The Holy Spirit and Scripture
This is the last in a series of excerpts from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” published by the MBC’s High Street Press (visit highstreet.press).
The Holy Spirit is the primary agent through whom the Scriptures came to us. He superintended the thoughts and words of the prophets and apostles so that what they wrote were the very words of God.
In a previous column, we looked at 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and 2 Peter 1:20-21. These two passages are key to our understanding of the Bible as the breathed-out Word of God given to men directed by the Holy Spirit.
But in addition to these verses, the Bible reveals other ways the Holy Spirit works in concert with the Father and the Son to confirm biblical truths. Here are just a few examples:
Ezekiel 2:1-2 – “He [the Lord] said to me, ‘Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak with you.’ As he spoke to me, the Spirit entered me and set me on my feet, and I listened to the one who was speaking to me.”
The same Spirit of God that energizes the chariot wheels (Ezek. 1:12, 19; 10:16-17) now enters Ezekiel and supplies the strength needed to carry out his prophetic ministry. This same Spirit superintends the prophet’s words as they are recorded in the book bearing his name.
The Spirit appears along with “the likeness of the Lord’s glory” (1:28). Perhaps this is a rare vision of the preincarnate Christ. Or, at the very least, it’s a veiled view of Yahweh on His heavenly throne.
Matthew 10:19-20 – Jesus tells His apostles, “But when they hand you over, don’t worry about how or what you are to speak. For you will be given what to say at that hour, because it isn’t you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father is speaking through you.”
As Jesus braces His apostles for the world’s hatred and persecution, He assures them that “the Spirit of your Father” will give them the words to speak. And the Spirit does just that as He indwells them (John 14:17), fills them (Acts 4:8), and testifies about Jesus through them (John 15:26-27).
John 16:13-15 – Jesus assures His followers, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. For he will not speak on his own, but he will speak whatever he hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything the Father has is mine. This is why I told you that he takes from what is mine and will declare it to you.”
Here, we see the Holy Spirit working in perfect harmony with the Father and the Son to guide Jesus’ followers so that their words are the very words of God. The CSB Study Bible notes, “The Spirit’s ministry of guiding Jesus’s followers into all the truth will fulfill the psalmists’ longing for divine guidance (Ps. 25:4-5; 43:3; 86:11; 143:10). Isaiah recounted how God led his people in the wilderness by the Holy Spirit (Isa. 63:14) and predicted God’s renewed guidance in the future (Isa. 43:19).”
Hebrews 3:7-11 – “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers tested me, tried me, and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked to anger with that generation and said, ‘They always go astray in their hearts, and they have not known my ways.’ So I swore in my anger, ‘They will not enter my rest.’”
The writer of Hebrews quotes from Psalm 95 and attributes the words to the Holy Spirit. Together, the psalmist and the voice of Yahweh make it clear that if the punishment for disobedience of the law was severe, then the penalty for rejection of the gospel would be far worse.
The Bible we hold in our hands is a gift from the triune God. It is special revelation from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, telling us who they are, who we are, what’s wrong with the world, and what God has done, is doing, and will do about it. Where the Bible speaks, God speaks. And there is more.
While the Bible was completed some two thousand years ago and survives in thousands of well-preserved manuscript copies, we may take comfort in knowing that the Bible is not merely a collection of fragile historical documents kept in climate-controlled archives. It is “living and active” (Heb. 4:12).
Think about it: Even though the last of the Scriptures was committed to writing nearly two thousand years ago, the God who breathed out His Word continues to speak to us through it.
His Word guides us, convicts us of sin, comforts us, grounds the truth in history, warns us, points us to Jesus, and tells us how the world ends. No other book makes the claims of the Bible, and no other book – not the Qur’an, the Book of Mormon, or any other allegedly inspired writings – can stand the tests of history, archaeology, textual criticism, prophetic fulfillment, or the power to change human hearts as does the Bible.
God has revealed Himself to all people in creation and conscience. What’s more, the triune Godhead has collaborated to deliver a love letter to humanity through the miracle of the Word of God.
This concludes our series of columns on the Trinity.