THE SPIRIT OF GOD
The third major personality who is evident in the Hebrew Scriptures is the Spirit of God, often referred to simply as the Ruach Ha-Kodesh. There are many references to the Spirit of God, among which are:THE THREE PERSONALITIES IN THE SAME PASSAGE
1. Genesis 1:2
1:2 And the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. (NASB - New American Standard Bible)
2. Genesis 6:3
6:3 Then the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years." (NASB)
3. Job 33:4
33:4 "The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life. (NASB)
4. Psalm 51:11
51:11 Do not cast me away from Thy presence, And do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me. (NASB)
5. Psalm 139:7
139:7 Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence? (NASB)
6. Isaiah 11:2
11:2 And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD ... (NASB)
7. Isaiah 63:10
63:10 But they rebelled And grieved His Holy Spirit; Therefore, He turned Himself to become their enemy, He fought against them. (NASB)
8. Isaiah 63:14
63:14 As the cattle which go down into the valley, The Spirit of the LORD gave them rest. So didst Thou lead Thy people, To make for Thyself a glorious name. (NASB)
The Holy Spirit cannot be a mere emanation or 'force' because, as can be seen in these quotations, He has all the characteristics of personality - intellect, emotion and will - and is considered divine.
NEW TESTAMENT LIGHT
So then, from various sections of the Hebrew Scriptures there is a clear demonstration that three personalities are referred to as divine and as being God: the Lord YHVH, the Angel of YHVH, and the Spirit of God.
Furthermore, there are places in the Hebrew Scriptures where all three personalities of the Godhead are referred to in a single passage. This can be seen in Isaiah 42:1 and 61:1, but the two clearest examples are Isaiah 48:12-16 and Isaiah 63:7-14.
48:12 Hearken unto me, O Jacob, and Israel my called: I am he; I am the first, I also am the last. 13Yea, my hand hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spread out the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together. 14Assemble yourselves, all ye, and hear; who among them hath declared these things? He whom Jehovah loveth shall perform his pleasure on Babylon, and his arm (shall be on) the Chaldeans. 15 I, even I, have spoken; yea, I have called him; I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous. 16 Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; from the beginning I have not spoken in secret; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord Jehovah hath sent me, and his Spirit. (ASV)
In verse 12 it is God, the Creator of the earth, who is speaking. It is still God, the "I Am," who is speaking in verse 16 where He says that He has been sent by another Person, 'Jehovah', together with a third Person - the Spirit of 'Jehovah'.
Here is the Triunity of God, clearly defined by the Hebrew Scriptures.
63:7 I will make mention of the lovingkindness of Jehovah, (and) the praises of Jehovah, according to all that Jehovah hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindness. 8 he said, Surely, they are my people, children that will not deal falsely: so he was their Saviour. 9 In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old. 10 But they rebelled, and grieved his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, (and) himself fought against them. 11 Then he remembered the days of old, Moses (and) his people, (saying), Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of his flock? where is he that put his holy Spirit in the midst of them? 12 that caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses? that divided the waters before them, to make himself an everlasting name? 13 that led them through the depths, as a horse in the wilderness, so that they stumbled not? 14 As the cattle that go down into the valley, the Spirit of Jehovah caused them to rest; so didst thou lead thy people, to make thyself a glorious name. (ASV)
In this passage Isaiah is recounting the experiences of Israel in the Exodus and the Wilderness Wanderings. In the course of these seven verses, Isaiah mentions three distinct divine personalities. These are as follows:
1. In verse 7 he mentions the Lord 'Jehovah' - the first Person.
2. In verse 9 he mentions the 'Angel' of His presence - the second Person.
3. The third Person is the Holy Spirit, mentioned three times, in verses 10, 11, and 14.
While, throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, God often refers to Himself as being the One solely responsible for Israel's redemption from Egypt, in this passage three personalities are given credit for it. There is, however, no contradiction seen here since all three comprise the unity of the one Godhead.
The teaching of the Hebrew Scriptures, then, is that there is a plurality of the Godhead. The first Person is consistently called YHVH, while the second Person is given the names of YHVH, the 'Angel' of YHVH and the Servant of YHVH. Consistently and without fail, the second Person is sent by the first Person. The third Person is referred to as the Spirit of YHVH or the Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit. He, too, is sent by the first Person but is continually related to the ministry of the second Person.
If the concept of the Triunity of God is not Jewish, then neither are the Hebrew Scriptures. Jewish believers cannot be accused of having slipped into paganism when they hold to the fact that Jesus is the divine Son of God. He is the same One of whom Moses wrote when the Lord said:
23:20 Behold, I send an angel before thee, to keep thee by the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. 21 Take ye heed before him, and hearken unto his voice; provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgression: for my name is in him. 22 But if thou shalt indeed hearken unto his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries. 23 For mine angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Canaanite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite: and I will cut them off. (ASV)
The answer to every question asked here is YHWH!
In keeping with the teaching of the Hebrew Scriptures, the New Testament clearly recognizes that there are three Persons in the Godhead, although it becomes quite a bit more specific. The first Person is called the Father while the second is called the Son. The New Testament answers the question of Proverbs 30:4-5 (NWT):
4 Who has ascended to heaven that he may descend?
Who has gathered the wind in the hollow of both hands?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a mantle?
Who has made all the ends of the earth to rise?
What is his name and what the name of his son, in case you know?
If only the WBTS would heed this warning!
5 Every saying of God is refined. He is a shield to those taking refuge in him. 6 Add nothing to his words, that he may not reprove you, and that you may not have to be proved a liar.
His son's name is Yeshua, Jesus, but He shares the Name YHWH in the Old Testament and also many other titles of God, such as the 'I Am,' and the 'First and Last.' In accordance with the Hebrew Scriptures, He is sent by God to be the Messiah, but this time as a man, not as an 'angel'. Furthermore, He is sent for a specific purpose: to die for our sins. In essence, God became a man - man did not become God - in order to accomplish the work of atonement.
The New Testament calls the third Person of the Godhead the Holy Spirit. Throughout the New Testament He is related to the work of the second Person, in keeping with the teaching of the Hebrew Scriptures. We see, then, that there is a continuous body of teaching in both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament relating to the Triunity of God.]
Page 9 continued - Awake! April 22, 2005
WBTS statement: 'Why, then,' one may ask, 'did Thomas exclaim when seeing the resurrected Jesus, "My Lord and my God!"?' As already noted, Jesus is a god in the sense of being divine, but he is not the Father. Jesus had just told Mary Magdalene: "I am ascending to my Father and your Father and to my God and your God." Remember, too, why John wrote his Gospel. Three verses after the account about Thomas, John explained that he wrote so that people "may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God" - not that he is God. - John 20:17, 28, 31.
[Orthodox Christian Reply: Thomas, although doubting longer than the other apostles, finally came to accept Christ as Lord and God. He did not say "My Lord and god" as WBTS leaders would hope you understand the words, having mistranslated John 1:1 to try and teach this in their NWT, but "God," as his words show. The WBTS might try and insist that the twentieth chapter of John ends by saying that "these have been written down that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God … " (v31), but this does not rule out the Son's deity for a moment. Neither does the fact that, in John 20:17, Jesus declares: '"I am ascending to my Father and your Father and to my God and your God." ' The WBTS hope that we won't recognize, or remember, what John 5:17-18 so clearly declares:
17 Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." 18 For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
Clearly, to the Eastern mind in those days, as today, a claim to be 'the Son of God' was a claim to equality with the Father!
Although the WBTS insist on referring to Jesus as "a god", meaning an inferior 'god', in contrast with the Father whom they call "the God," we can see that, in their Kingdom Interlinear (1985) Bible, the word-for-word English under the Greek text of John 20:28 shows that Thomas literally called Jesus: "The Lord of me and the God of me!"
In John 20:17 Jesus said "I am ascending to my Father and your Father to my God and your God." The WBTS promote the view that since Jesus had a God over him he could not also be God. But, again, they ignore the fact that He came in the servant role and as a man was submissive to the Father as a Son. But they fail to notice that he makes a distinction between "my Father and your Father" not saying our Father. The same is applied to " my God and your God." As the Perfect Son of Man He had fulfilled the obligations of the second Adam at Calvary and, as such, He acknowledged the Father as "my God". We are unable to say this in the same manner as He did. In what way is God the Father of Jesus? He is His Father from eternity past, Jesus being the Son of eternal generation, i.e., without beginning! Thomas bowed before Jesus confessing Him as his God and his Lord. But Jesus could never say the Father was his Lord in the way man does. The WBTS would like us to ignore the fact that the reverse situation also occurs, at Hebrews 1:10, when the Father calls the Son "Lord" - obviously without casting doubt on the fact that the Father is also called "Lord" - as shown earlier.
In John 11:41-43 Jesus lifts his eyes toward heaven and prays: " I thank you that you heard me, and I know that you always hear me." Jesus, the Son of Man, consistently prayed to His Father in heaven just as believers have always done. Why did He pray if He was God? Because He had lowered Himself - as explained earlier in discussing Philippians 2:5-11 and Hebrews 2:9 - He made Himself dependent on God in his lowered state, thus giving us the perfect example of the relationship He desires us to have with the Father. The Son of Man was instructed by the Father as His God, since He chose not to use His position independently. Note that Jesus never referred to his Father as "our Father" in prayer together with others. Father was a term for the Jews who were in covenant with God. Jesus, being God in nature, was divine and equal in all respects to God and therefore did not call God his Father as we do, being adopted children. God was His Father in a different sense than ours, in that they were united together from eternity. So Jesus makes this distinction of "my" and "your". When Christ prayed to the Father, the Son was on earth, positionally lower (as explained regarding John 14:28), the Father was in a greater position, in heaven. It is not a great 'mystery' to recognize the clear spiritual truth that reveals God is Spirit (John 4:24) and therefore omnipresent, but Jesus chose to limit Himself in His human body when He walked the earth as the Son of Man (John 11:41-42; 12:28; 17:1-26).]
Page 9 continued - Awake! April 22, 2005
Who Is "the God of This World"?
WBTS statement: Clearly, there are many gods. Some, as we have seen, are named in the Bible. Yet, people who saw Jehovah's power long ago exclaimed: "Jehovah is the true God! Jehovah is the true God!" (1 Kings 18:39) Another god, however, also has power. The Bible says: "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not." - 2 Corinthians 4:4 King James Version.
The night before his death, Jesus three times warned his disciples about this god, calling him "the ruler of this world." Jesus said this powerful ruler, or god, "will be cast out." (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11) Who is this god, and what is the world over which he is the ruler?
He is none other than the rebel angel, Satan the Devil. How do we know? The Bible explains that when Satan tempted Jesus, Satan showed him "all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, and he said to him: 'All these things I will give you if you fall down and do an act of worship to me.'" (Matthew 4:8, 9) This offer would not have been a temptation at all if Satan had been offering Jesus what Satan did not possess. Indeed, the apostle John declared: "The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one." - 1 John 5:19.
Recall that Jesus promised: "The ruler of this world will be cast out." (John 12:31) In fact, this world, or system of things, along with its ruler, will be removed, as foretold by the apostle John when he stated: "The world is passing away." However, John added: "He that does the will of God remains forever. (1 John 2:17) Let us examine now the glorious purposes of the only true God and how we can benefit from them.
[Orthodox Christian Reply: again, the WBTS try to emphasise their belief in 'many gods' which we refuted earlier. We can basically agree with their summary of the position of the world 'lying in the power' of Satan. But a true born again believer holds a very different position in the world compared with a Jehovah's Witness whose mind has been 'blinded' by this 'god' Satan through the WBTS.
At a future date we will 'examine ... the glorious purposes of the only true God and how we can benefit from them' and see how the Bible shows that God has a very different role and destination for all true Christians!