Word and Spirit

A pastor born in 1935, now with two doctoral degrees, views his life work in this way. You are in here somewhere.

Our premiss is this. It seems to us that there has been a ‘silent divorce’ in the church, speaking generally, between the Word and the Spirit. When there is a divorce, some children stay with the mother, some stay with the father.

In this divorce, there are those on the ‘word’ side and those on the ‘Spirit’ side. What is the difference?

Take those of us who represent the Word. Our message is this: we must earnestly contend for the faith ‘once delivered unto the saints’ (Jude 3), we need get back to expository preaching, sound doctrine such as justification by faith, the sovereignty of God and the internal testimony of the Spirit as taught by men like Martin Luther, John Calvin and Jonathan Edwards. What is wrong with this emphasis? Nothing. It is exactly right.

Take those whose emphasis has been on the Holy Spirit. What is the message? We need to rediscover the power that was manifested in the Book of Acts, there needs to be a demonstration of signs, wonders and miracles; we need to see the gifts of the Spirit operating in the church – that the world will once again take notice of the church so that people are left without excuse. What is wrong with this emphasis? Nothing. It is exactly right.

We believe that the need of the hour is not one or the other – but both! It is our view that this simultaneous combination will result in spontaneous combustion! And then, but almost certainly only then, will the world be shaken once again by the message of the church.

This was the message I have preached over the years at Westminster Chapel in London. This is what we are endeavoring to preach in America and around the world. This is not all we preach but it is certainly one of the main things we preach alongside the need for total forgiveness and learning to be sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit.

YOUR TURN: Where does your spiritual journey fit into this descriptions? What seems accurate about this assessment of Christianity and its message? What seems in accurate?

Leave a reply–your input betters this post!

2 thoughts on “Word and Spirit

  1. how do we make this transition as a church? this is so true, but i wonder about how we move from word to word & spirit. do we teach more about the spirit, trusting that God will work in our teaching? or is that depending on our way of doing things to bring about something new?

    anyway, good quote. thanks for making me think.

    • Great question. A few ingredients of the discussion:

      1) Emphasis on seeking after God will always take us in the right direction. As we engage increasingly with Him, He will quite capably dominate the agenda in whatever ways He chooses to.

      2) More attention to the Spirit is definitely a good thing–through our teaching, discussion, visiting, and more. He’s not the loose cannon of the Godhead, eagerly waiting to conflict with the Word. He’s the Life-giver — always has been. It’s lunacy to try living the SPIRITual life without central attention upon the SPIRIT.

      3) Desire is a big deal. Word-people, we tend to guard ourselves against Spirit-people’s ways, mostly because we’ve met or observed a few nuts along the way. But if preserving oneself from nuttiness becomes a more dominant desire than God’s powerful presence in my life, then I’ve long ago succumbed to idolatry.

      Three thoughts for my two cents. What else is there to consider?

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