The Scriptures often speak of the indwelling of the Spirit, but it also speaks of God and Jesus dwelling in us. These terms speak of the relationship we have with God.
We have this relationship as we are directed by the Word, which is the Sword of the Spirit. The Spirit speaks through the Word but it does not become the Word. In the same way, the Spirit spoke through the prophets in the Old Testament, but the Spirit did not become the prophets.
Many passages say what the Word does, the Spirit also does.
The Spirit never circumvents the Gospel in dealing with man. There is no record of anyone ever being saved by the Spirit without having to obey the Word.
The Spirit and the Word are not the same thing. Just because the Scriptures say the Word does something does not cancel out the activity of the Spirit.
Some assemble charts to prove that whenever the Bible speaks of the activity of the Spirit, it is actually speaking of the influence of the Word revealed by the Spirit in our lives.
Does this chart prove that the activity of the Spirit and Word are identical?
Work Spirit Word A. Instructs Neh. 9:30 2 Tim. 3:16-17 B. Teaches John 14:26 John 6:45 C. Begets John 3:5 1 Cor. 4:15 D. Convicts John 16:8 Titus 1:9 E. Quickens John 6:63
F. Guides John 16:13 2 Tim. 3:16-17 G. Born of John 3:5 1 Pet. 1:23 H. Sanctifies 1 Pet. 1:2 John 17:17; 2 Thess. 2:13-14 I. Saves 1 Cor. 6:11 James 1:21 J. Washes 1 Cor. 6:11 Eph. 5:26 K. Comforts Acts 9:31 1 Thess. 4:18 L. Seals Eph. 1:13 Rev. 7:3-4 M. Witnesses Rom. 8:16 John 5:39 N. Gives love Rom. 5:5 1 John 2:5 O. Gives joy Gal. 5:22 1 Thess. 1:6
Oneness Pentecostals make charts showing passages that teach the Father and Son do the same thing to prove they are the one and same personality. They put the activity of the Father in one column and the Son in another column. From their chart they conclude that the Father and Son are the same identical person.
Oneness Pentecostals miss the point that the Father and Son work together to accomplish their goals.
We must not rule out a similar cooperation with the Spirit and the Word.
Example: Both God and our effort are involved in providing our food.
a. Gods promise
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.
c. Our effort
2 Thessalonians 3:12
Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.
It is not just our effort nor just the providing of God. In the same way, when we find the Bible saying that both the Word and Spirit do the same thing, it is not just the Word at work or just the Spirit at work, it is both working together.
We need both the Spirit and the Word
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.
God dwells in us and is our Father. He becomes active in our lives.
His relationship to us is not limited to just us reading the Word and following it. Instead, the Bible tells us God takes an active role in the lives of those who are obedient to His Word. One of the ways God does this is through the activity of the Spirit.
Prayer, studying and the Spirit working together in Ephesians.
1. Paul prayed for God to give the Ephesians wisdom and understanding.
Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.
2. Paul said when the Ephesians read, they could have his understanding.
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles 2 if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, 3 how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, 4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), 5 which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets.
3. Paul prayed that the Ephesians would be strengthened by the Spirit.
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Which was it? Was it Pauls prayers for the Ephesians or their personal effort as they studied what had been revealed by the Spirit? It was not one or the other, but both working together!
If the Ephesians refused to read and obey, all the prayers of Paul would not help.
Paul was asking for a change to take place in their lives. This change would be accomplished by God answering Pauls prayers and becoming involved in their lives. It would also be accomplished by their efforts as they studied the Word of God.
God helps those who help themselves
This phrase is not found in the Bible, but the principle is. God would help the Ephesians who were studying the Scriptures.
We must be studying! Some early Christians were rebuked for not growing in knowledge as they should (Heb. 5:11-14).
2 Peter 3:18 is a command we must choose to obey!
but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The Spirit dwells in those who seek God and grow in knowledge of His Word. As He indwells them, He actively works in their lives.
The influence of the Word and Gods actions together in Philippians
1. The Philippians had fellowship (participation - NASB) in the gospel. This was their responsibility.
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, 5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.
2. God began a work in the Philippians by the gospel preached by Paul in Acts 16. God is also going to finish this work. The Word is absolutely required, but God is also involved.
being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
3. Paul prayed for them so they might grow in knowledge and discernment. Why did Paul pray for them if all that is involved is us studying the Word? By his prayers, is not Paul asking for God to step into the lives of the Philippians and cause things to happen that would not have happened if Paul had not prayed?
And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ.
a. Fruit from Christ
being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
b. Fruit from the Spirit
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
c. Fruit from the Word
We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth.
Which is it? It is all three working together!
4. Paul expected the Spirit to be active in his life through the prayers of the Philippians.
For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
5. The Philippians obeyed, at the same time, God was at work in their lives.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
6. Paul trusted the Lord to be active in his life and the lives of other Christians.
But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state.
But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly.
7. Writing was a safeguard. The Philippians were responsible for reading and obeying what Paul wrote.
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.
Why not just trust God to take care of everything? Didnt Paul say God would finish the job with the Philippians? The Philippians still had their responsibilities!
being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
8. Our obedience and God working in our lives are intertwined.
I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.
9. The Bible commands us to be anxious for nothing. This is our responsibility. We also have peace from prayer because God is active in our lives.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
10. God will supply their needs. Those who obey Gods Word know God is actively involved in their lives. This is something in addition to the influence of the Word in our lives.
And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Our responsibility and Gods actions together in Psalms 119
Psalm 119 is dedicated to showing the greatness of Godís Word. While showing the greatness of God's Word, it teaches that God is active in our lives in addition to the Word.
1. Our responsibility in Psalm 119
Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart! 3 They also do no iniquity; they walk in His ways.
With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! 11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.
I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches. 15 I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways. 16 I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.
I have chosen the way of truth; Your judgments I have laid before me. 31 I cling to Your testimonies; O Lord, do not put me to shame!
So shall I have an answer for him who reproaches me, for I trust in Your word.
So shall I keep Your law continually, forever and ever.
And I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts.
And I will delight myself in Your commandments, which I love. 48 My hands also I will lift up to Your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on Your statutes.
The proud have me in great derision, yet I do not turn aside from Your law.
2. Godís activity in our lives in Psalm 119
With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law.
My soul clings to the dust; Revive me according to Your word.
Make me understand the way of Your precepts; so shall I meditate on Your wonderful works. 28 My soul melts from heaviness; strengthen me according to Your word. 29 Remove from me the way of lying, and grant me Your law graciously.
I will run the course of Your commandments, for You shall enlarge my heart.
Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it. 36 Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness. 37 Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way.
Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe Your commandments.
Direct my steps by Your word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me. 134 Redeem me from the oppression of man, that I may keep Your precepts.
Psalm 119:160 says ďThe sum of Thy word is truth.Ē We need to put together all the Bible says on any subject to determine truth. The Bible teaches the need of us studying and obeying the revealed Words of the Spirit. It also speaks of Godís activity in our lives in many ways in addition to the influence of the Word. Which teaching is true? Both are! When we put them together we find that God is very active in the lives of any who devote themselves to studying and obeying His Word.
(Wayne Wells preaches in Texarkana, TX. He is the webmaster for http://godofmercy.com and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)