Tuesday, June 2, 2009

6/2- Personality and Divinity of the Spirit

(The Holy Spirit as a dove at Jesus' baptism by Pietro Perugina 1498)
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

6/2- The Divinity of the Holy Spirit
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple, and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.” (I Cor. 3:16,17).
Calvin: Nor, indeed, does Scripture in speaking of him refrain from the designation “God.” For Paul concludes that we are the temple of God from the fact that his Spirit dwells in us 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16]. We are not lightly to pass over this fact. For, while God indeed frequently promises that he will choose us as a temple for himself, this promise is not otherwise fulfilled than by his Spirit dwelling in us. Certainly, as Augustine very clearly states: “If we are bidden to make a temple for the Spirit out of wood and stone, because this honor is due to God alone, such a command would be a clear proof of the Spirit’s divinity. Now, then, how much clearer is it that we ought not to make a temple for him, but ought ourselves to be that temple? band the apostle himself sometimes writes that “we are God’s temple” 1Corinthians 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 6:16], at other times, in the same sense, “the temple of the Holy Spirit” [ Corinthians 6:19]. Indeed,
Peter, rebuking Ananias for lying to the Holy Spirit, says that he has lied not to men but to God [Acts 5:3-4]. And where Isaiah introduces the Lord of Hosts speaking, Paul teaches that it is the Holy Spirit who speaks
[Isaiah 6:9; Acts 28:25-26]. Indeed, where the prophets usually say that the words they utter are those of the Lord of Hosts, Christ and the apostles refer them to the Holy Spirit [cf. 2 Peter 1:21]. It therefore follows that he who is pre-eminently the author of prophecies is truly Jehovah. Again, where God complains that he was provoked to anger by the stubbornness of his people, Isaiah writes that “his Holy Spirit was grieved” [Isaiah 63:10 p.]. Finally, if blasphemy against the Spirit is remitted neither in this age nor in the age to come, although he who has blasphemed against the Son may obtain pardon [Matthew 12:31; Mark 3:29; Luke 12:10], by this his divine majesty, to injure or diminish which is an inexpiable crime, is openly declared. I deliberately omit many testimonies that the church fathers used. They thought it justifiable to cite from David, “By the word of the Lord the heavens were established, and all their power by the spirit of his mouth” [Psalm 33:6 p.], to prove that the universe was no less the work of the Holy Spirit than of the Son. (I.13.15)

On Pentecost Sunday I was listening to the Pope give his sermon, and he spoke of Mary as the “spouse of the Holy Spirit.” That is an interesting way of putting it. I’ve often heard talk of Mary as “mother of God” but this struck me a bit different, yet a helpful way of putting it. There is a lot of confusion or worst indifference about what the Bible says about the third person of the trinity. Calvin in the passage above confirms the personality of the Spirit and the divinity of the Spirit. Calvin does not call the Spirit an “It.” The Jehovah’s Witnesses describe the Holy Spirit as a power like electricity. But this is confusing an attribute of the Spirit with the Spriit Himself. Jesus describes the Spirit as our “Counselor”, “Comforter”, our “Advocate”. The word in Greek Jesus uses is paracletos- literally “the one called along side to help.” Thus Jesus speaks of the Spirit as loving and caring- which is far more than an “it” can do- far more than electricity can do. The Spirit can be grieved which is a very personal thing.
Muslims want to recognize the Spirit’s power, but do not want to make the Spirit God. So they say the Holy Spirit is really the angel Gabriel. At least this is a personal, powerful thing. But Mary was not overcome by Gabriel to make Jesus. The Bible speaks of the Spirit as “the Spirit of Christ” or the Spirit “of God (the Father).” This is obviously different from the spirit of Gabriel.
Feminists today have tried to call the Holy Spirit female- “She who is.” This could be a very long topic, for there is great confusion about the sexuality of God (as there is great fascination and confusion about sexuality in America anyway). I would only caution (as I believe Calvin would) of going beyond what scripture says. Certainly there are attributes of God that are feminine. But if the Spirit is feminine then there is sexuality and possibly the sexual act in the godhead. In pagan (especially Egyptian, Canaanite) mythology this is found- but not in mainstream Hebrew or biblical thought. The pope’s image of Mary as the “spouse of the Holy Spirit” is right on.
The Spirit is divine. He has omniscience, omnipresence, was taking part in creation, taking part in the incarnation. In I.13.14 Calvin gives a more argumentative approach. In the passage above Calvin basically says people have experienced the Holy Spirit as God, and we have as well.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, do not leave us as orphans today. We need your presence, your power, your comfort and love in our lives. Fill us, mold us, convict us and use us.

No comments:

Post a Comment