It is often difficult to lead people to see the close relationship sustained by the Holy Spirit to the Word of God in the salvation of sinful man. Many times people are led to believe that the Holy Spirit operates separate and apart from God's Word to save man, and even excludes the power of the word in saving man from sin. The work of the Holy Spirit should never be minimized nor discounted, but we should learn where and how the power of the Spirit is exerted. Then we shall also more fully evaluate the power of God's Word, for they unite in our salvation.

Whereas the apostle Paul referred to the word of God as "the gospel of your salvation" (Eph. 1:13), he by no means downgraded the work of the Holy Spirit. For it is shown that the Spirit has revealed and confirmed the gospel. Paul also wrote, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation" (Rom. 1:16). But Paul also realized that the Spirit gave the gospel its power.

That we may have greater clarity in this matter, we have presented in our chart some of the things which the Holy Spirit and the word of God both do, or accomplish, in God's plan for man's salvation. A careful and diligent study will disclose that the Spirit works through the word. They are not rivals and competitors, but collaborate in our reconciliation to God. The Holy Spirit presented the gospel which discloses the terms of salvation. By the joint power, a man may be saved from sin. In Eph. 6: 17, we read, "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." So, the sword of the Spirit is God's word. God's word is the weapon which the Holy Spirit uses in waging His spiritual warfare.


"The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of god" (Rom. 8:16). From this we find that the Holy Spirit bears witness. But Jesus said, "Ye search the scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life; and these are they which bear witness of me" (Jno. 5:39). The Scriptures (the word of God) bear witness, even as does the Spirit. As we look further, we find that the Spirit also testifies: "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning" (Jno. 15:26,27). Thus, it is made clear that the Holy Spirit testifies through the word of God. Aside from that word, given by the Spirit, there is no testimony.


The Spirit has been employed to instruct in God's will. "Yet many years didst thou forbear them, and testifidst against them by thy spirit in thy prophets: yet would they not give ear: therefore gavest thou them into the hand of the people of the lands" (Neh. 9:30). But instruction is also imparted by the Scriptures: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, fro correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:16,17). So, we find that both the Spirit and the word instruct. For the Spirit uses the word to impart God's instructions. They do not work independently or separately.


Jesus said of the Holy Spirit, "And he, when he is come, will convict the world in respect of sin, and of righteousness, and judgment" (Jno. 16:8). Then, in Titus 1:9, it is written, "Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince (convict) the gainsayers". From thse two passages, we learn that both the Spirit and the word of God convict (or convince) the world. But a careful investigation discloses that the Holy Spirit reproves through the word which He has delivered and confirmed.


There can be no spiritual life without the Holy Spirit, for "The spirit giveth life" (2 Cor. 3:6). And James wrote, "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures" (Jas. 1:18). The apostle Paul wrote of the Corinthians, "For in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel" (1 Cor. 4:15). The Holy Spirit gives life when one is begotten by the gospel which the Spirit has given.


Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (Jno. 3:5). So, one must be born of the Spirit. The spiritual birth is explained more fully in 1 Pet. 1:22,23, "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." So, one is born by the word of God, which is the "seed of the kingdom" (Lk. 8:11). The Spirit operates through the word of God to produce a new creature in God's spiritual family.


The apostle Paul wrote, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5). But joined with this is the admonition from James 1:21, "Receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls." The Spirit saves us, and so does the word of God (Rom. 1:16). Thus, the Holy Spirit uses His Word to save us.


After showing the base state of the unsaved, Paul wrote, "And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Cor. 6:11) This power to sanctify (or "set apart") which is here credited to the Holy Spirit, is also exerted through the word of God, for Jesus prayed, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" (Jno. 17:17). People who respond to the influence of the Holy Spirit to be set apart, or sanctified, are responding to the word which the Spirit gave.


The cleansing power of the Spirit is also exerted through the word of God, for the Lord Jesus said: "Now are ye clean through the word which I have spoken unto you" (Jno. 15:3). This cleansing is shown again in Eph. 5:25,26, "Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word". This cleansing is accomplished by a washing in water which is taught in the word by the Holy Spirit.


The apostle Paul wrote, "Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his...But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you" (Rom. 8:9-11). So, the Holy Spirit dwells in Christians. But Paul also wrote, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom" (Col. 3:16). The Holy Spirit and the word of God both dwell in the Christian. And the Spirit dwells in us in correlation to the word which we imbibe.


Another joint participation of the Spirit and the word of God is in imparting strength to the Christian. "That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man" (Eph. 3:16). But the apostle also said, "And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified" (Acts 20:32). The Spirit strengthens, and the word of God builds us up. Surely we can see that the Spirit builds us up and strengthens us through the word of God.


In Rom. 15:13, Paul speaks of "the power of the Holy Spirit." It was by His power tht light came into the world (Gen. 1:2,3). And the power of creation is revealed in Heb. 1:3, as we read of God and "the word of his power." So, again we find the parallel.


Also, in Rom. 8:11, the resurrection is said to be by the Spirit. And Jesus said in Jno. 5:28,29 that it is by the word of God. Still there is no rivalry. This is not competitive action, but the Spirit of God moving and working through the word of God.

Many people are standing apart from salvation which the Spirit offers through God's word because they have been led to believe that the Spirit will work some miracle of faith within them. But God declares, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). The first gospel sermon was presented by the apostles "as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:4). But notice the result: "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:41).

The Spirit gave the word of God, but that word had to be accepted in "obedience of faith" (Rom. 1:5) in order for them to be saved.

By: Dillard Thurman. Gospel Minutes of July 30,1965. Reprinted in Gospel Minutes, July 20, 2001.

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