Did God speak in times of old? Yes! (Heb. 1:1–2). Does God still speak? Yes! But the question that remains is how? God speaks to me. After all, the Bible says God has “spoken to us in these last days through His Son.” Of course, it would be proper, fair, and reasonable to press me on the matter. You would want to know if I mean that God speaks directly to me or if I am claiming that God speaks to me indirectly through His Word. Obviously, you would go to various other passages showing me that God speaks or reveals His mind to me through His Word (1 Cor. 2; cf John 12:48).
Similarly, if I say the Holy Spirit leads me (Rom.8:14) you would do well to question me on whether I mean that He directly leads me or indirectly leads me through His Word, and press me on the question, “How does the Spirit lead?” Of course, that would be fair and reasonable of you, because you know that the Scriptures lead us through their teaching, their reproof, their correction, and their instruction in righteousness, and that they make us complete (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The Scriptures are a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psa. 119:105; 1 John 1:7). Jesus said the words He spoke were spirit and life (John 6:63). We learn that the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17), the very means by which the Spirit wields His influence. And, we know that we get understanding, clarity, and guidance from the inspired Scriptures (Psa. 119:104, 130).
If I say the Holy Spirit strengthens me, again you would press me on what I mean. Do I mean He directly strengthens me or indirectly strengthens me through His inspired Word? Paul specifically says to be strong (Eph. 6:10). Where? In the Lord! How? In the strength of His power—the word or gospel of Christ (cf. Rom. 1:16). We are to put on truth (the Word—John 17:17); we are to put on righteousness (the Word—Psa. 119:172); we are to put on the gospel (the Word—Rom. 1:16); we are to put on the shield of the faith (the Word—Gal. 1:6-9, 23); we are to put on salvation (the Word of salvation—Acts 13:26; Jas. 1:21); and all of this is the Sword of the Spirit—the Word of God (Eph. 6:17). To be strengthened in the Lord is to be strengthened by the Lord’s Word. The Word of His grace strengthens us (Acts 20:32).
Likewise, if I say God dwells in me, you would press me on the matter asking, “How does God dwell in me?” Directly or indirectly? Of course, indirectly through or by means of His Word (John 14:23; 2 John 9; Eph. 3:17 “the faith”; Gal. 3:2; 1 John 3:24. Etc.). Of course, from these passages we understand that we dwell in God which is, obviously, indirectly rather than literally or directly. Therefore, this “dwelling” concept is one describing relationship—a relationship between God and the person who keeps His Word, continues abiding in His Word, and quite simply, continues obeying His Word. Therefore, a relationship that is based upon the Word of God, or is “through, or by, the Word.”