Friday, May 26, 2017


On the one hand, Scripture teaches that Scripture is enough:

·       All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

However, many pastors teach that it is not enough. One pastor/professor confessed that he had memorized many of the books of the Bible as a teen and participant in Bible competitions. However, he confessed that, despite all of his Scripture knowledge, he remained depressed and confused.

While this is undoubtedly a problem for many, the pastor used this example (among others) to justify his approach to discipleship, focusing on exploring our hurts and formative traumas.

While this prescription is questionable, the pastor is certainly correct that we need more than just Bible memorization or a PHD in Scripture. We need the Holy Spirit to apply Scripture to our hearts and minds.

·       And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:13-14)

The Spirit has to make the Scriptures real for us. We call this the illumination of Scripture. If the Spirit is not part of this equation, Scripture remains foolishness to us. Why? Because ordinarily, we remain prisoners of the darkness:

  • The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God…For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:4-6)

God, the Spirit, has to take the Scriptures and apply them to our hearts. In the previous chapter, Paul explained that the Jews also had the Scriptures, but they had been blinded to them and their saving power:

  • But their [Israel’s] minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains un-lifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:14-18)

When our hearts are unveiled, we can behold God’s glory through the Word and be transformed. Israel had the Gospel in their Hebrew Scriptures, but they also needed to have minds unveiled by the Spirit. Consequently, Paul wrote that the ministry of the Word is a twofold phenomenon. It is both the product of Apostolic writing/teaching and the Spirit:

  • You are our letter…clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. (2 Cor. 3:2-3)

Therefore, understanding, appreciating, and internalizing Scripture is not possible without the Spirit. Consequently, Paul admitted that what he had written to Timothy required the Spirit’s illumination:

  • Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. (2 Timothy 2:7)

The Apostle John also pointed to the essential work of the Spirit in a church rocked by the departure of a number of its members (1 John 2:19-20):

·       I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing [of the spirit] 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. (1 John 2:26-27)

Clearly, John wasn’t suggesting that the Apostolic teachings (including their writings) weren’t important. In the same letter, He emphasized the need for their teachings:

·       They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. (1 John 4:5-6)

Those who had the Spirit listened to the Apostles. They recognized the voice of Jesus in them and believed. This is because they had the anointing of the Spirit:

·       Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:25-27)

If we have this anointing, we believe and follow. If we lack this anointing and illumination, we do not believe and follow. Instead, the Word remains unappealing to us.

Why then do we see so little of the presence of this anointing in the Church? In retrospect, God has shown me that He first had to tear me down so that He could then lift me out of my pride. When I read Scripture, I was looking for those verses that would exalt and validate me. I wasn’t looking to exalt God. Instead, it was all about me. However, “He opposes the proud” (James 4:6), as Jesus often taught:

·       “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14; 14:11)

It required many painful years to teach me that true life is about exalting Him before all else, knowing that, in this manner, He would also provide for me (Matthew 6:33). And I am still learning this lesson. However, now, when I read the Scriptures, I pray for God’s understanding of them, and this is exactly what He wants to give us. When Jesus appeared to His Apostles after His resurrection:

·       Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. (Luke 24:44-45; also 25-26)

Jesus is still in the business of opening our minds to understand His Holy Scriptures. Let us trust in Him to illuminate our minds and guide our feet!

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