"Led By The Spirit"
(Romans 8:14)

I suppose there’s no passage more misused and misunderstood than is Romans 8:14, unless it would be John 3:16, Romans 5:1 and Ephesians 2:8-9. Let us read the passage under consideration together: "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God." Just think for a moment how many conflicting and contradictory teachings you have heard or read which claimed to be directed by the Holy Spirit! How may we know who is and who isn’t "led by the Spirit?"

1). The Spirit guided the New Testament writers into "all truth" (John 16:12-13).
2). The entire Old and New Testaments were revealed by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:16-21; Galatians 1:11; 1 Corinthians 2:1-13; James 1:25).
3). The New Testament Scriptures contain "all things that pertain to life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3).
4). The whole Bible, both Old and New Testaments will "furnish the man of God completely unto every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
5). Our authority in religion today must come only from the New Testament’s teachings (John 12:48; Matthew 17:5; Matthew 28:18; Acts 3:22-23; Jude 3: Romans 16:17-18; Revelation 22:18-19; James 1:25; Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18; Hebrews 7:12; Colossians 2:14; Hebrews 8:7-13).
6). The Old Testament is useful for information and for examples (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11).

Members of The Church of Christ
Are Often Misrepresented

1). Because we teach that the Holy Spirit today always uses agency, and does not work directly either in conversions to Christ nor in guiding the Christian (Ephesians 6:17), we are accused of not believing the Holy Spirit is involved in conversions nor in guiding the Christian. Both charges are completely false. We believe the Holy Spirit is active in every conversion to Christ and that every true disciple is indeed being "led by the Spirit." Our differences with our denominational friends in this matter is in the "how" such leading and working is accomplished. We believe that the Spirit revealed word of Christ is how the Spirit leads and guides the Christian.

2). For example the Spirit in an abstract way does indeed cause us to believe. As the apostle Paul wrote, "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). Why do you believe on Jesus for example? Assuming that you do believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Have you seen Him? Has He spoken to you? I feel sure you will answer in the negative. I know you will if you are honest. Yet you believe with all of your heart that Jesus is the Messiah. Why? How? I suggest it is in the exact same way that I came to believe those facts. You have heard and read the faith producing word of God/Christ as revealed by the Holy Spirit.

Paul spoke of how men must "call on the name of the Lord if they are to be saved" (Romans 10:13). He then asks, "how shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" Our next passage naturally agrees with the concept that "faith comes by hearing today," not by seeing or observing as in times past. Jesus appeared to His apostles after His resurrection and one of them, Thomas was missing. The others told Thomas they had seen the resurrected Lord. "Doubting Thomas" said, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." Later all of the disciples were together including Thomas and Jesus appeared again and stood in their midst, and said, "Peace be with you." Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. And do not be unbelieving, but believing. And Thomas said to Him, "My Lord and my God." Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" (John 20:24-31 NKJV). Clearly only those who hear or read this faith producing word can believe that Jesus is the Christ. For He doesn’t make appearances today. He is at the right hand of God on David’s throne exalted as Lord and Christ (Acts 2:32-36).

Believing This Cardinal Doctrine-What About All The Rest?

This faith producing word revealed by the Holy Spirit was to be preached to the whole world, to every creature, so that they too, might come to accept Jesus and the Christ, the Son of the living God. So they too, could believe these cardinal facts of His soul saving Gospel (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-20; Luke 24:45-49). This is known as "The Great or Worldwide Commission" as given by Christ to His chosen witnesses, the Apostles. Paul said this gospel was to be preached to all nations "for obedience to the faith" (See Romans 16:25-27). Earlier in his inspired epistle to the Romans he had written about the fact that this gospel is God’s power to save the believer and is how God makes men righteous through complying with the terms given therein (Romans 1:16-17). Paul showed in his letter to Corinth this same soul saving power of the gospel when its facts are believed and its commandments are obeyed (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Where this faith producing gospel has not been taken, there will be no believers. Where this soul saving gospel has not been taught, believed and obeyed, there you will find no Christians. If the Holy Spirit apart from Christ’s word converted and led folks, the word would be superfluous and since God is no respecter of person (Acts 10:34-35; Romans 2:11), surely the Spirit would not discriminate against any, if indeed He worked directly in conversions and in instructing the followers of Christ!

No Spirit Revealed Word-People Worship In Ignorance

Man by his very nature (created in God’s image Genesis 1:26; Acts 17:28; Hebrews 12:9), seeks to be at one with God. Unless the Holy Spirit’s word is taught him, his attempts will all be in vain. Read the entire sermon that Paul preached to the Athenians at the Areopagus on Mar’s hill recorded in (Acts 17:16-31). These folks knew there was a higher power. They even had altars erected to many gods and among those alters had one erected to "the unknown God." This one true God and His Son is what Paul proclaimed unto them. Near the conclusion of his sermon he said, "And these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all, in that He has raised Him from the dead" (Acts 17:30-31).

The Spirit’s Word Identifies The Church-Tells How To Worship-Tells Local Churches What Work They Are Authorized to Engage In-Gives Local Church Organization, Etc.

I must conclude that since the apostles were guided by the Holy Spirit into "All spiritual truth" (John 16:13), that there is nothing that we need to know that isn’t already revealed by the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. Folks not allowing that word to lead them today aren’t Spirit guided. When problems arose in the early congregations of Christ’s people they were settled by appealing to the Apostles doctrine (Acts 2:42). Even in the first century AD, when folks attempted to bind beliefs and practices on the churches of Christ which had no Apostolic origins they were accused of "subverting (unsettling) their souls" of those thus instructed.

"Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with their words, unsettling your souls, saying, ‘You must be circumcised and keep the law’ -to whom we (the apostles ket) gave no such commandment." (Acts 15:24). If there was no apostolic instructions (since they were guided into all truth (John 16:13; 2 Peter 1:3; James 1:25), a belief or practice thus engaged in was detrimental to the souls of those thus inclined. We could take each point in the above heading and elaborate for many pages but when all is said and done we would have only proved what my contention was originally. We are "led by the Spirit" only as we follow the Spirit revealed word and since "God is not the author of confusion, but of peace..."(1 Corinthians 14:33), those thus led by the Spirit through His revealed word, will "all speak the same thing.." and will all "abide in the doctrine of Christ" (1 Corinthians 1:10-12; 2 John 9-11). Those unwilling to be thus directed are unwilling to be "led by the Holy Spirit." The Spirit’s word is complete, with nothing lacking. It cries out for acceptance (John 4:23-24; 6:44-45; 10:16; 17:17-21).

People Converted By The Holy Spirit Through The Word

1). Jews on Pentecost=(Acts 2:22-38,40-41,47).
2). Some Jews=(Acts 3:19).
3). Some Samaritans=(Acts 8:12).
4). Simeon a Sorcerer=(Acts 8:12).
5). A Queen’s Treasurer=Acts 8:26-39).
6). Saul of Tarsus=(Acts 9:1-6; 22:16).
7). Cornelius & House=(Acts 10:1-6; 47-48).
8). Lydia=(Acts 16:14-15).
9). A Jailer at Philippi=(Acts 16:25-34).

Folks thus converted by the teaching of the Holy Spirit’s revealed word, became simply and only "Christians" and as such were members of Christ’s blood bought church. This was hundreds of years before Roman Catholicism or Protestantism were ever invented by uninspired men. You too can be a Christian and a citizen of Christ’s kingdom by being "born again" of the water and of the Spirit (John 3:3-5; Titus 3:5; Acts 11:26b; 1 Peter 4:16; Acts 26:28).

By Kenneth E. Thomas

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