Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Not an Emanation

True Communion with the Holy Spirit

Part 2 in a selected excerpt from “Meditations on the Person, Work, and Covenant Offices of God the Holy Ghost,” by J.C. Philpot (1802-1869), On Matters of Christian Faith and Experience, Vol. 1 (Old Paths Gospel Press) (406-466-2311), pp. 184-187. This lengthy Meditation by J.C. Philpot is a most excellent treatise on the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit; and in our present age of great apostasy, this Meditation offers a refutation against the wave of heresies about the Holy Spirit that are coming in like a flood. Part 1 was posted HERE.

In today's excerpt, J.C. Philpot begins a series of "proofs" that the "blessed Spirit is truly and really a divine and distinct Person in the eternal, self-existent Godhead." He wrote:

"I. The first proof shall be taken from the words which our blessed Lord spake to His disciples when He said to them: "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." [Matthew 28:19]

Let us examine these solemn words of our blessed Lord with a view to the Personality of the blessed Spirit as distinctly expressed in them. Baptism, all admit, is the outward sign of admission into the visible Church of Christ, an ordinance of the Lord's own institution. In its administration, the believer is baptized "in the name," that is the authority,* of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

Now does not this formula of baptism express, 1. A plurality of Persons? The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are each distinctly names; and 2. Unity of Essence? for it is not in the names, but "in the name" of the Three Persons, clearly implying that the Persons are Three, but the name, the nature, the essence, the being, the authority but One.

But to establish this point as bearing upon the distinct Personality of the Spirit more clearly, try and substitute a quality, a breath, an influence, a virtue of God for the word "Holy Ghost." Such plain, simple tests are often more convincing, at least to some minds, than direct positive arguments.

"Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of love." How flat, how uncouth, confused! How unworthy of the divine majesty of the blessed Lord, who spake the words!

"In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of divine breath." Still the same flat, uncouth, confused mixture, so that the veriest babe in grace could tell it was not such heavenly language as ever fell from Him into whose lips grace was poured.

It is hardly worthwhile to pursue the argument by making another trial of "energy," "power," "authority," or "influence." The result would be still the same, that all such terms at once betray themselves by their own nakedness and nothingness, as unfit to stand side by side with the name of the Father and of the Son.

But now view the truth in its own pure and heavenly light, and read the words in the brightness of their own grace and glory. Read them as a believer in the blessed Trinity. Then how clear to faith is it that "the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" declares that these are three distinct co-equal, co-eternal Persons in one undivided Essence.

"2. But now under the same class of proof -- the name of the Holy Ghost in the same connection with the Father and the Son, look at another text of holy writ, in which the Personality of the Holy Ghost is most clearly seen. It is that well-known benediction which so often and so fitly closes the service of God in the sanctuary: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen." (2 Cor. 13:14)

See how the Three Persons of the sacred Trinity are here invocated and called upon to bestow each his distinct blessing. "The love" -- the eternal love of God the Father; "the grace," in all its richness and fulness, of God the Son; and the sweet, sacred fellowship and "communion" of God the Holy Ghost -- will the believing soul part with either the Person of each divine Giver or the gift of each divine Person? Are not Giver and gift, Person and work of all Three alike inseparable?

We might, if were worthwhile, try the same experiment with this text as with the one before quoted... "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion" -- of what? Of an influence, a quality, a virtue, a power, an emanation? What do they all mean? What fellowship is there in a breath, or a quality, or an influence? There can be communion only with a Person.

Can a virtue, or a breath, or an influence converse with me, talk with me, commune with me, or I with it? Whoever expected a breath to speak, or conversed with it as a man converseth with a friend? A poet might so speak in figurative language, or a lover may sigh his woeful complaints to the rocks, or tell his mournful take to the purling stream into which he drops his hot tears, but the blessing prayed for [in this Scripture] was not the longing of poet or lover, but the solid, solemn, holy aspiration of a man of God, who knew for himself what the sacred fellowship of God the Holy Ghost, as a divine Person, communicated to his soul....

This sweet communion never charmed the soul of those vile heretics who deny His Deity and Personality. Such sips and tastes of heavenly bliss are the sole portion of the living, believing, loving family of God."

The Truth:

"For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one." (1 John 5:7)

*[Philpot's note] "The word 'name' in the Scripture, as applied to God, signifies all that God has revealed of Himself, whereby He can be known, believed in, worshipped, feared, and loved by the children of men. See, for the proof of this, Exod. 33:19; 34:5-6. The name of God, therefore, includes and signifies all these glorious perfections of Deity which He has revealed of Himself in the Word of His grace.

[Ed Note: Minor formatting and grammatical changes were made for modern usage and blog posting.]