The Institutes (22)

Book 1 Chapter 13 Sections 14-15

It’s not just important that Jesus is God, it’s critical to the Christian faith. As Jared Wilson argues near the end of Your Jesus is Too Safe, the doctrine of Christ’s deity is important because only God can save us from our sins. But what about the Holy Spirit? Is it important that the Holy Spirit is God? What about that He’s a Person, another member of the Trinity? Having argued strongly for the Person and deity of the Son, Calvin turns to (in my opinion) this much more daunting task: showing that the Scriptures teach that the Holy Spirit is another Person of the Godhead.

Is it daunting because we must perform exegetical gymnastics in order to prove that the Holy Spirit is indeed God? Not at all, though the Scriptures speak less about the deity of the HS than it does about Christ’s deity. So rather than there being no clear testimony that the Spirit is God, we just don’t have as much evidence. It’s an issue of quantity, not quality. However, where the Scripture does speak to the nature of the Holy Spirit, it is still clear: the Holy Spirit is God.

First, in His work the Holy Spirit is shown to be God. The prophets were sent by and empowered through the Holy Spirit, where elsewhere it is clear that Yahweh sent and empowers them. Regeneration is said to be a work of God, but Paul in Romans attributes our regeneration to the Holy Spirit. Similarly, the Holy Spirit is said to have a will and choice in 1 Corinthians 12. Calvin writes:

If the Spirit were not an entity subsisting in God, choice and will would by no means be conceded to him. Paul, therefore, very clearly attributes to the Spirit divine power, and shows that He resides hypostatically in God.

In this same passage, the gifts of the Spirit are completely sourced in God. It is the Holy Spirit who gives gifts to the church by His own will and choice. This made me think of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5… which are nothing less than Yahweh’s own character being expressed through His servants.

Second, the Spirit is shown to be God by strongly implicit scriptural statements. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 shows that we are called the temple of God on account of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. Calvin points out another intriguing passage… blasphemy committed against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, even though blasphemy against the Son will be (Matthew 12:31-32). Could we even blaspheme something instead of someone? The point is clear… Scripture teaches that the Holy Spirit is part of the Godhead, another member of a Trinity of Persons that all have the same essence of deity.


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