Pentecost: The Word & The Spirit and The Spirit & The Word

Wouldn’t it be amazing to have Jesus as your teacher.? Not in an abstract spiritual sense but in an actual sense; the physical person of Jesus Christ teaching you, like he did for the twelve disciples. The Word of God manifest as your own personal rabbi; that would be the BEST right? 

Actually, no. Jesus thinks otherwise:

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.
— John 16:7

Jesus thinks it is advantageous that he leaves because we are better off with the Spirit. It is truly the best thing for us. This is because Spirit brings not just the vocal instruction of what to do but also the power to fulfill it. The instruction alone we cannot bear. We need the ‘Helper’ to help us do it:

I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.
— John 16:12-15

Originally the disciples understood the ‘Word of God’ to be the law given to Moses. They soon realize that Jesus himself is the Word- “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68).  Now they have to come to terms with a new understanding; that Jesus was leaving and the Spirt would be leading them.

For us there are two elements to this new way of being lead:

  1. The Spirit will help us understand the Word of God. He will “make known” to us what the Lord is saying in the Bible. He will also give us understanding of Jesus’ words, actions and intentions. We do not need to rely on our intelligence, interpretation or insight the understand the Scriptures. Which is a good job because we are, invariably, idiots. We need the Spirit. We do not have to understand the Hebrew or Greek or historical contexts - helpful as they are. We simply need the Spirit. Teaching, study and learning are all very important. The Spirit, however, is essential.
  2. The Spirit will speak directly to us. He will speak to us in words, pictures and visions the things He wants us to know. The Bible is not the Word. The Word is Jesus. The Bible reveals the Word, that is to say it reveals Jesus. There are things God wants to say that are not already written in the Bible. Are they contradictory to the Word as revealed in the Bible? No. Harmonious with the Bible’s revelation of God? Yes. But not already written. This can make people very nervous. So are we all to run around saying that God said this or that? Actually yes. How will we know what is God and what is not? Simple, the Spirit will say. He will confirm and bear witness (Romans 8:16). This faith stuff really is impossible without the Spirit of God.

So be encouraged. Even though hearing from God is special and sacred that doesn’t mean it is a rare occurrence. Let’s listen up.

Hearing from God can seem a risky business but not even trying is worse. Let’s loosen up.

Hearing from God should never been taken lightly but that doesn’t mean He is always somber and angry. Let’s lighten up.