The Trinity and the Holy Spirit
Larry notes that John 1:1 and 14 indicate that Jesus, the Son, is God but asks, “Where do we find biblical witness to the Spirit’s being God?” This is not a new question for church history reminds us that there was a time when believers felt it necessary to formally announce the Godhood of the Spirit. Like most questions that relate to “the Trinity” we need to be careful how we state our views (especially if you believe it as I do and think it’s critically important truth in the development of the Christian message).
I mean, the Bible isn’t an exercise in systematic or even dogmatic theology. The writers certainly want us to know and believe the truth but they don’t sit down to write a formal creed for us. This means we shouldn’t expect to be able to go to the Bible and find a specific text to answer every specific question. We’re supposed to do careful exegetical work (with the help of all the tools and disciplines and trusted scholars required) and draw our conclusions in light of that. And then from there live our lives in light of the big rich truths.
This lack of system in the Bible explains why we don’t have, for example, a developed doctrine of the resurrection, or Satan or the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. And it’s why we don’t have all the answers to interesting and important questions laid out for us in an exhaustive blueprint. (I have several pieces in this vein in my little book called Where the Spirit of the Lord Is.) It also helps to explain why the Bible doesn’t always make something so clear that it can’t be disputed. Much of the Bible is proclamation and the report of proclamation (like the book of Acts, for example). So much of the time the writer simply speaks the truth without exhaustively spelling it out so that no one can argue against it.
But having said all that I’m one of millions who, in light of the New Testament and historical theology, think that the Holy Spirit is a “person” distinct from the Father and the Son. There is one God who in the fullness of times revealed himself as Father, Son and Spirit. In Acts 13:2 the Holy Spirit said to the gathered prophets and teachers, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” This is personal speech and it’s hard not to see that the Holy Spirit is a distinct center of self-consciousness (a “person”) and when you lie to him you lie to God (Acts 5:3-4). But he is not the Father and he is distinct from the Son (see John 14:16-26). And since it is in the person of the eternal Spirit (Hebrews 9:14) that the Father and the Son make themselves present in the believers (John 14:17-18,23-26; Ephesians 2:18-22) he can hardly be less than God himself.
Though there are many other lines we could take that’s the direction I would go in setting out my reasons for believing that the Spirit is part of the Godhead.
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.
Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, theabiding word.com.