With regard to Jesus’ statement in John 17:3 about eternal life consisting in knowing the Father and the Son, evidently Jesus did not expect his followers to understand that the Holy Spirit was a distinct divine person until he came into their lives in a transforming way after Jesus’ resurrection (at Pentecost). Saying the Holy Spirit is God is confusing to my mind at least. Arians like Jehovah's Witnesses and Christadelphians, for example, call the Holy Spirit "God's active force", "energy", "like electricity". Holy Spirit, in Christian belief, the third person of the Trinity. The idea that the Holy Spirit is an impersonal active force that emanates from Jehovah God, like an energy source comparable to electricity, may sound simple enough, but it is not. Guidelines for use of articles  |   Site Map    |    Contact Us   |    My Account, Why Christianity Is True but Mormonism Is Not, Gospel Principles Study Guide - Main Page, ©2020 Institute for Religious Research. Yet it is not true that the Holy Spirit is always “missing” or “absent” in such visionary experiences. The arguments typically overlook possible explanations for why the author is “silent” about the particular matter at hand.12. The best example of such a farewell discourse in the Old Testament is the Book of Deuteronomy, in which Moses informed Israel that they were about to enter the land and that he would not be able to enter it with them. These are attributes of a person (in this case, a divine Person), not of a mere force. Of the many works that discuss this point, a noteworthy study is John Carlson Stube, A Graeco-Roman Rhetorical Reading of the Farewell Discourse, Library of Biblical Studies (London: T & T Clark, 2006). By God I understand we are talking either about the Father (most often) or Jesus Christ God’s Son. Emotions2. [Blurb on page 22] “On the whole, the New Testament, like the Old, speaks of the spirit as a divine energy or power. “The Holy Spirit: But according to the Book of Mormon, as well as other Scripture, there is also a Holy Spirit, sometimes called the Holy Ghost, which is not a person, but rather a divine essence, a force, or fluid–for want of a better term–which permeates all that exists,” (John A. Widtsoe and Franklin S. Harris, Jr., Seven Claims of the Book of Mormon, pp. We can clearly see that the Holy Spirit is not simply a force, but the third divine Person of the Godhead. 1660). What if the Holy Spirit is not a Force, but a Person? Consider, for example, the vision that Stephen had just before he was killed, which the Watchtower claims is an example of the missing Holy Spirit: But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. Those who challenge the idea that the Holy Spirit is God suggest that the Holy Spirit may simply be an impersonal force of some kind, a source of power controlled by God but not fully a person Himself. Have you beg God to ‘show up’ or ‘come’ The Holy Spirit lives in you (John 14:17, 1 John 3:24, Rom. It is not a person but is a powerful force that God causes to emanate from himself to accomplish his holy will ( Reasoning from the Scriptures 1985, 81). The question implies that the holy spirit is never spoken of as an impersonal, active force. The following verses demonstrate that the Holy Spirit is indeed personal –after all, he knows, wills, speaks, teaches, intercedes, and has a mind. Jehovah’s Witnesses describe “holy spirit” as an “energy”: Just as wind is invisible but exerts force, so the immaterial, impersonal holy spirit is unseen but produces effects. Summary: The Watchtower Society teaches that the Holy Spirit is not a divine person existing eternally with the Father and the Son but is instead an impersonal, active force emanating from Jehovah God when he employs his power or energy toward the world. There are less than a hundred references to the Spirit in the whole Old Testament, whereas in the much shorter New Testament there are roughly 270 references to the Spirit. And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? However he does exercise will just as they do, and this attribute shows him to be God just as they are. Others suggest that perhaps the Holy Spirit is just another name for Jesus, in spirit … Etymology. 157-158). People “drink” from the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. Learn More ‎. The Holy Spirit and Power. You can not possibly overcome sin without His power. Is not the Father God different to God the Holy Spirit? Before we compare the Holy Spirit and the Force, we need need address four thing. Should we describe the Spirit of God as a person, or simply as a force? A: The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit has all the attributes of personality and is not merely an impersonal force. Rather, the point is to show Jehovah’s Witnesses that all doctrines of the Holy Spirit are going to have some rational difficulties. We can deduce this from Acts 5:3-4, where it reads as follow: But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? This spirit is energy from God projected and exerted on people or things to accomplish his will.4, It is God’s active force, not Jehovah’s power residing within himself, but his energy when projected out from himself for the accomplishing of his purposes.5. In this video devo Dennis Pollock teaches that the Holy Spirit is a Person, not a force or mere power, such as electricity or battery power. All rights reserved. The Holy Spirit is God. The word translated here as “Advocate” (also in the NIV, NLT, NRSV, etc. Without question, the Holy Spirit is the “one Spirit” about Whom we read in Ephesians 4:4. This is exactly what we should expect once we understand the role of the Holy Spirit in divine revelation. The Jehovah of the Watchtower is a remote deity that did not make the world himself and is not immanently involved in its history and redemption. Follow. We see Jesus’ teaching about the coming of the Holy Spirit fulfilled in the Book of Acts. 9. Welcome to our series about The Core 24! Use of Site Subject to your agreement to our Privacy Policy. He is considered to be the third member of the Godhead. The Gospels report Jesus saying very little about the Holy Spirit until the night before he was killed, and then Jesus spoke at length about the Holy Spirit (in John 14–16). A Guide to Experiencing More of God. The Holy Spirit cannot be pumped and scooped. The Holy Spirit is not like “the force” in Star Wars. We are not asking if He is a human being – we know that the Holy Spirit is not a human and does not take on the form of a man. God pours out his holy spirit over the earth onto his servants. The Holy Spirit is God. For an overview, see our article on what Jehovah’s Witnesses believe. However, this idea needs to be related in some way to the Watchtower’s doctrine that Jehovah God is not omnipresent being but rather has a spirit body and is located somewhere. The Holy Spirit is God. The way that this all takes place is through the silent working of the Holy Spirit on our hearts and our minds. It is created to help you know Jesus and get a great eternal reward from God Almighty. Rather, it indicates that he is more than personal; in some ways he transcends personhood as we observe and experience it in the natural realm. It may be a gentle force, or it may be a strong force. Join our Cause. These arguments are notoriously unreliable because speakers and authors rarely tell us everything they know. Support Michael's mission work here - paypal link. Why not, if the holy spirit is equal to the Father and the Son in glory, power, etc.? Romans 8:16 – “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:” Hebrews 10:15 – “Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,” 1 John 5:6-8 – “This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. We saw in a previous article that the Jehovah’s Witnesses view of Jesus Christ makes God remote and uninvolved in his creation because they think that Christ does virtually everything in creation and redemption as God’s agent. Will4. Although Jesus spoke about the Holy Spirit during his public ministry (e.g., Mark 3:29; Luke 12:10, 12), he waited until the Last Supper to speak in explicit terms about the Holy Spirit as someone distinct from himself and the Father. In Romans 8, Paul describes how the Holy Spirit intercedes (or prays) for believers.He says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. The vast majority of places where the word “spirit” is used it is portrayed as simply a force, God’s power. This belief allows us to start a conversation about the Holy Spirit and God. 13. One of the topics we discussed while standing on the front porch was the Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us that all the characteristics of God apparent in the Father and the Son are equally apparent in the Holy Spirit. 12:29). You can not know Jesus without Him. 4 While it remained, was it not your own? The Holy Spirit is a person, not an impersonal force. Etymology. He is the very power of God. This is all stuff that can't be true of a mere (or even 'The') Force. The word spirit is rendered as רוּחַ (ruach) in Hebrew-language parts of the Old Testament. The Son “testifies” (13:21); the Holy Spirit “testifies” to the Son (15:26). Jehovah’s Witnesses and certain other groups, such the Iglesia ni Cristo, claim that the Holy Spirit is not a Person but merely a force (for example, “the power of God”). The holy spirit is God’s active force that he uses to accomplish his will.... To a certain extent, it can be likened to electricity.” 1 The Jehovah’s Witness sees the Holy Spirit as an impersonal force. Most likely, the Old Testament did not speak clearly about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as distinct persons because its focus was on teaching Israel to believe in and worship the one God who made and rules the world, a notion that cut across the grain of their polytheistic civilization. But, when we start on page one of the Bible, before creation ever even began, we see a depiction of the spirit of God hovering over the dark, disordered waters of … The Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth. Speaking of this in advance, in John 14-16, Jesus affirms that the Spirit will guide His disciples in truth, that He will serv… You have not lied to men but to God.”. 7. In Jehovah’s Witness theology, the “energy” that functions as God’s active force is apparently part of God’s own being, since the Watchtower has repeatedly said it is God’s energy. The word spirit (from the Latin spiritus meaning "breath") appears either alone or with other words in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and the New Testament.Combinations include expressions such as the "Holy Spirit", "Spirit of God", and in Christianity, "Spirit of Christ".. The Holy Spirit also came to give us power. The Holy Spirit will only get into the world (via) indwelling your life. Christian Bible Confessions and Praying the Word. He is a person of the God-head. The Greek word paraklētos was a personal noun that generally referred to someone who advocated or interceded for a person in need by testifying on that needy person’s behalf, either in a legal setting or more broadly by approaching a wealthy or powerful patron whose help was needed.8 Jesus refers to the Spirit as “another Advocate,” implicitly referring to himself as an Advocate (as in 1 John 2:1) whose place will be taken by this second Advocate. The personhood of the Spirit is also established by the fact that you can treat the Spirit as a person (pray to him, quench the Spirit, bless the Spirit), and the Spirit performs acts proper to personality—He speaks, commands, strives, to name a few examples. You cannot lie to a "force". Does this mean that the energy is in God’s spirit body or composes his spirit body? To Be or not To Be: Why Existence Is Good. This article is one of a series of articles explaining in detail the doctrines of Jehovah’s Witnesses and showing why those teachings are not in harmony with the facts and teachings of the Bible. He is God, we are His temple, and we ought to give ourselves to Him because Christ has purchased us with His blood for that purpose. He is filling Stephen in order to produce the vision of Jesus at the right hand of the glory of God. Paul also called Christ “the power of God” (1 Cor. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14). Some churches say "Don't worry about the Holy Spirit. His will is, of course, in complete unity with that of the Father and the Son. How can this be the right approach if the Holy Spirit if GOD and if He dwells within us. Not the Father surely? 8. Misrepresented Spirit? Antony Billington, “The Paraclete and Mission in the Fourth Gospel,” in Mission and Meaning: Essays Presented to Peter Cotterell, ed. The Watchtower famously compares holy spirit specifically to electricity: The holy spirit has been likened to wind. And that simply is not true. In this same context, Jesus made it clear that he did not expect his disciples to grasp fully what he was saying until the Holy Spirit came to be their new Advocate (John 14:25-26; 16:13-14). There are a large number of both non-Christians and Christians who believe The Force is like the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit in the Trinity You won’t find the actual word “Trinity” in the Bible . 3 The Holy Spirit Feels Emotion "...do not grieve the Holy Spirit" (Ephesians 4:30). The Holy Spirit is not a force to wield or a mystery to be dissected, but a person to be received, known, and enjoyed. 3:19; 4:10). This may help explain why Jesus did not refer to the Holy Spirit in John 17:3. He is a person equal in every way with God the Father and God the Son. This role suggests that at least part of the reason why the person of the Holy Spirit may not seem as clearly revealed in the Bible is that he seeks to draw attention to the Son rather than to himself. 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 says, “No one knows the mind of God except the Spirit of God who searches all things.” He has feelings. The clear point here is that the Spirit is someone—a divine person other than Jesus who will come in Jesus’ place. The Holy Spirit is not a vague, ethereal shadow, nor an impersonal force. Like most critics of the doctrine of the Trinity, Jehovah’s Witnesses frequently employ arguments from silence against the idea of the Holy Spirit as a divine person. When this “holy spirit” energy comes from God to people on earth, does it leave his spirit body? The Bible gives us a clear picture of who He is: He’s intelligent and has an intellect. Jesus’ point here was that the Holy Spirit’s role in redemption during this period in history was to be focused on glorifying the Son in order that people might put their trust in what he did for them in his death and resurrection. The Jehovah Witnesses believe and teach this. When this energy enters into a human being, who is in control of that energy—Jehovah or the human being? This is a vitally important concept. 32:15; 44:3; Ezek. The Son did not speak or act “on his own” (5:19; 7:18); the Holy Spirit would also not speak “on his own” (16:13). Does Jehovah have an infinite supply of this energy in his localized spirit body? 12:13), he said that the ancient Israelites “drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 5. The Holy Spirit is God, not a Force. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Such language, which of course is figurative, does not mean that the Holy Spirit is less than personal. The reverse should be true. Reducing the Holy Spirit to an impersonal force that God transmits from heaven away from himself to produce desired effects from a distance has the same consequence. He is giving us himself. Additional objections to the personhood of the Holy Spirit are addressed in a group of articles entitled “Bad Arguments against the Personhood of the Holy Spirit” on IRR’s website: http://bib.irr.org/category/holy-spirit. Obviously the Bible makes the Holy Spirit equal to God. Several examples of arguments from silence concerning the Holy Spirit are examined in Robert M. Bowman Jr., “Arguments from Silence: Bad Arguments against the Personhood of the Holy Spirit #2” (IRR, 2014). Especially noteworthy here is that the Spirit speaks in the first person when he says, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (13:2; see also 10:20). But the Bible here equates lying to the Holy Spirit with lying to God. I can understand that the Holy Spirit comes from God as Scripture often says and can be viewed as God’s own Spirit that also is often mentioned in Scripture. Jesus goes on in the Upper Room Discourse to speak about the Holy Spirit in ways closely paralleling what the Gospel of John says about Jesus. Deduce the Holy Spirit is God? ; see also 1 John 2:1 in most English versions) is also translated in other versions as “Comforter” (KJV) or “Helper” (ESV, NASB). Most of these arguments appeal to the lack of any mention of the Holy Spirit in various places in the Bible as evidence that he is not a divine person. Gian Lorenzo Bernini, The Holy Spirit as a Dove, Saint Peter’s Basilica, Rome (ca. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55-56 ESV). Pray for those you love. Copyright (C) 2000-2018 Michael Fackerell. Throughout the Book of Acts, the Holy Spirit is presented as an active, personal participant in the ministry of the apostles and their associates, directing the mission, calling people into service, and guiding the apostles’ decision making (see especially 15:28; 16:6-7; 20:28).9, Seemingly Impersonal Descriptions of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not a vague, ethereal life force. 3. The point here is not that such reasonable questions disprove the Watchtower doctrine. Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? The Holy Spirit is a person, a He. He is a person equal in every way with God the Father and God the Son. The Holy Spirit does give us many marvellous experiences, but He Himself is not merely an experience. Now, the Holy Spirit is not a force to be wielded any which way because He is … It should be very obvious that the Holy Spirit has self-identity, is aware, and is not merely a force because a force doesn’t speak, love, grieve, and have a mind. Learn why you should. The Holy Spirit came to Jesus’ disciples after Christ left the earth, as recorded in Acts 2. In fact, the Old Testament has relatively little to say about the Spirit as compared to the New Testament. You cannot lie to electricity, or to a fire. The “Spirit” is the Spirit – God the Holy Spirit. On that occasion, the night before his death, Jesus spoke at length to his disciples in a speech found in John 13-17 that scholars describe as his “farewell discourse.”7 In such a discourse, the speaker gathers with those he is about to leave behind, explaining that he is about to leave them, exhorting them to continue following his instructions and example, and offering them assurances about their future after his departure. In the Bible, the word “spirit” is translated from the Hebrew word ruʹach and the Greek word pneuʹma.Most often, those words refer to God’s active force, or holy spirit. The consistent role of the Holy Spirit in biblical teaching is to work in hidden or invisible ways, usually within the minds or hearts of human beings. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Unitarians invariably point out that in the New Testament the Holy Spirit is described as acting like wind, water, breath, or other impersonal substances or forces of nature. Intellect3. Yes, the Spirit has produced beautiful things but all of it because … The Holy Spirit Is Considered as A “Gift” (Like an object, not a person) …and you shall receive the gift … Antony Billington, Tony Lane, and Max Turner (Carlisle: Paternoster Press, 1995), 90–115; Tricia Gates Brown, Spirit in the Writings of John: Johannine Pneumatology in Social-scientific Perspective, JSNTSup 253 (London:  T&T Clark International, 2003), 23–61. 3:2-4), and elsewhere the Bible states that God is fire (Deut. In that same study, a quarter (28 percent) said the Spirit is a divine being but not equal to God the Father and Jesus. 12. Make you hungry, thirsty or desperate. He has been with God since the b… And what is the Holy Spirit’s role in the believer’s life? We do not normally speak of being anointed or filled with electricity or to have energy poured out on us. Your Financial Gifts will really Make a Difference. The creed may state that unless we believe that the holy spirit is equal to God we shall perish, but Jesus, in giving us the rule for life, does not even mention the holy spirit: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.”—John 17:3, NW.11, The basic problem here is that arguments from silence are logically invalid; they are fallacies. This website uses cookies to improve your experience. Thus, Jesus taught that the Spirit would come in his stead and perform personal functions comparable to the things Jesus himself did while he was physically present with his disciples. He is the One through Him God is now with us. The Holy Spirit can speak (Acts 8:29, 11:12, 13:2)—though some people don’t think the Holy Spirit can speak because they think of the Holy Spirit as an impersonal force, or simply a presence. We would not normally expect visions of heaven to include embodied or visible representations of the Holy Spirit because of the distinctive way he works. True Stories, Christian Testimonies of Jesus Christ, How to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit and Pray in Tongues, Prayers and Confessions based on the Word, A Simple Way to Share the Gospel! The Personality of the Holy Spirit Is Wrongly Compared to Human Personality The reason that many people believe that the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force is because they have the wrong starting point. God “gave” his Son (John 3:16) and “will give” the Spirit (14:16). 1. I noted in a previous post that, according to a recent study by Lifeway Research, 56 percent of evangelical Christians say the Holy Spirit is a force rather than a person.In that same study, a quarter (28 percent) said the Spirit is a divine being but not equal to God the Father and Jesus. 12:13); they are “baptized” (Matt. In this incident recorded by Luke, the Holy Spirit is not missing or absent. A person always has the following attributes:1. Does it go back when its function is complete? The main problem with this line of reasoning is that the Bible sometimes speaks this way about God (and also specifically about Christ). The Son and the Spirit both came “from the Father” (15:26; 16:28). In its opening words, the Bible speaks of the holy spirit —also rendered “God’s active force”— as “moving to and fro over the surface of the waters.” ( Genesis 1:2 ) In the account of Jesus’ baptism, while God is described as being in “the heavens,” the holy spirit appears “descending like a dove” upon Jesus. Reasoning from the Scriptures (Watchtower, 1995), 204. The Spirit in this passage is not an impersonal force like electricity, but a divine person like Jesus. desiringgod.org. This is exactly what Jesus does in John 13-17. But the cults tend to ignore these verses and tell us that the Spirit is nothing more than some presence or power. Did you know that the Holy Spirit is not only one to be welcomed but is also very much a person? A. Allen, What Jesus said would happen with those who believe, Restoration of Blessings through Prayer and Fasting – Video, Be a Disciple of Jesus and Grow in your Spiritual Capacity to Bless, Believers Who Act on the Word of God are not Ordinary, Discernment Ministries Should Not Reject the Holy Spirit’s Gifts, Be Ready, Be Sober, Be Vigilant lest Satan devour you, God visitations – How to respond to God when He draws you, 23hrs dead: She saw Famous People in Hell: Michael Jackson, Pope John Paul II, & others. “The holy spirit is not a person and it is not a part of a Trinity. These are all legitimate questions, especially considering that Jehovah’s Witnesses commonly insist that there can be no “mysteries” or theological paradoxes in true doctrine. To many, the Holy Spirit can sound like somewhat of a mysterious force. We need to respect Him, love Him, listen to Him, work with Him. According to the Watchtower Society, “The Trinity doctrine, their concept of God himself, is borrowed from pagan sources and was developed in its present form centuries after Bible writing was completed.”1 Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught that belief in the Trinity arose as part of the worldwide apostasy fomented by Satan.2 In their view, Jehovah God is the Father only; the Son of God was Michael the archangel, God’s first creature, whose life force was used to make the man Jesus; and “holy spirit” (lower-case) “is God’s active force, not part of a Trinity.”3 There is no divine person called the Holy Spirit; instead, there is only this invisible, impersonal force that in some way emanates from Jehovah God. (John 16:13.) Because the Holy Spirit is a Person, we must be willing containers which desire a relationship with Him. In John chapters 14, 15, and 16, for example, Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit as “He”. Who Is the Holy Spirit? Again, you cannot lie to a force. Truth has force. Unknown to most, due to the spiritual blindness inflicted upon most of humanity, there is actually a great and ambitious invisible spirit-being who always wanted to be also “god” and to reign as co-equal with God and the Son. 31:3; 35:31; Micah 3:8; Luke 1:15, 41, 67; 4:1; Acts 2:4; 4:8, 31; 6:3, 5; 7:55; 9:17; 11:24; 13:9, 52; Eph. Put simply, the holy spirit is God’s applied power, or his active force.-Jehovah’s Witnesses We believe the Father and the Son are separate beings with separate consciousnesses and that the Holy Spirit is not a conscious being but instead the power of God. 4:24; 9:3; Heb. First, the Holy Spirit is not a “force” or energy or an “it,” but He’s a person. So who are you really honestly referring to when you say the Holy Spirit is God, are you saying the Holy Spirit is the same as the Father or Jesus. #1 The Holy Spirit is Not Sporadic. Famously, God appeared to Moses in a bush that appeared to be on fire (Exod. The same? He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and never thirst” (John 6:35).Unbelievers are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness and they shall be filled. It also serves for illumination, as a means of communication, and represents a powerful force that can accomplish great things.”6, Rational Difficulties in the Watchtower Doctrine.