A. T. Jones Accepts the Personhood of the Holy Spirit
Recently I came across a very clear defence of the personhood of the Holy Spirit, written by A. T. Jones. This was published in 1907 and is a great example of how the Pioneers progressed in their understanding of the Godhead. I was so impressed by it, that I am including it here for you to read.
CHRISTIANITY in all that in itself it is, contemplates only a Person. It has its origin only in a Person. It comes to men only from a Person. It is given to men only by a Person. It is sustained and maintained in believers only by a Person.
Christian loyalty, therefore, is and can be only loyalty to that Person. The loyalty of Christians can never be to anybody, and much less to any thing, other than just that one Person. And that Person is God—God, in Christ, through and by the Holy Spirit.
God is a person—a living, intelligent, person: a person who thinks, who loves, who pities, who speaks, who is good, who is true, who is faithful, who enters into covenant with men, and who keeps covenant and mercy with men forever.
And Christ Jesus is a person. In this personal Christ the personal God is manifested to the world and made personally known to believing men. Christ, was a person before he came into the world; yea, he was a person before ever the world was. He was of the person of God before ever the world was; and as of the person of God, he “was the Word,” and he spoke the word that made the world and all the worlds. This same Person who was before the world, and who made the world and made man, came into the world and to man. He was a person in the world and with mankind. In this same person he left the world and ascended to heaven and to the personal God of heaven. In this same Person, and as this same Person glorified, he is at the right hand of the throne of the personal God in Heaven. And in this same Person, and as this same Person glorified, he is soon corning again in all the glory to glorify and take to himself and to the personal God of glory, all who are his by a personal faith upon their own personal choice.
And the Holy Spirit is a person. This great truth is not recognized, indeed it is not believed, by more than a very few even of Christians. For everybody knows that almost invariably, with very, very few exceptions, the Holy Spirit is referred to and spoken of by Christians as “it.”
But the word “it” never applies to a person. The word “it,” in the very genius of our language, refers and applies only to things, never to persons; to things of inanimate substance, as a stone, a horse, a tree; or to things of concept, or experience, as space, height, breadth, peace, joy, grief, an impression, an influence. But the Holy Spirit is none of these: the Holy Spirit is not an influence; nor an impression, nor peace, nor joy, nor any thing. The Holy Spirit gives peace, and gives joy, assuages in grief, makes an impression, exerts an influence; but the Holy Spirit is none of these things, nor any other thing.
No, eternally no! The Holy Spirit is a Person, eternally a divine Person. And he must be always recognized and spoken of as a Person, or he is not truly recognized or spoken of at all.
See how plain and emphatic the Scriptures set forth this truth that the Holy Spirit is only a Person: and to aid the reader to see this truth, we will print in capital letters Italic, the words that designate the Holy Spirit:—
John 14:16, 17: “I will pray the Father, and he shall give, you another comforter that HE may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; WHOM the world cannot receive because it (the world) seeth HIM not, neither knoweth HIM; but ye know HIM; for HE dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”
John 14:26: “The Comforter, the Holy Ghost, WHOM the Father will send in my name, HE shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”
John 15:26: “When the Comforter is come, WHOM I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which (WHO, Revised Version and others) proceedeth from the Father, HE shall testify of me.”
John 6:7-15: “If I go not away the Comforter will not come unto you; And when HE is come, HE will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.) ... I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye can not bear them now. Howbeit, when HE, the Spirit of Truth is come, HE will guide you into all truth; for HE shall not speak for HIMSELF; but whatsoever HE shall hear, that shall HE speak; and HE will shew you things to come. HE shall glorify me; for HE shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine; therefore, said I, that HE shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you.”
Thus in the short space of a few lines the Lord Jesus speaks twenty-four times of the Holy Spirit as a person; and speaks of him in no other term than that which signifies in Greek, literally, “that person there.”
Yet this is not peculiar to the New Testament. David said, “The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and HIS word was in my tongue.” [sic.] 2 Samuel 23:2.
Note that this latter word introduces another element of personality—“the Spirit of the Lord spake.” This is also stated of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. Read it:—
“Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.” Acts 8:29.
“The Holy Spirit said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” Acts 13:2.
“As the Holy Ghost saith.” Hebrews 3:7.
“Well spake the Holy Ghost by Isaiah the prophet.” Acts 28:25.
Thus the Scriptures make perfectly plain the truth that the Holy Spirit is, none other than a living, speaking, divine, and eternal person. Exactly as Christ is a person and as God is a person. Indeed Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit as proceeding from the Father, just as he speaks of himself as proceeding from the Father.
Therefore to be consistent those people who persist in speaking of the Holy Spirit as “it,” should also speak of Christ as “it,” and of God as “it.” But as certainly as any one speaks of God as HE and of Christ as HE, he must also speak of the Holy Spirit as HE. MEDM March 27, 1907, page 98.22
- A. T. Jones, The Medical Missionary p. 98, 1907“
After reading this, there can be no doubt that A. T. Jones accepted the truth that the Holy Spirit is a person. This is in contrast to what was mainly held by Adventists at the time. I wonder where he got such confidence that he was right? Could he have been reading Spirit of Prophecy? Jones would have read this statement in Desire of Ages:
"In describing to His disciples the office work of the Holy Spirit, Jesus sought to inspire them with the joy and hope that inspired His own heart. He rejoiced because of the abundant help He had provided for His church. The Holy Spirit was the highest of all gifts that He could solicit from His Father for the exaltation of His people. The Spirit was to be given as a regenerating agent, and without this the sacrifice of Christ would have been of no avail. The power of evil had been strengthening for centuries, and the submission of men to this satanic captivity was amazing. Sin could be resisted and overcome only through the mighty agency of the Third Person of the Godhead, who would come with no modified energy, but in the fullness of divine power." - Desire of Ages, p. 671“
The evidence is very clear that God was leading the church step by step to a clearer understand of the Godhead. A. T. Jones is a good example of this.