Before all my regular readers have heart attacks, I don’t really mean throw out your Bible … well, not exactly. What I do mean is that knowing the Bible oftentimes becomes more important to Christians than knowing Christ, and as James would say, “That ought not to be!”
So today I’m going to look at what the Bible tells us “ought to be.” I’m sure this won’t be a complete study, but there is a point here, so stay with me.
What is the purpose of the Bible?
- Recording Prophecy
And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21)
Over the centuries the scriptures have recorded many prophecies, that we may know what is to come, and when it does come, that we will recognize it as fulfillment of God’s Word.
- Identifying Sin
because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:20)
- Testing the words of man
Now these [the Bereans] were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. (Acts 17:11)
Many Christians have gone astray because they trusted in man’s traditions or the words of false prophets, and did not receive a love of the truth. (2 Thess 2:10)
- Leads us to Christ
Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:24)
- Teaching and Correcting
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. (1 Timothy 4:13)
The scriptures can be used effectively to teach, reprove, correct, train, and exhort. But how do we square that with these verses, that say Christians won’t need a teacher?
As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him. (1 John 2:27)
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. (John 14:26)
for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say. (Luke 12:12)
Let’s go back to the verse from Galatians, but this time in context.
Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ. What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise. Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one. Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:16-26)
Tutors by definition are intended to be temporary.
From G3816 and a reduplication form of G71; a boy leader, that is, a servant whose office it was to take the children to school; (by implication [figuratively] a tutor [“paedagogue”]): - instructor, schoolmaster.
a person charged with the instruction and guidance of another: as a : a private teacher b : a teacher in a British university who gives individual instruction to undergraduates
So are we to be children and undergraduates forever? I think not. How much confidence would you place in a doctor who consults his textbooks every few minutes? Or a computer technician? Or a farmer? Not much, and the same is true of Christians. Setting false modesty aside, we are supposed to grow up.
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ (Ephesians 4:11-15)
So what is the goal? How do we function without a tutor?
But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God. (Romans 2:29)
For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. (Romans 7:5-6)
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:12-16)
I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. (John 14:16-17)
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (Romans 8:14)
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. (Galatians 5:18)
Quite simply, an adult Christian is led, not by the Bible, but by the Holy Spirit. Obviously, the student shouldn’t strike out on his own if he hasn’t learned his lessons. And the Bible is still useful in other ways, some of those listed above. But we can’t follow it, because it’s just a tool. It’s a crutch to use until we can stand on our own. The Law leads us to Christ. Christians should follow Christ.
In the parable of the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-30) Jesus tells us, not once, but three times, that His sheep hear His voice. Listen:
vs. 3 … the sheep hear his voice
vs. 16 they will hear My voice
vs. 27 My sheep hear My voice
Jesus didn’t mean this figuratively. He meant it literally. We are to hear His voice. We are to know His voice and follow His voice.
Peter and John didn’t know the scriptures. They had about three and half years with Jesus, and then they followed the Holy Spirit.
Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)
Acts gives us many other examples of Christians being led by the Holy Spirit. Here are a few.
While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself.” (Acts 10:19-20)
While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2)
They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; (Acts 16:6)
The Holy Spirit speaks the things which are not written in the Bible. He tells us, on a day by day basis, what we need to know for our specific situation.
So why aren’t we hearing Him? Why don’t we write, “Yesterday the Holy Spirit told me to do such-and-such.” Why do we still rely so heavily on our tutor, the Bible?
Speculations begins at this point, but I think one of the reasons is that we don’t know to listen. We think if we know the scriptures, and walk according to what they say, we’ve completed our mission.
Or maybe we’re scared we aren’t really hearing the Holy Spirit, but we’re hearing another spirit. This is a valid concern, and we certainly need to test the spirits (1 John 4). But that doesn’t mean we stop listening. It simply means we listen with discernment.
Or maybe we’re just not comfortable with “spiritual stuff.” All I can say to that is – get comfortable! – because “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24)
If you’ve managed to read this very long post, and something has stirred inside of you and you’d like to go farther; if you’d like to know the voice of the Holy Spirit and be led by that voice, then I have some very sound advice for you: Read these words of our Lord Jesus Christ. Believe these words. Pray these words.
So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him? (Luke 11:9-13)