God the Holy Spirit
“Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God’ ” (vv. 3–4).- Acts 5:1–11
According to Scripture, there is only one God. The one God is also three persons. John 1:1–18 help us to understand this, describing the Son of God who at the same time is God and also is with God the Father. But as Christian monotheism is Trinitarian and not binitarian, it is now time for us to consider the third person of the Holy Trinity, God the Holy Spirit.
The Word of God teaches the full deity of the Holy Spirit in several places. Consider today’s passage, which records the harsh judgment that Ananias and Sapphira received when they lied about a financial contribution they made to the church. In addressing Ananias, Peter said that he had lied “to the Holy Spirit” and that he had lied “to God” (Acts 5:3–4). Note how the terms “Holy Spirit” and “God” are used interchangeably. Clearly, this demonstrates that Peter believed the Holy Spirit to be the one God of Israel.
Second Peter 1:21 is also significant, for there Peter attributes the inspiration of the prophets to the Holy Spirit. But when we turn to the Old Testament Prophetic Books, we often find the prophets attributing their inspiration to Yahweh, the covenant Lord of Israel. For example, Hosea 1:1 says, “The word of the Lord that came to Hosea.” Remember that “LORD” is a translation of God’s covenant name, Yahweh. Thus, Peter says that the Yahweh who spoke by the prophets was the Holy Spirit. There is no difference in his mind between Yahweh and the Holy Spirit.
When we say there is no difference between Yahweh and the Holy Spirit, we are speaking in terms of the divine essence, that which makes God who He is, namely, His divine moral character and His divine attributes. Within Yahweh, the one God and covenant Lord of Israel, there is a distinction between the Holy Spirit and the other two persons of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is God, but He is not God the Son or God the Father. As proof of this, John 14:16 refers to the Holy Spirit as “another Helper.” Here, the word “Helper” translates the Greek word paraklétos, which in 1 John 2:1 is translated as “advocate” and is a title applied to “Jesus Christ the righteous.” As Dr. R.C. Sproul has often noted, the Holy Spirit is not the only or even the first paraklétos in Scripture; rather, God the Son, Jesus Christ, is the paraklétos and the Holy Spirit is another paraklétos alongside Him. The Spirit and the Son are one in essence, but They subsist distinctly within that essence.
Jesus no longer walks the earth in the flesh, but Scripture does not paint this as disadvantageous. Jesus has given us another Advocate or Helper like Himself. God incarnate has given us God the Holy Spirit (John 14:15–17), so our worship and service are animated by the very God of the universe. Thus, we can be confident that our worship and service have purpose and will accomplish what God intends for them.
Passages for Further Study