Recently introduced to a post called “Our Mediator and the Holy Spirit,” I felt compelled to briefly address it. The writer tries to convince the reader via a maze of partial quotes that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one and the same. One quote used by the author,
“That Christ should manifest Himself to them, and yet be invisible to the world, was a mystery to the disciples. They could not understand the words of Christ in their spiritual sense.” The Southern Review, September 13, 1898″ (emphasis from quoted post)
is followed by the authors own comment, “It is a mystery to many today as well.”
The next quote, another partial quote from the same source, “They could not take in the fact that they could have the presence of Christ with them, and yet He be unseen by the world. They did not understand the meaning of a spiritual manifestation,” (The Southern Review, September 13, 1898, emphasis from quoted post).
From those two quotes the post’s author concludes, leading to his next point, “We find it hard to understand the spiritual manifestation of Jesus as he personally speaks to us. But we know that the Spirit of Jesus is the one who communes with our hearts and minds.”
In other words, he’s attempting to use the two partial quotes as additional proof to say that the Holy Spirit is Christ. He says, “Isn’t it wonderful to know that the divine presence that guides us into all truth, that convicts our hearts, that draws us to the Father is the Spirit of Jesus himself!”
Rather than look at every quote the writer used, I will look only at the above two. Specifically at the word manifestation which shows up in both. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the root word manifest as: “readily perceived by the senses and especially by the sense of sight.”
So the senses are perceiving something as it ought to be. Let me ask this, how many of us have been deceived by our senses?
Upon examination we see that a manifestation can be a mirror or reflection of the attributes of the originator, but are not necessarily always the original itself. For example, children can be manifestations of their parents in that they strongly resemble them in looks, movements, quirks, or actions but a child is not the parent.
But for a better understanding of how the word might be used, let’s look at the Webster’s 1828 definition for manifestation.
“… , n. The act of disclosing what is secret, unseen or obscure; discovery to the eye or to the understanding; the exhibition of any thing by clear evidence; display; as the manifestation of God’s power in creation, or of his benevolence in redemption.
The secret manner in which acts of mercy ought to be performed, requires this public manifestation of them at the great day.
An example from the Bible shows that our senses can be deceived through manifestations (see also 1 Samuel 28); Satan tries to manifest himself as an angel sent from God (see 2 Corinthians 11:14, Matthew 4).
Satan also manifested himself in the serpent (see Genesis 3). This example clearly shows that the serpent is not Satan and that while Satan is not the serpent, Satan uses the serpent as a vehicle, a manifestation of himself to accomplish his agenda. Now I must be careful here and not try to put God in the same corner as Satan, because truly God can do anything. However, in our finite minds with such limited knowledge, we must be careful how we read between the lines especially when there is no clear guidance or even proof that any of what we see is even truth.
But if we examine the word manifestation we clearly see that Mrs. White’s use of the word is in accordance with Websters 1828 definition in that Christ was “revealing” unseen things to His disciples as He did to Elijah’s servant who could not see the armies of God protecting them (see 2 Kings 6:17). Spiritual things are spiritually discerned, and while the world wonders why they don’t see it, it’s because their hearts are not spiritually in tune with God. Mrs. White is not trying to support the theory that Christ and the Holy Spirit are the same.
So performing a cursory look at The Southern Review quotes, we’re able to poke holes in the supposition. We must be careful when we read scripture and not read into it what we perceive, but check it against scripture and compare it with the body of believers lest we go astray. One commenter on the post went as far as to say, “Amen [name removed]! These quotes show definitively that Mrs. White understood that the Holy Spirit is the very Divine Presence of Jesus (and our Father “John 14:23”) and not some “third being middleman” as taught in the error of the doctrine of a “triune god.”
I would challenge that comment and say that there was no evidence in the article disproving the triune God, nor was there any support showing that Ellen White understood their belief that “The Holy Spirit is the very Divine Presence of Jesus (and our Father…).”
There are times when Christ manifests himself literally and personally, but then there are times when He uses agents. Rather than read into something, we need look no further than what Christ offered in John 14:26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you,” (NKJV).