John Oman suggested some years ago that the importance of any matter can be measured by the difficulty of defining it. We can understand his point: ordinary things are settled by ordinary explanations, extraordinary things constantly demand further explanation. If you announce that you are “in love,” that may well be understood by someone else who is “in love” but impossible to define to anyone else. In fact, to explain love to someone “in love” sounds like nonsense. Louis Armstrong once said about jazz music, “If I have to explain it to you then you ain’t got it,” or as they are saying in youthful circles today, “If you have to ask what it is you don’t know where it’s at.” There is a measure of truth for us in all this these days as we experience an inundation of information and misinformation, experience, pseudo-experience, and quackery regarding the Holy Spirit. But with others in these confusing times we can try to sort out a few things.
One idea clearly evident from Scripture—and Scripture is the only source for information on this subject—is that the Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of Truth” (John 14:17; 15:26). It would seem, therefore, that he is the subject and source of truth and not the object. When we try to define him we are going at him objectively, and this is quite impossible. We are faced with the same kind of problem when we try to examine our own ego. The ego is always the subject of our examining and not the object of it. In the case of the ego, even our own ego, we can examine only the manifestations of the ego, the outgoing of the person; we can know our own selves essentially only by what shows itself, and ...1
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