PRAYING TO THE HOLY SPIRIT
Though God is “one” (Deuteronomy 6:4), and “besides” him “there is no God” (Isaiah 44:6), yet he is three! While Jesus was standing wet from his baptism, a “voice out of heaven was saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’” The Son, who had become “flesh and lived” in Palestine, was himself “God” (John 1:1, 14). Heaven “was opened” and Jesus “saw the Spirit of God coming down on him as a dove” (Matthew 3:16-17).
So a three-fold deity (theotes, Colossians 2:9) is presented: (1) the Father with a “voice out of heaven;” (2) the Son well-pleasing to the Father; (3) the “eternal” (Hebrews 9:14) Spirit seen as a dove. How one can be three and three can be one is beyond human comprehension (Job 11:7-9; 26:14; Romans 11:33), but biblically indisputable.
The first one of record to describe deity as the “Trinity” (“the union of the three divine persons in one Godhead,” Webster) was Tertullian (160-240 A.D.). Baptism is to be performed “into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). The finest benediction possible, one including the names of the divine threesome, concluding any service, is:
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you (2 Corinthians 13:13).
Sad it is that three groups of religious people deny the existence of the Holy Spirit. The Jewish translation of the Old Testament removes “the Spirit of God” from Genesis 1:2 and inserts “a wind from God.” The Unitarians, like the Jews, hold “that God is a single being” (Webster). Similarly, the Jehovah’s Witnesses declare that the Holy Spirit is not a person, but merely “the active force of God. It is not a person” (REASONING FROM THE SCRIPTURES: Watchtower, 1989, p. 381). Even the King James translation, because the Greek word for “spirit” (pneuma) is of neuter gender, makes the Spirit an “it” in Romans 8:26.
On the other hand, the Holy Spirit is a person who hears, speaks, and prays (John 16:13; Romans 8:26-27; Acts 13:2, 4; 16:6-7). He can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30). However, though he is an “eternal” (Hebrews 9:14) person, a member of the Godhead, yet in rank he is number three. God the Father is “the head of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:3), and Christ, with “all authority in heaven and on the earth” (Matthew 28:18), was the one who sent the Holy Spirit upon the apostles (John 15:26; Acts 1:5, 8; 2:1-4). Thus “the apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42) is called “the ministration of the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:8). The Spirit, in guiding the apostles “into all the truth,” spoke nothing “from himself,” only what he received from Christ (John 16:13-14). All that the Spirit does is to glorify Christ (John 16:14), He “teaches” (1 Corinthians 2:13) us likewise to glorify Christ (Philippians 2:5-11), always keeping himself in the background.
Christians are instructed to pray to the Father (Ephesians 5:20), and there are three instances of Christians praying to Christ (Acts 7:59-60; 1 Corinthians 16:22; Revelation 22:20). But biblically there is no record of Christians praying or singing to the Spirit. The Spirit, who knows “even the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10-11), hears Christians pray, and “intercedes” with the Father “in behalf of” Christians’ “inexpressible groanings,” and “he pleads for the saints” (Romans 8:26-27). But nothing indicates that Christians talked to the Spirit.
Song writers are to be commended for their belief in the triune Godhead, but singing songs to the Spirit is an addition to the New Testament. Verse three of the song, “Father, I Adore You” (SONGS OF FAITH AND PRAISE: Howard Publishing Co., West Monroe, La.), # 53, is: “Spirit, we adore You, Lay our lives before You, How we love You,” is beautiful but praying and singing to the Holy Spirit is adding to the New Testament. Similarly, all three verses of “Holy Spirit, Light Divine,” # 428, are a prayer and a song to the Holy Spirit.
What is worse than simply praying and singing unauthorized tributes to the Holy Spirit are the songs that misrepresent the Spirit’s work. A misuse of the words, “He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20:22), are used to introduce a song, “Breathe on Me, Breath of God,” # 418, leaving the impression that Christians today, by praying to the Holy Spirit, will receive a direct out-pouring of the Holy Spirit (called by the song writer the “Breath of God”). God has a law by which every sinner receives the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; 5:32; Galatians 3:26-7; 4:6), but verse two of “Love Divine,” # 140, ignores that law by saying, “Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit into ev’ry troubled heart.”
A similar misrepresentation is in verse four of “Cleanse Me,” # 420, “O Holy Ghost, revival comes from Thee; Send a revival, start the work in me.”
Christians at no time have known by their feelings “the presence of the Lord,” but the song, “Sweet, Sweet Spirit,” # 421, introduced by the words, “The Holy Spirit came on them” (Acts 11:15), misrepresents the Spirit by asking people to sing: “There are sweet expressions on each face, And I know they feel the presence of the Lord.”
The song, “Spirit of the Living God,” # 422, calls for a direct operation of the Spirit on a praying and singing Christian today: “Spirit of the Living God, Fall fresh on me... Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.”
A direct operation of the Holy Spirit is prayed and song for in the song, “Holy Spirit, Truth Divine,” # 423, in the words, “Glow within this heart of mine.”
The song, “Holy Spirit, Thou Art Welcome,” # 426, misnames the Holy Spirit as the “Omnipotent Father of mercy and grace,” and leaves the impression that the presence of the Holy Spirit “in this place” is known in some other way than by his words (1 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:21). Without reading the Bible one would not know there is a Holy Spirit.
The song, “Come, Holy Spirit, Dove Divine,” # 427, pictures a sinner praying after his baptism, “O let the Holy Spirit give The sealing unction from above.” I am afraid that most new converts would not know for what he was praying.
A song writer, picturing heaven in his song “All Rise,” # 292, had quite a vivid imagination to sing, “The Spirit laid his hands on me.”
A song writer introduces the song, “Every Time I Feel the Spirit,” # 977, by a meaningful verse of Scripture, “The Spirit intercedes for the saints” (Romans 8:27), but he does not use that verse in his impossible song, “Ev’ry time I Feel the Spirit moving in my heart, I will pray.”
It would take more that what is called “poetical license” to justify singing and praying to the Holy Spirit as is done in the chorus of “Shine, Jesus, Shine,” # 290: “Blaze, Spirit, blaze, set our hearts on fire.”
Beautiful is the song “Take Time to Be Holy,” # 731, with the words “led by His Spirit To fountains of love,” but most people would need to be taught that there is no direct leading, but only by Spirit’s words in the holy Bible:
How sweet is your word to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! From your precepts I get understanding, and so I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp for my feet, and a light for my path (Psalm 119:103-105).
You lead me by your counsel, and afterwards you will receive me in glory (Psalm 73:24).