Is it Spirit of God or Spirit of Christ?

Holy Spirit

The Spirit of Christ

In the book of Romans, Paul wrote about the “Spirit of Christ” and the “Spirit of God” (Ro 8:9,10). In the King James Version, he also speaks of the “Spirit of Life” (Ro 8:2 KJV). Jesus spoke of One who would comfort, advocate for us and be in us, the “Spirit of Truth” (John 16:13). And, in the Book of Acts (Acts 2:4) we read of the “Holy Spirit.” So, how many “Spirits” (from God) are there?

Paul’s answered this for the Ephesians:

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Ephesians 4:4-6

It is very clear from the context of the entire chapter of Romans 8, that Paul is using different terms to describe the same “Spirit of God.” The slight changes refer to the different work that the Holy Spirit performs. This is significant because every born again believer has the Spirit of God living in them (1Co 3:16 CSB). They may at times not be “filled” with the Holy Spirit and consequently be more filled with their own desires. This may be what Paul meant in Romans 8:5Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” 

Some pentecostals argue that, in Acts 2:4 the “Holy Spirit” came upon the believers and they “were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” They may expand this to say that (in reference to Romans 8:11), unless one has experienced the gift of being “filled with the Holy Spirit” and “[spoken] in tongues,” they will not go in the rapture. Others go so far as to teach that you are not fully “saved” unless and until you speak with tongues.

Although we acknowledge that believers can (and should) be “filled” (baptized) with the Holy Spirit, and that they may “speak in tongues,” we do NOT believe that speaking in tongues is required in order to be born again.

In summary, there is only one Spirit of God and that other titles (e.g., “Spirit of Christ,” “Spirit of truth,” etc) are all referring to the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. There are also references in the Bible to the “spirit of man” (1Co 2:11 KJV), “spirit of the world” (1Co 2:12), etc, but they clearly are of a different character.

02 – Where Do We Go At Death?

Where do we go at death?

Where do we go at death?

At any point in time (since the cross), God views humankind in at least three classes:

  • The blessed dead: Made up of glorified O.T. saints and the souls of saints temporarily kept under the altar awaiting their glorified bodies. (Few – if any – of the N.T. Saints have yet to receive their glorified bodies.)
  • The living: Made up of unbelievers, Jews (chosen but have not accepted Christ as Messiah), Laodicean christians (churches and people who are part of the church but for some reason, they are not ready to be caught away at the coming of Jesus), and Philadelphia saints (rapture ready). There are other classes of living persons after the rapture.
  • The unforgiven dead: These are tormented souls who are physically dead, living in unimaginable suffering, in hell, waiting on the Great White Throne Judgment and the second death.

For the present, each person alive on earth is a triune being, consisting of body, soul & spirit (compare 1 Thessalonians 5:23). It may seem strange, but each element of our being is dealt with differently at death and, the destinations are also different. All who have less than all of these elements are anxiously awaiting their resurrection (see Note 1, “Reunion of Body and Soul”).

Regardless of our spiritual standing with God, when we die, our BODY is buried and eventually returns to dust. It may be burned beyond recognition or buried at sea or even melted in an atomic blast but, one way or another, it returns to the earth. This is just a visible reality of life. It is often rehearsed by a priest or minister as the undertaker lowers a casket into the ground and they drop soil into the grave, “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” (from the 1662 version of the Book of Common Prayer). This is clearly why Solomon would (wrongly) declare in Ecc 3:19 that “the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both… (v.20) All go to the same place.” (To understand why this verse is in error, read our article on “Understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes“. Each time we visit a funeral, we are reminded that our existence in this body is limited to a few short years of increasing pain.

But there is a resurrection! And the bodies of those who have been “born again” are miraculously changed! They will no longer be just mortal “dust” but these become the immortal (eternal) bodies that will never again experience pain or suffering. (For more about this, see our article on the “Rapture”.)

The SPIRIT (of life) returns to God who gave it. In the Bible, the words “spirit” and “wind” (or “breath”) are often used interchangeably. (If you read the original languages, you will understand that they generally are just different translations of the same original word.) Jesus used the two words in John 3:8 to describe being born of the Spirit. When the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples (in Acts 2), they described the event as including a sound of a “rushing mighty wind.”

In Ezekiel 37:9, it was the spirit/breath/wind that brought the dry bones back to life. At the creation (Gen 2:7), God breathed life into Adam and he became a living soul. (See John 5:21 to understand that all life is given from God the Father, or the Son). So, when He chooses, God can withdraw His spirit (breath) and we die (physically).

We have no real control over when or how we die, where our body will be buried, or the return of the Spirit to God. Our family determines where and how our body is “put to rest.” Someone might say that we can control the time and manner of our death – we can kill ourselves. But I am not so sure that is absolutely true. It appears from Scripture (See Note 2, What is the #1 cause of death?) that God can keep people alive even if they try to die.

In the larger scope of things, God chooses when we stop breathing the breath of life. And, since He gave the spirit of life, He can reclaim it at any time. In Ecclesiastes 12:7 (see Note 3, How to study the book of Ecclesiastes), Solomon wrote a profound truth, “the dust [body] returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit [of life] returns to God who gave it.”

In summary, the Judgment of Actions states that since all have sinned, then we will all die a physical death. At death, the body is buried and returns to dust. And the spirit of life (or breath) returns to God the Father who gave it. That just leaves us with the soul‘s destination:

Where does the SOUL go at death?

The question of where our soul goes when we die must be answered if we are to have peace in this life. The Judgment of ACTIONS is involved but, I believe that the soul’s eternal destination is determined in a separate judgment, the Judgment at DEATH.

Logically, the next article is “Why God judges us“.


Notes

Note 1, Reunion of Body and Soul. There are many references in the  Bible to Resurrection. Although some near-death experiences may differ, TRUE resurrection is the point where a person’s soul is reunited with their body. The process varies for different groups, so we will deal with it more completely in a future article.

Note 2, What is the #1 cause of death? An interesting thought was revealed to me a few years ago… We do not die of heart attack, stroke, or cancer – we die because God withdraws His spirit, or breath of life (Rev 9:6).

Note 3, How to study Ecclesiastes. See our article here about how to study the book and see this article about how to use context to understand the Bible better.