Did God die on the cross?

Jesus is God. Jesus died on the cross. Did God die on the cross? At times pastors, theologians and the average Christian all say that God died on the cross. This statement is both entirely accurate and entirely inaccurate. In one sense it can be said that God died on the cross. In another, equally important sense, God did not die on the cross.

Understanding what happened on the cross requires an understanding of the Trinity and the hypostatic union. The Bible teaches that God is one God who is Three. God the Father is God. God the Son is God. God the Spirit is God. These three are distinct but not separate. The Father is not the Son. The Son is not the Spirit. God the Son, the second person of the Trinity, became fully human without giving up any part of His deity. Jesus is fully God and fully man. When Jesus died on the cross the God-man died.

Saying God died on the cross becomes a kind of short hand for saying, Jesus, God the Son, died on the cross. When understood this way the statement “God died on the cross” is a helpful way to describe the magnitude of God’s sacrifice for our salvation.

In several important ways God did not die on the cross. Because God is a Trinity and because of the unique nature of the incarnation God the Son endured things that the Father and Spirit did not. God the Father did not hang on the cross. God the Spirit was not buried in a tomb. Only God the Son suffered these things. If the phrase means anything more than God the Son died on the cross it is inaccurate. God did not die on the cross.

If death is a cessation of existence, a loss of ability, or a conclusion of consciousness, then God did not die on the cross. Not only did God the Father and God the Spirit not cease to exist on the cross, neither did God the Son. The Divine portion of the second person of the Trinity did not stop functioning on the cross. No member of the Godhead can cease existing. God the Son is as eternal as the Father and the Spirit. His eternal essence did not dissolve on the cross. He remained fully God and His deity did not cease with the end of His physical life.

This does not mean that Jesus’ death on the cross was purely physical or a solely human act. Jesus died as the God-man. Thus His eternal nature was involved in the suffering and death on the cross. Jesus Christ the Son of God died on the cross. He truly suffered all that death entails, physically and spiritually. God the Son did not cease to exist, even for a brief time, but God the Son endured death for the salvation of men.

Is the Holy Spirit the personfication of God’s power?

Is the Holy Spirit a force? Or is the Holy Spirit a personal being and a member of the Triune Godhead with the same eternal existence as God the Father and God the Son?

The Holy Spirit is the effective agent through which God works in this world. The Holy Spirit can accurately be described as that which accomplishes the will of God on earth. Some have concluded from this that the Spirit is a force and a personification of the power of God.

The term “person” is not being used to mean a human being. The question is not if the Holy Spirit is human. Person is used to describe a personal being, an entity with intellect, will and emotion. In contrast to a person is force or energy which are impersonal. Gravity is a force, with no ability to think, no feelings about what it is doing and ability to determine when it will and will not act.

The Holy Spirit is not a force. The Holy Spirit is not a personification of God’s power in this world. The Holy Spirit is a person, the third person of the Trinity.

The Holy Spirit has a name, a name in which others act. Forces are named, but no one acts in that name of that force. None declare, “In the name of magnetism I christen this boat”, nor do any announce “By the power of electricity I declare you man and wife.” The Holy Spirit is a named entity under whose authority and in whose name Christian’s are commanded to act. “Baptizing them in the name of Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 28:19)

The Holy Spirit has emotions. The Spirit of God can be grieved. “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.” (Ephesians 4:30) A force has no feelings. Gravity is not disappointed when a man barely escapes falling.

The Holy Spirit has a will. He makes decisions and acts according to His purposes. Friction does not decide to make the road more slippery for one car and less slippery for another. Forces operate according to the laws of physics and the purposes of a person guiding those forces. The Holy Spirit acts according to His own will. “But all these (spiritual gifts) worketh that selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He wills.” (1 Corinthians 12:11)

The Holy Spirit has intellect and understanding. Air resistance does not increase as a car accelerates because it understands velocity and aerodynamics. All forces are dumb having no understanding of the their own operation nor the world around them. The ability to make decisions indicates intellect. The Bible speaks of the “mind of the Spirit”. The Holy Spirit examines and knows the deep wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 2:10-11) The Holy Spirit understands the will of God (Romans 8:26-27).

The Holy Spirit has all the attributes of a personal entity. He is a member of the Triune Godhead. He is as much God as the Father and the Son. He possesses all the perfections of God. The Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force. He is the God of the Bible.