I write this in response to your notes that were sent to me regarding the doctrines of Hell, the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ.
I should open by stating that it does not impress me a great deal that a person can quote a few Scriptures to back up his false doctrine. Every false doctrine in professing Christendom is built on some Scripture. If I so desired, I could prove anything I wanted by using Scripture (taken out of context, of course). I am aware of one individual who used Bible verses to convince a simple-minded young lady that she should be his concubine. The devil quoted Scripture to Jesus when tempting Him to do wrong (Matt. 4:5-6). So then, obviously, it is possible to interpret and use the Bible wrongly. This is why God commands us: "Study to show thyself approved unto God...rightly dividing the word of truth" (II Tim. 2:15).
Your real problem (and the problem of all false cult members) in understanding Scripture is that you ignore one of the basic rules of Scriptural interpretation, i.e., take all Scripture into consideration when seeking for the meaning of any one passage. If your interpretation (or mine, or anyone else') of one passage contradicts truths which are plainly stated in other passages, then you have the wrong interpretation of the passage. You cannot ignore Scripture.
It is interesting the method which cult members use in dealing with Scripture which contradicts their teachings. In practically every case they will say one of two things. Either:
(1) "That particular passage shouldn't be in the Bible because it wasn't in the original' autographs), or
(2) "That passage is symbolic and doesn't really mean what it says." For example, I find it interesting that in your notes regarding Hell, you put down only 2 verses which you misinterpret to teach soul-sleep after death, then put down 3 passages which teach the contrary, but then say that those 3 are symbolic. Why are these 3 symbolic; you simply have a wrong interpretation of the first 2 and the only way you can reconcile the other 3 with your wrong interpretation is to say that they are symbolic. That is nothing more than a convenient way of not having to face Scriptural issues; it is a cop-out used by all false cults; it is a dishonest way of handling the Word of God; it is what Paul referred to as "handling the Word of God deceitfully" (II Cor. 4:2); and it is what Peter referred to as "wrest(ing)(twisting)...scriptures unto (your) own destruction" (II Peter 3:16).
Having said this, let me now deal with the issues that you brought out. I will try to be relatively thorough.
I. Hell and Life after Death
The first statement that you made under this heading is totally untrue. You say, "the notion of the soul surviving after death is not really discernable in the Bible." Then you list Ezek. 18:4 and Rom 6:23, as though these 2 verses back up; your statement. They do not! Ezek. 18:4 states" "the soul that sinneth, it shall die." Rom. 6:23 states: "the wages of sin is death." Your problem is that you have a faulty definition of "death". To you, death means "annihilation" or "cessation of existence", thus you interpret Ezek. 18:4 to mean that the soul that sins shall cease to exist, or shall be annihilated, and Rom. 6:23 to mean that the wages of sin is cessation of existence. However, the Scriptural description of death is not "cessation of existence", but "separation". Physical death occurs when the soul and spirit separate from the body (James 2:26; Gen. 35:18). Spiritual death is the separation of the individual from God. It is referred to in the Bible as being "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1). If an individual dies physically while he is still dead spiritually, he will go to Hell (Luke 16:22-23). At the final resurrection, referred to by Jesus as the "resurrection of the unjust" (Acts 24:15), the souls, and spirit will be reunited to stand before God at the final judgment according to their works on earth; then cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-15). It is interesting that Jesus referred to this "lake of fire" as "everlasting fire" (Matt. 18:8; 25:41) and as a place where "the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:43-48). Incidentally, lest there be some cultist who says that the individual is annihilated immediately in the lake of fire, Jesus also refers to it as "everlasting punishment" (Matt. 25:46). It isn't just the fire that is everlasting, but the punishment as well. This is why the Bible speaks of those unsaved people who follow the Antichrist at the end-time, when they are sent to the "lake of fire" as being "tormented with fire and brimstone", and "(having) no rest day nor night", and states that "the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever" (Rev. 14:9-11). So then, Scripturally, this "lake of fire" is a place where men will be "tormented forever and ever". Now, before you fall back on the convenient argument that this is all "symbolic language", you should be informed that the same word that Jesus uses for "everlasting fire" and "everlasting punishment" when speaking of the unsaved, is the identical word that he used when He spoke of "everlasting life" for the believer. If He was using symbolic language when He spoke of the unbeliever, no doubt He was also using symbolic language when He spoke of the believer! No, the truth is that He meant what He said and said what He Meant in both cases.
As to passages which teach existence after death, (between death and resurrection), here are a few:
A. I Sam. 28:3-20
In this passage, the spirit of Samuel the prophet is allowed to converse with King Saul after Samuel had been dead for some time.
B. Matt. 17:1-3
This is the story of the Mt. of Transfiguration. Here Moses, who had been dead for over 1,000 years is talking to Jesus (along with Elijah, who had been taken to Heaven without dying).
C. Luke 16:19-31
Here is a contrast between an unsaved rich man who died and went to Hell, and a saved beggar who died and went to "Abraham's bosom" (a Jewish conception of Heaven". Interestingly, in this story, the rich man in Hell has his senses- he can feel the torment of fire, he can speak to Abraham, he can hear Abraham speaking back to him, he can remember what took place while he was on earth, he can recognize Lazarus , etc.
I know that the way Jehovah's Witnesses try to squirm out of dealing with this passage is by saying that it is a parable. I do not believe that it is a parable because the Bible doesn't say that it is a parable and Jesus didn't use proper names when He told parables (such as He uses here in calling Lazarus by name).
But if it is a parable, that would make Hell worse than if it isn't a parable! A common principle about parables is that the parable itself is never quite as forceful as the truth which the parable is illustrating.
For example, Jesus told the parable of the father receiving the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) in order to illustrate God's love for wayward sinners. Obviously, no earthly father loves his son as greatly as God loves sinners. So the reality is greater and more forceful than the parable which illustrates it.
Thus if the story of Lazarus and the rich man is a parable, and in the parable Jesus pictures the rich man in Hell suffering such awful agony, how terrible must the reality be!
D. Luke 23:39-46
In this passage, Jesus tells the dying thief on the cross (vs. 43) , "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise." Then 3 verses later (vs. 46), Jesus commends His spirit to God the Father and dies. If this isn't an indication of life after death, I don't know what would be!
E. Acts 7:54-60
In this passage, Stephen is martyred for the cause of Christ. He looks up and sees Jesus in Heaven waiting to receive his spirit after death.
F. II Corinthians 5:8
Paul states in this verse that when a Christian is absent from the body (i.e., when he dies; when his soul and spirit leave his body), then that Christian is present with the Lord.
G. Philippians 1:21-24
Paul states in this passage that for him "to die is gain" (vs.21). Why? Because when he dies, he will "depart, and be with Christ." (vs. 23)
H. I Thessalonians 4:13-18
This passage is often called the "Rapture Passage". It pictures the Lord Jesus Christ descending from Heaven into the clouds and raising the bodies of the Christian dead. However, the passage states that when He descends, "them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him" (vs.14). Obviously, if He brings them "with him", they must have been where He was, i.e., in Heaven.
Thus He brings the soul and spirit of the dead Christian from Heaven "with him", raises the dead body, and reunites body, soul, and spirit at the resurrection of the saved.
The point is, in order for Him to bring these Christians "with him" when He raises their bodies, they had to have been with Him between the time of their death and the time of the resurrection, That, my friend, is life after death
I. Hebrews 12:22-24
This passage states that when one comes to "the heavenly Jerusalem", he also comes "to the spirits of just men made perfect" (vs.23). Again, life after death.
J. Rev. 6:9-11
In this passage we are told of believers who will be martyred for the Word of God during the rein of the Antichrist. After being slain, their souls are in Heaven asking God to avenge their murder. Life after death.
These are not all the passages in the Bible which teach And imply life after death, but they are enough for any honest person to see that this is indeed what the Bible teaches. In order for anyone to deny that the Bible teaches life after death, they have to twist, pervert, and explain away a lot of Scripture.
II. The Trinity
In your notes concerning the doctrine of the Trinity, after quoting a verse of Scripture(which I shall deal with later, in conjunction with other Scripture), you say, "the Trinity was a doctrine, it would be stated clearly in the Bible." It is stated clearly in the Bible as I will show.
You make an issue of the fact that the world "Trinity" is not used in the Bible. This doesn't prove anything. Just because a particular word isn't used does not mean that the concept is not taught. The words "Second Coming of Christ" are not in the Bible, but the concept is taught more frequently that any other doctrine in the Bible. If you really want to get technical about it, the word "Bible" is not in the Bible!
As to the doctrine of the Trinity, it appears to me from some of the things that you said in your notes that your primary problem is that you are trying to associate it with some human example, and this cannot be done. No one that I am aware of claims to be able to fully grasp and comprehend the doctrine of the triune God. Quite frankly, since God is infinitely greater than man, I would expect there to be some things about God which would be hard for a limited, finite, weak creature of dust, such as we humans are to full comprehend (II Peter 3:16). If I could fully grasp, comprehend, and understand everything about God, that would put me on the same level with Him, and I would hate to think that I worshiped someone who is not any greater than I am. Certainly there are some things about the transcendent God that mortals find hard to grasp! (Isa. 55:8-9)
So while I don't claim to fully grasp the concept of the Trinity, I accept it by faith (Heb. 11:6) because the Bible teaches it.
You seem to imply in your notes that I have some kind of problem with the name "Jehovah". I have no problem at all with this; it is God's personal name for Himself.
The name itself is a form of "I AM" (Ex. 3:14) and means basically "to be". It sets forth God in His character as the self existing, self sustaining One. This name is used hundreds of times in the Old Testament. There are only 2 basic Hebrew words (or forms of these words) which are translated "Lord" in the Old Testament, with reference to God. (There are other words translated "lord" referring to a human master, etc., but only 2 referring to God.) These 2 words are "Adonai" and "Jehovah", "Lord" appears with all the letters of the word capitalized (i.e., Lord). If only the first letter is capitalized, the word is "Adonai". The word "Jehovah" is used far more frequently.
So I have no problem with name "Jehovah". Your problem is that you do not understand who "Jehovah" is.
You list several Scriptures in your notes which state, in essence, that Jehovah is the only true God, as though you think I will disagree with that. I agree wholeheartedly with it. Every Bible-believing Christian that I know believes that there is only one true God and that Jehovah is His name. Many Scriptures (including the ones which you listed) teach this.
However, the Bible; not only teaches that there is only one true God; it also teaches that this one true God is manifested in 3 persons - God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. How can they be 3 separate persons and yet 1 God? I do not know how, but I know that this is what the Bible teaches, thus I accept it by faith; the same way that I don't know how God could speak and bring the universe into existence out of nothing, but I believe it because the Bible teaches it.
Now, you said that if the doctrine of the Trinity were true that it would be stated in the Bible. And so it is:
A. In the Old Testament it is implied
1. The word "God"
The most frequently used Hebrew word in the O.T. which is translated "God" the word "Elohim". This is the word used in the first verse of the Bible: "in the beginning God (Elohim) created the heavens and the earth" (Gen.1:1_. ; The word "Elohim" is uni-plural (such as the word "cluster"), which implies plurality in unity. Thus the Trinity of the Godhead is implied in the very first verse of the Bible (and throughout the O.T.) by the very title "God".
2. Story of the creation of man (Gen. 1:26-27)
Notice in verse 26: "And God said, Let us make man in our image..." Then verse 27: "So God created man in his own image..." God refers to Himself with a plural pronoun, again implying the Triune nature of Deity.
3. Story of the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:6-8)
Verse 6 says: "And the LORD (Jehovah) said,...(vs.7) let us go down, and there confound their language..." Then vs. 8 says: "So the LORD (Jehovah) scattered them abroad..." Interestingly, in this passage , it is specified that it is Jehovah doing the speaking, and He refers to Himself with plural pronoun. The Triune nature of Jehovah is shown forth again.
4. The call of Isaiah (Isa. 6:8)
"Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Here God speaks of Himself using both the singular pronoun and the plural pronoun. Why? One God, three persons. Again, the doctrine of the Trinity.
B. In the New Testament
There are several different ways that the doctrine of the Trinity is taught in the N.T.
1. It is explicitly stated (I John 5:7)
Nothing could be any plainer and clearer that this statement on the Trinity. "These three are one" says the Scripture. Therefore, God can speak of Himself in both the singular (emphasizing the 1 God aspect of His character) and the plural (emphasizing the 3 person aspect of His character).
2. Three different persons are recognized as God
A. God the Father (John 6:27; Rom. 1:7; etc.)
B. God the Son, i.e., Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:23; John 1:1; Heb. 1:8; etc.)
C. God the Holy Spirit (II Cor. 3:17; Eph. 2:22; Acts 5:3-4- notice in this latter passage that in vs. 3, Peter tells Anions that he had "lied to the Holy Ghost", then in vs. 4, he explicitly states, "thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.)
3. There are general statements which link the 3 persons together in such a way so as to imply that they are co-equal, all members of the Godhead.
A. Baptism of Jesus (Matt. 3:16-17)
Here we see the Son being baptized, the Holy Spirit descending on Him, and Father speaking from Heaven.
B. Baptismal formula (Matt. 28:19-20)
We are commanded to baptize converts "in the name" (notice - "name", not "names"; again implying that they are one) of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost". How absurd to think that these three would be joined together in such a fashion if they were not co-equal! The absurdity if it can be seen by substituting another name - "baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of Moses" . How ridiculous!
C. Apostolic benediction (II Cor. 13:14)
Again, the 3 are joined together in such a way that it implies they are co-equal.
4. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all recognized as possessing the attributes of Deity. I will use some O.T. passages here, as well as N.T. passages.
(1) Father - Ps. 90:2
(2) Son - John 1:1; Micah 5:2
(3) Holy Spirit - Heb. 9:14
(1) Father - Gen. 18:14; Jer. 32:17
(2) Son - Matt. 28:18; II Cor. 12:9
(3) Holy Spirit - Luke 1:35-37
(1) Father - I John 3:20
(2) Son - John 21:17; Col. 2:3
(3) Holy Spirit - I Cor. 2:10-11; John 14:26; John 16:;12-13
In your notes concerning Jesus Christ, you question why Christ didn't know the time of His return (Mark 13:32). The answer is for the same reason that He didn't exercise His omnipotence and omnipresence while He was on earth. The Bible tells us that during the days of His incarnation, Christ "made himself of no reputation" (Literally - "emptied himself") (Phil. 2:5-8). While Jesus was on earth, He did not operate in His power as God the Son; rather He laid aside the exercise of His power as God, and operated as a man filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:21 - 22; 4:1,14; etc.). Why did He do this? To give us an example to follow (I Peter 2:21; I John 4:17). If Christ had acted in His power as God on earth, that would have been no example for me to follow, for I am not God. However, since He operated as a man filled with the Holy Spirit, and since the same Holy Spirit power is available to me (Acts 1:8; Eph. 5:18; etc.), I should follow His example as far as ministry is concerned. It is for this reason that Jesus could make such an amazing statement as He did in John 14:12. He could not have made this statement if He had operated as God, but since He operated as a man filled with the Spirit, and He only lived 33 years, others who live longer, operating in the same power, should be able to do more works that He did (of course, this speaks of work that He did in His life on earth, not in His death and resurrection).
Thus, in operating as a man, He did not exercise His God-attribute of omniscience and, as a result, while on earth, He didn't know the time of His return. However, now (since His resurrection and glorification), Paul states that "in Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col. 2:3). When He arose from the dead and was glorified, He took back up the attributes of Deity.
(1) Father - Jer 23:24
(2) Son - Matt. 28:20
(3) Holy Spirit - Ps. 139:7-10
5.All 3 persons are spoken of in Scripture as performing the same Divine talks
(1) Father - Heb. 1:1-2 ( we also see the Son in Creation here)
(2) Son - John 1:1-3; Col. 1:16
(3) Holy Spirit - Gen. 1:2; Job 33:4; Ps. 104:30
(1) Father - I Cor. 6:14
(2) Son - John 2:19-21
(3) Holy Spirit - I Peter 3:18
Thus any logical person can see that throughout the Bible, in dozens (and probably in hundreds) of Scriptures, the doctrine of the Trinity is taught. Thus the Bible can say "God" with reference to all 3 persons of the Godhead, for "these three are one" (I John 5:7), or the Bible can say "God: with reference to any particular one of the 3, for all 3 are members of the 1 God. Therefore, Jesus could refer to His Father as "the only true God" (John 17:3), because while they are one God, yet they are separate persons. How can this be? I do not know; I just know that this is what the Bible teaches. All I can say is what Paul said: "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out" (Rom. 11:33). (Incidentally, you ask in your notes, "Did you say they [i.e., Jesus and the Father] are one?" It really isn't important whether I said it or not. Here is what is important - Jesus said that they are one [John 10:30]).
Yes the Bible teaching is that God is both a unity and a Trinity - 1 God manifested in 3 persons. Functionally, God the Father is first, God the Son is second, God the Holy Spirit is third, which is why they are practically always listed in that order and why Jesus could make statements such as John 14:28 ( Also I Cor. 11:3; 15:28; etc.).
This is also why the Bible speaks of the Father "sending" the Son (John 6:39; etc.) And the Father and Son "sending" the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 16:7). Functionally, the Son acts in subordination to the Father, and the Spirit to the Son, yet "these 3 are 1" (I John 5:7).
III. The Deity of Christ
I have dealt with this under the heading of "The Trinity"' but as you mention it specifically in your notes, I feel that I should deal with it especially.
Actually, Jesus possesses 2 natures - human and Divine. He is both God and man. This is the Christian doctrine of the Person of Christ, i.e., that He is God in human flesh (I Tim. 3:16). Most cults will deny one or the other - either His true humanity or His true Deity (as you do). The Bible states that one who denies that Jesus is God in human flesh possesses the spirit of Antichrist (I John 4:2-3) and that a person who denies this is a deceiver and is not saved (II John 7-9). John further rebukes those who are deniers of the Deity of Christ while claiming to honor God the Father, by stating that they are liars (I John 2:22-23). So you see, the Jehovah's Witnesses' denial that Jesus was God in human flesh is not a new cultic doctrine; it was around in the days of the Apostles in the form of the ancient Greek Gnostic cult (which is the cult that Paul refuted in the book of Colossians, as well as the cult that John is dealing with in the above quoted verses). Practically every modern day cult (including Jehovah's Witness) has its roots in 1st century Greek Gnosticism. The devil doesn't have very many new doctrines; he simply keeps rehashing the same evil doctrine over and over.
So, the Bible teaches that Jesus is both human and Divine - totally man and totally God. He was not always a man - He became a man through the virgin birth in a stable in Bethlehem. He did not become God - He has always been God. Several passages shed light on this (Isa. 9:6; Phil. 2:5-8, John 1:1-3, 14).
Both the Old Testament and the New Testament teach the Divinity of Christ. One of the great prophetic passages of the O.T. Which identifies Jesus as Jehovah is Zech. 12:1-10. This passage speaks of the end time when Jesus will return and the nation of I (God's O.T. covenant people) will be converted unto Him. The word translated "LORD" throughout this passage is the word "Jehovah". In verse 10, Jehovah says "...and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced..." (An obvious reference to the cross of Calvary; but Jehovah states that it was He Himself who was pierced there. Why? Jesus is Jehovah!) This alone would be enough to establish the Deity of Christ; however, there are several different ways in which the Bible establishes this.
A. He is given the names of Deity
1. God (Isa. 9:6; Matt. 1:23; John 1:1; Rom. 9:5; I Tim. 3:16; Titus 2:13; Heb. 1:8) Notice especially that in Heb. 1:8, God the Father is speaking and He refers to the Son as "God".
2. Son of God (John 3:16, 18; 1:14; etc.)
The Bible refers to Christians as "sons of God", as well (John 1:12; I John 3:2; etc.), but Jesus' relationship to the Father as the Son of god is unique and different, as can be seen from the fact that He is called the "only begotten Son".
3. The Lord (I Cor. 1:3; etc.)
4. The First and the Last (Rev. 1:17)
In Isa. 41:4, Jehovah uses this same title for Himself. Why? Jesus is Jehovah!
5. Alpha and Omega (Rev. 22:13)
In Rev. 1:8, this same name is taken by Almighty God. Why? Jesus is Almighty God!
B. He claimed Deity for Himself and accepted worship as Deity
1. John 3:16; etc.
Again, the expression : only begotten Son", sets Jesus apart from everyone else. Furthermore, the religious leaders of His day knew very well that when he claimed that God was His Father, He was claiming a unique relationship which made Him equal with God the Father, and they hated Him because of it (John 5:17-18). (Incidentally , it is interesting to me that in your notes, you listed John 5:19 to try to prove that Jesus is not God, and the verse immediately preceding it [vs. 18], clearly states that Jesus claimed equality with God. Obviously, either verse 18 is untrue or else you have the wrong interpretation of verse 19, and I think I know which!)
2. John 8:54-59
A couple of things stand out in this passage. One is that Jesus claimed pre-existence ("Before Abraham was, I am.") and that He identifies Himself with the "I AM" of the Old Testament (Ex. 3:13-14). I have already mentioned that the name "Jehovah" is a form of "I AM" and means basically "to be". This, Jesus claims here to be the "I AM" or "Jehovah of the Old Testament.
Another thing that stands out is that the religious leaders understood clearly that this is what Jesus was claiming, so much so that they tried to kill Him because of it.
3. John 10:27-33
Jesus claims unity with the Father once again, and again the religious leaders clearly understand this and try to kill Him.
4. Matt. 14:33; Luke 24:52; John 20:28-29
In all these passages we see Christ's followers worshiping Him as God, and He accepting their worship instead of rebuking them. The Scriptures recognize worship as being due to God only (Matt. 4:10; Acts 10:25-26; Acts 14:11-15; Acts 12:20-25). Yet Jesus accepted worship without rebuking those who worshiped Him.
Let us be honest about the matter. Either Jesus was God, or He was a liar and an impostor if you choose; I believe that He was God.
C. He possesses the attributes of Deity
There are certain character traits and qualities which only God possesses. These are called the attributes of God, yet we see in the Bible that Jesus possesses these Divine attributes, thus showing in another way that He is God.
1. Eternality (Micah 5:2; John 1:1)
2. Immutability (Heb. 13:8)
3. Omnipotence (Matt. 18:20; Rev. 1:8, 11-18)
4. Omnipresence (Matt. 18:20; Matt. 28:20)
Notice that Christ promises to be with any group of Christians meeting in His name, and that he promises that His presence will be with all who are carrying the gospel to all nations. How can His presence be with 2 different groups meeting at the same time in 2 different places? How can His presence be with 2 different people in different nations who are preaching the gospel at the same time? Because He is God and one attribute of god is omnipresence!
This is why He could say that He was in Heaven while He was on earth (John 3:13.
D. He fills the offices of Deity
There are some office (positions) which only God can fill. Yet we find in the Scripture that Jesus Fills these offices.
1. Creator (John 1:1-3; Col. 1:16)
Compare these passages with Gen. 1:1 and the only conclusion possible is that Jesus was God (or a member of the Godhead) who created all things.
2. Sustainer (Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3)
The reason that the universe operates and functions correctly, and without coming apart, is because Jesus Christ is sustaining His creation, according to these verses.
Compare this to Ps. 104, which exalts Jehovah as the preserver and sustainer of creation. Why? Jesus is Jehovah!
3. Forgiver of sins (Mark 2:5-12)
Notice that Jesus did not refute the contention of the religious leaders that only God could forgive sins. He simple claimed the right for Himself. Why? He is God!
4. Judge (John 5:22)
According to Rev. 20:11-15, it is God that unsaved men will stand before to be judged (vs. 12). Yet Jesus claimed that He will be the Judge. Jesus is God!
In all these various ways, the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ was God (Jehovah) in human flesh.
IV. The Holy Spirit
As in the case of Jesus Christ, I mentioned the Holy Spirit in connection with the Trinity, but as you deal with Him individually in your notes, so will I do now. As I consider your notes, I see that I need to establish 2 things about the Holy Spirit.
A. He is a person
In your notes you deny the personality of the Holy Spirit. You state that He is some kind of force. You say that He is "not a person, just a spirit", as though a person and a spirit are 2 different things. Our real problem on this point is that you do not understand what constitutes a person. You evidently think that one must have a physical body in order to be a person. If that (physical nature) is the criteria for one to be a person, then God the Father is not a person either, because He is a spirit, too (John 4:23-24)! So then, obviously, one does not have to have a physical body in order to be a person (at least in the biblical sense).
Actually, one may be said to be a person if he possesses 3 things: (1) will, (2) knowledge, and (3) emotion (feeling). We shall see that the Holy Spirit possesses these things and is therefore a person. However this is not the only way in which the Bible teaches the personality of the Holy Spirit. The Bible teaches in several ways that the Holy Spirit is a person:
1. The Bible teaches that He is God; if He is God, He has to be a person for God is a person.
I'll not give Scripture for this point yet because I will deal with the Deity of the Holy Spirit later under a separate heading. But since God is a person, if the Holy Spirit is God, He is obviously a person.
2. Jesus used personal pronouns in referring to Him (John 14:16-17, 26)
I find it rather humorous that you list these Scriptures in your notes, but then deny that they mean what they say. Again you revert to the old "symbolic language" argument that cultists like to use anytime they come across passages of Scripture which refute their doctrine.
Quite frankly, I give Jesus credit for having at least as much intelligence as I have! If I'm talking about some kind of force or influence, I don't refer to it as "he" and "him". Neither would Jesus; He is talking about a person in these passages!
Actually there is a passage in the Bible (which I am surprised you didn't list) which uses the impersonal pronoun "itself" in referring to the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:16, 26). The reason for this is simply because the Greek noun translated "Spirit" is neuter in gender. Now, I'm no Greek expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I did take a year of Greek in college, and even I know that a pronoun has to agree in gender with its antecedent noun or it would not be correct linguistically. Thus since the word "spirit" in Greek is neuter, the pronoun which complements it also has to be neuter, i.e., "itself". (By the way, while I freely admit that I am no Greek expert, I should point out that I know more Greek than the founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses, Charles Taze Russell, knew. This is not saying much however. He claimed that he based his heretical doctrine on the "original Greek". The reason that he claimed this is because it would be obvious to any logical person that the English Bible doesn't teach his doctrine. However the problem is - neither does the Greek! Charles Taze Russell was taken to court in Ontario, Canada, and proven on the witness stand to be a perjurer concerning his knowledge of the Greek language. When asked on the witness stand on March 17, 1913, if he was knowledgeable in the Greek language, he replied that he was. Then, when asked to quote the Greek alphabet, he couldn't get past the third letter! Some expert. A great one to be delving into the original Greek for his conclusions!
If I were you, I'd do some serious study about the founder of the heretical cult that you are a member of [the court records are, I'm sure, still available in Ontario, Canada].)
3. The Holy Spirit possesses the characteristics of personality. As I mentioned before, there are 3 basic things which must exist for one to be called a person: (1) knowledge (2) emotion (3) will. Notice that the Bible points out that the Holy Spirit possesses all these things, thus establishing that He is a person.
a. Knowledge (I Cor. 2:11; Rom. 8:27)
b. Will (I Cor 12:11)
(1) Love (Rom. 15:30)
(2) Grief (Eph. 4:30)
4. The Holy Spirit performs acts which only a person could perform.
a. Prayer (Rom. 8:26)
b. Teaching (John 14:26)
c. Searching the things of God (I Cor. 2:10)
d. Speaking (Acts 13:2)
So then, the Bible establishes that the Holy Spirit is a person. But this is not all that the Bible teaches about Him.
B. He is God
1. He is called by Divine names in the Bible
a. Acts 5:3-4
In verse 3, Peter asks Ananias why he had lied to the Holy Ghost; then in verse 4, he informs Ananias that he had lied to God. Why? The Holy Ghost is God.
b. II Cor. 3:17
Here the Holy Spirit is referred to as "the Lord."
c. Eph. 2:22
We are told here that God inhabits Christians through the Spirit. How can this be? Because the Holy Spirit is God.
2. He is associated with the Father and the Son in such a way so as to imply that He is God.
a. I John 5:7
b. Matthew 28:19-20
Notice in the baptismal formula given here that we are to baptize in the "name" (singular), not "names" (plural) of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. This implies the unity of the three. The fact that we are to baptize in the name of all three implies that all three are equal.
3. He possesses the attributes of God
a. Eternality (Heb. 9:14)
b. Omnipresence (Ps. 139:7-11)
c. Omniscience (I Cor. 2:10-11)
d. Omnipotence (Luke 1:35)
4. He is credited in the Bible with performing Divine works
a. Creation (Gen. 1:2; Ps. 104:30; Job 33:4)
b. Regeneration (Compare John 3:5 with John 1:13)
c. Resurrection (I Peter 3:18)
5. Passages that are attributed to God in the O.T. are attributed to the Holy Spirit in the N.T.
a. Compare Isa. 6:8-10 with Acts 28:25-27
Why are these words said to be spoken by God in the O.T. and by the Holy Spirit in the N.T.? Because the Holy Spirit is God!
So the only conclusion that a reasonable person who will accept the Bible at face value can come to is that the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is God.
Now, I have spent many hours writing all this out. I have tried to answer your objections to such passages as Mark 13:32, John 17:3, etc. I have listed, I am sure, hundreds of passages of Scripture in proving what the Bible teaches. I have tried to be as honest as I can with you.
I have not done all this just for the sake of argument. I have done it for one reason, and that reason is this - if I understand the Bible. You are lost and going to Hell (a literal, burning Hell which you deny even exists, but which the Bible teaches) (I John 9, I John 2:22-23, I John 4:2-3). Jesus Christ (whom you dishonor), however, died a horrible, agonizing death on Calvary's cross to pay for your sins so that you wouldn't have to pay for them yourself in the flames of Hell. Then He arose from the dead 3 days later, proving that He has power over death and possesses the power of life, and thus can give eternal life to all those who trust Him for it. He wants to save you, and He will if you will allow Him to do so. However if I understand the Bible aright, according to the above quoted Scriptures, a person cannot get saved while denying the Deity of Christ. This is why I have gone to such length in the letter to answer your notes. I would like to see you saved and one day to see you in Heaven.
You see, the Bible means what it means (and what it says), regardless of how a cult member twists it around to try and get it to mean something else.
I hope that you will examine the hundreds of Scriptures that I have listed, and I hope that you might be saved.