sermon: The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 1)
What is the Trinity?
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 31-May-98; Sermon #343B; 94 minutes
The architects and custodians of the trinity concept admit that it is a "somewhat unsteady silhouette," unsupportable by Scripture unless one forces external presuppositions, assumptions, and inferences onto it—as did Catholic theologians at the end of the fourth century. The Holy Spirit constitutes the non-physical, invisible essence of God's mind which He miraculously joins to the minds of those He calls, transferring His thoughts, attitudes, and character, and enabling us to have the will and the ability to carry out the creative work of God the Father.
Today we are going to take yet another look into a doctrine that I feel clearly shows the extent that mankind, cut off from God, is willing to go in order to keep from believing what the Bible literally says. It shows how human nature can persuade us to be intellectually dishonest through using vague Scriptural statements to override clear ones, and so on this Pentecost we are going to take a short look at the world's admission that the basis for the Trinity doctrine is shaky at best, and then we are going to take a much longer look at what the Bible clearly says that the Holy Spirit is. But I also have to put a qualifier in here, because we are looking at what can be a very large subject. This sermon is not going to answer every possible question that might come up, but I think that it will give you a clear and truthful basis for understanding what the Holy Spirit is.
Now perhaps you relegated this subject to being one of minor importance, or feel that it is too complicated for you to grasp, and so you have left it to the ministry and to the theologians to argue over because it appears to be more bookish and technical and theoretical than practical and impacting on daily life. But brethren, while it is something that theologians argue over, if any of you have had any of the other thoughts, you could not be more wrong. It is not a doctrine of minor importance. It is not all that complicated. It is very practical and it impacts very much on your daily life. It is very likely that a person with only a Bible, a decent dictionary, and perhaps most important of all an honest and open mind, is going to come up with the correct answers in searching out the Scriptures. First we are going to take a look at how the world rates this doctrine's importance, and the basic manner used to reach their conclusions that God is a trinity. I am going to do a bit of reading here, and I will try to emphasize things that are important.
Quote No. 1 is from The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912 Edition, Volume 15, page 47, from the article "The Dogma of the Trinity":
The trinity is the term employed to signify the central doctrine of the Christian religion...
That tells you the importance that they put on it as being the central doctrine of the Christian religion. Is that true?
...that in the unity of the Godhead there are three persons: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, these three persons being truly distinct one from another.
This the church teaches is the revelation regarding God's nature which Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came upon earth to deliver to the world, and which she [the church] proposes to man [humankind] as the foundation of her [the church's] whole dogmatic system.
We are not talking about a doctrine here that is minor in any way whenever you are talking about the central doctrine of the Christian religion which is the nature of God. What they are saying then is that this doctrine, after the fact that there is God, is the next most important thing.
Quote No. 2 is from The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967 Edition, page 295, article: "Holy Trinity":
It is difficult in the second half of the twentieth century to offer a clear objective and straight-forward account of the revelation doctrinal evolution and theological elaboration of the mystery of the trinity. Trinitarian discussions (Roman Catholic as well as others), present a somewhat unsteady silhouette.
This is shaky.
Two things have happened. There is the recognition on the part of exegetes [people who explain Scripture] and Biblical theologians, including a constantly growing number of Roman Catholic, that one should not speak of trinitarianism in the New Testament without serious qualification.
There is also the closely parallel recognition on the part of historians, the dogma, and systematic theologians, that when one does speak of an unqualified trinitarianism, one has moved from the period of Christian origin, to say, the last quadrant of the fourth century.
At least 400 and some years later.
It was only then that what might be called the definitive trinitarian dogma, "One God in three persons," became thoroughly assimilated into Christian life and thought. Herein lies the difficulty. On the one hand it was the dogmatic formula, 'One God in Three Persons' that would henceforth for more than fifteen centuries [up to this present time] structure and guide the trinitarian essence of the Christian message, both in the profession of faith and theological dialectic. On the other hand the formula itself does not reflect the immediate consciousness of the period of origin.
They are coming that close brethren to say they cannot see it in the Scripture.
It was the product of three centuries of doctrinal development, but current preoccupation and current emphasis is far less with the subsequent articulation of Christian dogma than with the primitive sources chiefly biblical. It is this contemporary return to the sources that is ultimately responsible for the unsteady silhouette.
Oh brethren! In that fancy academic language, they said when you go back to the Bible, it gets shaky.
Quote No. 3 is from The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, page 3012, article: "Trinity":
The term 'trinity' is not a Biblical term, and we are not using biblical language when we define what is expressed by it as the doctrine that there is one only and true God, but in the unity of the Godhead there are three co-eternal and co-equal persons, the same in substance but distinct in subsistence. A doctrine so defined can be spoken of as a biblical doctrine only on the principle that the sense of Scripture is Scripture....
The key word here is "the sense"—what they feel the Scripture infers.
...and the definition of a biblical doctrine in such an unbiblical language can be justified only on the principle that it is better to preserve the truth of Scripture than the words of Scripture.
Boy! You talk about academic gobbledygook!
In point of fact the doctrine of the trinity is purely a revealed doctrine. That is to say, it embodies a truth which has never been discovered, and is undiscoverable by natural reason. With all his searching, man has not been able to find out for himself the deepest things of God.
Quote No. 4 is from The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912 Edition, page 47, article: "Trinity":
It is manifest that a doctrine so mysterious presupposes a divine revelation. When the fact of revelation, understood in its full sense as the speech of God to man, is no longer admitted, the rejection of the doctrine follows as a necessary consequence.
Now listen to this. You thought the Protestants believed in the Trinity?
For this reason it has no place in liberal Protestantism of today.
This quote above is from the Catholic Encyclopedia which says "It has no place in liberal Protestantism of today."
The writers of this school contend that the doctrine of the trinity as professed by the church [meaning Catholic] is not contained in the New Testament, but that it was first formulated in the Second Century and received final approbation in the Fourth as a result of the Arian and Macedonian controversies.
Was not this doctrine attempted to be sold to us as something that ALL of Christianity outside of the church of God believed? No, brethren. Everybody does not believe it. It is not universally accepted by those who cannot find it in the Scriptures.
Quote No. 5 is from The New International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, page 3013:
As the doctrine of the trinity is undiscoverable by reason, so it is incapable of proof from reason. There are no analogies to it in nature, not even in the spiritual nature in man who is made in the image of God. In His trinitarian mode of being, God is unique, and as there is nothing in the universe like Him in the respect, so there is nothing which can help us to comprehend Him.
Quote No. 6 is from The New International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, page 3014: (Not clearly revealed in the Old Testament.)
So strongly is it felt in wide circles that a trinitarian conception is essential to a worthy idea of God that there is a broad, a deep-seated unwillingness to allow that God could ever have made Himself known otherwise than a trinity. From this point of view it is inconceivable that the Old Testament revelation should know nothing of the trinity. If however, (and this is the faith of Christendom) a living idea of God must be thought in some way after a trinitarian fashion, it must be antecedently [previously] probable that traces of the trinity cannot be lacking in the Old Testament since its idea [the Old Testament's idea] of God is a living or historical one. Whether there really exists traces of the idea of the trinity in the Old Testament however is a nice question. Certainly we cannot speak broadly of the revelation of the doctrine of the trinity in the Old Testament. It is a plain matter of fact that none who had depended on the revelation embodied in the Old Testament alone has ever attained to the doctrine of the trinity. Nobody has ever found it there. The tendency of more recent authors is to appeal, not so much to specific texts of the Old Testament, as to the very organism of revelation in the Old Testament in which there is perceived an underlying suggestion that all things owe their existence and persistence to a three-fold cause.
That is academic language for "We are assuming."
Quote No. 7 is from The New International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, page 3015:
It is with a view to this cursoriness [skimpiness] of the allusions to it in the New Testament...
I want you to get this. They are saying that it is just "alluded" to in the New Testament, not the Old Testament. This is in the New Testament now.
...that it has been remarked the doctrine of the trinity is not so much heard, as overheard in the statements of Scripture. It would be more exact to say that it is not so much inculcated, as presupposed. The doctrine of the trinity does not appear in the New Testament in the making, but it is already made.
Now wait a minute, brethren! This is the same book that a couple of paragraphs before said it is not in the Old Testament, and yet here they are saying that in the New Testament it appears as a doctrine already made.
It takes its place in the pages, as Dunkle [a researcher] phrases it, "with an air almost of complaint, already in full completeness, leaving no trace of its growth."
You talk about intellectual dishonesty. You see what we're dealing with here are presuppositions and assumptions.
Quote No. 8 is from The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912 Edition, "The Trinity: The trinity as a mystery":
The Vatican Council has explained the meaning to be attributed to the term 'mystery' in theology. It lays down that a mystery is a truth which we are not merely incapable of discovering apart from divine revelation, but which even when revealed remains hidden by the veil of faith and enveloped, so to speak, by a kind of darkness. In other words, our understanding of it remains only partial even after we have accepted it as part of the divine message. Through analogies and types we can form a representative concept expressive of what is revealed, but we cannot attain that fuller knowledge which supposes that the various elements of the concept are clearly grasped and the reciprocal compatibility manifest. As regards the vindication of the mystery, the office of the natural reason is solely to show that it contains no intrinsic impossibility that any objection urged against it on that score that it violates the laws of thought is invalid. More than that it cannot do. The Vatican Council further defines that the Christian faith contains mysteries strictly so called. All theologians admit that the doctrine of the trinity is of the number of these. Indeed of all truth, it is the most impenetrable to reason. But according to their own testimony, it still remains only a possibility.
Now I want you to turn with me to II Corinthians 11. It is impenetrable to reason only because they are trying to read things into it that are not there. And I, with my own eyes, have read that no less a personage than Billy Graham said that the doctrine of the trinity is "incomprehensible." But now notice what Paul says here:
II Corinthians 11:1-3 Would to God you could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, that your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." The doctrines and the way of God are not technically complicated to those to whom they are revealed. They may be complicated to the world, and the reason for that is within the loving purpose of God that He has not revealed some things to them, but to you and me this doctrine should not be complicated, and so I want you to turn to Matthew 13 and we will see what God Himself has to say.
Matthew 13:10-11 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speak you unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
Matthew 13:16 But blessed are your eyes for they see; and your ears, for they hear.
Sometimes I get some sarcasm in me that is probably wrong, and I feel as though these people with all of the numbers and letters after their names ought to be able to understand these things, and so I feel that they are being intellectually dishonest. Maybe they are, because some apparently can see it, that things like this, like the trinity doctrine are not there. But none of us brethren has any excuse. God has revealed Himself, and He has revealed these doctrines, and the doctrine of the trinity we can see is wrong, and the doctrine of the nature of God is not that complicated. God is not a trinity. God is a Family! God uses all kinds of analogies to get that across to us. He is the Father. Our Savior is the Son. We are His children. We are Spirit-born. We are in His Family. We are going to inherit the Kingdom of God. We are going to marry. We are the Bride of Christ. We are brethren. God is a Family. He is not a closed trinitarian Godhead.
Now there are mysteries connected with the way of God, and these things need to be revealed, and apparently that is one of the things that has not been revealed to people. The word "mystery" in Greek is enigma, and I am going to give you the definition of that which I got from William Barclay, because I think that it is expressive of a truth. Barclay says, "An enigma is not a puzzle difficult to solve, but a secret impossible to penetrate without a revelation."
The word "revealed" means "to make known," "to disclose," "to divulge," "to make visible," "to expose," "to exhibit," "to remove the veil," and that is what has happened to us. God has miraculously opened our minds to give us an understanding that makes this doctrine simple so that we can see that God is a Family. He is not a trinity. We can see very many aspects of this. We may not be able to turn to the scriptures and explain it scripturally and give understanding to someone to whom it has not been revealed, but we should be able to explain things to one another, and encourage one another with the truth of God, because those to whom it should be revealed it should be easily understood.
Deuteronomy 29:29 The secret things [Remember, "mystery" is a "secret" impossible to penetrate.] belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.
Things like "the nature of God" have been revealed to us. It has been opened up to us, but there are still things that have not yet been revealed, even to God's children. God has never revealed to anyone of us yet when Jesus Christ is going to return. I might add to that there are also prophecies that are written in His Word that we can see the general sense of, but when we try to get the specifics of it, since He has not yet revealed it to us, anything that we deal with in that area is going to be nothing more than a speculation on our part. And as I said at the last Feast of Tabernacles, it makes me wonder if we have ever gotten any of these things right. We do have the general sense right, but the specifics elude us until God reveals it.
The Living Bible translates the last couple of phrases in that same verse as "but these words which He has revealed are for us and our children to obey forever."
These things that God has revealed overwhelmingly pertain to how to conduct ourselves within relationships. First and foremost is the relationship with God Himself, and secondarily in our relationships with each other. Those things have been made very clear to us. Whether we do them or not is another question altogether, but they have been revealed to us, and we can see them clearly.
Deuteronomy 30:11-14 For this commandment which I command you this day, it is not hidden from you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very near unto you, in your mouth, and in your heart, that you may do it.
Before I expound on this, at least for a brief time, we have to remember to whom this is written—to whom God spoke it. He spoke it to those who have made the covenant with Him, but before we can determine who that is, we have to look somewhere else first.
Right in the same context, back to Deuteronomy 29 again. A very important principle. This is what leads in to what He said about the "secret." This is what leads in to what He said there in Deuteronomy 30:11-14.
Deuteronomy 29:1-4 These are the words of the covenant, which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the covenant which he made with them in Horeb. And Moses called unto all Israel, and said unto them, You have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt unto Pharaoh, and unto all his servants, and unto all his land; the great temptations which your eyes have seen, the signs, and those great miracles: Yet the LORD has not given you a heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.
God never enabled the vast majority of those Israelites to understand this spiritually. They could never understand their relationship with Him under the Old Covenant. They could not understand it any better than these theologians who wrote in those books that I quoted to you. They could not understand it any better than anybody else who has ever lived who was unconverted, so I have to ask the question. To whom them was Deuteronomy 30 written? It was written to those who obeyed the covenant with God. It was written to those who can understand! You! Now God did enable some in Israel's history to understand—people like Moses and Aaron and Miriam and Joshua and Caleb and others besides them. All of those others, Paul says in Romans 9 through 11, God concluded in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon them because He withheld something from them that would have enabled them to understand. But we have no excuse. These words, the book of Deuteronomy, are primarily written to you and me. They are written to the church. It is written to those to whom spiritual salvation has been offered.
I want you to go back to Ephesians 1:4. Paul writes to the church:
Ephesians 1:4 According as he [God] has chosen us [the church] in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.
Ephesians 1:4 proves beyond dispute that God had the church in mind before the foundation of the world. The foundation of the world was laid in Adam and Eve's sin, so God had the church in mind before Adam and Eve were ever offered to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, or of the Tree of Life. And so God, from the very beginning, right up until this time, has had the church in mind. God has been looking forward to the church, its formulation, its growth, its birth into His Family.
Deuteronomy 30 is written to those to whom He would give the Spirit to change their hearts and enable them to keep His commandments. And so back in Deuteronomy 30, after Christ's return, God's focus will shift away from the church to the salvation of Israel and the rest of the world living during the Millennium, and then in the Great White Throne to the spiritual salvation of all of those who have lived and died without ever having been called of God. In those two judgments these words will then become very important to them, but now they are important to you and me.
I am now going to summarize Deuteronomy 30, beginning in verse 11. The commandment that He speaks of there is summarized in verse 16: "In that I command you this day to love the LORD your God."
I need not go any further. The commandment summarized in verse 16 is, "to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the first of the two great commandments. The inference is, without adding anything to that, that if we will keep the first of those two great commandments, the others will fall into place, because of key importance is our relationship with God. He then goes on to say that our duty to Him is not hidden in some inaccessible place. It is not beyond some insurmountable barrier, meaning the sea. It is at our right hand, and it is in our mouth. In other words, it has been preached, and the mention of the "heart" means that it is easily understandable. The sum of it all is that God does not require the impossible from His people either in doing or in understanding. There is nothing deep, impenetrable, and unexplainable about the Holy Spirit to those to whom God has revealed Himself, thus enabling them to understand, and so anybody who is converted and has normal intelligence can understand this doctrine and use it to the full to glorify God and to fulfill His purpose.
We must understand what the word "spirit" means in English, in Greek, and in Hebrew. Do you know what? Though each language uses different sounds, as ruach in Hebrew, pneuma in Greek, and "spirit" in English, even though there are different sounds connected with the symbol, they communicate exactly the same concepts. Now Bullinger, in The Companion Bible, Appendix 101 says pneuma (translated "spirit") is used in fourteen different senses in the New Testament and corresponds to the uses of ruach in the Old Testament. In other words these two words are synonyms for each other. Now I am going to begin by giving uses from the English language first, and these uses are going to be coming from the Reader's Digest Oxford Complete Word Finder. I recommend this dictionary highly, because it is a combination dictionary and thesaurus all rolled up into one.
Meanings of the word "spirit" in English:
A. The vital animating essence of a person or animal. Synonyms: breath, life, vitality, vital spirit, soul, consciousness, psyche, self, heart, essence. All of those are synonyms for the word "spirit" when the vital animating essence of a person is meant.
B. The intelligent non-physical part of a person. Synonyms: mind.
C. A supernatural being, such as a ghost.
D. A prevailing mental or moral condition or attitude. When this use is intended the word "spirit" may be translated into: attitude, principle, thought, inspiration, notion, feeling, inclination, tendency, impulse, atmosphere, mood, temper, sentiment, cheer, humor, frame of mind, morale, esprit de corps, team spirit.
E. A person's mental or moral nature or qualities. When used in that sense "spirit" may be translated as: character, temperament, temper, nature, kind, persona, disposition, heart, will, mind, will-power, attitude, bent, inclination.
F. The real meaning as opposed to lip-service or verbal expressions. When this sense is intended it means "the spirit of the law," meaning: sense, tenor, signification, purport, intent, intention, purpose, aim, inclination, message, essence, quintessence, core, part, meat, pith, substance, marrow.
As you can see, the usage of it is quite broad, but believe it or not, in the Bible it is somewhat wider. In every usage except one, there is something in common. The odd one, in English, is the one in which "ghost" is the indication of a being. In all of the rest "spirit" has the usage of an invisible, internal, immaterial, animating force or power that one is aware of only when it is manifested externally in some action. I will explain this in one sentence. You never see spirit. You only see what spirit does. You never see spirit. You only see what spirit does. That is the basic sense of the word ruach, pneuma, or "spirit." We never see what is actually driving or motivating or inspiring the person. All we see is the action that is taken.
Now the Bible uses "spirit" in all the ways just given, but in some cases more specifically, and a couple are added. If you ever want to get a basic definition of this word in Strong's Concordance, ruach is No. 7307, and pneuma is No. 4151. You can look up the word in any resource, and the basic definition for both is "breath," "wind," or "current of air." Air is invisible. We can only see what it carries, or what it does, but it is from that principle that the usage of ruach and pneuma is built. Figuratively the usage is quite broad. These words symbolize the vital animating essence of life. If you look this up in Zodhiates or in Vines, this is what you will find. They symbolize the vital animating essence of life—the rational elements of life—mind and mental disposition, such as angry, depressed, happy, peaceful, courageous, wise, understanding, and many more, and like the English, also qualities of character.
John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
It does not say that in the Greek. The King James is wrong. It says "God is spirit." It does not say He is "a" spirit. There is no indefinite article in the Greek. What is Jesus saying here? Basically He is saying that God is invisible and immaterial. God is invisible and immaterial.
II Corinthians 3:16-17 Nevertheless when it [or anyone] shall turn to the Lord, the veil [the blindness] shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit. . . .
Both of these scriptures are saying that "God is Spirit," only the one directly refers to the Father, the other directly refers to Jesus Christ. In these two instances, "spirit" is being used in the sense of composition. But just because they are spirit does not mean they have no form. If they had no form, how could the Bible honestly say that we were created in the image of God? They do have form. Physically we are in their image.
I Corinthians 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam [Jesus Christ] was made a quickening spirit.
"Quickening" means "life giving." Again the reference here is to His composition. He was made "a life-giving" Spirit. Kind of hang onto that idea of "quickening." Paul's explanation continues.
I Corinthians 15:49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall [in the resurrection] also bear the image of the heavenly.
Jesus Christ was resurrected bodily. He was spirit. When we are resurrected it will be bodily. We too then will be "quickening"—life-giving, composed of spirit.
Luke 24:36-39 And as they thus spoke, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and said unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit [meaning a ghost]. And he said unto them, Why are you troubled? And why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit [ghost] has not flesh and bones, as you see me have.
Does that not make it very plain that God in composition is spirit, that He does have form, that He is solid, and He has skin and bones? That even included the scars in His hands and His feet.
We have to proceed from here, and we are going to see in John 3 how Jesus Himself gave a basic usage of the word "spirit," so we can see that this is clearly and easily understandable.
John 3:6-8 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto you, You must be born again. The wind blows where it lists, and you hear the sound thereof, but cannot tell whence it comes, and whither it goes: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
When "spirit" is being used in the sense that Jesus is using it here, the "air" is the closest physical thing He could use to illustrate His instruction. Air is material, but it is invisible, and the invisibility is what He wants us to focus on. Spirit is invisible—immaterial—and when it is used in this sense it has no form or substance. It is non-physical, but it can affect the around and the about, the environment, including a person regenerated by means of it.
We will stop here and give a clarifying thought. There is a common thread between English, Hebrew, and Greek in the use of "spirit," in the use of ruach and pneuma and "spirit," even when a spirit-composed being is shown. Spirit is the symbol used to represent something non-physical, and normally invisible. Now we can reach a conclusion, except in the one case where "spirit" or ruach or pneuma is used to represent a being which has revealed itself. Spirit is never seen. All that is ever seen is what spirit causes, motivates, inspires, encourages, impels, triggers, stirs, provokes, stimulates, influences, or activates. Now why? Because in every other sense, except where spirit clearly means a spirit being who has revealed himself, spirit is seen as a function of the mind, whether it is God's mind, or whether it is man's mind. And just as we surely do not see mind, but we do see what mind does, so also we cannot see spirit. We only see what spirit does, and as we understand it, mind is more than spirit, yet spirit can figuratively mean "one's mind."
Okay. Now let us begin to build on this.
I Corinthians 6:17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
This usage points out how easily one might be misled or confused by inference in contrast to a direct concrete statement. From this verse one could conclude that if one is joined to the Lord, then one is a spirit just like the Lord is composed of. "He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit." The hat pin test disproves that very quickly. You are not one spirit, are you, not the way the Lord is a spirit.
When you read it in its wider context, Paul reveals that he is not writing on the theme of spirit composition at all, His theme is "closeness of connection," which he illustrates by being "joined to a harlot." Unity emerges as the theme as he begins to bring Christ into the picture, and in this case the highest, purest form of unity that a human being can be involved in. So Paul is suggesting then that sheep may wander from the shepherd, a branch may be cut from a tree, a member severed from the body, a child alienated from his parents, and even a wife from her husband, but when two spirits blend into one, nothing can separate them. So close is the unity that what affects one affects the other. This is why Jesus said there in Matthew 25, "Inasmuch as you have done this unto the least of these, My brethren, you have done it unto Me." What affects one affects the other.
Therefore Paul says do not involve Christ in sin. Do everything in your power to affect that relationship, that unity, for good. Our unity with Jesus Christ is spiritual. It is so close brethren, the way that God looks at it, it is closer than being joined in intercourse with a harlot! The reason being, brethren, because even in that situation we are still in reality two beings. But brethren, if you are in Christ, you are actually in His body, and that is why Paul used the word "spirit." You cannot see it. It is invisible, but it is real! You are IN Him! Are you aware of that? I hope we are growing to understand it. You are a cell in His body, and everything that is done by us, as Paul explains in I Corinthians 12, that when one part of the body hurts, the whole body hurts. When one part of the body is strengthened, the whole body is strengthened. We have got to begin to understand that when God uses the word "spirit," it suggests a unity that is so close, it is a matter of the joining of minds!
In I Corinthians, as we begin to understand this, we can begin to see why it is so easy to leap to a wrong conclusion. The Bible uses many inferences, and it is necessary for anybody who is researching in that among us to look for something more specific to clear the air, or to shed light on the subject, to let the plain and clear scriptures clarify the vague ones. "Inference" is the act of forming a conclusion based upon premises, and "premise" is a previous statement from which another is inferred. Brethren, what if the inference is wrong? What if the premise is wrong? Many premises, brethren, are merely theories. We saw that as I read all of those quotes to you. They are assumptions. They are presumptions. The whole evolutionary concept is built upon inferences, upon wrong premises, and yet it dominates the thinking of all of academia, and brethren, so is the Trinity doctrine. It is built upon false premises that are inferred into conclusions that are just as wrong as the premise that they began with. In I Corinthians 2 we saw earlier that God is Spirit, and we did not search it out at that time because we all know that it is a truth. God also has a spirit, and again we did not search that out because it is so obvious in regard to man. Man is material, but man also has a spirit. Now we are going to prove it here.
I Corinthians 2:10-11 But God has revealed them unto us by His spirit. [He is a spirit-being, composed of spirit, and He has a spirit.] For the Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? [Though man is not spirit (he is material), but like God, he has a spirit.] So the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God.
Even as the spirit in man is invisible, immaterial, and an immaterial element of his mind, so also is the Spirit of God an invisible, immaterial element of God's mind. A question now. God is Spirit, and He has a spirit. Man is material, and he has a spirit. What is the difference between the two? The answer to that is "nothing," and "much." Nothing in the sense that they are both spirit and they are so much alike, but the Spirit of God, in the analogy that we use, can be joined to the spirit of man, and a begettal takes place.
Now one of the laws of this universe is the law of biogenesis. A law is a "cannot be broken" principle. The law of biogenesis tells that kind reproduces after kind. Reproduction will not take place spiritually unless the Spirit of God and the spirit of man are capable of procreation, and so between the two of them there is no difference. I want you to think of this. When God breathed into Adam the breath of life, what did He breathe into him? Was that a precursor of what Jesus Christ did in Luke 24 when He breathed on the disciples and said, "Receive you the Holy Spirit"? It is that spirit that God breathed, as it were, into Adam that makes it possible for the Spirit of God to be joined with the spirit of man. There is no difference between the two except one—GOD IS HOLY! The only difference is that God's is holy. Man's is foul, spoiled, rotten, filthy, dirty, murderous, adulterous, evil in every sense; but still procreation can take place, and nobody even sees it. It happens in the mind! It is a spiritual thing, a spiritual joining of what? Two minds. Herbert Armstrong used to say that man was given God-like powers. Indeed he was, and those powers reside in the essence of his mind, joined with the brain. We are beginning to see what spirit is forming.
Let us examine this word "holy" just a bit. The basic meaning of the word "holy" is "different." God's Spirit is different—different, and therefore set apart. It is distinct. It is peculiar. It is different from the spirit that man is accustomed to dealing with on a day-to-day basis since his birth; different because it is clean, transcendently pure. It is so pure that it has an "otherness" to it. It is "a cut above" anything that is earthy. Every action that proceeds from the mind of God is thus a projection and a reflection of His Spirit, motivating, activating, inspiring, and impelling it. Every action of God is pure and filled with love. It is kind, merciful, gentle, good, life-giving, quickening, encouraging, strengthening.
These next scriptures will explain themselves.
Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God is pure.
Make a connection here, brethren, between "holy" and "word." Where do words come from? Words come from the mind. Words are a product of the mind. Every word of God is pure.
Psalm 12:6 The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
Where do thoughts occur? They occur in the mind. Where do words come from? They come out of the mind. Thoughts are formed by words in the mind. Thoughts and words are spirit. The Lord's thoughts are holy thoughts, holy words—Holy Spirit.
Isaiah 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
So thoughts and words and ways are all functions of the mind. "Ways," the manner in which things are done, are the product of words and thoughts. What is a word? In one sense it is nothing but a sound until somebody gives meaning to it. A word is a symbol of a concept. Words are spirit. Words are the essence of one's mind. It does not matter whether it is God's or yours. We use words for communicating concepts of all sorts, and they have the potential to have powerful effects. They can inspire, encourage, exhort, depress, inform, cut to the quick, destroy reputations, mislead, or calm. They can create faith, love, hope, determination, courage, endurance, fear, enthusiasm, morality, ethics. Words are in the mix of every technical development of man. Every invention that man has come up with has words at its foundation. The list of qualities and the things that words can do is almost endless. I want you to see in Psalm 104 what it says in regard to God.
Psalm 104:30 You send forth your spirit, they are created: and you renew the face of the earth.
Do you understand, brethren, that this exactly describes the same process man goes through when he invents, when he creates something new, or builds something? He plans with his thoughts in his mind, the thoughts that are formed by words which are the symbol of concepts, and then from his mind he sends them forth in the form of activity, and builds with the tools what he has planned, and it all began with spirit. Are you beginning to get the concept? And so these things begin as invisible, immaterial concepts, invisible within the recesses of the mind.
John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickens [that gives life, that makes alive]; the flesh profits nothings: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
Now here is the difference between God's Holy Spirit and our spirit being noted. God's Spirit (His Word, His thoughts, His way) always produces life—eternal life—the way God lives. Jesus was made a life-giving Spirit, and He is the High Priest. He is the leader as High Priest of what? The administration of life [II Corinthians 3]. The difference between the two covenants is that the priesthood under the Old Covenant could not administer life, but the Priesthood under the New Covenant administers life by ministering the Spirit of God to the mind of man. And so demons and men and Satan cannot truthfully claim what Jesus claimed here, that His Spirit is life. Now man's spirit, like the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, produces death, because it produces sin.
Now let us try to understand something.
John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that hears my word, and believes on him that sent me, has everlasting life. [The spirit of the mind of God passes into the mind, joining with the spirit of man, and it brings with it life.] And shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
But only if the person believes! Remember, belief has more to do with what the person does with what he hears than the fact that he merely agrees with it. Remember that words are spirit, and we pass from death to life by means of those words.
John 8:51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.
Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
Paul is saying, "I have passed from death to life."
Let us go back to John 14, and let us start asking a question here. How was Jesus able to produce miracles?
John 14:10 Believe you not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself; but the Father that dwells in me, he does the works.
Now was the third person of the trinity in Jesus? Who did the works? The Father, not a third person of a trinity. It was the Father! This is plain and just as clear as anything!
John 14:11-12 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me, or else believe me for the very works' sake. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believes on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto my Father.
He would of course be administering the spirit Himself.
John 11:41-42 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank you that you have heard me. And I knew that you hear me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that you have sent me.
Jesus asked the Father to do what? To resurrect, to give life. Who did the works? Jesus was only a man. Yes, He was God in the flesh. The important thing for you and me to understand is that even as God the Father worked in Jesus Christ, He is working in you and me. The pattern was established in the Son. The Father that lives in you does the works. That is how the miracles were done. In John 5, Jesus said, "Of My ownself I can do nothing." As close as they were, what He requested of God was always according to God's will, and so God gave it. In that sense brethren, Jesus never did a miracle in His life. What happened is, that when the Son requested, God sent forth His Spirit, and performed it. It is the Father who enables, and not a third person in a trinity. It is the Father Himself. Do you understand the import of this? Do you understand who's living in you? It's the Father Himself that enables us.
Let us go to the book of Philippians. We will carry this even further, so that it comes right down to you.
Philippians 2:1-5 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill you my joy, that you be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.
Now go to verse 12 as we carry that thought forward as we continue the context.
Philippians 2:12-13 Wherefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
The Holy Spirit in the form of a third person is not in you. It is the Father Himself, by His Spirit. Are you understanding how close the relationship is?
Matthew 16:17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed are you Simon Bar Jona: for flesh and blood has not revealed it unto you, but my Father which is in heaven.
I could go on and on with this.
I Corinthians 12:6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which works all in all.
Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith.
I Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
II Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.
James 1:17-18 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
Hebrews 13:20-21 Now may the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
I want you to turn to a very familiar scripture:
John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Brethren, our calling, our life in Christ begins when the Father—not a third party in a trinity or Godhead—directly interfaces with our mind for the purpose of revealing Himself, His ways, His purpose, His plan, His mind, His attitude, His perspective, His character, His love, His power, His mercy, His forgiveness, and on and on, that we might use our life and free moral agency to choose life—right back to Deuteronomy 30 and its context.
But what I want us to get is that the Father Himself does this. God miraculously joins His own mind to ours! There is nothing mysterious about that at all. He begins a transference of His thoughts, His attitudes, His character—the Spirit of His mind into our minds, and when it says, "Grieve not the Spirit of God," it is saying, "Don't grieve the Father by resisting Him." He is transferring the invisible essence of His mind through the access that we have to Him by means of the death of Jesus Christ. He is not kidding about the importance of that. He is helping us to understand that even as we are influenced by those who are around us, that unless we are in the presence of God, we will not be influenced by Him, and so we have to share life with Him.
This is where prayer begins to become important. This is where Bible study begins to become important, because we are literally in His presence and He is transferring the essence of His mind into ours. Nobody sees it. And when we obey, we are giving Him permission to do this. We submit, using our free moral agency. There is nothing magical about this at all. It occurs when we respond to the influence in the interface that He creates between us when we believe His Word and submit and when we strengthen the relationship through prayer, Bible study, and meditation. There is no third person in a trinity called "the Holy Spirit." The "Holy Spirit," when a personality is indicated by the context, is the Father or the Son.
In Ezra 1:1 it says very plainly that God stirred the spirit of Cyrus. In Haggai 1:14 it says that God stirred the spirit in Zerubbabel and Joshua. That is what happens to us! God stirs, excites our mind to things that we would never understand or grasp unless He did what He did.
Ezra 1:1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing.
Haggai 1:14 And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the LORD of hosts, their God.
John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
Is that not interesting? So simple—the Father and the Son, and this is right in the context right after where He said, "I will send another spirit." It is the Father and the Son who live in us, not a third person in a trinity.
Now what is the Holy Spirit? It is the essence of their mind. Is that not simple? It is the essence of their mind. Jesus said, "The Father and I are one," because their minds are so much alike. The Holy Spirit is power that issues forth from them, and when we accept it, what does it issue forth from us in? What is its fruit? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, meekness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
It emanates directly from them for the express purpose of influencing us directly and personally, and that is why you can be called "the called," "the chosen," "the elect," because of all the people in this world, God chose directly to influence you. Remember Ephesians 2:2? Satan indirectly affects everyone on earth with his spirit. He broadcasts it forth, and it goes out in a general manner. But the relationship with God is direct and personal. It does not go to everybody. It came directly to you. He sent forth His Spirit. He was thinking about you, and He was creating thoughts in His mind (also spirit) about you, and what you could become, where you could fit in His Kingdom, and what He needed to do to prepare you for it.
He was thinking about you before He ever let you know, and when the time came that it was right, He sent forth His Spirit and began to create you spiritually. He sent forth His mind, and began to interface with you personally. That is the difference between God's approach, and Satan's approach. Once you understand this, you can begin to answer those ticky-tacky questions that have to do with the Trinity.
I hope that I have at least gotten something across here that may be helpful to you. Like I said at the beginning, it is not going to answer all the questions, but it does provide a basis. The Holy Spirit is the essence—it is an emanation from God's mind to yours.