LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Monday, November 12, 2007

Holy Spirit-led understanding

In response to a post at my blog, Jonathan asked a good question that I’d like to pose of readers here.

In part, I wrote the following on my blog:

“While I have maintained a habit of reading my Bible daily, I confess that I have gained so much valuable insight through other teachers via blogs and books that I lean perhaps too heavily on the latter. This was somewhat illustrated to me in a simple conversation between Jesus and Peter, taken from John 21, verses 20-24.

“Peter turned around and saw the disciple Jesus loved following them – the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, ‘Lord, who among us will betray you?’ Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?’”

“Jesus replied, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You follow me.’ So the rumor spread among the community of believers that that disciple wouldn’t die. But that isn’t what Jesus said at all. He only said, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?’”

“When I read this, it struck me that this rumor spreading among the community taken directly from the words of Jesus – “if I want him to remain alive until I return” – is not unlike some interpretations today. I read the banter back and forth taken from this or that interpretation and weigh carefully what is said, but still... I wonder.

How much of my own interpretation is coming not from my own diligent study of God’s breathed Word but from the words of men? Do I lean too much on the opinions of others rather than doing the hard work of putting my nose to the grindstone and doing some serious word studies? The truth is, I enjoy having others do the hard work for me, and while there can be blessing and wisdom gained from their efforts, I am depriving myself of vital nourishment and understanding necessary for life.

“I won’t stop reading other books, of course, because I believe God has given wisdom to others regarding proper interpretation, and it was, in fact, from men that I gleaned the importance of receiving instruction directly from God’s own Word. But this illustration of how easily interpretation can be swayed, even when the words seem to be plainly understood, well, the impression rests upon me to seek not only first but primarily understanding from God’s Word through Holy Spirit revelation.

“That latter is a tricky one, since I know several men who all claim to be led by the Spirit, yet they wouldn’t agree on interpretation. Some are dispensational. Some are Reformed. Others adhere to covenant theology. Some among all these are premillenial; others are post- or amillenial. And even if you find those of the same ilk, they’ll invariably disagree on something – paedobaptism or adult only? It’s very hard to understand what is proper interpretation when minds greater than my own may be all Spirit-led individuals who don’t agree.

“Nonetheless, I must read further what Scripture itself says on this matter and look to God’s Spirit to lead where I must go. I must trust God first in the matter of my own understanding and be careful to discern where I may be wont to read into text rather than draw from it. There is much counsel in Scripture regarding waiting on the Lord and patience, so I must put these into practice continually as I dwell on His Word.”

To which, Jonathan posed the questions: “Now the question is, why does God allow such divergent views in the body? Could God have a reason for it?”

I also wonder - How do we know who is (and what interpretation is) and who isn't Spirit-led, when all profess Christ? I don't know the answer. How can we possibly know (unless what they say blatently contradicts Scripture)?

And you, dear reader, what are your thoughts on this?

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Blogger jazzycat said...

You make some excellent observations. One thing I do believe is that Scripture is the final authority. We have no way of knowing for sure who is being led correctly by the Spirit. When I hear anyone claim to have been led directly from God in their interepretation of Scripture, I pretty much discount anything else they have to say. I think of the false religions such as Islam and the Mormans that had prophets who claimed to have direct revelation.

I think it must be Scripture and Scripture alone.

Good to see you back.....

November 12, 2007 11:15 AM

Blogger Susan said...

Thanks, Jazzy.

I agree with you re: hearing folks claim some revelation direct from God.

I'm coming back slowly. Being somewhat new to Reformed theology (going on two years now), I have read counsel on Reformed blogs to think, consider, weigh heavily, meditate, pray, etc before going out and charging on. To read more before speaking.

I want to be more considered in my thinking before blurting out what first seems right to me, based on whatever knowledge of Scripture I have. I want to spend more time in Scripture and prayer, before blogging.

But it's good to be back. I appreciate all of your comments during my brief absence.

November 12, 2007 11:36 AM

Blogger Susan said...

Btw, I know many who have pondered this very question - re: Holy Spirit-led revelation in believers, especially when there is such divergence of view among learned, godly men. So I don't expect great new revelation here, but I wonder what folks may think about this dilemma in the Body.

November 12, 2007 11:37 AM

Blogger mark pierson said...


One thing that you have to contend with is the Cavary Chapel mindset. In that atmosphere one constantly hears others speak of how God showed them this or that. However, you'll see very little of that in reformed circles.

You see in the Calvary Chapel (CM) movement doctrinal creeds and confessions are non existant, except on the bulletins. One is left wondering if their doctrinal stands happened in a vaccuum. There is no attempt on their part to point the congregation to the works of the reformers or people like that. In fact, there seems a disdain for the use of commentaries and consultation of the bible teachers of the past. Hence the mystical "God showed me this" mentality. This mentality must be checked at the door, held onto very lightly. Doctrinally WE ALL stand on somebody elses shoulders. The CCM fails to acknowledge this.

No doctrinal stand happens in a vacuum, none, period.

November 12, 2007 1:15 PM

Blogger donsands said...

Good stuff to think about.

How can two Bible teachers exegete Romans 9 with true fear of the lord, and both come up with different interpretations? And why does God allow it?

God allows measures of His grace as He sees fit.
I suppose He does this for our good. Seeking the deep truths of His Word is food for the soul, and perhaps this is one way God calls us to dine.

God made us intelligent beings, and we need to use our minds on our own with the Lord's Spirit, but we also need to be taught by the Holy Spirit through His chosen teachers.

God will always have His Ezra's. Ezra 7:9-10

November 12, 2007 6:53 PM


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