MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT.
It has already been stated that the Holy Spirit is a Person, that He is a Spirit, and that He is Divine. There are, however, many misconceptions about Him in the religious world today as far as His nature, identity, and works are concerned. We are going to thoroughly examine some of these misconceptions, and then use the teachings from the Bible to correct them.
Some of these misconceptions are as follows:
- That The Holy Spirit Is Merely an Impersonal Force Or Influence From God.
- This doctrine has many variations, and the proponents include many religious groups. The Jehovah Witnesses, for example, teach that,
- Only God the Father is the eternal Divine Being.
- Jesus Christ was created by God.
- The Holy Spirit is not a Person, but God's "active force."
What Does The Bible Teach?
1. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is a Person. Personal pronouns are used to describe Him in the New Testament. For example: Jesus said to the apostles, “He will teach you all things......"(John 14:26). “He will testify of Me" (John 15: 26). ".... He will speak and He will tell you all things... “(John 16: 13). The Apostle Paul said of the Spirit, "He who searches the hearts.... He makes intercession..... “(Romans 8: 27). Again the Spirit said in Antioch after the disciples had ministered to the Lord and fasted, “Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the work where unto I have called them” (Acts 13: 2).
2. The Holy Spirit has a work to do just as a person has a work to do. John 16: 13-14 says, " Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you."
3. The Holy Spirit has all the attributes of a personhood (Acts 16: 7).
4. The Jehovah Witnesses teach that only God the Father is the Eternal Divine Being. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is eternal. Hebs 9:14 says, " How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the Living God?"
II. That the Holy Spirit Is Merely another Name for God.
(1). this doctrine is known as SABELLIANISM. The name is derived from a man named Sabellius, a third century religious leader. He taught that there is only one divine essence which operated in three successive stages under different names: as FATHER, (the Creator) and (Lawgiver ;) as SON, the Redeemer; and as Holy Spirit, the Life- Giver.
(2). A modern form of this doctrine is taught by the United Pentecostal or the "Oneness Holiness" church. They teach that,
* There is only one Person in the Godhead, and that Person is Jesus Christ.
* That Jesus was not in the Trinity, but the Trinity was in Jesus.
What Does The Bible Teach?
(1). Many New Testament passages confirm the reality or the Godhead (Matthew 28: 19- 20; 2 Corinthians 13: - 14; Romans 15: 30; John 1: 1-15).
(2). Jesus spoke of Himself and God the Father as two witnesses (John 8: 16- 18).
(3). Jesus is not the Father because He had a will distinct from that of the Father (Luke 22:42).
(4). The Father and the Son were distinct in knowledge (Matt. 24: 36 ) .
Since will and knowledge are characteristics of personhood, the Father and the Son are distinct persons.
(5). Jesus is not the Holy Spirit (John 1: 30 - 34).
III. That The Holy Spirit Still Empowers Men To Perform Miracles Today.
* It is widely taught by many religious groups that men are still performing miracles today through the Holy Spirit.
What Does The Bible Teach?
The Bible teaches that the age of miracles is past. Let us now look at some passages from the Bible that tend to support this fact:
(1). First of all, miracles were given for specific purposes - to inaugurate the Christian Age, and to reveal and confirm the inspired word of God. The purpose was achieved in the Apostolic Age. (Hebrews. 2: 3-4).
(2). Miraculous spiritual gifts were conferred by the baptism of the Holy Spirit or by the laying on of the Apostles' hand (Acts 8: 14 - 18; Romans 1:11).
Only the apostles and the household of Cornelius received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. With the death of the last apostles, the means of conferring miraculous spiritual gifts came to an end.
(3). the so-called “miracles" of today are different from the genuine miracles of the Bible. Let us look at some of these differences as examples: In the New Testament, many different kinds of miracles were performed by Jesus and the apostles such as
- turning water into wine.
- making the blind to see
- raising the dea
- stilling the storm
- multiplying loaves of bread and fishes
- making the lame to walk, etc.
Those who claim to perform miracles today generally confine themselves to attempting to heal internal (undetectable) illness only.
Secondly, the miracles of the New Testament were noted for their completeness. People were instantly healed, and it lasted! There was no later recurrence of the old symptoms. On the other hand, many of the miracles that are performed today have short duration. For those who are said to be healed, their old symptoms keep coming back.
Thirdly genuine Biblical miracles were open and above-board. They were publicly performed. They were so open that even the enemies of Christianity could not deny that a remarkable and undeniable miracle had been performed. Todays so- called miracles are often performed in close doors or in special localities. When they are outside of these localities, no miracle is performed.
(4). The scriptures affirm that miracles would cease when the "perfect," the perfectly revealed and confirmed written word of God had been given (1 Cor. 13: 8-13; James 1:25) .
IV. That The Holy Spirit Brings About Conversion Through "Direct Operation."
* This theory is a legacy of Calvanism. Calvanism teaches that man is so evil , so corrupt , and so hopeless that nothing he can do on his own to be converted or to become a Christian, expect the Holy Spirit directly intervenes in the process. Calvanism is widely taught in modern religious world.
* Two of the key tenets of Calvanism are as follows:
(1). Total Hereditary Depravity.
(2). Irresistible Grace.
The theory of Total Depravity holds that : ( 1 ) the sinner is so inherently depraved ( corrupt, morally evil ) that he cannot think a good thought or do a good deed , but is inclined to all that is evil and opposed to all that is good. Therefore, it is believed that only a direct , miraculous operation of the Holy Spirit can turn him from sin to God.
The theory of Irresistible Grace simply holds that it is humanly impossible to resist this operation when it comes.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TEACH?
There are many scriptural objections to the doctrine of the DIRECT OPERATION of the Holy Spirit in conversion:
(1). If this doctrine of DIRECT OPERATION is correct, then it makes God a respecter of persons when the Bible says that He is not. Acts 10: 34- 35 says, "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth Him , and worketh righteousness , is accepted with Him."
Again, 1Timothy 2: 4 says, "Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."
(2). Also if the doctrine of DIRECT OPERATION is true, it means it denies the Biblical emphasis on the free-will of man. Let us carefully examine the following scriptures: ( Rev. 22: 17; Gal. 6: 7-8; 2 Peter 3: 9 ).
( 3 ). It leaves the sinner passively uninvolved in his own conversion, which the Bible says that he has an active role to play in the process( Acts 2: 40; Mark 16: 15-16; Hebs 5: 8- 9; Philippians 2: 12 ).
(4). It makes light (mockery) of the Great Commission and makes nor and void the mission of the church. Matthew 28: 19-20 says, " Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: even to the end of the world." Also Ephesians 3: 10- 11 says, "To the intent that now, unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places, might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord."
(5). It takes away accountability and responsibility of a person and lays the blame of God for men being lost. 2 Corinthians 5:10, Hebs. 2: 9, - John 3:16
(6 ). It reverses the divine order of the NT which claims that the Holy Spirit is received after conversion, not befor.
- Acts 2: 38, Galatians , Acts 5: 32
The NT teaches that the HS convicts men of sin and converts them to Christ through the revealed Word of God.( Romans 1: 16; James 1: 21; Luke 8:11 ; Romans 10: 13- 14; 1 Cor. 1: 21.) This can be easily demonstrated by the fact that there are no christians in the world where the Word ( Bible) has not gone! It is further verified by the examination of the cases of the conversion in the book of Acts. In every case sinners were converted through the Word!
THE MEASURES OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The New Testament speaks about four “measures" or "manifestations" of the Holy Spirit. They are as follows:
1. The Unlimited Measure Of The Holy Spirit.
John 3: 34 says, " For He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him."
Only Jesus is said to have received the Holy Spirit in unlimited fulness or without measure.
2. Baptism Of The Holy Spirit.
Matthew 3: 11 says, "I indeed baptize you with water unto righteousness unto repentance: but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire." Acts 1: 4-5 also says, "And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which saith He, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with he Holy Ghost not many days hence." Then Acts 2: 17 says, " And it shall come to pass in the last days, ( saith God , ) I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams."
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit was was given only to the Apostles to enable them to carry out their function as the official " witnesses " of Christ and to the household of Cornelius - to show that the Gentiles were to be included under the New Covenant.
This fulfilled the prophecy of Joel that God would pour our His Spirit on "all” flesh--that is, representatives of both Jews and Gentiles (Joel 2: 28).
3. The Miraculous Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
* The miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit is called “Charismata" in Greek. (See 1 Cor. 12: 4 - 12.)
* These gifts were given by the laying on of the Apostles' hands.
Acts 8: 14-16, 2 Timothy 1: 6, Acts 19: 6, Romans 1 : 11
4. The Non- Miraculous Gift Of The Holy Spirit.
* The Non- Miraculous gift of the Holy Spirit is called "Dorean" in Greek.
* Acts 2: 38 says, " Then Peter said unto them, Repent, aand be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."
* This refers to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which God gives to all His children. (Romans 8: 9- 11).
A quarterly study delivered by Joseph Foray Snr. (Elder/Preacher), Oforikrom Church of Christ (English Assembly) Kumasi, Ghana 2014