Holy Spirit has a Distinct Personality-A Statement re-examined

Article by Paul Chung

Acknowledgement: Greatly appreciate all interactions I've had from different friends of the same belief to be able to glean many of the insights from. Special thanks to Jason Smith and Matt Dooley for their input on this article. 

Holy Spirit has a Distinct Personality-A Statement re-examined

"The Holy Spirit is the Comforter, in Christ’s name. HE PERSONIFIES CHRIST, YET IS A DISTINCT PERSONALITY. We may have the Holy Spirit if we ask for it and make it [a] habit to turn to and trust in God rather than in any finite human agent who may make mistakes." {20MR 324.2} (emphasis in caps added throughout)

Trinitarian’s objection: A “distinct personality” means a separate and different individual with distinct personage, therefore, the Holy Spirit who personifies Christ, “yet is a distinct personality” proves Holy Spirit is a separate, distinct personality or a being not unlike Christ or God the Father.

Statements below show how the enemies of God will personate:

“The apostles, as personated by these lying spirits, are made to contradict what they wrote at the dictation of the Holy Spirit when on earth” GC 557.1
 
“As the crowning act in the great drama of deception, Satan himself will personate Christ” GC 624.2.
 
“He will assume to personate the angels of light, to personate Jesus Christ” Lt102-1894.18.
 
“If men are so easily misled now, how will they stand when Satan shall personate Christ and work miracles? Who will be unmoved by his misrepresentations then—professing to be Christ when it is only Satan assuming the person of Christ, and apparently working the works of Christ? What will hold God’s people from giving their allegiance to false Christs? “Go not after them”” Ms185-1897.9.

Is it wrong for the enemy to personate Christ? YES! Why? Because it’s a lie…They are personating someone that they are NOT and they personate to deceive.

Consider that the opposite is true about the Holy Spirit. He is personating Christ, but it’s not a lie. He REALLY IS CHRIST!

Let’s take a look again the statement under consideration:

The Holy Spirit is the Comforter, in Christ’s name. HE PERSONIFIES CHRIST, YET IS A DISTINCT PERSONALITY. We may have the Holy Spirit if we ask for it and make it [a] habit to turn to and trust in God rather than in any finite human agent who may make mistakes. {20MR 324.2}

The way the word “yet” is being used here conveys the meaning of  “but nevertheless” or “but despite this.” It is being used as a balancing corrective for the first clause; the word “distinct” in this case means, “recognizably different in nature from something or someone else of a similar type.” In other words, someone might read the first clause and think that because the Spirit “personifies Christ” then that means that He (or It) is not a distinct personality. This is the error that sister White’s clause “yet is a distinct personality” guards against.

This is a common usage for the word “yet” even as the following quote will demonstrate, taken from the book, Education: 

“The mighty power that works through all nature and sustains all things is not, as some men of science claim, merely an all-pervading principle, an actuating energy. GOD IS A SPIRIT; YET HE IS A PERSONAL BEING, for man was made in His image. As a personal being, God has revealed Himself in His Son. Jesus, the outshining of the Father’s glory, “and the express image of His person” (Hebrews 1:3), was on earth found in fashion as a man. As a personal Saviour He came to the world. As a personal Saviour He ascended on high. As a personal Saviour He intercedes in the heavenly courts. Before the throne of God in our behalf ministers “One like the Son of man.” Daniel 7:13. {Ed 131.5}

Due to the fact that “God is a spirit” some might erroneously conclude that He is an all-pervading energy instead of a personal being. The clause “yet He is a personal being” is a balancing corrective against that conclusion. Hope this is clear.

Here's yet another example of how "yet" is being used as a balancing corrective for the first clause:

“From eternity there was a complete unity between the Father and the Son. They were two, YET little short of being identical; two in individuality, yet one in spirit, and heart, and character. {YI December 16, 1897, par. 5}

Again, the first clause with the word “yet” guards against someone thinking that the Father and Son were identical. This is because of the previous assertion that "there was complete unity between" Them. The second clause with the word “yet” guards against someone making them completely separate. This is because it is preceded by the statement that they were “two in individuality.” Despite this though they were “one in spirit, and heart, and character.” I hope these things are clear.

Below are a few more examples of how "yet" is being used as a balancing corrective.

"GOD IS A SPIRIT; YET HE IS A PERSONAL BEING; FOR SO HE HAS REVEALED HIMSELF." {FLB 40.2}

Note: Again, because God is a Spirit, some might conclude that He is "merely an all-pervading principle, an actuating energy" but "yet" guards us against from that idea and shows that God is actually a personal Being.

"The Lord's throne is in heaven" (Psalm 11:4); YET BY HIS SPIRIT HE IS EVERYWHERE PRESENT. He has an intimate knowledge of, and a personal interest in, all the works of His hand. ” { E. G. White, Education , p. 132}

Note: Here is another clear example of how some might think that because God is a personal Being with "physical" (though invisible) personage that he cannot be everywhere present but again, "yet" is being used here to guard against that thought. And significantly, how is He omnipresent? "BY His Spirit." It is by the very medium of His own Spirit that He is everywhere. This also guards against any spiritualistic idea that God's ENTIRE personage is ONLY an all pervading essence, devoid of distinct, physical personality. 

God the Father and His Son are Personal Beings

"THROUGH Jesus Christ, God—NOT A PERFUME, NOT SOMETHING INTENGIBLE, BUT A PERSONAL GOD—created man and endowed him with intelligence and power. It is God that thundereth in the heavens. His voice reacheth to the ends of the earth. He holdeth the winds in His hands. He sendeth lightnings with rain. He looketh on the earth and it trembleth; He toucheth the hills, and they smoke. He melteth the mountains like wax at His presence. He maketh the outgoings of the morning and the evening to rejoice. He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good." {Ms117-1898} 

"As a personal being, God has revealed Himself in His Son. The outshining of the Father’s glory, “and the express image of his person,” JESUS, AS A PERSONAL SAVIOUR, came to the world. AS A PERSONAL SAVIOUR He ascended on high. AS A PERSONAL SAVIOUR He intercedes in the heavenly courts." {FLB 40.3}

"HE [Christ] REPRESENTED GOD NOT AS AN ESSENCE THAT PERVADED NATURE, BUT AS A GOD WHO HAS A PERSONALITY. Christ was the express image of His Father’s person; and He came to our world to restore in man God’s moral image, in order that man, although fallen, might through obedience to God’s commandments become enstamped with the divine image and character—adorned with the beauty of divine loveliness." (Manuscript 24, 1891). {7BC 921.9}

"THE THEORY THAT GOD IS AN ESSENCE PERVADING ALL NATURE is received by many who profess to believe the Scriptures; but, however beautifully clothed, THIS THEORY IS A MOST DANGEROUS DECEPTION.... IF GOD IS AN ESSENCE PERVADING ALL NATURE, THEN HE DWELLS IN ALL MEN; AND IN ORDER TO ATTAIN HOLINESS, MAN HAS ONLY TO DEVELOP THE POWER WITHIN HIM. These theories [pantheism, etc.], followed to their logical conclusion, ... DO AWAY WITH THE NECESSITY FOR THE ATONEMENT AND MAKE MAN HIS OWN SAVIOR.... Those who accept them are in great danger of being led finally to look upon the whole Bible as a fiction...." {FLB 40.5}

"The new theories in regard to God and Christ, as brought out in “The Living Temple”, are not in harmony with the teaching of Christ. The Lord Jesus came to this world to represent the Father. He did not represent God as an essence pervading nature, BUT AS A PERSONAL BEING. Christians should bear in mind that GOD HAS A PERSONALITY AS VERILY AS HAS CHRIST." {SpM 324.2}

“When in times of trouble and perplexity we trust Him fully, we have a living sense of His cheering, all-pervading presence and power. We realize that the Lord is indeed our strength and our portion forever. We can be one with Christ in God. But let us never undertake to define God as an essence. Never, never venture one step into the way of putting God in the place of the things of His creation.-- ‘spake, and it was,’ who ‘commanded, and it stood fast.’ ” Manuscript 126, Nov. 29, 1905, “A Warning Against Present Dangers.”  {UL 347.7} 

"Pantheism is the term used to designate the strange new teachings that were being introduced. Pantheism pictures God not as a great personal Being, but a mysterious essence—an impersonal influence pervading all nature. God is seen in all nature—in trees, flowers, sunshine, air, and human beings. The power of God in nature is confused with the personality of God." {5BIO 281.3}

Note: As you can see and it's worth noting that Sister White was very much concerned with portraying God as a person and not as some kind of mysterious essence pervading all nature. She was adamant about this, especially in light of prevailing pantheistic ideas about God, namely because of John Harvey Kellogg (Influential doctor, contemporary of Ellen White who authored, "The Living Temple"), for he was depersonalizing the Holy Spirit and his views needed to be corrected. Therefore, Ellen White was very careful to describe the Holy Spirit as a Person (but not to be construed as a separate being), for HE/IT is the very personal presence of the Father and the Son with distinct personalities as we will see later.

Protection against spiritualism

Kellogg's pantheism sought to make God ONLY as an all pervading essence. With this view, God's omnipresent Spirit is an actual whole being that does not have physical personage.  But this is a confusion and a contradiction because a single physical body can't be everywhere simultaneously, as well as dwell inside another person's body.

The truth of the matter is that God is a personal Being and He is physically in heaven. That is where He lives, works, and resides. He is only omnipresent BY His Spirit. Which is a spiritual manifestation of his own presence, divested of His physical personage.

Where shall I go from YOUR SPIRIT? Where shall I flee from Your PRESCENCE? If I go to heaven or hell, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
— Psalm 139:7-10

Here is a quote that I think is full of significance.

"This subject has been kept before me for the past twenty years, yea, for more than twenty years. Before my husband's death, Dr. Kellogg came to my room to tell me that he had great light. He sat down and told me what it was. It was similar to some of the views that he has presented in Living Temple. I said, "Those theories are wrong. I have met them before. I had to meet them when I first began to travel".... 5MR 278.4

From at least 1881 and perhaps her whole ministry the subject of Spiritualism and Spiritualistic interpretations concerning God's personality was "kept before" her.

I believe this is the underlying context as to why she stated "third person" and "heavenly trio", etc. Couple those with the statements like,

"But I have ever had the same testimony to bear which I now bear regarding the personality of God...". 4MR 57.1

And

“There is in it [Kellogg’s teachings] the beginning of theories which, carried to their logical conclusion, would destroy faith in THE SANCTUARY QUESTION and in the atonement. I do not think that Dr. Kellogg saw this clearly. I do not think that he realized that in laying his new foundation of faith, he was directing his steps toward infidelity.” (Lt. 33, 17-1-1904)

"there they become indoctrinated with the very sentiments regarding the PERSONALITY OF GOD AND CHRIST that would undermine the foundation of our faith. The sanctuary question, which means so much to the heavenly family and to the believers on earth, has been made as nothingness. " Letter 72,1906

Thus, the ultimate end of Spiritualism is that Christ, the sanctuary, the atonement, etc are "burned up" and become "nothingness".

Kellogg's pantheistic assertion that God is "ONLY" an all pervading essence or force and that He is omnipresent in everywhere and in every person (regardless of the person's spiritual condition), negates the literal, physical personhood of the Father and the Son in heaven.

Just to digress a little, after the the great disappointment of 1844, there was another group of believers (who later became the Jehovah’s witnesses) who understood the 2300 day prophecy of Daniel 8 similar to the Sabbatarian Adventistst but they spiritualized the meaning. They understood the significance of the prophetic date to be valid but because they spiritualized the event, they rejected the idea that Christ came visibly or physically but adopted a view that Jesus already came but spiritually and subsequent consequence led them to deny the literal personhood of Christ’s ministry in the literal heavenly sanctuary.

I believe this is why she uses third person/personality terms. It was intended not to bring in a new theology but to uphold the truths of the sanctuary and personality of God.

Therefore, by portraying the Spirit as a "third person" or "personality", preserves those other vital, distinct truths of the Adventism yet does not negate the truth that the Spirit is also the presence and power of the Father and Son. 

So all of this brings us back to the quote in question.  Let’s look at it. 

We have one statement – “He personifies Christ.” What this means is that the Spirit is representing or embodying the humanity of the Man Christ Jesus to us. It, the Spirit Itself, is not Him in His PHYSICAL Person. However despite this personification of Jesus, the Spirit is “yet” a distinct personality.

The literary context of contrast does indicates that “distinct” is synonymous with “different” here. A point of differentiation is being made here. 

Now that brings us to another question. How can the Spirit of Christ be a distinct personality? There are a few options here. 

Option 1: It is a different Person altogether. This is the option believed by our Trinitarian brethren.  

One can certainly make this argument for there are numerous statements by Ellen White where she used the expressions such as "distinct personalities" or "personifies" to denote two distinctly separate individuals.

For example:

"Christ and God are one, and yet they are distinct personalities. Christ spoke with conscious authority, as one possessing in Himself power that would enable Him to perform His work." {Ms140-1903.44} 

“Christ is one with the father, but Christ and God are two distinct personages”(RH June 1, 1905)

"God had placed upon His Son authority to lay hold of the eternal throne with His divine nature. While Christ stood forth distinct in His own personality, He reflected the luster of the greatness that was His because of His position of honor within the encircling light of the eternal throne, in unity with God."{Ms156-1903.4}

"These words show that God and Christ are two personalities, distinct and separate. The unity for which Christ prays, which is to make believers one with Him, as He is one with the Father, does not destroy the personality of God or the personality of Christ. The believers become sons of God, and the personality of all is preserved." {Lt52-1906.23}

"...Son of God, the personification of the only true God, who possessed goodness, mercy, and untiring love, whose heart was ever touched with human woe..." {RH January 30, 1900, Art. A, par. 6}

“As the crowning act in the great drama of deception, Satan himself will personate Christ” GC 624.2.

Note: As you can see, one can easily see that Ellen White used these expressions to denote two distinctly different individuals. Christ and God (Father) are two distinct personalities and Satan, while he personates Christ, is a separate, distinct personality. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to conclude (especially, with a built-in trinitarian bias) that when Ellen White says, "HE [Holy Spirit] PERSONIFIES CHRIST, YET IS A DISTINCT PERSONALITY.", she means Holy Spirit is a separate distinct individual not unlike the Father and the Son.

Other valid possible options

Option 2: It is a different personality because it is the Spirit of Christ operating in a different capacity than when He was on the earth. While on earth He was not omnipresent in Spirit; He was localized. No one can be a true human personality if omnipresent in Spirit. That is an attribute of Divine personality not human. Thus upon His return to heaven Christ stripped (divested) His Spirit of this restriction and is now acting in an omnipresent capacity. 

Option 3: It is a different personality because the holy Spirit is not just the Spirit of Christ. It is also the Spirit of God. Thus the mutually shared Spirit of Two Persons is being dealt with here. Thus It is not just One or the Other but Both. However it is the Man Christ Jesus who is being personified because He is the One who knows, experientially, what it is like to go through the entire gambit of human experience. Christ would be taking the representative lead, if you will. 

"We will come unto him"

Christ has his own spirit: “Searching what, or what manner of time the SPIRIT OF CHRIST which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” (1 Peter 1:11) 

Father has his own spirit: “For it is not ye that speak, but the SPIRIT OF YOUR FATHER which speaketh in you.” (Mattew 10:20)

But John talks of both the Father and the Son dwelling in us by the the Comforter/Holy Spirit (one spirit).

In John 14 verse 23, Jesus says, “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and WE [Father and the Son] will come unto him, and make OUR abode with him.” Because scripture tells us that Christ dwells in us while God dwells in Christ:

John 10:38 “But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the FATHER IS IN ME, and I in him."(compare 14:10,11)

John 17:23 "I IN THEM, AND THOU IN ME, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me."

“The Father gave HIS Spirit without measure to his Son,” — (E.G. White, RH, Nov 5, 1908)(John 3:34)

Note: When Christ comes to us as our Comforter/Holy Spirit, through the medium of His own Spirit (one Spirit), He is also imbued with the presence of His Father's Spirit dwelling in Him, thus, we can have fellowship with both the Father and the Son together. This is why John says in 1 John 1:3, “...truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”-(It is not that the Holy Spirit is another separate being but rather, it is THROUGH the Spirit, we can experience the Father and the Son)

Additionally, the term "distinct" doesn't always mean separate or different.

Notice how Sister White uses the same expression below:

WE NEED TO HAVE MORE DISTINCT VIEWS OF JESUS and a fuller comprehension of the value of eternal realities. The beauty of holiness is to fill the hearts of God’s children; and that this may be accomplished, we should seek for divine disclosures of heavenly things.”
— Ellen White, Steps to Christ, p. 99.3, 1892

"LOOKING UNTO JESUS WE OBTAIN BRIGHTER AND MORE DISTINCT VIEW OF GOD, and by beholding we become changed. Goodness, love for our fellow men, becomes our natural instinct." {COL 355.1; 1900}

"The disciples did not yet understand Christ’s words concerning His relation to God. Much of His teaching was still dark to them. They had asked many questions that revealed their ignorance of God’s relation to them and to their present and future interests. CHRIST DESIRED THEM TO HAVE A CLEARER, MORE DISTINCT KNOWLEDGE OF GOD." {CCh 75.10}

"A blessed unity will be enjoyed by those who are indeed children of God. They will not, by their words and acts, lead anyone to doubt in regard to the DISTINCT PERSONALITY OF GOD, or in regard to the sanctuary and its ministry." {14MR 216.3}

 “Thou shalt make no covenant with them,” God had said; and those who had recently rededicated themselves to the Lord at the altar set up before the ruins of His temple, realized that the line of demarcation between His people and the world is ever to be kept UNMISTAKABLY DISTINCT. They refused to enter into alliance with those who, though familiar with the requirements of God’s law, would not yield to its claims. {PK 570.1}

"Remember in Him dwelt all the fullness of the God-head bodily. IF CHRIST IS ABIDING IN OUR HEARTS BY FAITH, we shall, by beholding the manner of His life, seek to be like Jesus, pure, peaceable, and undefiled. We shall reveal Christ in our character. We will not only receive and absorb light but will also diffuse it. WE WILL HAVE MORE CLEAR AND DISTINCT VIEWS OF WHAT JESUS IS TO US. The symmetry, loveliness, and benevolence that were in the life of Jesus Christ will be shining forth in our lives."—Manuscript 24, 1890. {2SM 22.4}

"The Lord draws out the soul in prayer, and gives us to feel His precious love. WE HAVE A NEARNESS TO HIM, AND CAN HOLD SWEET COMMUNION WITH HIM. WE OBTAIN DISTINCT VIEWS OF HIS TENDERNESS AND COMPASSION, and our hearts are broken and melted with contemplation of the love that is given to us. WE FEEL INDEED AN ABIDING CHRIST IN THE SOUL. We abide in Him, and feel at home with Jesus. The promises flow into the soul. Our peace is like a river, wave after wave of glory rolls into the heart, AND INDEED WE SUP WITH JESUS AND HE WITH US. We have a realizing sense of the love of God, and we rest in His love. No language can describe it, it is beyond knowledge. We are one with Christ, our life is hid with Christ in God. We have the assurance that when He who is our life shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory. With strong confidence, we can call God our Father." (Letter 52, 1894). {3BC 1147.8}

"The Lord has been waiting long to impart the greatest, truest joys to the heart. All those who look to him with undivided hearts, he will greatly bless. Those who have thus looked to him have caught MORE DISTINCT VIEWS OF JESUS as their sin-bearer, their all-sufficient sacrifice, and have been hid in the cleft of the rock, to behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world. When we have a sense of his all-sufficient sacrifice, our lips are tuned to the highest, loftiest themes of praise. When the students thus beheld Jesus, the suspension of their studies was counted as no loss. They were catching glimpses of Him who is invisible. They earnestly sought the living God, and the live coal of pardon was placed upon their lips. The Holy Spirit wrought not only for those who had lost their first love, but also for souls who had never placed themselves on the Lord’s side. The holy Watcher drew these souls, that there might be an ingathering to Jesus Christ. THE HOLY SPIRIT WROUGHT SO THAT THE LORD’S PRESENCE COULD BE DISTINGUISHED, and his work acknowledged." {SpTEd 78.1}

"These faithful bearers of truth had been slain by those to whom they were sent, even as the faithful servants were slain by the wicked husbandmen. In the beloved son whom the Lord of the vineyard finally sent to his disobedient servants, and whom they seized and slew, the priests and rulers suddenly saw unfolded before them, A DISTINCT PICTURE OF JESUS and his impending fate. Already they were planning to slay Him whom the Father had sent to them as a last and only appeal. In the retribution visited upon the ungrateful husbandmen was portrayed the doom of those who should slay Christ." {3SP 33.1}

Note: In all the statements above (There are much more statements but this will suffice to make a point here), Sister White is using “distinct” to mean “clear or unmistakablefree from obscurity or ambiguity rather than to mean “separate or different”.

Spirit of Christ/Holy Spirit is not just some energy, force or an influence but a distinct (unmistakable) personality of Christ Himself:

JESUS OF NAZARETH, WHOM HE HAD BEEN PERSECUTING IN THE PERSON OF HIS SAINTS, APPEARED BEFORE HIM AS THE PROMISED MESSIAH.”
— Ellen White, Acts of the Apostles, p. 228

Christ appeared to Saul in Person

“Paul told the Thessalonian Jews of his former zeal for the ceremonial law and of his wonderful experience at the gate of Damascus. Before his conversion he had been confident in a hereditary piety, a false hope. His faith had not been anchored in Christ; he had trusted instead in forms and ceremonies. His zeal for the law had been disconnected from faith in Christ and was of no avail. While boasting that he was blameless in the performance of the deeds of the law, he had refused the One who made the law of value. But at the time of his conversion all had been changed. JESUS OF NAZARETH, WHOM HE HAD BEEN PERSECUTING IN THE PERSON OF HIS SAINTS, APPEARED BEFORE HIM AS THE PROMISED MESSIAH.” {Acts of the Apostles, p. 228} (Compare Acts 9:1-8, 27)

“In the record of the conversion of Saul important principles are given us, which we should ever bear in mind. SAUL WAS BROUGHT DIRECTLY INTO THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST. He was one whom Christ intended for a most important work, one who was to be a “chosen vessel” unto Him; yet the Lord did not at once tell him of the work that had been assigned him. He arrested him in his course and convicted him of sin; but when Saul asked, “What wilt Thou have me to do?” the Saviour placed the inquiring Jew in connection with His church, there to obtain a knowledge of God’s will concerning him.” {AA 120.3}

On another occasion, Christ Himself appeared to John.

Ellen White comments on John’s encounter with Christ Himself on Patmos:

“The revelation of Christ to John is a wonderful, dignified, exalted, solemn message. To present this message with decided emphases, demands all the talents of capabilities that God has given to man. When John received it , he was worked (upon) by the Holy Spirit, FOR CHRIST HIMSELF CAME FROM HEAVEN and told him what to write.” {The Upward Look, p. 310.5}(Compare Revelation 1:9-20)

"Christ came to John on the Isle of Patmos to show him symbols and representations and to explain their meaning. He desires us to study this instruction." {Lt100-1906.9}

Ellen White's own encounter with Christ or with His Spirit

“Friday, March 20, I arose early, about half past three o’clock in the morning. While writing upon the fifteenth chapter of John, suddenly a wonderful peace came upon me. The whole room seemed to be filled with the atmosphere of heaven. A holy, sacred Presence seemed to be in my room. I laid down my pen and was in a waiting attitude to see what the Spirit would say unto me. I SAW NO PERSON. I HEARD NO AUDIBLE VOICE, but a heavenly Watcher seemed close beside me. I FELT THAT I WAS IN THE PRESENCE OF JESUS. The sweet peace and light which seemed to be in my room it is impossible for me to explain or describe. A sacred, holy atmosphere surrounded me, and there were presented to my mind and understanding matters of intense interest and importance. A line of action was laid out before me AS IF THE UNSEEN PRESENCE WAS SPEAKING WITH ME. The matter I had been writing upon seemed to be lost to my mind and another matter distinctly opened before me. A great awe seemed to be upon me as matters were imprinted upon my mind.” {Ms12c-1896.1}

“I arose early Thursday morning, about two o’clock, and was writing busily upon the True Vine, when I FELT A PRESENCE IN MY ROOM, as I have many times before, and I lost all recollection of what I was about. I SEEMED TO BE IN THE PRESENCE OF JESUS. HE WAS COMMUNICATING TO ME THAT WHICH I WAS TO BE INSTRUCTED. EVERYTHING WAS SO PLAIN THAT I COULD NOT MISUNDERSTAND. I was to help one whom I thought I should never again be called upon to be troubled with again. I could not understand what it meant, but at once decided not to try to reason about this, but follow the direction. Not an audible word was spoken to my ear, but to my mind. I said, “Lord, I will do as Thou hast commanded.” {Lt36-1896.3}

Note: These statements clearly demonstrate that, while Christ is physically in heaven, ministering in the sanctuary above, Christ Himself, not as His physical self but in the Person of His own Spirit (with the personality that is distinctly his own) appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus and to John on the Isle of Patmos, and also to Ellen White.

Personal attributes applied to the Holy Spirit

THE HOLY SPIRIT SPEAKS...

  • He "expressly says" that some will depart from the faith - 1 Timothy 4:1
  • The Spirit spoke and gave directions to Philip - Acts 8:29
  • He spoke to Peter and gave him charge concerning the Gentiles - Acts 10:19-20
  • He spoke to the brethren at Antioch concerning Paul and Barnabas - Acts 13:1-4

THE HOLY SPIRIT TEACHES...

  • He was to teach the apostles all things - John 14:26
  • Please note that Jesus consistently refers to the Holy Spirit as "He", not "it" (implying a personal being, not an impersonal force) - cf. Jn 14:16-17

THE HOLY SPIRIT BEARS WITNESS...

  • He was to testify of Jesus - John 15:26-27

THE HOLY SPIRIT GUIDES, HEARS, SPEAKS, TELLS...

  • He would carry on and complete the work started by Jesus - John 16:12-13
  • Jesus consistently refers to the Holy Spirit as "He"

THE HOLY SPIRIT FORBIDS...

  • He prevented Paul and his companions from going into certain areas of Asia - Acts 16:6- This He did by "forbidding" them, and "not permitting" them, despite their initial efforts 

THE HOLY SPIRIT INTERCEDES...

The "Spirit Himself makes intercession for us" - Romans 8:26; Just as Christ "also makes intercession for us" - Romans 8:34

HE HAS A MIND and HAS KNOWLEDGE...

  • "the mind of the Spirit" - Romans 8:27; This suggests thinking on His own
  • He "knows the things of God" - 1 Corinthians 2:11

HE POSSESSES AFFECTION...

  • Paul speaks of "the love of the Spirit" - Romans 15:30

HE HAS A WILL...

  • "selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. - 1 Corinthians 12:11; The Spirit decides what person received which gift.

THE HOLY SPIRIT SUFFERS PERSONAL SLIGHTS AND INJURIES

HE CAN BE GRIEVED AND INSULTED

  • "do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God" - Ephesians 4:30
  • One who has "who hath trodden under foot the Son of God" has also "hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?" - He 10:29

HE CAN BE LIED TO...

"...why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit...?" - Acts 5:3; As Ananias and his wife Sapphira were guilty of doing.

Note: The Word of God reveals clearly that the attributes of life and the personhood are applied directly to the holy Spirit. Why should it be a surprise to any of us that God has a living Spirit and that It operates throughout the universe as a living person, interacting with angels and men on His behalf? Even the human spirit has amazing abilities that we cannot fully explain so then how much more so God's Spirit, especially since He can project It outside of His bodily presence. And especially since It is more than just Himself but also the Spirit of His Son? The point here is that the Bible evidence clearly affirms what Mrs. White's wrote and it shows that referring to the Holy Spirit as one of "three living persons of the heavenly trio" (Ms21-1906.11) or "the third person of the Godhead" (DA 671) or as "a person" (Ev 616.6) or having "a personality", and that "he must also be a divine person" (Manuscript 20, 1906; Ev 617.1) are all very much appropriate, but not to be understood as a separate being.

Conclusion

Thus, “He [Holy Spirit] personifies Christ, yet is a distinct personality” can be understood as:

Ellen White used expressions like "Person", "Personality" to describe the Holy Spirit for the Holy Spirit is the very presence of the Father and the Son; they are NOT "IT" they are "Persons", Their own Spirit is not devoid of their "Personality"; thus, designations such as "He" or "Person" is rightly ascribed in describing the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, when Christ gives us Himself (by His own Holy Spirit) it is not just some impersonal force or essence. No, it is very personal and intimate. It is Christ’s own presence, though in Spirit and unseen, but having Christ’s very own personality. 

Holy Spirit is imbued with the very mind, power and the presence of the Father and the Son with a distinct (different and yet unmistakably their own) personality. Therefore, it would make perfect sense why she would describe the Holy Spirit as having a “distinct personality” but not to be understood as another being.

We also need to be mindful that the "person" theology protects and guards us from spiritualistic interpretation of the personality of God.

Additionally, please consider that there are volumes of statements by Sister White clearly describing the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Christ. Below are just a few:

“After the Saviour’s ascension, THE SENSE OF THE DIVINE PRESENCE, FULL OF LOVE AND LIGHT, WAS STILL WITH THEM. IT WAS A PERSONAL PRESENCE. Jesus, the Saviour, who had walked and talked and prayed with them, who had spoken hope and comfort to their hearts, had, while the message of peace was upon His lips, been taken from them into heaven. As the chariot of angels received Him, His words had come to them, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end.” Matthew 28:20. He had ascended to heaven in the form of humanity. They knew that He was before the throne of God, their Friend and Saviour still; that His sympathies were unchanged; that He would forever be identified with suffering humanity. They knew that He was presenting before God the merit of His blood, showing His wounded hands and feet as a remembrance of the price He had paid for His redeemed ones; and this thought strengthened them to endure reproach for His sake. Their union with Him was stronger now than when He was with them in person. THE LIGHT AND LOVE AND POWER OF AN INDWELLING CHRIST shone out through them, so that men, beholding, marveled.” {AA 65.1}

“It is the SPIRIT that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are SPIRIT, and they are life." CHRIST IS NOT HERE REFERRING TO HIS DOCTRINE, BUT TO HIS PERSON, the divinity of his character . ” { E. G. White, Review and Herald , April 5, 1906 par. 12} 

"The two expressions human and divine were, in Christ, closely and inseparably one, and yet THEY HAD A DISTINCT INDIVIDUALITY.... {ST May 10, 1899, par. 11}

‘Here we have plainly revealed to us that if we preserve the meekness and lowliness of Christ, if we walk humbly by the side of the Burden-bearer, if we come in close contact with our Redeemer, in being thus yoked up with Him, HE WILL IMPART TO US HIS OWN INDIVIDUALITY. {Ms70-1896.33}

Note: Here “individuality” does not mean a separate personage from Christ Himself. In similar fashion the individual Agency or the “personhood” of the Holy Spirit does not make It (or Him) a separate Personage from God the Father or His Son.

“Cumbered with humanity, Christ could not be in every place personally; therefore it was altogether for their advantage that he should leave them, go to his Father, and send the Holy Spirit to be his successor on earth. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS HIMSELF, DIVESTED OF THE PERSONALITY OF HUMANITY, and independent thereof. HE WOULD REPRESENT HIMSELF AS PRESENT in all places by HIS HOLY SPIRIT, AS OMNIPRESENT.” -Manuscript Releases, vol. 14, p. 93; {Lt119-1895.18}

“By the Spirit the Father and the Son will come and make their abode with you. [John 14:23 quoted]” — (E.G. White, BEcho, Jan 15, 1893)

“The HOLY SPIRIT is the SPIRIT of CHRIST, which is sent to all men to give them sufficiency,” — (E.G. White, 14MR 84.3)

“The Lord is soon to come. We want that complete and perfect understanding which the Lord alone can give. It is not safe to catch the spirit from another. We want the HOLY SPIRIT, which is JESUS CHRIST. If we commune with God, we shall have strength and grace and efficiency.” — (Letter to Prescott W.W. E.G. White, Lt66, April 10, 1894)

“but it is the leaven of the SPIRIT of JESUS CHRIST, which is sent down from heaven, called the HOLY GHOST, and that Spirit affects the heart and the character.” — (E.G. White, Ms36-1891)

“This [Holy Spirit] refers to the omnipresence of the SPIRIT OF CHRIST, called the COMFORTER. Again Jesus says, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth" [John 16:12, 13]. Manuscript Releases vol.14 p. 179 {14MR 179.2}

“Let them study the seventeenth of John, and learn how to pray and how to live the prayer of CHRIST. HE is THE Comforter. He will abide in their hearts, making their joy full.” — (E.G. White, RH, Jan 27, 1903)

“Once it was my privilege to speak in a smaller tent, which was crowded full of young men and young women. Soon after I began speaking, older ones tried to crowd in. I had great freedom, and the tender Spirit of God was with me. The Saviour seemed to be close beside me. I dwelt upon the Christian experience to be gained from the ministration of the Holy Spirit promised in the twenty-eighth chapter of Matthew. All hearts were touched. I was much refreshed and strengthened. It is the earnest of the spirit of life through Christ that every soul needs now, just now. There is not the least excuse now for any one’s departing from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. Those who follow their own sophistries do this from their own choice, in the face of light and evidence. THE LORD JESUS RECOGNIZES THE REAL VALUE OF SINCERE BELIEF IN HIS PERSONALITY, WHICH THO UNSEEN, IS VIEWED BY THE EYE OF FAITH.” (Letter 248-1906.4)

A LIAR IS ONE THAT PRESENTS FALSE THEORIES AND DOCTRINES. HE WHO DENIES THE PERSONALITY OF GOD AND OF HIS SON JESUS CHRIST IS DENYING GOD AND CHRIST. “If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son and in the Father.” IF YOU CONTINUE TO BELIEVE AND OBEY THE TRUTHS YOU FIRST EMBRACED REGARDING THE PERSONALITY OF THE FATHER AND THE SON, YOU WILL BE JOINED TOGETHER WITH THEM IN LOVE. There will be seen that union for which Christ prayed just before His trial and crucifixion: {Ms23-1906.20}

For a related study, click HERE to take a look at our article, Who is the Third Person of the Godhead.