This the 28th installment of 52 reviewing RA Torrey’s 1898 publication What The Bible Teaches. See all of Lex’s posts here. A PDF copy of the book can be downloaded here. You are welcome and encouraged to join the discussion in your comments to these posts.
THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, PROPHETS & APOSTLES
Torrey now discusses the work of the Spirit as it pertains to the work of the Old Testament Prophets and the New Testament Apostles. He is careful to distinguish the role of the Spirit in the offices and gifts the Spirit appointed in the first century church as Paul lists in 1 Corinthians 12 (apostles, prophets, teachers, etc.) from the ordinary Spirit-filled believers. All believers are endowed with the same Spirit but God uses whom He will and how He will for His own, sometimes special, purposes, though all for the greater glory of God, and none with lesser value than others.
I get a special thrill reading the Old Testament, in particular how the foretelling of New Testament ideas and ideals, the things of Christ, the things of the Spirit, of redemption and restoration, are depicted by the prophets though they may not quite have fully realized it at the time. This is particularly and especially pronounced in Isaiah, but is generously scattered throughout all the Prophetic books. Unless you read through the Bible from cover to cover a number of times you will miss so many of these gems which is a real shame, since they are such a blessing and encouragement. And as Peter wrote (1 Peter 1:10-12) even the prophets were trying to figure out just what these prophesies were supposed to mean, like we are doing today with the Book of Revelation and other end times prophesies. But when Jesus Christ came and completed His earthly ministry a lot of those prophesies became clear to His disciples.
Torrey brings attention to the prophet’s utterances being, not the words of the person of the prophet, but the very words of God Himself. Well, I guess that’s why the prophet would frequently say to his audience, “hear the word of the Lord,” right? It does make one wonder how the prophet knew that his next thoughts and words that would be coming out of his mind and mouth would be the words from God, though. Especially in a time when so many false prophets were telling so many lies in the Lord’s name. I suppose that is how intimate the relationship was between prophet and God. When Saul prophesied he couldn’t control himself, he couldn’t help but prophesy (1 Sam. 10:10). Maybe that’s how the all the prophets worked as well. They could just feel that the Spirit was in control and that they were somehow not. Wouldn’t you love it to have such regard by the Lord to feel His strength, His power like that?
Lastly Torrey touches on a favorite topic of mine, biblical textual criticism. “If the Holy Spirit is the author of the words of Scripture, how do we account for variations in style and diction from the human writers?” The answer is simple, so I’ll just point you to a fun web site where you can browse a lot of topics on the biblical text. It is Bible Research Internet Resources for Students of Scripture. The texts that are the foundation of the translations we enjoy today is such a remarkable and fascinating case study. The skeptic in his ignorance thinks it preposterous that an intelligent human being could believe in the Bible, but just the opposite is the case. When you look at the texts, and the case for their accuracy, how can a reasonable person not believe?