On seeing this series of posts (linked through my Facebook account), a childhood friend privately advised caution in the way I proceed. His concern, in short, was that my pursuit of the way the Spirit works might cause some folks who are opposed to my perceptions to overstate their objections, blaspheme and be lost.
His concern is genuine, and I share it.
So let me say this, and be as clear and loving as I know how to be:
If you believe that the Holy Spirit works through the written word of God, you go right on believing it. It’s true. He inspired it. He reveals God through it. He tells the gospel of Jesus Christ with it. As I just wrote in a comment on the previous post, scripture is the tangible way we have been given to know of God.
If you believe that the Holy Spirit works ONLY through the written word of God, I would only ask that you be open to the other ways and possibilities described in scripture. I have only described what I find to be revealed there in these posts. I have not quoted other sources or supposed authorities or recounted personal experiences of myself or others in support of the conclusions I’ve drawn.
Don’t let what others have written or taught you personally on the matter limit your perception of the Spirit’s power, or God’s giving of it. Don’t trust what men write – not even what I write. Go to scripture. Read it for yourself. Draw your own conclusions. Prove all things. Hold fast what’s good.
Here’s why I believe the Holy Spirit – fully empowered by our permission as well as God’s gift in our lives – matters.
There are too many instances given in scripture in which the Holy Spirit is spoken of as being given to believers, dwelling within them, giving them gifts, acting with God’s purpose and glory, benefiting His children, propelling His gospel, glorifying the Christ … which simply cannot be fully done by written scripture alone.
A commenter at New Wineskins once observed, “If the Holy Spirit still dwells within believers, why do we not all believe the same thing?”
I should have answered, “If the word alone is perfect, why do we not all believe the same thing?”
The answer for both questions is the same: because we believers do not believe to the extent that we are willing to fully turn our lives over to Christ, permit the Spirit to say what He says and do what He does through us or to help us understand completely and clearly what is written. We are satisfied to see in part and know in part, as in a mirror, dimly … and to confidently declare that our vision and knowledge is as good as face-to-face.
I am no more exempted from this judgment that anyone else, but I am convinced that grace still covers my insufficiency. That, however, is no excuse for remaining indolent, arrogant, selfish or deluded about our own competence. Believers have been promised and given a Holy Spirit for the asking who can draw us closer to God in Christ if we’re willing.
If we limit God’s action in our lives to leaning on our own understanding of His will in His word, we are only half-armed for the battle against sin and for the cross.
Just because your Bible may have a paragraph break after Paul’s description of the full armor in Ephesians 6:10-17 doesn’t mean his thought ends there. It continues:
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. ~ Ephesians 6:18-20, my emphasis
So I’ll close out this part of the study with an index of where I began it years ago, asking questions and positing answers. I’ll encourage you to begin at the beginning and end at the end, because you’ll find the Spirit in the first sentences of scripture, and closing them out as well. Ask questions. Ask more and different questions than I did. Ask God for answers to them.
His Holy Spirit, Part I
His Holy Spirit, Part II
His Holy Spirit, Part III
His Holy Spirit, Part IV
His Holy Spirit, Part V
His Holy Spirit, Part VI
His Holy Spirit, Part VII
His Holy Spirit, Part VIII