This is the age of the Holy Spirit. To Him is given the privilege and responsibility of carrying out the program of the Father in revealing the work of the Son through the Word. While all Christians are familiar with much that relates to the Father and the Son, too many Christians are like another group in the New Testament, "We did not know that there was such a person as the Holy Spirit."
He is the receptionist and must give approval to all who would enter into the inner sanctum of the Father and the Son. So it is very important that we should be very conscious of his presence and position.
The Fourth Article of Religion in Wesleys Articles stating what Methodists believe says, "The Hoty Ghost proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one substance, majesty and glory, with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God."
This article was added some time between 1553 and 1563 to make up the Thirty Nine Articles of the Established Church of England. An old heresy, Arianism, had arisen which denied the personality and deity of the Holy Spirit. This same heresy is one of the main doctrinal beliefs of Jehovahs Witnesses.
The article was taken from the Confession of Wurtenburg, and E.C.S. Gibson says its insertion was for two reasons, (1) The spread of false teaching concerning the distinct Personality and Deity of the Holy Spirit. (2) The desire to give the document the character of greater completeness. If there was an Article on the Son of God it may well have been felt that the lack of a corresponding article on the Third Person of the Holy Trinity was a deficiency which it would be wise to supply for the sake of symmetry and proper balance."
We need to look at three facts relating to the Holy Spirit in this study; (1) The Deity of the Holy Ghost, (2) The Distinct Personality, (3) The Doctrine of the Procession.A. The Deity of The Holy Ghost
One wonders how this fact could ever be questioned or doubted. The evidence of Scripture is full and complete and leaves no room whatever for doubt. Not only arc divine actions and attributes ascribed to the Spirit, but He is directly addressed as God in the Scriptures.
All through the Word, divine actions and attributes are ascribed to the Spirit. In the Old Testament reference is made to the action of the Holy Spirit in creation. See Genesis 1:2; Psalm 33:6. Isaiah in 61:1 declares the doctrine of His distinct Personality. The New Testament confirms the teachings of the Old Testament. This is true of the Incarnation as recorded in Luke 1:35. The Spirit dwells in the bodies of men as in a temple as Paul records in I Corinthians 3:16 and 6:19.
The Spirit is directly termed God in Acts 5:3-4 when Peter, in speaking to Ananias, says, "Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?--thou hast not lied unto men but unto God." Thus, according to Peter, to lie to the Holy Ghost is to lie to God.
Paul does this in II Corinthians 3:15-18. The Spirit is here so plainly said to be the Lord; that is, Jehovah, the one eternal God.
We would also refer you to Luke 11:20; Matthew 12:28; Isaiah 6:8; and Acts 28:25B.The Distinct Personality
It is also difficult to understand how the doctrine of the Spirits personality could be doubted in the light of Scripture. Our Lord Jesus always spoke of the Holy Spirit as a person. In His last discourse in the Upper Room (John 13-16) He repeatedly used the pronouns, "He, Him and His." However, this teaching is not confined to Johns Gospel. The apostolic epistles are full of passages confirming the distinct Personality of the Holy Spirit. See Romans 8:26-27; I Corinthians 12:4; Ephesians 4:30; Galatians 5:18; Acts 5:4; and Matthew 12:3 1. In these passages we see Him described as a person. The language of the Word is so conclusive that no room is left for doubt as to the distinct personality of the Holy Spirit.C.The Doctrine of the Procession
The particular feature of the article or doctrine is both interesting and important. We need to consider it from Scripture and history.
We will first look at the phrase "proceeding from the Father and Son in the light of Scripture." In John 15:26 we read, "when the Comforter is come whom I will send you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He will testify of Me." In Revelation 22:1, John saw a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. The Holy Spirit is that river according to John 7:38-39. Our Lord speaks in John 14:26 and 15:26 of sending the Spirit by Himself and then of the Father. Sometimes He is spoken of as the "Spirit of God" (I Corinthians 2:11) and again as "Spirit of the Father" (Matthew 10:20) or the "Spirit of Christ" (Romans 8:9). We would also refer you to Philippians 1:19; Galatians 4:6; John 16:14; and John 20:22.
So Scripture teaches that in one God there is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one Trinity of Divine Essence. The Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son, but proceeding from the Father and the Son. The Father is unbegotten, the Son begotten in the Father and the Paraclete, the Comforter, proceeds from the Father and the Son.
Thus through Scripture the Deity, distinct Personality and manner of procession is verified and forever established as Truth. Job 33:4; Matthew 28:19; John 4:24-26; Acts 5:3-4; Romans 8:9; II Corinthians 3:1 7; Galatians 4:6.