In the world of religion, there is ironically, no bigger mystery than the subject of the nature of God. Who and what is God? Most professing Christians claim that those who don’t believe in the trinity blaspheme God. But have you ever proved this widely accepted doctrine?
Millions are confused. Many say God is a trinity and that the Holy Spirit is a person. They point to scriptures that refer to the Holy Spirit as “he” and use it as evidence that God is three persons in one. Yet others point to different scriptures that refer to the Holy Spirit as an “it.” Which is correct? Other scriptures refer to the Holy Spirit as the power of God, and even wind and fire.
Once the nature of the Holy Spirit is settled, other questions come to mind. What does the Holy Spirit do? Why does it exist? Why does God say a Christian needs it?
It is vital that we understand God’s truth about the Holy Spirit. This is an exhilarating and absolutely essential subject to study. Let’s better understand the subject of God’s mighty Holy Spirit, beginning with the nature of the Spirit.
What is God?
The Genesis 1:1-2 passage is a concise, sweeping overview of perhaps millions or billions of years of history. A great many scriptures must be understood to fill the chronological gap between verses 1 and 2.
Verse 1 states that God created the heavens and the Earth. “God” is translated from the Hebrew word Elohim. It is a noun, plural in form but normally singular in grammatical use—like family, church or group. Elohim is the most common word for God in the Old Testament.
Once the re-creation was nearing its completion on the sixth day, God—Elohim—created man and woman. Verse 26 shows Elohim saying, “Let us ….” Who, exactly, is this “us”? We don’t have to wonder. Ephesians 3:9 clearly answers the question. Genesis 1:1 and verse 26 refer to God (later God the Father) and the one who would become Jesus Christ (the Son).
John 1:1 adds more to the answer. Jesus Christ was once the Word— Logos in the original Greek—the Spokesman for the God Kingdom. This Word became flesh, became Jesus Christ, by God begetting Him in the womb of Mary.
Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in Mystery of the Ages, “[T]he Word, at the time of John 1:1, was not, yet, the Son of God. But He was with God, and He also was God. They were not yet Father and Son—but they were the God Kingdom!”
So far, then, as the biblical narrative opens, we have two personages who were and remain God. The Holy Spirit is missing: There is no mention of it. Why?
The first mention of the Spirit is in Genesis 1:2. The Hebrew word is ruwach and it means wind, breath, mind or spirit. It is used in 348 scriptures. Yet it is never referred to as a person. The Spirit of God in Genesis 1:2 is not included within Elohim. Ruwach—spirit—is not a member of Elohim. Ruwach is not God.
A comparison of Ephesians 3:9 with Psalm 104:30 shows that the one who became Jesus Christ renewed the face of the Earth in Genesis 1 by God’s Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not spoken of as a being; it is described as an instrument performing what Christ commands.
Mr. Armstrong wrote in the Plain Truth, May 1980, “God is omniscient. God is omnipresent—everywhere present at once! Not in His Person formed like that of a human, but through the Holy Spirit that emanates from the Person of God the Father and also from Christ the Son. I can, through the sense of sight, see stars millions of light-years away—but I cannot act on them. But God can project His Spirit from where He is in Person to any and every point in the vastness of the universe—and more, He can act on all such things!” (emphasis added throughout).
Why is the Spirit a He?
If the Holy Spirit is not a member of Elohim, and is not a separate entity, why then is the Holy Spirit referred to as “he” in Scripture? And sometimes it is called “Holy Ghost.” Is this what God inspired?
John 14:26 is an example of where the Holy Spirit is referred to as “he.” You can find other instances in chapters 15 and 16.
Like many other languages, the Greek language has what is called a gender for every noun. The gender can either be masculine, feminine or neuter. All pronouns in Greek must agree in gender with the noun they refer to. For example, the Greek word for “Comforter” in John 14:26 is “parakletos,” and is masculine in form. Afterward, the pronoun “he” has been used to take its place. However, this Greek grammatical tool should not be used to try to establish a Bible truth or doctrine.
On top of this, the translators of the King James Version (kjv), being adherents of the trinity doctrine, sometimes deliberately mistranslated the grammatically gender neuter word pneuma (referring to God’s Spirit) into pronouns “he” and “him” when they should have used what the translation called for, “it.” Romans 8:16 and Acts 2:2-3 are examples where they got it right.
Such errors in translation call the authenticity of God’s truth into question. Why, for instance, are there translation errors in the kjv? For that matter, why are there errors in every Bible version except the Hebrew and Greek source texts? Do these errors in translation mean the Bible is corrupt? No, emphatically not. They are just that: errors in translation. The mistakes of men don’t nullify the faithfulness of God or the accuracy of the original source texts. Read Luke 16:17.
For thousands of years, God has divinely preserved the accuracy of His Word! What is clear is that, except for the inspired source texts, no translation is perfect.
There are a few reasons for this: 1) Scholars are not perfect in their understanding of the original languages first used to write the Bible, and errors creep in; 2) translators do not understand the purpose God is working out below; 3) consequently, they are prejudiced in their own doctrinal understanding and read false pagan meanings into the source texts; and 4) translators are sometimes directly influenced by Satan.
The New International Version (niv) is one Bible translation that has purposely changed God’s inspired Word to reflect prejudice for the unbiblical trinity doctrine. The former Worldwide Church of God now uses the niv to support assertions that the Holy Spirit is a distinct person of the Godhead.
One example they cite for the divinity of the Holy Spirit is 1 Peter 1:2. Here, the word sanctification means holiness or consecration. John 6:44 shows that it is God the Father who calls someone out of the world and into His Church. He consecrates them to do His Work by setting them apart by His Holy Spirit. You cannot act on things you see in the distance. God can. He acts on our minds by His Spirit.
In 1 Peter 1:2, the inspired Greek words for the English phrase “God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit” is Pater hagiasmos pneuma. However, the niv translated it this way: “who have been chosen according to the foreknowledgeof God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit.”
The word “work” is not in the Greek source text. The translators inserted it to try to make the Holy Spirit a distinct person with its own work to do. The niv translators read into the text what they wanted it to say.
2 Corinthians 11:14-15 show that Satan’s ministers appear like they are right. They artfully twist and even unashamedly change God’s Scriptures! On them, God pronounces a curse (Revelation 22:18).
Spurious 1 John 5:7-8 Passage
The kjv is the most accurate translation available and Mr. Armstrong said it should be our main study Bible. As the Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course Lesson 12 explains, “very few basic errors appear in the King James Version ….” You can depend on the kjv. The same cannot be said for any other translation—though other Bibles can be used to clarify or expound on the meaning of the kjv. But the kjv too contains some translation errors.
1 John 5:7-8 is perhaps its biggest mistranslation. It is more than a mistranslation. It is a direct assault on God’s Church and the truth of the God Family. In these verses, Satan directly influenced the translators to add spurious text right into the Bible. If the trinity doctrine were true, the Apostle John missed a golden opportunity to confirm it. As Mr. Flurry has taught, John relentlessly attacked the trinity doctrine and devastated it by repeatedly referring only to the Father and the Son.
These specious verses are oftentimes used by counterfeit ministers to try to prove the trinity doctrine.
Here is how this passage should read: “For there are three that bear record, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.”
The rest of the text was added by the translators. We should remove or strike out all the words from “in heaven” to “earth.” The Companion Bible states: “These words are not found in any Greek manuscript before the 16th century. They were first seen in the margin of some Latin copies.”
The Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Courseadds: “For centuries, during the Middle Ages, the only Bible accessible to Western Europe was the Latin Vulgate Bible. It was the work of the scholar Jerome, who prepared it from many old Latin translations—which differed among themselves. This Bible is the progeny of Rome” (ibid).
The kjv translators used corrupted Greek source texts compiled from the Latin Catholic texts to translate this section of Scripture.
Finally, consider this: If the trinity doctrine were so clear and provable in the Bible, why then try to desperately force it into the text nearly 600 years later?
Third Being of the Trinity
Revelation 12:9 says Satan has deceived the whole world. Mr. Armstrong wrote: “Satan has deceived the entire world in regard to the very nature of who and what God is—as well as Christ and the Holy Spirit” (Plain Truth, op cit).
Mr. Flurry wrote: “[W]e in God’s Philadelphia Church know that God is a Family. If one of your family members goes roller-skating, do all of you go? That is the trinitarian concept of God! … While in us, the Holy Spirit is separate from God. … When Jesus Christ was brutally beaten, were God the Father and the Holy Spirit also beaten?” (Philadelphia Trumpet, November 1992).
The Bible teaches over and over again that God is a Family composed so far of only two persons: God and Jesus Christ. Those now begotten and led by the Spirit of God will, at Jesus Christ’s Second Coming, be born into the Family.
The trinity doctrine limits God to a supposed three persons. It destroys the gospel of Jesus Christ. You cannot find anywhere in the Bible where the Holy Spirit has full divinity with God and Jesus Christ! When properly understood, we come to see that Satan is the spirit in his trinity. Satan wants to be God! Read Isaiah 14:13-14.
John 1:1 shows that there was no third being in the beginning—and there is none today! This third being came on the scene when Satan invented it and forced it upon the disobedient. He desperately craves God’s power and desperately wants to be worshiped. The spurious 1 John 5:7-8 passage is proof of Satan’s desperation!
History of the Trinity Doctrine
How did the trinity doctrine enter traditional Christianity and where did it come from? It most emphatically did not come from the Bible! Satan was able to inject his false trinity doctrine of the nature of God into traditional Christianity “through his great false church, started a.d. 33 by Simon the sorcerer, described in the eighth chapter of the book of Acts,” is explained by Mr. Armstrong in Mystery of the Ages.
Remember this vital history. In Acts 8, Philip was in Samaria preaching the Kingdom of God. Verses 9-24 draw particular attention to a man named Simon, a Samaritan. Simon went along with the others and was baptized. But he did not repent!
Mr. Armstrong further explained in Mystery of the Ages that this Simon was a magician and the leader of the remnant of the Babylonian religion. Satan introduced the false doctrine of the trinity within the old Babylonian religion comprised of Semiramis, Nimrod and Horus. Simon inherited the trinity doctrine from his forefathers’ religion.
Andrew Hislop wrote in The Two Babylons: “In the unity of that one only God of the Babylonians, there were three persons, and to symbolize that doctrine of the trinity [Semiramis, Nimrod and Horus], they employed … [the] equilateral triangle, just as it is well known the Romish Church does at this day.”
Read verses 18-22. Simon was a spiritual impostor—but much more than that. Mr. Flurry describes Simon Magus’s encounter with the Apostle Peter in The True History of God’s True Church: “Simon Magus revealed his true intentions. He had wielded considerable power over the people. Now he recognized that the apostles held even greater power. So he wanted to buy an office, an apostleship. … Peter blistered Simon Magus with what is surely one of the greatest rebukes in the Bible” (see verse 21).
“This false prophet might have already gone beyond ever repenting and receiving God’s forgiveness. He was the epitome of evil, and Peter recognized it,” Mr. Flurry writes.
“For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity” (verse 23). Mr. Flurry points out that this says “the gall of bitterness”—not a gall of bitterness. Simon Magus was filled with Satan’s hatred for the God Family! Simon Magus was absorbed in that hatred and bound up in lawlessness. Mr. Flurry concludes: “Simon was Satan incarnate.” Verse 24 shows Simon did not repent of his extremely wicked sin.
Simon Magus craved a following. He wanted to be a great leader, so he sought to combine religious power with political power and force his religion on others even if people were killed in the process. He sought to infiltrate, take over and destroy God’s true Church. He was the “founder of Mystery, Babylon the Great—the great false church of Revelation 17!” (ibid).
He took the name of Jesus Christ and put it on the old Babylonian religion, calling it “Christian.” He was the first Peter, or pater, of Mystery, Babylon the Great. Simon Magus was the first pope with a counterfeit ministry and counterfeit doctrines!
Mr. Flurry continues: “Simon did not accomplish his goal [gaining religious and political power] during his lifetime. But later, the church he founded, being headquartered in Rome, did gain guiding power over the Roman Empire.”
In a.d. 325, the Council of Nicaea substituted Easter for Passover and decreed the trinity as an official doctrine of the Roman Church. Emperor Constantine also made it the law of the empire. But what Constantine could make law he was not able to make truth!
The Impersonal Power of God
What is the Holy Spirit? “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy [Spirit] is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). What does Jesus mean by this statement? The correspondence course explains: “Most people don’t realize that the Holy Spirit is a tremendous source of dynamic, supernatural power that can become a part of our very minds. It is the very essence of God Himself—His very life, His mind, His nature—and it imparts power! And this is the power we must have working within us before we can be born as God’s sons!” (Lesson 20).
The Holy Spirit is the impersonal power, or force, of God. Here are five proofs.
1) Jesus was begotten by the Spirit. Read in Luke 1:31‑35 how Christ was begotten: “The Holy [Spirit] shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee.” This would not make sense if Jesus Christ begat Himself. And if the Holy Spirit were a third person of the Godhead, then it should be credited as begetting Christ and be called His Father. But what do we find? Who did Christ call Father? (John 14:28). God the Father is the Highest. It was the Father who begot Christ, by His power (John 1:14).
Mr. Flurry wrote: “If the Holy Spirit was a being, then you would think it would have a crushing inferiority complex for not being mentioned along with Jesus Christ and God the Father in the Bible. If all shared the same ‘full divinity,’ wouldn’t it be a little unfair to not mention the Holy Spirit?” (op cit).
2) The firstfruits are begotten by God’s Holy Spirit. God is called Father because He begets the children! (James 1:18). He begets by the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13-14 show the Holy Spirit is an earnest—or a downpayment—toward eternal life. God will not fail in fulfilling His side of the bargain. We have eternal life now (John 6:54). God forgives us through the shed blood of His Son, and then pledges to save us by His power. That power is received at baptism, and by that power we receive the saving faith of Christ.
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). The word power here means right and might.
“We have the right, a birthright, to be born into the Family of God!” Mr. Flurry writes. “Not because we earned it, but because God gives it as a gift. However, that of itself is not enough. God says we must also have power to be born into His Family. We cannot do it humanly. It takes God’s power to overcome and grow” (The God Family Vision).
3) God reveals to us by His Spirit. Read 1 Corinthians 2:9-11, of which Stephen Flurry writes: “God’s Spirit reveals the things of God—the plan of God, the potential for man, and yes, the very nature of God. We simply cannot understand the nature of God without His Spirit dwelling in us” (God Is a Family). The natural or carnal man cannot accept or understand spiritual matters (verse 14). The deep things of God are revealed by God’s Spirit (verse 10) and not by a third being of a trinitarian godhead.
4) Paul didn’t recognize the trinity. Paul’s writings comprise over 30 percent of the New Testament. And in the greetings of all 14 of his letters, Paul never mentioned the Holy Spirit. If the trinity were a true doctrine, would not have Paul included it in at least one of his greetings? Notice what Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:5: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” “If the Holy Spirit is an actual being that lives in us, certainly it would be the ‘mediator’ between us and God. But Paul says Jesus Christ is the Mediator between us and God” (ibid).
5) Greek and Hebrew words add insight. The Bible shows the Holy Spirit manifesting as wind, tongues of fire, and breath; in other words, God’s power and agency.
A general study of the Hebrew and Greek word definitions for spirit: ruwach and pneuma, respectively—do not even remotely suggest a third being or distinct personality. When the Hebrew definition for ruwach is not used to refer to the Spirit of God, it is represented as: breath, life, spirit in man. None of these are distinct beings. The Greek word for spirit, pneuma, has similar meanings.
John 4:24 says that God is a Spirit. By His Spirit, God can manifest His power, is omnipresent, and can even act on objects far away from His spirit body. He can cause His Spirit to manifest as wind and tongues of fire. He can heal or raise people from the dead. He can project His Spirit from where He is to any and every point in the vastness of the universe—and act on all things!