How the Holy Spirit Speaks to Us Today
Religious error abounds. The N.T. warns us of the false teachers and the religious error they would promote. Jesus warned, "And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many" (Mt. 24:11). Peter reminded us, "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction" (2 Pet. 2:1). Where there are false teachers there are false doctrines. This is why John warns us, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (1 Jn. 4:1).
One of the most common religious errors that we face is the doctrine that the Holy Spirit speaks directly to individuals today. This error permeates the very highest of denominational religious authority from the Catholic pope, to the Mormon "prophet" or president, to the TV preacher, down to the local Pentecostal preachers. All of these claim that the Holy Spirit speaks to them and guides them. But not only popes, presidents and preachers make this claim. There are many religious folks who make this claim that they are guided directly by the Holy Spirit. Their religion is based upon what they profess the Holy Spirit tells them. Many believe God directs, speaks and guides them in virtually any and every decision in their lives. One woman explained how the Holy Spirit guided her when she had lost something in her house. She just closed her eyes and let the Spirit speak to her and move her in the direction
I. Jesus Promised Direct Revelation from the Holy Spirit to his Apostles at the Last Supper
A. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to all those who believed on him.
1. "(38) He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (39) (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)" (Jn. 7:38-39).
2. "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost"(Acts 2:38).
3. The evidence of the Holy Spirit in a Christian's life is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).
4. Jesus did not promise all believers miraculous power or direct revelation from the Holy Spirit.
B. Jesus promised direct revelation from the Holy Spirit to his apostles at the "Last Supper"
1. "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come" (Jn. 16:13).
2. Jesus made this promise at the "Last supper."
3. Who was present? "(13) And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover. (14) And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him" (Lk. 22:13-14; Mk. 14:16-17; Mt. 26:19-20).
4. This promise was made to those present, Jesus' apostles, not to every believer or "preacher."
II. The Holy Spirit Would Bring to Remembrance What Jesus Had Told the Apostles
A. The Holy Spirit would bring to remembrance all things Jesus had said to them.
1. "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (Jn. 14:26).
a. Jesus promised this to those he spoke to, the apostles, not me or you.
b. Since Jesus did not speak to us directly, he did not promise us the Holy Spirit to remind us of what he told us!
c. A couple of Mormons used this verse to try to prove that everyone would receive the Holy Spirit to teach them the truth. I asked them if Jesus had spoken to them. They said no. Then the Holy Spirit could not be given to them to remind them of what Jesus had said to them.
2. Because the Holy Spirit would guide the apostles, remind them and give them words to speak, they were not to prepare what they would say!
a. "(5) These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not (18) And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. (19) But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. (20) For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you" (Mt. 10:5, 18-20).
B. But not so with us today.
1. We have to be taught from the Word.
a. "Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus" (Col. 1:28).
b. "If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed" (1 Tim. 4:6).
2. We have to study.
a. "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:11).
b. "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15).
3. We have to be reminded by the written Word of the apostles.
a. "(12) Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. (13) Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; (14) Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. (15) Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance" (2 Pet. 1:12-15).
b. "(1) This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: (2) That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour" (2 Pet. 3:2).
c. "But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jude 17).
III. The Holy Spirit Would Testify of Christ So the Apostles Could Witness
A. The Spirit testified of Jesus as the Christ by the miracles.
1. "(26) But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: (27) And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning" (Jn. 15:26-27).
2. Jesus promised the Spirit to those who had been with him from the beginning of his ministry.
3. Jesus promised the Spirit to the apostles so they could witness of Christ.
4. The Spirit was sent to testify of Jesus by confirming the testimony of the apostles by miracles (Mk. 16:20; Heb. 2:3-4)
B. The Holy Spirit would Testify of Christ So the Apostles could Witness
1. Jesus reminded his apostles that they would receive the Holy Spirit to empower them to be his witnesses. "(1) The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, (2) Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: (3) To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: (4) And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. (5) For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence (8) But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:1-5, 8).
a. The apostles were to be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
b. The apostles were to receive power after receiving the Holy Spirit.
c. The apostles were to be witnesses of Jesus.
C. The Holy Spirit has testified & the apostles witnessed of Christ, We are not
1. The apostles were with Jesus from the beginning and were eyewitnesses of his resurrection.
a. Out of the 120 disciples who meet together, Peter said the Lord would chose only one to take the place of Judas in the apostleship to be a witness of Jesus.
b. "(21) Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, (22) Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection" (Acts 1:21-22).
c. "(1) That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (2) (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) (3) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. (4) And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full" (1 Jn. 1:1-4).
1) The apostles heard, saw and handled the resurrected Lord.
2) They witnessed to us of what they saw.
2. The testimony of the Holy Spirit and the apostles is complete.
a. We are not witnesses of the resurrected Lord, but the recipients of their testimony. "(1) Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. (2) For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; (3) How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; (4) God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?" (Heb. 2:1-4).
1) Notice the different groups that are spoken of here. Those who "heard him (The Lord)" and "we" who heard the word they preached.
2) Those who "heard him" were witnesses of his salvation.
3) God by the Holy Spirit bore them witness by the miracles of the Holy Spirit.
4) Paul speaks of these miracles as "signs of an apostle" (2 Cor. 12:12).
5) Notice the past tense: "confirmed" "bearing them (those who hear him) witness." The testimony was given by those who heard the Lord, that testimony was confirmed to us by God's miraculous witness by the Holy Spirit.
IV. The Holy Spirit Would Guide the Apostles into All Truth
A. The Holy Spirit would guide the apostles into all truth, not partial truth.
1. "(12) I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. (13) Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. (14) He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. (15) All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you" (Jn. 16:12- 15).
2. The things Jesus could not tell his apostles, the Holy Spirit would.
a. This denies the apostles received only partial revelation.
b. This denies ongoing (progressive) revelation.
B. The Holy Spirit guided the Apostles into all truth
1. Jesus kept his promise according to the apostles and revealed unto them "all truth". "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue" (2 Peter 1:3).
2. "(10) But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. (11) For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. (12) Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. (13) Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (1 Cor. 2:10-13).
3. "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3).
4. Paul emphasized that their would not be any more revelation. "(6) I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: (7) Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. (8) But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. (9) As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:6-9).
C. The Apostles & Prophets Wrote Down What the Holy Spirit Spoke
1. How do we know what the Holy Spirit revealed to the apostles?
2. They wrote it down for us to read and understand.
3. "(1) For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, (2) If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: (3) How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, (4) Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) (5) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit" (Eph. 3:1-5).
4. "(3) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. (4) And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full" (1 Jn. 1:3-4).
V. The Holy Spirit Speaks to Us Today Through the Word of God
A. Jesus described how God spoke to the Jews by what was written
1. "(31) But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, (32) 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?' God is not the God of the dead, but of the living" (Mt. 22:31-32).
B. The Holy Spirit spoke to us in the OT scripture
1. "Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus" (Acts 1:16)
2. "(7) Wherefore (as the Holy Spirit saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, (8) Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: (9) When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. (10) Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. (11) So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)" (Heb. 3:7-11).
C. The Holy Spirit speaks expressly to us by the NT scripture
1. "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils" (1 Tim. 4:1).
2. "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches" (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29, 3:6, 13, 22).
Conclusion-The Holy Spirit speaks to us by direct revelation today, but through the revealed Word of God. We are to read, study and apply what the Holy Spirit says. "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15).
Jesus told of the rich man who died and was in torments in Hades. The rich man asked Abraham to allow him to go back and warn his five brothers so they would not come to the same place of torment. "(29) Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. (30) And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. (31) And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead" (Luke 16:29-31).
Many want the Holy Spirit to speak directly to them to guide and reveal to them and tell them what to. But if they won't listen to Jesus and his apostles and prophets in the Scriptures, then they are not listening to the Holy Spirit. Read and study the Word and hear what the Spirit says today!
By Wayne Greeson
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