In Word and Power

Pursuing the Living God Through the Written Word

“…our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (1 Thessalonians 1:5 ESV).

In the 20th and early 21st Centuries, orthodox American Protestantism has largely consisted of two camps:

1. Evangelical churches focused on exegetical Bible teaching.

2. Charismatic and Pentecostal churches focused on experiences with the Holy Spirit.

It is God’s will that we emphasize both the Scriptures and the Spirit. Ministers of the Gospel are called to preach the Word in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2), by the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:1-5). We ought to use the Scriptures as our map to lead others to the fountain of living waters. The church should be immersed in the Word while seeking a relational, experiential knowledge of the living God.

When arguing with the religious leaders in Jerusalem, Jesus rebuked them, saying, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40 ESV). We see here the dangers of misusing the Scriptures to the point that we can’t see Jesus for who He truly is, even when He is standing right in front of us. But we shouldn’t go to the other extreme and neglect the Scriptures, for they really do bear witness to the Living Christ and invite us to come to Him and find eternal life (cf. Luke 24:25-27; 44-45).

The Church in our age must remember that Jesus Christ is not just a doctrine or a literary character. We must remember (and be reminded) that He is a living Person who loved us and gave Himself for us. We must also remember that He has chosen to reveal Himself largely through this strange, old library of books we call the Bible. God has given us the written word to lead us into an encounter with the Living Word, Jesus Christ.

Reflection Questions

1. What role do the Bible and the Holy Spirit have in my life?

2. What role do the Bible and the Holy Spirit have in the life of my church community?

3. What are some ways we can grow in our understanding of the Bible and communion with the Spirit and help others do the same?

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