Mrs. Rigel, my 4th grade teacher, whispered a long sentence in a classmate's ear who sat in the front left seat in the class of about 2 dozen of us 4th graders. That classmate then whispered what she heard in the ear of the person behind her, and then row by row until the last person was told the sentence.
That last student then stood and repeated what they heard - and we all burst out in laughter because what they said they were told was nothing close to what we all had heard in our turns. Then Mrs. Rigel told us what she actually told student #1 and that was different still!
Traditions of men
You probably had a similar experience in school. Yet there is a lesson to be learned even still, and that's my point here.
Each child in our class heard something that was accurate because it came straight from the lips of the kid sitting in front of each. Even though child #14 in the class heard something different than child #23 heard, each child in the chain would swear on a stack of Bibles that what they heard was right and accurate. and that they repeated 100% accurately what they heard.
But the fact is that only Mrs. Rigel and that first student had the sentence, just a single sentence, accurate. Yet the whole record of the life of Jesus is like that - Jesus was the teacher, and those who heard it directly from him recorded it accurately to form our New Testament.
So here we come along centuries later reading the words of those first hearers, and like so many 4th graders in seats far removed from the teacher and first student to hear accurately, many have heard error yet would swear on a stack of Bibles THEY heard and know correctly. The 'student' next to them would swear "I have the truth!", and like kids, some end up fighting at recess trying to prove each is right. :) Such is much of the Christian world.
Since the Lord set forth truth through Jesus and He knew we would come along some 20 centuries later, wouldn't you think He could devise a way to maintain accuracy in what He intended? He did.
How He solved it
My teacher remained standing next to the first student she told her sentence to and didn't listen in on what each student whispered to the other. But the Father didn't just give us His Word and then step back to watch it all unfold like my teacher did.
He devised a way for successive generations to hear the original Words just as He intended, just as accurate, straight from the Source as if each person was that first student though removed by 20 centuries of time. How?
In Acts 5:32 Peter said of the life and passion of Jesus: "We are witnesses of these things; and so also is the Holy Spirit who God gives to those who obey Him."
The Father's solution was to make the Holy Spirit an eye witness to the life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. Not only that, but being God, an eye witness to the INTENT of the Word. Not just the truth of the written Word, but the intent with which that Word was spoken.
In this way, through an eye witness account, man could, even 20 centuries after the events, receive an eye witness account of not only the events, but the teaching and intent of the Words spoken that those who believe now would believe just as those original eye witnesses did - consistency through the centuries!
Spirit of Truth
Of course you would want the eye witness to be truthful, not change even the smallest detail nor add their own opinion to what they saw. Thus Jesus told the disciples the Holy Spirit was the Spirit of Truth and that He would not speak of His own, but whatsoever He heard - and He would lead, teach, and guide us into Truth. His ministry to believers is to show us what the Father has prepared for us - from an eye witness perspective, right from the heart of the Father. (John 14:17, 26; 15:26; 16:13-14; I Corinthians 2:9-12)
Side note: This is actually how you were born again. Someone told you about Jesus, and the Father through the Holy Spirit started working on your heart about the question of Jesus. Down inside you recognized He was the Truth, because an eye witness, the Holy Spirit, was bearing witness with your spirit that what you heard of Jesus was True and Right and you needed to make a decision. You being born again was based on an eye witness account.
We, being mere men, don't convict a person in court without testimony of an eye witness; do we really think God would expect someone to take a chance on their eternity without Him providing an eye witness account of the facts set forth by and in the person of Jesus?
Independent of time
One day when I was thinking on this element of the Holy Spirit being an eye witness I thought to the start of Genesis which states the Holy Spirit was 'moving' or 'hovering' over the then water planet called earth. I asked the Father why He was doing that.
The Father responded: "He was there as an eye witness." I asked, "Why would you need an eye witness?" He responded: "He was there as an eye witness to creation so Moses could write down what happened." Even then, right from the start, the Father provided an eye witness account of creation for our benefit.
In Acts 2:25-32 on the day of Pentecost, Peter tells of David prophesying of Christ and His resurrection. "He (David) seeing this before, spoke of the resurrection of Christ...."
So here we are told that David, about 1000 BC, saw the resurrection of Jesus and prophesied about it. How? By the Holy Spirit, the eye witness even to the resurrection 1,000 years in the future.
By the way...
This is the exact same way the Holy Spirit has shown many of you your future - what your call is, what you'll be doing whether in this life or an age to come - by the Holy Spirit the eye witness, for being God, He is in the realm of the I AM, the always present. Therefore He can accurately show you your future just as He showed David the resurrection of Jesus which would take place 1,000 years later - I AM!
Some might say "I've missed it, it's too late for me! God showed me great things I was called to but I am too old now!"
During a visitation when the Lord was teaching me about the ways of the Spirit and prophecy, I asked Him about a couple in our church who had great and powerful things prophesied over them. And not just once, but by several guest speakers over the course of 2 years who picked them out of the congregation and each speaker prophesied the same things about this couple.
But as so often happens, sin got in, unfaithfulness in marriage, divorce, and a move out of state. So I asked the Lord about those prophecies because 'Your Word doesn't return void without accomplishing the thing whereunto you send it." (Isaiah 55)
He replied; "Some words won't be fulfilled in this life, but will come to pass in the next age, in the millennium." I asked for chapter and verse because I had never heard of that. Immediately He responded: "There are many prophecies in the Old Testament that leap right over this age to speak about the Millennial age to come. So why is it so hard for you to believe that a prophecy spoken now for someone would come to pass in the next age?"
Suddenly I saw grace - so many people side tracked by sin or the world or circumstances outside their control, yet having great destinies and feeling they've completely disappointed the Lord and ruined any chance of seeing those promises come to pass - not so! Just wait 100, 200, 400, 600, 800 years from now! You will fulfill your destiny!
Back to the subject
Knowing all this now, you can see that the only solution for maintaining the accuracy of the Word and intent of the Word, is to get to know the Spirit of Truth.
And THAT is where we'll pick up next week, for if we don't get to know the Eye Witness right from the start, it can lead to my 4th grade classroom experience, with people believing whole heartedly they are putting their faith in the Word, but in fact are putting their faith in error, and develop their own traditions THEY think are God's Word and intent...and I'll trace that process. Until then,