference in session or in called meetings does not take the place of the Holy Spirit. Institutionalism is no substitute tithe Holy Spirit. That is the test of the moment. “Unity” in Christ alone. TZ

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I lost my mom when I was a Junior in college. After the initial numbing grief; and after time started to heal, I found myself starting to feel the impact of who she was to me in a much different way… As I left the hospital the night she died, I looked up at the window of her hospital room and I remember thinking that she wasn’t up there anymore. Yet, throughout my life she has spoken to me and guided me. I felt my loss all over again when I turned the age at which she died. because the template for my life had ended and I was now on my own. Even so, she had so filled my life that I haven’t really been without her. Before anyone freaks out about spiritualism etc., it was her influence on my life that spoke to me.

When Christ was about to leave his followers, he told them he would send the Comforter - the same SPIRIT that guided him - the lingering influence of who God is to his followers. After centuries have passed, we, too, experience the lingering influence of God, but only if we recognize him as our Father, with all that that means in our earthly experience. For Jesus, God was Abba (daddy), even more endearing and nurturing. The essence of Jesus’ God is what he left us with - to guide us and influence us. The fact that the Bible calls this SPIRIT by a personal pronoun and personifies its influence on our lives, is a literary device.

If I’m forced to place a face on this HOLY SPIRIT, and think of it as a PERSON, separate from God, the exercise does nothing for me. This is probably why those, who feel obliged to call the Holy Spirit a third person of a monotheistic faith, can’t really make sense of it.

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Actually ,it can, and has damaged the church.
Is one of the attributes of the Holy Spirit …OMNIPOTENCE?
Is the Holy Spirit coercive or persuasive?
In a realistic sense, at the personal inter-relational level, how much power/control does the Holy Spirit have over beings who can resist Him?
The scriptures refer to interaction between God and humans as …“knock, come, warn, command, pray, obey, believe, whoever, surrender”.
Have SDA’s embraced an idol that Calvinists worship, that GOD unconditionally elects humans with “irresistible grace”?
Idolatry leads to blasphemy.
Speaking wrong about God (Job 42:7) can take place in various & subtle ways.

Does a king have rule over every single thought generated by his subjects?

I would advise those who parrot the cliché that “GOD is in control” and “God is omnipotent” get a reality check and see if the scriptures support that heresy and idol creating doctrine.

One of the detriments to that doctrine is perpetuating the Laodicean attitude of complacency, & non involvement.

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The Church needs to update its knowledge of spiritual matters . None of our top leaders, and even our prophet , EGW, seem to be spiritually knowledgeable enough to pronounce intelligently on what the “:Holy Spirit” is, or for that matter what lies ahead after we give up the physical. We still rely on writings of men who lived thousands of years ago to update us. I got some ideas of some of these matters by sporadic conversations with a Buddhist novice trainee and a Hindu healer. The Hindu described the physical and energetic bodies of mankind, about seven energetic bodies . He claimed that we should make good use of living on earth , a situation which gives us the opportunity to develop high vibrations through knowledge and good works to our fellowman, and therefore exist in a preferred place in the afterlife . Some of these ideas sound like the statements of the RCC. For example people of low vibrations, murderers, warmongers, those who practice even psychological manipulation of people to gain benefit for themselves, will be drawn to an unpleasant place inhabited with others of low vibrations, called HELL, or SHADOWLAND, or PURGATORY. Others who practice the “Do unto others …” will go to higher planes of existence called HEAVEN or SUMMERLAND. All await judgement as to whether their souls will be destroyed or will be given anther chance to re-incarnate and correct mistakes. I don’t KNOW if these speculations are valid but I would certainly like to see an SDA position on these matters.

[quote=“gideonjrn, post:13, topic:12770, full:true”]

Perhaps the requisite knowledge missing is that the the one making these statements is not in control (but wants to be and thinks self capable) and is not omnipotent (or omniscient), hence has no basis upon which to so define any facet of the divine. However-ultimately, is God in control-or has he lost it? is the one question we each must reconcile for self. We may try place a tighter eyepiece on the microscope-when in fact we need a much wider angle. I was considering Job 38…

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Maybe your understanding of the Holy Spirit isn’t as perfect as your humility.
I notice that you refer to Him as “it”.

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God as a “father” and God as a “son” and God as a “spirit” -How can these representations of a god not be metaphors? And isn’t the purpose of a metaphor to express by the use of comparison some essential quality or qualities that can’t be better described otherwise? It’s so easy to not “get” what the metaphor conveyer wishes to convey, or to only partially understand, or to read too much into it. It’s possible, too, to not have the capacity to understand…

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The Holy Spirit became the third part of the Trinity not until the Fourth Century church made that declaration. Jesus told His followers that He would send us the Holy Spirit as a Comforter. Was He the first to tell us of the Holy Spirit to replace Him?

The OT mentions the “Spirit of God” in many instances, but never refers to the Holy Spirit a Comforters. Is there a consensus on what and who is the Holy Spirit orr has it been left to various theological explanations?

FYI: Your recent reply to me has apparently been removed. You may question the WebEd for the reason, if you wish,

It could be because of the same direct words used as above.

Elaine,
There seems to be other comments missing, as well, including one previous reply from me to Kenn, this could be as a result of Spectrum posting the first article twice with a different date and my asking them to consolidate the two. In the missing reply to Kenn I had mentioned that the SDA position on the Trinity has changed historically from being anti-trinitarian (not anti Holy Spirit however) to the current belief of the Trinity as embodied in Fundamental Belief No.2., and as far as I understand it was Leroy Froom who introduced the RCC concept of the Trinity in his 1926 book: The Coming of the Comforter. The transition is explained in a term paper published by Russell Holt - www.sdanet.org/atissue/trinity/moon/moon-trinity1.htm. I should also add that as far as I know, EGW never mentioned the word Trinity in connection with her writings of the Holy Spirit.
@kennlutz
@Sirje
@webEd

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What does the 28 Fundamentals explain about the Holy Spirit or the Trinitarian concept?

  1. Trinity: There is one God:
    Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal Persons. God is immortal, all-powerful, all-knowing, above all, and ever present. He is infinite and beyond human comprehension, yet known through His self-revelation. He is forever worthy of worship, adoration, and service by the whole creation. (Deut. 6:4; Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14; Eph. 4:4-6; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Tim. 1:17; Rev. 14:7.)

@webEd I can’t tell what is going on here. There is no warning against multiple posts for the Sabbath School discussion, so your removal of the several comments of @gdavidovic and myself was surreptitious and against policy. Please, for the sake of your integrity return them to their chronological places.

May it be blessed.