The Holy Spirit In the Ministry of the Word

The Holy Spirit In the Ministry of the Word

by Bob Burridge ©1990, 2012

Part 1

“The Power of the Word of God”

Eternal Truth
Truth is not defined by what we sense, experience, or believe. It is that which persists eternally in the mind of the Creator. There it exists most fundamentally and without change, division, or gradations. It represents no idea of fact greater than itself. The ground idea of truth supposes that there exists some absolute standard against which ideas and beliefs can be compared for confirmation.

Creation exists to fulfill the desires and intentions of the God who made all things. In order that each created thing should fulfill the purpose for which it exists, it bears a proper relationship with its place in the eternal plan which God alone knows comprehensively. 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 that section of the Psalm in verse six with the humble exclamation, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.”

Revealed Truth
Truth existing in the mind of God would remain unknown if God ha not purposed to reveal himself to us. This expression or manifestation of the truth of God may be called his “word.” God’s eternal truth is revealed in several ways.

General Revelation: God has made himself known in ways that make the truth available generally. By this we mean that it is available to all people everywhere without exception. His power and glory are clearly displayed in the works of creation and providence (Psalm 19:1-4, Romans 1:20). God’s moral standards are also revealed generally to all 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 and to obey Him. Being non-redemptive, these general modes of revelation are not sufficient to break through to man’s heart of stone. General Revelation declares, but it does not transform the heart concerning its need for the work of the Messiah.

Special Revelation: Due to the devastating results of the fall into sin, all humans are born into spiritual death. Moral depravity and its consequent offensiveness separate them from fellowship with their Creator. Their moral condition makes them repulsive to the Triune God (Romans 3:23, Nahum 1:3, Habakkuk 1:13). In their natural condition God’s holy ways and grace are terrifyingly offensive to the lost (Romans 1:13,25; 1 Corinthians 2:14). Special revelation is God’s direct revelation of truth to specific people, not to all humans. This propositional form of truth spells out God’s plan of redemption and clarifies the problem of sin. It may be used to bring a person humbly to the Savior, or to confirm their guilt by their rejection of it. This objective record 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 our present 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 hermeneutics 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. Each idea is infinitely more complex than what the Creator has made known to us. God knows all things without 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”

Distorted Truth
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). This is the most exact translation of that verse in Psalm 14. Some have weakened it by inserting words not in the Hebrew text. There is no justification to translate it “… where their voice is not heard.”

The message of creation is objectively efficient to render all 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, providence, conscience, or of the holy record in the Bible.

Part 2

“The Essentially Attendant Power of the Holy Spirit”

Moral Inability
The human fallen nature is morally unable to come submissively to the truth of the gospel. It is also intensely opposed to the testimony of Scripture concerning itself and its only hope for restoration to fellowship with the Creator. That inclination is so much a part of the fallen nature that no human effort can overcome prejudice and desire the way of the atonement.

Natural man is inclined to cling to his own perceived pleasures and to cast away the grace of God. In his own eyes his temporal baubles and trinkets are more precious to him than the precious gift of the Son which he turns away without consideration. We ask along with the disciples, “Then who can be saved?” Our Lord’s reply cuts sharply into our own conscience, “With men it is impossible” (Mark 10:26-27).

The Work of Grace
The awesome message of grace sovereignly set forth in the form of a covenant promise affirms that such supernatural hope does exist! All three persons of the Trinity work to provide the only salvation morally possible. The Father has chosen some from the fallen race to be given to his Son according to his own good pleasure. The Son took the place of these same ones bearing their sin and satisfying the demands of holy justice by his suffering, death and exaltation. It is the efficacious work of the Holy Spirit operating in the word that applies the word of promise to the sinner’s heart.

God sovereignly administers his work of grace with some diversity. We notice that there is both an ordinary and an extraordinary way by which that work is done.

God’s Ordinary Administration of the Word by the Spirit: Ordinarily the word is administered and empowered by the Spirit through the regular, daily and personal seeking of God’s ways in prayer, through the reading of Scripture, and by the mutual ministries of the church in fellowship, worship (including the sacraments), and discipline.

The prosperous man of God is shown as the one who meditates in his law day and night (Psalm 1:2). The proper and spiritual use of these means of grace, through the unceasing dependence upon the Holy Spirit’s ministry to our hearts, is the ordinary way believers grow in grace.

The covenant of God stipulated that its precepts were to be faithfully taught in the home on a regular daily basis. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 commands that covenant homes be places where the word of God is ever present in conversation, thought, and behavior. God’s law is to be taught diligently to the children and must always be before us.

In the remarkable devotion of the people of Israel in the days of Joshua we see the result of a long and persistent wilderness education (Joshua 24:31; Judges 2:7,10-11). Puritan James Buchanan points out that “they had seen the wonderful works of the Lord, the miracles which he wrought in the wilderness”, they had been “trained from their childhood in hardships and trials, which taught them their entire dependence on God, and the duty of an absolute submission to his sovereign will”, and “they had heard the reading of God’s law, and were acquainted with its glorious truths.”

God’s Extraordinary Administration of the Word by the Spirit: At times God has moved most extraordinarily. There have been occasions where the word and Spirit come in grand events bringing sudden conviction to individuals or to whole nations. In these cases we see dramatic turnings of many lives from open rebellion to humble submission.

The Scriptures record infallibly that such occasions have taken place. We could cite the great revival in the time of Josiah, or the great coming to Messiah by the expectant covenant people on the day of Pentecost.

We are also ensured that such special workings may sovereignly occur throughout the history of the church as Christ’s kingdom grows. The Reformation was one example of a special time of the kingdom’s expansion. The word was proclaimed in its full authority. The Spirit opened hearts to behold, and submit to, its transforming message.

We have seen special movings of God’s Spirit in the word preached in the great revivals of Ulster, Stewarton, Lanarkshire and Glasgow of the early 1600’s. The following century also experienced special outpourings of grace in Northampton and North America. In most ages there have been times when extraordinary revivals have taken place.

There is of course a danger. There is a tendency in the human heart to swing from one extreme to another like the pendulum of an old clock. Our momentum of reaction to one abuse or another often causes us to find it hard to settle in the center. Instead we rush past a balance of truth to the other side and miss altogether the clear council of God.

Some become so caught up in seeking the spirit of revival that they fail to see the ordinary workings of God which sustain His church between such events. They miss the regular workings of God as He prepares the skills and hearts of the vessels through whom extraordinary blessings are dispensed. It is easy for those of this mentality to try to duplicate the effects of revival by copying its outward manifestations and emotional outpourings. In doing this they often neglect the foundation of a sound exposition and proclaiming of the word. A humble and contrite attitude of seeking the instigating and converting work of the Holy Spirit may be missing. They overlook the Sovereign nature of the administration of extraordinary outpourings and seek to make them the ordinary and expected means of daily Christian experience. This often creates a false measurement of spirituality which divides the church most tragically.

On the other hand, it is possible to react improperly against the abuse of extreme revivalism. Those who are understandably offended by the humanness and shallowness of the abuse might overlook the reality of extraordinary sovereign workings. In immoderate response they might retreat into a scholasticism which replaces altogether the ministry of the Spirit with mere linguistic, theological, and historical studies. The differences that arise among those who would place a spiritually impoverished scholasticism before us are sufficient to their own refutation.

Abraham Kuyper warns with some sarcasm against such an extreme by likening scholasticism to a yoke we place upon ourselves and our congregations. He says, “If we must bear a yoke, then give us that of Rome ten times rather than that of the scholars; for although Rome puts men between us and the Scripture, they speak at least with one mouth.”

God works sovereignly. We should conduct our lives by regular, diligent and faithful use of the means of grace and expect the ordinary operations of God to be sufficient to his church. Yet we also must pray for society, for the elect who have yet to come to him. We should be ready for such extraordinary outpourings God may be disposed to sovereignly send to his church. We should be quick to respond with praise and thankfulness to any legitimate revival lest God’s grace be answered by unwarranted skepticism.

Part 3

“Dangers of an Unbalanced View”

The kind of relationship that defines the way the Holy Spirit works in us by God’s word has been the cause of divergence among those who claim to be Christian. There are four basic combinations showing the different emphases we place upon the necessities of the word and Spirit in God’s administrations of grace.

1. No Recognition of the Power of the Word or of the Spirit
Natural man rejects the supernatural as the Bible presents it. He may create his own ideas of the supernatural, but it will not be consistent with the workings of a personal, infinite and holy God. By rejecting the efficacy of both the word and the Spirit this position must, by its own testimony, stand outside of the true church. Those who reject the supernatural converting power of the Holy Spirit and the word must logically end up in theological liberalism, secular humanism, or some form of pagan mysticism.

2. Emphasis Upon the Power of the Word Without the Necessary Word of the Spirit
Some refuse to confess the extent of human depravity into which all have fallen. They might imagine the Spirit working in a preparatory manner simply inclining a person to submit to the written word of God. Given the biblical view of our spiritually dead and depraved condition, no amount of moral persuasion from the word alone without the attendant ministry of the Holy Spirit could turn a person from sin to a redemptive faith in the revealed truth of God.

Romans 3:10 “There is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God”

1 Corinthians 2:14 “a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”

2 Corinthians 3:15-16 “to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a man turns to the LORD, the veil is taken away.”

This view does not do justice to the doctrine of depravity. If the word is self-efficacious, but does not in every case bring about the spiritual transformation of its hearers, then to what must we attribute its occasions of failure to convict and convert? If it is attributed to man alone in his choice or rejection of the truths contained in the word, then man is given far more ability in his fallen condition than the Scriptures would allow. The only biblical response is that the missing element is the efficacious moving of the Holy Spirit upon the lost heart.

Without the work of the Spirit to enliven the dead soul and give understanding to the word, even the most orthodox language used in a statement of faith cannot conceal its actual distortion of truth in the perceptions of the depraved human mind. Many denominations have drifted to a “dead orthodoxy” which is really not an orthodoxy at all. When deprived of the workings of the Spirit the good seed of the word falls upon stony ground or upon shallow soil where it is unable to take root. Such men, as with Satan and his demons, may even be rationally convinced of certain doctrines, yet remain unconvicted and unredeemed.

It is easy to admit to the existence of sin generally in God’s universe, yet it is quite impossible to see its utter condemnation upon our own heart without the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in application of the finished work of grace.

3. Emphasis Upon the Power of the Spirit Without the Necessary Means of the Word
There is also great danger when people recognize the work of the Holy Spirit, but undermine the necessity of the content and authority of the word. When through ignorance or apathy the word is not used as the authoritative touchstone of truth, then how do we know with certainty anything about the Holy Spirit? How can we distinguish his operations from the spirit of error and deception? How do we know that what we “feel led” to do is of God and not of our own deceitful heart? (Jeremiah 17:9)

If people retain the words of Scripture, but strip them of their contextual meaning and authority, they fall inescapably into the abyss of existentialism. Their faith is reduced to irrationalism. Many who have been satisfied to be weak in their knowledge of the word have shifted their concept of authority to their feelings and experiences which they attribute subjectively to the workings of God. They do this without even looking for justification from the written word. These hunger for truth but fail to partake of a full and well-balanced exegesis of objective revelation. These seek continuing revelation, secret knowledge, and spectacular manifestations of extraordinary spiritual gifts. Being unschooled in the scriptural meaning of such gifts and their place in redemptive history, they usurp good texts of Scripture and misuse them to defend their unbalanced theology.

John Calvin warned of just this kind of danger in his Institutes (IX) “Those who, rejecting Scripture, imagine that they have some peculiar way of penetrating to God, are to be deemed not so much under the influence of error as madness”

“… under the reign of Christ, the true and full felicity of the new church will consist in their being ruled not less by the Word than by the Spirit of God.”

“… we must give diligent heed both to the reading and hearing of Scripture, if we would obtain any benefit from the Spirit of God.”

“… what authority can the Spirit have with us if he be not ascertained by an infallible mark?”

“Their cavil about our cleaving to the dead letter carries with it the punishment which they deserve for despising Scripture.”

“But if it is effectually impressed on the heart by the Spirit; if it exhibits Christ, it is the word of life converting the soul, and making wise the simple.”

“the Lord has so knit together the certainty of his word and his Spirit, that our minds are duly imbued with reverence for the word when the Spirit shining upon it enables us there to behold the face of God; and, on the other hand, we embrace the Spirit with no danger of delusion when we recognize him in his image, that is, in his word.”

“He employed the same Spirit, by whose agency he had administered the word, to complete his work by the efficacious confirmation of the word.”

“Surely a very different sobriety becomes the children of God. As they feel that without the Spirit of God they are utterly devoid of the light of truth, so they are not ignorant that the word is the instrument by which the illumination of the Spirit is dispensed. They know of no other Spirit than the one who dwelt and spake in the apostles – the Spirit by whose oracles they are daily invited to the hearing of the word.”

4. Recognition of the Full Interdependence of Both the Word and the Spirit
There must be not only a balance, but a full interdependence of the efficacy of the word and Spirit. The word is the objective means by which the Spirit works to seal what God has made known upon Christian hearts. The word acts to guide us in the testing of what we should believe and do. The word is understood properly and made effectual upon depraved hearts only by the supernatural work of the Spirit. The Spirit acts to give us life and open our stubborn hearts to the truth of the word. He also brings to the ministry of the word its attendant blessings.

John 16:8 “when He comes, He will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness and judgment”

John 16:13 “When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth”

These texts confirm clearly that one of the ministries of the Spirit is the illumination of the redeemed human understanding to the eternal truths of God which are revealed to man.

The Spirit ordinarily operates in the word to bring about change in a human heart. An exception would be the regeneration of elect infants (particularly elect covenant children who die in infancy) or other elect persons in a similar condition of natural inability, who are left to the sovereign mercy of God.

Historic Christianity as a whole recognizes the necessity of the Holy Spirit in the ministry of the word for the efficacious application of the work of redemption and sanctification provided in the atoning work of Jesus Christ.

Part 4

“Hope in Ministering the Word and Spirit”

As pastors stand to do their work in the pulpits of Christ’s church on the Lord’s Day, it is comforting to know that they do not depend exclusively or primarily upon their own accumulations of detail, their variety of illustration, or their skill of voice, to rescue and feed the souls of the sheep gathered before them. It would be wrong to deny the importance of these elements. But it is assuring to know that before the Bible is opened and carefully prepared notes are spread out for the proclamation of God’s word, the Holy Spirit precedes them into the hearts of the hearers.

The Lord is pleased in his gifting and calling of ministers to use them as personal instruments in his work. God and his ministers therefore do not ordinarily operate exclusively of one another. The minister of the word is totally ineffective without the attendant blessing of the Spirit. The poorest of preachers may see healthy fruit in his simple teachings. The simplest or the most complex presentation might be used of God to bring life to a lost soul or hope to a discouraged brother. But when some turn hardened hearts away from the truths proclaimed, it is the work of that same Spirit that confirms men in their rebellion against God.

This interrelationship is encouraging to christian ministries. It provides specific means by which the administration of the word can be improved.

1. The efficacy of preaching involves the clear proclaiming of the word. Though the blessing of the Spirit is indispensable, there are things we can and should be doing as those called and commissioned of God to declare what the word says.

Paul admonished Timothy saying, “be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

It is the accuracy of biblical exposition and the clarity of proclamation that is used by the Holy Spirit to teach people and stir their hearts. Therefore, to minister better, preachers ought to be improving their biblical study skills and widening their store of biblical knowledge. They ought to be improving their methods of preparation, arrangement and delivery of the word.

2. The efficacy of preaching is not the result of scholarship alone. When there is no God-honoring response to the word delivered, pastors ought not become discouraged as if it were always due to their own inabilities. The faithful giving of the word has many times fallen upon unprepared hearts. Even the preaching of Christ was not always ordained to bring about repentance. It sometimes angered the hearers.

Similarly when there is success in preaching men must not become puffed up in pride. A good use of illustrations, outlines and simple language is important in making the word understood. Delivery is important so that people will listen and hear what is said. It is nevertheless the working of the Holy Spirit that must be credited for the people’s understanding and any lasting success in the congregations of Christ’s church.

By attributing success to the sovereign workings of the Holy Spirit working in the word, we enhance rather than diminish the hope of improving the efficacy of sermons and lessons. If the burden rests upon human shoulders exclusively or upon the moral determination of the people them selves, there would be good cause to tremble under such a weight. How could pastors be encouraged as stewards of the great Master if their task lies in the realm of the impossible. But if the ministry involves the use of means empowered by a personal covenant God, then there is always something that can be done toward its improvement.

Those entrusted with the ministry of the word must exercise diligence in prayer. They need to beg God for the blessing of his Spirit upon their preaching. Perhaps if the same time was spent calling out to God for his Spirit to precede and accompany a sermon as is spent digging through books for illustrations and stories, there would be a more marked difference in the lasting effects of Sabbath messages upon the church.

Do ministers cast themselves before God again and again in the preparation of their lessons and messages? Do they evidence more faith in the Spirit’s working than they place in the good and beneficial books they collect and consult?

This is not to hint in any way that these exercises in study are of little benefit. Pastors are called to develop their study and communication skills, and to be diligent in their work. But is equal weight given to the ministry of the Spirit in the word?

Where is the Life in Christian Preaching?
When we begin our day we come to breakfast to get a good start with some nutrition and energy food. We are told by the TV announcers and cereal boxes that our diet should include a minimum daily amount of nutrients consisting of vitamins, proteins, minerals, calories, liquids and so on.

Some cereals boast that one bowl will satisfy all these needs for the whole day. What if pills could be made to satisfy all this, one dosage carefully measured out for individual personal needs by a doctor, washed down at specified intervals with sufficient water, all scientifically designed to meet our every need. You would never have to eat a single meal ever again!

How long would it be before you begin to long for a tasty meal? one good burger or pizza? a fresh, cold, bubbly cola? a hot refreshing cup of coffee? a warm buttered breakfast roll? a hoagie piled with the best cold cuts, cheeses and dressings? God enabled the body to taste and savor textures and aromas. Man was made to eat, not just to be nourished.

What about the spiritual diet of our people? Do pastors routinely prepare a diet for them that includes all the basic elements, but they have not sought the empowering of the Holy Spirit to give their message life?

Do our ministries sometimes become like the hypothetical “nutrition pill”? With all the pressures and expectations facing them, they might come to think they can satisfy the spiritual needs of their people and themselves with a simple-to-prepare, easy-to-use, canned-approach sermon.

Are sermons prepared and served in the same cold way? Do ministers merely make sure the spiritual “nutrition pill” contains all the raw elements needed? 1. They cover all the fundamental doctrines of the confession? 2. They make certain that every text is carefully studied to ensure its accurate interpretation? 3. They have a well organized method of outline and illustration so that the thoughts flow easily and digestibly? 4. They are always fine-tuning their our presentations and deliveries.

These are very good things to do. But is what they serve still bland? Do their ministrations of the word lack the one element that gives them real flavor? Do they lack that which makes them tasty and satisfying to hungering fallen creatures of God? Have they replaced a dependence on the Holy Spirit with a dependence upon scholarship and methodology?

Have they spent time filling their lessons with life by begging for the blessing of God upon them? Do they challenge people to come having prepared themselves before the throne of God crying out to be conformed to the image of Christ? Do they come expecting merely to instruct or merely to excite emotionally? Or do they come in faith, expecting them to be touched by the Holy Spirit in the ministry of the word?

Some might also swing to the other extreme and neglect scholarship in the word and hope that God will miraculously speak through a lazy, unprepared vessel? They mistake the absence of the word for the presence of the Spirit. They take their congregations up to great emotional heights, but they fail to put up the guard rail of the word. There is no warning signs to announce the spiritual pitfalls and dangers that so easily trip unsuspecting believers and cause them to fall to great harm.

The Spirit works by the word to rescue fallen men. It is the “law of the Lord” that is “perfect, restoring the soul” (Psalm 19:7). God has called his church to study and to be diligent in making its teachers into sharpened tools, well instructed in the word which acts as an objective guide. It not only leads in God’s ways of blessing but also warns against the errors and deceptions of the enemy of our faith.

May God grant that a full diet is offered to our people. Pastors need to use every skill and tool at their disposal. They need to carefully plan their topics, texts, and presentations so that they will be as effective as they can make them. But in all this, there is a need to come fallen before God in humble but trusting expectation of blessing.

May we see in all our ministries the powerful attendance of the Holy Spirit carrying the word faithfully prepared into the hearts of sinners, saved by grace.

Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible ©1988 The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Author’s Note:
This study paper was originally prepared for presentation to a fellowship of Reformed ministers meeting on September 14, 1990, at Northshore Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Jacksonville, Florida. It was re-edited in 2012 for publication on the Genevan Institute for Reformed Studies website.

Brief Bibliography
I would like to credit the following sources which I have found specially helpful in the preparation of this paper. While many standard theological works and other sources were used, these I have learned to treasure specially regarding this topic:

The Office and Work of the Holy Spirit
by James Buchanan, 1843 Banner of Truth Trust 1984

The Work of the Holy Spirit
by Abraham Kuyper 1900 Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1969

A Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit
by John Owen, 1674 Banner of Truth Trust 1972

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
by C. R. Vaughn, 1894 Banner of Truth Trust 1975

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