The original question came as a result of a debate we participated in. Since then we have had continuing correspondence with a Muslim whose latest correspondence asked us: “Can you prove God has a holy spirit”.
Answer by John Mackay
For readers who need to understand why a Muslim would ask such a question you must first note that for the Muslim, Allah:
1. Gives no personal Holy Spirit to man.
2. Has no son.
3. Cannot be seen and will never be seen.
4. Can never be known.
As a result Muslims have no personal relationship with Allah in the way that Christians claim with Jesus Christ, so this question about the Holy Spirit is vital.
Let us start then with what Jesus said in John’s gospel which deals with one particular aspect of who the Holy Spirit is, and his relationship to both God and Jesus. There is no better way to do this than to read John’s Gospel Chapter 14:1-18 where Jesus is teaching His disciples about the Comforter, the Spirit of truth now usually known as the Holy Spirit, as well his own relationship to God the Father.
The chapter begins with Jesus saying: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”
Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever — the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. ” John 14:1-18 (NKJV)
Did you notice Jesus’ comment that this Comforter, or Spirit of truth, was already known to the disciples. The Spirit was right there dwelling with them, present tense. Jesus also declared the Spirit of truth would also come to them future tense – because it was “I”, Jesus who would come to them and most noticeable of all is Jesus answer to Thomas’s question to show them the Father where Jesus responds; “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.” There could be no more clear statement that God the Spirit and God the Son and God the Father are One – not just in agreement but in person.
This relationship can also be seen in the Old Testament so let us work backwards from John’s Gospel which begins with reference to the creation and Creator ( John 1:1). But John’s gospel then specifically lists Jesus Christ as the Creator ( John 1:1-3, 14). Then when you turn back to Genesis 1:1, you find the Creator listed as God or Elohim, yet we also read the Spirit of God was there moving upon the face of the waters ( Gen 1: 2) , at the same time the Word of God spoken was ‘Let there be light’ (Genesis 1:3).
But back in John’s Gospel the apostle John tells us the Word of God is Jesus Christ who is the Creator (John 1:1-3). By now it is clear that Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and Elohim who is God the Creator are being treated as the same person, as mysterious as that Tri-Unity may be to try to explain.
As Muslim immigrants continue to increase in the west, Christians need to be reminded that the major difference between the God of the Bible and Allah, is that one true God can be known and the Koran teaches Allah can never be known. This one true God has a son and yet the Koran teaches Allah has no son. This one true God who is Jesus has promised his perpetual presence with his disciples through the Holy Spirit who is the guarantee of our inheritance of eternal life (Ephesians 1:13-14). So never forget when a Christian proclaims Jesus is the Son of God, you have just said Allah is not God, so you are also saying Christian and the Muslim do not worship the same God at all. Share this clearly but gently with Muslims, liberal Church leaders and Western politicians.
The Muslim, who claims “God sent the Christians to correct the Jews and now through his last prophet Mohammed, he has sent the Muslims to correct the Christians” can be stopped dead in his tracks, if you simply ask the following question. What has Islam got to offer a Christian who already has:
1. A Saviour, Jesus (who is God) so the Christian doesn’t need to save himself.
2. A Holy Spirit (who is God) who dwells within him so that the Christian knows he has the guarantee of salvation/eternal life already with him.
3. A Father (who is God) whom the Christian will see face to face and dwell with through all eternity.
When a Muslim asks how do we know this, our testimony must be sure and true. As Paul states in Romans 8:16 the Spirit of God is Christ’s testimony within us, and those who are led by the Spirit of God are indeed the sons of God (Romans 8:14), and then share the great correcting and dividing truth of Romans 8:9 (we’ll let you look it up).
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