Our lesson this week is on the divinity of the Holy Spirit. That He is a divine Person is clearly presented in Scripture. Hebrews 9:14 informs us that the Holy Spirit is "eternal." Since only God is eternal, it follows that the Holy Spirit is truly God. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is distinct from the divine Persons – the Father and the Son. To establish this, we need only to examine our Lord's words, and collate with them the ample and various testimonies of the entire New Testament. To quote all the references in the New Testament is beyond the scope of this lesson. We will, however, consider some very powerful testimonies. There is unmistakable evidence of the divinity of the Holy Spirit but has been denied by man, including some Christians. The Holy Spirit has been judged by fallible man to be an "it" or an "influence" and assigned a non-person status. Let's learn from Jesus.
The Son, Christ Jesus, is the Revealer of the third Person of the Godhead, as well as of the Father. Christ's final discourse has left no question on this subject unsolved: before He was glorified, Jesus glorified the Spirit by establishing the first principles of His personality, His divinity, and the eternal relations in the Godhead. The pronoun He (Ἐκεῖνος) is applied to One who is another Comforter. The personality (John 16:17; 14:16, 17) of the Holy Spirit governs the Lord's entire discourse, and must interpret those many passages in which the Holy Spirit's operations are identified with Himself as a Person. It is impossible to read carefully, in their context, these sayings concerning the Spirit without understanding that the idea presented is indeed that the Holy Spirit is a divine Person. Whether one believes He is Divine or not, most certainly the Holy Spirit is a Person announced by Jesus just as certainly as was a Person heralded Who Moses predicted as the coming prophet. And the prophet was a Person – the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Divinity of the third Person in "the heavenly trio" was declared to be sent from the Father. "When the Comforter is come Whom (John 15:26) I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me."
The pronouns "Whom" "He" and "Who", referring to the Holy Spirit as a parenthetical reference to essential eternal relationships within the Godhead. Consider the present tense verb "proceeds" or "proceedeth," (KJV). It is not "shall proceed." The Holy Spirit has been eternally present from eternity. He was there in the creation of this world (Genesis 1:1-2). And He is mentioned many times in the Old Testament as well as the New. The following thoughts summarize the presence of the Holy Spirit before Christ came to the earth to redeem mankind.
Before this the Spirit had been in the world; from the very beginning of the work of redemption He had been moving upon men's hearts. But while Christ was on earth, the disciples had desired no other helper. Not until they were deprived of His presence would they feel their need of the Spirit, and then He would come.
"The Holy Spirit is Christ's representative, but divested of the personality of humanity, and independent thereof. Cumbered with humanity, Christ could not be in every place personally. Therefore it was for their interest that He should go to the Father, and send the Spirit to be His successor on earth (DA 669).
The New Testament is true to Christ's teaching on this subject. The Personality and Deity of the Holy Spirit is everywhere. The humiliation of the Son send as the incarnate One has its parallel, though after another manner, in the humiliation of the Holy Ghost. While we read of His humility: "He poured out this which you now see and hear" regarding "the promise of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:33), we also read that the Holy Spirit said, "Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." (Acts 13:2). This command comes from God.
Consider next, the first hypocrites mentioned in the book of Acts who lied to the Holy Spirit, (Acts 5:3, 4), and therefore lied not to men but to God. Clearly, the Holy Spirit is called God in this passage (verse 4). Ananias first and later Sapphira, his wife, lied "to the Holy Spirit." (Acts 5:3). One cannot lie to a mere influence. The Holy Spirit is a Person. And He is divine. To repeat, the Person – the Holy Spirit – was "lied to" by Ananias and He is "God." (v 4).
Turning now to the letters written to the Corinthians, which dwell so much on the work of the Holy Spirit. Paul declares in 1 Corinthians 2:12 that "we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God. The preposition "from" is very significant as it expressly distinguishes between the evil spiritual influence of the world and the Substantial Spirit coming out from God. This same Spirit "searches all things, yes, the deep things of God" (1 Corinthians 2:10), thus being essentially a Personal and Divine.
Let's consider the beginning and the ending of the public ministry of Jesus while on earth. Both the Father and the Holy Spirit were present at Christ's baptism. Immediately following His baptism, Jesus saw the Holy Spirit, then felt Him "upon" Himself and heard the voice of the Father: "The heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him (Matthew 3:16) and suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.' " (verse 17).
At the end of Christ's earthly ministry, just before ascending to heaven, He said unequivocally that those who were to be baptized were to be baptized in "the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19). The term "name" is in the singular. The name of God is about His character as observed by the writings of Moses.
When Moses asked to see the glory of God, He replied that He would "make all" His "goodness pass" before him and that He would proclaim His name to him (Exodus 33:19). The next day that happened. "The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation." (Exodus 34:5-7).
That name is a revelation of the character of justice and mercy regarding God – "the three living persons of the heavenly trio" in the fullness of the Godhead who gives divine grace to baptized believers. Notice this wonderful thought:
The Comforter that Christ promised to send after He ascended to heaven, is the Spirit in all the fullness of the Godhead, making manifest the power of divine grace to all who receive and believe in Christ as a personal Saviour. There are three living persons of the heavenly trio; in the name of these three great powers --the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit--those who receive Christ by living faith are baptized, and these powers will co-operate with the obedient subjects of heaven in their efforts to live the new life in Christ. -- Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 7, pp. 62, 63 (and quoted in Evangelism p. 615).
There are those who do not believe what Jesus said regarding baptism – in the name of the "heavenly Trio" – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There is a group of people claiming to be Christians, but who use Peter's statement when he told his enquirers they needed to repent and be baptized "in the name of Jesus Christ" (Acts 2:38). The papacy is not the only entity that uses Peter to usurp Jesus. Amazing! Notice that Peter did not use the word "faith" in connection with repentance and baptism. Shall we then deny what Jesus said about faith?
The above testimonies – both of Jesus and of Mrs. White – are enough for our present purpose to show the relationship of the three Persons in the Godhead to the One Name into which Christians are baptized.
Regarding the divinity of the Holy He is called a "divine Spirit" well over 150 times in the writings of Mrs. White. And further, she is unmistakably clear by her many statements that there are three Divine Persons in the Godhead. There are those who argue that her statements have been falsified by whomever. On the contrary, there are too many of her declarations concerning the heavenly Trio for that argument to be true.
We have another Scripture to consider. Luke quotes the angel who spoke to Mary regarding the work of the Holy Spirit in process of conception and birth of Christ in the incarnation: "The angel … said to her, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God'" (Luke 1:35, NKJV).
"The power of the Highest" that was to "overshadow" Mary is parallel to the first clause of the sentence: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you." This power is the Highest divine power of God administered by the Holy Spirit.
This week, along with many others, I received comments from a person regarding the Sabbath School lessons for this quarter. This person does not believe the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Godhead. The author of the comments quoted the KJV which says "that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." He noted correctly that the word "thing" is not in the original language. However, his interpretive philosophical opinion is that the word "could be spirit instead of 'thing.' " From this premise his deduction followed: "The verse would then carry the following meaning: The Spirit of the Father would overshadow Mary and the Holy Spirit that would be born would be called the Son of God." !!!
However, consider this valid commentary on this verse: "The of Christ is called '.' " (E. G. White, "Signs of the Times," January 16, 1896). Emphasis supplied. So we can say very positively the word to supply is not spirit, but rather "humanity." The verse then carries the following meaning: "The divine Spirit overshadowed Mary and the human born of her is called the Son of God."
The divine Spirit, as "the power of the Highest," united in some way Christ's divine nature with humanity (which is impossible for our little minds to understand) and this union is our salvation. Our Savior is both divine and human.
In closing, Joel prophesied that the Holy Spirit comes as "a teacher of righteousness" (Joel 2:23, margin) under the metaphor of rain. This prophecy began to be fulfill at Pentecost under the figure of the "former rain." The final fulfillment began in 1888 in the "latter rain" message brought to us through elders Jones and Waggoner. However, the outpouring was stopped. But there will be a return of the latter rain. One day, hopefully soon, this teaching of righteousness by the "Teacher of righteousness" – The Holy Spirit – will again be poured out again from on high. Let's be prepared for the downpour that will flood the earth with the message of all messages that will swallow up all other subjects: "One interest will prevail, one subject will swallow up all others, Christ our Righteousness" (Ellen White, The Paulson Collection, 342). This is the teaching of righteousness according to righteousness by the divine "Teacher of righteousness."
Paul in writing to the Corinthians stated that people there were "justified … by the Spirit of our God" laterally with "the name of the Lord Jesus" (1 Corinthians 6:11). Paul here describes the Holy Spirit as the divine Person along with Jesus as the justifying life-giving and life-changing Person (compare Romans 5:10).
This teaching of righteousness, by the Teacher of righteousness, is the righteousness of God which justifies believers through the "faith of Jesus" (Romans 3:22-24; Galatians 2:16, KJV).
This is the message and the work of the Divine Holy Spirit, the third Peron of the Godhead. Are we learning this message?