Different Meanings of “Holy Spirit”
Holy Spirit Has Different Meanings
“The Bible is not given to us in grand superhuman language. Jesus, in order to reach man where he is, took on humanity. The Bible must be given in the language of men. Everything that is human is imperfect. Different meanings are expressed by the same word.” Ellen G. White, Selected Messages Book 1, p. 20.
A part of the confusion that exists regarding the Holy Spirit is the fact that based on the different contexts of the usage of the term, different meanings are intended. Last week, it was pointed out that a number of references to “Holy Spirit” or “Spirit” were references to God the Father. It was pointed out that the Bible says: “God is a spirit” – John 4:24; and “The Lord is that Spirit” – 2 Cor. 3:17. The terms “Holy Ghost” and “Spirit of truth” are used in John chapters 14-16 in reference to the “Comforter”.
Holy Spirit The Comforter Sent
The Comforter is someone who is sent from the Father at Jesus’ request –
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” – John 14:26.
“But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” – John 15:26.
The Comforter speaks only what he is told to speak –
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” – John 16:13.
Spirit Also Refers To Angels
The term “spirit” is also used in reference to angels. The case of Philip illustrates –
“And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.” – Acts 8:26.
Philip went and saw the Ethiopian eunuch. He was given further instructions as described in the following words:
“Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.” – Acts 8:29.
At the end of the encounter, we are told:
“And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more” – Acts 8:39.
This role of the “spirit” or “angel”, in this instance, bringing truth to God’s children is consistent with Jesus’ promise regarding the “Spirit of truth”. The role of angels who, we know, are “spirits” (Heb. 1:7, 14) is also illustrated in the experience of John the Revelator. God gave the revelation to Christ who gave it to His angel who in turn gave it to John –
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John.” – Rev. 1:1.
Spirit of Truth
To some people it is blasphemous to think of the “Spirit of truth” as an angel. Yet they would accept that the term “angel of the Lord” was used in some places, particularly in the Old Testament, to refer to Christ or God Himself (as in the case with Moses by the burning bush: “And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush” – Ex. 3:2). In the case of Elijah, “the angel of the Lord” who appeared to him was also referred to as “an angel” –
“And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.” – 1 Kings 19:5.
“And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.” – 1 Kings 19:7.
The point is that the terms “Spirit”, “Holy Spirit”, “angel”, “angel of the Lord” and other terms have multiple meanings and references. It is the context that helps us to understand and we cannot be dogmatic.
Holy Spirit the “Golden Oil” of Zechariah 4
A fertile line of research from the Spirit of Prophecy writings, that sheds light on the matter of who or what is the Holy Spirit is the subject of the “golden oil”. Ellen G. White says that the “golden oil” of Zechariah 4 is the Holy Spirit. If one should do a brief search of the E. G. White database under the subject, “golden oil”, it will clarify significantly, if not entirely, much of the ambiguity and speculation surrounding who or what is the Holy Spirit.
Further, as is common to any process of defining things, a good understanding usually allows one to distinguish the matter being defined from other things that it is not. In that vein, another line of research that should prove edifying would be to establish the difference (or differences) between the work that is done by the Holy Spirit and that which is done by the angels.
Holy Spirit Not Worshiped in Scripture
In the final analysis, the original point stands: we cannot be dogmatic about matters that are at best debatable and have not been fully revealed to us. We should not allow our own speculative ideas to influence us to place worship where there is no example in the Bible of it being given. Nowhere in the Bible is it taught that we should worship the Holy Spirit. If we should follow the example of holy beings in heaven, in our worship we would be saying:
“Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, AND unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” – Rev. 5:13.
And if we would be worshiping as we will be worshiping in the New Earth, we would be in line with John the Revelator who said:
“And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” – Rev. 21:22.
“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).
– Zerubbabel (Zech. 4:6)