God intends for us to use our minds…

Maybe you are wondering how the Holy Spirit is involved. The Bible does contain portions that are easily grasped, but as you know, because of the Bible’s nature, serious study is needed to grasp all that it says. In fact, Peter once said that some of Paul’s writings were intellectually challenging, hard to understand, and easily distorted by those untrained in Christian theology (see 2 Peter 3:16). If you have ever tried to understand the depths of Romans or Ephesians, you know what Peter was talking about!

Hermeneutics is the science of interpreting, and the more you understand of this, the more Scripture will mean to you. Unfortunately, many people do not want to learn the hard way (incidentally, there is no easy way!); they want to believe that the Holy Spirit will help them understand the meaning of everything they read. This is a common misunderstanding of the role of the Holy Spirit. His job is really to speak to our souls, convicting, comforting, and showing us applications of biblical truth. To follow are two passages people typically use to claim that the Holy Spirit will make everything clear.

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, NASB).

A simple reading of this passage makes it easy to assume that our common idea about the Holy Spirit is true. But a more careful reading of the passage reveals that no promise is made that the Holy Spirit will teach the meaning of Scripture to believers. Instead, the passage promises the apostles that the Spirit will inspire them and aid them in remembering the words of Jesus. The verse is spoken specifically to the disciples and not to believers in general. Several other passages (see John 14:1, 25, 28-29; 16:16; 17:12-14, 26) support this as well.

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, NASB).

Some people take this passage to mean that the Holy Spirit teaches the believer and that there is no need for a teacher to understand the Bible—no need for Sunday school, Bible studies, commentaries, or seminaries. Common sense tells us this cannot be true. Read the 1 John passage again. If we apply our thinking skills, it seems obvious. If John is telling us we don’t need a teacher, then we wouldn’t need John to tell us that we don’t need a teacher! On top of that, the New Testament provides multiple examples of gifted teachers—given by God to His people—who are diligent in their teaching (see Ephesians 4:11). It is God’s intention for us to use our minds and reason when we approach His Word. Part of that responsibility is to make sure we study Scripture in context.

J. P. Moreland and Mark Matlock, from Smart Faith, p. 36

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s