Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The Word and the Spirit

The necessity to understand the Word and the Spirit from a biblical perspective is most necessary. Today, there is a general mis-understanding among people, as to how the Word of God and the Holy Spirit work in the church and in the world. The second question of the Westminster Larger Catechism is most instructive on this point. What does it say?

Q. 2. How does it appear that there is a God?
A. The very light of nature in man, and the works of God, declare plainly that there is a God; but his word and Spirit only do sufficiently and effectually reveal him unto men for their salvation.

This key phrase here is delightful and instructive: "his word and Spirit only do sufficiently and effectually reveal him [God] unto men for their salvation". This means that the work of the word and the Holy Spirit are inseparable; they distinct, but without division. The latter is a key theological principle. For example the Three Persons of the Trinity are distinct, but without division.
1 Corinthians 2:10 "But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God".

It is both the Word and the Spirit who reveal the truth. The truth of salvation is dependent upon both sources of revelation or should we say those of revealing power. Let us look at both aspects briefly.

1). The Word of God
A Protestant truth is that the Word of God is restricted to the written holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. The divinely inspired 66 books of the Bible. This truth alone is one that is departed from, by many. The Roman Catholic Church do not restrict the Word of God so narrowly and they permit other sources, which they claim to be the Word of God, such as their own tradition. We believe this to be false. The section of the church who have been led astray by so-called Charismatic influences, they believe that the Bible forms part of the Word of God, but that God speaks in many other ways, such as prophecies, dreams, visions, angels and such like. These supposedly, add to the way of revelation, however, this is more unstable and misleading than the Roman Catholic position. This position opens the door to widespread error.

Therefore, I contend on the basis of Scripture itself, that the written Scriptures are the only source of infallible revelation for salvation, for the church.

2. The Holy Spirit
This question two of the Catechism asserts that the "word and Spirit only do sufficiently and effectually reveal ... ". The written Scripture alone is not sufficient for revelation to man according to this question and answer. It is this part of the catechism's answer which also needs addressing. The necessity of the Holy Spirit to reveal is often a truth neglected and little spoken of. Why is that? I do not know why. Perhaps for some, it might be for fear of being unbiblical, in thinking that if one emphasises the Holy Spirit that it may appear Charismatic or for some other reason.

However, on the basis of Scripture and the historic teaching of the church, we must contend for the co-equal necessity of the work of the word and Spirit in the church. We must pray that the written word of God would be unashamedly displayed through public reading and preaching, but also that we would be pray for the help of the Holy Spirit to reveal that truth from Scripture. May our Lord help us in this pursuit by His grace.

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