The Work of the Holy Spirit in Teaching
by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
The teaching in the Bible about the work of the Holy Spirit is plain, but many in today's religious society confuse the issue. Part of the confusion is the mysticism that made to surround the Holy Spirit and his work. We are not satisfied with simple answers, we want something more. Yet that is human desire and not God's teaching.
In the days of the Old Testament, we read that "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways" (Hebrews 1:1). Yet that message did not come directly to man, nor was it made up by men. "For no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God" (II Peter 1:21). A major work of the Holy Spirit was to deliver the Father's message to mankind.
That same work continued into the New Testament. Taking of these Old Testament prophets, Peter said, "It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven--things into which angels long to look" (I Peter 1:12). That word, the Gospel or Good News that the Holy Spirit brought from heaven has the power to save. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16). Therefore, we need to listen to that message. "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
Yet, some want to separate the worker from his tools. We may say that Dr. Kost operated on me. We naturally assume that the good doctor did not use his bare hands, but applied tools to accomplish the task. It does not diminish the skill of the doctor nor the precision of his work to recognize the tools within his hands.
When we say that Holy Spirit operates upon sinners, it does not mean that no tools were employed by the Spirit to accomplish his task. And the fact that the Spirit used tools does not diminish the power of his work. The tool that the Holy Spirit uses to teach, convict, and save mankind is the word which he brought from God.
"And He [that is the Holy Spirit] , when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment" (John 16:8).
"For he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ" (Acts 18:28).
The verses talk about the same thing, the convicting of sinners. The first speaks of the one wielding the tool, the second speaks of the tool being used.
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5).
"For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God" (I Peter 1:23).
The first verse shows we must be born of the Spirit, the second shows the tool the Spirit used to bring that birth about.
"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you" (John 14:26).
This work has been done by the Spirit. Paul said, "That by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit" (Ephesians 3:3-5).
Just as before, the first speaks of the doer (the Spirit) and the second speaks of how he did it (the written word). Thereby we read, "Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence" (II Peter 1:3). Jesus promised that the Spirit would teach all things, and Peter said he, by God's divine power, that everything pertaining to life and godliness was granted to us through true knowledge.
Our Bible is an incredible document, incredibly wrought beyond the skill of any man. We are not diminishing the power of the Spirit of God when we recognize that God's Spirit said he accomplished his work of teaching through the writings of the men he inspired.