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Is the Holy Spirit a Person?
Having failed to find any genuine support or explanation for the Comforter, Muslims conclude that Jesus left an unfinished work and that someone was coming to complete His mission. By using literary sleight of hand (deception), they seek to fit the Comforter to the character of Muhammad in the following manner:
"another Comforter" is said to mean that many Comforters had come and another one was to come whereas the true interpretation was given in our first letter, for there were no 'other' Comforters specifically given in the way the inspired Greek describes the coming Holy Spirit;
"that he may abide with you for ever" is said to mean there was no need for another one to come after him, for Muhammad was the Seal of all Prophets. They ignore the literal meaning we gave - that it can only mean 'another of the same kind' as Jesus, i.e. Divine and personal - to try and slip in that the 'teaching will abide for ever, will remain intact.' Thus the Muslim apologist reaches his other goal and claims that 'the Holy Qur*an and all his teachings remain as they were 1400 years ago'. This is despite the clear meaning of the text which is that He (the Holy Spirit) will abide with Christians forever because He is fully Deity and never dies! Muhammad clearly died and we know where he is buried - so it cannot be him, even if he hadn't failed all the other tests given in Scripture;
"he will reprove the world of sin" (John 16:8): Muslims interpret this to mean that all other 'Prophets, even Abraham, Moses, David and Solomon chastised their neighbours and their people for sin, but not the world as Muhammad ... did'. The clear Biblical meaning is that the Holy Spirit does this work in the hearts of all men, but specifically those who draw near to God;
"the Spirit of Truth" (John 16:13): Muslims seek to apply this to Muhammad by claiming that 'Since childhood the Prophet Muhammad ... was called Al-Ameen, i.e. the Honest or Truthful One, and "he will guide you into all truth:..." (John 16:13). The true Biblical interpretation is that the Holy Spirit is the One who brings the Truth to men, inspiring the Word of God and the servants of God when they speak for Him (Matthew 10:17-20; cf. Mark 13:11; Luke 21:14-15):
'"Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Now we come to the point you labour, Rami!
"For he shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak" (John 16:13): presumably you agree with Deedat's claim that the 'Qur*an is God*s word and not a single word from the Prophet Muhammad ... or his companions was included for the angel Gabriel read it to him, he memorized it and it was written down by his scribes. His own sayings and teachings were recorded in Hadith or Tradition (plural, Ahadith)'. To answer your question: Does the Holy Ghost hear? We need to address the fuller question:
IS IT POSSIBLE TO HURT OR PAIN A NON-FEELING SPIRIT OR FORCE?
Three things are necessary in order to be classed as a person.
So what happens when we examine Scripture to see if the Bible's description of the Holy Spirit shows personality:
John 14v26: 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
So we learn that the Holy Spirit is able to TEACH - a sign of INTELLECT.
Romans 8v26,27: 'In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.'
So the Holy Spirit INTERCEDES for us - a sign of INTELLECT.
Greek scholar W.E. Vine's definition of "intercession" shows that an active force could not do it ("Vine's Dictionary of New Testament Words"; Vol.2, p.267):
"Primarily to fall in with, meet with in order to converse; then to make petition, especially to make intercession, plead with a person, either for or against others."
DOES THE HOLY SPIRIT HAVE A WILL OF HIS OWN?
Ephesians 4v30: 'And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.'
So the Holy Spirit can be GRIEVED (Gk. lupeo).
Vine defines this as "Denotes to cause pain, or grief, to distress, grieve" (vol 2, p.178).
This shows that the Holy Spirit has EMOTION.
Ahmed Deedat's debates!
Acts 8v29: 'The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it."'
So the Holy Spirit DIRECTS Philip in his ministry.
1 Cor 12v11: '7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he wills.'
So the Holy Spirit has a WILL of His own and can make decisions (Greek: boulomai).
Vine defines this as "to wish, to will deliberately....the deliberate exercise of the will." (Vol 1, p.299).
This shows that the Holy Spirit has WILL.
We can see clearly that, according to the Bible, the Holy Spirit possesses an INTELLECT, a WILL and EMOTIONS and is therefore a person.
Do the following verses from John 16 (v7 & 13-15) indicate a person or some kind of 'active force' as the heretical cult of Jehovah's Witnesses teach?;
"But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go I will send him to you. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are mine; therefore I said, that He takes of Mine, and will disclose it to you."
So 'Yes', Rami, the Bible shows clearly that the Holy Spirit does hear!
Deedat attempts a comparison with Deuteronomy 18:18: '.... and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him." This is said to correspond with Surah 53:2-4: "Your companion [Muhammad] is neither astray nor being misled. Nor does he speak of [his own] desire. It is only the inspiration that is inspired." Again, this is following the methods of the Jehovah's Witnesses who strive to fit Scripture into a strait-jacket of their own devising, but which cannot get past sound exegesis and Biblical hermeneutics.
"and he will shew you things to come" (John 16:13): the claim is made that 'all the prophecies of the Prophet Muhammad ... came to pass'. We do not know of one 'prophecy' of Muhammad that came to pass!
"He shall glorify me" (John 16:14): this does not fit Islamic claims so there is another deflection by Deedat to claim that the 'Qur*an and the Prophet Muhammad ... have more reverence for Jesus ... than the Bible and Christians themselves.' We will see in a moment just how untrue this claim is!
We now reach your other point - and one laboured by Deedat - that Muslims cannot believe that Jesus could address his mother with 'Woman', as the Holy Qur*an states in Surah 19:32: "And dutiful to my Mother [i.e. Mary], and [Allah] made me not unblessed and arrogant" and 'John 2:4: "Jesus saith unto her [Mary], Woman, what have I to do with thee?"'
Jesus - Begotten not created!
We have read the web-page you referenced with interest and notice that it deals with Ahmed Deedat's sterilized view of Biblical characters as well as his encounters with Christians who - he claims - could not answer his questions. We never cease to be amazed that, in private, Deedat only encounters ignorant Christians we have no answers to his questions while, in public debates, he resorts to illogical rhetoric but seems to choose very humble opponents who seemingly tolerate his nonsense to a startling degree. We do wonder whether any Muslim ever reads the counter arguments from Christians, since the examples on the web - such as his debates with Josh McDowell - show that Deedat always concentrated on trying to ridicule the Christian view rather than answer the problems that all Muslims will have when the Koran is seriously compared with the Bible. Perhaps you do not realise that, for many years, Ahmed Deedat promoted Islam primarily by attacking other faiths. In an effort to degrade and discredit the Bible, he has resorted to the use of ridicule and vulgar language. At best, he treated the Scriptures as though he were an authority, but his method of interpretation has much in common with the Jehovah*s Witnesses who stress certain verses to the exclusion of others. He also focuses his hearers attention on some conclusion he has drawn as though it were a proven fact, though his conclusion certainly doesn*t follow from his premise. Another of his devices is to put up 'straw men', that is, to follow Muhammad's lead and charge Christians with beliefs that he thinks they hold - such as a confused and heretical concept of the Trinity and the Sonship of Christ. He is particularly fond of insulting and offensive language toward those he opposes and seeks to find the most inflammatory 'interpretations' while ignoring the written evidence.
Deedat*s accusations against Christianity in his debate with Dr. A. Shorrosh at the Royal Albert Hall in London, 1985, illustrate his method. During the debate Deedat said that Jesus never made an unequivocal statement that he was God but, when a questioner asked him to explain Christ*s claim, "I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last" (Revelation 1:17 compared with 1:8) - which is a title used for Almighty God in the same Chapter - Deedat made no attempt to give a reasoned argument but resorted to mocking the Scriptures and insulting Christians who believe the book to be a revelation from God. He said, and we quote,
"Now this book of Revelation was a dream in which John in the dream saw a vision in which he saw animals with eyes inside and eyes outside and horns with eyes on it. All this is a man if he eats too much he gets that type of experiences."
Deedat ignored the fact that the Jewish and Christian Scriptures comprise history, legislation, poetry, allegory, symbolism and parable. However, since the Ouran uses anthropomorphism when speaking of Allah, e.g. He sits on His throne (Sura 20:4; 57:4); hears and knows (Sura 89:5); sees (Sura 6:103), etc., it is clear that Deedat intended deliberate offence.
Deedat also ignored the fact that the Old Testament prophets, Ezekiel and Daniel, were also inspired to use incomprehensible and fantastic imagery - if taken literally - and Daniel*s imagery of composite beasts is clearly used by the Holy Spirit inspired John in Revelation chapter 13:lff.
But, when Muslims quote Deedat, they forget that we know that his feigned interest in boosting the images of the Old Testament prophets, or of Mary the mother of Jesus, is only a front. In the 1985 lecture his strongest abuse was aimed at our Lord Jesus Christ in relation to his title Son of Man. Deedat had obviously read the prophetic passage concerning the death of the Lord Jesus Christ in Psalm 22:6-8:
PS 22:6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. PS 22:7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: PS 22:8 "He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him."
When Jesus was crucified we read (Matthew 27:39-40):
39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, "You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!"
And Mark 15:29-30:
29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, "So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!"
Unable to cope with the accuracy of this description of the suffering of the Servant King Jesus, Deedat declared, in the most offensive delivery possible:
"These worms, you know, that go on manure, human dung. You and I according to this book of God, you are nothing more than a maggot... God Almighty goes out of His way to tell you. Look, this Jesus of mine is no exception... this Son of Man, who is only a worm - worm, a worm" (here Deedat was shouting).
Deedat*s haranguing is not honest, intelligent, reasonable argument, but is aimed at the emotions of his Muslim hearers and depends on their lack of understanding of Christian truth. Deedat mocked the doctrine of the Trinity and the Incarnation and deliberately chose to misunderstand the Christian catechism (creed) by stating:
"The Father is a Person, the Son is a Person and the Holy Ghost is a Person but they are not three persons but one Person."
The Athanasian creed he is ridiculing doesn*t say the three Persons are one Person but rather:
"We worship God in Trinity, and Trinity in unity; neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost."
He has a long history of twisting the true meaning of many Biblical quotations by taking them out of context in an inflammatory way and doesn't seem to know even fundamental principles - or is it more accurate to say that his bias makes him deliberately ignore this principle when dealing with the Bible? The discerning reader who is really seeking truth will see how Deedat misrepresents and distorts the Bible by consistently ignoring the context and that he is simply inaccurate over many of his 'proof' texts. Here is an on-line example of his work to check out:
Similar work is demonstrated by Deedat at the reference you gave -
http://home.swipnet.se/~w-20479/Christ.htm [Note (2008): link no longer works]
where we read:
'In my forty years of practical experience in talking to learned Christians, not a single one has opened his mouth to hazard an explanation of the phrase "begotten not made". It had to be an American who dared to explain. He said : "It means, sired by God." "What!?" I exploded : "Sired by God?" "No, no!" he said, "I am only trying to explain the meaning, I do not believe that God really sired a son."
Is 'begotten not made' really difficult to understand? The phrase "only-begotten" is a logically continuation of the thought found in John 1:1:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.
Obviously, there has never been a time when God could not speak, so the Word - the Lord Jesus Christ - has always been with the Father! The thought is continued in John 1v14-18:
14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 15John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. 16And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. 18No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
The Greek scholar W.E. Vine explains that the word shows, "a unique relationship. It suggests relationship indeed, but must be distinguished from generation as applied to man....the expression also suggests the thought of the deepest affection". (Vine's Dictionary of New Testament Words, Vol. 3, p140).
The Son of God has always been in existence, therefore "only-begotten" cannot have application to His first coming into existence, as human terminology might suggest.
In passing, the frequently misunderstood phrase in verse 18 - '18 No man hath seen God at any time' - is simply explained: No man has seen God the Father at any time! Remember, when Jesus was on earth in human form, He was a Perfect Man. A Perfect Man will pray to God, so Jesus prayed to His Father and set the Perfect example to us. This is why the Perfect Man told His disciples:
JN 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him." JN 14:8 Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." JN 14:9 Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, `Show us the Father'? 10 Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. 12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (John 14:6-14)
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