sermon: The Father-Son Relationship (Part 7)
The Lord Is The Spirit
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 10-Dec-05; Sermon #750; 75 minutes
In discussing the Holy Spirit and the Trinity, John Ritenbaugh reiterates that the Holy Spirit is never venerated as a separate being (Revelation 22:1-3, John 10:30, John 17:3). Spirit (ruach-Hebrew or pneuma-Greek), something never seen, is manifested or personified in many diverse ways such as truth, adoption, anger, courage, grace, faith, (states of mind or emotion, character, or personality) etc. In every instance it is preceded by the words "spirit of." Spirit applies to an invisible force or power within man or beast or angelic being making them unique. Our hope of glory is the "indwelling of Christ" and is used interchangeably with "Spirit of God" and "Spirit of Truth." Jesus promised a spirit of power from on high made available for His disciples (as diverse spiritual gifts) to witness of Him. The Holy Spirit, as a force or power dwelling in us, enables us to keep God's law and to receive our new nature. Pneuma and ruach represent that invisible power applied in many diverse ways manifesting in us the power of God making it possible to have an intimate family relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ, perfectly unified in purpose and composition, analogous to the relationship of husband and wife—at one in a family relationship. Ruach Ha Kodesh or Pneuma Hagion (Christ in us) provides the metaphoric glue to make this cleavage possible - making our God-family relationship manifest.
Abba, Father, Abandon the flesh, Action, Advocate, Animal spirit, Another comforter, Beast, Begettal, Born again, Bullinger, Character, Cleave (stick to), Comforter, Courage, Electricity, Faith, Fluttering, Force, God is Spirit, Helper, Holy Spirit, Hope, Hypostasis, Indwelling of spirit, Intercession of spirit, Invisible force, Invisible power, Jesus in you, the hope of glory, Knowledge, Living word of God, Oneness issue, Paraclete, Pneuma, Power, Qualities, Relationship with God, Ruach, Saul, Spirit, Spirit of Christ, Spirit of man, Spirit of truth, Spirit that proceeds from Christ, Spiritual gifts, Temperament, Tongues (languages), Trinity, Understanding, Word of God, Word of wisdom, Worship in spirit and truth
With this sermon I am going to get back on track with the sermon series I began all the way back in June regarding the trinity doctrine but then branched off into the "Father-Son relationship." I am going to conclude both aspects; but today we are going to work first on the Trinity, since it is with that I started, and I want to get that completed.
The trinity doctrine proposes to us that there are three co-equal beings comprising the Godhead. However, we have seen that in reality the Godhead consists of only one Being. Both Testaments clearly state that there is only one God, meaning one Supreme God, as Herbert Armstrong called Him; or one Absolute God, as others have called Him. This in no way suggests that Jesus is not God. He most surely is God. He is uncreated and eternal—the One through whom the purpose for mankind is being carried out. He is not the Supreme or Absolute God—the One and the only One in all of creation who has no God, who answers to no one and submits to no one.
The trinity doctrine, in contrast to the Bible, teaches us that there is not one Supreme God, or two, but three co-equal beings in hypostasis (whatever that means) who comprise the Godhead. I am going to show you in a somewhat different way from what is normally used that this trinity complex cannot possibly be correct. In order to grasp this, all one has to do is to carefully follow what Jesus says and believe it, because He gives very clear explanations regarding the existence of this supposed "third person."
The thread of Jesus' teaching regarding the Holy Spirit begins on the last Passover, on the evening before His death. However, before we get there we must ask some pertinent questions.
Revelation 22:1-3 And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.
Considering the significance of this setting, which is showing the conclusion of God's plan for mankind, where is the throne of the Holy Spirit, if indeed there exist three co-equal beings of the so-called trinity? Why does this verse not say, "From the throne of God, and of the Lamb, and of the Holy Spirit"?
I Corinthians 8:6 Yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.
Two God Beings are specifically mentioned here. Where is the third? Why does not the verse say that there is only one God, and there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, and one Holy Spirit by which you are regenerated? Why is not the Holy Spirit mentioned along with the others in a place where it should be expected, especially if you are familiar with the context? The context is about idolatry.
We have been in this next verse a large number of times lately.
John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
If eternal life is to know the Father and the Son, does it not seem unusual and illogical to you that the Holy Spirit, who is supposed to be so important to our spiritual life, is not mentioned here but should be equally well-known?
John 10:30 "I and My Father are one."
In this context, the theme concerns deity. Why did not Jesus say, "I, and the Father, and the Holy Spirit are one," when He had a perfect opportunity to declare a triune Godhead but He did not take it?
The theme here is about the mystery of God:
Colossians 1:26-27 the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Here is another interesting absence. The great mystery of God has been revealed to His children, and it is this: Christ in us is the hope of glory. Most people believe that we are indwelt by a third person in a trinity; that is, of course, the Holy Spirit. Does it not seem illogical to you, believing how important people feel that the Holy Spirit is to salvation, that the verse should therefore read, "The Holy Spirit in you, the hope of glory"? No, Paul specifically says that it is Christ in you. I want you to hold on to this because this statement becomes very important at the end of the unraveling of this mystery.
There are many mentions of spirit in the Scripture, and I am going to give you some. In fact, there are over 700 of them between the Old and New Testaments. There is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of the Father, the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of truth, the Spirit of holiness, the Spirit of life, the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ, the spirit of adoption, the spirit of meekness, the same spirit of faith, the Holy Spirit of promise, the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the Holy Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the Spirit of grace, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of glory and of God, and the spirit of prophecy. Nineteen distinctly named spirits. Maybe there should be a throne for each one of these as well. I speak facetiously.
There are two words for spirit: one from the Hebrew Old Testament—ruach—and one from the Greek New Testament—pneuma. Both of these words are translated spirit. These two words are virtual synonyms of each other; both have exactly the same usage in their respective languages. The root idea running through both words is "of an invisible force."
Both of these words—invisible and force—are of primary importance to understanding this doctrine. However, both words are translated into a wide variety of English words because their applications are so many and so varied. This is so much so that E. W. Bullinger, in Appendix 9 of the Companion Bible, states that "the meaning of the word can be deduced only from its usage within a given context." Never forget this as we go through it.
Spirit itself is never seen. Remember, it is invisible. We can observe, though, what it does; we can only see its manifestation. Thus, if spirit is accomplishing some action, we can be aware of it through our senses—our eyes, ears, or feeling—but we can never see what is motivating the action. We see, feel, and hear the action but not the force itself. Jesus gave a simple illustration of this in the "you must born again" chapter.
John 3:8 "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit."
We are all familiar with the devastation caused by hurricanes, maybe most especially at this time by Hurricane Katrina. Air—even moving air—is invisible. We can clearly see what it does and what it does can demonstrate great power.
Another familiar illustration can be drawn from electricity. We all know that it is generated from a completely out-of-sight generating plant. When we flip a switch to make use of it, we are still unable to see the electrical current, but what we do see is what it accomplishes when the lights come on, the heat flows, or a motor starts turning. We do not see spirit at any time. We only see the manifestation that it is there.
Genesis 1:2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
The word Spirit there is ruach. If we were looking from outer space at what was unfolding, we would be unable to see the Spirit moving across the surface of the earth. What we would see was the earth responding to the powerful and creative artistry of God as He established beauty out of chaos left in the wake of Satan's war against God. You would see what was happening, but you would not see spirit. It is invisible. You would not see the force, either. All you would see is what it is doing: things are moving.
Let us go to a smaller example in the Song of Moses. He is describing something with which you are quite familiar.
Exodus 15:8 And with the blast of Your nostrils the waters were gathered together; the floods stood upright like a heap; the depths congealed in the heart of the sea.
We are familiar with the story of the means by which God parted the waters of the Red Sea so that Israel could cross on dry ground; yet when the Egyptian army went through, it was crushed. The word blast is ruach. If you had been there you would not have seen the spirit, but you would have felt and heard the wind moving. Most of the time in the Old Testament, when you see the word wind, it is translated from spirit.
II Samuel 22:16 Then the channels of the sea were seen, the foundations of the world were uncovered, at the rebuke of the LORD, at the blast [ruach] of the breath [ruach] of His nostrils.
Both blast and breath are translated from the same word, ruach. I am showing you ways in which the word ruach is used; we will get to pneuma just a little bit later. This is why Bullinger said that you cannot tell what the word means until you see it in the context.
Ecclesiastes 3:19 For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath [ruach]; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity.
Here ruach is used in one of its most common ways, and that is the air we breathe in and out and that supports life. Regarding it, man has no preeminence over a beast, because both breathe the same air. The same spirit—air—supports the life of both.
Ecclesiastes 3:21 Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, which goes down to the earth?
In this verse, ruach is again used in both applications; however, once we understand, the applications are in some measure different. They are definitely different from what we saw in verse 19, where it simply means "breath." In this context, it is applied to an invisible quality or power within man or beast that makes them different from each other. It is not visible externally, but a human is most definitely not an animal, and an animal is not a human. The difference is attributed to invisible spirit.
I will clear this up for you. Elihu states:
Job 32:8 But there is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding.
The understanding here is attributed to ruach—to spirit. Spirit here is the same one we just saw in Ecclesiastes 3:19 and also in Ecclesiastes 3:21; therefore; we can reach a conclusion: spirit is given from God. It is a God-given quality that enables a man to gain knowledge—to understand it, as the verse says, and to make practical application of it.
Spirit is what separates us from the beasts even though we breathe the same air. Two different qualities are given to that word within a matter of just a couple of verses. It was from this that the "spirit in man" doctrine arises. There is some invisible power within a man that makes him a man and not a beast. We just saw in Ecclesiastes 3:21 that an animal also has a spirit, but it is not the same as the spirit that is in a human being.
We are not done yet with these applications. It is so important that we understand that spirit is an invisible power, a force, that causes things to occur.
Joshua 2:11 And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.
The word courage here is ruach. Here is a different application. Spirit is used to indicate a specific quality within a person—a quality that is not seen until it is manifested in conduct and held then to be motivated by invisible spirit. This is one of the most common uses to which the words ruach and pneuma are put. It can be translated into a word like anger because it is a temperament that is being manifested.
Thus, spirit is used to represent states of mind, feelings, and desires, because you cannot see it on the outside until you see it with your eye; but it is there, latent within the person until it motivates. We can shorten this particular use and them all by thinking the word spirit can be aspects of character and personality.
Exodus 31:2-6 "See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship. And I, indeed I, have appointed with him Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and I have put wisdom in the hearts of all who are gifted artisans, that they may make all that I have commanded you.
What we have here are men and women gifted with extraordinary artistry beyond what a human craftsman would ordinarily develop by means of human qualities. In this case, spirit reveals itself by means of this artistry for the purpose of building the Tabernacle. The skill that these people showed is attributed to spirit, an invisible internal power.
Turn now to I Samuel 10. I feel that this is one of the more important for those of us who are converted.
I Samuel 10:1, 6, 9-11 Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him and said: "Is it not because the LORD has anointed you commander over His inheritance?. . . . Then the Spirit of the LORD will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man.". . . . So it was, when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, that God gave him [Saul] another heart; and all those signs came to pass that day. When they came there to the hill, there was a group of prophets to meet him; then the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them. And it happened, when all who knew him formerly saw that he indeed prophesied among the prophets, that the people said to one another, "What is this that has come upon the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?"
Spirit, an invisible power—and in this case, it is God's Spirit—changed Saul into something he had not been before. Here is why it is so important: He lost it because of his abuse of his gifts, mainly through his presumptuous choices.
Most of what I have given you so far has been from the Old Testament. I have done it this way because the Old Testament examples are generally more easily seen. However, there are even more different applications of the Greek pneuma than there are for the Hebrew ruach. I want you to go first to the book of Luke to see Jesus' own description of the Holy Spirit. Now get this; this is His own description:
Luke 24:49 "Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high."
Acts 1:8 "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
Is that not clear? Jesus says the Holy Spirit is power. That is pretty specific. When it was given in this broad, public way, what did the people see? They did not see spirit; they saw its manifestation: the speaking in different languages. They saw the flames of fire that appeared on the people. They heard, as it were, a mighty rushing wind. What they saw was the manifestation. We also know from what He says in verse 8 that the power was not given merely to demonstrate these things, but that they could witness to Him in these areas that He said, including the uttermost part of the earth. These things are so clear.
Let us go to one of the better-known revelations regarding spirit.
I Corinthians 12:4-11 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. [All of these gifts come from the same Spirit.] There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. [The Spirit that is going to give the gift is coming from the same Person, the Lord.] And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all [that is, for the good of all]: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit [this invisible force] works all these things, distributing to each one individually [or distributing to everyone] as He wills.
If you understand what this chapter is about, the reason it begins as it does is that God is showing us that it is He that empowers us to carry out our responsibilities. If we were to combine what is taught here in this chapter with Ephesians 4, we would find that every part of the body—every human being in the church of God—has been gifted by God by His Spirit to carry out a responsibility for the good of the church—not just the ministry, but everybody is enabled by the same Spirit.
What we are seeing here in I Corinthians 12 is very similar in purpose to God's empowering Bezaleel and Aholiab and all of those other workmen employed in building the Tabernacle under Moses. The difference is that their powers given by God produced gifts for physical purposes. Our gifts are for spiritual purposes. The difference is manifested by what is produced. They built a beautiful building that was merely a type. Jesus Christ, through us and with the gifts given, is building a living entity, the Temple of God—the church of God—which is also the body of Christ.
We are going to go back to John 3 to one that is a bit difficult to grasp. I go back to John 3 because, as far as the Bible is concerned, this is the earliest that this particular application of spirit is made.
John 3:3-7 Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'"
What Jesus did here (setting the pattern for others, as we shall see) is contrast the fleshly nature we have by birth and living in this worldly environment to the spiritual nature that comes by regeneration of God's Holy Spirit. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; that is all it can ever be. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Jesus contrasted flesh with spirit.
John picked up on this. I will briefly expound this to you.
I John 5:1, 5 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. . . . Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
John did the same thing here that Jesus did in John 3, but it is a little bit harder to see. When you combine the understanding of verse 1 with verse 5, what John said is that only those who have the nature that comes from begettal by our Holy Father are going to have power to overcome the world. Those with human nature will never, never, never accomplish this feat. The world can only be overcome by the Spirit of God within us, which gives us the power to do so.
Paul makes it as clear as it can be:
Romans 8:4 That the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk [live, conduct our lives] according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Do you see how he is contrasting the one with the other?
Romans 8:8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
It is an impossibility! Why? Because they cannot overcome the world. We just saw that in I John 5:5.
Romans 8:8-9 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
We can conclude this little section this way: When Jesus, Paul, and John used the word spirit in this manner, it means the new nature received from God.
We are beginning to see how varied the usages of this word are. The most common usages to us is that spirit can refer to the Father, to the Son, to the good angels of God, or to demons—in addition to the Holy Spirit, the supposed third person in the Trinity.
All in all, ruach is used eight different ways in the Old Testament. Pneuma is used fourteen different ways in the New Testament. It is always invisible, with one exception: a spirit being who chooses to allow humans to see it, like an angel. That is the one exception. Every other application of spirit is invisible, never seen.
Most people who argue in favor of the Trinity base their arguments on Jesus' instruction following the Passover service; but to rightly grasp what Jesus said, one must carefully and thoughtfully follow what He says, asking some questions here and there so that you can understand in comparing what He said with what you already know. I went through all these applications so that it would be a backdrop.
As we begin John the fourteenth chapter, understand the frame of mind in which the disciples were. They were already sobered by the Passover-meal experience. They understood the Old Testament significance, but they did not fully grasp its prophetic, personal, and, at that time, immediate application to Jesus and thus themselves. However, when He told them He was going to leave them, they became fearful because He was their closest friend, the one they loved so dearly. They had seen Him do amazing things, including even resurrections. In addition to that, it was He who opened their minds to their awesome future in the Gospel; and here He was telling them that He was going to die. Not only were they leaving their closest friend, they were also puzzled about what was going to happen to them once they were leaderless. Was He not going to establish the Kingdom of God?
John 14:1 "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me."
Jesus perceived their state of mind. We could even say here, "their spirit." Their spirit was downcast because of the things that were entering their minds. He immediately gives assurance that there is a future for them: being together with Him. He goes on to show that He must proceed first and that they would follow Him later.
To further assure them, in verse 6, He says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." He is beginning to emphasize a relationship—the relationship He has with the Father. His relationship with the Father is important regarding the Trinity. Why? Because nowhere in the Bible does it show a third person in some supposed triune Godhead that has a similar relationship—the kind that Jesus has—between the Father and the supposed third person. In addition to that, the Bible shows no relationship between Jesus and a supposed third person in a Trinity, either as a brother or a fellow member of a Godhead. This relationship thing was mystifying to Philip, and he asked the following question:
John 14:8 Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us."
In Jesus' response to this, I perceive that there is some measure of weariness in His reply, especially in verse 9.
John 14:9-11 Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves."
Somehow they could not grasp the relationship Jesus had with the Father. Perhaps it was because the Father was invisible, and it was just beyond them spiritually.
Even though Jesus was God in the flesh, He was still encumbered by humanity. He said that He, of and by Himself, had neither the words of instruction (the marvelous teaching He gave to those men) nor the miraculous power to do the signs by which He mercifully gave identity to who He was in order to reinforce the instruction given by Him. Understand that the things that were done through Christ were done by the Spirit that was proceeding from the Father. Humanly, Jesus had no more power, if I can put it this way, than you or I.
It is very important for us to understand this "oneness" issue because, in one sense, it is the secret of Jesus' power. Earlier, He had stated in John 10:30 that He and the Father were one. What He meant is that though They were two different Beings, They were perfectly unified in the purpose and plan that They were working out within and for mankind's benefit. This oneness is actually an echo of something that appears earlier in the Bible. Every one of you is familiar with it. Adam uttered this, and he must have done it under the inspiration of God's Spirit.
Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined [cleave, KJV] to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
This earlier oneness, in simple terminology, is what we must have in order to be of the oneness with God in a relationship with Him. The word cleave is a strong verb meaning "stick to." Adam's declaration here can be reconstructed this way, which I will paraphrase: "When a man abandons his father and mother, [he does so] in order that he may cleave to his wife, that they may become one flesh." What Adam is doing here is being used to declare a major change that must take place in life and purpose and pleasure to achieve this oneness. A man has to be stuck on his wife, and his wife to him. That symbolizes a oneness.
From this verse and our own experience in life, we begin to learn that oneness indicates a process that is not easily achieved. It must really be stuck to. Apply that same principle to a relationship with God: We have to abandon the flesh, abandon the world, and stick to God if we are going to be one with Him. On the one side, we see a oneness fleshly; but now we are talking about a oneness spiritually.
John 17:20-21 "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word [That is we!]; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.
This is where God is heading with His creation of us, that we be one with Him. Remember that this is the very thing with which Jesus begins His explanation of the Holy Spirit back in John 14. He begins it with the oneness that He has with the Father. He said He was so much like the Father that "if you have seen Me, you have seen the Father." That is really oneness! None of us has achieved that. We have a hard time achieving it with our spouse. That is only a type. All of us who are married, I think, can understand the difficulty of becoming one with another human being. We need help, and we especially need help to become one with God. The Holy Spirit plays that part. Plays is maybe a bad word; I used it for the lack of a better one.
Jesus' prayer is that we become one with the Father. Is the world one with God? No. The world hates God, and we hated God too until He, by His Spirit, forced a change on us by calling us. We did not invite it; He did it on His own by His Spirit.
John 17:22-23 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
This oneness of which Jesus is speaking in both of these chapters is going to be accomplished largely by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but we have to remember we must respond in the right way. The reassurance He gives them is reinforced by this promise that contains a condition.
John 14:15 "If you love Me. . ."
Do not two people who are coming together to be one love each other? Certainly. That creates oneness.
John 14:15-21, 23 "If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.". . . . Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him."
The condition for receiving this promise of the Comforter is that we must keep the commandments and thus be demonstrating our love for Christ. By and through the promise of the Comforter, He is telling them and us that we will be helped in the same manner as He had explained in verse 10. He was helped by the Father. He is not saying that we would be helped to the degree that He was, but that we would be helped.
It is not in the keeping of the commandments that we are going to earn salvation, but keeping the commandments will demonstrate our love for Him. It will produce growth of the new nature, and it will engrave the Father's way of life into our character. In addition, it will provide the witness of God in our lives. It will glorify Him before others. In other words, our keeping of the commandments will bring praise to God.
He says that He would give them the help of one who would go alongside of them. The word Comforter is translated from the Greek paraklete. It literally means "one who goes along the side of." It can be variously defined or understood as guide, advocate, interceptor, or helper, depending upon the context in which it appears. It is one who gives aid and encouragement.
Who had been their guide, advocate, interceptor, and helper to this point in their lives? He had! For three and one-half years, they were receiving instruction from God in the flesh. Now He more specifically defines or describes the other Comforter in verse 17 as "the Spirit of truth," does He not? If you would go back to verse 6, it says, "I am the truth." Is that not what He said? He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life."
In John 17:17 it says that God's Word is truth. It also shows in John 1 that Jesus was the living Word of God. He was the Word of God personified. God's Word is truth. Every way you look at, the Spirit of truth is the Spirit of Jesus Christ Himself. We are beginning to home in on who the Holy Spirit is.
Now Jesus says, "another Comforter." For three and one-half years, Jesus was the Comforter in the flesh. Another Comforter was going to be the Spirit of the same being; but it was going to be invisible, and it was going to be spiritual. It would not be a fleshly aide running to the side of these people to help. It was going to be Him, but from a Spirit that proceeded forth from Him—exactly the same Spirit that He had shown to them on earth, but everything is now shifted into the spiritual realm.
We can define this even a little bit further. In verse 17, the phrase of the Spirit of truth is a prepositional phrase. It modifies the noun Spirit and indicates therefore that this particular Spirit is possessed by or belongs to truth, and therefore, right in the sentence, Jesus Christ, who is truth.
He further emphasized this. At the end of verse 17, He said, "for He dwells with you." That cannot get any plainer! Who dwelt with them for three and one-half years? Jesus did! The rest of verse 17 says, ". . . and shall be in you." Jesus would be in us: "Christ in you, the hope of glory," not some third person. Jesus Christ Himself is the Holy Spirit!
Let us go a little bit further. We can keep drawing this out. Who is speaking here? Jesus is speaking.
John 14:18 "I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you."
Jesus said, "I will come to you," not a third person in a Trinity. Jesus Himself, by the Spirit that emanates from His mind, would come to us.
Do you know what spirit is? In most cases this definition will fit: Spirit is nothing more than a powerful communication from the mind of God to the mind of man. That is pretty simple, but it motivates us. People would see us acting, but the One who provided the motivation was God Himself by means of the communication that He gave us. "Do this." "Do that." "Say this." "Say that." It may even appear to us that we are acting on our own; but Jesus tells us right here, "It is the Father who speaks through Me," and "It is the Father who does the works." Yes, we have some control. We want to make sure that when we get that urge, if I can put it that way, to do good, we had better not grieve the Holy Spirit but do what it says.
In verse 18, He says in the King James Version, "I will not leave you comfortless." If you look in a modern translation, it will very likely say, "I will not leave you an orphan." It might say, "I will not leave you alone," or "I will not leave you a waif," or "I will not leave you bereft." If you take the rest of that verse, why would we not be alone ever? Because He said, "I will come to you." "I will come to you." Christ Himself will come to you. That ought to be pretty comforting. How would He do it? By means of His Spirit—the Spirit of truth—the invisible force that motivates and empowers and enables attitudes and conduct that glorifies God. In John 6:63 He said, "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit [an invisible power], and they are life."
In verse 20, He begins to hone the oneness issue again.
John 14:20-21 "At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him."
Jesus said He will manifest Himself to us, not a third person in a Trinity. He is telling them He will be in us, and He will manifest Himself. He will do it. The Living Bible translates verse 20 as, "He who has My commandments with him and obeys them is the one who loves Me, and he who loves Me will be loved of My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him." That is as plain and clear as daylight, and all we have to do is believe it.
He says later that He could only do this if He died. He said, "It is necessary that I go to the Father for the Spirit to be given." It was necessary that He die and be resurrected. There are many benefits of that, because as long as He was a human, He was in only one place at one time, like you and me. As God, though, He would have the omnipotence and omniscience of a Spirit being—a very God Being—who is able to view all of creation at the same time and be with tens of thousands, maybe millions, of people all at the same time.
Verse 23 really nails this down:
John 14:23 Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him."
This is showing two different beings. Since they are one, and we are begotten of the Father, we also have the Father and the Son to call upon in times of need.
In John 4, the King James Version says,
John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
The article a was inserted; it does not belong there. "God is Spirit." Spirit here is being used to describe the body of which God is composed.
I Peter 1:14-16 As obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."
God is Spirit, and God is holy. Here holy is referring to attitude, to conduct. They both are pure, righteous, loving, and yet also just. Therefore, since the Father and Son are both spirit and holy, both are Holy Spirit.
Galatians 4:6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!"
Is that not clear? Who is it that is living in us? It is Jesus Christ, not the third person of a triune Godhead.
Romans 8:26-27 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
Hebrews 4:12-13 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
Verse 12 says "the word of God," and you know who "the Word of God" is. He searches our hearts. He is the One who is spirit and is living in us.
Romans 8:34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
God the Father spent 33½ years preparing His Son to be our High Priest so that He, having all of this experience as a human being, could lead, guide, and correct us. He experienced what it is like to be a human so that He can help us meet the challenges of becoming like Him. Does it make logical sense to you that God would then turn the job over to an entirely different being who never experienced the things Christ did and one we do not even know? That makes absolutely no sense to me at all.
The Bible shows absolutely no example of the Holy Spirit being worshipped as a separate person of the Godhead. Both the Father and the Son, though, are worshipped.
Let us end in John 16, since this will summarize things.
John 16:13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth [Jesus Christ], has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
It is the Spirit—that invisible power—that is communicated from Him to us. It is "Christ in us" that is our hope of glory. He is the one who is preparing us for God's Kingdom. He is the one empowering us to understand, to remember, to overcome, to witness, to glorify God even as He, Jesus Himself, did. There is no trinitarian Godhead.