The Holy Spirit And The Holy Scriptures

We begin with a simple and yet profoundly helpful illustration from James Philip.
“The black plastic disc (for those who are more familiar with compact disc, he’s speaking about the vinyl record – you can replace ‘black plastic disc’ with ‘compact disc’!) that is put on the gramophone turntable has a voice within it, and when we put it on the pick-up the voice comes out; and every part of the disc contains the voice. You cannot say, “This part is the voice, but this part is only the plastic”, for all the playing surface contains the voice. You cannot separate the voice from the disc once the voice has been recorded. This is how it is with the Scriptures. You cannot separate the living Word of God from the written word that contains it. Every verse contains the voice. All you need is a pick-up. Sometimes the needle gets worn and when the record is put on it is no longer clear. A good needle is needed to bring the voice out, and sometimes when faith is not very strong, it is like putting on a faulty needle and you can hardly hear what is being said. But this is not the fault of the record, but of the needle. The record is a record whether you put it on or not; it does not become a record only when you put it on and play it. In the same way, the Bible is the Word of God whether faith picks up its message or not. When faith is strong and clear, the message is strong and clear, and out it comes in the most marvellous and wonderful way” (Studies in the Westminster Confession of Faith, Part 1, p. 13).
We hold together the Holy Spirit and the Holy Scriptures. We hold that Scripture does not derive its authority from the fact that we use it – not even when we use it in faith. We also emphasize that Scripture can only be experienced as God’s Word when we use it in accordance with its God-given purpose. We maintain that Scripture is recognized as the Word of God because it is the Word of God. We also emphasize that Scripture must be used – read and studied – if we are to experience its power as the Word of God.
We must emphasize both the Word and the Spirit – not the Word without the Spirit, and not the Spirit without the Word. If we seek to move forward with the Spirit without keeping in line with the Word, we will find ourselves drifting into confusion. It is the Word of God which the Spirit of God uses to keep us close to God. If we place high value on the Word, yet we do not experience the Spirit using the Word to lead us to Christ, we will drift into a barren and lifeless rationalism.
In Matthew 12:44, Jesus charged the Sadducees with knowing “neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.” We need both the Scriptures and the power of God. It is only as the Spirit is leading us, through the Word, to Christ that we will be able, in the Spirit’s power, to confess Scripture as the Word of God.

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