The Holy Spirit - Chapter Four
by R.A. Torrey
It is the privilege of the humblest believer in Jesus Christ not merely to have his mind illumined to comprehend the truth of God but to have a Divine Teacher to daily teach him the truth he needs to know (cf. 1 John 2:20, 27). The Holy Spirit is also represented as the Leader and Guide of the children of God. We read in Rom. 8:14, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God they are the sons of God.”
He is not merely an influence that enables us to see the way that God would have us go, nor merely a power that gives us strength to go that way but a Person who takes us by the hand and gently leads us in the paths God would have us walk.
The Holy Spirit is also represented as a Person who has authority to command men in their service for Jesus Christ. We read of the Apostle Paul and his companions in Acts 16:6, 7, “Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the Word in Asia, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.”
Here it is a Person who directs the conduct of Paul and his companions and a Person whose authority they recognized and to whom they instantly submit.
Further still than this the Holy Spirit is represented as the One who is the supreme authority in the church, who calls men to work and appoints them to office. We read in Acts 13:2, “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the work where unto I have called them.”
And in Acts 20:28, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.”
There can be no doubt to a candid seeker after truth that it is a Person, and a person of Divine majesty and sovereignty, who is here set before us. From all the passages here quoted, it is evident that many acts that only a person can perform are ascribed to the Holy Spirit. R.A. Torrey teaches on The Person and Work of The Holy Spirit.III. An office is predicated of the Holy Spirit that can only be predicated of a person.
Our Saviour says in John 14:16, 17, “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”
Our Lord had announced to the disciples that He was about to leave them. An awful sense of desolation took possession of them and sorrow filled their hearts (John 16:6) at the contemplation of their loneliness and absolute helplessness when Jesus should leave them alone. To comfort them the Lord tells them that they shall not be left alone, that in leaving them He was going to the Father and that He would pray the Father and He would give them another Comforter to take the place of Himself during His absence.
Is it possible that Jesus Christ could have used such language if the other Comforter who was coming to take His place was only an impersonal influence or power? Still more, is it possible that Jesus could have said as He did in John 16:7, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you,”
if this Comforter whom He was to send was simply an impersonal influence or power?
No, one Divine Person was going, another Person just as Divine was coming to take His place, and it was expedient for the disciples that the One go to represent them before the Father, for another just as Divine and sufficient was coming to take His place. This promise of our Lord and Saviour of the coming of the other Comforter and of His abiding with us is the greatest and best of all for the present dispensation. This is the promise of the Father (Acts 1:4), the promise of promises. We shall take it up again when we come to study the names of the Holy Spirit. R.A. Torrey teaches on The Person and Work of The Holy Spirit.IV. A treatment is predicated to the Holy Spirit that could only be predicated of a Person.
We read in Isa. 63:10, R. V., “But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit: therefore He was turned to be their enemy, and He fought against them.”
Here we are told that the Holy Spirit is rebelled against and grieved (cf. Eph. 4:30). Only a person can be rebelled against and only a person of authority. Only a person can be grieved. You cannot grieve a mere influence or power. In Hebrews 10:29, we read, “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden underfoot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?”
Here we are told that the Holy Spirit is “done despite unto”
(treated with contempt or lack of respect). Only a real Person can be insulted this way. It is absurd to think of treating an influence or a power or any kind of being except a person with contempt.
We read again in Acts 5:3, “But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?”
Here we have the Holy Spirit represented as one who can be lied to. One cannot lie to anything but a person.
In Matthew 12:31, 32, we read, “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”
Here we are told that the Holy Spirit is blasphemed against. It is impossible to blaspheme anything but a person. If the Holy Spirit is not a person, it certainly cannot be a more serious and decisive sin to blaspheme Him than it is to blaspheme the Son of man, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ Himself.
Here then we have four decisive lines of proof that the Holy Spirit is a Person. Theoretically most of us believe this but do we, in our real thought of Him and in our practical attitude toward Him treat Him as if He were indeed a Person?
At the close of an address on the Personality of the Holy Spirit at a Bible conference some years ago, one who had been a church member many years, a member of one of the most orthodox of our modern denominations, said to me, “I never thought of It before as a Person.” Doubtless this Christian woman had often sung:
“Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all creatures here below,
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host,
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.”
But it is one thing to sing words; it is quite another thing to realize the meaning of what we sing. If this Christian woman had been questioned in regard to her doctrine, she would doubtless have said that she believed that there were three Persons in the Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit but a theological confession is one thing, a practical realization of the truth we confess is quite another.
So the question is altogether necessary, no matter how orthodox you may be in stating your creed, Do you view the Holy Spirit as a real Person, as real as Jesus Christ, as loving and wise and strong, as worthy of your confidence and love and surrender as Jesus Christ Himself?
The Holy Spirit came into this world to be to the disciples of our Lord after His departure, and to us, what Jesus Christ had been to them during the days of His personal companionship with them (John 14:16-17).
Is the Holy Spirit that real to you?
Do you know Him as your Comforter?
Do you know the fellowship of the Holy Ghost?
Do you know the partnership of the Holy Ghost?
Do you know the intimate personal friendship of the Holy Ghost?
This is the secret of victorious Christian life, a life of liberty, joy, power and fullness. To have Him as our ever-present Friend and to be conscious that we have the Holy Spirit, to surrender our life entirely to His control, this is true Christian living.
The doctrine of the Personality of the Holy Spirit is as distinct and scriptural as the doctrines of the Deity and atonement of Jesus Christ Himself. But it is not enough to believe the doctrine—we must know the Holy Spirit Himself. The whole purpose of these chapters is to introduce you to the indwelling Holy Spirit.Return to the R.A. Torrey page
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This page updated May 30, 2018