“He will not speak of his own; he will speak only what he hears” (John 16:13).
Did you catch the glimpse of an astounding mystery of the interaction of the persons of the Triune God revealed in this verse found just after the Gospel for Pentecost Sunday? Put into child-like human imagery for our understanding is this glimpse into an astounding conversation that goes on among the persons of the Trinity. The Spirit is pictured as saying not a single word beyond what he has heard in a wondrous conversation with the Father and the Son! From that conversation he passes on to us precisely what he has heard: the unanimous saving wisdom of our Triune God.
Imagine the arrogance then of the minister of Christ who mixes in his proclamation his own ideas with what is found in the Scripture! To speak “on his own” in the pulpit is to claim for himself a right that not even the third person of the Trinity would dream of claiming!
It is enough to send any of us called “preacher” back over our manuscripts with the humble prayer that Spirit would overcome every bit of such ignorance or arrogance!
But of course the real answer to avoid such blasphemy isn’t merely tacking on a caution about final sermonic editing. Rather, it is to begin all our pondering of the Word as one who takes off his shoes to tread on holy ground. With every word that reaches our eyes, ears, and hearts we are being given the right to audit a sacred conversation between Father, Son, and Spirit.
Listen well, my brothers, for only that truth saves. Listen well, my brothers, for as the Spirit’s truth convicts (and comforts) us in regard to sin, righteousness, and judgment, he is preparing us to one day hear that conversation first hand! Listen well, my brothers, for then you are prepared to imitate the Spirit and speak nothing of your own.