Did Grace and the Holy Spirit exist before the birth of Jesus?

The hymn O Holy Night has the line, “'Til He appeared and the soul felt it’s worth.” I found that line perfectly in keeping with what the nuns taught me, that Grace entered the world when Jesus was born and, prior to that, even the best Jews were destined to spend their eternities in Limbo, as nice as Heaven but without the Presence of God.

Later, mine goodwife* explained Pentecost as the Holy Spirit 's introduction. I have no idea where she got that, but she had loads of Bible knowledge so I smiled and nodded.

So please help out this poor, Fallen Catholic and show me where I’m right of wrong.

    • Blame her ancestors who basically came over shortly after the Pilgrims, not to be confused with her uncle whose ancestors did. Let’s just say the Miles Standish line did not age well.

AIUI, Holy Spirit always preexisted with/as God in eternity prior. Jesus being born did not change or affect that.

In the Christian tradition, just as Jesus came to Earth at a specific time for a specific purpose, The Holy Spirit came to Earth as Jesus departed to provide counsel (and fortitude and the other ten gifts of the Spirit).
As a manifestation of the Triune God, the Spirit has been around as long as the Father and the Son.

Grace (in the current use of the term) s the presence of God in anyone’s life. As such, it is an aspect of God that has been around forever, Adam and Eve speaking with God in the Garden, God speaking to Moses, God speaking to Nathan and David and Elijah and Isaiah and so forth. The word Grace only began to be used among the Christians. so it does not show up much in the Hebrew Scriptures.

To flesh out a little what others have said about the Holy Ghost:

Each Personage of the Trinity has had a “dispensation,” or period of time where God primarily dealt with people through one specific aspect of the Trinity. All of Old Testament times was the dispensation of God the Father. Jesus’ time on earth was the dispensation of God the Son. Pentecost marked the beginning of the dispensation of God the Spirit.

However, God did, and does, sometimes manifest Himself or deal with people in ways other than whatever the “primary” aspect of the Trinity is at the time.

“For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (II Peter 1:21). Thus we see that the Holy Ghost was active to some extent during Old Testament times.

As far as the righteous Jews of the Old Testament, the Bible is very clear that (A), they had faith in God, and (B) that because of that faith, God considered them to be righteous, and thus fit to enter Heaven. That’s the whole point of Hebrews chapter 11.

“And he [Abraham] believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6).

“For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” Romans 4:3.

There is no such thing as Limbo. That’s a Catholic invention. Even before Jesus’ crucifixion, people went to either Heaven or Hell. The story in Luke 16:19-31 (not a parable, but a true story) of the rich man and Lazarus makes that abundantly clear.

I thought the only way to Heaven was through God’s grace and the only way to that is through Jesus? A quick Google search seems to point to John 14:6, “no one comes to the Father except through Me.” Just curious – how did anyone get to Heaven before Jesus offered salvation?

Also, Merry Christmas!

What an interesting discussion. Thank you.

Also keep in mind that all three Persons of the Trinity are eternal, and thus the word “before” is meaningless with reference to them. How did Elijah go to Heaven? By the grace bestowed by Jesus’ sacrifice. The fact that, in Earthy time, Elijah left this world centuries or millennia before Jesus was born is irrelevant.

They didn’t. That’s the whole point of the Jesus story.

At the Final Judgement they will need to accept and believe that Jesus truly is the Son of God and that this belief is the only Way to everlasting salvation.

And now we did who didn’t bother to read my earlier post.

The Tabernacle, the animal sacrifices, etc. were all shadows, or foreshadowings, of what was to come. The book of Hebrews goes into considerable detail on this point.

But because the righteous Jews had faith (“But without faith it is impossible to please [God]” – Hebrews 11:6a), God counted them as “honorary Christians,” for lack of a better term, and took them to Heaven when they died.

“The just shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4b).

“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Romans 3:8).

People who lived and died before Jesus came to earth went to Heaven precisely because – and only because – they had faith in God’s promises. This faith showed itself by their willingness to obey God’s commands. “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works” (James 2:17, 18).

Oh look, it’s the one true and definitive theology. My mistake.

It seems like you and Flyer are saying conflicting things.

Anyway, where were they in the meantime? Were they in hell until Jesus came along?

Flyer, you seem to be saying that faith in God is sufficient, not accepting Jesus as your savior. That seems to be a unique take, from what I understand. Or, was faith sufficient before Jesus, but after He came along, you had to have faith and also accept Jesus as your savior?

It’s my thread and I set some of the groundrules. Therefore,** IOk1**, I’d appreciate no snark. It’s unbecoming on Christmas.

And FTR, please note I received this part of my theological training from crabby, old, Dominican nuns, hardly highly educated in the finer points of theology. And I have no idea where my wife got her ideas, but she started out as a Methodist. You know, a heretic. :wink:

Just as dispensations are an invention of Rapturists such as Edward Irving and John Darby. :slight_smile:

Limbo was, indeed, a Catholic invention. It was an effort to deal with the words in Scripture that say that all salvation can come only through Jesus without condemning young children and righteous pagans to hell–a rather cruel action by God.

The problem of a too literal reading of certain passages of scripture is that one may come away with the idea that God has condemned billions of people to hell for the simple act, outside their control, of being born at the wrong time or the wrong place. Christians have wrestled with that issue for much of history, with different proposals being advanced. (I will not impose my own beliefs on this thread.)

(Not sure where the parable of Lazarus and Dives stopped being a parable.) :dubious:

A nuclear family may consist of father, mother, and son. The Holy Trinity is father, son, and ghost. Jehovah the father, in a spate of domestic violence, obviously killed the cosmic mother, who is now only a ghost. And since all are facets of the same Godhood, the father fucked himself as the mother and produced a son who fucked his mother to be born. Xianity is among the most pervo of faiths. Jove and the swan have nothing on Jehovah and the ghost.

There’s another option, though bestial. A Lutheran cemetery on the Mendocino coast is maintained and weeded by Holy Goats. Change the realized Trinity to Father, Son, and Holy Goats. They’ll be frisky. Look into their goatish eyes…

RioRico, there might have been something humorous in that post, (much like listening to a Trump speech), but it added nothing to the thread and is sufficiently obnoxious that it could be regarded as trolling. Please refrain from this sort of thing in the future.

Also note that, while the Catholic Church did once teach the existence of Limbo, it doesn’t any more. The current Catholic position is basically that Limbo might exist, but we don’t know, but God finds some way or another to be just, kind, and merciful.

So, I’m still not sure what the answer to the question posed in the OP is. Can someone help a guy out? Is it just, we don’t know? Or, depends on which version of Christianity? Something else?

Seems pretty important, within the context of the Christian religions anyway.

Jeeze, don’t ask me. :wink: I’m still.not convinced that Christianity isn’t polytheistic, though late Doper Polycarp made a gallant effort to explain the Trinity years ago.

Sorry, trolling was not my intent, merely poking roughly at belief. How can grace or holy ghosts be verifiably observed to exist before or after a mythical event of celestial incest? As Heinlein said, one person’s theology is another’s belly laugh. But I’ll calm down.