Previously we have looked at three excuses we use to keep us from studying the Word of God. While we began to talk about the role of the Holy Spirit in Bible Study, we want to focus this week exclusively on this topic.
If God is the Author of Scripture and His Spirit lives within us, do you see how that radically changes the way we interact with His Word? As we mentioned in the excuses, reading Scripture is radically different than reading Shakespeare. Shakespeare is dead and cannot give us any insight into what he wrote. God is alive and He lives within us and therefore can reveal the depth and truth of His Word.
In John 16, while speaking to His disciples in the upper room, Jesus says that He is going away. In verse six He says, “But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment …”
It’s an advantage? Are you serious Jesus? I don’t see how You leaving is an advantage at all.
It is interesting that Jesus calls it an advantage, isn’t it? Growing up I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve said things like, “If only I could have been around during the times of Jesus,” or “If only I could physically see Him now.” Though I don’t want to give up my internet or indoor plumbing, I always thought that a physical Jesus I could see and handle would be better. How many times have you asked for a burning bush, wanting God to speak directly to you? How many times have you wished for a booming voice from the sky or a billboard that pointed out the direction you were to go?
Yet Jesus says that it is actually better if He leave. Why? This is one of the grand statements of Scripture. If Jesus were still physical do you realize that He could only be in one place at a time? And because I’m His favorite, of course He’d always be hanging out with me. So if you wanted to see Him, you’d have to make an appointment and come over.
If Jesus leaves and sends His Holy Spirit, then He is no longer limited to one place but can indwell and source each of us. He can live within my life at the same time living within yours (because we are both His favorites, just in case you were nervous that I was His only one).
Do you see that what we have in the New Covenant is far better than anything Moses, David, or the prophets had access to? In fact, the prophets looked forward to this day with desire and yearned to experience it. They had access to the Holy Spirit for activities and messages, we have the Holy Spirit for life. He has become the flow, source, and center of our lives. We don’t need a burning bush or booming voices because we have the God of the universe, Jesus Himself, indwelling us through His Spirit.
Jesus tells His disciples that this indwelling Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. He then talks about guiding.
A Guide Into All Truth
We mentioned previously from the excuses section, Jesus, talking about the Holy Spirit, says, “when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth …” (John 16.13).
Jesus says that the Spirit of Truth will guide us into all truth. Again, the word guide means to take by the hand and lead. The Holy Spirit, who lives within us, takes us by the hand and leads us into all truth – which is Jesus. So the Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit of Truth, leads us into all Truth!
A Focus on Jesus
Jesus goes on to say in verse 14, “He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” The word “glorify” is the idea to declare glory, lift up, magnify, highlight, extol, and celebrate Jesus within our lives. One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to lift up and highlight Jesus. One purpose of the Holy Spirit is to bring glory to Jesus in this world.
The word “declare” is to proclaim, announce, and make something known. This Greek word has a prefix on the front of it that strengthens and intensifies the idea of announcing. This is not someone whispering across the room but someone taking a megaphone and yelling in your ear.
The Holy Spirit is taking us by the hand and leading us into all Truth. He is revealing, showing, lifting up, and highlighting Jesus. He is making known, declaring, Jesus to us. We absolutely cannot miss Jesus if we are open and responding to the Spirit in our lives.
As we come to the Word of God, we can live in confidence that the Holy Spirit who indwells our lives will reveal depth, wisdom, and truth from the text. We can be sure that we will deepen in our relationship and intimacy with Jesus because the Holy Spirit wants to guide and lead us into greater depth with Him.
We can study Scripture on the surface (and many scholars do) but we cannot plunge into its depths unless the Holy Spirit opens our eyes and leads us into Truth (Jesus). When we allow the Spirit to guide our study, leading us into truth, the pressure is not upon us but upon Him. We do not come up with meaning, we don’t produce content, we seek and respond to the Spirit within our lives and He reveals truth.
Not Academic Study
For clarity, we are not saying you do nothing; sitting on your couch until God reveals some truth to you. You are to purposely get into the Word, study it, and dig deep. But the pressure for truth and a revelation of meaning is not on you. Bible study is not an academic endeavor. It is not A+B=C. When we come to the Word of God we interact with the Author Himself and allow Him to lead us into understanding, wisdom, and truth. We don’t force meaning upon the text, we allow the Spirit to reveal meaning.
When I come to the Word of God it must be in an attitude of surrender and dependency upon the Author to reveal its depths. I must come seeking and open to truth. I must decide beforehand that whatever the Spirit wants to reveal and transform in my life, I will respond with a predetermined “yes.” If God wants something, if He wants to change anything in me, I have already decided that I am willing. I want to bend my life around the Word of God not try to manipulate the Word to bend around my life. It is the standard for my life.
When you come to the Bible study this way, it radically changes your interaction with the Word. I don’t come for information, rules, or points to argue. I come willing for the Word to change my life as I get to know and interact in relationship and intimacy with the Author.