1-8 “God is a Spirit” (Jn. 4:24)
God’s spirit is His power or breath by which His essential self,
His being and character, is revealed to man through the actions which
that spirit achieves. Thus “God is spirit”, as Jn. 4:24 should
be properly translated (see R.S.V., N.I.V.), because His spirit reflects
God is described as being many things, e.g.
? “Our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29)
? “God is light” (1 Jn. 1:5)
? “God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8)
? “The word (Greek ‘logos’ - plan, purpose, idea) was
God” (Jn. 1:1).
Thus “God is” His characteristics. It is clearly wrong to
argue that the abstract quality of love is ‘God’, just because
we read that “God is love”. We may call someone ‘kindness
itself’, but this does not mean that they are without physical existence
- it is their manner of literal existence which reveals kindness to us.
The spirit being God’s power, we frequently read of God sending
or directing His spirit to achieve things in harmony with His will and
character. Examples of this are numerous, showing the distinction between
God and His spirit.
? “He (God) that put His Holy Spirit within him” (Is. 63:11)
? “I (God) will put My spirit upon him (Jesus)” (Mt. 12:18)
? “The Father give(s) the Holy Spirit” (Lk. 11:13)
? “The Spirit descending from heaven” (Jn. 1:32)
? “I (God) will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh” (Acts 2:17).
Indeed, the frequent references to “the spirit of God” should
be proof enough that the spirit is not God personally. These differences
between God and His spirit are another difficulty for those who believe
that God is a ‘trinity’ in which God the Father is equated
with Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Very importantly, a non-personal God makes a nonsense of prayer - to the
point where prayer is a dialogue between our consciousness and a concept
of God which just exists in our own mind. We are continually reminded
that we pray to God who is in heaven (Ecc. 5:2; Mt. 6:9; 5:16; 1 Kings
8:30), and that Jesus is now at God’s right hand there, to offer
up our prayers (1 Pet. 3:22; Heb. 9:24). If God is not personal, such
passages are made meaningless. But once God is understood as a real, loving
Father, prayer to Him becomes a very real, tangible thing - actually talking
to another being who we believe is very willing and able to respond.