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As we have seen in previous meditations, the Holy Spirit is a member of the Trinity, and therefore shares the same fullness of deity as the Father and the Son.

When we come to consider the Holy Spirit particularly in relation to Jesus Christ we must keep this essential deity of the Spirit in mind: that the Spirit is equal to the Son, that in no way is the Spirit inferior to the Son: he is no less God, he is no less personal, he is no less powerful. He is of the same kind or essence or nature as the Father and the Son. Similarly, the Spirit is in no way superior to the Son.

To help us to maintain the unity and equality between the Son and the Spirit it is helpful to remember that the Holy Spirit is called ‘the Spirit of Christ’.

Romans 8:9 – ‘If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.’

Galatians 4:6 – ‘God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts’.

Philippians 1:19 – ‘...the help given by the Spirit of Jesus ...’

1Peter 1:11 – ‘the Spirit of Christ in them...’

This fact that the Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus Christ brings the concept of the Spirit out of the arena of the mystical and mysterious and into the realm of practical, knowable reality: for Jesus Christ is the one who became flesh and lived among us: we know what he is like, we humans saw him, heard him, touched him. We saw his compassion, we observed his power; we saw his death and resurrection by which he secured our salvation. When we speak of the Spirit it is his Spirit of whom we are speaking, not some unknown and unknowable God, nor some mysterious almost occult power. The Spirit is the Spirit of the One who is our Brother, our Friend, our Saviour; the Spirit of the One who so loved us that he put aside his glory and made himself of no reputation for our sake and our salvation.

For this reason, when Jesus told his disciples that the Holy Spirit would come to them he called the Spirit ‘another Counsellor’ [John 14:16]. This word ‘another’ does not mean another of a different kind [the Greek heteros], but another of the same kind [the Greek allos]. Similarly, as we saw previously, Jesus, in promising the coming of the Spirit, spoke of that coming as he, himself coming to the believer [John 14:18,23].

Because the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus we cannot attribute to the Holy Spirit anything that conflicts with the truth about Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit and Jesus are neither rivals nor enemies, nor do they vie for our allegiance or offer us conflicting or differing blessings.

Thus Jesus says of the Spirit:

‘he … will remind you of everything I have said to you’ [John 14:26]

‘he … will testify about me’ [John 14:26]

‘he will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you’ [John 16:14,15].

Just as the Son revealed the Father, so the Spirit points us to the Son.

And here we must confront contemporary Christianity with a serious challenge:

Is there anything in the Bible that gives us the liberty to believe that Jesus Christ ever did or ever said some of the things that today are claimed to be the actions or words of the Holy Spirit?

Did Jesus Christ ever move his followers to act in the way the Spirit is said to move people today?

If the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus Christ, then how can he be the same spirit that has energized a large portion of contemporary Christianity to engage in actions and to express teaching that stand in stark contrast to the actions and teaching of Jesus Christ himself and the actions and teaching Jesus Christ required of his followers?

Any teaching or practice that creates or assumes a division between Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit interferes with the essential unity of the Trinity. Any teaching or practice that infers that the Holy Spirit is in some way or other an improvement on Jesus Christ, or that it is possible to have Jesus Christ, but not his Spirit, denies the unity of the Trinity. It also, albeit unintentionally, denies the full deity of Jesus Christ.

To have received Jesus Christ, is to have received both the Father and the Spirit also. You simply cannot have one without the others.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2024