May 12, 2016
The first mention of The Spirit in the Bible is at the very beginning. Genesis 1:2 “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep, And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” The Bible begins with the planet already made, but the surface of the earth was nothing but water. Immediately it draws a picture of what the Spirit was doing. The word translated hovered in Hebrew is fluttered lovingly. Some commentators suggest that the picture being drawn here is of a chicken brooding over its nest. The word for Spirit can also be translated as wind; there is a picture of movement, creative activity. The creation was an action of all three persons of the Trinity.
Have you ever sat down and tried to think about what makes a person a person. Probably not, because we know that we are persons. We are not things. The Oxford dictionary says a person is an individual human being apart from a thing or an animal. So what do human persons do that makes them persons? What is personification? Treating a thing or an animal as if it was a person.
When we say the Holy Spirit is a person we are not using personification. He is a real person.
The Holy Spirit is spoken of as a person not just the power or force of God. Many Christians slip into the habit of referring to Him as it. He can be grieved. Ephesians 4:30. He is sent by the Father and the Son. John 14:16, 26. 15:26. 16:7. He is the counsellor. John 14:25. John 15:16. Only persons can counsel. Only persons can be grieved.
Through the church the biblical understanding of God being triune and there being three persons in the godhead has permeated our culture and has on the whole not been degraded even when the church lost its way about how we obtain salvation. What changed with the Renaissance and Age of reason wasn’t so much the triune nature of God, but the rejection of the idea of their being a God at all. The belief of a triune God is specific to Christianity. Islam and Judaism have only one person in their understanding of God. Eastern religions like Hinduism have many gods or even have a pantheistic view, that is God is in everything, or everything added up makes god. But not a person
We believe that the Bible teaches that there are three persons in the godhead, Father, Son and Spirit and each person is not to be merged into the others, while still maintaining there is only one God. Do you understand that? If you think you do you would be the first person, other than Jesus other do so.
It is not wrong when we think about the Holy Spirit to think of him as having motherly aspects. But we must not think of him as being female, and also not think of the Father as being male. The Bible never addresses the Spirit in the female gender; also there is no concept of female angels in the word of God. Angels are spirits, and as such have no gender. They are just angels. They can take on the appearance of being human and even eat, as did the angels that appeared to Abraham before God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.
Why then does the Bible talk about God being Father and yet I claim we must not see God as being male, or female. Simply because God needed to reveal himself to us in our language. I. E. Human language. As we, without becoming too babyish in our language, need to explain things to little children with simple words, simple ideas, so God too needs to do this with us, with even the most intelligent human beings. God spoke to us in our language. Words are spoken or written, thoughts. Thoughts come first. Some animals like parrots can “say” words but there is no evidence that they are anything else than a sound to them. Machines can use words, but no machine has ever had a thought. If a machine could have a thought it would become a person. So language and words in us are tied together. God in Isaiah 55:8 explains why he uses our language to communicate to us:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
If we wants to understand what God has told us we must use the words he uses. It is ok to use words which we really don’t fully understand so long as we know we are using them correctly. You ask me to go and buy you a router for your computer I have enough understanding to go to an electronics store to buy one. I would not go to a butcher shop. I could, with a little more information, walk into an electronic store and say, may I have a router please and expect to get one. We are allowed to talk about God being triune, three persons, but only one God because that is what God has told us about himself. But if a person started saying God is triune without having a clue as to what that word mean, he is only showing off.
As a person we can grieve him. Ephesians 4:30. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. We will look more closely how we grieve him in another study. Amazingly we can quench him. I Thessalonians 5:19. Do not quench the Spirit.