I was at church tonight listening to a talk on leadership. I don’t remember how that point was reached, but somehow, there was talk about Christ and the Holy Spirit and the speaker said that you could even speak of “Christ, the Holy Spirit.” Naturally, my mind was locked on that the rest of the talk and afterwards, I did go and talk to him and it was agreed that my point was correct.
I said that we can’t speak of Christ in that way because when we say “God, the Holy Spirit”, we are speaking in a way to clarify which person of the Godhead we mean. There are not multiple persons in Christ though. Christ is Christ. We can say “Jesus is God” or God the Son” but we cannot say stuff like “The Holy Spirit, the Father.”
I understood where he was coming from though for I do know he does believe in the Trinity. Every now and then though, we can all slip up in that area and I think it’s important to catch it each time. (An interesting way is in prayer. Consider how many prayers in church can begin by speaking to the Father and then say something like “And we thank you for dying on the cross.” It’s important that we keep in mind who each person in the Godhead is.)
What was being talked about though where passages that speak about Christ sending the Holy Spirit and then saying that he will come to us. The language is quite similar. I think this is an important point to raise in a Trinitarian framework so let’s take a look and see what is going on.
He didn’t give any passage, but I’m quite sure John 14 would be included:
15“If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”
Alright. The Holy Spirit will come and be in you and yet, Christ says that he will not leave them as orphans. He will come to them.
Later in that chapter Christ says:
23Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
So all of them will come? What is going on?
Most likely, it’s saying that the one sent is acting on behalf of the one he is sent by. This happens in the NT with the Centurion’s servant. Consider this from Matthew 8:
5When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6“Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.” 7Jesus said to him, “I will go and heal him.”
8The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
10When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
13Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour.
So in that one, the Centurion shows up. Alright. Let’s see the parallel account in Luke 7.
1When Jesus had finished saying all this in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. 3The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, 5because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” 6So Jesus went with them.
He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. 7That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 9When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” 10Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.
Well? Did the Centurion come or not? The answer is probably that in the first case, a servant came but was acting on the behalf of the Centurion. This sounds just like verse 26 of John 14:
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
Now why do I interpret it this way? I’ll grant if these were the only verses, we could argue for modalism maybe. However, we have several other passages that show Trinitarianism instead. (Notice the constant distinctions between persons in the Upper Room Dialogue itself.)
However, since I do see evidence of the Trinity, and that’s a blog for another day, I must find another way to interpret these passages. Of course, in a sense, Christ is in us seeing as he is omnipresent, but the Holy Spirit is not Christ. We must be clear on our terminology. We are Trinitarians.