The Spirit and the Word



In the previous meditation we saw that there is unity between the Spirit of God and the truth of God. When Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to his faithful disciples he said:

John 14:16, 17 – ‘I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth’.

John 14:26 – ‘the Holy Spirit ... will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you.’

John 15:26 – ‘the Spirit of truth ...will testify about me.’

John 16:13, 14 – ‘when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth ... He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.’

From Jesus’ teaching we learn that:

The Holy Spirit is ‘the Spirit of truth’ who guides us into all truth.

Specifically, the Holy Spirit makes the truth about Jesus Christ known to us, including the things that Jesus taught.

The apostles also testify to this unity of Spirit of God and the truth or word of God:

Peter teaches us that it was the Holy Spirit who inspired and controlled the men whom God entrusted with the proclamation and recording of his Word (that we know now as the Old Testament):

‘... you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit’ – 2Peter 1:20, 21.

‘...the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow’ – 1Peter 1:10,11.

Paul, in a lengthy statement, reminds believers that:

There is no way that left to ourselves we could understand, or even imagine, the truth about God’s eternal purpose that he accomplished in and through Jesus Christ. But ‘God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God ... no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have ... received ... the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us ... The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them ... But we have the mind of Christ’ – 1Corinthians 2:6 – 16.

Similarly, Paul prayed that God, through his Spirit, would enable and empower us to understand and know the otherwise incomprehensible greatness of the love of Christ for us:

‘I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power ... to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge ...’ – Ephesians 3:14 – 19.

Paul also taught a direct unity of the Spirit and the Word in his description of the ‘whole armour of God’ which is our protection against the devil’s attacks:

‘Take ... the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God’ – Ephesians 6:17.

(Note that word translated ‘sword’ – machaira – does not refer to the large sword used in for proactive, aggressive attack, but to a short sword, more like a large dagger, used in self-defence when cornered by the enemy – in the way Jesus used the Scripture when pressured by the devil – Matthew 4.)

This synergy and unity between the Spirit of God and the word of God is also seen by comparing Ephesians 5:18 – 21 and Colossians 3:16 – 17 – where we learn that being filled with the Spirit and letting the word of Christ dwell in us richly produce similar results.

The Spirit and the word are not alternative options, not two different ways of knowing God. Rather, the Spirit works in, through and with the word of God. Without the Spirit we cannot understand the Scripture, the word of God. Without the Spirit we will never know God's truth.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2024