God On The Net

The Work of the Holy Spirit
in Prophets and Apostles

The Distinctive Character of the Work of the Holy Spirit in Prophets and Apostles.

The work of the Holy Spirit in Apostles and Prophets differs from His work in other believers.  He imparts to Apostles and Prophets a special gift for a special purpose.

1 Corinthians 12:4, 8-11, 28-29 [4] There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. [8] To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, [9] to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, [10] to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. [11] All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. [28] And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. [29] Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?

The doctrine which is becoming so common and so popular in our day, that the work of the Holy Spirit in preachers and teachers and in ordinary believers, illuminating them and guiding them into the truth and into the understanding of the Word of God, is the same in kind and differs only in degree from the work of the Holy Spirit in Prophets and Apostles, is thoroughly unscriptural and untrue. It overlooks the clearly stated and carefully elucidated fact that while there is "the same Spirit", "there are diversities of gifts", "diversities of ministrations", "diversities of workings" and that not all are prophets or apostles.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 [4] There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. [5] There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. [6] There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.

1 Corinthians 12:29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?

NOTE—Those who desire to minimize the difference between the work of the Holy Spirit in Apostles and Prophets, and his work in other men, often refer to the fact that the Bible says that Bezaleel was to be "filled with the Spirit of God" to devise the work of the Tabernacle, as a proof that the inspiration of the prophet does not differ from the inspiration of the artist or architect; but they are ignorant of the fact, or forget it, that the Tabernacle was to be built in accordance with the pattern shown to Moses in the Mount and that, therefore, it was itself a prophecy, and an exposition of the truth of God. It was the word of God done into wood, gold, silver, brass, cloth, skin, etc. There is much reasoning about inspiration today that appears at first sight very learned, but that will not bear much rigid scrutiny or candid comparison with the word of God. There is nothing in the Bible more inspired than the Tabernacle, and if the higher critics would study it more they would give up their ingenious but untenable theories.

Results of the Work of the Holy Spirit in Prophets and Apostles.

Truth hidden from men for ages, and which they had not discovered, and could not discover by the unaided processes of human reasoning, has been revealed to Apostles and to Prophets in the Spirit.

Ephesians 3:5 [4] In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, [5] which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets.

The Bible contains truth that men never had discovered, and never would have discovered it left to themselves, but which the Father in great grace has revealed to his children through His servants, the Prophets and the Apostles. We see here the folly of testing the statements of Scripture by the conclusions of human reasoning or "the Christian Consciousness." The revelation of God transcends human reasoning, and a consciousness that is truly and fully Christian is the product of the study and absorption of Bible truth. If our consciousness differs from the statements of this book, it is not yet fully Christian, and the thing to do is not to try to pull God's revelation down to the level of our conscious- ness, but to tone our consciousness up to the level of God's Word.

The Revelation made to the Prophets was independent of their own thinking; it was made to them by the Spirit of Christ which was in them—and was a subject of inquiry to their own mind as to its meaning. It was not their thought, but His.

1 Peter 1:10-12 [10] Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, [11] trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. [12] It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

No prophetic utterance was of the Prophets' own will, but they spoke from God, and the Prophet was carried along in it by the Holy Spirit.

2 Peter 1:21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

It was the Holy Spirit who spoke in prophetic utterance; it was His word that was upon the Prophets' tongue.

Hebrews 3:7 So, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you hear his voice,

Hebrews 10:15-16 [15] The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: [16] "This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds."

Acts 28:25 They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: "The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your forefathers when he said through Isaiah the prophet:

2 Samuel 23:2 The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; his word was on my tongue.

The prophet was simply the mouth by which the Holy Spirit spoke. As a man, except as the Spirit taught him and used him, the prophet was fallible as other men are, but when the Spirit was upon him, and he was taken up and borne along by the Holy Spirit, he was infallible in his teachings. The teaching, indeed was not his, but the Holy Spirit's. God was speaking, not the prophet. For example, Paul doubtless had many mistaken notions, but when he taught as an apostle, under the Spirit's power, he was infallible—or rather, the Spirit who taught through him, and the consequent teaching, were infallible—as infallible as God. We do well to carefully distinguish what Paul may have thought as a man, and what he actually did as an apostle. In the Bible we have the record of what he taught as an apostle, with the possible exception of the following:

1 Corinthians 7:6, 25 [6] I say this as a concession, not as a command. [25] Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy.

Here he does not seem to have been sure that he had the word of the Lord and is careful to note the fact, thus giving additional certainty to all other passages.

It is sometimes said that Paul taught in his early epistles that the Lord would return during his lifetime, and in this was of course mistaken. But Paul never taught anywhere that the Lord would return during his lifetime.

1 Thessalonians 4:17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

In this, as he was still alive, he naturally did not include himself with those who were fallen asleep in speaking of the Lord's return. Quite probably he did believe that he might be alive, and the attitude of expectancy is the true attitude in all ages for every believer. Paul probably rather believed he would live to the coming of the Lord, but he did not so teach. The Holy Spirit kept him from this as all other errors in his teachings.

The Holy Spirit in the Apostle taught not only the thought (or "concept") but the words in which the thought was to be expressed.

1 Corinthians 2:13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.

This is not only a necessary inference from the fact that thought is conveyed from mind to mind by words, and if the words were imperfect the thought expressed in those words would necessarily be imperfect, but it is distinctly so stated. Nothing could be plainer than Paul's statement "in words, which the Spirit teaches." The Holy Spirit has Himself anticipated all these modern ingenious but unbiblical and false theories regarding His own work in the apostles.

The more carefully and minutely one studies the wording of the statements of this wonderful book, the more he will become convinced of the marvelous accuracy of the words used to express the thought. To a superficial student the doctrine of verbal inspiration may appear questionable or even absurd, but any regenerated and Spirit-taught man who ponders the words of the Scripture day after day and year after year will become convinced that the wisdom of God is in the very words, as well as in the thought which is expressed in the words. It is an impressive fact that our difficulties with the Bible rapidly disappear as we note the precise language used. The change of a word or letter, of a tense, case, or number would land us in contradiction or untruth, but taking the words just as written, difficulties disappear and truth shines forth.

The Divine origin of nature shines forth clearly under the use of the microscope as we see the perfection of form and adaptation of the minutest particles of matter. So likewise the Divine origin of the Bible shines forth clearly under the microscope as we note the perfection with which the turn of a word reveals the absolute thought of God.

QUESTION: If the Holy Spirit is the author of the words of Scripture, how do we account for variations in style and diction?—that, for example, Paul always uses Pauline language, and John, Johannean, etc.

ANSWER: If we could not account at all for this fact it would have little weight against the explicit statement of God's Word, with anyone who is humble and wise enough to recognize that there are a great many things which he can not account for at all, which could be easily accounted for if he knew more. But these variations are easily accounted for. The Holy Spirit is quite wise enough and has quite enough facility in the use of language in revealing truth to and through any individual, to use words, phrases and forms of expression in that person's vocabulary and forms of thought, and to make use of that person's peculiar individuality. It is a mark of the Divine wisdom of this book that the same Divine truth is expressed with absolute accuracy in such widely variant forms of expression.

The utterances of the Apostles and the Prophets were the Word of God. When we read these words we are not listening to the voice of man, but to the voice of God.

Mark 7:13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.

2 Samuel 23:2 The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; his word was on my tongue.

1 Thessalonians 2:13 And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.


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