"This one true God manifested Himself in the Old Testament
in divers ways; in the Son while He walked among men; as the Holy Spirit
after the ascension." (UPCI Articles of Faith).
Sabellius' original modalist scheme taught that God was the Father in the
Old Testament era, the Son while Christ walked upon the earth, then became
the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. While there is a pleasing symmetry
to this scheme, scriptural verification remains a problem. To this day
some 'Oneness' Pentecostals will earnestly tell you there was no
Holy Spirit until the Day of Pentecost. They base this claim on John
7:39, "But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on
him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that
Jesus was not yet glorified." They understand this to mean the Holy
Spirit did not exist prior to the Lord's ascension.
In truth the Holy Spirit operates throughout the Bible: "Do not cast
me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me."
(Psalm 51:11). The phrase in the Greek translation of this Old Testament
psalm: "to pneuma to hagion" (LXX),- is the same as in the New Testament.
There is a 'less' and a 'more' with the Holy Spirit; Elisha prayed for
a "double portion," the firstborn's share: "And so it was, when
they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, 'Ask! What may I do for you,
before I am taken away from you?' Elisha said, 'Please let a double portion
of your spirit be upon me.'" (2 Kings 2:9). In whatever measure,
the Holy Spirit was the preserve of only a few amongst the people in ancient
Israel. But God promised a day when His Spirit would be poured out abundantly
upon all who believe, not just prophets, priests and kings:
"And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
This is the new thing that came about on the Day of Pentecost.
The unscriptural fallacy that there was no Holy Spirit until the Day of
Pentecost is all the odder, given that the Spirit is specifically called "eternal"
in Hebrews 9:13-14: "For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer,
sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall
the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered
Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead
works to serve the living God?"
Wisdom and knowledge are ever-popular gift suggestions on the Holy Spirit's list:
"...for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to
another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit..." (1 Corinthians 12:8).
Not a passing fad, they've enjoyed a long run on the Spirit's gift list:
"And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding,
in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design
artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in
cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in
all manner of workmanship." (Exodus 31:3-5);
"And Moses said to the children of Israel, 'See, the LORD has called
by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe
of Judah; and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in
wisdom and understanding, in knowledge and all manner of workmanship,
to design artistic works, to work in gold and silver and bronze,
in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work
in all manner of artistic workmanship.'" (Exodus 35:30-33).
The Holy Spirit has always visited, inspired and counselled God's children:
"And Pharaoh said to his servants, 'Can we find such a one as this,
a man in whom is the Spirit of God?'" (Genesis 41:38).
The Face of the Waters
If 'Jesus the Holy Spirit' was obliged to duck into the nearest phone booth,
shed His flesh, and morph into the Holy Spirit, to return in that form
on the Day of Pentecost...then what Spirit brooded upon the waters?:
"And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters."
"Then the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms
became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands. He found
a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, and killed a thousand men with it." (Judges 15:14-15).
"So Moses went out and told the people the words of the LORD, and he gathered the
seventy men of the elders of the people and placed them around the tabernacle. Then the LORD
came down in the cloud, and spoke to him, and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and placed
the same upon the seventy elders; and it happened, when the Spirit rested upon them, that they
prophesied, although they never did so again. But two men had remained in the camp: the name of
one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad. And the Spirit rested upon them. Now they were
among those listed, but who had not gone out to the tabernacle; yet they prophesied in the camp.
And a young man ran and told Moses, and said, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” So
Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, one of his choice men, answered and said, “Moses my lord,
forbid them!” Then Moses said to him, “Are you zealous for my sake? Oh, that all the LORD’S people
were prophets and that the LORD would put
His Spirit upon them!” And Moses returned to the camp, he and the elders of Israel." (Numbers 11:24-30).