TRUTHS ABOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT ~ Alistair Begg
Jesus said: “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:17).
You know that the Greek word translated here as “Helper” is parakletos. In its technical form, it has a legal dimension; it refers to one who would be an advocate. In its wider context, it speaks of comfort, of protection, of counsel, and of guidance. Jesus also spoke of Spirit as the Helper in John 14 and introduced Him as “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:17; John 16:13).
He is spoken of as “He,” not as “it.” This is a matter of import because if you listen carefully to people speaking, even within your own congregations you may hear the Holy Spirit referenced in terms of the neuter. You may even catch yourself doing it. If you do, I hope you will bite your tongue immediately. We have to understand that the Spirit of God, the third person of the Trinity, is personal. As a person, He may be grieved (Eph 4:30), He may be quenched in terms of the exercise of His will (1Thes 5:19), and He may be resisted (Acts 7:51).
In theological terms, we say that He is both co-equal and co-eternal. When we read the whole Upper Room Discourse, we discover that it was both the Father and the Son who would send the Spirit, and the Spirit came and acted, as it were, for both of Them. So the activity of the Spirit is never given to us in Scripture in isolation from the person and work of Christ or in isolation from the eternal will of the Father. Any endeavor to think of the Spirit in terms that are entirely mystical and divorced from Scripture will take us down all kinds of side streets and eventually to dead ends.
In the account of creation at the very beginning of the Bible, we are told: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” Gen 1:2. The Hebrew word translated as “Spirit” here is ruach, which also can mean “breath.” The ruach elohim, “the Breath of the Almighty,” is the agent in creation. It is not the immateriality of the Spirit that is in view here, but rather His power and energy; the picture is of God’s energy breathing out creation, as it were, speaking the worlds into existence, putting the stars into space. Thus, when we read Isaiah 40:26, and the question is asked, “Who created these?” we have the answer in Genesis 1:2 —the Spirit is the irresistible power by which God accomplishes His purpose.
Tangentially, one of the questions of Old Testament scholarship concerns the extent to which we are able to discover the distinct personhood of God the Holy Spirit from the Old Testament. In other words, can we understand the nature of His hypostasis in the Old Testament alone? When we read Genesis 1, it is not difficult to see that we have in the second verse, certainly in light of all that has subsequently been revealed, a clear and distinct reference to the third person of the Trinity.
This issue reminds us, incidentally, that it is helpful to read our Bibles backward. As we read from the back to the front, we discover the truth of the classic interpretive principle attributed to Augustine: “The New [Testament] is in the Old [Testament] concealed, and the Old is in the New revealed.” In other words, we discover the implications of those teachings and events that come earlier in the Scriptures.
,. He is the author of the new birth. We see this in John 3, in the classic encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus, where Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (v. 5). This truth, of course, is worked out in the rest of the Scriptures.
. “All Scripture is breathed out by God."
(2 Tim 3:16) The Greek word behind this phrase is theopneustos, which means “God-breathed.” In creation, we have the Spirit breathing His energy, releasing the power of God in the act of creation. We have the same thing in the act of redemption, and we see it again in the divine act of giving to us the record in the Scriptures themselves. The doctrine of inspiration is entirely related to the work of God the Holy Spirit. Peter affirms this view, writing, “No prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2Peter 1:21).
The men who wrote the biblical books were not inventing things. Neither were they automatons. “They were real people in real historical times with real writing according to their historical settings and their personalities. But the authorship of Scripture was dual. It was, for instance, both Jeremiah and God, because Jeremiah was picked up and carried along. Indeed, in Jeremiah’s case, God said, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth” (1:9). He did so without violating Jeremiah’s distinct personality, and he then wrote the very Word of God.
This is why we study the Bible—because this is a book that exists as a result of the out-breathing of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said He would “be with you forever … he dwells with you and will be in you”. In other words, His ministry is both permanent and personal.
Five Truths About The Holy Spirit