© Charles A. Clough 2001
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 6: New Truths of the Kingdom Aristocracy
Chapter 2 – The Earthy Origin of the Church
Lesson 175 – Review of Birth / Life / Death / Resurrection of Christ; Third Person of the Trinity
17 May 2001
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
Tonight we’re going to pretty well stick to the notes on the Third Person of the Trinity. I want to review the four parts that we did on the life of Christ because they figure prominently in the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, and that’s because the Trinity has this structure to it, such that the center of revelation is always the Son. The Father is always the source of things that happen; the Son is the content or His expression, and that’s why in the Trinity it says in the Gospel of John that “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” all things created through the Word. It’s clearly true that John, the apostle, at the point that he is writing that has Genesis 1 in mind. When you look at Genesis 1 and you look at the structure it says “God said” and something happened. “God said” and something happened and “he saw that it was good.” Or “God said,” this happened and it was good that He had made these things. In all that, the Holy Spirit is involved, but the content of what God does is focused in the Word or in His Son.
We’re going to deal in the notes with regeneration, and you can’t talk about that work of the Holy Spirit if you don’t first go back to the Lord Jesus Christ and what He did. So we have to link all this together. That’s why we want to review the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ so we understand if Christ is the greatest and ultimate revelation of God, then, obviously, we ought to spend some time looking at what’s going on.
We talked about the birth of Christ and when we did that we spent a lot of time on what theologians call the hypostatic union, meaning that He is God and He is man. And in some mysterious way, He’s not two people; one person with two natures. Of all the Trinity, He’s the only one of the Trinity that’s like that, and that carries certain implications. We said there are some practical effects of this, one of which is that history has eternal significance. In other words, acts that happen, decisions that are made, events that occur, all these things in history have eternal repercussions, because God who is immutable and eternal now has a body and what is true of the Lord Jesus Christ’s body—He has scars. For all eternity He has scars caused by what? Caused by an event in history. This is not just some scholarly stuff I’m talking about here—it’s very practical, because in the east, in Oriental religion, there’s a trend toward viewing reality as a big dream. It doesn’t really have substance. It’s only in the Bible that history has significance and it has eternal repercussions. All that’s wrapped up in it, but it starts with the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ, as God, took upon Himself human nature, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” He didn’t cease being God.
Then we moved on to the life of Christ, and the point there is that when you deal with the life of Christ, three theology words are describing how Jesus lived, and I want to review these three words because you’ll see this comes up again. You can’t get away from Christ when we start talking about the Holy Spirit. Let’s go through these three words and just review them. One word was the word “kenosis,” and that’s a Bible word, it’s taken from Philippians 2, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who emptied Himself,” etc., that’s the word kenosis. That’s where it comes from, and it’s talking about the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ, from the time He was born until the time He died on the cross, relied, in His humanity, not upon His deity, but He relied in His humanity upon the Holy Spirit. What is the definition and the meaning of the word “kenosis.” It means that Jesus Christ gave up the voluntary use of His divine attributes. You have to be careful of this because the liberals have a false kenosis that says that Jesus Christ gave up His attributes. He did not at any point ever give up any of His divine attributes. He was always God, but the amazing thing was that, for example, when He would be tempted by Satan, as God He could have wiped Satan right off the map, right then, zap and Satan would have been gone. But the Lord Jesus Christ didn’t zap Satan; the Lord Jesus Christ met Satan through His humanity relying upon the Holy Spirit. That has powerful repercussions.
We had a lot of Q&A about these words and I said we’re not through with them, we’re going to come back to those words, and now we’re coming back to them. We can’t get away from this because Jesus Christ is the heart of revelation and these words are descriptions of things that we need to know about this marvelous period in history. So kenosis means that Jesus Christ lived His life by faith, trusting in the trustworthiness of God in the Holy Spirit and therefore Jesus Christ can be looked upon as a pioneer in the Christian way of life. He was, so to speak, the test pilot who pushed the envelope. He demonstrated the filling of the Holy Spirit, He demonstrated what a life of trust looks like, and He was successful, 100% successful in doing it. That’s why He is installed as our judge. The Father has entrusted judgment to the Son, and that’s more than just a little theological note, there’s a reason for that, because in the Trinity … which Person in the Trinity has felt what it means to be a human? The Son. Therefore that’s why the Bible says that God the Father has entrusted judgment to the Son.
When we talk about evaluations and judgments, trials, law, court rooms, that sort of thing, what is the word that you hear used when we say every person has a right to a trial by jury of their peers. What does it mean to have a trial by jury of your peers? Your peers are people who understand you, people who are in your same sphere of life. If you think about it, that’s why God the Father has entrusted judgment to God the Son, because human beings are going to be evaluated by another human being. It’s the Second Person of the Trinity who becomes judge. He’s not just Savior; remember we always said judgment/salvation, judgment/salvation, whoever saves also judges. Whenever God tries to save He also judges, whenever God judges He also saves. You can’t separate those two. So Jesus the Savior is also Jesus the judge, and He’s Jesus the judge because He’s our peer, in the sense that kenosis, Jesus Christ lived His life in reliance upon the Holy Spirit.
We had a more controversial thing, we used the word “impeccability,” and there are two Latin phrases that have been used down in church history. One is posse non peccare, and the other is non posse peccare. The first one says that He is able not to sin; Jesus Christ is able not to sin. But the second term is non posse peccare, He is not able to sin. That kind of freaks people out because it tends to argue, well then how could He be tempted. If you associate the first statement, He is able not to sin, with His humanity and you associate the second statement, He is not able to sin, with His deity, now you’ve got the two statements together. The problem is they’re in one person, so therefore Jesus Christ in His person, it was absolutely certain He would never sin; had He done so, it would have fractured the hypostatic union. It was certain that He would never sin, but the fact that He was human and able not to sin means that He was open to temptation.
That’s the mystery. We don’t understand this. This is tough stuff. All we know is that the word “able” in those two statements is not synonymous. In other words, the verb “able” in “able not to sin” has a different nuance that the verb “able” in “He is not able to sin.” One is handling His humanity; one is handling His deity, so it’s not a contradiction, there’s a different spin on the verb in those two sentences. And it all has to do with the mystery of the hypostatic union. That’s why you can’t separate this stuff; kenosis and impeccability presupposes the hypostatic union.
I review all that because the Holy Spirit, starting at Pentecost, is going to reveal these things, and He’s going to make a deal out of it, why these things are true. The death of Christ, we stressed the substitutionary blood atonement, but you’ll see as we get into the New Testament that something else is also stressed. There’s a mysterious way in which believers are said to have died with Christ, we have been “crucified with Christ.” So we got to revisit that whole area.
Then resurrection, Jesus Christ is glorified and the New Testament says somehow we are already, prior to our resurrection, we are already in some way identified with Christ’s resurrection and ascension, seated with Him in the heavenlies, not in the future; NOW, present tense. So all this is wrapped up, and you’ll notice, it’s all focusing on whom? The Lord Jesus Christ. I make this point, and here’s the bottom line of what I’m saying by way of introduction to the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit’s emphasis is not upon the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s emphasis is upon God the Son. The Holy Spirit’s emphasis is always Christ centered, never Spirit centered. That’s been a source of confusion in church history; it really has. And we still have some absolutely bizarre stuff going on, it’s oh the Holy Spirit did this, and the Holy Spirit did that. The Holy Spirit is in the revealing business, He is in the saving business, He is in the regeneration business, He is in the indwelling business, and usually the people that freak out over all the Holy Spirit stuff, they don’t even know what these words mean and they’re biblical words.
There’s an order to the Trinity. The Third Person elevates and reveres the Second Person, just as the Second Person elevates and reveres His Father. Jesus Christ always deferred to His Father, and the Holy Spirit always defers to Jesus Christ. So let’s make a little practical application here. Who can you detect a genuine work of the Holy Spirit? What is the Holy Spirit doing? He is doing something to reveal the Lord Jesus Christ, so a detection device, or a meter that tells you whether something is of the Holy Spirit or not is what does this something tell us about Jesus Christ and His work? That’s how you tell whether it’s the work of the Holy Spirit, not with this hoopla, people freaking out, laughing like hyenas or whatever they do in Toronto, going through all this stuff. That doesn’t tell me a thing about Jesus Christ. So let’s get it straight, at the core of Christian theology is the Trinity, and you never get away from it. That structure is always there.
In the notes on page 42 we start with the Person of the Holy Spirit. We’re going to go through that and then next week we’ll deal with the first of several works of the Holy Spirit. Last time I introduced the statement by Dr. Chafer, where he facetiously quotes Acts 19:1 and it’s kind of a humorous quote, where the disciples say “We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Spirit,” and Chafer goes on to point out that almost every error or disproportionate emphasis upon some aspect of doctrine on the part of a few is caused by the neglect of that truth on the part of the many. His idea is an appeal for us to understand the biblical doctrine of the Holy Spirit, and if we in the church had done this over the last 300–400 years since the Reformation, things would have been a lot more stable.
First truth, just as we refer to God the Son as begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things are made, you know the creed, so there’s a term that is associated with the Third Person of the Trinity, and it’s called proceeding. That’s not in the Bible in the sense of the way it’s used here, but it is in the Bible in another sense because what do we learn on the day of Pentecost? What did Peter say that Jesus did when He got to the Father’s right hand? He sent the Holy Spirit. That’s what it means, He proceeds. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. You’ll see that in creeds, that’s what it means when you recite the great creeds of Christianity, you’ll see that statement, you may not have appreciated what that statement means, and what these guys… they didn’t just meet at McDonalds for a supper someday and cranked out these creeds; these creeds were thought out and debated, argued about, voted upon, a lot of work went into those great creeds. And this term was put in there for a very interesting reason.
I want you to follow with me through the notes because we’re going to get into some verses but before we get into those verses, I want to take you on a little tour of church history, and I want you to see something about how history in the west unfolded in a certain way in which we still live. We still live in that kind of a history. It all comes by the influence of Christianity in world history. This is not something you’re going to get in school, secular school, because this kind of stuff is all filtered out of the curriculum, except by a few bold and courageous teachers who defy the system and teach in anyway.
“The Holy Spirit ‘proceeds’ from the Father and the Son. Just as the Son is said to be ‘eternally begotten’ of the Father, the Holy Spirit is said to ‘eternally proceed’ from both the Father and the Son.” The Son is said to be begotten of the Father, the Holy Spirit is said to ‘eternally proceed’ from both the Father and the Son. Notice the difference? The Son is not said to be begotten by the Holy Spirit. It says the Son is begotten from the Father only, but when you get to the Holy Spirit, the Third Person, He is said to have proceeded from both the Father and the Son. That may sound like a silly little argument, why do you have to have both, this is hair-splitting, I can’t be bothered with these theological fine points. We’ll see how theologically a fine point this is.
Have you ever heard the expression, “it doesn’t matter one iota?” It’s an idiom. Do you know where that came from? That is a quote from a guy who wrote the history of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Gibbon, he was attacking Christianity, and he coined the term, it doesn’t matter one iota. He got the word from two Greek words that were being debated about the nature of Jesus Christ. One was homoiousion and homoousion, one had an iota in it, one didn’t and the debate was whether Jesus Christ was God, of divine substance, or whether Jesus Christ was of a substance like God. And Gibbon with his cutting, condescending attitude toward these sort of things said well, it doesn’t matter one iota. That’s where that statement came from. Remember that the next time you see something that doesn’t matter one iota. It’s an opportunity to inject “do you know where that came from, it came from a discussion over centuries about the Person of Jesus Christ, have you ever thought about that?” It’s a neat conversational opportunity.
There’s another expression called the Filoque. Those of you who have had Latin - that used to be taught in some schools before sex education and all the other culturally relevant things. Here is the Latin word and suffix tacked on to part of the Latin noun for Filios, which is “Son” and que is “and,” and what it means is “and the Son,” that’s where the word Filoque came from. In church history Filoque refers to a clause in the creeds. We have the Apostle’s Creed, that’s an early creed, nobody knows where it came from, it didn’t come from the apostles, it came from some post-apostolic group. It was an early exposition of the great truths of the Christian faith. But the problem was, it wasn’t definite enough, so you had hair-splitters that came into the church and you had apostates come in, denying this and that, the grease boys, these are the people that would come in and slide around, you know, what does “is” mean, that kind of stuff. And it was done in church history. The Nicene Creed, you can see by comparing it to the Apostles Creed, it’s a bigger creed, it’s got more stuff in it, and it came later. The reason it came later and had more stuff in it was because they had more debates that were going on.
In the second paragraph of the Apostle’s Creed, it says “and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived of the Holy Spirit,” etc. The Nicene Creed, second paragraph, what do they do with the person of Christ. “And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things are made.” Then it starts telling about Jesus Christ and what He did. What difference do you notice between the Nicene Creed and the Apostle’s Creed? A complete exposition and defense of the nature of Jesus Christ. That was an issue then, because if you don’t get the nature of Christ right you will not get the gospel right and salvation right or anything else right.
Compare the third paragraph. The third paragraph of the Apostle’s Creed, “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the holy Catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins.” The third paragraph of the Nicene Creed says, “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life,” see what they’re doing there, they’re doing to the Holy Spirit just what they did to Christ, they’re expositing His nature. “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son,” there’s the Filoque clause where it says “and the Son,” that is the Filoque. It was not in the original Nicene Creed; it was added years later, retroactively to clarify the nature of the Trinity over against the Arians who were debating in the western church. So it’s part of an exposition and defense of the Trinity, and in particular who the Holy Spirit is. If you continue to read that same sentence, right after the Filoque, there’s another clause that tells you the practical impact of the Filoque. In other words, by insisting on the Filoque, “from the Father and the Son,” they then said here’s what it means, “who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified.”
So the Holy Spirit receives adulation as much as the Father and the Son. Does that contradict what I just said before? No, this means that He is fully divine and is to be respected and treated as divine. It’s just that He prefers us to direct our attention to the Son. We worship the Holy Spirit as God, recognizing that He leads us to Christ. That’s His function, that’s His duty.
Page 43 of the notes, we’re going to go through church history. I go through this point just to have you see something that you won’t see. Those of you who have gone to college probably never got this in college, I know I didn’t. I went to college for years and years and never got this. It’s because we live in a secular age in which history is treated as sort of a set of marbles that go nowhere. History is just a sequence of things. Henry Ford actually had the best definition of secular history; he said it was “the sequence of one damn thing after another.” I’ve always laughed at that, but Henry Ford got it right, that’s exactly what it is, if you think of it as just secular nothing, no pattern, no history, not going anywhere, not doing anything, “the sequence of one damn thing after another.” Henry Ford got it right on the nail. We’re going to look at history in a different way.
Now we’re going to see ideas have consequences; good ideas have good consequences and bad ideas have bad consequences and they work themselves out, whether men and women like it or not. Ideas have consequence historically. So let’s follow the notes here.
“It arose in the Western part of Europe (Spain) in the 6th century” the debate over the Filoque, “after a long battle with the heresy of Arianism.” What was Arianism? Arianism was the idea that Jesus Christ was a man, not full deity; He was a man on whom somehow the divine came, that’s one thing in Arianism. But ultimately you can summarize all the variant versions of Arianism by saying this: the Second and Third Persons of the Trinity are totally subordinated to the First Person to the point they are no longer God. The only God in the Trinity as far as Arianism is concerned is the Father. They’re basically the precursors of Unitarians, also of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Jehovah’s Witnesses are actually one of the finest illustrations in the 20th century of Arianism.
“Arianism, of course, was a subordinationist heresy that upheld the deity of the Father but made the Son and the Spirit of sub-divine natures.” Now do you see why the Nicene Creed added that thing, they were fighting these guys. “Arius “distinguished the one eternal God from the Son who was generated by the Father and who had a beginning. He also believed that the Holy Spirit was the first thing created by the Son.” What Arius did is he took the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and put the Creator/creature distinction there. That’s what was going on. Now here’s what happened in history, next paragraph.
“To guard against the subordinationist heresies, the Western Church,” let me go back in history, here you have Europe, Spain comes down here, the Italian boot, the Adriatic, Greece, you have the Black Sea, Turkey, and then North Africa, etc. then Great Britain and Ireland up here. That was back in the days when the Church was one—it was called the Catholic Church. It’s ironic that the word Roman Catholic is opposite, because the word “Catholic” doesn’t mean local, it means universal. So I don’t know how you can have a Roman Catholic Church when you think about it, Rome means one locality and Catholic means all localities. But there was the Catholic Church and all the creeds; if you read a book on church history, the creeds during this era are called the Catholic Creeds. That doesn’t mean the Roman Catholic Creeds, it’s the Catholic Creeds, meaning the whole church got together and ironed these things out, but things got a little hairy.
Rome was here, Constantinople was over here, and the church split, got further and further apart right about here in Europe. Think of a map of Europe, there’s a point of church history that’s very vital to know. This is called the West, this is called the East. And the Eastern Church is represented today in the same tradition by the Greek Orthodox Church. And part of that culture of the Greek Orthodox Church is the Russian Orthodox Church. They’re very close together. In fact, if you study Russian and you look at the Russian script, it actually looks like Greek; it’s a derivative of Greek. It’s ironic that here you have the atheist Soviet Regime utilizing an alphabet that was inscribed with letters that came off the Greek Orthodox Church which was Christian.
So here’s what happened. Over in Spain there was a big fight going on with the Arians, so the churches in this part of Europe got together and they said we’ve got to do something. They went ahead and the injected the Filoque into the Nicene Creed without calling a Catholic conference. So these people in the East got really ticked off that they weren’t brought into the discussion. The reason they weren’t brought into the discussion was that Arianism wasn’t an issue in the East; it was an issue in the West. There was a lot more vibrant conflict going on in the West than in the East, the East was kind of asleep, just kind of dozing off. So when the conflict came it erupted in the Western part of the church.
To return to the paragraph, “To guard against the subordinationist heresies, the Western Church added the Filoque to the Nicene Creed which had been written many years previously. The Eastern Church (Orthodox) resented this addition that was made without calling for a conference of both Western and Eastern churches. Left outside of the vigorous rejection of Arianism in the West, the eastern Orthodox churches did not sharpen their understanding of the Trinity and eventually fell into serious error that led historically to political tyranny in Russia and Eastern Europe.” Think about where communism triumphed. Right on the same crack, the same fracture, the same fissure politically that cut across the European continent was exactly the place of the Iron Curtain. There’s a reason it happened that way. “How this happened is a fascinating illustration of the importance of Bible doctrine in the great affairs of mankind.”
“With a weak and undeveloped concept of the Trinity, the Orthodox churches sought a unifying principle in the Father alone rather than in all three Persons of the Trinity.” I have a quote here by Rushdoony where he says: “ Because of subordinationism, the development of the state was furthered in the East. ... Subordinationism gave primacy to nature, and hence to the natural ability of man. As a result, man becomes in effect his own savior,” you see, if you cut the Son out and the Holy Spirit out and you get the Father, what was the function of the Son and the Holy Spirit in a balanced idea of the Trinity? What is the Son? He is the revelation of the Father. And what does the Holy Spirit do? He reveals the Son. So if you subordinate all this, you keep the Father in name, but in substance you don’t know anything about Him, the Father becomes an unknown remote distant God. He’s not close anymore because the part of the Trinity that keeps Him close has been submerged.
So this is what this heresy is all about. So you have this (quote) “respect” for this transcendent God up here, the Father, but it’s not an intimate relationship anymore. And into the vacuum that’s created by the lack of intimacy and the lack of approachability to God comes a substitute, and the substitute for the Son, who is going to be, by the way, the King of the Kingdom of God, comes the state, or man corporate. So where this is weak historically, what happened in the East was that the state and secular leaders became all powerful.
To continue, “In other words denial of the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Son shows that the Son is not ‘God enough’ to send the Spirit, i.e., the Son is no longer the God-Man of the New Testament. And this weak Christ view led historically to acceptance of tyrannical political powers by eastern European culture. To this day, for example, the Russian people who grew up in a culture saturated with Orthodox theology (the Russian Orthodox church is the only “true” church in their eyes) simply cannot find the strength to stand up to political abuse and tyranny.”
We forget that our freedoms didn’t come from Thomas Paine or some other atheist idiot. They came out of the Word of God. The point is, and that’s another story about the Reformation, but right here we’re talking just about the Trinity, in the Trinity if you have the Father who is revealed in the Son, and the Holy Spirit who generates the Word of God so you have the Bible and the Bible, because the Holy Spirit indwells believers, can be interpreted by any person who reads the Scripture. Every believer is a priest; every believer has the right to come to God directly, not through some intermediary system. And the result of this whole emphasis in the West was that it cuts political power down to size, because political tyranny grows when you have a passive group of population, when people don’t stand up.
This is why today there’s a real debate behind the Second Amendment. It has nothing to do with hand guns; the reason why we have the Second Amendment in the United States Constitution is because it was put into the Constitution by a generation of people who had learned what lesson? What happened in Concord, what happened at Lexington? People got their guns and said enough is enough of this, out of here. It’s scary to think about, but when you have a corrupt government it has the right to be overthrown. That’s scary talk, but that’s the whole thinking behind this. And what’s the basis for that? The basis for that is that individual citizens, individual people, if they can come to God without an organization they have dignity, they have worth, they have self-worth and they cannot be denied, and they cannot be crushed and abused by a group of people who have assumed that they are tyrannical powers to be. So a weak Christ generates a strong tyranny. A strong Christ reveals to people, who can make decisions, before that limits political power.
The tragedy is that in countries like Russia and eastern Germany …, remember there was a German girl in the church, her dad was a western German businessman, the iron curtain came down and the Berlin Wall came down, and West Germany was saddled with hundreds and millions of people from East Germany. We were talking to her one day and we said what does your dad think about what’s going on, because they were trying to introduce the capitalists type economy in eastern Germany and they had lived under communism for so long. We said what’s your dad think about this? And she said my dad says that it’s like dealing with six-year olds, there was no maturity, these people couldn’t come into a store and price anything, because you see, when you go into a store you make the decision about the value of what you buy and what you don’t buy. These poor people, it was the government that decided what the value was. They had never exercised that part of their soul that recognizes value and independently evaluates reality. Everything was given to them, handed to them, and to this day in the Soviet Union, Russia, there’s the same problem.
Russian people find it very difficult to say no, to stand up and say no, because even before communism, who ruled Russia? The czars—and it was the same thing, same tyranny, different name. You never had the same thing that you’ve got in America and England, for example. You never had rights defined in writing. You see, the Magna Charta, the United States Constitution, parliamentary law is actually a secular analogue to this. It is the desire of a group of people to say look, let’s put it down in writing and we all agree to these central principles, and we will be ruled by these central principles. Because if you don’t do that all you’ve got is a subjective thing, everybody and anybody’s interpretation from day to day, what the court said yesterday at 7:30.
All this comes out of the fact that in the West you have a strong Trinity; in the East it was never clarified in the heat of controversy.
The next statement, “The Holy Spirit is a Full-Fledged Member of the Trinity.” Obviously we can’t go through those verses; I’ve put them all there so you can go through them. He is both a Person and God. First, He is revealed to be as much of a “person” as the Father and the Son.” Now people often don’t see that, because what they do is they argue that the word “Spirit” in the Greek is a noun that is neuter and should often have the pronoun “it.” And it is, often times the pronoun to the word pneuma is “it.” So just by virtue of it being a neuter noun, and with the pronoun “it,” it sounds like the Holy Spirit is a force, “may the Force be with you,” that kind of thing. That’s not true, that’s what we’re getting at here. If you look at those verses, have time to read them, you’ll see that the Bible ascribes a mind to the Holy Spirit, He has a mind of His own. He teaches men, “it” doesn’t teach. He has sensibility toward other persons, Ephesians 4:30 says we can grieve the Holy Spirit. You can’t grieve the force of gravity, you grieve a person. And He has a will of His own, He gives spiritual gifts to believers, every person has a spiritual gift, you have a gift, He has given a gift according to His choice. He builds the church. He commands people in Acts 8:29, the Holy Spirit said, the Holy Spirit commanded. He guides people, Romans 8:14, He argues for the truth with them, it says in John 16:7–8 when He comes He will convince the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. He is sometimes lied to—Acts 5:3, Ananias and Sapphira, you lied to the Holy Spirit. You don’t lie to a force, you lie to a person. He prays, Romans 8:26.
Let’s go to Romans 8:26. We could spend hours going through these great areas of the Holy Spirit. There’s a neat little phrase here, one of these little blessing verses. “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings” and my translation says “too deep for words.” Actually that’s not such a sweet translation, because if you look at the background of the word here, the Holy Spirit makes intercession for you and for me, it says in the King James “with groanings that cannot be uttered,” but the sense of it isn’t that necessarily it’s so omniscient language, so big, so deep, so hairy, that we can’t understand it.
There’s another sense to this praying. The sense of the phrase is that it’s secure communication. If you’ve been in the military you know that there are phases of security, and one of the big things in the military is called OpSec, Operational Security. So when you’re operating you have codes. Security is important, obviously. So here’s a picture. The idea is, here’s earth, here we are, saints, indwelling is the indwelling Holy Spirit. In the context of Rom. 8 we have our weaknesses, and the picture here is that the Holy Spirit, from inside us, makes intercession up to the throne. And He does it on a secure link, so we have no idea what He’s praying, nor does Satan. [blank spot]
… stop it, because you see, Satan can’t figure it out. That’s why he has to sit and wait and he’s always kind of late, because he’s always in a reactive mode to some initiative that God has done. And God pulls it off because the Holy Spirit who indwells every believer is making intercession here, whether you or I pray, He is. And He’s in full touch with it. That’s why it says in verse 27, “He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the spirit is, because He intercedes for us according to the will of God [His purpose].” His perfect prayers. And then there’s Rom. 8:28. But the interesting background is what the Holy Spirit is doing, He is interceding, He is making prayer requests for us. It’s very humbling and very caring. It’s a picture of the intimacy of God.
The next paragraph is where I address this issue that some have said the Holy Spirit is not a person because the Greek word for “spirit” is a neuter. That’s not true all the time. They fail to recognize that although the noun is neuter, when it is used by New Testament authors of the Holy Spirit it sometimes is accompanied by pronouns in the masculine, and the point is, it’s a violation of Greek grammar. You don’t have a masculine pronoun modifying a neuter noun. But they deliberately do it in the New Testament. So if they deliberately violate the normal way of speaking, what does that tell you? It tells you they mean to make a point, that they actually have to break a rule of normal language to communicate something they’re trying to communicate.
Now, why do you suppose, in the providence of God, the Holy Spirit is a neuter noun, it turns out the word “spirit” is neuter. Here’s what I think, it’s just a speculation. I think that is revelatory itself of the fact the Holy Spirit wants to stay in the background and not subtract from the glory of Christ. So he, so to speak, takes a back seat, even in the way … who, by the way, selected the words of the Bible? It was the Holy Spirit. So when the Holy Spirit superintended the revelation, He worked it out through the language, that titles of Himself would be not in any way taking away attention from Jesus Christ.
Bottom of page 44, “The Holy Spirit is a true Person as much as the Father and Son are, is vital to the Christian life. As we shall note below, He indwells each believer during the Church Age moment by moment here on earth, watching our every thought, word, and deed! We either offend Him or please Him as the “on-scene” Director of our lives.” Because where’s Christ? He’s at the Father’s right hand. Who’s the “on-scene” director? It’s the Holy Spirit. “The doctrine of His personhood, therefore, is not a trivial matter for academic theologians! It puts us on the front lines of our relationship with God Himself.”
On page 45 the deity of the Holy Spirit. We talked about Him being a person, now we want to show that He is deity. “The Bible consistently ascribes to the Holy Spirit work that only God Himself can do. He did the creating work in Genesis 1 and the providential sustaining of creation thereafter,” He holds the whole thing together. [Genesis 1:2; Job 26:13; 27:3; Psalm 33:6; 104:30.] “He created the Scripture (2 Peter 1:21). He caused the Incarnation in Mary’s womb (Luke 1:35). He fulfills the same role of Comforter that Jesus did prior to His death (John 14:16),” remember Jesus said I will send you another Comforter. “In the New Testament He “replaces” Yahweh in Old Testament citations (Acts 28:25 cf. Isaiah 6:1-13; Hebrews 10:15-17 cf., Jeremiah 31:31-34).”
I want you to see this, we’re going to turn to Hebrews 10 and Jeremiah 31, because remember how we showed the deity of Jesus by showing how He is substituted for Yahweh in the Old Testament. When the New Testament authors quote the Old Testament and they quote a passage that describes something God does, but they replace Him in their quote with the Holy Spirit or with Jesus, what have they said? They’ve said that they must be God. I mean, these guys are Jewish monotheists, come on. Why are they doing this?
Hebrews 10:15 and Jeremiah 31:31, from whence it was quoted. Look first in Jeremiah, it says, “‘Behold, days are coming,’” and who’s the speaker? It’s Yahweh, Jehovah, “‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,  not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, …” Verse 33, “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ declares the LORD, I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’” See, the whole point here is God is speaking the New Covenant into existence.
Now flip over to Hebrews 10, verse 16 is the quote, but who says it in verse 15? [“And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; after saying,”] See, there’s the substitution happening. In the Old Testament the quote is attributed to Jehovah. In the New Testament, same quote, now it’s attributed to the Holy Spirit. Conclusion: The Holy Spirit is Jehovah; therefore the Holy Spirit is God. These aren’t accidents.
Of course, we’d be remiss not to point out Matthew 28:19, the Great Commission, where it says go forth, “baptizing all nations in the name,” names, plural or the name singular? It’s “the name,” singular, “of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” That is a gospel announcement that clearly, clearly is attributing deity to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. And that’s not the Nicene Creed, that’s not the Church in Toledo, Spain six centuries later, that’s Matthew. Matthew is saying what Jesus told him, so we didn’t have to wait 500 years for the church to figure it out; it’s right back here in the original text. You can argue with it and say it’s wrong, but don’t say that it’s something added to the New Testament. It’s right there in the New Testament. Here in the very center of the Great Commission is the three-fold name of God that includes the Holy Spirit.
The Bible reveals the Holy Spirit has divine attributes. He is omniscient in 1 Corinthians 2, He’s omnipresent in Psalm 139, He’s omnipotent in Job 33, and He’s holy in Luke 11. All of this is to say that you can show the deity of the Holy Spirit by showing He has divine attributes, you show the deity of the Holy Spirit by the law of substitution, the same way we operated with the Lord Jesus Christ. We showed that Jesus Christ was God because He did the things only God could do, He has the attributes only God can have, and He is substituted in Old Testament citations; same thing here, the exact same logic of proof.
What have we said about the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is God, the Holy Spirit is a Person, He’s not a force, He’s a Person, and obviously we have a personal relationship with a Person. So one of the things we want to conclude with before we go into the work of the Holy Spirit is after we understand who the Holy Spirit is, then we understand the Trinity. The Trinity falls out, or comes out of a study of who the Father is, who the Son is, and who the Holy Spirit is. And the Trinity is an automatic conclusion; it’s not something the Church added here.
I want to start on page 45 to introduce you to “The Work of the Holy Spirit. Since we’re discussing the doctrine of the Holy Spirit in connection with Pentecost, we need to focus on His work from Pentecost to the present day.” Underline that in the notes because I am not giving you a full orbed exposition the work of the Holy Spirit; I am not doing that - that would be a subject of the doctrine of pneumatology, we’re not doing that. The framework class isn’t a substitute for a theology course. All I’m doing is I’m going to focus on what the Holy Spirit is doing from Pentecost to our present day. We’re just going to focus on part of what the Holy Spirit does, because we want to see things that are unique to this dispensation. We want to see what is true of us as New Testament believers over against what was true of Old Testament believers, so that we have perspective on our work.
Turn to John 14:17. Here’s a passage where two prepositions explain the difference. Remember that prepositions are the parts of speech that deal with relationships and it’s one of the evidences of God’s design and our being made in God’s image, that we can’t use language if we don’t have already established categories of existence, directions, etc. There’s a diagram that every Greek student learns, and I’ll just draw parts of this because it’s true of the English language as well as Greek. When they teach you prepositions in Greek they draw this circle. I’ll use the English equivalent. They tell you here’s the preposition “in”, here’s the preposition “into,” here’s the preposition “out of,” or exit. Here’s the preposition “next.” Here’s “above.” Here’s “below.” See the point. All these things are connecting relationships as a structure here.
In John 14:17 we have an instance where you want to be careful and observe the details of how the text reads. “That is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you,” what’s the tense of the verb? Present. Present to when? Prior to Pentecost, or after Pentecost? When is John 14 occurring? It’s in the upper room; Jesus hasn’t died yet, so this is pre-Pentecost. So it’s saying that the Holy Spirit’s relationship to believers prior to Pentecost was He was “with” them, and Jesus says, He “will,” future, after Pentecost, He “will be in you.” Different preposition, different relationship. That shift from the Holy Spirit being “with” believers to “in” believers is what we want to focus on. What difference does that make? What is going on here? These people were saved; we know from Paul’s discussion that they were saved by faith, they trusted, and they were not saved by works. The Holy Spirit revealed the gospel to them; the Holy Spirit reveals the gospel to us. The Holy Spirit held creation together before Pentecost; the Holy Spirit holds creation together after Pentecost.
In the notes I’ve tried to get at the difference between what was going on in believer’s life, we’re not worried about the world here, we’re not worried about unbelievers, we’re worrying about believers. What did the Holy Spirit do in the Old Testament with believers versus what is the Holy Spirit doing now, this side of Pentecost in the Church Age.