Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 19, 1967
NUMBER 36, PAGE 2b-3a

The Spirit And The Word

Robert C. Welch

The modern age has difficulty sifting out of theology the function of the Holy Spirit in giving us the Bible. Not nearly so much trouble would be had if they would study the Bible itself on this subject. Some teach the theory that men today are just as much inspired and capable of producing revelation from God as were the men who wrote the Bible. Sometimes they speak of it as inspiration being in the church; hence, to them, the church produced, and still produces, revelation from God. Some get so wrapped up in some mystical definition of the word inspired that they never seem to grasp the fact of, and extent of, the Spirit's part in producing the Bible. Some are confused over the meaning of "verbal inspiration" and whether or not there is such a thing as verbal inspiration.

Moved By The Holy Spirit

"And we have the word of prophecy made more sure; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of scripture is of private interpretation. For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit." (2 Pet.1:19-21).

The word prophecy, as used in this passage and in the Bible, means more than foretelling future things. All that is spoken or written which comes from God is prophecy. This includes what is said of future things, of present circumstances, of history, of heavenly things, of God's grace and knowledge, of man's duty. Prophecy includes the whole text of the Bible.

None of the Bible is man's own interpretation. It may tell of man's ideas, words and actions; but the writing is not man's own work. None of the Bible came as the result of man's wanting or willing to produce such a work. Those who wrote it may, or at times may not, have wanted to prophesy; but that which was uttered or written came as the result of being moved by the Holy Spirit.

Spirit Empowered Witnesses

Jesus taught his apostles for the space of at least three years; but even then he did not leave them to truth in their fallible reasoning or memory to give to the New Testament Scriptures to the world. He promised them something which belonged to them peculiarly, and was not intended for men in general. "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive; for it beholdeth him not, neither knoweth him; ye know him; for he abideth with you, and shall be in you." (John 14:16,17).

The apostles were to be reminded of all that Jesus taught them by the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit: "But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you." (John 14:26.) They were to be guided into all truth by the Holy Spirit of truth: "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth: for he shall not speak from himself; but what things soever he shall hear, these shall he speak." (John 16:13). The theory that men today are inspired, or that the church is now inspired and revealing truth, is denying the promise of the Lord Jesus to his apostles. He said that the Spirit would guide them into all truth.

This power to remind and guide the apostles was not for their benefit alone, however. It was to enable them to testify to the whole world that which Jesus had taught them. "But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." (Acts 1:8). Their testimony is here today in the New Testament and is continually heard and accepted throughout the world.

The Words Of The Spirit

God did not leave men to learn the things of God by their own experiences, wisdom, intuition or observation. He revealed it to those prophets and apostles by the Spirit. "But unto us God revealed them through the Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. ... But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God; that we might know the things that were freely given to us of God." (I Cor. 2:10, 12). This relieves us of the shadow of doubt cast by the modernist, who says that the words of the Bible are only the wisdom of great minds and their personal experiences and observations.

Those who wrote the Bible were not even left to their own wisdom and learning in the choice of the right words to express the things which were revealed to them by the Spirit. The very words they used were Spirit taught; "Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; combining spiritual things with spiritual words." I Cor. 2:13). Some call this verbal inspiration. Whatever men may call it, it is Spirit taught words. This does not necessitate what they call the "dictation theory." Neither does it deny the individual style of each writer. The Spirit who has the power to teach the words, has the power to use those which are peculiar to each writer.

For Our Understanding

Some would have us think that we cannot understand what is written in the Bible. They would have us think that we must have some sort of an interpreter, of a clerical or church authority, to tell us what is intended by the Spirit given words. They would have us think that we cannot understand it as those did who first received or heard it. Assurance is given us that we can understand it; and that that understanding can be the same as it was understood by those who received and gave it by the Spirit. Notice carefully what the apostle Paul says: "How that by revelation was made known unto me the mystery, as I wrote before in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ: which in other generations was not made known unto the sons of men, as it hath now been revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit. (Eph. 3:3-5).

How simply explained in the words of the Spirit is the part which the Holy Spirit plays in giving the word! Such a simple, plain explanation puts to shame the confusing explanations which men have given as they tried to sound pedantic and theological. How wonderful it is to know how the Spirit of God works to enlighten us that we might be saved! And how marvelous is the simplicity of the enlightenment and of the way of salvation!