Summary: God’s Spirit is a personality – a member of the Godhead – who dwells inside the heart of every faithful Christian
A DISTINCTION BETWEEN GOD’S WORD AND GOD’S SPIRIT
As we have shown in previous lessons, God’s Spirit is a distinct personality and a member of the Godhead who dwells in the lives of faithful Christians. He is not an impersonal force or thing. As we’ve already said in a previous lesson, the word Holy Ghost has tainted our perception and understanding.
I give you these two fictional stories to prompt our thinking today: A paramedic was being interviewed by a local TV reporter. The host asked, “What was your most challenging and unusual 911 call?” The paramedic said, “It happened recently. We got a call from a very large church a few Sundays ago. One of the ushers was franticly concerned about an elderly man who had passed out in a pew and appeared to be dead. The usher couldn’t find a pulse and it appeared that the man wasn’t breathing.” The host then asked, “What was so unusual and demanding about this particular call?” The paramedic responded, “We carried out four guys before we found the one who was dead.”
The second story involves a lady who has just been stopped by a police officer. The officer approaches her car and asks her to step out and put her hands on the roof of the car and not move. She was incensed by that request and starts belittling police for not being more active in catching rapists and thieves. She demanded to know why she was being treated like this and the officer said “when I saw another driver cut in front of you I saw you make an obscene gesture and heard you shout a few profanities. And when I saw your bumper sticker which reads, “God loves you and I love you” I assumed this car had been stolen.”
God’s Spirit and God’s Word are not always apparent in the lives of believers. Too often, we use the Holy Spirit as an energy boost much like some use an energy drink. But God’s Spirit is more than an energy boost – He actually interprets what we are feeling and thinking and presents those feelings and thoughts to God, even when we are unable to formulate them in our thoughts and prayers. We can relate to God’s Spirit … cooperate with Him … and make ourselves available to Him.
We need to remember that God’s Spirit is a personality – a member of the Godhead – who dwells inside the heart of every faithful Christian. And that, God’s Word is His truth, revealed to mankind and is an instrument that the Holy Spirit employs. And, Garth Black says, “The instrument should not be mistaken for the agent. ”
Although the Holy Spirit is the source of God’s Word, there is a difference between God’s Spirit and God’s Word. God’s Spirit uses the written Word to instruct and sanctify Christians and enables them to bear the fruit of the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit uses the Word to convert nonbelievers to Christ and He also uses the Word to sanctify those who have believed. At times it may be difficult to distinguish between the two – they may seem inseparable.
In John 3:5-8 ESV, we find these words of Jesus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again. The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” This passage has been debated almost endlessly which has cast a mysterious shadow over it. There are at least 7 different explanations and each has some plausibility. However, the birth “of water” surely refers to baptism - to which Nicodemus and all Jerusalem had been introduced to by John the Baptist. The birth is further said to be “of the Spirit,” surely referring to the begetting of new life through the gospel message .
As we mentioned last week, we are saved by the Spirit. Titus 3:5 ESV states, “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”
And James 1:21 ESV reminds us that the Word is important. It says, “Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
There are many other passages that support the idea of both the Spirit and the Word working in tandem to both convert and convict people. God’s Spirit guides and leads us through God’s Word. The truths of God’s Word convince people that they cannot save themselves and that they are in need of a Savior.