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The Holy Spirit in the Ministry of the Word - Pt. 1
The Power of the Word of God
by Pastor Bob Burridge ©1990
Truth is not measured by what we sense, experience, or believe. It is that which, without change, division or representation, persists eternally in the mind of the Creator. There it exists most fundamentally. The ground idea of truth supposes that there exists some absolute standard against which alone ideas can be compared for confirmation.
Creation exists to fulfill the desires and intentions of the God who made all things. So for anything to fulfill the purpose for which it exists, it must bear a proper relationship with its place in God's eternal plan. Individual objects, persons, events or ideas are inseparable from their standing in the mind of God. We may improperly sense or perceive something. We may attribute to it a wrong set of properties or interpretations. But the way God understands something, is what it is. The whole concept of the possibility of a ministration of the word of God is meaningless if we fail to first recognize that anything we perceive as truth is only really truth to the degree that it corresponds with the way things are in God's mind.
The mind of our Creator is infinite and perfect. In Psalm 139 we are told that God knows everything about us. He knows our sitting down and our rising up, our paths and all our ways. There is not a word in our tongue that the Lord does not know it altogether. The psalmist ends with the humble exclamation, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it."
Truth existing in the mind of God would remain unknown were it not that God has purposed to make himself known. This expression, or manifestation, of the truth of God may be called his "word." God's eternal truth is revealed in many ways.
General Revelation: God has made himself known generally to all men through the works of creation and providence (Psalm 19:1-4, Romans 1:20), and in the individual conscience (Romans 2:14-15). This mode of revelation is not redemptive. It displays God's attributes to the degree that man has no excuse for his failure to worship God as he should. But being non-redemptive it is not sufficient to break through to man's heart of stone. General Revelation declares, but it does not ready the heart concerning its need for the work of the Messiah.
Special Revelation: Due to the devastating results of man's fall into sin, all humans are born into spiritual death; a moral alienation and its consequent separation from the Creator. Our moral condition makes us repulsive to the Triune God (Romans 3:23, Nahum 1:3, Habakkuk 1:13), and in our natural condition, his holy ways and grace are terrifyingly offensive to us (Romans 1:13,25; 1 Corinthians 2:14). Special revelation provides an objective record of God's truth in propositional form specifically perceptible by man. This is necessary for humans whose understanding of the world around them is perverted by their fallen condition of spiritual death.
The word of God has been specially given in many forms. He has spoken in visions, by miracles, in tablets of stone, through prophets and judges, and even by the mouth of Balaam's donkey! At this moment in redemptive history, the greatest form of special revelation was given in the personal appearing of the second person of the Trinity when he made himself known by taking on human flesh, by proclaiming truth through his teachings and actions, and by his atonement and exaltation to victory over sin and its curse.
Since the former immediate ways of God making himself known are now ceased, the Bible is our only present source of absolute propositional truth. It came into being by the now completed work of INSPIRATION, a special work of the Holy Spirit. Holy men of God were moved in such a way as to render their inspired writings inerrant in all matters of fact, doctrine and interpretation. They were superintended so that their words would exactly convey the ideas God intended them to convey sovereignly utilizing their human individualities (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:19-21, 1 Corinthians 14:37).
The Holy Scriptures, though completely accurate and without error, come to us in a finite form. The infinite truths in the infinite mind of the Creator have been placed into human form for the purpose of telling us what the Creator wants us to know about himself. This form of propositional truth comes in the form of human language. Its use by God for this high purpose validates the use of language in the study of theology, and particularly in the field of prolegomena. It sets our apologetics and hermaneutics within bounds that enable us to seek what God would have us know while always recognizing that it is given to us anthropomorphically. This does not mean that any divine truth is compromised or changed, but that its fullness and extent cannot be encased comprehensively in finite form. This ought to make us extremely cautious that we do not presume upon the eternal truths of God beyond what he has made known and preserved for us in the objective record of Scripture.
Between what the words of the Bible say, and what abides in the infinite mind of the Creator, there exists an ISOMORPHISM. This is a congruity of form such that what is knowable to us is MAPPABLE to the information that exists in perfection in the mind of God, where there is infinitely more to know and each idea is infinitely more complex than what the Creator has made known to us. As God knows all things, there are no categories, systems of truth, or separable ideas. All things merge into one complete yet personal awareness. Since we finite beings can only know truth in parts, and must relate those parts with one another merging them into manageable ideas, God has made himself known in such a manner to us.
Since the purpose of God in giving us the inspired Scripture was to make himself known to humans, and since God is able to do all his holy will, we must accept that the written word is very powerful and efficacious. The power and efficacy of the word are well attested in the testimony of God's word concerning itself.
Psalm 19:7 "the law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes."
Psalm 119:11 "Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee."
Psalm 119:38 "Establish Thy word to Thy servant, as that which produces reverence for Thee."
Psalm 119:107 "Revive me, O LORD, according to Thy word."
Romans 1:16 The gospel "is the power of God for salvation"
1 Corinthians 1:21 "God was well pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe"
2 Timothy 3:15-17 The sacred writings are "able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."
Hebrews 4:12 "the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword"
2 Peter 1:19 "we have the prophetic word made more sure"
While the revealed truth of God does not cease to successfully declare his glory, power and godhead, there is something wrong. While God's glory pours forth day to day and night to night, "there is no speech, nor are there words, their voice is not heard" (Psalm 19:4).
The message of creation is objectively efficient to render men inexcusable (Romans 1:20, 10:18) yet it is not received subjectively by fallen humans in a way that agrees with truth as it exists in the mind of God. Our fall into sin has rendered us morally unable to accept and appreciate God's truth presented in revelation (1 Corinthians 2:14). While the manifestation of God may bring evident temporal blessings which generally befall all humans, and specially those touched by Christian society, there is no possibility that fallen man might come to God redemptively by his own unassisted examination of nature or the holy record.