Summary: A sermon on the role of the Holy Spirit in the Bible (Material taken from Dr. Jack Cottrell's boo, Power From On High, and The Holy Spirit: A Biblical Study)
Three sons left home, went out on their own and prospered. Getting back together, they discussed the gifts they were able to give their elderly mother. The first said, "I built a big house for our mother." The second said, "I sent her a Mercedes with a driver." The third smiled and said, "I’ve got you both beat. You remember how mom enjoyed reading the Bible? And you know she can’t see very well. So I sent her a remarkable parrot that recites the entire Bible. It took elders in the church 12 years to teach him. He’s one of a kind. Mama just has to name the chapter and verse, and the parrot recites it." Soon thereafter, mom sent out her letters of thanks: "Milton," she wrote one son, "The house you built is so huge. I live in only one room, but I have to clean the whole house." "Gerald," she wrote to another, "I am too old to travel. I stay most of the time at home, so I rarely use the Mercedes. And the driver is so rude!" "Dearest Donald," she wrote to her third son, "You have the good sense to know what your mother likes. The chicken was delicious."
Last time we talked about the Holy Spirit as a Divine Person.
We can divide the work of the Spirit into two main categories. 1) He gives us knowledge 2) He gives us power. It is important that we keep these two aspects distinct.
What is the most important thing the Holy Spirit has ever done for us? He gave us the Bible
40 men in different countries, writing in different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek), produced the 66 books of the Bible over a period of some 1,600 years. Yet it is clearly more than a human document, more than religious literature. No man, or group of men could have, by any possibility, produced it merely by human effort. Everything they wrote was produced under the immediate influence of God himself, in the person of the Holy Spirit.
In a real sense the Holy Spirit is the author of the Bible; the Bible is His gift to us.
Revelation and inspiration
Both of these are involved in God’s communication with us. On a human level communication is the process of transferring a thought or concept from one person’s mind to the mind of another. We can do this through such means as facial expressions, gestures, or words. This is not as easy as it might seem. We can think of all kinds of scenarios where this communication is crucial, such as being warned by someone about a potential danger or being directed by a doctor through a prescribed treatment program. Unfortunately, human communication is often hindered or corrupted by such things as faulty memories, incomplete understanding, and poor choice of words. We are finite creatures; and our powers of communication are finite.
One of the most wondrous things is the fact that the Creator of the universe, God himself, has determined to communicate with us, his creatures! He desires to share his very thoughts with us! This is an awesome concept in itself, but given our sinful situation it becomes a matter of eternal consequence. Among other things, God must communicate with us to tell us how to be saved from our sin. This is a big part of the Bible.
In view of our desperate need to hear God’s message to us, in view of God’s choice to use humans to deliver this message, and in view of the potential problems involved in the communication process, how did God ensure that what the biblical writers documented for us is what he himself wanted us to hear?
This is where the Spirit’s work of revelation and inspiration enter the picture. The Spirit makes sure that the Bible contains all the information we need for godliness and salvation, and that it is communicated to us in a form that is complete and free from error.
A large part of the biblical material was revealed directly to human authors by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is true of anything in Scripture that could not have been known by any human being, such as the account of creation in Genesis 1. It is also true of any prophecy of a future event planned or foreknown by God, such as Isaiah 53. On the other hand, other parts of the Bible are not the result of revelation but were known to the writers from their own experiences, such as Acts 21:1-16 (much of this section is Luke’s own account of where they were going and what they were doing- note Luke’s “we”) and Romans 16:1-23 (Paul’s personal greetings to people in Rome). Some parts may be a combination of both divine revelation and human sentiments (the Psalms, hard to tell where the Psalmists are speaking from their own emotions or by the power of the Holy Spirit).