Friday, 19 September 2014
Words Taught by the Spirit: A Meditation
And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom
but taught by the Spirit,
interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
1 Corinthians 2:13
The alarm jolts me awake. Before my feet even hit the floor, I know. I’m in a funk. Sometime during the night a mood has crept in like the marine layer over San Francisco. I’m grumpy. Or troubled. Or something. Some moods resist labeling.
Coffee in hand, I drift to my favorite to chair to meet with the Lord. But instead of opening the Book, I open my journal. Years have taught me not to keep my thoughts to myself. If I wallow in my mood, it will swallow me. “Father, I’m in a funk. Help me to label it.”
My words. My words aren’t inspired, but they are still a gift from God. Words help me to objectify my moods. Not words swirling in my head, but words laid out on paper or spoken to a trusted friend. The fog becomes ordered by adjectives describing, nouns labeling, lists enumerating. I thank God for words.
This is what song writers do. They craft their longings into poetry. This is what the psalmist did. He alphabetized his suffering and his joy. This is what I need God’s Spirit to help me do as I pour out my mood on paper.
His Word. Then I need to be silent and listen to his words. I open my Bible. “Father, speak to my mood. Speak to me, in the midst of my mood and the needs of this day.”
I am frankly amazed at God’s faithfulness to answer that prayer day after day for all the years of my adult life. I can testify that the Word of God is living and active, always relevant to my little life. I don’t have to go on a search for the perfect verse either. God speaks truth about himself in every word, sentence, and paragraph. I thank God for his Word, which brings an objective course correction to my subjective wanderings.
His Spirit. Why is his word so powerful? Because he takes me beyond my words. Because the Spirit speaks words from God’s heart into mine through the pages of Scripture. The Spirit doesn’t bypass the Word, he speaks through the Word. That’s what our meditation passage for the week tells us. God reveals his inmost thoughts to us through the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:10). We have received his Spirit so that we might understand his mind (2:12). These things come through words taught by the Spirit (2:13).
John Piper writes about Luther’s love of Scripture:
Luther calls it the “external Word” to emphasize that it is objective, fixed, outside ourselves, and therefore unchanging. It is a Book. Neither ecclesiastical hierarchy nor fanatical ecstasy can replace it or shape it. It is “external,” like God. You can take or leave it. But you can’t make it other than what it is. It is a book with fixed letters and words and sentences.
Without the “external Word” we would not know one spirit from the other, and the objective personality of the Holy Spirit himself would be lost in a blur of subjective expressions. Cherishing the Book implied to Luther that the Holy Spirit is a beautiful person to be known and loved, not a buzz to be felt.
Rejoice with me today! We have been given words taught by the Spirit, and we will never plumb the depths of all he has to say.