In this episode, Doug Hamp and Rob Skiba pick up where they left off, this time, exploring the first 6 verses of Revelation chapter 3. They discuss the "seven spirits of God" and how the Holy Spirit fits with them and the concept of the Trinity. Is the Holy Spirit a "person" or the "breath of God"? What about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit vs the "upon" manifestation, which brings power through the gifts of the Spirit? Who is Jesus coming to "as a thief in the night"? They do their best to answer these questions and more in this exciting episode of Quest4Truth!
The Holy Spirit
I believe that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to glorify the Lord Yeshua (Jesus Christ), and during this age to convict men, regenerate the believing sinner, and indwell, guide, instruct, and empower the believer for Godly living and service.
I believe the Godhead consists of the Father and the Son, who both share the Holy Spirit as One. While I do believe these Three are One, thus referred to as a "Trinity," my issue is with how it is generally defined by the Catholic Church and likewise parroted by other denominations.
I do believe in the Trinity as depicted in the above graphic.
It is true that the Trinity consists of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and that while each one is distinct, they are not each other, yet all are God. At one time I believed there were "three persons" to the Godhead. I no longer believe that. I believe the Holy Spirit is distinct, but ultimately it is a functional part of the Father - it is His Spirit:
Biblically speaking, the Holy Spirit is clearly the Spirit of YHWH. Therefore, like E.W. Bullinger, I don't believe it is necessary to complicate the matter by assigning a word such as "person" to that which is nowhere described as such in the Bible.
In Hebrew, the word "ruach" is used 31 times as breath, 76 times as Spirit and 98 times as wind. The word first appears in Genesis 1:2...
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the SPIRIT of God moved upon the face of the waters. - Genesis 1:2
The Spirit "moved" across the waters then just as it did after the Flood:
And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a WIND to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged; - Genesis 8:1
Note: The ISV renders this same verse (Gen. 8:1) as:
God kept Noah in mind, along with all the wildlife and livestock that were with him in the ark. God's SPIRIT moved throughout the earth, causing the flood waters to subside. - Genesis 8:1
The "ruach" is what gives life:
It's what leaves at death:
Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their BREATH, they die, and return to their dust.The exact same principle holds true in the Greek:
What is interesting about the Luke 23 Scripture is the phrase, "gave up the ghost." While pneuma is not employed here for "ghost" the idea of BREATHING is! The phrase "gave up the ghost" is used for one's "dying breath" in a number of other places in the Bible as well. For instance:
The phrase "gave up the ghost" comes from one Greek word ekpsuchó, which means, to expire, breathe one's last. Thus, yet again, we see that the spirit leaves the body at death through the MOUTH as breath.
It enters in and/or comes from the MOUTH and/or NOSTRILS as seen in multiple places in the book of Job (commonly recognized as the oldest book of the Bible). For instance:
My BREATH is strange to my wife, though I intreated for the children's sake of mine own body. - Job 19:17
7 So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.
8 And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no BREATH in them.
If Ezekiel 37 isn't a slam-dunk for this thesis, I don't know what is! Clearly it was this BREATH of YHWH (which is His Spirit) that reanimated the dead, dry bones after the flesh and sinews were added. The text cannot possibly be more clear.
But, just for the sake of argument, here are some more Scriptures on the breath/wind/spirit of YHWH:
Compare that also with Isaiah 40:7:
In the New Testament we see Paul telling Timothy...
All Scripture is God-BREATHED and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, - 2 Timothy 3:16
Peter confirms this, stating that all prophecy comes from/through the moving of the Holy Spirit, causing them to SPEAK:
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. - 2 Peter 1:21
We again see the Spirit being associated with what comes out of the mouth:
That is actually not a very good translation there in the KJV. It says, "he gave up the ghost" but what it really says in the Greek (as stated above) is "he breathed His last" as it is generally rendered in most other English translations:
As He was about to die, Jesus cried out and entrusted His ruach/pneuma/Spirit to His Father as He released it as His last breath.
When the Holy Spirit came down on Pentecost, it did so not as a "person" but with the sound of a mighty rushing wind and it manifested as tongues of fire:
And verse 4 of this same chapter, gives yet another example of the Holy Spirit/ruach/pneuma being associated with the mouth:
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. - Acts 2:4
To me, the most obvious example of all is given in the Gospel of John:
And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: - John 20:22
When Yeshua breathed on the disciples in John 20:22, I do not believe that another "person" entered the room. The Hebrew word "ruach" and the Greek word "pneuma." both mean "breath/wind/spirit" - in this case, I believe it is the breath of YHVH, which filled Yeshua and which was breathed again through Him to His disciples.
But many will point to Scriptures like John 14:26 as proof that the Holy Spirit is a person:
The problem is, the Greek word used here for "he" is ekeinos (Strong's 1565), which is a demonstrative pronoun that means "that, that one there, yonder" as opposed to the standard pronoun autos (Strong's # 846), which is a personal pronoun meaning, "he, she, it, they, them, same" as seen repeatedly for instance in 1 John 3:24:
In the John 14:26 passage as well as John 15:26, the word "ekeinos" could have just as easily been translated (with its actual definition) as "that one" and have been far more consistent with the whole of Scripture concerning the Holy Spirit.
When considering Greek words such as "autos", should we really base our doctrine on the English translator's choices of personal pronouns, which can (and often were) used in different ways concerning the same subject (the Holy Spirit)? Many argue in favor of the translation "he" but even in our English Bibles, we find that the word "it" is used rather often:
Further complicating the issue is the fact that the Hebrew word "ruach" is a Noun/Feminine and the Greek word "pneuma" is a Noun/Neuter.
So, in neither case, can we really justify the usual masculine pronoun of "he"? Of course, when referring to the ruach/pneuma/spirit as something coming from either the Father or Son, the masculine noun may be appropriate (and when used in reference to masculine nouns such as "Paraklētos"), but otherwise, I don't believe we should be basing our entire doctrine on the English Bible translator's choice of the word "he" from a word that could just as easily be translated as "it" - or even "she" for that matter.
When recognizing that "ruach" is a feminine noun, consider also what Proverbs 8 has to say concerning one of the seven spirits of God. In Isaiah 11:2, we see that one of the seven spirits is "wisdom." All through Proverbs 8, wisdom and understanding are described in feminine terms!
Many suggest that the Holy Spirit speaks with "his own voice." The ruach/pneuma/Spirit of YHWH is not a rogue entity. Even Yeshua said that He does not speak with His own voice. Yes, He uses His vocal chords, but He does so to speak the Father's words.
How is the Father "living in" Yeshua? Through the Spirit! Thus, the words that come through the Spirit are the Father's, whether emanating from the lips of Christ or whispering in that "still small voice" within the hearts and minds of Believers in Him.
Some demand that I believe as they do concerning this issue. They have the "hubris" to declare that I'm a "cult leader" and/or that I am not even a Christian because I don't share their Catholic dogma. But consider what the Apostle John wrote:
If considering the Holy Spirit to be a "person" was so critical to our faith, why did John leave "Him" out of the above Scriptures? As Doug Hamp and I talked about in Q4T Episode 12, where do we see belief in the (Catholic defined) doctrine of the Trinity a necessity for salvation? What is required for salvation?Paul narrows it down to this:
Anyone who requires more than that is "preaching a different Gospel" and is therefore a "false teacher." You should pay no attention to such people.
The Bible never tells us to view the Holy Spirit as a "person", nor does it demand such a belief as a requirement for salvation nor for fellowship with other Believers. Thus, this modern "inquisition" of public slander, ridicule, libel and defamation of character that some feel justified in spearheading against me has no Biblical justification whatsoever. I am not telling anyone what to believe. I am only stating what I believe based on my own reading of Scripture. I would encourage you to toss out "the doctrines of men" and search these things out for yourself. And remember, we have a job to do, which does not include shooting our own. The Holy Spirit is more than capable of correcting any errors we may have in our beliefs.
And people need to stop with the "blasphemy of the Holy Spirit" accusations! Nothing I have said here constitutes the Biblical definition of this "unforgivable sin." The context of what constitutes this particular sin is clearly seen in...
I certainly am NOT speaking against the Holy Spirit, nor am I attributing to Beelzebub that which is really done by the Spirit of God. Neither are my detractors doing so with their view. Therefore, such accusations are completely unfounded and should not be used in this discussion.
I simply believe that referring to the Holy Spirit is a distinct "person" or "individual" in the Godhead causes many problems. For instance - in addition to what has already been written above - consider:
Without a doubt, Yeshua came from His Father, and therefore, He shares all of His Father's attributes, but yet He remains as a separate person seated at the Father's right hand. While it is a given that at some point in eternity past (John 1), Yeshua became the "only begotten Son" of YHWH (the Father), if the Holy Spirit were indeed a "third person," then in the Incarnation, Yeshua would not be the only begotten of the Father, but rather He would have been the only begotten of the person of the Holy Spirit who impregnated Mary.
I find this idea very problematic. How many Father's does Yeshua have? If you remain dogmatic about the Holy Spirit being a separate "person/individual" in the Godhead, then you simply cannot escape this conundrum. You are forced to believe that the Holy Spirit (person) is Yeshua's Father and not YHWH. There is no way around that.
Furthermore, if the Holy Spirit is indeed a separate person, just as the Son is, where is He seated in reference to the Father? Unlike the Father and Son, there is no third throne in Heaven for the Holy Spirit, nor does it even have a name. These are all troublesome questions that must necessarily arise out of the standard (Catholic) definition for the Trinity.
I believe the writers of the Nicene Creed may have dealt with similar issues, which is why they worded their creed as follows:
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten of his Father, of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten (γεννηθέντα), not made, being of one substance (ὁμοούσιον, consubstantialem) with the Father. By whom all things were made, both which be in heaven and in earth. Who for us men and for our salvation came down [from heaven] and was incarnate and was made man. He suffered and the third day he rose again, and ascended into heaven. And he shall come again to judge both the quick and the dead. And [we believe] in the Holy Ghost. And whosoever shall say that there was a time when the Son of God was not (ἤν ποτε ὅτε οὐκ ἦν), or that before he was begotten he was not, or that he was made of things that were not, or that he is of a different substance or essence [from the Father] or that he is a creature, or subject to change or conversion — all that so say, the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes them.
You'll note that even they did not state that the Holy Ghost/Spirit was another "person" in the Godhead. They merely stated that they believe in it. As do I! I will never deny the existence of the Holy Spirit! It is very real and I welcome its work in my life on a regular basis. However, the idea I am challenging is whether or not it should be considered a "He" as in another person (i.e. Third Person of the Trinity), who works alongside the Second Person of Yeshua/Jesus, and the First Person of the Father YHVH. The attendees of the Nicene Council (AD 325) stopped short of calling the Holy Spirit a person. It wasn't until more than 50 years later at the Council of Constantinople (AD 381) that the Holy Spirit would later be defined as a person, and the Nicene Creed thus modified to reflect that view.
Concerning the [modified] Nicene Creed, the online Catholic Encyclopedia writes:
Modern scholars such as Cris Putnam and others are correct in stating that the mainstream definition concerning the Doctrine of the Trinity and the "person" of the Holy Spirit is 1,700 years old. The reason for this is, of course, because it is a Catholic Doctrine! NewAdvent.org (an on-line Catholic Encyclopedia) makes this abundantly clear:
Others may choose to take their marching orders from the Catholic Church, but I do not. I prefer to stick with the Biblical definitions. In other words, I prefer to base my doctrine and beliefs on the solid weight of the thousands of years of Hebraic understanding that predates the Catholic Church's influence. After all, the Catholic Church did not write the Bible, the Hebrews did! And as Doug rightly pointed out in this episode of Quest4Truth, the Jews never had a concept of the Holy Spirit as another "person" apart from YHWH.
Ultimately, my view of the working of the Holy Spirit is NO DIFFERENT than that of any of my detractors. The absurd marathon debates I've found myself in lately concerning this issue are all about a modern Inquisition to make me (and others) adhere to Catholic definitions. The whole thing is completely ridiculous really. Whether the Holy Spirit is the Biblically defined breath of YHWH or the Catholic defined "third Person" of the Trinity makes no difference whatsoever. The end result is exactly the same. Either way, we all believe in the Holy Spirit and we all (should) allow the Holy Spirit to do His/Its job in and through us. Personhood or breath of YHWH has no bearing on our faith, nor our ability to be used by God. Men have made an issue out of something that should not be one. Those who are making this an issue are not doing so by Divine decree of Scripture, but rather by the decree of the Catholic Church:
The above is generally attributed to St. Athanasius, Archbishop of Alexandria (296 - 373 A.D.). Some question this, but the Online Catholic Encyclopedia concludes:
Therefore, I adjure you think twice before joining this modern Inquisition. Do you want to act in accordance with Divine Scripture ( 1 John 2:22,23), or rather the doctrines of men... from the Catholic Church?
Other interesting quotes:
"The word Trinity is not found in the Bible . . . It did not find a place formally in the theology of the church till the 4th century." -- The Illustrated Bible Dictionary
"In Scripture there is as yet no single term by which the Three Divine Persons are denoted together. The word [tri'as] (of which the Latin trinitas is a translation) is first found in Theophilus of Antioch about A. D. 180 . . . Shortly afterwards it appears in its Latin form of trinitas in Tertullian." However, this is no proof in itself that Tertullian taught the Trinity. The Catholic work Trinitas - A Theological Encyclopedia of the Holy Trinity, for example, notes that some of Tertullian's words were later used by others to describe the Trinity. But then it states: "But hasty conclusions cannot be drawn from usage, for he does not apply the words to Trinitarian theology." - The Catholic Encyclopedia
"Neither the word Trinity nor the explicit doctrine appears in the New Testament." - The New Encyclopedia Britannica
"To Jesus and Paul the doctrine of the trinity was apparently unknown; . . . they say nothing about it." -- Yale University Professor E. Washburn Hopkins, Origin and Evolution of Religion.
"As early as the 8th century, the Theologian St. John of Damascus frankly admitted what every modern critical scholar of the NT now realizes: that neither the Doctrine of the Trinity nor that of the 2 natures of Jesus Christ is explicitly set out in scripture. In fact, if you take the record as it is and avoid reading back into it the dogmatic definitions of a later age, you cannot find what is traditionally regarded as orthodox Christianity in the Bible at all." -- Tom Harpur, For Christ's Sake.
"Jesus Christ never mentioned such a phenomenon, and nowhere in the New Testament does the word 'Trinity' appear. The idea was only adopted by the Church three hundred years after the death of our Lord." -- Historian Arthur Weigall, The Paganism in Our Christianity
"Neither the word Trinity, nor the explicit doctrine as such, appears in the New Testament, nor did Jesus and his followers intend to contradict the Shema in the Old Testament: 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord' -- Deut. 6:4 . . . The doctrine developed gradually over several centuries and through many controversies . . . By the end of the 4th century . . . the doctrine of the Trinity took substantially the form it has maintained ever since." -- The New Encyclopedia Britannica, Micropædia, Vol. X, p. 126. (1976)
"The formulation 'one God in three Persons' was not solidly established, certainly not fully assimilated into Christian life and its profession of faith, prior to the end of the 4th century. But it is precisely this formulation that has first claim to the title the Trinitarian dogma. Among the Apostolic Fathers, there had been nothing even remotely approaching such a mentality or perspective." - The New Catholic Encyclopedia ,(1967), Vol. XIV, p. 299.
"Christianity derived from Judaism and Judaism was strictly Unitarian [believing that God is one person]. The road which led from Jerusalem to Nicaea was scarcely a straight one. Fourth century Trinitarianism did not reflect accurately early Christian teaching regarding the nature of God; it was, on the contrary, a deviation from this teaching." -- The Encyclopedia Americana, (1956), Vol. XXVII, p. 294L.
"Christianity did not destroy paganism; it adopted it. . . . From Egypt came the ideas of a divine trinity." And in the book Egyptian Religion, Siegfried Morenz notes: "The trinity was a major preoccupation of Egyptian theologians . . . Three gods are combined and treated as a single being, addressed in the singular. In this way the spiritual force of Egyptian religion shows a direct link with Christian theology." – Historian Will Durant
I think it is more appropriate to believe that the Holy Spirit is indeed very real and plays an active and distinct role in our salvation and walk with YHVH, but that it is the powerful, life-giving breath of the Father (YHWH) and not a separate individual "person" apart from Him. Again, as E.W. Bullinger said:
For more, please watch Quest4Truth Episode 14 (above)
Special Thanks to Josh Peck for allowing me an opportunity to elaborate on my views in this regard:
Skip ahead to 117 minutes in for the specific discussion concerning
the Holy Spirit and my belief concerning the Trinity.
In a recent interview on Derek Gilbert's View From the Bunker radio broadcast, in a debate with Dr. Russ Houck, Cris Putnam brought forth some quotes from the "Church Father", Tertullian, from his work, Against Praxeas (ch. 25):
That was actually a great defense against the Constantine/Catholic Church argument, which I myself held to (as seen above) because I was unaware of that quote from Tertullian, which predates the various Councils. Kodos to him for finding it. And I mean that sincerely. It was a great find. Frankly, I'm surprised he didn't pull that card long ago. It would have certainly impacted our prior discourse. Perhaps he just discovered it himself in prep for the debate? I don't know, but well played it was. That said...
Oh well, nobody is perfect, but at least those who subscribe to "personhood" can now up their belief to about 1800 years ago. Too bad they still can't nail it down to the Bible though. If they could, they might just regain a convert here, back to that belief system. But they'd also have to refute the numerous Scriptures that clearly state the Holy Spirit is the breath of YHWH.
The actual definitions of the Hebrew word "ruach" and the Greek word "pnuema" mean: breath, wind, spirit (note nothing in the definitions indicate a "person"). And all of the NUMEROUS references found in Scripture depicting the "breath of God" most certainly are not a "metaphor." This is about as clear and straight-forward as Scripture can be:
When he had said this, he breathed on them and told them, "Receive the Holy Spirit." - John 20:22
This Scripture is not open to subjective interpretation. It cannot be any more plain or direct, and must not be ignored or trivialized with rhetoric about metaphors. Now, simple question:
Who gave the Holy Spirit in the above passage, and from what part of the body did the ruach/pneuma/Spirit come?
Answer that and you've found just one solid Biblical definition among many in both the OT and NT for how we are to understand the Holy ruach/pneuma/Spirit. And it required no intervention from people influenced by Apollo [antichrist] or the Cybele [mother of the pagan gods].
Just some food for thought...
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