The Holy Spirit In the Ministry of the Word
by Pastor Bob Burridge ©1990
This is a study paper originally prepared for presentation to a reformed ministers fellowship that met on September 14, 1990, at Northshore Presbyterian Church (PCA) at Pearl and 67th Streets Jacksonville, Florida. It was re-edited in April, 1995 under study-assignment by the Genevan Institute for Reformed Studies.
Section 1. The Power of the Word of God
Truth: eternal, revealed, distorted
Section 2. The Essentially Attendant Power of the Holy Spirit
1. Moral Inability
2. The work of grace
3. God's ordinary administration of the word by the Spirit
4. God's exrtaordinary administration of the word by the Spirit
Section 3. Dangers of an Unbalanced View
1. No recognition of the power of the word or of the Spirit
2. Emphasis upon the power of the word without the necessary work of the Spirit
3. Emphasis upon the power of the Spirit without the necessary means of the word
4. Recognition of the full interdependence of both the word and the Spirit
Section 4. Hope in Ministering the Word and Spirit
Where is the life in our preaching?
I regret that this paper was prepared in far too much haste to do justice to so noble a subject. If in reading you suspect you have found grammatical, spelling and style errors you are probably correct! Time was short and I spent more time in the substance than in the form of this presentation. But if this rough and imperfect document stirs us to a more diligent use of God's means and a more confident and expectant resting on the ministry of the Holy Spirit, then I will be pleased in spite of any human embarrassment my haste might have earned.
I would like to credit the following sources which I have found specially helpful in the preparation of this paper. While many standard theological works and other sources were used, these I have learned to treasure specially regarding this topic:
The Office and Work of the Holy Spirit
by James Buchanan, 1843 Banner of Truth Trust 1984
The Work of the Holy Spirit
by Abraham Kuyper 1900 Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1969
A Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit
by John Owen, 1674 Banner of Truth Trust 1972
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
by C. R. Vaughn, 1894 Banner of Truth Trust 1975
God has specially revealed Himself to man and preserved that propositional revelation in his written word. Just as our fallen nature demands special revelation, so also our fallen nature demands the work of the Holy Spirit if that propositional revelation is to be understood. The hearer must be regenerated and illumined.
This yields great hope and encouragement to all who are called to the ministration of the word of God. Not only do we possess, by the gracious providence of God, an objective and inerrant word, but we also have the promised attendance of the person of the Holy Spirit to enliven dead hearts and open blinded eyes. By the power of the Spirit in the ministry of the word we see lives transformed. We see fallen men who were aliens from God gathered into the kingdom of Christ. In this ministry of the Spirit in the word we witness God glorified in the efficacy of His eternal plan. We are assured that whatsoever he purposed to do would of certainty be done. In this, we are privileged to take part!
Charles Hodge in his Systematic Theology (III pg 476) puts this same truth in these words, "He so gives or withholds the influence of the Spirit that every minister of the Gospel, as the Apostles themselves did, should feel and acknowledge that his success does not depend on his official dignity, or his fidelity, or his skill in argument, or his power of persuasion, but simply and solely on the demonstration of the Spirit, given or withheld as He sees fit. Why was it that so few were converted under the ministry of Christ, and so many thousands under the Apostles? ... We know indeed that the Spirit's sovereignty is determined in its action by infinitely wise and good reasons"
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