Impersonal force from a distant God or a Person?


At least three statements in John 14-16 confirm that Jesus thinks of the Holy Spirit as a person not a mere force.

John Piper, in a sermon, “The Holy Spirit: He Is God!”

1) Jesus calls him “another Counselor” in 14:16, “I will pray the Father and he will give you another Counselor to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth” (14:26; 15:26; 16:7). When Jesus calls him a Counselor or Comforter, he treats him as a person not a force. And when he calls him “another Counselor,” he means, “He will be a counselor like me.” The Holy Spirit is a counselor like Jesus is—he is a person.

2) In John 14:17, Jesus says, “You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” Then in verse 25 he says, “I have spoken to you while I am with you.” Jesus virtually identifies the Spirit with himself. “I am with you and will be in you” is the same as saying, “I am with you and the Spirit will be in you.” “You know me now as flesh and blood Son of God. You will know me soon through the Spirit who will be given to you.” Therefore, the Spirit is no less a person than Jesus is.

3) The Holy Spirit is described not merely as the voice of God’s teaching but as a teacher in his own right. John 14:26, “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things.” And in 15:26 he is a witness in his own right, “When the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me.” And lest we think that the Spirit is just the extended teaching activity of the Father and the Son, John 16:13 says that the Spirit first hears and then teaches: “He will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak.” The Spirit is treated not as a force, or influence, or activity of another person, but as a person in his own right, hearing from the Father and the Son, and teaching and bearing witness to men.

It will make a great deal of difference in your own life if you believe that you are being indwelt and led and purified not by impersonal forces from a distant God, but by a person who in his essence is the love of God (Romans 5:5; 1 John 4:12–13).

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