LEADER TIMES WEEKEND RELIGION ARTICLE FOR
April 20, 2013 by William H. Scarle, Jr.
We are in a period of the Church calendar which is called “Pentecost.” Actually Pentecost does not arrive until Sunday May 19. According to the Jewish calendar the festival of Shavuot, or Weeks, falls on Wednesday, April 15, exactly 50 days following Passover. Christians celebrate Pentecost as the time the Holy Spirit came upon the Church to equip it for the task of world evangelism.
Just prior to Easter I had finished teaching a unit of Bible study in our Wednesday evening program at the church on the resurrection of Jesus. We have only a six week period before our Wednesday program breaks for the summer, and I asked my Pastor what he would recommend we do in that short interval. He suggested I do a unit on the Holy Spirit, which I thought very appropriate.
When I retired from the pastoral ministry in 1994 I began teaching future preachers in connection with the Lay Ministers Institute, now renamed the Christian Leadership Institute. One of the several books I wrote and distributed for my students was a book called “MATTHEW’S MESSIAH – A Model for Exegetical Preaching.” In the introduction I included some material on the Holy Spirit and the written Word of God. My daughter has just transferred a good portion of my books on to a CD and as I began to read the results I thought I might pass on some of those thoughts in this period of Pentecost.
“The Church has always taught that the Word of God and the Spirit of God are in partnership. It is the Spirit that “inspired” the word written. ‘Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21)’ ‘All Scripture is god-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16).’ It is also the Spirit that attends the Word of God as it is studied and taught that it might accomplish the purpose God intended when he gave it. ‘But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth (John 16:13).’ ‘As the rain and the snow come from heaven, and does not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out of my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it (Isa. 55:10-11).’
It needs to be observed that the promise is that God will bless the Word that we preach. He will bless that which comes forth from the Word. There is no promise that God will bless what we bring to the Word. The blessing of God on our preaching is measured to the extent that what we preach is from the Word. There is no promise to bless the attention getters, the ice breakers, the comic relief, and the informal relationship builders that we often use in preaching. There is no promise to bless a style. There is no promise to bless our enthusiasm, our passion, our sincerity, our cleverness. There is a clear promise to bless the Word and to give it power.”
It has always been a comfort to me to know that as a teacher of God’s Word I am not alone. Looking back, and forward, I know that alone nothing much would have been accomplishes.
(Bill Scarle can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org). END-whs