Tagged: Trinity

The personhood of the Holy Spirit

This is another in a series of excerpts from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” published by the MBC’s High Street Press and available through Amazon and other booksellers.

The Bible reveals both the personhood and deity of the Holy Spirit. In this column, we focus on the Spirit as a person, for without personhood the Spirit cannot be divine. In the next column, we show from Scripture how this person possesses all the attributes of deity.

One of the clearest demonstrations of the Holy Spirit’s personality is His use of personal pronouns in reference to Himself. Two examples make this plain:

Acts 10:19-20 – “While Peter was thinking about the vision, the Spirit told him, ‘Three men are here looking for you. Get up, go downstairs, and go with them with no doubts at all, because I have sent them.’”

Acts 13:1-2 – “Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’”

Note that the Holy Spirit speaks personally to Peter as well as to believers in the Antioch church. These are actions of a sentient being, not an impersonal force.

Jesus also uses personal pronouns to speak of the Holy Spirit, telling His followers: 

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. For he will not speak on his own, but he will speak whatever he hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you” (John 16:13-14).

According to Jesus, the Holy Spirit arrives, guides, discerns the truth, hears and speaks, discloses future events, testifies about Jesus, and glorifies Him – all demonstrations of personhood.

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The Holy Spirit is God

This is another in a series of excerpts from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” published by the MBC’s High Street Press (visit highstreet.press) and available from Amazon and other booksellers.

In some ways, the Holy Spirit is the neglected, if not forgotten, member of the Trinity. 

The biblical doctrines of foreknowledge, election, predestination, and adoption awaken us to the eternal love of God the Father. 

Through the Incarnation, the second person of the triune Godhead becomes flesh and pitches His tent with us (John 1:14). He experiences in full measure what it means to be human, including facing temptation – yet without sinning so that He may clothe us in God’s righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). 

Christians are said to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and to be the adopted sons and daughters of God the Father. 

But where is the Holy Spirit in all of this? As we know from Scripture, none of the persons of the Godhead acts alone. As such, the Holy Spirit is a co-equal and co-eternal partner in all of the Trinity’s work. 

So, it’s important for us to understand how thoroughly the Bible depicts both the personhood and deity of the Holy Spirit. In the next column, we focus on the Spirit as a person, for without personhood the Spirit cannot be divine. Then, in the following column, we show from Scripture how this person possesses all the attributes of deity found in both the Father and the Son.

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The mystery of the Incarnation

This is another in a series of excerpts from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” published by the MBC’s High Street Press and available at Amazon and other booksellers.

In previous columns, we explored the Incarnation – God becoming human in Jesus of Nazareth. While Jesus shares all the divine attributes of God the Father and the Holy Spirit (Col. 2:9), He is unique among the persons of the Godhead in that only He has taken on human flesh. 

That is so Jesus could experience the full range of humanity, including every form of temptation, on our behalf. Having lived a sinless life, He laid it down voluntarily on the cross, satisfying the wrath of God for our sins and securing everlasting life for all who call upon His name. Truly, the God-Man is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

It is difficult to wrap our finite minds around the mystery of the Incarnation. Yet this much is clear: sinful, fallen, and finite people can never repay the debt owed a holy, transcendent, and eternal God. So, in the wake of Adam’s sin, the triune God unveils a plan to rescue wretched people from sin and its consequences. 

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Incarnational heresies

This is another in a series of excerpts from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” available through Amazon and other booksellers.

In recent columns, we explored the Incarnation – God becoming flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Before moving on in our study of the Trinity, we should note a number of heretical views that have plagued Christianity throughout its history. 

The church has effectively countered some of these false teachings, while others continue to rear their ugly heads and cause people who sincerely seek the truth to embrace “another Jesus” (2 Cor. 11:4).

In God Among Sages, Kenneth Samples highlights eight historical heresies with respect to the Incarnation:

Docetism. This was an early form of Gnosticism, a heresy that threatened the fledgling church throughout its first three centuries. Docetism advanced a type of dualism, expressing the belief that spirit is good and matter is evil. 

Docetics argued that Jesus only appeared to be human. In fact, their name comes from the Greek word dokeo, which means “to seem.” They asserted that Jesus had a “phantom-like body.” 

Docetism denied the true humanity of Jesus, which undermined the reality of His death on the cross, burial, and physical resurrection – all necessary elements in the gospel message. The apostle John confronted Docetism in 1 John 4:1-3.

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Key passages about the Incarnation

This is another in a series of excerpts from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” available through Amazon and other booksellers.

Let’s look briefly at six key passages of Scripture that help us understand what it means when the apostle John writes, “The Word became flesh” (John 1:14).

John 1:14 – “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The eternal Son of God has always possessed a divine nature. He is with God in the beginning, and John makes it clear that Jesus was (and is) God (John 1:1). In the Incarnation, Jesus adds a real human nature and thus becomes the God-Man.

The word “dwelt” may be translated “tabernacled.” Just as the divine presence is with ancient Israelites in the pillar of cloud and fire, as well as in the tabernacle and the temple, Yahweh now manifests Himself in the person of Jesus Christ.

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