By Elias Ayala (MDiv & M.A.T.)
The Christian doctrine of the trinity is an essential feature of Christian orthodoxy. Attacks upon this important Christian truth historically have come from many quarters including Arians (and modern day Jehovah’s Witnesses), Mormons, Unitarians and others. The nature of these attacks have been multi-faceted either focusing upon its perceived unbiblical character and logical inconsistency, to its apparent “pagan” origins.
In reality the doctrine of the trinity is neither unbiblical, illogical, or pagan. While entire treatises have been written defending the orthodox understanding of the trinity, I will focus here in this brief article to present a short biblical basis for affirming that the Holy Spirit is God. This will be to the exclusion of defending in any depth the taken for granted deity of the Father and the oft challenged deity of the Son.
I focus here upon the deity of the Holy Spirit because he is often presented as an impersonal force or divine energy. The presentation of the Holy Spirit as an impersonal force is not the teaching of the Bible and therefore, requires defense and explanation. Again, a fuller biblical case can be presented to defend the deity of Jesus and hence the trinity doctrine but the deity of the Holy Spirit will be the focus here in this brief article.
The Holy Spirit as a Person & Deity:
First, let us dispense of the assertion that the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force. This notion is refuted in scripture by the simple fact that the Holy Spirit is clearly given personal attributes. According to the Word of God:
- “But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit. Therefore, He turned Himself to become their enemy, He fought against them.” (Isaiah 63:10)
- “Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.” (Romans 15:30)
- “…and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:27)
- “And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.”
According to the Spirit inspired Word, the Holy Spirit can be “grieved”, the Holy Spirit can “love”, the Holy Spirit has a “mind”, and the Holy Spirit can “speak”. These are all attributes and abilities of persons, and not impersonal forces. Hence, the Holy Spirit is a person. But even more so, the Holy Spirit is deity. Which leads us to the central question of this brief article.
Remember, the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is the teaching that there is One God (Deut 6:4, Isa 45:5), yet Three Persons called God. The Bible does not teach polytheism; these three Persons who are called God are not three separate beings, but rather, three Persons who share the same being and nature. God is One being who exists as Three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The One and only existing God of the Bible is a trinity in unity.
Furthermore, the One God says, “This is what the Lord says- – your redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the Lord, the Maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens, who spreads out the earth by myself,” (Isaiah 44:24). This verse is very interesting in that it states that God “ALONE” is the maker of all things, yet, in Job 33:4 we read that “The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” Here we have on the one hand that God alone created all things (…by Myself), yet on the other hand, we have the Holy Spirit attributed the work of creating (Spirit of God has made me).
The Word of God is not contradictory. It is by no means teaching that God alone created all things by himself, yet on the other hand, this other entity (who is not God) called the Spirit of God (Holy Spirit) participated in creating Job. If God alone created all things, and there is something that the Spirit of God created, then it would seem to follow that the Spirit of God is God. This makes sense within a trinitarian framework.
Now of course, we are not saying that the Holy Spirit is the (trinity), or that the Son is the (trinity), or that the Father is the (trinity). We make a distinction between the Persons, but we say that the three Persons share the same nature. This is a very important distinction lest trinitarians be accused of polytheism by asserting three distinct “beings”. Remember, there is One being who exists as Three Persons.