Study 1: God
The Existence of God | The Personality of God | God's Name and Character | The Angels | Digressions ("God Is A Spirit", The Use of God's Name, God Manifestation) | Questions
Digression 1: "God is a Spirit" (John 4:24)
In Study 2 we define more precisely what God's Spirit is. We can summarize the reasoning presented there by saying that 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 His personality.
God is described as being many things, e.g.
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. He is even described as creating the spirit (Amos 4:13A.V.margin). To say that God is His Spirit in a purely literal sense is a tautology - it effectively denies the existence of God.
Examples of God directing His Spirit are numerous, showing the separation of God and His Spirit:
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. If this were true, and if God is supposed to be non-personal, then it would follow that Jesus was and is not a literal being.
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 has a physical location in Heaven (Ecc.5:2; Matt.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.3:21; 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.