Part 1 (c): The Holy Spirit of God

By Clovis E. Miller

This is the third in a series of articles entitled: The Basics of Faith. Previously we have looked at the Person and Nature of God as the Father, and of Jesus Christ as His Son; being specific and unique distinctions which exist within the oneness of God's being. In light of the first two articles in this series; most of us might grasp the relationship between God as both Father and Son, because we can make a natural comparison through our own relationships. However, looking at God as also being a third Person (i.e the Holy Spirit); is a concept which is even more challenging and foreign to us; being rather difficult to comprehend, let alone to explain.

In the article following this one, we will look into the missions of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, in which we find both: the one who was "sent and annointed"; as well as, the one who was sent, through whom the annointing came (i.e. the Holy Spirit). Let me emphasize again what was stated in the first article in this series. I am offering a layman's understanding of these concepts. I am not a theologian, nor have I had any theological schooling. What I can offer is fifty years of studying the Scriptures. If you disagree with what is presented in these articles; That's fine, no offence taken. Having said that, let's lay the foundation for considering the aforementioned missions by exploring somewhat, the most mysterious Person and nature of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit: the sent and annointing one

Truth = "...conformity with fact..." (Webster's)

Fact = "...that which has happened or is true..." (Webster's)

Absolute= "1) perfect, 2) complete; whole 3) not mixed..." (Webster's)

God is a Spirit (John 4:24), and His Spirit is Holy (Rev.4:8). It seems like a "no- brainer" then, to understand that God is the Holy Spirit, or that the Holy Spirit is God. How does this square up with the idea in traditional Christian Theology, that the Holy Spirit is the third person of a triune Godhead? Is there a conflict between God, in His totality, being the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit (in Christian Theology) being the third person of the Trinity? Let's be clear: There is only one Holy Spirit. To understand the distinction which exists between these two concepts (and there is one), we simply need to understand the term "Holy Spirit" in the context in which Jesus used it. While there is only one Holy Spirit (i.e. the Spirit of God - Gen. 1:2 ; Gen. 6:3); He expresses Himself through multiple manifestations (Ps.2:7 ; Ps.110:1 ; Joel 2:28-29), chief of which are the personal manifestations of FATHER, SON and SPIRIT of TRUTH.

The Spirit of Truth

Time and Truth are the original manifested attributes of God. That may sound like a bold statement, but read on to see how that is so. Even before His love, holiness, goodness, mercy, etc. were made known; the absolute truth of God's existence and personhood was declared to be by His word: "I AM" (reiterrated through the Son in Ex.3:13-14, Matt.11:27 and John 8:58). In Exodus 3:15, God declares, "...this is my name forever...". Absolute truth came forth not only as a matter of fact, but as a living personal revelation, or expression of the Holy Spirit of God; being revealed initially by God as the Father. With that declaration, the presence of the eternal attribute of truth became evident; as a living manifestation in the realm of dynamic time (Click Here for a word on this); just as the WORD (Son) also became a dynamic manifestation of God through the same declaration. The WORD was spoken; the WORD was revealed. Likewise, the TRUTH was spoken; the TRUTH was also revealed. In the declaration, "I AM", God revealed himself as the living Father, from whom simultaneously came forth: the "living WORD", and the "living TRUTH" (i.e. the revealed Triune Godhead). In the everlasting WORD we see the only begotten SON of the FATHER; and in the HOLY SPIRIT OF TRUTH we see both the original and the everlasting witness of that fact (I John 5:7 ; John 5:37 ; John 17:17). In the spiritual realm, this is contrasted with a counterfeit version, or "Satanic Trinity": Satan, the Beast (Son of Perdition) and the False Prophet (Rev. 19:20 ; Rev. 20:10).

In the declaration, "I AM", the FATHER, the WORD (Son) and the TRUTH (the Spirit of Truth) are revealed concurrently as dynamic reality. The Son is revealed as the image of the Father (Col.1:15); and the Truth is revealed by the very declaration of the Word (John 17:17): so that, the living FATHER has revealed Himself and the living TRUTH through the presence of the living WORD. The Spirit of Truth is not a secondary revelation of God (although He would become the sent one who comforts); but was fully present in the revelation of the WORD, "in the beginning..." (John 1:1); at which point, time (as an eternal attribute of God) was revealed to be an everlasting dynamic reality. While time, as a static attribute of God, is unchangeable; it is dynamic when expressed by Him in its revealed phases (past, present and future). So, we may understand that, the Living FATHER spoke the Living TRUTH, which was confirmed by the simultaneously revealation of the presence of the Living WORD (the Son of God). There is much confusion in the world about this concept. God is one, who expresses Himself through Fatherhood, Sonship and Truth. His personhood is here understood as being the totality of persons (three) which constitute His Holy Spirit.

The simultaneous revelation of fatherhood, sonship and truth should not be confused with Modalism, wherein the one true God reveals Himself as either Father, Son or Holy Spirit (modes of His singular personality). Depending on what is required to accomplish His will, He manifests Himself as one of the three. In Modalism, God is never simultaneously present as three persons, as presented in the orthodox understanding of the Trinity. His personhood is here understood as being the totality of persons (three) which constitute His Eternal Holy Spirit.

All other attributes of God are revealed to us only in dynamic time, in the wake of "I AM", because the revealed creation reside exclusively in that sphere. Essence (that which is known by God) and revelation (that which is declared to be known by Him), are the two spheres in which all of existence resides. Both spheres are facets of God's very person. We cannot know the unrevealed essence of God; but we can, through the Spirit of Truth, comprehend the essence which God has revealed. Essence becomes revelation by the decree of God (Mark 4:21-22).

With the manifestation of the truth of God's existence and personhood; life itself, at the inception of dynamic time, is certified as present in the WORD, and manifested as the existent person of the Son (John 5:26). Life as an eternal attribute of God, cannot be seperated from truth. It was manifested by the declaration of the absolute truth of God's existence. I AM, is the revealed explicit truth of God's existence and the presence of life in Him. It is Living Truth, of and from, the Living God. The Living Truth testifies to the certainty of the Living Word: and to the presence of all of the attributes of Almighty God.

We know that the Holy Spirit (the sent one), who indwells believers (John 14:16-18), is a unique person, primarily because Jesus identified Him as coming forth from the Father, using the "third person" pronouns: "He" and "Him". God's Spirit is everywhere (Prov. 15:3), yet we are told that He would send the Holy Spirit to aid believers. So how do we understand the concept of the Spirit of God, as the Father, sending the Spirit of God as the "Comforter", or "helper"? Is there a difference? In essence there is no difference. As previously stated: there is one God and one Holy Spirit. The distinction comes from how the "given" Holy Spirit is manifested to us. As the sent one, He is manifested as the "Spirit of Truth", who reproves the world (John 16:5-8) and empowers the believer (Acts 1:8).

Even as the Son came forth "from" the Father (John 8:42 ; John 16:28), so did the Spirit of Truth (John 14:26). As the WORD is "of" the Father (John 10:30), so also is the Spirit of Truth "of" the Father (Joel 2:28-29 ; Acts 2:17). Both are unique expressions, or manifestations, of the Spirit of God, who as the Father, has sent them forth to accomplish His will. The WORD (Son) came forth from the Father by the declaration: "I AM" (Ex. 3:13-14 ; John 1:1 ; John 8:58). The Spirit of Truth came forth unto us from the Father, by request of the Son (John 14:16). The Son testifies of the Father (Matt. 11:27); and the Spirit of Truth testifies of the Son (John 15:26).

When we speak of the "Holy Spirit" as being the third person of the Trinity, we are actually referring to the eternal attribute of truth, which is uniquely manifested by God in personal form. God expresses Himself in the form and person of Truth; and that, in a fully cognitive manner. In a cognitive state, the revealed Person of Truth, is sent to be our teacher, because it is required of us, that we communicate with God " spirit and in truth." (John 4:24). There must be a connecting point through which the two way communication between God and man is carried out; and the Holy Spirit of Truth fulfills that role. He that dwells in and with the Son, also dwells in and with the believer. As such, we are uniquely connected to the Son, who is able to make intercession for us, through the Spirit which dwells in Himself and in us. It is through the intercession of the Spirit of Truth that our prayers are relayed to the Father, from whom the Spirit came (Rom. 8:26-27). It is through the Son, sitting at the right hand of the Father (Col. 3:1 ; Rom. 8:34), who knowing the mind of the Spirit, makes intercession for us, that the Father be glorified in the answer which is returned to us.

All attributes of God are absolute, being that constant from which our cognition can make sense of the reality of our existence. Of all of His attributes (truth, goodness, love, purity, holiness, etc); truth is the only one which distinctly comes forth from God as a cognitive expression of His person. Even so, the manifested presence of personified truth doesn't preclude the presence in Him of all other eternal attributes. The Spirit of Truth is also loving and gentle and merciful, etc. The eternal attribute of truth, in being personified, is transcendent; sent forth from the Father, in a unique way; entering into the world as a witness, both to the world and to believers, as to the attitude and nature of God. He reproves the deviation of all beings who set their hearts to be contrary to the will of God. By entering into the hearts of believers, He teaches them, by revelation, to love the precepts of moral conduct which are required in order to be in harmony with the will of their Creator. In short, as the manifested person of absolute truth, He has come to set the record straight, as to what is, and is not correct.

The Holy Spirit, as the sent one, is called the "Comforter" (helper); and the Comforter is called the "Holy Spirit". In the King James Verson of the Bible, the words "Holy Spirit" and "Holy Ghost" are also used interchangeably. The word "Ghost", in the English language, is from the Anglo-Saxon word, "Gast". In the New Testament (KJV), it is used six times, when refering to a person taking their last breath (Mark 15:37-39 ; Luke 23:46 ; Acts 5:5,10 and Acts 12:23). In Mark and Luke, it refers to the death of Jesus, and speaks of Him breathing His last. The Greek words in these passages (Strong's #1606 (ek-pneh'-o) and #1634 (ek-psoo'-kho)), are always used of the breath which ceases at the time of death. It is not used, at the death of Jesus, to denote that the "ghost" yielded up was that of Person of the Holy Spirit, or of that of the Son of God dwelling in the flesh of Jesus. Jesus said, "Father into thy hands I commend my Spirit" A different The Greek word, "Pneuma" (Strong's #4151), is used here in reference, not to His breath, but to the spiritual person which had dwelt in the flesh. At His last breath, "ek-pneh'-o", or "ek-psoo'-kho", Jesus yielded up His Spiritual Person (Pneuma) into the hands of the Father.

The cognitive eternal attribute of truth, which we call the Holy Spirit, or Holy Ghost, dwells among all people; but only resides in the hearts of believers who will receive Him (John 14:17). To know the truth; that is to say, to know right from wrong and error from correctness, is to perceive the revealing presence of the Spirit of Truth. It is through the receiving of the Spirit of Truth into our hearts, that the power of His presence can make us free from the deception of sin (John 8:32). Without the illuminating presence of His guidance, we would be forever entangled by the deception of the enemies of God (demonic powers). The Spirit of Truth is come to testify to the veracity of the account which God has given of His Son; and that deliverance from sin is only possible through Him. Even as the word of God is a discerner of the thoughts of our hearts, whether they are good or evil (Heb.4:12); the Holy Spirit also testifies to us concerning the true nature and character of our thoughts, when viewed in light of the Word. To walk in the truth, it is imperative that we continually examine our lives in light of the power of God's Word.

The presence of the Holy Spirit can be abrasive (not in a negative sense). His very person and nature is that of absolute truth. When the presence of undeniable truth comes into contact with the error in a person's life, they feel very uncomfortable and attempt to resist or withstand His presence. We actually feel threatened by His presence because we are living in denial of the truth to which He testifies. The more we love, and desire to live by the truth which He reveals however, the less discomfort we feel by His presence. The perceived "discomforter", becomes the promised "Comforter" which He was sent to be. There is a sanctifying quality in truth. Because God loves us, He dispels error from our lives through the presence of the Spirit of Truth. The end results is: It brings us closer to His holy presence; with fear being replaced by trust (I John 4:18).

For the most part, we tend to feel at home with relative truth; but when we are brought face to face with absolute truth, we are really challenged to own-up to the supremacy of unaltered truth which comes directly from God. We want truth to validate our beliefs; sometimes even at the expense of manipulating it to make it fit what we believe. Absolute truth however, has a tendency to push us out of our comfort zone. We are made stronger each and every time that truth dispels error from our lives. We can find the lasting comfort which we seek only when we submit to the declaration, teaching and direction of truth as delivered by the Holy Spirit. It is worth noting that, abrasives are used in cleaning tarnished items, or removing unwanted substances. The more tarnish on the item the more abrasives that are required to restore the item to its original condition. In scriptural terms this process is referred to as sanctification; and works from the inside to the outside through the power of the Holy Spirit (Mark 7:20 ; Matt. 15:18-20).

"...I will send unto you from the Father..." (John 15:26)
"whom the Father will send in my name..." (John 14:26)

How do we reconcile these two statements? Who is sending the "Comforter" (i.e. the Holy Spirit); The Father, or the Son? In actuality, both are. Jesus prays to the Father requesting that the comforter be sent to those who believe in Him; the Father honors the Son, by sending the "helper" (paraclete, in Greek), in the Son's name. The request is sent by the Son, through the Holy Spirit which is indwelling the body of Jesus, The answer is sent by the Father so that the Holy Spirit will return to also indwell the bodies of believers, even as He did in the mortal body of the Son of God (John 20:21-22 ; Acts 2:1-4).

The mission of the Holy Spirit is not only to teach us truth to free us from the deception of sin; but to work signs and wonders through believers, that the reality of His Holy presence may be experienced. That is a part of the "comforting effect", which motivates and strengthens our faith in the love which scripture declares that God has for us. The glorified body of Jesus is the fore-runner, or prototype, of the body which all believers will have in the future; being conformed to the image of the Son of God (Rom.8:29 ; Col. 1:18-19).

So, in this study, we can see that there is a definite distinction between the omnipresence of God's Holy Spirit, and the unique manifestation of His Spirit, as the Spirit of Truth, dwelling in our hearts. Because " Him we live and move and have our being..." (Acts 17:28 ; Col.1:17), He is omnipresent (all reside within His being). The Holy Spirit of God has always been present in the creation; but His manifestation as the Spirit of Truth, dwelling in the hearts of man has a point of beginning (first with Jesus, then the apostles and finally with all other believers - John 20:20-22 ; Acts 2:1-4). Where God is; truth is, because truth is one of the eternal attributes of His person. God uniquely manifests Himself as truth personified, that He, as personal, may dwell in us and teach us about Himself. Whosoever is moved to follow the Spirit of Truth and rejects it, cannot receive the His Spirit into their heart. He who genuinely seeks the truth, is a candidate to receive the Spirit. In the WORD (John 1:1), God personified Himself as the Son. In the Holy Spirit sent unto man, God personifies Himself as TRUTH (John 15:26): God with us, and God in us. He is the witness which came forth from the Father bringing light and life, through which believers are transformed into the image of the Son of God. The power of God is in the TRUTH (John 8:32); and the Spirit of Truth is sent into the world, in personal form, being recognized, at least in Christianity, as the third person of the Godhead.

In the next article, we will explore the unique, though harmonious, missions of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit in the redemption of man from his fallen state.

The glory of God saving us, belongs to Him alone.

Part One (a): Understanding the Person and Nature of God

Part One (b): The Person and Nature of Jesus Christ

Part 2: The Mission of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit

Part 3: The Enemies of God and the Work They Are Doing

Upcoming articles in the Basics of Faith series:

Part 4: Understanding My place in All of this


To read Other Articles, click here

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