Summary: All truth about God must be revealed by God – and can only be known by a person’s heart
"The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God" (1Cor. 2:11). Without the present illumination of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God must remain a dead letter to every man, no matter how intelligent or well-educated he may be. The things of God "are spiritually discerned" (2:14), and therefore "the natural man receiveth them not . . . but God reveals them unto us by his Spirit" (2:14,2:I0), This is telling us in the plainest terms that it is just as essential for the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth of Scripture to the reader today as it was necessary for Him to inspire the writers thereof in their day, For without the same inspiration and power of the Holy Spirit, it is no more possible for man in any age to experience the reality that is promised in Scripture, than it would have been possible for "holy men of God" to write the Scriptures without being "moved by the Holy Ghost" (2Pet. I:21). Therefore to say that because we now have all the writings of Scripture complete we no longer need the miraculous inspiration of the Spirit among men as in former days, is a degree of blindness as great as any that can be charged upon the scribes and Pharisees. Nor can we possibly escape their same errors; for in denying the present inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we have made Scripture the province of the letter-learned scribe. The Holy Scriptures are an infallible history of God's dealings with men, and also an infallible guide for the seeking heart to that salvation which a Holy God offers to sinners. But the Scriptures themselves can go no further than to direct men to a relationship with God which only the Holy Spirit can give, since there is a vast difference between the Holy Spirit's actual workings in the heart of man, and reports about these workings. This is plain from the words of our Lord, "When the Comforter is come, He will guide you into all truth, for he shall take of mine and show it unto You; and he shall teach you all things" (John L6:13, l5). Therefore the Scriptures should only be read in an attitude of prayer, trusting to the inward working of the Holy Spirit to make their truths a living reality within us. Jesus Christ, who is the one and only Savior of mankind, said, "I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me" (john 14:6). What a delusion, however, for any man to think that he has this life from God and is on this straight and narrow way, simply because he makes a mental assent to these words or preaches eloquently in their favor. "I know you not" (Matt .7:23), says Christ to those who have not been born through this seed of the Word being brought to life within them by the Holy Spirit. Since a birth is only the beginning of life, the Word of God through which we are begotten becomes the necessary food that nourishes the Christian. Even so the Holy Spirit must continue His work within those who are born of the Spirit, illuminating and applying the Word to men's hearts for Christian growth. Christ's words to Nicodemus tell us plainly that none may have eternal life except those who are born from above. This is a full proof that the continual inspiration of the Holy Spirit is essential; for we are born of the Spirit to the end that we might live and walk in the Spirit. "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Gal. 5:25), wrote Paul, "for as many as are led of the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Rom. B:I4). Are we not here plainly taught that to be led of the Spirit is just as vital as to be born of the Spirit? Therefore the necessity of a continual inspiration by the Holy Spirit, as the only possible power and preservation of a divine life in man, stands upon the same ground as the new birth. Poor and miserable is the man who strives with dl the sophistry of human wit and learning to be delivered from the immediate, continual operation and government of the Spirit of God. He does not consider that where God is not, there is the Devil; and where the Spirit rules not, there all is the work of the flesh, though nothing be talked of but spiritual and Christian matters. I say talked of for the best ability of the natural man can go no further than talk and notions and opinions about Scripture words and doctrines. In these he may be a great scholar, an acute teacher, a dramatic orator, a moving preacher, and know everything of Scripture except the Spirit and power. How much is it to be lamented that from one end of learned Christendom to the other little is thought of as the true and proper means of attaining divine knowledge, but that which every natural, selfish, proud, vain-glorious worldly man can do. The scriptures are studied much as the arts and sciences, as though a learned comprehension of doctrines is everything, and the present inspiration of the Holy Spirit is nothing. Where is the divinity student who was ever taught to think of partaking of the light of the gospel in any other way than by doing with the Scriptures that which he does with pagan writers, whether poets, orators, or comedians: namely, exercise his logic, rhetoric, and critical skill in anaIyzing and expounding upon them? Having done these things, he is thought by himself and often by others to have a sufficiency of divine apostolic knowledge. So that there are Christian leaders in abundance who have become experts in the doctrine of the Holy Spirit without experiencing His leading and power in their lives. What wonder, then, if it should sometimes happen that the very same vain and corrupt natural writing abilities that raise one man to be a poet laureate should set another in a divinity chair. Paul said that he determined not to preach with the wisdom of human learning and skill or oratory; yet this same natural wisdom is the chief object of Christian circles, especially by those who seek positions of leadership in the church. And the very "demonstration and power of the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor. 2:4) which Paul said made his preaching effective is not only uncultivated and unknown by pastors and teachers, but more lamentable, those who claim to stand the most strongly for the truth of all that Paul wrote, deny and decry any thought of a manifestation of this power such as he experienced in his day. Need any more than this be known to explain why the Church of Christ today is in a fallen and apostate condition? Paul said, "My preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power; that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God" (1 Cor. 2:4). Who then could be a greater enemy of the gospel than those leaders and shepherds of the flock, who write and preach against the manifest power of the Holy Spirit as if it were as much to be avoided in our day as Paul said it was vital in his own. For without this continual inspiration and powerful working of the Spirit, we are left, as Paul said, to a faith that stands upon conflicting opinions about the letter of Scriptural zealously interpreted by man's own wisdom. Indeed, the diligent proclamation of the gospel has become just so much vanity of words, unless the Holy Spirit is presently manifesting the reality of that Christianity to which the New Testament bears such full witness. This failure to look solely to the inward illumination of the Holy Spirit has left the Church in weakness and confusion. Many who most fervently summon their logic and reason to contend that the Scriptures give a true account of the miraculous works of God in the days of the holy apostles, use the same natural reasoning powers in an attempt to prove from Scripture a denial of the miraculous power of God in the present day. Should not the Church rather tremble at the apostles warning? "Beware lest that also come upon you which was spoken of by the prophets, saying, Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish, for I work a work in your day, which ye will in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you" (Acts 13:40-41)! The fruits of the spirit, so often mentioned in Scripture, are not things different or separate from the Spirit; and if the Spirit be not dwelling and working in us. His fruits must be as absent from us as He is. If there is not granted by God a divine encounter and the inner realization that the fruits and gifts of the Spirit proceed from His present workings in our hearts, then how could we know that they are of the Spirit? For the fruits of the Spirit are living, and can only be living in us as the Spirit manifests Himself through us. And since the "manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit thereby'' (1 Cor. 12:7), how can any deny such present workings of the Holy Spirit in the church, unless they also deny His presence? "Hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us" (1 John 4:13). Here is a sure statement that there is no higher proof of our being indwelt by the risen Christ than the inward working in our hearts and lives of His Holy Spirit as a present reality which can be recognized by every child of God. For John was not inspired to write, "Hereby you will know that you are saved, because these words on the page tell you so"-although it is our faith in these promises of God that brings us into the gospel kingdom. But John was inspired to hold out to every believer the promise of that witness of the spirit in the heart which he himself had from God. Thereby we receive that same conscious assurance that John's words are inspired by the spirit which he had when he was moved by the Holy Spirit to write them. Thus the witness that we are the sons of God comes not from just the truth of Scripture, which we believe; but from a present reality of the indwelling Spirit, of which it can be said, "he that believeth on the Son of God has the witness in himself" (l John 5:10).