What the Bible says about
(From Forerunner Commentary)
Groups of people create a spirit that tends to pull its members along with it. "Birds of a feather flock together." It is a form of mob psychology. A milder form of this process motivates people to conform to certain current fashions, music, foods, dress, or whatever. A modern cliché speaks of "going with the flow," which urges the individual not to resist the power or the direction of the spirit of an event but choose to yield to it. "Don't resist it. Go right along with it."
The person's choice should depend on its direction, but far too many yield to what is popular or what feels good at the moment rather than what is right. Sometimes, we have to resist the spirit, the flow, or the power of an event. Adolf Hitler used large crowds, martial music, aggressive speaking, and dramatic lighting to create a spirit, which enabled him to win the hearts of so many Germans that virtually the entire nation walked in lock-step with that spirit.
In a simpler and less serious fashion, advertising follows the same course, but advertisers try to create an aura about the product. They create a spirit to energize people to purchase their product. Restauranteurs create ambience—from the music to the décor to the lighting to the attire of the waitresses—to produce the kind of spirit that puts diners into a mood to spend their money on often overpriced food and enjoy the experience. This is how the Bible often uses the word "spirit."
I Corinthians 2 explains that the human mind has a spiritual dimension that imparts or empowers individuals with the understanding of the physical and material, which is woefully insufficient in dealing with the things of the spirit realm. This happens largely because humanity has been deceived. Revelation 12:9 says, "So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world." We most often think Satan deceives the world through "misinformation." He does, but there is also a spiritual dimension to it that makes it nearly impossible for people to resist.
Humans are intelligent enough to sort out fact from fiction. But what if they are given truth but do not have the mind that inclines, compels, or motivates them to accept it? They will not accept it. Does not God have to lead those He calls to repentance before they will accept His Word (Romans 2:4)? Does this not suggest that He works in a way to make their minds willing to accept truth? Absolutely.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part Two)
Note well the condition for receiving this gift: We must keep His commandments.
Jesus gives a specific reason for gifting us with the Holy Spirit: that God may be in and with us forever. His wording is important in this regard. The Holy Spirit is power to be directly in contact with the God Family, but in this case, His phrasing emphasizes that the Holy Spirit is a Person. Though God is Spirit, we must fully grasp that, in this spiritual family relationship, we are dealing with real, living Persons of awesome power, generosity, mercy, and kindness who are willing to deliver us fully into their Family. Verse 23 reveals that the Holy Spirit is the Father and the Son, not a third person in a so-called Trinity.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Fully Accepting God's Sovereignty (Part Four)
2 Corinthians 3:17
Acts 2 records the event of God's pouring out of His Spirit on the church, as well as the accompanying manifestations that testified dramatically that something extraordinary was taking place. Subsequently, the Holy Spirit is a significant theme throughout the rest of Acts, as the gospel was preached and more people were called into the church. The epistles of Paul, Peter, and John likewise feature the Holy Spirit frequently. Yet, for all that is written about it, the Holy Spirit is still commonly misunderstood. Many theologians claim to know what the Holy Spirit is, yet they simultaneously profess it to be an incomprehensible mystery!
Part of the difficulty in understanding God's Spirit comes from the common challenges that arise whenever a text is translated from one language, with all of its nuances, into another. In this case, the Greek word translated as “spirit” is pneuma. E.W. Bullinger, in The Companion Bible, catalogs fourteen different meanings or usages of that one Greek word. It should not be surprising, then, that when Greek texts are concisely translated into English, some of what is intended by pneuma can become clouded.
Further confusion has been introduced by the so-called “early church fathers,” whose writings are often looked to for guidance in understanding early Christian doctrine. They may have been early on the scene, yet they were also influenced by Greek philosophy, Plato in particular. Plato's worldview—one not based on the Bible—promoted a triune godhead or a single god that mysteriously expresses itself in three different persons or personalities. Plato himself developed this view from much older trinities found in the Babylonian mystery religions, as well as Egyptian beliefs.
One of the rarer usages of the word pneuma is “a spirit being,” thus it was not a great leap for early scholars—looking through a lens of pagan concepts—to regard the Holy Spirit as a third God-Being. Because those involved were already inclined to think in terms of a god consisting of three persons, they were able to find “evidence” of such an idea in the Scriptures.
It has been said that heresy crawls in its first generation, it walks in the second, and then it runs. Once the notion of the Holy Spirit being a third person got its start, it walked and then soon sprinted throughout the Western world with such force that now the overwhelming majority of professing Christians take the idea as a given.
It is worth remembering that there is indeed a spirit being striving for equality with the Father and the Son, but that spirit—Satan the Devil—is anything but holy (Isaiah 14:13-14). He has, though, created a place for himself in the minds of millions by guiding Catholic and Protestant doctrine to include a mysterious third spirit being within a three-part godhead, just as the ancient pagan religions held. Yet, that construct is nowhere found in the Hebrew Scriptures, nor is it unambiguously seen in the Greek Scriptures. It is a doctrine that must be read into the Greek text, but doing so only creates contradiction and confusion—neither of which are from God (John 10:35; I Corinthians 14:33).
David C. Grabbe
What Is the Holy Spirit?
1 John 5:1-8
A recurring theme throughout the apostle John's writings is the authenticity of Jesus Christ's testimony that He:
1. is the Creator God—the Son of God the Father (John 1:1);
2. is the promised Messiah (John 1:41);
3. is tasked with announcing the coming Kingdom of God, to provide expiation for mankind's sins, and to provide a perfect, living example of “the Way,” before being crucified and resurrected (John 1:29; 18:36-37; 14:6; 19:16-37; 20:1-31).
To that end, I John 5:1-5 presents a foundational description of Christ's followers—those who believe in His authenticity—and how they would display their love for both the Father and the Son and their inspired capacity to overcome the world through their faith.
In verses 6-8, John continues building on this foundation by revealing three of the most significant “witnesses”—all in agreement—to the authenticity of the testimony of Jesus Christ: “the Spirit, the water, and the blood.”
The trouble begins in between, with deceptive language added to verses 7 and 8, again, only in a few translations.
Martin G. Collins
Does I John 5:7-8 Support the Trinity Doctrine?
1 John 5:7-8
The Holy Bible teaches that the God Family currently consists of two fully divine Beings, God the Father and God the Son. However, most nominal Christians believe we should add a third distinct Being, the Holy Spirit, to what is called the “Godhead,” forming a “Trinity,” a term that does not appear anywhere in Scripture. By “rightly dividing the truth” (II Timothy 2:15), one can relatively easily dismiss virtually all the verses used to support this false belief. However, one passage, I John 5:7-8, in four popular translations—the King James, the New King James, the New Living Bible, and the Amplified Bible Classic—appears to support the Trinity doctrine by using additional verbiage missing from most other translations.
In the New King James Version, the following italicized words were added, apart from the majority of ancient manuscripts: “For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one."
According to Anthony and Richard Hanson, professors of theology, in their book, Reasonable Belief, the troubling language
was added by some enterprising person or persons in the ancient Church who felt that the New Testament was sadly deficient in direct witness to the kind of doctrine of the Trinity which he favoured and who determined to remedy that defect. (1980, p. 171).
From The Big Book of Bible Difficulties, by Norman L. Geisler and Thomas Howe, we read:
This verse has virtually no support among the early Greek manuscripts, though it is found in Latin manuscripts. Its appearance in late Greek manuscripts is based on the fact that Erasmus was placed under ecclesiastical pressure to include it in his Greek NT of 1522, having omitted it in his two earlier editions of 1516 and 1519 because he could not find any Greek manuscripts which contained it. Its inclusion in the Latin Bible probably results from a scribe incorporating a marginal comment (gloss) into the text as he copied the manuscript of I John. (2008, pp. 540-541)
The wise Christian remains alert to the constant threat of our cunning and beguiling adversary, Satan the Devil, to contaminate God's truth (II Corinthians 11:3; 2:11; Genesis 3:1; Ephesians 6:11-12). The false doctrine of the Trinity is foundational to many of the aberrant Protestant and Catholic beliefs. It is not by coincidence, then, that deceptive verbiage was added to a passage devoted, not only to proving the authenticity of Jesus Christ as the Messiah, but also to identifying key characteristics of His true disciples. In doing so, the Trinity doctrine is used to deceive professing Christians by introducing a false third Being into the God Family, as well as to overshadow a major precept of our faith.
Martin G. Collins
Does I John 5:7-8 Support the Trinity Doctrine?
God quotes two statements of these sixth-seal cavemen. The first is a command to mountains and rocks. The second is a question. What do their words tell us? What does their silence tell us?
The first sentence is a somewhat illogical command for the "mountains and rocks" to fall on them.
» In making this statement, the cavemen demonstrate at least some correct understanding of the Source of their difficulties. They recognize two Beings as the cause: "Him who sits on the throne" and "the Lamb." This is remarkable in itself, since, to this point, they have seen neither Being.
» The cavemen call one of these two Beings "the Lamb." Admittedly, they do not equate the Lamb with Christ, but the inference is clear that they understand the Lamb to be Christ, the Word of God. Incidentally, John makes 26 references to Christ as the Lamb in the book of Revelation.
» Further, the cavemen understand that these two powerful Beings are angry. In assigning a cause to their difficulties, they utterly shun the voice of the secularist or the atheist. They do not, for example, blame nature on their troubles. They do not assert, "It's just a cycle. Nature will clean up the air and water, and everything will be okay soon." Rather, they squarely identify the cause of their present problems to be the wrath of the Father and Christ.
» Even more interesting is their silence concerning the Holy Spirit. In their dire straits, where their lifestyles have so dramatically changed and their lives are in clear-and-present danger, they make no reference to the Holy Spirit as a separate Person of the Godhead. This suggests that they have abandoned Trinitarian doctrine—remarkable considering the cornerstone status nominal Christianity has historically accorded to it. We are left to speculate why they make no reference to the Trinity at this time.
Their second sentence is a question rather than a statement or command. In stating that "the great day of His wrath has come," they recognize that their situation is special; theirs are extraordinary times. They rightly realize that they can no more defer the effects of God's ire than they can blame those effects on nature. Their reference to "the great day of His wrath" indicates an at least superficial realization that they are facing the Day of the Lord. In asking, "Who can stand?" they recognize that they are powerless to defend themselves against the wrath of these two God-Beings.
In short, the window of these people's minds opens up to a substantially different landscape than what currently exists in our world. Consider how many individuals whom we would today classify as "the kings of the earth, the great men" would refer to Christ as "the Lamb"? How many "rich men, the commanders, the mighty men" know about the prophesied Day of the Lord?
Comparatively few. Perhaps some in America's Bible Belt might use this terminology, but most individuals in the wider society, the secularized, cosmopolitan mess we call the Western World, would find these concepts alien to their thinking. Moreover, most of those who are familiar with the concepts of Christ as the Lamb or the Day of the Lord also fervently believe in the Trinity—something our latter-day cavemen do not allude to at all.
What is happening here? God has actually begun to transform the religious landscape of these cave-dwellers as surely as He has commenced to terraform the planet's physical landscape. These people have listened to the Two Witnesses' preaching, beginning at the time of the fifth seal. God's Word does not return to Him void (Isaiah 55:11); these erstwhile movers and shakers have heeded, to an extent. As a result, they have a more complete—though far from perfect—understanding of God and His purposes. And they run for the hills!
The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment
Sign up for the Berean: Daily Verse and Comment, and have Biblical truth delivered to your inbox. This daily newsletter provides a starting point for personal study, and gives valuable insight into the verses that make up the Word of God. See what over 145,000 subscribers are already receiving each day.
We respect your privacy. Your email address will not be sold, distributed, rented, or in any way given out to a third party. We have nothing to sell. You may easily unsubscribe at any time.