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Sermon Podcast | Audio | Video : Christian Books : CHAPTER II. THE DEITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

The Person And Work Of The Holy Spirit by R. A. Torrey


In the preceding chapter we have seen clearly that the Holy Spirit is a Person. But what sort of a Person is He? Is He a finite person or an infinite person? Is He God? This question also is plainly answered in the Bible. There are in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments five distinct and decisive lines of proof of the Deity of the Holy Spirit.

I. Each of the four distinctively Divine attributes is ascribed to the Holy Spirit.

What are the distinctively Divine attributes? Eternity, omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence. All of these are ascribed to the Holy Spirit in the Bible.

We find eternity ascribed to the Holy Spirit in Heb. ix.14, |How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?|

Omnipresence is ascribed to the Holy Spirit in Ps. cxxxix.7-10, |Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me.|

Omniscience is ascribed to the Holy Spirit in several passages. For example, we read in 1 Cor. ii.10, 11, |But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.| Again in John xiv.26, |But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.| Still further we read in John xvi.12, 13, R. V., |I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth is come, He shall guide you into all the truth: for He shall not speak from Himself; but what things soever He shall hear, these shall He speak: and He shall declare unto you the things that are to come.|

We find omnipotence ascribed to the Holy Spirit in Luke i.35, |And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.|

II. Three distinctively Divine works are ascribed to the Holy Spirit.

When we think of God and His work, the first work of which we always think is that of creation. In the Scriptures creation is ascribed to the Holy Spirit. We read in Job xxxiii.4, |The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.| We read still again in Ps. civ.30, |Thou sendest forth Thy Spirit, they are created: and Thou renewest the face of the earth.| In connection with the description of creation in the first chapter of Genesis, the activity of the Spirit is referred to (Gen. i.1-3).

The impartation of life is also a Divine work and this is ascribed in the Scriptures to the Holy Spirit, We read in John vi.6, A. R. V., |It is the Spirit that giveth life: the flesh profiteth nothing.| We read also in Rom. viii.11, |But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.| In the description of the creation of man in Gen. ii.7, it is the breath of God, that is the Holy Spirit, who imparts life to man, and man becomes a living soul. The exact words are, |And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.| The Greek word which is rendered |spirit| means |breath| and though the Holy Spirit as a Person does not come out distinctly in this early reference to Him in Gen. ii.7, nevertheless, this passage interpreted in the light of the fuller revelation of the New Testament clearly refers to the Holy Spirit.

The authorship of Divine prophecies is also ascribed to the Holy Spirit. We read in 2 Pet. i.21, R. V., |For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Ghost.| Even in the Old Testament, there is a reference to the Holy Spirit as the author of prophecy. We read in 2 Sam. xxiii.2, 3, |the Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and His word was in my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.|

So we see that the three distinctly Divine works of creation, the impartation of life, and prophecy are ascribed to the Holy Spirit.

III. Statements which in the Old Testament distinctly name the LORD or Jehovah as their subject are applied to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, i. e., the Holy Spirit occupies the position of Deity in New Testament thought.

A striking illustration of this is found in Isa. vi.8-10, |Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. And He said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert and be healed.| In verse five we are told that it was Jehovah (whenever the word LORD is spelled in capitals in the Old Testament, it stands for Jehovah in the Hebrew and is so rendered in the American Revision) whom Isaiah saw and who speaks. But in Acts xxviii.25-27 there is a reference to this statement of Isaiah's and whereas in Isaiah we are told it is Jehovah who speaks, in the reference in Acts we are told that it was the Holy Spirit who was the speaker. The passage in Acts reads as follows, |And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see and not perceive: For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.| So we see that what is distinctly ascribed to Jehovah in the Old Testament is ascribed to the Holy Spirit in the New: i. e., the Holy Spirit is identified with Jehovah. It is a noteworthy fact that in the Gospel of John, the twelfth chapter and the thirty-ninth to forty-first verses where another reference is made to this passage in Isaiah, this same passage is ascribed to Christ (note carefully the forty-first verse). So in different parts of Scripture, we have the same passage referred to Jehovah, referred to the Holy Spirit, and referred to Jesus Christ. May we not find the explanation of this in the threefold |Holy| of the seraphic cry in Isaiah vi.3, where we read, |And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory.| In this we have a distinct suggestion of the tri-personality of the Jehovah of Hosts, and hence the propriety of the threefold application of the vision. A further suggestion of this tri-personality of Jehovah of Hosts is found in the eighth verse of the chapter where the Lord is represented as saying, |Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?|

Another striking illustration of the application of passages in the New Testament to the Holy Spirit which in the Old Testament distinctly name Jehovah as their subject is found in Ex. xvi.7. Here we read, |And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the LORD; for that He heareth your murmurings against the LORD: and what are we that ye murmur against us?| Here the murmuring of the children of Israel is distinctly said to be against Jehovah. But in Heb. iii.7-9, where this instance is referred to, we read, |Wherefore, as the Holy Ghost saith, To-day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, and in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My works forty years.| The murmurings which Moses in the Book of Exodus says were against Jehovah, we are told in the Epistle to the Hebrews were against the Holy Spirit. This leaves it beyond question that the Holy Spirit occupies the position of Jehovah (or Deity) in the New Testament (cf. also Ps. xcv.8-11).

IV. The name of the Holy Spirit is coupled with that of God in a way it would be impossible for a reverent and thoughtful mind to couple the name of any finite being with that of the Deity.

We have an illustration of this in 1 Cor. xii.4-6, |Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.| Here we find God, and the Lord and the Spirit associated together in a relation of equality that would be shocking to contemplate if the Spirit were a finite being. We have a still more striking illustration of this in Matt. xxviii.19, |Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.| Who, that had grasped the Bible conception of God the Father, would think for a moment of coupling the name of the Holy Spirit with that of the Father in this way if the Holy Spirit were a finite being, even the most exalted of angelic beings? Another striking illustration is found in 2 Cor. xiii.14, |The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.| Can any one ponder these words and catch anything like their real import without seeing clearly that it would be impossible to couple the name of the Holy Spirit with that of God the Father in the way in which it is coupled in this verse unless the Holy Spirit were Himself a Divine Being?

V. The Holy Spirit is called God.

The final and decisive proof of the Deity of the Holy Spirit is found in the fact that He is called God in the New Testament. We read in Acts v.3, 4, |But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? And after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? Why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? Thou hast not lied unto men but unto God.| In the first part of this passage we are told that Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit. When this is further explained, we are told it was not unto men but unto God that he had lied in lying to the Holy Spirit, i. e., the Holy Spirit to whom he lied is called God.

To sum it all up, by the ascription of all the distinctively Divine attributes, and several distinctly Divine works, by referring statements which in the Old Testament clearly name Jehovah, the Lord, or God as their subject to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, by coupling the name of the Holy Spirit with that of God in a way that would be impossible to couple that of any finite being with that of Deity, by plainly calling the Holy Spirit God, in all these unmistakable ways, God in His own Word distinctly proclaims that the Holy Spirit is a Divine Person.

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