The Identity, Deity, and Personality of the Holy Spirit

This article which begins a year long series relies heavily upon the New Testament Scriptures to prove the identity, deity and personality of the Holy Spirit.

All who believe in the Holy Trinity are convinced that while there is one God, there are three persons in the Godhead. Each one of these persons is God, and yet there are not three Gods, but one God revealed in three persons. The persons can be distinguished, but the substance cannot be divided. The subject of this paper is to show from Scripture that the Holy Spirit can be identified as God, that He is a person and not merely an influence or a power used in divine operations. The terms associated with the Holy Spirit in Scripture, such as “reprove” (John 16:8), “groanings” (Rom 8:27), “knoweth” (1 Cor 2:11) and “quench” (I Thess 5:19) are not those which would be applied to inanimate forces. In the dispensing of gifts it is stated that He divides these as He will (1 Cor 12:11). The exercise of “will” is something that only a person can do. When the Lord promised the disciples that He would send the “Comforter” (a word used with a masculine pronoun, and at that time to describe the assistance only of persons called to help), He made clear that the Holy Spirit would be another like Himself, for He would “reprove”, “guide”, “hear”, “speak” and “show” (John 16:13). In Acts 15:28 the decree is worded, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and us.” The way in which He is coordinated with persons in this verse is a further indicator that He is likewise personal.

Perhaps the best known text which proves His distinct personality is the baptismal formula of Matthew 28, “Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (vs 19). Alongside this text can be placed the closing words of 2 Corinthians, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all.” In both these passages, the three persons of the Godhead are united in such a way that for any one to deny the personality and deity of the Holy Spirit would be as unreasonable as denying the personality of the Father and the Son.

That the Holy Spirit is not only a person, but one of the three persons of the Trinity is likewise made manifest in Scripture. In creation’s work He moved over the watery waste (Gen 1:2). The works which have been done by God are said to be done by the Holy Spirit. Job said, “by His Spirit He garnished the heavens” (job 26:13), and Elihu said, “The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life,” so He is the creator (job 33:4). In the great work of the Cross, the three persons of the Trinity were involved. This is shown in Heb 9:14, where we read of the “The blood of Christ”, of “the eternal Spirit” and of “God”. The fact that He is eternal is another proof of His deity Those who are born of God (John 1:13) are also said to be born of the Spirit (John 3:6). The Corinthian saints were the “temple of God” because the Spirit of God dwelt in them (1 Cor 3:16). This implies that the indweller was divine. When Ananias lied to the Holy Ghost, he lied unto God (Acts 5:3,5). Peter puts the persons of the Trinity together when writing to the strangers in Asia. They were elected by the Father, sanctified by the Spirit and sprinkled by the blood of Christ (1 Pet 1:2). Paul likewise unites the persons of the Godhead together when he writes of the “love of God”, “of the Holy Ghost given” and of “Christ (who) died” (Rom 5:5-6). In the list in I Cor 12:4-6, the Holy Spirit is put alongside “the same God” and “the same Lord” (Cf 1 Cor 6:11). The unpardonable sin of which the Lord spoke was “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit”. Were He not a person, He could not be sinned against, and if He were not God, the sin would not be so serious as to be unpardonable.

The conception of Christ was such a miracle that only a divine person could have brought it about. “The Holy Ghost” is said to be “the power of the Highest” who would overshadow Mary and enable her to bear the Son of God (Lk 1:35).

The divinity of the Spirit is also evident in the realm of inspiration, for what the voice of the Lord said in Isaiah 6 is quoted by Paul in Acts 28 as spoken by the Holy Ghost. What the Lord said regarding the new covenant in Jeremiah 31 is quoted in Hebrews as witnessed by the Holy Spirit (Heb 10:15). The Holy Spirit is also called “Lord” in the words, “The Lord is that Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” Moses had been in the presence of the Lord so that his face shone, and the apostle states that the One in whose presence he had been was the Spirit (2 Cor 3:17).

The deity of the Holy Spirit is also manifested in the fact that He is omnipresent, as the questions, “Whether shall I go from thy Spirit?” or “Whether shall I flee from thy presence?”, clearly imply (Ps 139:7). He penetrates every realm entered by the Lord. He is also omniscient, “for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (1 Cor 2:10). Likewise, His omnipotence is implied in Zech 4:6 where we read, “not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit saith the Lord of Hosts”. These three are the great distinguishing attributes of Deity.

In dealing with the persons of the Trinity, it has to be remembered that though they are one in essence, and all are equally God, yet each has His own sphere of action. The Father is prominent in matters of will and purpose, the Son in doing and acting and the Spirit in power and influence. Though both the Son and the Spirit are sent by the Father, this does not imply that they are inferior to Him, but rather that they are willing cooperators in the fulfillment of the divine program.