Several years ago in a question and answer time on the ministry of the Holy Spirit, a leading deacon of a church said tongue-in-cheek, yet with a real degree of honesty, “I thought the Fundamentalists had the Father and the Son, but the Charismatics had the Holy Spirit.”
Last week we discussed the weakness among Independent Baptists of de-emphasizing the Holy Spirit (see Greatest Strength and Weakness of Independent Baptist Churches). This week I want to show that it is biblically proper to honor the Spirit as God along with the Father and the Son. Three questions will guide our study.
1. Is the Holy Spirit truly God?
Most certainly, we would all respond with a resounding “Yes!” We affirm this truth in our doctrine. But I’ve met many who do not really honor the Spirit as God. In their practice, the Spirit is treated as a second class citizen in the Godhead. When this is the case, the same people who are Trinitarian in their doctrine are not Trinitarian in their practice. This is a grave error. For the Holy Spirit is God (Matt. 28:19; Ps. 139:7-10; Heb. 9:14).
2. Should the Holy Spirit be glorified as God?
Is He God? Then the answer should be obvious. Several years ago after I preached on the ministry of the Holy Spirit at a seminar, a preacher came rushing up to me and with great agitation said, “You can’t glorify the Holy Spirit!” How sad!
When the Scripture says “Honor God” but does not specify which person of the Godhead, does it not include Father, Son, and Spirit? The Spirit should be glorified as God along with the Father and the Son. This is not a matter of getting out of balance, but getting back into balance.
Jesus said of the Spirit, “He shall glorify me” (John 16:14). But He never said we are not to glorify the Spirit. This is a jump some make that is not in the text. Throughout Scripture each person of the Godhead glorifies the other two. As someone once said, “The persons of the Godhead are not jealous of each other!” You’re dealing with one God.
The confusion often comes from misunderstanding John 16:13. Jesus said of the Spirit, “He shall not speak of himself.” Some draw the conclusion, “See, the Spirit does not speak about himself, so we shouldn’t either.” But Jesus did not say, “He shall not speak about himself.” He said “He shall not speak of himself” which means “from” Himself, for the Spirit works in perfect unison with the Father and the Son. But the Spirit did speak about Himself. How else would we know about Him? “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (1 Pet. 1:21).
The Bible contains 347 explicit references to the Holy Spirit, including 261 in the New Testament. This number is far exceeded by a much greater number of references to the Lord Jesus in keeping with the Spirit’s ministry to testify of the Son (John 15:26) and to glorify the Son (John16:14). But the Spirit did speak about Himself.
Also, Jesus said, “I speak not of myself” (John 14:10). If you take from the earlier phrase “he shall not speak of himself” to mean that you cannot talk about the Spirit, then to be consistent, you would have to take from the phrase “I speak not of myself” to mean you could not talk about Jesus. This proves the fallacy of the thinking that you cannot talk about the Spirit.
3. Who reveals the Son?
The Son revealed the Father (John 14: 9) and the Spirit reveals the Son. Jesus said, “He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:14). The Spirit takes of Christ and shows Him unto us. The Spirit reveals the Son. In fact, we have no way of “seeing Jesus” without the ministry of the Holy Spirit. If you neglect the Spirit, you have no way of really seeing Jesus.
Jesus said we are to honor the Son as we honor the Father (John 5:23), because He is the express revelation of the Father. He taught if you do not honor the Son, you are not honoring the Father. When a Jehovah’s Witness says he honors Jehovah (the Father) and then denies the deity of Christ, he is grossly deceived. For you cannot honor the Father without also honoring the Son—since the Son reveals the Father.
Let’s follow the same logic. Since the Spirit reveals the Son, whom must you honor in order to honor the Son? If you sincerely desire to honor the Son, you must honor the Spirit. If, in the name of honoring the Son, you do not honor the Spirit, you are not honoring the Son. The Spirit reveals the Son. The bottom line is that if you honor the Spirit and get to know the Spirit, you’ll soon be crying out, “What a friend we have in Jesus!”
John Van Gelderen
About This Blog
Hello, I’m John Van Gelderen. I am an evangelist and the president of Revival Focus Ministries, an organization for the cause of revival in hearts, homes, churches, and beyond, and for evangelizing. This blog is focused on experiencing Jesus. I believe in order to really live, you must access and experience the very life of Jesus Christ.