Who Is He?

During this month of July I would like to speak to you about God the Holy Spirit: who He is, what He does, how He works, and what we see of Him and His work. As the church confesses, the Holy Spirit is, together with the Father and the Son, true and eternal God. This is how we know God, the Triune God; three divine Persons in one God. We know Him this way because He has revealed Himself in His Word, the Bible; i.e. the Word of God. We may not be able to know God as He is in Himself. He is unique and incomprehensible, unfathomable, invisible, infinite, etc. We still know much about God, since He has revealed Himself to us in His Word. We know Him, though, only in His relationship to His creatures, with His creation. Through the Scriptures we know who God is, but not what God is. We do know who God is for us and for all creatures, but we are not able to define Him to express what He is like in Himself. In His Word He speaks to us in our language, in expressions and forms that we can understand; yet, He knows that He cannot bridge the great and deep difference and distance that exists between Him and us: God is in heaven and we are on earth. We can’t comprehend Him, not with our mind, or with our feelings, or in any other way. We do know, however, what we need to know for our salvation, and we know that sufficiently! So, just as we know the Father and the Son, we know the Holy Spirit from the Scriptures, through His works, and especially those we see in ourselves. He is the Holy Spirit who is His own Person, with His own work: as the Son brought God to us, we see how the Holy Spirit brings us to God. The Spirit is God in power, and that’s how He showed Himself in creation, and that’s how He manifests Himself every spring time again in the renewal of the face of the earth (Ps. 104). When the angel Gabriel came to Mary, also, He spoke of the Spirit that way: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” The Holy Spirit is the power of the Most High – God’s power! Now there are people who recognize Him only as a power from God. They do so because the Scripture speaks about the Holy Spirit as being ‘sent’ from God. They conclude from this that the Holy Spirit is no Person. We read the same, however, about the Son: God sent His only Son. No one would suggest now that God’s Son, Jesus Christ, was not a Person. So we are not speaking about the Power of God as about a power which is generated by another power; rather, we’re speaking about the Third Person in the Triune God, who Himself lives eternally, and moves and leads and guides and works as the Almighty God. If He were only a power emanating from God, how could He penetrate the deepest recesses of man’s corrupt heart, or how could He raise the dead from the dust of the earth? No, as the Lord Jesus taught His disciples concerning the time after His departure: “what you are to say will be given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” So the Spirit is an Al-mighty Person who speaks in and through those who are His! Of course, it’s easier to think of a Person when speaking about the Father and the Son than about the Holy Spirit. Still, the Spirit is a Person, the Comforter or Counsellor, as the Lord Jesus calls Him. By sending Him, the Lord Jesus ensured that He would not leave us behind as orphans. He took His place as the new Immanuel, God with us! You can grieve Him, Paul writes, or resist Him, as Stephen says, or lie against Him, as Peter holds up. He is a Person with whom you can speak, with whom you can have a relationship, enjoy communion. He is God with us, so that in my communion with Him I have a personal relationship with God. He comes to dwell with me, in me, just as God used to dwell among His people Israel in the temple, or as the Son walked among God’s people in the flesh. He also speaks to me, to us, in the church, or through the prophets. Hence, speaking about the Holy Spirit and who He is, we should first give Him the honour that is due Him; namely, that He is God, Almighty, holy, eternal, just, exalted, etc. We should be aware that in all the workings of the Holy Spirit of which we will be speaking (such as faith, conversion, our renewal, the church etc.,) God Himself is involved with us! God the Father created us (He could do so and did so because He is God); God the Son redeems us (He could do so and did so because He is God); the Holy Spirit imparts to us the salvation in Christ, and He can do so and He does so because He, too, is true God! He is, together with the Father and the Son true and eternal God! From eternity to eternity He is God! In all the work of the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit also revealed Himself as God! Those, therefore, who deny the deity of the Holy Spirit are without true conversion, without true humbleness; they live without God in the world. Seeing also that the Holy Spirit is one of the three divine Persons in the Triune God, we would grieve Him by such denial. Indeed, anyone who either by word or by attitude closes his heart to the Holy Spirit grieves the Holy Spirit. For at the same time it would be a denial of the revelation of God! God has revealed Himself and all His glories through the Holy Spirit, for “the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God!” The depths of His wisdom, that is, and of His understanding and His thoughts! When the apostle Paul is writing about these depths of God, he does so with a view to the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ and Him crucified probably is the greatest, most marvellous thought and wisdom, showing how unfathomable, how deep God’s thoughts, God’s ways and wisdom are! Yes, Paul mentions it to emphasize that the gospel of the cross is absurd in people’s eyes and mind. Well, indeed, it is a gospel that has come up, not in the hearts of men but in the depths of God! That’s the gospel the Holy Spirit inspired, and brings to men, and uses to work faith, faith in God, faith in the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

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