God the Spirit: The Forgotten God

We’ve been exploring the doctrine of the Trinity for the past several newsletters. The Scriptures present to us a God who is one in essence, yet three in persons. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the one, eternal God, and are equal in power and glory. We’ve looked at the first two persons of the Trinity, and now we look to the third person of the Trinity: Holy Spirit.

Scripture teaches us that the Holy Spirit is a person. Some teach that the Spirit of God is some sort of impersonal force or power that emanates from God but is not a divine person. Our Jehovah’s Witness friends, for example, describe the Holy Spirit as God’s power in action. The Spirit is not a separate person, nor is the Spirit divine, but is an extension of God that goes out into the world. The Bible, however, does not present the Holy Spirit as an impersonal force, but as a person. Our Lord Jesus Christ told His disciples that He would send “the Helper, the Holy Spirit” to them after Jesus’ departure (John 14:16). Jesus promises to send, not help, but the Helper. He promises to send, not something, but someone. The Spirit is a He, not an It. The Spirit may be grieved (Epheisans 4:30). In reference to the exercise of His will, the Holy Spirit can be quenched (1 Thessalonians 5:19). All of this points us to the fact that the Spirit is a person, not a thing.

The Spirit is not only a person, though. He is a divine person. He is a person that shares in the divinity of the Godhead. He was at the creation of the world, “hovering over the waters” (Genesis 1:2). He is the One through whom we are re-created (Romans 8:11). Further, He is included in the divine triad along with Father and the Son in places like Paul’s benediction in 2 Corinthians 13:14 and in the baptism formula that Jesus gave to us in Matthew 28:19. This points us to the fact that the Holy Spirit is God; He is a divine person.

What does this mean for us? Why does it matter to us that the Holy Spirit is God? I think the words of the Nicene Creed help us to see how to apply this truth: “And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified…” If the Holy Spirit is God, if He is a fully divine person as the Scriptures indicate, He must be worshipped and glorified. Not many Christians think about worshipping God the Holy Spirit. They worship the Father and the Son, but rarely do they sing to, pray to, and glorify the Holy Spirit. For this reason, one author has called the Holy Spirit “the forgotten God.” But if the Spirit is truly God, then He must truly be worshipped alongside the Father and the Son. He is as much worthy of our praise as they. 

Remember this next time you come to worship. Pray to Spirit. Ask Him to move among us, to revive our hearts, and to lead us into all truth, and lift your soul in praise to Him as the Lord and Giver of Life.

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