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August 2023 GPS

In July’s edition of the GPS I began a series of studies on the Holy Spirit. My goal in that issue was to show that the Holy Spirit is a person, not an impersonal force. I began there rather than with the issue of the deity of the Holy Spirit because it is with the question of His personality that most people struggle. Still, I would be remiss in my responsibility if I did not examine what the Bible says about His deity, so that is the topic for this month’s installment.

The deity of the Holy Spirit is referred to as God. “But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.”” (Acts 5:3–4, ESV) To lie to the Holy Spirit was to lie to God. In Acts 28:25-27, Paul reprimands some Romans, who refused to believe what he had said about Jesus, by quoting a passage from Isaiah 6:9-10. He introduces that passage by saying, “The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers.” However, Isaiah 6:3 & 5 clearly identify the one speaking there as the LORD (Yahweh) of hosts. The Holy Spirit is identified with Yahweh. The writer of Hebrews does the same kind of thing in Heb. 10:15-17. There he quotes Jer. 31:33-34 by introducing that quotation with, “the Holy Spirit also testifies to us.” Three times Jeremiah identifies the speaker as LORD (Yahweh) and once as God (Elohim). The Holy Spirit is identified with Yahweh and Elohim.

He is associated with the other members of the godhead in a way that only makes sense if He is deity. The Great Commission reads: ““Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19, NASB95) That instruction about baptism would be passing strange if the Holy Spirit were not God. Imagine the instruction reading, “Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Apostle Paul.” Paul was a great man but it would be heretical to identify Paul in such a way. The same thing can be said about the reference to the three members of the godhead in 2 Cor. 13:14: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Corinthians 13:14, ESV) We see this same truth in something Jesus said to His followers not long before His death. In his fine book, Foundations of the Christian Faith, James Boice wrote: “One of the clearest indications of the full divinity of the Holy Spirit is found on the lips of Jesus when he promised to send the Spirit to the disciples to be “another Counselor” (Jn. 14:16). Here the important word is another. In Greek there are two different words for another. There is allos, the word used here (meaning “another just like the first one”), and there is heteros (meaning “totally different”), from which we get our word heterodox. Since the word allos rather than heteros occurs in this text, Jesus is saying that he will send the disciples a person just like himself, that is, one who is fully divine. Who is the first Counselor? Jesus. He had been the disciples’ strength and counsel during the years of his ministry among them. Now he is going away, and in his place he will be sending a second Counselor who is just like him.” (emphasis mine)

His attributes are those of deity. He is omnipresent. David asked, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?” (Psalm 139:7, ESV) Then he uses terms that denote the idea of everywhere in creation. The Spirit of God is also said to be omniscient. Jesus said of the Holy Spirit: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” (John 16:13, ESV) Paul elaborates a bit on this when he wrote regarding things God has prepared for us: “these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:10–11, ESV) He is also omnipotent. “And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35, ESV) Notice that “the Holy Spirit” is parallel with “the power of the Most High” indicating that the two references are to the same being.

What is the practical value of the doctrine of the deity of the Holy Spirit? What difference does it make? (That question will be partly addressed in this article, but in future editions of the GPS, as we look at the works of the Holy Spirit, we will see a much more complete answer.) Because He is omnipresent, we need to remember that we can never get away from Him but that also means we never need to worry for fear He may be unreachable for us. He will never leave us or desert us. He will always be there for us. Because He is omniscient, He knows everything. He knows our needs, our weaknesses, our temptations, our sins, our fears, our thoughts and our motivations. He also knows our past as well as the future and what we will face. All of this knowledge perfectly equips Him to help, strengthen, guide, comfort, teach, exhort, convict and equip us for every challenge. Because He is omnipotent, there is no challenge too great for Him to enable us to meet and overcome it. Because He is deity all of the other attributes of God are His attributes. He is love. He is good. He is faithful. He is merciful. He is gracious. He is true. He is holy. How can we see more clearly how these attributes are manifested in our lives? I plan to explore that matter in the months ahead. God willing, we will gain a greater appreciation for this wonderful Person and experience a closer relationship with Him as a result of our study.