“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.
Spirit in the Word, not Against the Word
Because the Spirit speaks through the Bible, it is important that we give our due diligence to reading and hearing the Word. Reading and hearing the Word with diligence provides us with the benefits that come from God’s Holy Spirit. Now, it could be easy to think that portions of the Bible aren’t important anymore, especially now that Christ has come. Yet, the apostle Peter praises those who attentive study the teachings of the Old Testament prophets, indicating the importance of God’s Word (2 Peter 1:19). Any person who bypasses the wisdom of God’s Word and suggests another source of divine teaching proves his/her teaching is prideful and false.
Since the devil can transform himself into any angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14), how could we ever know that a “revelation” came from the Spirit unless His work is stamped with the mark of God? Thankfully, the Lord shows us the Spirit with sufficient clarity. These false teachers, then, are bent on their own destruction because they seek the “Spirit” in their own making rather than from the Lord. They argue that it is insulting to the Holy Spirit to say that He is subject to the Scripture since all things are to be subject to Him. But it is not insulting if the Scriptures give an accurate and consistent representation of the Spirit. Furthermore, if the Spirit were subject to a human being, an angel, or any other standard outside of God, then yes, the Spirit would be subordinate–that is, brought into bondage to something.
But if you see the Spirit in the Scriptures and compare Him with what He is actually like, you will find a consistent and harmonious picture. How can it be said that seeing the Spirit in the Word devalues the Spirit, when the picture is accurate and true? I do admit that seeing the Spirit in the Scriptures is a test of some kind. But it is through this very test that His majesty is confirmed. It ought to be enough for us to hear His voice in the Bible. To keep Satan from deceiving us, however, the Spirit wants us to recognize Him by the image of Himself which He has stamped on the Scriptures. The author of Scripture cannot change or change His likeness. As He appears in Scripture, so He will always be that way. There is nothing insulting about this, unless we go so far to say that the Spirit likes to degenerate or rebel against Himself.