By Elizabeth Prata
Me this past week: “Ladies, we are not hearing from Jesus.”
Replies this week: “Then what about the Holy Spirit?”
My assertion that Jesus is not speaking directly, or audibly, or through dreams, or through visions has been met with gasps, denials, and a towering wall of resistance. The resistance comes in two flavors:
1. Experience. As in- “I know that Jesus is speaking because he came to me in a dream” Or, “I heard him say…” Or, “He told me…” The women who make this claim then follow up with an anecdote of what Jesus had said, or they describe their experience, as if that cemented the fact of extra-biblical revelation’s legitimacy. It doesn’t. Sadly, these replies are given with an intent to rebut the scriptural evidence I’d shared, as if experience trumps Bible. It doesn’t.
2. Whataboutism: “If Jesus isn’t speaking, then what about the Holy Spirit?” These kind of replies to the fact that Jesus has ceased speaking tell me that more education is needed as to the Holy Spirit’s ministry.
When God stops speaking directly or audibly to His people, the Holy Spirit doesn’t stop working. If that was so, then during the Intertestimental period, no one would have been saved, like Joseph or Mary or Anna. The intertestamental period is the time after the conclusion of the book of Malachi, and before John the Baptist began preaching. It is known as the “400 years of silence.” It would mean that in the long eras between the times God spoke to the Prophets, the Spirit would have been still and not moving. Of course, that is not so. Whether it is a time when God speaks or a time when He is not, the Spirit is always moving. He has His own ministry.
Also, there were long periods within the Old Testament times where God did not speak, or Jesus did not make a pre-incarnate appearance. The Spirit was still working. David mentioned the Spirit in Psalm 51:11. God caused the Spirit to aid the Temple workers in Exodus. The Spirit was with Joshua (Numbers 27:18), in Gideon (Judges 6:34), on Samson, (Judges 13:25; 14:6) and on or in many others. The Spirit’s ministry is independent of God and Jesus, though unified in purpose.
Let’s take a look at what the Holy Spirit does. His ministry is different from the ministry of Jesus. Remember, each person of the Trinitarian ONE God are three separate Persons. Each Person of the Trinity have their own feelings, their individual personalities, and separate but unified ministries.
Firstly, let’s admit that the Person of the Holy Spirit, or Holy Ghost as RC Sproul used to say, is often overlooked. God thundered from Mount Sinai, Jesus died on the cross, but who is the Spirit? Where is He? I’m reminded of this verse, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it is coming from and where it is going; so is everyone who has been born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8). He is around, but difficult to pin down because He isn’t incarnated as Jesus was and seen by thousands on earth. We see the evidence of God via His word. But the Spirit isn’t seen and He doesn’t speak aloud like Jesus and God.
The biggest evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work is His inspiration of Scripture. He used men to inspire the words of the Bible and then they wrote them down. He didn’t invade their minds to take them over, as happens with automatic writers when a demonic force overruns and takes over their mind completely, suspending their own thoughts. No, He used their brain created by God and their individual personalities to cause the Bible to be written. The Spirit then protected the words of the Bible through the centuries, and we have them today to read.
Another of the Spirit’s ministries is He convicts the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: (John 16:8). Anyone who claims they don’t feel convicted over sin or worried about judgment is suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. (Romans 1:18).
For the saved, the Holy Spirit’s ministry is amazing. First, He illuminates the Holy Scriptures to the minds of those who have been forgiven of sin. God’s word is something that the unsaved literally cannot understand, for it is spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14). Any wisdom or insight we receive from the word is solely due to the Spirit’s illumination of it to us.
Additionally, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. (Romans 8:27). He translates our prayers. (Romans 8:26). He comforts (advocates, helps). (John 14:16). He sealed us (Ephesians 1:13) and indwells us. (1 Corinthians 3:16). He unites us with God. (1 Corinthians 12:12). He gives us the spirit of power. (2 Timothy 1:7) He testifies of Christ. (John 15:26). He perseveres us. (Philippians 1:6). He confirms to believers they have been adopted as God’s children. (Galatians 4:6).
He transforms the mind
He aligns the heart’s desires with God’s
He change our affections
He grows the fruit in us
He distributes the spiritual gifts individually to those he wills
As you can see, the Spirit does a lot! I didn’t even cover all of it. The study of the Holy Spirit is called Pneumatology. Todd Friel of Wretched Radio has a good series called Drive By (designed so you can listen to the 7-10 min lectures while driving to work), Drive By Pneumatology is a good one in the Drive By series. I’ve listened to it. It is available at Wretched.org.
FMI on Pneumatology:
I encountered a puzzling rebuttal last week- when these women defend current divine revelation (i.e. God or Jesus speaking individually to a person, revealing prophecies, making assurances, or just chatting), some women don’t consider them authoritative. Now, Sola Scriptura is the principle that God’s Word is the only basis for divine authority. It is the written revelation that God spoke, and so it was. Each word is divinely inspired by the Spirit, inscripturated for our benefit and God’s glory, and forever preserved.
Many women are spouting utterances they claim are from God or Jesus, yet claim these conversations aren’t scripture. In so doing they are forming a two-tier system- one where God formerly spoke in full authority and it became scripture to be obeyed, and these lesser revelations God spoken to them personally which are not fully authoritative and may or may not be obeyed. Very convenient. Are these utterances from God divinely revealed truth, or not? They claim not.
Here’s John MacArthur on yes, they are-
God has given His revelation, and now Scripture is finished. God has spoken. What He gave is complete, efficacious, sufficient, inerrant, infallible, and authoritative. Attempts to add to the Bible, and claims of further revelation from God have always been characteristic of heretics and cultists, not the true people of God.
Although charismatics deny that they are trying to add to Scripture, their views on prophetic utterance, gifts of prophecy, and revelation really do just that. As they add—however unwittingly—to God’s final revelation, they undermine the uniqueness and authority of the Bible. New revelation, dreams, and visions are considered as binding on the believer’s conscience as the book of Romans or the gospel of John. ... Christians must not play fast and loose with the issues of inspiration and revelation. An accurate understanding of those doctrines is essential for distinguishing between the voice of God and the voice of man." ~end MacArthur
No, ladies, all scripture is sufficient for everything we need in this Christian life. (2 Timothy 3:16–17). That verse says the scriptures are complete and enough to make US complete. Why do we need extra-biblical instruction when the Bible itself says it is complete? Accepting more revelation makes God a liar and the Bible incomplete.
Jesus has ceased speaking directly to individuals at this time. But that doesn’t mean the Holy Spirit is left adrift with nothing to do. He is working on the unsaved and working in the saved, He is shaping the Bride of Christ into her glorious, beautiful self, to be given in Holy matrimony to our Groom on the Day. And what a day that will be!