Word and Spirit
“God is spirit, and those that worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24)
The inseparable nature of the Word and Spirit is foundational to God’s creation order. There is a necessary balance between charismatic experience and biblical doctrine for the advancement of the gospel. Satan’s strategy down throughout history has been to keep the Word and the Spirit separated, resulting in either dry intellectualism or mindless experientialism. Someone, somewhere, at some time made the rather humorous but true observation: “If you are all Spirit you blow up. If you are all Word you dry up. If you are Spirit and Word you grow up!”
We can have both the Word and the Spirit without compromising either one. I cannot rightly understand the Scriptures apart from the anointing of God’s Spirit. You cannot divorce the Word and the Spirit they are “married “ and inseparable. The Word without the Spirit without a warrior to wield it. The Spirit without the Word is like a warrior without a sword. The Word is powerless and ineffective without the Spirit and the Spirit without the Word can lead to error. My spiritual experiences, as wonderful as they seem to be, must be examined and judged by the Scriptures. The Spirit of God and the Word of God (the Bible) are never in conflict. They speak with one voice.
As the evangelical pastor-scholar R.T. Kendall said,
“THERE HAS BEEN A SILENT DIVORCE IN THE CHURCH … between the Word and the Spirit. When there is a divorce, sometimes the children stay with the mother, sometimes with the father. In this divorce you have those on the Word side and those on the Spirit side. What is the difference? Those on the Word side stress earnestly contending for the faith once delivered to the saints, expository preaching, sound theology, rediscovering the doctrines of the Reformation—justification by faith, sovereignty of God. Until we get back to the Word, the honour of God’s name will not be restored. What is wrong with this emphasis? Nothing. It is exactly right, in my opinion. Those on the Spirit side stress getting back to the Book of Acts, signs, wonders, and miracles, gifts of the Holy Spirit—with places being shaken at prayer meetings, get in Peter’s shadow and you are healed, lie to the Holy Spirit and you are struck dead. Until we recover the power of the Spirit, the honour of God’s name will not be restored. What is wrong with this emphasis? Nothing. It is exactly right, in my opinion. The problem is, neither will learn from the other. But if these two would come together, the simultaneous combination would mean spontaneous combustion.”
While the separation of these in the church has resulted in the impairment of Christianity world-wide, the proper fusion of the Word and the Spirit will ignite the most explosive release of God’s power through the Gospel in history.