30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM
Clarksville church of Christ
February 6, 2000
Speaker: Richie Thetford
Good morning and welcome to another presentation of "What Is Truth?" This morning and for the next three weeks I plan on presenting lessons on "The Holy Spirit." Hello, I'm Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ, located at 407 W. Hwy 131 in Clarksville. I want to thank each and every one you for taking the time to listen this morning as we examine this valuable truth of God's word. It is my hope and prayer that those of you that are listening today will honestly examine your heart to ensure that you are in fact doing only those things religiously that are pleasing to our almighty God. As we discuss the topic of the hour,"The Holy Spirit", I want to encourage you to have your Bible readily available so that you can examine the scriptures to make sure that what I am presenting is in fact God's will for you. I also want to encourage you to have a pen and paper ready to make notes and for this lesson and the next three, you may also want to consider taping these lessons. If this is not possible, you may request a transcript or audio tape of today's lesson and any past or future lesson by writing to the Clarksville church of Christ, 407 W. Hwy 131, Clarksville, Indiana, 47129, or you may call 944-2305. As we study the lesson together this morning, it is my hope that each one of you will possess the kind of heart that the Bereans did back in the first century. It was said of them that"These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11). By looking at the Bible passages, you can see for yourself that what I am teaching this morning can in fact be backed up by book, chapter, and verse in the Bible. This is so vitally important as we strive to do only that which is authorized by God and not what some man may say about this subject of the Holy Spirit. If you have a question or a comment regarding today's lesson, please forward them to me. I will provide you with the address and phone number again at the conclusion of today's message.
In our study this morning I will introduce a subject which will cover the next three weeks in addition to this week's lesson. It is a very important subject, one that needs studying. It is a subject which is much misunderstood in the religious world about us. There are many varied ideas and concepts about it. I wish to study with you the subject of "The Holy Spirit". I would like to look at the subject from a number of areas. We shall discuss the question of "Who is the Holy Spirit?" Also, How does the Holy Spirit communicate with man? What has the Holy Spirit communicated unto man? Where is the Holy Spirit's communication? When is one led by the Holy Spirit? These and other questions we shall note in the next several lessons. I trust that you will listen with open minds. By that I mean, as far as humanly possible, Please examine what shall be presented in the light of God's Holy Truth. May we allow the Bible to teach us. And might I say, only the Bible. You should not accept what I say just because I say it. Neither should you accept what anyone else might say, simply because they say it. But, it is mandatory, essential, that we accept what God's Word says on any and every subject.
Now to our study this morning: First, Who is the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is Deity -- He posses the divine nature. The name of this divine nature is God. In the Hebrew, it is Elohim. In the Greek it is Theos. In the English, it is God. There is but ONE God, because there is but one divine nature. Thus Deuteronomy 6:4, states, "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord."However, three distinct Persons possess this divine nature -- the Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. There is a figure of speech called synecdoche, where a part of something is spoken of as the whole, or the whole as a part. With reference to the term God, each of these is called God in the scriptures. Often the Father is referred to as God. Note John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life." Sometimes the Son is called God. John 1:1, reads, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Then from verse 14 of this same chapter, we learn, "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth." The Holy Spirit is also called God. Note Acts 5:3-4, "But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God."
It is entirely correct to speak of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, since each Person of the Godhead possess the same nature -- the nature of God. Because there is but one nature; there is but one God; yet, three distinct Persons constitute the one God. The Holy Spirit is indeed Deity.
The Holy Spirit is a Person. He is not simply, or solely, or only an influence. There are many in the religious world who believe that the Holy Spirit is only an influence. That just is not so! He is as much of a person as is God the Father, and Christ the Son. He is, indeed, a masculine personality. Listen to these words of Christ Jesus, "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come" (John 16:13).
Again and again, the pronoun He, in reference to the Holy Spirit, appears, thus showing not only his personality, but his masculine personality. Thus the Holy Spirit is a Person! I just cannot overemphasize that fact too much. The Holy Spirit is a Person, a part of the Godhead, Deity. When we are able to get people to see that the Spirit is a Person, just as the Father is a Person, just as the Son is a Person, there would be an end to a lot of the confusion that has entered into the minds of so many in the religious world. So often the idea is expressed that the Spirit operates in a mysterious fashion by the exercise of influences apart from and independent of the Word of Truth, the scriptures. But, when we understand that the Holy Spirit is a Person, much of this misunderstanding will be removed.
So, when we ask "Who is the Holy Spirit?." the answer is: The Holy Spirit is part of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit is God, The Holy Spirit is Deity. The Holy Spirit had a part in the bringing of salvation unto mankind.
Our second question is: "How does the Holy Spirit communicate?" By communicate, I mean, how does the Holy Spirit reveal the message unto mankind. The Holy Spirit communicates in the only way that communication can be effected, by means of signs of ideas, by words. There are five ways in which impressions may be conveyed to another. These five senses: seeing, hearing, tasting, feeling, and smelling, are the ways by which we learn things. Since it is impossible to smell truth, to taste it, or to feel it; truth must be conveyed either by hearing and/or seeing. Words are either heard by means of the ears, or seen by use of the eyes. In no other way may intelligible communication be accomplished. I cannot stand before you and taste truth; nor feel truth; nor smell truth. If you are to impart anything to me you must either speak, thus I can hear; or write it down, thus that I may see it.
The scriptures inform us that such is the manner or mode of the Holy Spirit's communication. 2 Samuel 23:2, reads, "The Spirit of Jehovah spake by me, and his word was upon my tongue."Thus the Holy Spirit communicated through David. David became the Spirit's spokesman. This, he did by speaking. The communication was accomplished by words. David's tongue was the instrument by which the communication was accomplished. Listen to what the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:1, "But the Spirit saith expressly, that in later times some shall fall away from the faith..." The King James version of this passage is, "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith..." The Spirit thus informed of impending apostasy, meaning a falling away. How did He do that? Through speaking. By what means was this revelation accomplished? Through words. How did the Spirit communicate to Paul the message these words contain? By speaking "expressly," that is, plainly and clearly.
It is essential that mankind understand this obvious biblical truth regarding the manner or mode of the Holy Spirit's influence. If people can understand that the only way in which the Holy Spirit ever did influence is through intelligent communication involving the use of words, no longer will the denominational concept that the Holy Spirit leads, guides and directs through one's hunches, one's intimations, one's so-called inner feelings, be acceptable. Let me make it as crystal clear as possible. How does the Holy Spirit communicate unto man? Through words. Jesus said, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches..." (Revelation 2:11).
The Holy Spirit has communicated to man through selected and inspired disciples. Hear the apostle Paul on this: "But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual."
By looking at this passage a number of things seem to be very clear: First, A revelation of God has been made to man. Second, this revelation was make "through the Spirit." Thirdly, as one man does not know what is in the mind of another man until it is made known through words, so we do not know what is in God's mind until He reveals it. This emphasizes that a revelation was essential in order for man to know the mind of God, and that this revelation was made known through words. Fourthly, Paul, and other inspired men, were chosen vessels of God through whom the Spirit made known this revelation. Then, fifthly, This revelation was made in the words of the Spirit -- not "in words which man's wisdom teaches" -- thus clearly indicating that the inspiration of the Bible is VERBAL. By this I mean that the Spirit did not say, "Paul, you write about baptism," And, then Paul would write his thoughts about baptism. Oh, No, When Paul (or any other inspired man) wrote, the Spirit gave the exact words which they wrote or spoke. Then, sixthly, The Holy Spirit, through inspired men, combined "spiritual things with spiritual words,"that is, put the things (a matter of revelation) with the "words," (the method of expressing thought) so that communication might be made. Let us make this point very clear. The Spirit SPOKE. The medium of communication was WORDS. And this is the way or manner of revelation. The Spirit spoke in words. Man then in turn told or wrote the message to others.
Thus, revelation from God to men was accomplished. By whom was it done? The Holy Spirit. How did the Holy Spirit do it? By means of words. Through whom did the Holy Spirit reveal, by words, the things of God to man? Through inspired writers. Did the Holy Spirit originate any truth not already planned by the Father and the Son? No! Listen to Christ Jesus again, "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come"(John 16:13).
These words were addressed to the apostles. Through the work of the Holy Spirit the will of the Lord would be revealed to them. The Spirit would declare only that which had been delivered to Him from the Lord to pass on to the inspired writers. The Holy Spirit's work was not to originate truth, but to reveal or transmit it, through words. The message of salvation has never been given by hunches, inner feelings, or imagination, but by means of words; words passed on to us through inspired men; words, the vehicles of thought. It has never been done in any other way, because there is simply no other way.
Our next question today is, "What has the Holy Spirit communicated?" We have already discussed this morning how the Holy Spirit communicates; now we ask, what does He communicate? When the disciples were sorrowful about the Lord's announcement that he must soon leave them, he said unto them, "It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I go, I will send him unto you." (John 16:7). He then continues in verse 12, "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come." The Holy Spirit would provide the apostles with the information they needed after the Lord had returned to heaven. This would include that which he had taught them while He was with them and it would include also all additional information that they would need to carry out their work of preaching the gospel of salvation. In John 14:26, our Lord speaks to His apostles again, "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."
The apostle Peter states in 2 Peter 1:3: "as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue."From this we conclude that the revelation which the Spirit gave was and is sufficient for our needs. We need not look for something else, something new. In 1 Timothy 3:17, we read, "That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work." In view of these two passages, it is not surprising that the Holy Spirit Himself has warned us against changing or altering the message that was given. Listen to other passages that give us the same warnings. In Deuteronomy 4:2 it states: "You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take anything from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you." In Proverbs 30:6 it states: "Do not add to His words, Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar." It is stated in the book of Revelation, chapter 22, verses 18-19: "For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."
It is indeed foolish, even fatal, to preach another doctrine; to add anything to what has been revealed; or to remove anything from God's inspired Word! The book we call the Bible, God's revealed truths, cannot be improved upon. There is just no place for latter revelations, for additions or subtractions. God's Book cannot be improved upon. Here's a question for you to ponder this morning: Did those who lived during the first century, during the days of the apostles, have enough information to be saved? Who would deny that they did? If they had sufficient information to become the child of God in A.D. 33, or A.D. 50, why would it take anything different today to make one a child of God? There is just simply no place for other books in our service of our King, Jesus Christ.
We have observed thus far in our study on the Holy Spirit, that (1) God has revealed himself to man; (2) this revelation was made by the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead; (3) it was accomplished through inspired men during the apostolic age of the first century, and (4) it was done by means of intelligible communication -- through the use of words. We have also seen that it is final, complete, and all sufficient to man's needs for salvation.
Our next question is: "Where is this remarkable revelation of God to men to be found?" I am now reading from 2 Timothy 3:16, 17 where it states: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." The words,"inspiration of God," in this passage translates from the Greek as literally saying "God breathed." That is, the Bible claims to be from God as surely as one's breath comes from one's body. God breathes through His word, and as we receive His word, this breath of life enlivens and motivates us. The words, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God," do not mean "only such scriptures as are inspired of God," implying that some scriptures are not inspired. The word "scripture," is never used in the New Testament, other than as inspired matter. In the light of this fact the meaning is, "Every part of scripture," that is, the whole of scripture, all of it, comes from God. There is no part of the scriptures that is not inspired, "breathed of God."
Here is a second point, and how important it is: God's word is within the mental reach of every person who is obligated to hear and to obey it. Obviously, small children, children who can not understand and as yet learn, are not expected to know and obey these words. But, each person who has reached the age of accountability, the age of knowing right from wrong, is capable of hearing and understanding this message. Jesus said, "If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority"(John 7:17). The "will of God" has been revealed; it was taught, by the Holy Spirit, through the medium of intelligible communication, and it may be known only in this manner. It is not by "word only," because the Spirit works by means of the word. It is not by "Spirit only" since the word is the Spirit's instrument.
Friends, please note another point here: The word of God is fully able to accomplish the very purposes intended for it to accomplish. Paul speaks, "For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe" (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Here Paul claims that the message which he preached was indeed the word of God, and that it was able to do all that needed to be done in their lives to produce the faith that saves.
Let us suppose for a moment, that in spite of the teachings of the word of God and the facts which we have just covered, someone comes along and claims divine guidance by the Holy Spirit, apart from, and independent of the word, what harm is there in holding such a view? What is wrong with a person thinking that his hunches, his intuition, his so-called inner feelings, are promptings of the Holy Spirit? To answer what is wrong with that, I offer four answers:
1) It just simply is not so. That view is exactly opposite to what the scriptures teach. Please note: If you receive a message from the Holy Spirit, and your neighbor receives a message from the Holy Spirit, would they not agree with each other. And yet, those who claim direct revelations from the Holy Spirit differ with others who make the same claim. I would like for someone who makes this claim to explain this. I think it safe to say that I will not be hearing from anyone with an attempt to answer this perplexing problem that those who make such claims obviously have.
2) The contention that the Holy Spirit, encourages, strengthens and motivates apart from the word, strikes at the claim of the word of God to be all-sufficient. If there are influences brought upon man, apart from and in addition to the revealed word of God, then this word is not sufficient; it is not complete; it does not throughly furnish us unto every good work. Yet, the book of God very clearly and unmistakably claims to provide for us all that God intends that we have or need unto our salvation. There is not an area in our life that God's Word does not provide us with everything which we need. If you know of something else needed, please, please would you not share it with us? And again, I will not hear from those who make such a claim. Why? Because they know that they cannot substantiate their claims. And they know that I know they cannot. If the Bible provides us with all that we need, and it does, there is simply nothing else needed. If it does not provide us with all that we need, then it becomes a false book; totally undependable. If we cannot trust the Bible to be true in this matter, then how can we trust it to be true in any other matter, or that any other book or revelation would be all we ever need?
3) I have never known anyone who claimed such additional guidance who did not teach some doctrines contrary to the plain teaching of the Holy Spirit in other matters. It must be very clear that the Holy Spirit does not oppose, through individuals, what He affirms through the New Testament writers. Suppose your friend told you something today. Then tomorrow, he told you something exactly opposite or different. What would you think? And yet, that is exactly what those in the religious world accuse the Holy Spirit of doing. My friend, if he tells you one thing, and then tells your neighbor something different, even contrary to what he told you, how much confidence would you put in the Holy Spirit? And if you claim you have more knowledge than he, by what right do you have to pass such judgment upon him. Peter states that God is "no respecter of persons," (Acts 10:34). Therefore, if the Holy Spirit tells you one thing and your neighbor something entirely different, would He not be a respecter of persons. Whom are we to believe? Those who claim to have direct revelation from Heaven, or the inspired Book of God? I rest my case upon the clear, understandable, revealed truth of the Father, as it was given by the Holy Spirit almost 2000 years ago.
4) Those who hold such views often go on into more error until the Bible no longer serves as the standard of their beliefs. How often has one been heard to say, "I know what I feel in my heart and I don't care what a stack of Bibles say." Here we see one relying upon their inner feelings. Their feelings take precedence over what the scriptures teach, thus the scriptures no longer influence them. In matters where people's "hunches," "inner feelings," are in conflict with the New Testament, they do not hesitate to repudiate the New Testament, in order to follow the "inner feeling" they profess to have. And that is a dangerous, yes, even a fatal mistake.
Thus far in our study of the Holy Spirit, I have covered: (1) Who is the Holy Spirit? (2) How does the Holy Spirit communicate with man? (3) What has the Holy Spirit Communicated? and (4) Where is the Holy Spirit's communication? In our study next week we will be discussing the subject, "When are we led by the Spirit?" Be sure to tune in again next Sunday morning. Get your recorders and copy the lesson. Check me out with the word of God. I would also be glad to hear from you.
This is Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ thanking each of you for listening to this morning's broadcast and invite you to listen again next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. for another presentation of "What Is Truth?"