The convergence of Word and Spirit
As we consider the person and power of the Holy Spirit—in particular the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church—it is helpful to look at two articles in the Bridgeway Statement of Faith. The first article is our statement on the inspiration and authority of the Bible, and the second is what we believe about the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
We believe that the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, are the inspired Word of God, without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of his will for the salvation of mankind, and the final authority for all Christian faith and life (Matthew 5:18; John 10:35; 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21).
We believe that the ministry of the Spirit in signs and wonders continues to be as broad, tangible, and powerful among believers today as it was in the early church. We also believe that all the biblical gifts of the Spirit continue to be distributed by the Spirit today; that these gifts are divine provisions central to spiritual growth and effective ministry; and that these gifts are to be eagerly desired, faithfully developed, and lovingly exercised according to biblical guidelines (John 14:12; Acts 2:14-21; 4:29-30; Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:7-11; 12:28-31; 14:1-33; Galatians 3:1-5).
You may be surprised to discover that there are a good number of Christians who say you can’t believe both. If you truly embrace the authority and finality and sufficiency of Scripture, so they say, you can’t believe that the Holy Spirit still bestows gifts such as prophecy and tongues and word of knowledge and discerning of spirits. If you are the kind of Christian, so they say, who enjoys digging deeply into God’s Word and thinking deeply about biblical truth, you can’t be open to the possibility of miracles and healing and prophetic revelation.
That is why people will often walk into Bridgeway and are shocked by what they discover. They discover that we are very serious about the written Word of God, that we teach it and preach it and live under its authority, and govern our lives, both individually and as a church body, according to its principles. The shock comes when they also discover that we are free and exuberant in worship and that we expect the Lord to speak to us prophetically and to work among us through all the spiritual gifts described in the Bible. They are shocked and wonder how it is that a church can maintain its sanity when we both preach the Bible verse-by-verse and then at the close of our services pray for the sick to be healed and for God to reveal himself to us through words of knowledge and prophecy.
Most Christians expect us eventually to move in the direction of one of these two emphases to the exclusion of the other. Given enough time, so they say, either our emphasis on the Bible will quench the Holy Spirit, or our openness to the supernatural and spiritual gifts will lure us away from God’s Word into the land of sensationalism and subjectivity.
You can’t be wholly and sincerely and thoroughly committed both to the Word and to the Spirit, or so they say. In response the question might be posed: What makes us think that God has given us the option of choosing one over the other? Where in God’s Word does it ever suggest, much less teach, that Christians should ever think that being grounded in Scripture quenches the Spirit, or being open to the Spirit undermines the authority of the Bible?
Put simply, Bridgeway is wholly committed to the convergence of both Word and Spirit, not simply as a theological statement but as a way of life and ministry. Our aim in all that we do, whether in corporate assembly, community group gatherings, discipleship, or missional outreach, is to serve in accordance with the Word of God through the power of the Spirit of God.