Be Guided by the Holy Spirit
Be Guided by the Holy Spirit
A neglected issue in many evangelical circles is the role of the Holy Spirit in the proclamation of the Word. The Bible mentions several times that the Word of God is "alive" (Hebrews 4:12, 1 Peter 1:24). What does the Word give this life-giving power? The One who speaks through her, that is, God himself through the power of the Spirit.
When the Word of God is proclaimed and transmitted by the Spirit, the "living" aspect of the Word creates life in those who receive the Word. John Woodhouse describes the relationship between the Word and the Spirit in this way: "A biblical doctrine of the Word of God must necessarily be integrated with the doctrine of the Spirit of God, and, conversely, a biblical understanding of the Spirit of God is inseparable from the concept of the Word of God. The Word is the implement of the Spirit, and the Spirit the breath by which God speaks. "
A good example of this is Peter's preaching in the book of Acts. After being filled with the Spirit on Pentecost, Peter began to preach from the Scriptures to prove that Jesus was the Christ. What was the response to the Word preached in the power of the Spirit? Three thousand souls believed (Acts 2:41). This should not be surprising. What does the apostle Paul describe as the "sword of the Spirit?" The Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). And, who inspired the Scriptures themselves? The Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). The Word is life and the Spirit is the messenger who imparts that life to the listeners, massaging it in their hearts and empowering them to believe and obey.
Some focus only on being "led by the Spirit" and do not want the Word to stand in the way of the Spirit. This way of thinking is wrong for several reasons. First, the preacher's words come to depend on his own subjective experience with God. This does not follow the Scripture mandate of "Preach the Word" (2 Timothy 4: 2), and it can lead people down a wrong path by motivating them to seek special experiences with God apart from the guidelines of His Word. In addition, it also shows a wrong doctrine of the Spirit. It is the Spirit who enlightens us the truth of the Scriptures and shows us Christ (John 16: 13-14).
An opposite error would be to keep the truth only on an intellectual level, thinking that all that is needed is a faithful explanation of the Scriptures without the power of the Spirit to connect them with the hearts and lives of the hearers. I am not saying that the Word can be genuinely preached separate from the Spirit: that is not the idea. Isaiah 55:11 reminds us that the Word of God will achieve the purposes He has for her. We can be so focused on the intellectual aspect of preaching and studying the Scriptures that we forget our need to be men who seek His face to bring His living message to our congregation. The task of preaching is not just an academic exercise, it is also something that flows from our lives to be with the Lord.
A sailboat can be structurally reliable, incredibly useful and also fast. But it will only move when the wind blows on its sails and pushes it on the water. Similarly, the Word of God and its powerful truth can be clearly expounded, but if it is not accompanied by the stimulating power of the Spirit, the truth of the Word can be objectively heard, but lacking the power and life-giving application to our hearts.
A preacher with the heart of God will work diligently to study and proclaim the Scriptures and depend on the moving of the Spirit of God through the Word to achieve His life-giving power. We must move the candles of our preaching so that the wind of the Spirit can move and catch the candles of the Word, and thus powerfully bring His truth to the listeners.