Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 11, 1959
NUMBER 6, PAGE 7a,12b,13b

The Holy Spirit

Arthur W. Atkinson, Jr., Baton Rouge, Louisiana

We are beginning with this article one of the most interesting studies in the Bible. Not only is it interesting but it is also difficult to understand unless carefully studied. Many false theories have been built around this subject because of a lack of a thorough study on the part of many Bible teachers. We do not mean to suggest that our study has by any means been exhaustive but do feel that the average student of the Bible can come to the same conclusions that we have reached. Let us study carefully and prayerfully the Holy Spirit of God.

The Holy Spirit is one of the three divine beings in the Godhead. The other two are God the Father, and Christ the Son. In our study of this important subject we will use the term found in the American Standard Version, Holy Spirit, in preference to the ambiguous term, Holy Ghost, that is used in the King James Version. However, let it be remembered that the Holy Ghost and the Holy Spirit are one and the same personality. Ghost and Spirit are just two different terms used to designate the same being.

The Holy Spirit plays a most important part in the conversion of man. We want to learn of this part in this study. Just as a matter of introduction let us say this: the Holy Spirit reveals God's plan to man, he turns the sinner from darkness unto light, the gift of the Holy Spirit is given to those who obey God, and the Holy Spirit comforts and guides the saints. We are interested in knowing just how all this takes place. We intend to learn all this.

First let us show the great need for the Holy Spirit. There was a time when man knew nothing of God's plan for him. Neither was or is it possible for man to know of God through his own wisdom. There is but one way for man to know of God even as there is but one way for us to know man, that is by the testimony of the spirit of man and the testimony of the Spirit of God. Let us compare and elaborate on this. I Cor. 2:11, "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?" A man can know things in his heart which another man cannot know unless the spirit of the man knowing, testifies of them. He, the man, must speak for us to learn what he is thinking or what he wants. So it is that the Holy Spirit of God is needed to testify to us of God. I Cor. 2:11, "even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." We read in the same chapter, verses 9, 10, "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." Thus we can see clearly that if it were not for the Spirit of God, man would know nothing of God. The scriptures say that man may even know of the deep things of God by the revelation of His Spirit. He did not say that we can know all things, for naturally we will know no more than is revealed.

But now let us continue. Even as the spirit of man can use many human instrumentalities through which to reveal itself, such as writing, speaking, signs and symbols, so it is that the Spirit of God can use many human instrumentalities to reveal God's plan to man. Let us remember that God is not limited except in the limitations which He Himself prescribes. He can and does reveal Himself through a medium which is familiar to man. We will learn more of this medium as we progress.

Let us now notice how God dealt with the people in the Old Testament. You will find from a careful study that God very seldom dealt with the masses of people except through human instrumentalities. A notable exception to this rule is found at Sinai when God spoke orally to the masses of the people but even then the people asked that he cease to deal with them directly. Deut. 5:25, "Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, then we shall die." When God spoke to the masses of the people verbally it was the exception rather than the rule and even then the people did not care for it.

There is great emphasis placed upon the word of God. God spoke the world into existence. Gen. 1:3, "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light." Consider here the great emphasis that is placed upon the word of God.

1. We are to neither add to it nor subtract from it. Deut. 4:2, "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you." Deut. 12:32, "What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it."

2. By the word of God man liveth. Deut. 8:3, "And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knowest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live."

3. The word bringeth salvation. Psalms 119:41, "Let thy mercies come also unto me, 0 Lord, even thy salvation, according to they word."

4. The word of God is powerful. Jeremiah 23:29, "Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord."

Before we close our thoughts on the word and its power let me bring this thought to your attention. It is at this point, the word, that the Holy Spirit begins His work. We are going to find in our study that it is impossible to divorce the work of the Holy Spirit from the power of the word. This is the medium God used to express Himself.

The oral word of God was incorporated into commandments which we shall call statutes, laws, and His will. These commandments must be obeyed.

1. Obedience is required. Deut. 6:24, "And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day." Deut. 27:10, "Thou shalt therefore obey the voice of the Lord thy God, and do his commandments and his statutes, which I command thee this day."

2. These commandments are perfect. Psalms 19:7-9, "The Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

3. The whole duty of man is to keep these commandments. Eccl. 12:13, "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man."

Next let us notice that the word spoken and incorporated into commandments was directed to the understanding of man. Job 32:8, "But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding." Human understanding must always be present when the laws of God are presented. They, the laws, are directed to the understanding of man. Again we read, Job 34:16, "If now thou hast understanding, hear this: hearken to the voice of my words." Psalms 119:169, "Let my cry come near before thee, 0 Lord: give me understanding according to thy word." Psalms 119:130, "The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple." Thus, we can clearly see that the word of God was made into laws or statutes and these laws were directed to the understanding of man.

I believe that if you will follow along with us in this series of articles you will see how all this work is accomplished by the Spirit. Since we have' seen that God Spoke orally and that His words became commandments and these commandments were directed to the understanding of the people, we want next to show that God did not speak directly to the people, but through a messenger. God used human instrumentalities to make his will known. The point that we wish to make here is this: God's Spirit did not work upon the great masses of people to move them but He endowed certain individuals with His spirit and they in turn guided the people. There are no exceptions to this. Thus we have inspired men speaking to the people and the people were guided by the Spirit of God as it was manifested through these leaders. We will continue this thought in our next article.