An August 31, 2021 report from the Cultural Research Center of Arizona Christian University entitled “What Does It Mean When People Say They are ‘Christian’?”[i] presents disturbing evidence about the spiritual condition of Americans who say they are “Christian.” The report identifies the following five categories of “Christians:” (1) people who call themselves “Christians;” (2) people who self-identify as “born again Christians;” (3) people who self-identify as “evangelical Christians;” (4) people whose theological beliefs establish them as “born again Christians;” and (5) people who possess a biblical worldview[ii] and who the report refers to as “Integrated Disciples.”
As you can imagine, the theological views can vary between the people in these categories. Many of these folks should examine themselves to see if they are saved using my The Salvation Meter book[iii].
The most shocking data comes from the purported most committed category of Christians, i.e., the “Integrated Disciples.” Integrated Disciples comprise only 6% of the adult population in America and only about 9% of people who claim to be “Christian.” Integrated Disciples are the “cream of the crop” evangelical Christians.
There are four biblically incorrect views that a meaningful number of the “cream of the crop” Evangelical Christians believe. In this article, I discuss the second unbiblical view: that the Holy Spirit is not a real living being, but is merely a symbol of God’s power, presence, or purity.
SHOCKING NEWS – THE HOLY SPIRIT IS NOT A REAL LIVING BEING ACCORDING TO 39% OF THE “CREAM OF THE CROP” EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS
39% of the “cream of the crop” evangelical Christians, i.e., Integrated Disciples, believe that the Holy Spirit is not a real living being, but is merely a symbol of God’s power, presence, or purity. In other words, almost 4 out of 10 Integrated Disciples deny basic attributes of the Holy Spirit. No wonder the American evangelical church is powerless to impact American society.
The Holy Spirit is a Real Living Being – a Distinct Person
It is a foundational biblical truth that the Holy Spirit is a distinct Person. One reason is that the Holy Spirit is part of a coordinate relationship with God the Father and God the Son. For example, Matthew 28:18–20 (NASB95) places all three Persons of the Trinity in a coordinating relationship:
18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Another example is 1 Corinthians 12:4–6 (NASB95), which reads:
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.
The Apostle John refers to the Holy Spirit as a person who is a counselor or comforter per a passage like John 14:16 (NASB95), which reads:
16 “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;
Wayne Grudem[iv] sets out many personal attributes of the Holy Spirit:
Other personal activities are ascribed to the Holy Spirit, such as teaching (John 14:26), bearing witness (John 15:26; Rom. 8:16), interceding or praying on behalf of others (Rom. 8:26–27), searching the depths of God (1 Cor. 2:10), knowing the thoughts of God (1 Cor. 2:11), willing to distribute some gifts to some and other gifts to others (1 Cor. 12:11), forbidding or not allowing certain activities (Acts 16:6–7), speaking (Acts 8:29; 13:2; and many times in both Old and New Testaments), evaluating and approving a wise course of action (Acts 15:28), and being grieved by sin in the lives of Christians (Eph. 4:30).
The Bible Teaches that the Holy Spirit is God
As a predicate, according to Genesis 1:1 (NASB95), the Bible teaches that God the Father is God:
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
According to John 1:1-4 (NASB95), Jesus Christ (the Son of God) is God:
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.
Matthew 28:19 (NASB95) places God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit in the same coordinate relationship:
19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
Wayne Grudem[v] explains:
Next, the Holy Spirit is also fully God. Once we understand God the Father and God the Son to be fully God, then the trinitarian expressions in verses like Matthew 28:19 (“baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”) assume significance for the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, because they show that the Holy Spirit is classified on an equal level with the Father and the Son. This can be seen if we recognize how unthinkable it would have been for Jesus to say something like, “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the archangel Michael—this would give to a created being a status entirely inappropriate even to an archangel. Believers throughout all ages can only be baptized into the name (and thus into a taking on of the character) of God himself.
Dr. Grudem indentifies the following trinitarian passages: 1 Corinthians. 12:4–6; 2 Corinthains. 13:14; Ephesians 4:4–6; 1 Peter 1:2; Jude 20–21.
It is tragic that almost 40% of the “cream of the crop” evangelical Christians do not comprehend the nature of the Holy Spirit. This equates to a misunderstanding about the very nature of the Triune God who spoke it all into existence at creation. The lack of comprehension about the Holy Spirit explains why the evangelical Christian church seems unable to speak out against the moral cesspool of American society.
IF YOU ARE UNSURE ABOUT YOUR SALVATION
If you are unsure about your salvation, you need to check out my new (published in October, 2021) book The Salvation Meter: Biblical Self-Diagnostic Tests to Examine Your Salvation and Spiritual Growth (book link at Xulon Press: https://www.xulonpress.com/bookstore/bookdetail.php?PB_ISBN=9781662828638 ). At Amazon the book link is https://www.amazon.com/Salavation-Meter-Biblical-Self-Diagnostic-Spiritual/dp/1662828632 . I also have website in which I am updating the content in the book. The link to my website for the book is https://thesalvationmeter.com .
IF YOU ARE NOT A CHRISTIAN
If you are reading this post and are not a Christian, your eternal destination is hell unless God intervenes. But, your destiny can change. Today can be the day of your salvation. Please see my blog (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/04/20/for-god-so-loves-you-2/) for a description of how you can be saved and a more concise description at my (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/10/20/there-is-hope-even-when-there-seems-to-be-no-hope-2/ ).
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[i] A PDF version of the Report is at the following link: CRC_AWVI2021_Release06_Digital_01_20210831.pdf (arizonachristian.edu).
[ii] The definition of a “biblical worldview” is not concrete. In a Barna report dated May 12, 2014 entitled “Only Half of Protestant Pastors Have a Biblical Worldview” (link: Only Half Of Protestant Pastors Have A Biblical Worldview – Barna Group), a biblical worldview was defined as:
Defining such a worldview as believing that absolute moral truth exists, that it is based upon the Bible, and having a biblical view on six core beliefs (the accuracy of biblical teaching, the sinless nature of Jesus, the literal existence of Satan, the omnipotence and omniscience of God, salvation by grace alone, and the personal responsibility to evangelize), (May 12, 2004) link:
The definition from Barna in a May 9, 2017 Barna Research report (link: Competing Worldviews Influence Today’s Christians – Barna Group) reads:
Barna defines “biblical worldview” as believing that absolute moral truth exists; the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches; Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic; a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today.
A more recent definition from the Center for Biblical Worldview (link: Center For Biblical Worldview (frc.org)) reads:
The mission of the Center for Biblical Worldview is to equip Christians with a biblical worldview and train them to advance and defend the faith in their families, communities, and the public square. We believe a person exhibits a biblical worldview when their beliefs and actions are aligned with the Bible, acknowledging its truth and applicability to every area of life.
The last definition is less than precise so I have taken the 2014 and 2017 definitions to define a biblical worldview to comprise the following components: (1) that absolute moral truth exists and it is based on the Bible (66 books); (2) the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches; (3) Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic; (4) salvation is by grace alone so that a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works; (5) Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; (6) there is a personal responsibility to evangelize; and (7) God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today. It is puzzling that the death, burial, and physical bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is missing from these components, but possibly it is assumed in the fourth component.
[iii] My book can be purchased through the Christian Publisher Xulon Press: Author Steve Belsheim – Christian Publisher Xulon Press or through Amazon: The Salvation Meter: Biblical Self-Diagnostic Tests to Examine Your Salvation and Spiritual Growth: Belsheim, Steve, Mangrum, Josh: 9781662828638: Amazon.com: Books.
[iv] Grudem, W. A. (2004). Systematic theology: an introduction to biblical doctrine (p. 232). Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House.
[v] Grudem,supra at p. 237.