God’s mind is communicated to us in and through the Holy Scriptures. The weapon he uses to fight his battles is the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). By it, he conquers an elect world to Jesus Christ, and that against all the opposition of the devil and of human flesh. The Spirit uses it to cut with, convict of sin. It is the Christian’s primary weapon in the spiritual warfare he or she is called to wage in this world. The Westminster Larger Catechism says; “Q. 155. How is the Word made effectual to salvation? A. The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching of the Word, an effectual means of enlightening, convincing, and humbling sinners; of driving them out of themselves, and drawing them unto Christ; of conforming them to his image, and subduing them to his will; of strengthening them against temptations and corruptions; of building them up in grace, and establishing their hearts in holiness and comfort through faith unto salvation.” When the Catechism says “the Spirit maketh” we must understand that the Scripture itself has no inherent power of its own. That is to say that apart from the Spirit’s working in the heart of a person, it, the Bible has no power to bring salvation to anyone.
But it is not impossible for the Spirit to work apart from the Word of God. The Westminster Confession of Faith at 10:3 reads; “Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit, who works when, and where, and how He pleases: so also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.” But the Word itself can never bring about any one step toward salvation. The Holy Spirit is not useless without Word, but in terms of salvation, the Word is useless without the Holy Spirit. The Bible can and does effect some good ethically, morally that is, itself. A person may read “thou shalt not kill” and decide not to kill, That you may say is a piece of moral good, but it is not salvation. So why distribute the Bible far and wide? The Word must be circulated as far and as much as is possible, for it is not known to us as to when and where the Holy Spirit will begin to work in saving way. Who knows, with a tract, a New Testament given at a school, a Bible in a Hotel room, even a verse scribbled on a discarded piece of paper? We circulate the Holy Scriptures in the full confidence that God will use his word as he has promised and as he pleases, “so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it“ (Isaiah 55:11). And we do so with the full confidence that the Holy Spirit will make it effectual in the hearts and minds of His elect, when and where and as he sovereignly pleases.