Dear Church Family,
This morning, the Lord spoke to me. I’m not talking about a feeling or a general idea about something. There were actual words by which God spoke to me in a very deliberate and concrete manner. I was sitting in my study at the church. This is what He said, “The chariots of God are myriads, thousands upon thousands; The Lord is among them as at Sinai, in holiness. You have ascended on high, You have led captive Your captives; You have received gifts among men, Even among the rebellious also, that the LORD God may dwell there.”
This was a strange word from the Lord indeed! What could it mean? I considered this word from the Lord and began to ask questions. Does Sinai have something to do with how God visited His people after the exodus, when He redeemed Israel from slavery? What about this idea about someone ascending on high, leading captives so that the rebellious would receive gifts and dwell in the holy presence of God?
It’s then that the Lord spoke to me again. The words were as clear and as understandable as the first time as the first time He spoke. By way of explanation, He said, “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.” Ah, the first word from the Lord must be speaking about Christ, but I was still a bit confused. So the Lord clarified even further: “Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.”
Now, I understood better what the Holy Spirit had been saying: The Son of God came in the flesh (He descended to the earth) and then He ascended on high (returned to heaven). And, in so doing, He has taken His people with Him (a host of captives), giving them gifts and bringing them into communion with God! What a glorious word from the Lord!
In case you haven’t guessed by now, I was reading the Bible. The first passage by which the Holy Spirit spoke to me was by way of Psalm 68:17-18. The second passage by which the Holy Spirit spoke to me (by way of explanation) was Ephesians 4:7-10. I haven’t succumbed to schizophrenia and begun hearing voices in my head. I was simply reading God’s Word.
This little exercise is an example of some of the profound and practical things that we learn in the first chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) – “Of the Holy Scripture” – which we examined this past Sunday in our adult Sunday school class). The Confession makes several points about the importance and necessity of Scripture. We learn several things about the Word of God that hopefully will encourage all believers to study and read the Bible, understanding that they are hearing the Holy Spirit, Himself.
First, while in the past, the Lord has declared His will to His people in various ways (theophanies or physical manifestations of His presence, dreams, visions, signs, wonders, an audible voice and direct communications, etc.), at the coming of Christ, those ways have now ceased (Hebrews 1:1-2). Therefore, God has committed all of these former revelations wholly unto writing (2 Peter 1:17-21). This is the teaching of the first paragraph of chapter one of the Confession (WCF 10:1).
Second, while there are many reasons to esteem the Holy Scripture, man cannot be convinced and persuaded of the divine authority of the Bible apart from the inward work of the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:20-27; 1 Corinthians 2:10-12). And, the Holy Spirit bears witness in our hearts by and with the written Word of God. (John 16:13-14). This is the teaching of the fifth paragraph of chapter one of the Confession (WCF 10:5).
Third, the supreme Judge and arbiter of truth is the Lord speaking in the Scripture (Ephesians 2:19-22; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Revelation 22:18-29). Whatever creeds and confessions we have received from history, whatever man has written in the past, whatever we presently believe to be true as individuals or as the people of God – all are to be examined by, and to submit to, the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture. This is the teaching of the tenth paragraph of chapter one of the Confession (WCF 10:10).
In reference to this first chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith, B.B. Warfield writes:
There is certainly in the whole mass of confessional literature no more nobly conceived or ably wrought-out statement of doctrine then the chapter ‘Of the Holy Scripture,’ which the Westminster Divines placed at the head of their confession and laid at the foundation of their system of doctrine. It has commanded the hearty admiration of all competent readers. (The Westminster Assembly and Its Work, 1901)
May the Lord add His blessing to our reading of His Word. God has inspired the prophets and apostles of old to set down His will for the Church in written form. May He, therefore, also give us a renewed zeal to read and study the Bible, illumining our hearts, such that we may hear Him speak in the Scripture. Indeed, it is a wonderful blessing and great privilege to hear direct communication from the Holy Spirit!
The Lord be with you!
- Pastor Peter M. Dietsch