God Is Spirit
By Gordon Mallory
“God is a Spirit…” (John 4:24).
“God is Spirit …” (John 4:24,NAS).
“Now the Lord is that Spirit… ” (11 Corinthians 3:17).
“Now the Lord is the Spirit… ” (11 Corinthians 3:17, NAS).
Men have spoken of God as “the man upstairs.” He has been pictured as a white-haired man residing in a remote place called heaven. Visions have been told forth of two men appearing, one as the Father and the other as the Son.
Since man is the highest order of created beings, many heathen gods are made to at least partially resemble man, though the resemblance may be distorted and grotesque. Fables and traditions are told and repeated from generation to generation which describe the gods in terms of human experience and behavior. Man, through images, seeks to bring God down to His level, when God desires instead to bring us up to Him.
Many references in the Bible describe the True God as having physical parts and human emotions. God is said to repent, to grow weary, to come down from heaven, and to have eyes, ears, feet, and hands. (See Genesis 6:6-7; Genesis 11:5; II Chronicles 16:9; Psalm 44:3; Psalm 89:13; Jeremiah 15:6; Daniel 9:18.)
In Deuteronomy 9:10,ASV, we read that “Jehovah delivered unto (Moses) the two tables of stone written with the finger of God.” Compare with Exodus 34:27-28,ASV: “And Jehovah said unto Moses, Write thou these words .. And (Moses) wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.” Here the ‘finger of God” was Moses. Regarding the many Scriptures of this nature, the Scofield Bible offers this comment under Malachi, chapter 4, “Those passages which attribute bodily parts and human emotions to God are metaphorical.”
God is not a man, nor is he a pillar of fire, a cloud, a burning bush, or an angel, though He has appeared to man in various forms or manifestations termed “theophanies.” The theophanies have incorrectly been assumed to be appearances of the divine Son of God and are often cited as “evidence” of the preexistence of the Son. We shall cite some of these events:
“There wrestled a man (Jacob)… until the breaking of the day” (Genesis 32:24). “And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name ” (vs.29). Jacob said, “I have seen God face to face” (vs. 30).
“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand..” Joshua asked the man, “Art thou for us or for our adversaries?” And the man answered, “Nay; but as the prince of the host of Jehovah am I now come” (Joshua 5:13-14, ASV). There is an unfortunate division of chapters here, for the story goes on in chapter 6, “Jehovah said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thy hand Jericho” (Joshua 6:2, ASV).
The man with whom Jacob wrestled did not reveal to Jacob His Name, while in the account of Joshua the Scripture names the One seen by Joshua as Jehovah.
A theophany appeared to Gideon while he was threshing wheat:
“The angel of Jehovah … said unto (Gideon), Jehovah is with thee, thou mighty man of valor, (Judges 6:12, ASV).
“And Jehovah … said, Go in this thy might, and save Israel from the hand of Midian: have not I sent thee?” (vs. 14).
Upon seeing a miracle, “Gideon saw that He was the angel of Jehovah; and Gideon said, Alas, 0 Lord Jehovah! forasmuch as I have seen the angel of Jehovah face to face. And Jehovah said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die” (Judges 6:21-23, ASV).
The angel of the Lord may not always be a theophany. The angel of the Lord is clearly a theophany in-Exodus 3:2-6, ASV, where “The angel of Jehovah appeared unto (Moses) in aflame of fire out of the midst of a bush … and said, Moses, Moses .. I am the God.. of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”
The Scriptures affirm that “God is not a man. “The Scriptures declare that “God is Spirit.” The American Indian’s concept of God as the Great Spirit was entirely correct, though the Indian could not find Him, for Jesus is the Door.
Zophar challenged Job, “Canst thou by searching find out God?” (Job 11:7). And Job cried, “0 that I knew where I might find him!” (Job 23:3). King David could not communicated directly with Jehovah. Instead, the prophet Nathan served as the intermediary through whom God’s message was delivered to David (See I Chronicles 17:1-4).
The Hebrews were typical of all mankind in that they sought after gods which they could see and handle, a quest which often led them into idol worship. Whereas, the One True God is described as the Spirit, Spirit of God, Spirit of Jehovah, Spirit of the Father, Spirit of the Son, Spirit of Christ, Spirit of Truth and Wisdom, and Holy Spirit. These are One and the self-same Spirit, for “There is… one Spirit” (Ephesians 4:4).
The Spirit Invisible
“No man hath seen God at any time…” (I John 4:12).
“No man hath seen God at any time.” (John 1:18).
“And Jehovah said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto Jehovah to gaze, and many of them perish.” (Exodus 19:21,ASV).
“And (Jehovah) said, Thou canst not see my face; for man shall not see me and live.” (Exodus 33:20,ASV).
“By faith (Moses) forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” (Hebrews 11:27).
“Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (I Timothy 1:17).
(Jesus) “who is the image of the invisible God..” (Colossians 1:15).
Some say men have seen God, and cite the case of Moses standing in the cleft of the rock and God’s promise, “I will take away my hand, and thou shalt see my back parts; but my face shall not be seen.”
Since we cannot entertain a split decision as the solution to our understanding of The Word, we continue to teach that, “No man hath seen God at any time.”
A theophany is a manifestation or appearance of God in a visible form. The cloud, the pillar of fire, the burning bush, the captain of Jehovah’s army, who appeared to Joshua, and the angel of the Lord – all these are theophanies of the One True God. Men have seen God in the sense that they have seen such manifestations.
It is evident that Moses saw something when Jehovah’s glory passed by (Cf. Exodus 33:21-23). Men have not, however, literally seen God in his essence, for God is Spirit and man cannot see Spirit. We believe that Moses was permitted to see God in a theophany which is not fully explained for us in Scripture.
Jacob said, “I have seen God face to face” (Genesis 32:30), regarding the man with whom he wrestled. After a visit from the angel of Jehovah, the future father of Samson fearfully cried, “We shall surely die, because we have seen God!” (Judges 13:22). Moses affirmed, “Thou, Jehovah, art seen face to face, and thy cloud standeth over them, and thou goest before them, in a pillar of cloud by day, and in a pillar of fire by night” (Numbers 14:14, ASV).
When Philip said, “Shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us,” Jesus answered, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:8-9) The acceptance and proper understanding of God as Spirit serves to resolve the frequent seeming contradictions of the Bible relating to the appearances of God, the allusions to God’s human and physical parts, and His apparently human behavior and attributes. Man cannot see God in His essence, for man cannot see and handle Spirit. Because the Jews saw Jesus only as a man with their natural eyes, they rejected Him, saying, “Thou, being a man, makest thyself God” (John 10:33).
The Spirit Omnipresent
Acts 7:48-49 – “Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands… Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord; or what is the place of my rest?”
Acts 17:27 – “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us.”
Isaiah 66:1,(ASV) – ” Thus saith Jehovah, Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: what manner of house will ye build unto me? and what place shall be my rest?… ”
11 Chronicles 2:6 – “But who is able to build him a house, seeing heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain him?”
Jeremiah 23:24, ASV – “Can any hide himself in secret places so that I shall not see him? saith Jehovah. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith Jehovah.”
Psalm 13 9:7-10 – “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou artthere: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me”
Can man comprehend that which is Spirit? The word “spirit” means literally “wind” or “breath.” Jesus said, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). As man cannot comprehend the universe but must conclude its boundaries are limitless, so does The Word declare the omnipresence of God. Man tends to think of God and speak of Him on a human plane, but God is omnipresent Spirit, and Jesus said, “A spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39).
Our reference from the Psalms speaks of the ‘right hand of the Spirit of God, and there are many such references. The right hand of God is symbolic of power and authority. Humanly speaking, most people are right-handed and the right hand is more efficient and stronger than the left hand. The right hand of God denotes God’s power and authority.
The concept of two thrones in heaven with the Son sitting in the right-hand position is not borne out by the Scriptures. Whether the word “throne” may be symbolic of God’s rule over I-Es creation, Scripture speaks of but one throne. God’s right hand is declared in these texts:
“…Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:64).
“The high priest asked him … Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power…” (Mark 14:61-62).
“A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand…” (Psalm 91:7).
“…thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.” (Psalm 13 8:7).
“I have set Jehovah always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved” (Psalm 16:8,ASV).
“…0 thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee… ” (Psalm 17:7).
…at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:11).
The Spirit Holy and Eternal
The phrase “Holy Spirit” is not a proper name. In the Old Testament the phrase “Holy Spirit” is seldom found. Rather, He is spoken of simply as “the Spirit.” The same is most often true in the New Testament. For reasons unknown to us, the King James Bible translators chose to use the word “Ghost” wherever the word is used with “Holy,” and to render the word as “Spirit” elsewhere. In present-day versions the word is translated as Of Spirit.”
While the phrase “Holy Spirit” is rarely found in the Old Testament, Jehovah’s attribute of holiness is emphasized and declared. Graven in pure gold and placed upon the high priest’s forehead were the words, “HOLY TO JEHOVAH” (Exodus 28:36, ASV). God commanded, “Ye shall be holy; for I Jehovah your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2, ASV). Hannah prayed and said, “There is none holy as Jehovah; For there is none besides thee, Neither is there any rock like our God’ (I Samuel 2:2,
That the Spirit of Jehovah is eternal, which is to say, He is without beginning and without end, is declared by His Name Yahweh, which means the “Self-existent One” or “the Eternal.”
God is Spirit and therefore the Spirit is God. By reason of this evident truth it is clearly superfluous to labor over the question as to whether the Spirit has personality and the attributes of invisibility, omniscience, omnipresence, eternity, love, and compassion – in short, the attributes of the One True God.
The Spirit and the Name in Creation
“In the beginning God created .. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:1-2).
“Jehovah God made earth and heaven.” (Genesis 2:4,ASV).
The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.” (Job 33:4).
“O Jehovah, how manifold are thy works!… Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created..” (Psalm 104:24, 30, ASV).
“I am Jehovah, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.” (Isaiah 43:15, ASV).
” Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? Who hath directed the Spirit of Jehovah, or being his counsellor hath taught him?” (Isaiah 40:12-13, ASV).
“For thus saith Jehovah that created the heavens, the God that formed the earth and made it…I am Jehovah, and there is none else.” (Isaiah 45:18, ASV).
(Jesus) “no is the image of the invisible God…For by him were all things created…” (Colossians 1:15-16).
“All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:3).
“…behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne… for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created (Revelation 4:2, 11).
“Now the Lord is that Spirit… ” (II Corinthians 3:17).
There is no support in Scripture for the concept of the three divinities “sharing” or “cooperating” in creation – a concept often advanced in trinitarian circles. No biblical text suggests or affirms that three persons or beings coordinated their creative powers to bring our world into existence.
The Spirit is the creative force, the word Creator always appearing in the singular form, and He is first identified by His Name of Jehovah in Genesis 2:4. The Old Testament Scriptures uniformly declare His Name as Jehovah, and the Holy One who created the universe and placed man thereon.
In the New Testament we no longer reckon with the Name Jehovah, but with the Name of Jesus, our great Jehovah, who is declared Creator of all things. God is revealed in Ms Word; God is revealed in His Son; and God is revealed in creation.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. ” (Psalm 19:1-3).
In Romans 1:20, NIV, we read, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”
Among the many heathen altars in the city of Athens, the apostle Paul saw an altar with the inscription, “To the Unknown God.” To the Athenians Paul proclaimed, “Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that hath made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands” (Acts 17:22-25). Paul’s reference to God who “dwelleth not in temples made with hands” pertains to the omnipresent Spirit of whom we read in Acts 7:4849: “The most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands…Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool.”
His Name? The prophet Isaiah acclaimed Mm as the Holy One who declared, “I am Jehovah, that is my name; and my glory will I not give to another.” (Isaiah 42:8, ASV) The apostle Paul identified the Spirit with the affirmation, “The Lord is that Spirit.” (II Corinthians 3:17) And Paul, the great apostle of the Lordship of Jesus, proclaimed that by Jesus Christ “were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” (Colossians 1:16-17)
Out of the multitude of heathen altars which he beheld in Athens, Paul chose one altar – the altar “To the Unknown God,” to declare Jesus as the Creator of the “world and all things therein,” and the “Lord of heaven and earth.”
The Above Material Was Published By Reach Publications Inc., 1996, Pages 102-116. This Material Is Copyrighted And May Be Used For Study & Research Purposes Only.