The Spirit of God, Part 1
"Grieve not the holy spirit of God whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." (Eph 4:30)
“This scripture is cited to prove that the Holy Spirit is a person, the argument being that only a person can be “grieved”. It is significant, we believe, that commentaries usually draw attention to this point when considering this text.
In his book, God in Three Persons, the author Millard S. Erickson, makes the following argument:
“We need to note that the Holy Spirit is a person, with all the qualities of a person. He exercises a personal ministry in the lives of people. He does the convicting or convincing of unbelievers-of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment (John 16:8-11). He regenerates or gives new life (John 3:5-8). He guides into truth (John 16:13). He inspired the Scripture writers to produce the books of the Bible as we have them. He sanctifies believers (Rom. 8:1-17). He empowers for service (Acts 1:8). We are not told that in any of these works he does what he does through the Father or the Son. These are direct ministries, involving a direct relationship.
As a person, the Spirit also should be capable of being related to personality. This we also find in the Scriptures. Ananias and Sapphira were told that they had lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3). Paul commanded his readers not to grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30). Surely, however, only a person can be grieved or lied to.” -God in Three Persons, page 327
Why does the professor go to such lengths to prove that the Holy Spirit is a person? Could we even imagine a similar treatment of a text involving the Father or his Son? Do we ever have a commentary labor the point that Jesus Christ is a person? Do we ever have a commentary labor the point that the Father is a person? To labor the point that the Bible teaches that the Father and Son are persons would be unthinkable because it is self-evident that they are persons. It is decidedly different, however, when we come to the Holy Spirit. When we come to the Holy Spirit we have a different situation because of the absence of the ordinary allusions to person-hood in Scripture.
None of the various functions of the holy spirit which the author alludes to require that the Spirit be a person. All of the things he mentions are really functions, and can be accomplished by the extended energy, creative force, and enlightening-transforming power of God, influencing and activating the minds and hearts of people. The “direct relationship” which he mentions is not the Holy Spirit’s direct relationship but, rather, the Father’s direct relationship through HIS holy spirit by means of Christ, through whom the Spirit is directed.
To say that because the Spirit of God can be grieved and lied to, he must be a person is to ignore the flexibility of language used in the Scriptures as well as the context in which such statements are made. Any number of non-living things are personified in Scripture. An outstanding example of this in the Bible is how wisdom is spoken of.
She cries out, makes her speech, rebukes, pours out her heart, laughs, and stretches out her hand. (Prov. 1:20-30, Chapters 8, 9) Because wisdom is called she we would not argue that she must be alive as a woman. Similarly, we find love personified in the New Testament as well as sin and blood. (1 Cor. 13:4-7; Rom. 7:11; Heb. 12:24)
How different is it to speak of the Holy Spirit as being “grieved” and to speak of love as trusting, hoping, not easy angered, not proud, not boasting, rejoicing and not self-seeking?
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God -- NOT God, the Holy Spirit (See once again our subject text above). It comes from God and can function in any manner or form God decides to have it function. It is alive (active), just as his word is alive, and can judge, because it actively impacts the purpose for which it is given. (Heb. 4:12) As respects Christians, the implanting of God’s Holy Spirit in their hearts is designed to lead and transform their personality into the image (likeness) of Christ. That goal and purpose can be resisted by an individual and in that way defeat the purpose or “grieve” God’s Spirit--obstruct or hinder its intended purpose.”
“The Professor says that the Spirit’s ministries are “direct ministries,” not performed “through the Father or the Son.” That is misleading. The apostle Peter explained the remarkable display of God’s Spirit at Pentecost as a fulfillment of Joel’s prophesy in which God was pouring out his Spirit on all people. He went on to say, “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.” (Acts 2:17, 32, 33)
By what stretch of the imagination can it be argued that the Holy Spirit acted independently? Jesus received it from God, after which he poured it out. The language and sense is that the Spirit was acted upon--it (or he) did not act independently of either the Father or the Son. The Father acted and the Son acted but the Holy Spirit functioned.” (Excerpts taken from “The Father/Son Relationship” by Ronald E. Frye)
We will continue with this concept of grieving the holy spirit in our next post.
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