Now it will help us, I am sure, and make the truth stand out more clearly, to recall a good many variations that belong in here. Running back over these things brings up certain facts.
The truth has power of blessing in itself, regardless of who is speaking it. A bad man may preach the Gospel, and the truth itself will be felt in spite of the man. There is a life in truth itself, quite apart from the medium of its transmission. This explains why men who have turned out to be bad men have had good results attending their ministry. But it was the truth making itself felt in spite of the handicap it suffered at the hands of the man talking.
And men whose understanding of the truth is very one-sided and meagre have been greatly used and blessed in their work. It is striking how a man who has been rescued from a life of open sin, and who goes into Christian service with tremendous earnestness, will have great power. His emphasis of truth may be one-sided. It is quite apt to be. He tells what he has experienced. The man himself is a living illustration of the truth spoken. All the truth that can get out through him has the tremendous push forward of his life. But the extent of his service is limited.
And there are men who have a clear, well-rounded grasp of the blessed message of Jesus, and who give it out clearly and fully. But they are hampered by their mental swaddling-clothes, in which they have been wrapped up in school-days. They never get up out of them into the freedom of strong action through the Spirit's control.
Then, too, without doubt God's Spirit works alone, without using anybody. He speaks through nature's beauty and power. He speaks in the inner heart of every man. He is speaking directly to men all the time everywhere. But the message is a partial one. The direct revelation of God, in nature and in conscience, is a limited revelation. The full revelation of God was made in Jesus. And so it is in this Book that tells of Jesus.
The Spirit of God can speak most fully where that Book is known. He can work most fully and powerfully through the man who lives the Book. Every printing of this Bible, or any part of it, is giving the spirit freer entrance into men's hearts. Every one of us who produces a new translation of it in the language of his life gives the Spirit a wide-open door where otherwise the opening had been narrow.
Now, whatever combination of these there may be, some of the blessed power of God will be seen and felt. The truth unembodied or even hampered; men who embody the truth they know, but whose knowledge is small; men of much knowledge, but small practice; men of full knowledge, but who have not learned to let the Spirit sway them fully; the Spirit Himself speaking where Jesus is not known, and without any man's help—through each of these, power of life will go out to men.
But the fulness of power that runs like a mighty stream goes only as the three things come into one. The message, full and clear, the man who lives it, the Holy Spirit possessing and controlling the man who lives the message—this is the trinity of service through which alone the flood-tide flows.