Holy Spirit is Needed
God’s Holy Spirit is more important than we realize. Christians acknowledge the dire need we have of instruction from the Bible. However, sometimes we forget the dire need we have of leading and instruction from the Holy Spirit. We cannot pick one over the other; we need them both like we need food and water.
God is not divided. So if we need His word, then we need His Spirit, because God is one God.
Scripture (the Bible) is inerrant, but it is not all sufficient for our lives. If it was, God would not have left us with His Holy Spirit. In fact, we can go so far as to say that Scripture is not even all of the Word of God - it is only a part. Jesus him is the full Word of God.
“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen. - John 21:25
I have recently realized that I (and much of the church), have unknowing lived as though “The Word of God” is solely the Bible - rather than realizing it is all of God’s word. This includes both what Jesus has yet to say for all eternity future (after he returns), and what God speaks through His Holy Spirit.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. - John 1:1-3
“Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. - Acts 13:1-2
Please don’t misunderstand me - I’m not downplaying the importance of the Bible. As I’m sure we would all agree, Paul reminds Timothy that the Scriptures contain what is needed for the perfecting of the man of God.
“And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 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 perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. - 2 Timothy 3:15-17
I once heard the phrase: “God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Scriptures”. This phrase points at two subtle ideas that might have leaked into our theology: 1) We speak as though Jesus is separate from the Word of God, and 2) The Holy Spirit could have nothing more to say than what is already apparent in the written Scriptures. However, this both of these are untrue and diminish God’s power.
Remember what the Jesus said to the Pharisees in John 5:38-39, “But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.”
If we think that knowledge of Scripture is all a Christian is called to, then we miss much of the leading of the Holy Spirit that the 1) prophets, 2) early Church, and 3) Christians in the end time so critically rely on. I will quickly give three examples:
The Prophets needed more than Scripture
Every single prophet ever had the leading of the Holy Spirit: sometimes along with dreams, visions, angels, miracles, and the voice of the Lord.
It wasn’t careful study of scripture that instructed Hosea to marry a prostitute, Abraham to leave his home for a place God would show him, Elijah to call down fire from heaven, or David to slay Goliath with a smooth stone.
God was active in leading and speaking through his prophets. Some like Daniel referenced scripture (Daniel 9:2) and some like Abraham simply believed what God spoke to them.
The Early Church needed more than Scripture
In Acts we find a church sharing the gospel of the kingdom of God with only the Jews. Despite the many prophecies in Isaiah, Daniel, the Psalms, and others; God chooses a different way to bring an understanding of His salvation to the Jewish believers.
“Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. - Acts 11:19
It is in this first revelation to the new church that we find God teaching correct doctrine about the Gentiles in six ways - only one of being the actual Scriptures. God used a vision, an angel, His Holy Spirit, a Miracle/Work (speaking in tongues), the words of Jesus, and the finally Scripture.
“Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of four footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. - Acts 10:9-14
It’s interesting that Peter is not studying Scriptures (many of which speak about the Gentiles) when he comes to understand about the Gentiles being saved by Christ. God uses a vision, instead of Scripture (though the vision aligns perfectly with Scripture).
At the same time Cornelius is instructed by an Angel (not Scripture) while fasting and praying.
“And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. - Acts 10:30-31
Furthermore, while Peter is thinking about what just happened we see God speak in another way - using God’s Holy Spirit.
“While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. - Acts 10:19-20
After speaking only part of the gospel, we see a miracle or sign take place right away.
“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? - Acts 10:44-47
When Peter goes back to Jerusalem, he encounters resistance from the believers who still think that going to the Gentiles is wrong.
“And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them. - Acts 11:1-3
Yet amazingly, Peter does not counter their arguments with Scripture. Instead he testifies of what things God has done and they (also having the Holy Spirit) are satisfied.
“But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them… - Acts 11:4
“Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life. - Acts 11:17-18
The Tribulation Saints need more than Scripture
Revelation describes how the saints of the Lord God will overcome Satan. To my surprise it wasn’t with Scripture - but by the blood of Jesus (His work) and the word of their testimony (also God’s Work):
“And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. - Revelation 12:10-11
Ultimately, I guess that is fitting because the most powerful apologetic a Christian possesses is simply their testimony. The best arguments, science, and history are not as powerful as proclaiming what great things God has done for you. After all, it is by faith, not knowledge, that we are saved.