The Holy Spirit (Part Twenty-one)

John 14:22-26; 16:12-15

In this series, we are examining briefly what the Bible teaches us about the Holy Spirit and his work. To this point, we have considered a Biblical perspective on this teaching, the Spirit’s revelation of himself in the Old Testament Scriptures, and the Spirit’s work in the inspiration of the whole Bible. What we want to look next is the ministry of the Spirit in the inspiration of the New Testament Scriptures. This subject has attained a new importance in our day.

  • It has become important in apologetics. The basis of any religion is its authority, and for Christianity, this is found in God’s Word, the Bible. In our culture, we encounter like never before non-Christian religions and many corrupted forms of Christianity (like the “prosperity gospel”). The Christian must be prepared to communicate the finality of the New Testament Scriptures.
  • It has become important in regard to the Christian life. With the decline of sound Biblical instruction, Christians have fallen into the bad practice of misusing texts, taking verses out of their grammatical and historical contexts to teach novel views. It is important that we understand the correct use of every text.

In the preceding verses, Jesus has told his disciples that he, by the Spirit, would manifest himself to his disciples but not to the world. Though this might refer in part to his post-resurrection appearances, it seems more likely that it refers to the time when the Spirit is poured out on them, because of verse twenty—on that day they would have confidence because of the “mutual indwelling”. All this causes the other Judas to ask a question. Why is the Lord going to make himself known to the disciples and not to the world? The answer to that question is that the Spirit is given to those who have a relationship with God—a relationship that is demonstrated (not caused) by love for Christ and obedience to his teaching. All of this conforms to the will of the Father who sent Christ.

But then Jesus took the opportunity to tell them about another aspect of the Spirit’s ministry. He would come, not only to produce a close relationship with God, but he would also come to cause the apostles to remember all of Christ’s teaching to them.

Consider the importance of this ministry of the Holy Spirit. As we study the God’s word, we should observe the contrast between God’s revelation of the Old and the New Testament Scriptures. In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe (Hebrews 1:1-2 NIV). The Old Testament Scriptures came to us through the prophets at many times and in various ways. As we saw, the Holy Spirit guaranteed that the written product was God’s message to us. But in the last days, God has spoken to us through his Son. The Lord Jesus came as a Prophet and Mediator far greater than Moses. He is the One whom all must listen to (Deuteronomy 18:15; Matthew 17:5). All revelation from God in the last days comes through Jesus Christ. He is the chief cornerstone of the whole temple of God (Ephesians 2:20). This gives every Christian a basic test for authority. Does this word come from Jesus Christ? We pay no attention to anyone else who claims to have received messages from God. The New Testament writings restrict us from looking anywhere other than to Old Testament Scriptures and God’s final revelation in Christ, which is written in the New Testament Scriptures.

Therefore, the church needs to be assured that we have a genuine, authentic and reliable record of the full message of Christ. The Spirit was entrusted with making this happen.

  • He made it happen by ensuring that all that is written is in full agreement with the Father’s revelation through his Son (John 16:13,15).
  • He made it happen by teaching and reminding the disciples of what Jesus taught them (14:26). Observe how careful Luke is at this point (Acts 1:1-2). Or think of how John opens the last book of the Bible (Revelation 1:1-2). Or think of how constantly Paul refers to himself as a servant or apostle of Jesus Christ as he writes his letters. Why do they do this? The simple answer is that all the New Testament revelation comes from God speaking through his Son!

Let us give thanks to God for this good ministry of the Holy Spirit! Let us read and meditate on it constantly.

Grace and peace, David

The Sword of the Spirit (Part Two)

20150523_101132Ephesians 6:17

Next, let us think about relationship between the Spirit and the word. What are some reasons the word of God is called the “sword of the Spirit”? The Holy Spirit is the author of the word. He spoke through the human writers (2 Samuel 23:2; Mark 12:36). He guided the human writers to accomplish his intended goal (2 Pt 1:20-21). The Spirit did this so that what they wrote would be the word of God. When we engage in spiritual battle, we are to take with us the word of the Almighty Holy Spirit of God. As we strike with it, he is very able to accomplish his purpose (Isaiah 55:11).

The Holy Spirit enables people to understand the word (1 Corinthians 2:10b-14). Every human heart by nature is unable to understand the truth of the Scriptures. Yes, people can comprehend what we say, but it does not convince them, it does not change their outlook. For example, someone might say, “I just don’t get it; how can the death of Jesus save anyone?” But the Spirit is given to Christ’s followers, so that we do understand (1 Corinthians 2:12). Then we accept the word and it effectively works in us. When we take the sword of the Spirit, we must rely on Christ’s power to work through the Spirit to achieve results. Don’t just post a Bible verse; pray for spiritual application. The Holy Spirit uses the word to produce spiritual results. For this reason, we must avoid overemphasizing one truth at the expense of another. Don’t rely on the Spirit without the word of God. Don’t rely on the word of God without the Spirit.

God’s word is very useful to us in our spiritual warfare. The word of God is essential in practical sanctification or Christian growth. The classic example of this is Christ’s use of the Scripture in resisting the temptations of the evil one (Matthew 4:1-11). In every situation Jesus rightly applied the word to his way of life. He lived out the word. Every Christian needs to have a large supply of ammunition from God’s word against every temptation to violate God’s commands, whether the temptations are to commit what God forbids or temptations to fail to do what God commands. A good section to put to heart is Ephesians 4:17-6:9, or in a more concise form Colossians 3:1-4:6. Read either passage many, many times and think through them until you know them well. However, the Lord intends that his entire word has a wider use in our lives (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12). The Spirit says that the word can work comprehensive changes in us, down to our thoughts and attitudes. We must see change at this inner level to realize outward change. For example, if you want to speak godly counsel, his word needs to be operating in your heart or inner person (Matthew 12:34). You must be convinced in your heart before you will truly change. This is why we must read and study and think about God’s word. In this whole study, we have been urged to put on the full armor of God. That is the goal, but if we will begin to put on one part, it might cause tremendous changes in our lives and in the churches we attend!

The word of God is essential in evangelism. The word of God is the spiritual seed used by the Holy Spirit in producing regeneration (or the new birth from above). As the Spirit works in us with the word, a change of mind and faith are given, and we turn from our rebellion against God to rely on Jesus Christ alone for salvation. Has this happened to you?

Grace and peace, David