Promises and Secrets

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A website for those not afraid to examine their beliefs, compare them to the real world, and make sure they fit.



The Holy Spirit

VIEWPOINT



The Holy Spirit is part of God and is as much a person as the Father or the Son.

FACT



Christians believe that the Holy Spirit guides them in life.


BLUE VIEWPOINT



What does the Holy Spirit actually do?

God speaks to different people in different ways. What strikes me as odd is that, if you look at the different churches, He seems to be giving different, sometimes opposing, "truths" to different churches. In fact, He even appears to give opposing "truths" to different individuals. Of course, it is usually a matter of interpretations, but how can they all be right?

The Bible is a way for God to communicate directly with us. He tells us what He did for us, and the stories show how we responded to what He did for us. Just leaving it at that level, we can see that in the past people have appreciated what God did for a while, then started griping and groaning that they were not happy. We tend to think of them as ungrateful, but how many of us do the same thing? We get what we want and are happy for a while, then that is no longer enough for us and we want more. Here is where it is time to depart from the "normal" Christian concept of the Holy Spirit.

Meeting our "needs"?

Now, this is not intended to insult or offend, but many people tend to think of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit as on-call genie(s) who is(are) out there to protect them from the bad things in life and make sure they get everything for which they ask. Well, they don't really think those thoughts, but they act in exactly that way. Rather than let people think I am just hammering others, remember I am part of this same group. All who believe in the real Jesus and the Comforter He sent for us are in this group of Christians - still learning, growing, and making mistakes.

Many discussions with today's Christians show that most believe that the Holy Spirit is a guide and teacher. We have verses in John 16:13 saying that He will guide us into all truth:

13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

And 1 John 2:20-27
20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. 21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist - denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

24 As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us - eternal life.

26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit - just as it has taught you, remain in him.

tells us that the Holy Spirit has anointed us and we have no need to listen to lying teachers. The major concern at this point is that many use this and other texts to say that they no longer have any need to take the words of the Bible to heart because they have the Holy Spirit in them. One source listed only verses 1 John 2:20,27
20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.

27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit - just as it has taught you, remain in him.

(only two verses) to make the point, skipping all the actual focus verses (21 to 26) that describe those to whom they should not listen. This selective quoting gives one the impression that we already know everything we need and have no reason to keep studying the Bible. Just "trust your heart" and "the Spirit will keep you safe" from deception.

Only part of the story...

Here are the verses that people use to prove they do not need anything but the Holy Spirit:

20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.

27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit - just as it has taught you, remain in him.

But, what about...

After making this statement, these confident people relate that they do not have to think about verses like Romans 2:13:

"For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous."

because they feel that the Holy Spirit prompts them if they are violating God's will. If they do not receive a negative prompting, then they believe they are in God's will.

Ah, the rest of the story

Now, here are all the verses in this passage (1 John 2:20-27):

20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.
21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist - denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

24 As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us - eternal life.

26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit - just as it has taught you, remain in him.

Specifically note verse 24. John seems to be saying that what people have learned should give them a basis of the truth, so they should be able to tell when they are being led astray. Their knowledge of the truth will give the Holy Spirit a foundation on which to prompt the believer. Let's take a look at some specifics and ask some questions about this situation.

Our guide...

John 16:13 does not say that the Holy Spirit will fill you with all truth or provide you with all truth, but that He will guide you to all truth. That means on your journey in search of the truth, He will guide you. To me that means you are on a journey seeking the truth and He will show you which way to go to find it.

Do you know it all?

Let's go back to 1 John 2:20
20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth."

. My NIV puts it this way:

"20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth."

The people I speak with read this as saying "because you have the Holy Spirit, you now know all the truth you need". If you remember back to the time when you received Christ as your Lord and were baptized into the Holy Spirit, did you suddenly know everything you needed to know? Or was it a case of everything you had already learned suddenly making sense? Reading all the verses between 20 and 27, I interpret this as saying:

"You have learned the truth from the beginning, so you can use that truth, and the prompting of the Holy Spirit, to stay on the right track as you were taught, and not be led astray".

Do you pick certain verses, or learn them all?

The difference between the views is that, by one, some feel that they no longer must read and follow the Bible because they feel the Holy Spirit will guide them with whatever truth they need - EVEN IF IT CONTRADICTS THE BIBLE DIRECTLY. They go to church, listen to the pastor's sermon, and spend the next week feeling safe and protected. Now, is this wrong? Not necessarily. Is this dangerous? It can be very much so. Many of today's Christian churches "listen" to the Holy Spirit, but they all feel they have something special that makes them the only church whose members will make it to Heaven. By their actions, they feel that they are the only ones who hear Him. In fact, some of them are so opposite of the beliefs of other "Spirit-led" churches, I wonder if they are all listening to the same Holy Spirit.

Just sayin'...

Don't take this wrong. This is not trying to tell you which is right and which is wrong - that is not my job or my intent. This is an observation of real churches and people. The point is that mis-interpreting a verse, without knowledge of other parts of scripture is dangerous. Hosea 4:6
my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. "Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children."

, Isaiah 5:13
Therefore my people will go into exile for lack of understanding; those of high rank will die of hunger and the common people will be parched with thirst.

, and Romans 10:1-3
1 Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. 2 For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. 3 For not knowing about God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.

all speak of the importance of knowledge.

We must thirst for and seek knowledge, it is not going to just pop into our heads. Obtaining this knowledge of God by diligent study is important before one thinks to discard knowledge in favor of a feeling, or lack of one, that is interpreted as a prompting from the Holy Spirit. If you do not get a prompting, does that mean it is OK to follow that path? Are you receiving that knowledge from diligent study, or are you "automatically" knowing the truth because you have the "anointing of the Spirit"? Worse yet, are you just following the crowd without checking because everyone else is doing it?

Learn and listen

Even if some believe that the law (10 commandments) has no place in the modern church, knowledge of the will of God is critical. God's word is right there for us, and even Jesus criticized the Pharisees, the "geniuses of the Israelites", for their failure to know the scriptures (Matthew 22:29
Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God."

). He was telling them that they were basing their questions and understanding on incomplete knowledge. Did He tell them to wait for the Holy Spirit so they would then know all truth? Of course not. His implication was to get to know the word of God and you will have the knowledge to make better judgments. Then, if you tend to stray because of bad advice or a feeling, the Holy Spirit will have a foundation upon which to prompt you.


Disagree? Find an error? Contact us at glenjjr@gmail.com and give us your view.

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