Our thanks to Denny again and let me use that thanks as a chance to make an offering to anyone. If you’re an orthodox Christian (And I mean orthodox in your doctrine) and you want Deeper Waters to link to your blog, just say so. Hopefully in the near future, provided I remember, there will be a link to Denny’s blog as well. All I ask is that if I link you that you return the favor.
We’ve been studying the doctrine of the Trinity and all the facets that relate to it. Tonight, we’re going to be continuing in the book of Acts and we’re jumping ahead to Acts 13. Our emphasis tonight is not going to be on Jesus, but on the Holy Spirit as was the case in Acts 5. The text will be Acts 13:1-3.
1In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
The church of Antioch became an early base for the Christian church. (It could have been where Matthew wrote his gospel also.) While there is a church service going on, the Holy Spirit speaks and tells the people to set apart Barnabas and Saul for the work to which he has called them.
Don’t read that too quickly. Keep in mind that the Jehovah’s Witnesses say the Holy Spirit is God’s active force and is not a person. If that’s the case, then there can be no Trinity. After all, the Trinity is the doctrine that God exists in three persons.
However, this is another problem text for the Witnesses. Let’s notice the first obvious problem. The Holy Spirit spoke. This is not a metaphorical speaking either as what we have following is a proposition that is uttered by the Holy Spirit.
The second thing is that the Holy Spirit says Saul and Barnabas are to be “set apart for me.” Now if an angel or a prophet spoke, they would have said “Set apart for YHWH” or “Set apart for the Lord.” Instead, when the Holy Spirit speaks, he says set apart for me. He doesn’t refer to someone else in any way. The reason he does this is that he is the one whom Saul and Barnabas will be serving and they will be serving him because he is deity.
The third thing to notice is that this is the work to which the Spirit has called them. The call of the Holy Spirit was seen as a divine call to which the church responded immediately. There’s also no questioning on the part of the church. Apparently, even if there wasn’t full Trinitarianism, they were able to accept the reality of the Spirit speaking and giving orders on par with God himself.
What do we have in this passage then? The Spirit speaks. The Spirit has workers set apart for him. The Spirit calls the workers. Doesn’t sound like an active force.
Instead, it seems to sound like deity….