The Bible is very clear that one of the significant works of the Holy Spirit is to provide guidance for believers as they find their way along life’s way. The two key texts delineated above state very clearly that the Spirit will come to “guide you into all truth.” Furthermore, He will “teach you all things,” and “bring all things to your remembrance.” In addition to that, he will “show you things to come.” This list ends up being very comprehensive, therefore very significant. Clearly, the Holy Spirit is to be counted on for guidance.
If we look at each of these dimensions singly, it is illuminating. The Holy Spirit is to guide believers into all truth. A guiding function is spoken of here. There is the presumption that there is such a thing as “truth,” and that its parameters can be understood by human beings. As people get curious about the things of God, as they endeavor to understand the plan and purposes of God, we may envision the Holy Spirit hovering nearby guiding the learning. By way of thought, conscience, impulse, and influence, the Holy Spirit prods us in the direction we need to go. The Holy Spirit brings into our lives and orbits just those people who we need in order to learn what we do not know. Given this function of the Holy Spirit, none need flounder along in ignorance. At the same time, none will be able to give the excuse of ignorance in the day of judgment.
The Holy Spirit will “teach you all things.” Here a teaching function is described. By whatever means, we will be instructed by the Holy Spirit. It is a personal belief that one of the major means of this teaching is by the growing of convictions in people’s hearts. As they investigate the things of God, ideas pop up that solidify into convictions that come to occupy the thoughtful hours to the point they virtually require some kind of decision to be made. A person sees a conviction grow to the point where a decision must be made or the person will sense they have betrayed their integrity. To be sure, study of the Bible is a major avenue used by the Spirit to teach us truth.
Question: What do we say about all those who, throughout the history of earth, have had no Bible?
The Holy Spirit will “bring to remembrance whatsoever I have said to you.” There are those who want to contend that this verse has to do about the activating of memory in general, but it says specifically the Spirit will bring to mind those things we have been taught, especially the things Jesus said.
Lastly, the Holy Spirit will “show you things to come.” Here is the prospect of an un-ending stream of information about God opening before the believer as the future becomes the present. To be able to know what the future holds, or to be able to understand where God is going, is a wonderful prospect. Believers may be assured that as we progress into the future, the Holy Spirit will be there making sure we are all properly informed as needed.
One other item that bears some consideration is the Holy Spirit and “the Word.” Christians hold that the Bible is the Word. Are you prepared to limit the Word to the Bible? Surely, the Bible needs to be included in this, but is not God’s word to humans greater than the Bible? What about Jesus himself? And what about those who have never seen a Bible? Can they be guided by the Spirit? To be sure, the Holy Spirit guided in the production of the Bible, causing a residue of God’s word into history to be written down and preserved. It is for this reason that a high premium is placed on the study of the Bible.
One last item comes to mind in this lesson. The Holy Spirit often guides by very ordinary means. One of those is common sense. As believers go about the business of living, ideas that seem obvious pop into their minds. Sometimes those ideas are suggested by others as the day progresses. Common sense is the sense of wisdom we all have to some extent, and it sits at the interface of thought and act. That is a primary location for the activity of the Holy Spirit. We should not always be looking for stupendous things when searching for information from God. Often the ordinary is the vary place God can be found at work.
Questions for Discussion:
- How can you tell when a conviction or thought comes from the Holy Spirit?
- If the Holy Spirit died tonight, what difference would it make to the way you are living your life now? What would change? What would have to change?
- Can you give any examples of the Holy Spirit leading in your life? In the lives of others?
- Consider two people, one with very good theology but at the same time mean, nasty, and judgmental. The other person has a rather mixed up theology, but is kind, loving, teachable, and generous. Who would you say is most under the guidance of the Holy Spirit? Why do you ay so? What is the value of good theology?