I decided to read through What the Bible Teaches, by R.A. Torrey again. It’s a great book – you can download a free PDF here - so we’re doing a little Bible study every Thursday. The collection is here. Subscribe over there to make sure you don’t miss anything, but come back and add your voice in the Comments! >>>
We started Book III this week, and turned our attention to the One whom pastor and author Francis Chan has called, “the forgotten God.” Holy Spirit is woefully neglected in too many modern Christian churches.
I think Torrey agrees. He opens this chapter with the following:
It is of the highest importance from the standpoint of worship that we decide whether the Holy Spirit is a divine person worthy to receive our adoration, our faith and our love, or simply an influence emanating from God, or a power that God imparts to us. If the Holy Spirit is a Divine Person and we know it not, we are robbing a Divine Being of the love and adoration which are his due.
It is of the highest practical importance that we decide whether the Holy Spirit is a power that we, in our weakness and ignorance are somehow to get hold of and use, or whether the Holy Spirit is a personal being, infinitely wise, infinitely holy, infinitely tender, who is to get hold of us and use us.
So which is it? Torrey proposes:
- Various pronouns that clearly imply personality are repeatedly used of the Holy Spirit.
- Many characteristics that only a person can posses are ascribed to the Holy Spirit (knowledge, will, mind, love, goodness, etc.).
- Many acts that only a person can perform are ascribed to the Holy Spirit (teaching, directing, commanding, etc.)
- An office is predicated of the Holy Spirit that could only be predicated of a person (specifically, that of Comforter).
- A treatment is predicated of the Holy Spirit that could only be predicated of a person. (He is rebelled against, grieved, lied to, etc.)
Torreys’ general conclusion: The Holy Spirit is a person.
Not a flesh-and-blood person, of course, but it isn’t the physical that makes a person a person. A man with one arm is no less a person than a man with two.
Torrey ends this chapter with some insightful questions:
Theoretically we may believe this. Do we in our real thought of Him, or in our practical attitude toward Him, treat Him as a person? Do we regard Him as indeed as real a person as Jesus Christ … ?
I’ve been taught, since I was saved almost a decade ago, that Holy Spirit is a person, but the idea of Him being as much a person as Jesus, I admit, made me pause.