The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit (Part Four)

dscn00222 Peter 1:20-21

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (NIV).

Next, we want to think about the activity of the Holy Spirit of God in giving us the written message, the Holy Scriptures. As we begin, it is wise to state that we will encounter mystery here. The Spirit does not answer all our questions in the Bible. In it he gives us true truth, though not exhaustive truth. But though we cannot know fully, we have all we need to know. Consider one illustration. The games of the great chess grandmasters have been preserved for people to enjoy and study. If you have some understanding of chess, you can replay them and grasp to some degree how they achieved victory. But sometimes it is beyond the comprehension of most of us how they could discern the possibilities in a position and bring out its potential through a sequence of many moves. Watch the movie, Searching for Bobby Fischer, if you want to see an example of this. In a similar way, when we come to the Holy Spirit and the Holy Scriptures, we can learn what he has done, but he has not made known the full process of how the Scriptures were written. We should stop where the Scriptures stop. Be content that the Spirit knows, even though you do not!

The Scriptures are a joint product of the Holy Spirit and people. We see this divine-human interaction in many areas of Biblical teaching:

  • Christ has two natures (one divine and one human) in his one person. Both are clearly attested in the Scriptures, though the exact nature of the interaction is beyond our understanding.
  • God’s sovereignty interacts with human responsibility in salvation. God clearly chooses people to salvation, yet everyone who is saved repents and believes.
  • The work of evangelism is another divine-human interaction. Our job is to tell others the good news, but unless the Holy Spirit regenerates, all our evangelistic efforts fail.
  • In the Christian life, the whole process of growth in grace involves divine-human interaction.

Each of these divine-human interactions varies in different ways. But the product of the Scriptures is closer in kind to the relationship between Christ’s two natures than the others, all of which involve human sin.

The apostolic teaching is that “men spoke from God” or “holy men of God spoke”, as the NKJV reads following the textual variant. In either case, we are clearly taught the following:

  • In some way, the Scriptures came through human instrumentality – “men spoke”. We see this same assertion made in other places: David (Luke 20:42; Acts 2:34), Isaiah (John 12:39), Joel (Acts 2:16), and “the word of the prophets” with Amos in mind (Acts 15:15). Compare also Matthew 13:14; 15:7; 22:43; Mark 12:36.
  • Yet as these men spoke, God was speaking through them (Matthew 2:17; 3:3; 13:35; 21:4; Acts 4:25).
  • We can also see this in the differences of style among the various human writers. Ezekiel does not sound the same as Moses, nor does Paul sound like John. Yet in all we read the same consistent teaching, sense the same heart of the master author, and are presented with the same zeal for God’s glory in the face of Christ. And all this in about forty human writers over the space of 1600 years!

The observable facts of Scripture attest to this divine-human interaction. This should lead us to worship the Lord. Who are you, Almighty God, that you can work in human hearts in such a magnificent way?” And the Spirit uses the Scriptures to change us!

Grace and peace, David