“I believe in the Holy Ghost.”
Such is the concise hut highly significant declaration of the faith of the church concerning the Holy Spirit. Explaining this the Heidelberg Catechism significantly points out that it means: “First, that He is true and co-eternal God with the Father and the Son; secondly, that he is also given me, to make me by a true faith, partaker of Christ and all His benefits, that He may comfort me and abide with me forever.”
Likewise does the Belgic Confession speak of the truth concerning the Holy Spirit in the following beautiful expression: “We believe and confess also, that the Holy Ghost, from eternity proceeds from the Father and Son; and therefore neither is made, created, nor begotten, hut only proceedeth from both; Who in order is the third Person of the Holy Trinity; of one and the same essence, majesty and glory with the Father, and the Son; and therefore is the true and eternal God, as the Holy Scriptures teach us.”
The Creed of Nicea briefly summarizes the truth in this statement: “I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, Who spake by the prophets.”
Many important doctrines of our faith are contained in these expressions. Others, if not directly expressed, are certainly implied. It will not serve our present purpose to attempt to elaborate upon or explain detailedly these fundamental truths in this brief writing. Since this is not necessary in the present connection, we will assume that our readers are acquainted with them and proceed merely to state some of them overagainst prevailing heresies that unceasingly attack the bulwarks of truth.
It seems as though a certain cloud of mysteriousness that envelopes the doctrine
of the Holy Spirit has lent itself to numerous errors. The church has somewhat shirked from the task of developing fully the truth in this respect since the matters to he dealt with are oft regarded as profoundly difficult and extend far beyond the scope of simple comprehension. The enemies of the truth readily capitalize upon this reluctance and hasten to spread abroad their perverted conceptions which are more easily understood, and, consequently, more generally accepted. The modernist does not hide his aversion to the truth concerning the personality of the Holy Spirit. Ignoring the plain truth that throughout Scripture personal names, acts, virtues and powers are ascribed to Him, he proceeds to reason that since Spirit means literally wind or breath, therefore, the Spirit is only a mystical influence or power.
From earliest times there have been those who have attempted to destroy the God
head by denying the truth of the Trinity, reducing the Holy Spirit to the equivalent of the human spirit. They are ready to agree with your confession of faith in the Holy Spirit provided that by this you mean that in the same sense that you can and do speak of the spirit of man, you can ascribe to God a spirit. There is no essential difference between God and man. Any differences that may exist are only those of degree. God is only a higher developed being. Over the question of the procession of the Spirit within the God-head, the early Eastern and Western Church struggled bitterly. The former denied while the latter maintained the double procession and the result was a schism of great magnitude.
Add then to all of this the indisputable truth that the third Person of the Divine
Being co-equal and co-eternal with God, is also the Spirit of Christ, given unto the church to make her through faith partaker of Christ and all His benefits. He is the Spirit of regeneration, of life, of sanctification. He applies unto us that which we have in Christ. He is very GOD! Remember this and then turn the dial of your radio and listen from every quarter to the endless repetition of the denial of the truth concerning the Holy Spirit, when men, purporting to be Gospel-preachers, talk about the matter of salvation. Some openly admit that His power is not equal to that of man whom He earnestly seeks to save. The Spirit of God is inferior! Others reduce His will to an absurdity, ignoring obviously the fact that the Divine Will which is the will of the Spirit is positively Sovereign and can never he endangered with frustration. And then you can hear those who even have the audacity to claim adherence to the Reformed Confessions quoted above, prating about the Holy Spirit Who in the Gospel is gracious to all, offering salvation indiscriminately. The poor pauper! The humble and impotent beggar! In no way is the Spirit mocked more than when He is spoken of as the Spirit of salvation!
All error is sin!
Especially serious then is it when that error directly involves God, His majesty and honor. God cannot he mocked with impunity!
Horrible are the inevitable consequences of any form of denial of God. To deny the
deity of the Spirit is to destroy the truth concerning the Trinity and this in turn deletes the beautiful, rich and significant covenant idea that pervades all of Scripture and is of such momentous practical significance to the child of God. To deny the Personality of the Holy Spirit is to reduce God to a brute force. When then these errors are committed, the practical result is that GOD, according to truth, is lost and substituted by an idol of the vain and foolish imagination of man.
No longer can the beautiful confession, “I believe in the Holy Spirit,” be made in truth! This, too is then substituted by the modernistic confession, “I believe in man,” and the essential part of all religion proceeding from this confession is no longer that the praise and glory of God is manifest throughout life, but rather “character must be built, personality developed, social rehabilitation sought for the betterment of mankind, etc.”
Such religion is vain!
Its essence is the perverted idea that man is his own savior and it is the denial of the truth: “Not by might, nor by power, but by my SPIRIT, saith the Lord of hosts.” Zech.4:6.
Originally published in:
Vol. 18, No. 2, March 1958