Blogging the Institutes–1.9.1–The Spirit Speaks Through the Word, Not Apart From It

“Blogging the Institutes” is my on-going attempt to paraphrase John Calvin’s work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. You can find out more about the series in the Introduction. For all the posts in this series, check out the Master List

The Spirit Speaks Through the Word, Not Apart From It

Some people reject Scripture in favor of some other way of connecting with God. I don’t just call them wrong; I call them insane! Certain giddy people have come on the scene and make a big deal about the Holy Spirit. But they end up pitting the Spirit against the Scriptures and reject all readings of Scripture. They criticize those who delight in reading Scripture by calling Scripture the “dead letter.” I want them to answer this question, however: “What ‘spirit’ inspires them to demean the Scriptures?” If they answer that it is the Spirit of Christ, they are exceedingly ridiculous. They must admit that the apostles and other believers in the early church were not illuminated by any other Spirit, except the Spirit of Christ. None of them despised the Scriptures. In fact, they showed great reverence for them.

Indeed, it was foretold by the prophet Isaiah: “ ‘As for Me, this is My covenant with them,’ says the Lord: ‘My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring’s offspring,’ says the Lord, ‘from now and forever.’” (59:11). Isaiah shows that the people of God would not only be ruled by the Spirit but also the Word. It is Word and Spirit together. Therefore, these false teachers tear apart what God has joined together. Furthermore, even though the apostle Paul was carried up to the third heaven in a vision, he still profited spiritually from the Law and the Prophets. He also exhorts Timothy to give attention to the reading of Scripture (1 Timothy 4:13). Paul’s words concerning Scripture must be remembers: Scripture is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Therefore, it is devilish to claim that Scripture plays only a temporary and transient role in the formation of God’s people. Again, I want those people to tell them whether they have taken in any other “spirit” than the Spirit which Christ promised to His disciples. Though their foolishness is extreme, it will barely hold up in scrutiny. But what kind of Spirit did our Savior promise to send us? A Spirit who would not speak for Himself, but only the truth which He would speak through the Word (John 16:13). Therefore, the Holy Spirit doesn’t invent new doctrines or give us new truths which will lead us away from the gospel, but rather, He seals upon our minds the very doctrine which is taught in Scripture.


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