Is the Holy Spirit Only the Power of God?
Herbert W. Armstrong taught that the Holy Spirit was only "the power of God," but not God, and certainly not part of the Godhead. In order to try to understand what the Bible reveals about the Holy Spirit, let's first look at Jesus and see if He was indeed very God and very Man in His incarnation and then we will look at the Scriptures which cover the Holy Spirit.
"For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
~II Corinthians 4:6
The following chart should help you see the two natures of Jesus "in action":
|He is worshiped (Matt. 2:2,11; 14:33).||He worshiped the Father (John 17).|
|He was called God (John 20:28; Heb. 1:8).||He was called man (Mark 15:39; John 19:5).|
|He was called Son of God (Mark 1:1).||He was called Son of Man (John 9:35-37).|
|He is prayed to (Acts 7:59).||He prayed to the Father (John 17).|
|He is sinless (1 Pet. 2:22; Heb. 4:15).||He was tempted (Matt. 4:1).|
|He knows all things (John 21:17).||He grew in wisdom (Luke 2:52).|
|He gives eternal life (John 10:28).||He died (Rom. 5:8).|
|All the fullness of deity dwells in Him (Col. 2:9).||He has a body of flesh and bones (Luke 24:39).|
Jesus is God in human flesh. He is not half God and half man. He is fully divine and fully man. That is, Jesus has two distinct natures: divine and human. Jesus is the Word who was God and was with God and was made flesh, (John 1:1,14). This means that in the single person of Jesus is both a human and divine nature. The divine nature was not changed. It was not altered. He is not merely a man who "had God within Him" nor is he a man who "manifested the God principle." He is God. "Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power," (Heb. 1:3). Jesus' two natures are not "mixed together," nor are they combined into a new God-man nature. They are separate yet act as a unit in the one person of Jesus. This is called the Hypostatic Union.
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God,
The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
The Communicatio Idiomatum
A doctrine that is related to the Hypostatic Union is the communicatio idiomatum (Latin for "communication of properties"). It is the teaching that the attributes of both the divine and human natures are ascribed to Jesus. This means that the man Jesus could lay claim to the glory He had with the Father before the world was made (John 17:5), claim that He descended from heaven, (John 3:13), and also claim omnipresence, (Matt. 28:20). All of these are divine qualities that are laid claim to by Jesus; therefore, the attributes of the divine properties were claimed by the person of Jesus.
"For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." ~ Colossians 2:9
Mistakes Cultists Make
One of the most common errors that cults make is not understanding the two natures of Christ. For example, the Jehovah's Witnesses focus on Jesus' humanity and ignore His divinity. They repeatedly quote verses dealing with Jesus as a man and try and set them against scripture showing that Jesus is also divine. On the other hand, the Christian Scientists do the reverse. They focus on the scriptures showing Jesus' divinity to the extent of denying His true humanity.
For a proper understanding of Jesus and, therefore, all other doctrines that relate to Him, His two natures must be properly understood and defined. Jesus is one person with two natures. This is why He would grow in wisdom and stature (Luke 2:52) yet know all things (John 21:17). He is the Divine Word that became flesh (John 1:1,14).
The Bible is about Jesus (John 5:39). The prophets prophesied about Him (Acts 10:43). The Father bore witness of Him (John 5:37; 8:18). The Holy Spirit bore witness of Him (John 15:26). The works Jesus did bore witness of Him (John 5:36; 10:25). The multitudes bore witness of Him (John 12:17). And, Jesus bore witness of Himself (John 14:6; 18:6).
Other verses to consider when examining His deity are: John 10:30-33 ["I and my father are one"]; 20:28 "And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God."]; Col. 2:9 ["For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily."]; Phil. 2:5-8 ["...Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:"]; Heb. 1:6-8 ["...But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever:]; and 2 Pet. 1:1 ["them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:".
1 Tim. 2:5 says, "For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." Right now, there is a man in heaven on the throne of God. He is our advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1). He is our Savior (Titus 2:13). He is our Lord (Rom. 10:9-10). He is Jesus.
"But thou Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah,
yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." ~ Micah 5:2
"...the plain antithesis of this clause, to 'come forth out of thee' (from Beth-lehem), shows that the eternal generation of the Son is meant. The terms convey the strongest assertion of infinite duration of which the Hebrew language is capable (cf. Psalm 90:2; Proverbs 8:22,23; John 1:1). Messiah's generation as man coming forth unto God to do His will on earth is from Beth-lehem; but as Son of God His goings forth are from everlasting." (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, p. 692)
"...they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us."
~ Matthew 1:23
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is fully God. He is eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, has a will, and can speak. He is alive. He is not particularly visible in the Bible because His ministry is to bear witness of Jesus (John 5:26).
Some cults like the Jehovah's Witnesses say that the Holy Spirit is nothing more than a force (Reasoning from the Scriptures, 1985, pp. 406-407). This is false. If the Holy Spirit were merely a force, then He could not speak (Acts 13:2); He could not be grieved (Eph. 4:30); and He would not have a will (1 Cor. 12:11).
|His Names||His Attributes||Symbols of||Sins Against||Power in Christ's Life|
2 Cor. 3:18
1 Cor. 2:10
|Spirit of God
1 Cor. 3:16
1 Cor. 12:11
|Filled with Power
|Spirit of Truth
|Witness of Jesus
Acts 8:29; 13:2
1 Thess. 5:19
The Works of the Holy Spirit
|Access to God - Eph. 2:18||Inspires prayer - Eph. 6:18; Jude 20|
|Anoints for Service - Luke 4:18||Intercedes -Rom. 8:26|
|Assures - Rom. 8:15-16; Gal. 4:6||Interprets Scripture - 1 Cor. 2:1,14; Eph. 1:17|
|Authors Scripture - 2 Pet. 1:20-21||Leads - Rom. 8:14|
|Baptizes - John 1:32-34; 1 Cor. 12:13-14||Liberates - Rom. 8:2|
|Believers Born of - John 3:3-6||Molds Character - Gal. 5:22-23|
|Calls and Commissions - Acts 13:24; 20:28||Produces fruit - Gal. 5:22-23|
|Cleanses - 2 Thess. 3:13; 1 Pet. 1:2||Empowers Believers - Luke 24:49|
|Convicts of sin - John 16:9,14||Raises from the dead - Rom. 8:11|
|Creates - Gen. 1:2; Job 33:4||Regenerates - Titus 3:5|
|Empowers - 1 Thess. 1:5||Sanctifies - Rom. 15:16|
|Fills - Acts 2:4; 4:29-31; 5:18-20||Seals - Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30|
|Gives gifts - 1 Cor. 12:8-11||Strengthens - Eph. 3:16; Acts 1:8; 2:4; 1 Cor. 2:4|
|Glorifies Christ - John 16:14||Teaches - John 14:26|
|Guides in truth - John 16:13||Testifies of Jesus - John 15:26|
|Helps our weakness - Rom. 8:26||Victory over flesh - Rom. 8:2-4; Gal. 4:6|
Excerpted from: "The Holy Spirit" by Matthew Slick
The Holy Spirit According to Herbert W. Armstrong
Does the Holy Spirit have intelligence? Or is the Holy Spirit (as HWA wrote) merely "the power that responds and does what Jesus commands"?1 HWA contradicted himself. If the Holy Spirit does not have intelligence, then how can "it" respond and do what Jesus commands?
Oftentimes HWA would make the remark that if the Holy Spirit was a person, then the Holy Spirit was the "father" of Jesus. Arno C. Gaebelein gave a good answer to this reasoning and the following will quote some of his words (which concerns Luke 1:35 which says, "And the angel of the Lord said unto her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that Holy Thing, which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God."):
"Let us notice the two great statements given about His incarnation. 'The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee.' From the Gospel of Matthew we learn the full meaning of this statement. 'That which is begotten in her is of the Holy Ghost.' ...
"The second statement is: 'And the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee." This is not a repetition of the same truth as contained in the first statement. If this too would mean the Holy Spirit, we would have to conclude that the Holy Spirit is the Father of Him who became incarnate. We read at once after this second statement, 'Therefore that Holy Thing, which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God.' The power of the Highest does not mean the power of the Holy Spirit. It is none other than the Son of God Himself. The eternal Son of God, He who is God, overshadowed her and this overshadowing meant the union of Himself with the human nature created by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary.
"He is called 'that Holy Thing.' He is something entirely new. A Being which cannot be classified. And then we read again, 'That Holy Thing shall be called the Son of God.' It does not say 'shall be the Son of God;' such He ever was. Incarnation did not make Him Son of God. He shall be called Son of God; God manifested in the flesh." (Arno C. Gaebelein (1861-1945), The Work of Christ, "His Past Work")
Herbert Armstrong plagiarized his teaching on the Holy Spirit from the Jehovah's Witnesses.2 One of their books claims: "As for the 'Holy Spirit,' the so-called 'third Person of the Trinity,' we have already seen that it is, not a person, but God's active force" (The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life, Brooklyn: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1968, p. 24)
By D. M. Williams
Exit & Support Network™
1 Herbert W. Armstrong, Mystery of the Ages, 1985, p. 44.
2 For evidence that HWA plagiarized his teaching on the Holy Spirit from the Jehovah's Witness, see chapter three, pt. 2 and chapter six of ESN's critical review of Mystery of the Ages (search for the word "Watchtower").
What is the Greek for "the Spirit"?
Those who have been taught Herbert W. Armstrong's view of the Holy Spirit, when having it pointed out to them that certain Scriptures; i. e., Rom. 8:9, I Pet. 1:11 and Phil. 1:19, say "the Spirit of Christ," and "the Spirit of Jesus Christ," have retorted that "Spirit" in those verses simply means the "mind" of Christ.
In Strong's Concordance the Greek word for "Spirit" as in "the Spirit of Christ" and "the Spirit of Jesus Christ" (Rom. 8:9, I Pet. 1:11 and Phil. 1:19) is pneuma (#4151), which is the same Greek word used in many other N.T. passages that refer to the Spirit of God, the Spirit of truth, the Spirit of our God, the Spirit of His Son, the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of truth, the Spirit of grace, the Spirit of life, etc. Likewise, the same Greek word pneuma is used for "Ghost" as in "the Holy Ghost." This shows that whether we are talking about the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Ghost, etc., they are all one and the same.
The Greek word for "mind" as in, "Let this mind be in you..." (Phil 2:5) and "Be of the same mind..." (Rom 12:16), is phronema or phroneo (#5427). Clearly, mind (phronema) and Spirit (pneuma) are not the same.
There is Only One God
The first step is to establish how many Gods exist: one! Isaiah 43:10; 44:6,8; 45:5,14,18,21,22; 46:9; 47:8; John 17:3; 1 Cor. 8:5-6; Gal. 4:8-9. [Also see, Deut. 6:4, Mark 12:29 and Gal. 3:20.]
- "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one LORD:" (Deut. 6:4)*
- "I am the LORD, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God" (Isaiah 45:5).
- "Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel And his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me," (Isaiah 44:6).
- "and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me" (Isaiah 45:21).
- "I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God," (Isaiah 55:5).
- "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30).
- "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one" (I John 5:7).
*The word "one" in Deut. 6:4, "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one LORD" is echad, the same word used in Genesis 2:24 when God said Adam and Eve would become one. It is also the same word found in Numbers 13:23, where it relates to "one" cluster of grapes.
|Called God||Phil. 1:2||John 1:1,14; Col. 2:9||Acts 5:3-4|
|Creator||Isaiah 64:8||John 1:3; Col. 1:15-17||Job 33:4, 26:13|
|Resurrects||1 Thess. 1:10||John 2:19, 10:17||Rom. 8:11|
|Indwells||2 Cor. 6:16||Col. 1:27||John 14:17|
|Everywhere||1 Kings 8:27||Matt. 28:20||Psalm 139:7-10|
|All knowing||1 John 3:20||John 16:30; 21:17||1 Cor. 2:10-11|
|Sanctifies||1 Thess. 5:23||Heb. 2:11||1 Pet. 1:2|
|Life giver||Gen. 2:7; John 5:21||John 1:3; 5:21||2 Cor. 3:6,8|
|Fellowship||1 John 1:3||1 Cor. 1:9||2 Cor. 13:14;
|Eternal||Psalm 90:2||Micah 5:1-2||Rom. 8:11; Heb. 9:14|
|A will||Luke 22:42||Luke 22:42||1 Cor. 12:11|
|Speaks||Matt. 3:17; Luke 9:25||Luke 5:20; 7:48||Acts 8:29; 11:12; 13:2|
|Love||John 3:16||Eph. 5:25||Rom 15:30|
|Searches the heart||Jer. 17:10||Rev. 2:23||1 Cor. 2:10|
|We belong to||John 17:9||John 17:6||*****|
|Savior||1 Tim. 1:1; 2:3; 4:10||2 Tim. 1:10; Titus 1:4; 3:6||*****|
|We serve||Matt. 4:10||Col. 3:24||*****|
|Believe in||John 14:1||John 14:1||*****|
|Gives joy||*****||John 15:11||John 14:7|
|Judges||John 8:50||John 5:21,30||*****|
"Contrary to popular misconception, Constantine did not have a vote, nor did he participate in the arguments for or against the Trinity. After the council of Nicaea, Constantine converted to Arianism. Soon after, anyone who opposed the Arian doctrine was exiled. … It is commonly taught that Constantine instituted the Trinity doctrine into the church. History reveals that the opposite is true. Constantine was baptized as an Arian. The Arians were anti-Trinitarians. The change in the church was not as the result of the Council of Nicaea. At the council, the historic position of the church was affirmed and written into a creed. It was after this council that historic Christianity was exiled and replaced with the Arian heresy." (Excerpted from: Heresies and Heretics in the Early Church, p. 5, by Eddie Snipes, Exchanged Life Ministries)
"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen." ~ II Corinthians 13:14
For further study on the subject:
Do We Only Receive the Holy Spirit as a Result of Baptism? (includes at end, "What does the Holy Spirit Do in the Believer's Life Today?")
The History of the Trinity: What the Watchtower Doesn't Want You to Know (a response to the claim that the Trinity is pagan) [offsite link]
Jesus Christ IS God! by Robert L. Sumner (Chapter two confronts the arguments which say the Holy Spirit is an impersonal "it.") (book)
The Eternal Sonship of Christ [offsite link]
The Deity of the Holy Spirit [offsite link]