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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Interpreting the Bible in the Absence of the Holy Spirit

Many Christians either give the Holy Spirit a place among the Trinity of God which He does not seek or relegate Him to being a servant of Christians rather than God Himself. They cannot seem to find the place for the Holy Spirit. They understand the Father and the Son. Jesus spoke to His Father. Everyone has had a father at some time. That makes sense. They understand the Son. He is God who came from Heaven to live among people as one of them. They don't understand why the Holy Spirit is needed. They don't understand how He works. Thus, it is easier to have Him absent than to seek His presence for they have no idea what His presence means.

Their are many names for the Holy Spirit. One of these is "Spirit of Truth." It isn't just that He tells the truth for He is the truth. Jesus also said the He (Jesus) is the truth. It is a characteristic of God to be the truth. The Holy Spirit is the One present on earth to guide us into all truth. He is the One who inspired the writers of the Scriptures. He is the One who continues to lead us into truth.

The Bible is the inspired word of God. It is a book which needs the Holy Spirit for interpretation. It is not merely something that can be studied objectively with the human mind. It needs divine intervention to be understood and applied. The Holy Spirit brings people under conviction, teaches them what they must do, corrects them when they have done wrong and trains them in righteousness. This is all done by the leading of the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit.

Men try to give their own interpretations and applications in the absence of the Holy Spirit. This causes them to lean one way or the other. On one side you will find legalism. These people take the Scriptures, study them under a microscope and give strict rules for obedience. They are very much like the Pharisees in Jesus day. They have very little room for grace. Compliance is the evidence of a good Christian. Each deviant must be met with chastisement and threats. Legalism leads to a false sense of righteousness because it is based on works rather than the righteousness of Jesus. The believer seeks a perfection which is truly a terrible way to live. 

The other way of interpreting the Scripture without the Holy Spirit is liberalism. Here you find a loose interpretation and application of Scripture. It is taken out of context to prove social agendas. Obedience is made optional. The feelings of the individual will overrule the Scripture. The current acceptable social more' prevails over sin and righteousness.

God becomes what I call the "Nursing Home God." No one hardly ever comes to see Him so He doesn't care how you come to Him as long as you come. Conviction is seen as bad for the psyche. Obedience is found in what feels good. Service is found in whatever is convenient. Perfection is defined as a clear conscience. 

The presence of the Holy Spirit does amazing things with the Scriptures. They become personal words to believers which help them live victorious lives. The Scriptures encourage and convict. They lead believers to a God who loves them and receives them. The Scriptures lead believers to a God who loves them enough to chastise and challenge them. They lead believers to a God who is personal as well as almighty. Righteousness is based on the work of Jesus. Forgiveness is based on the Cross. Life is based on a real relationship with Jesus.

The believer no longer reads the Scriptures alone when the Holy Spirit is present. In fact, often the believer opens the Bible and says, "Holy Spirit, please read your word to me." It becomes an exciting moment rather than a drudgery. The believer is meeting with God who loves and has plans for a hope and a future. The Bible is no longer something which merely tells of a God in the past but a God who is very present in that moment and in all other moments. 

The believer knows he or she will not live perfect lives when the Holy Spirit is present. The believer seeks to be in communion with God. It means that sins will be confessed and repented of. The believer does not think of condemnation when thinking of God. He or she thinks of joy because this is where true joy is found.

So, why would you ever read the Bible without the Holy Spirit? 

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