The concept of the Holy Spirit as a self-conscious individual, a human entity inhabiting the earth; that idea gives me trouble. I expressed that in my previous post “Holy Spirit as Person.” Maybe the confusion that I have is just mine alone. Pastor Billy Graham in his book The Holy Spirit says the Holy Spirit is a person and furnishes several examples of human-like traits to support his assertion.
At the end of his discussion of the Holy Spirit as person, he has a single sentence that helps me with the Holy Spirit being a person. “He is a person. He is divine as well.”
That is when I can come aboard.
Here is evidence of divinity. The Spirit is eternal which means that there was never a time when He was not. One can reference Genesis 1 verse 2 and read “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” The Holy Spirit was, is and always will be and His presence is found throughout God’s word.
It is found in Luke 1:35 where we find He is all-powerful. Indeed we find that His power overshadows all of us.
We learn He is omnipresent in Psalms 139:7: “Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee Thy presence?” Short answer: you can’t flee the Holy Spirit.
He is omniscient in 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 where we learn that God is revealed through His knowledge of the thinking of man. The Spirit knows how man thinks: “Who among men knows the thoughts of man except the spirit of man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.”
He is creator in Genesis and in other places in our Bible like Colossians 1 where Paul writes “For in Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”
Lastly, He is God. “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord are being changed into His likeness from one degree of glory to another, for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” [2 Corinthians 3:18].
In my church and in many churches the Apostles Creed is recited and the Holy Spirit seems to be on par with God and Jesus. “I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ his only son our Lord: who was conceived by the Holy Spirit.” Later in the Creed, we say “I believe in the Holy Spirit” reciting a belief statement very similar to God and Jesus.
Now the idea of the Holy Spirit gets even more confusing for many because now the Holy Spirit is on par with God and Jesus. How could that be? This idea is called ontological equality, meaning the Father, Son and Spirit are equal in value, although separate in function.
The Holy Spirit now is one of three parts of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Bible declares that there is only one living God, yet we learn from scripture and from Pastor Graham that He comprises three separate personages.
From the “All About God” Website one can read common explanations that may help us conceptualize this difficult idea: “One way to partially visualize this concept is to examine the nature of water (H2O). Water is a single compound that can exist in three states – liquid, ice and vapor. An egg is another picture. It is comprised of the white, the yoke and the shell, yet it is still one egg. Of course, by no means do these examples paint a complete picture of our God, but they are illustrative of the fact that His three “persons” in no way invalidate His oneness.”
Pastor Billy Graham has begun his book The Holy Spirit right where he should. Chapter 1 deals with “Who is the Holy Spirit?”. He explains that the Holy Spirit is a person, the Holy Spirit is divine and I have tried to explain that divinity is an attribute that I can accept in my understanding. I have tried to establish the idea that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are the one and same, which will lead to a discussion of the idea of Trinity, but before we go forward, let me go back.
Writing on St. John Studies is something I do because I like writing but it is also something I do because I learn as I write. Maybe my confusion about Holy Spirit as person is a little less confusing if I think about the impact of the Holy Spirit on me.
Maybe as I learn to let the Holy Spirit lead me, guide me, comfort me and transform me, I can claim the Holy Spirit as a major force in my life. Maybe, just maybe the Holy Spirit can be a person.
And that person can be me…