The Personality of the Spirit — An excerpt from “Questions and Answers, Vol. 2,” pgs. 36 - 40
By M. C. Wilcox, Pacific Press, 1919
PREFACE TO VOLUME II
Volume I of "Questions and Answers" was published in 1911. It was made up from answers to questions from the Signs of the Times. The book contains 270 answers. They were gathered out of about 4,000 that had been printed. Many of these, in the nature of the case, were similar. Many were of passing interest only, and some were scarcely worthy of permanent preservation. So some persons will think doubtless regarding a number of the answers that were published in the book; but not all. Not a few were interested in all of them. The first edition of volume I was not exhausted before requests came for a second volume — from all parts of the field, from ministers and laymen alike— and these requests have continued up to the present. The response is volume 2, issued on the same plan, in the same style, with the same complete indexes. The answers in the first volume were all by the writer. In this volume appear other answers, by later editors of the Signs of the Times; and to these credit is given by initials. A longer article appears, on an important question, by Prof. N. J. Waldorf. The answers are not set forth as infallible nor exhaustive. Constantly increasing light from the Word of God forbids the first; and the necessity of brevity, and oftentimes pressure of time, preclude the second. Hundreds of questions have been considered and passed by, many of which are as worthy as those admitted. The design has been to make the scope of the book as general as possible. With all its imperfections, it is given to the public. The author hopes, however, that its data, its classifications, its indexes, and its suggestions to further seeking in God's great storehouse of spiritual truth, may prove of helpful worth and blessing to the Christian worker and reader. M. C. W.
Following article is an excerpt taken from pages 36 to 40 of the book, pertaining to inquiry No. 28, dealing with the subject of the Personality of the Holy Spirit and the divinity of Christ. [Image of an antique telephone added and emphasis in bold supplied through out]
28. The Personality of the Spirit
1. Some say the Holy Spirit is a person; others say He is a personality; and others, a power only. Till how long should this be a matter of discussion?
2. Some say that Christ was both divine and human while on earth; others say, No, He was only a man, and that miracles were performed through Him by the Holy Spirit. Which is correct?
1. The personality of the Holy Spirit will probably be a matter of discussion always. Sometimes the Spirit is mentioned as being "poured out," as in Acts 2. All through the Scriptures, the Spirit is represented as being the operating power of God. "The Spirit of God was brooding upon the face of the waters." Gen. I : 2, A. R. V., margin. Job tells us that God by His Spirit garnished the heavens. The psalmist, in speaking of the death of living creatures, and their restoration, declares that God sends forth His Spirit
and "they are created." By that same Spirit Jesus was begotten. By that same Spirit He went about doing good. By the gift of that Spirit men are begotten again, regenerated; and by the same Spirit there are bestowed upon them gifts for service.
We cannot define too closely God or the Godhead. We must not try to do it, because it is beyond our limitations. We may know this, — that there is a great threefold manifestation of Deity. Jehovah is our God and Father; Christ Jesus, His only-begotten Son, is our Saviour and elder Brother, bringing to us all the potency of the Godhead; the Holy Spirit is our regenerator, and the constant companion of every soul who believes in Christ Jesus.
The reason why the Scriptures speak of the Holy Spirit as a person, it seems to us, is that it brings to us, and to every soul that believes, the personal presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said (John 14; 18), "I will not leave you desolate," or orphans. "I come unto you." He tells us in verse 16 how He will come. The Father will "give you another Comforter, that He [the Father] may be with you forever." In verse 23, He declares that the Father and He will come to the man who loves Him and keeps His word, and that They will make Their abode with him. But both the Father and the Son come by the Holy Spirit. To the Holy Spirit is given power to make the Father and the Son present to the believer.
We can get perhaps some idea of this by using the crude things of the world as an illustration. We may suppose that the president of the United States wishes to speak to the governors of the various states. He has telephone connections made with the office of every governor in the United States. They all have the receivers to their ears, listening. He speaks, and every one of them hears the same message at practically the "same moment. Knowing the president, they recognize his voice. He is in a way present with every one of them. He is speaking to every one. If there could be connected with the telephone a telephote, which when perfected, it is believed, will project a picture of the one speaking, any
reasonable distance, the president would appear to each one of these who are talking with him. This is what men hope to secure. Wireless telephony furnishes us a better example still. Wireless telegraphy and wireless telephony have been known to God and practiced between Him and His children for ages.
If mortal, finite man can do such things as outlined above, what cannot the infinite God do! When Jesus was here upon the earth, His personality could be present in only one place at a time. His disciples could not comprehend any power beyond that. Even those who loved Him so intensely as did Martha and Mary, said, "Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." They could not grasp the idea that He could exercise power apart from His immediate personal presence. It was left for a Roman centurion to seize the truth. He said, "I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof ; but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed." He could understand that Christ had power which could be exercised at a distance. And Jesus said, "I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel."
Because of the lack of faith, it was "expedient," necessary, that He should go away; for He declared, "If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I go, I will send Him unto you." John i6: 7. His disciples could not realize the presence of the Spirit of God as long as Christ was with them personally. In that sense, He could be with those only who were in His immediate presence. But when He went away, and the Spirit came, it could make Christ present with every one, wherever that one was—with Paul in Athens, Peter in Jerusalem, Matthew in India, John in Patmos.
These are simply illustrations. Wherever God's children are, there is the Spirit — not an individual person, as we look upon persons, but having the power to make present the Father and the Son. That Spirit is placed upon God's messengers, the angels; but the angels are not the Spirit. That Spirit is placed upon God's servants, His human messengers; but the human messengers are not the Spirit. They are possessed by the Spirit, and used by the Spirit, and have within them the power of the Spirit; but they are not the Spirit. The Spirit
is independent of all these human or material agencies. Why not leave it here? Why not know that that Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of Deity, goes out into all the earth, bringing the presence of God to every heart that will receive it?
2. Our Lord, while here upon the earth, was both divine and human. He did not lose His identity. He was the Christ of God. There are various scriptures upon this. We read but one. Jesus asks His disciples, "Who say ye that I am?" "And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." What did Jesus say to this? — "Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father who is in heaven." See Matt. 16: 15-17.
It is an utter perversion of God's truth to say that one of the Deity came down here to earth, and lost His identity, so that He was only a human being while He was here; and that when He returned to heaven, He became Deity, and lost His humanity. Read the blessed story in brief form in Philippians 2: "Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus : who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross. Wherefore also God highly exalted Him, and gave unto Him the name which is above every name." Verses 5-9.
We do not know how any one can read this little story without recognizing the same One through it all. He who existed in the form of God, yielded up all the glory and all the honors there were in heaven; He took upon Him the form of a servant; He was made in the likeness of man; He humbled Himself ; He became obedient to death; He was raised from the dead. He who was Deity, first took the form of an angel, and was Michael the Archangel, chief among all the angels, because chief in service; yet He was the Son of God, of whom the Father said: "Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee by the way, and to bring
thee into the place which I have prepared. Take ye heed before Him, and hearken unto His voice; ... for My name is in Him." Ex. 23:2o, 21. He was the Angel of Jehovah of whom Isaiah speaks: "In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His presence saved them : in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bare them, and carried them all the days of old." Isa. 63:9.
He it was with whom Abraham pleaded for Sodom. Genesis 18. He it was with whom Jacob wrestled at the brook Jabbok. Genesis 32. And He it was that in the fullness of time was born of a woman, born under the law, that He might redeem them that were under the law. Gal. 4:4. He it was who died, and all creation responded to the agony in the great earthquake that took place. He it is who gives us this message from glory: "Fear not; I am the first and the last, and the Living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of hades."
Being divine and using His divine power are two different things. Our Lord, we may believe, wrought His miracles by faith. He met temptation by His faith in God's Word. He did all His work by the power of the Spirit in response to faith. But He was still the divine Son of God.