Perusal, Winter 2018: God Talk and the Holy Spirit

(* perusal; to examine or consider with attention and in detail)

Psalm 119:130, “The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.”

Last month we were witness to a “supermoon”, which occurs when the moon is full and at its perigee, or when its orbit brings it closer to the earth.  This month a blue, blood moon and lunar eclipse took place.  (Wow, the astrologers must be having over sensory perception)!  The events were astounding…. bright, colorful, majestic, and reflective. But the moon has no light source of its own; it is basically a giant mirror reflecting the sun’s significant light to the earth.  They were breathtaking, but only reflections.

We are made in God’s image, meaning we were created with the capacity to know moral right from wrong; to love God with our minds because we are gifted with capacity to think; and gifted with the capacity to receive grace and respond to God’s glory.  How are these capacities realized since we also have hearts that are not inclined to the nature of God?  Eph. 4:17 – 18; “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk … having…understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart…”  In Genesis, God said, “Let light exist” and distinguished light from darkness by declaring the light as “good”.  Light and darkness are metaphors used to segregate “good and evil”.

How do we know this and how do we distinguish the “light from the darkness”? We turn to God’s word in humility, in submission, and in obedience. I fear the Bible is no longer “the Book”.  People today are reeling from the barrage of ideas that bombard our sensibilities.  Media technology rains down upon us in torrents and unless our understanding is enlightened by the Holy Spirit we are doomed to ever shrinking attention spans that are not very enthused by an ever shrinking God.  We do not have time or patience for the Bible’s timeless message which speaks to conscience and demands serious thought.

Neil Postman wrote thirty-five years ago, we are “amusing ourselves to death!” Drama, comedy, suspense, lights, cameras (selfies), and action all pander to the notion that the Bible, as it is, is too boring or inadequate to compete with the culture’s shiny things. Little wonder that the Holy Spirit is  thought to be the Promoter of the Trinity, its Agent.  Folk with little or no knowledge of scripture or the work of the Holy Spirit, probably have never heard the Bible rightly used at all. No matter, they are followed as prophets, priests, and kings.

The Bible was never given to amuse or entertain us.  It reveals the one true God that chose in His grace to disclose to sinners who He is.  And He also discloses who we are.  God the Holy Spirit is the Bible’s true author and interpreter of the Scriptures, and we can only profit from them if we humbly and reverently depend upon Him for help. As Dr. R. C. Sproul said, “People in awe never complain that church is boring.”

This leads me to address the nature of all the “God talk” today.  Entertainers, athletes, politicians, ad naseum, stand before cameras and microphones thanking God for their “win”, their “victory”.  It is wonderful when true believers glorify our Lord Jesus Christ.  But there is more to the Christian life than a brief testimony as to God’s help in elevating someone’s talents to help them “win”.

What would happen if these people thanked God for all of His word?  If the false notion of an amoral Jesus that never judges anyone is disregarded for the true Lord Jesus Christ found in the Gospels and explained in the Epistles as the Judge of this present, evil world.  Would the “God talk” be permitted or suppressed?  How would the entertainment bloggers, the media moguls respond?  Their hypocrisy would seethe with anti-Christian vitriol, all the while accusing the spokesman of “hate talk”. 

Unfortunately many churches have abandoned the primacy of Scripture.  J. I. Packer writes in his little book, “Under God’s Word”, “No function of the church, clerical or lay, can supersede in importance to teaching of the Bible.”  God spoke “in times past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son.” (Heb. 1:1-2).  Prophets, or foretellers of future events, are no longer needed for we have the witness of God’s only Son and a completed canon of scripture.  We do need forth telling of the Word, preachers that declare “thus says the Lord”.   Paul admonishes Timothy to “preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:2) with the full knowledge that the foolishness of preaching still pleases God!

Paul warned Timothy of coming “perilous times of difficulty (2 Tim. 3:1-5).  In the very same chapter he talks of impostors, deceiving and being easily deceived.  He outlines a way of safety for the young pastor - do the work of an evangelist continuing in the things he had learned. It needs to be stressed that the word of God is learned and learning is hard work.  Timothy is to learn from the “…sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”  To be approved of God, to be unashamed at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to be equipped for every good work, he must adhere to a straight course by an unswerving fidelity to the inspiration, truthfulness, and authority of ALL scripture.

“The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.” God gifted to us His Holy Spirit because of His amazing love for humanity.  The Holy Spirit in turn authored the Word via human conduits, the prophets and apostles.  They freely inhaled scripture as exhaled by God in order to exalt the preeminent Christ Jesus.  We can trust the Bible alone as inerrant and infallible because the Trinity is both.  “Let God be true though every one were a liar…” (Rom. 3:4).

Our “God talk” is to be saturated with the Bible - not our presuppositions about it or our preconceived and unverified notions of it.  Arrogating ourselves as prophets, dreamers, healers, or proof-text interpreters only diminishes the veracity of God’s word, intended to make us wise to salvation.  What more could we need or ask?  Again as Packer writes, “Every right use of the Bible will respect and seek to realize the end for which it was written.”

Sola Deo Gloria!  Pastor Carey