One of the overlooked sources for theology is the Holy Spirit. I think that this is somewhat accidental, and to another degree very deliberate. To one, we see that it is a given to expect that the Holy Spirit would be at work in helping us to understand these theological concepts. To the other, we find that our secret hearts desire that we should be able to work hard and figure it without help. There is a bit of pride in the heart when we ignore the fact that without the Holy Spirit, we simply cannot understand anything of the faith. Paul has plainly told us that the carnal man does not understand the things of God. Again, in 1 Corinthians 2, we find that Paul says that they who do not have the Spirit of God does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. Is that supposed to be something that only works for the apostles? If not, then why accept that any of the rest of the context would speak exclusively to the apostles? Is it not true that the Spirit has been poured out upon you and I? If so, then I must embrace 1 Corinthians 2 as having immediate implication for me.
God reveals these mysteries to us through His Spirit. We will discuss later why it is necessary to have the Holy Sprit when studying – indeed we cannot even come to call the Bible authoritative or even fully comprehend it without the Spirit’s work. In 1 Corinthians 12:3, we read that we cannot even claim that “Jesus is Lord” but by the Spirit. If this is true, how much more will we need the Spirit in our study to understand the words of Jesus? The truth is that Christianity is a faith based upon resurrection. While the Jewish people would believe that the resurrection will happen one day, we would contend that by entering the faith we have been buried with Christ and raised by the glory of the Father (Romans 6:1). It is by that very notion that we lay claim to all of our beliefs. All of our knowledge and understanding comes from two sources: heaven or the world. If it comes from below, whether of culture, carnality, or demonic lies, it is only by the power of the Spirit that we recognize it.
We are told to no longer conform to the ways of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. What does it take to renew our minds? It takes the study of Scripture, but study alone does not cut it. If it had, there would be no reason for the new covenant. What brings us from glory to glory is to behold the Spirit of the Lord in one another’s faces. The renewing of our minds is enacted when we will live in a manner worthy of the calling we’ve received – namely, to drive the Jew to jealousy. Paul then elaborates what that means through the rest of the book of Romans. After giving this kind of indictment in chapter 11, we read the beginning of chapter 12 to lay down our lives. What does it take to extend mercy to the enemies of the Gospel? How do we drive the Jew to jealousy? What is it about the full number of Gentiles coming in that will result in “all Israel will be saved”? Is it not the very expression of unity and love marked out in Romans 12? Is it not the very submission unto the Church leadership and obedience through love given in Romans 13? Is it not the very expression of loving one another and not causing our brother to sin, as expressed in Romans 14-15? Is it not the very laying down of our lives on behalf of they who are enemies of the Gospel – not being content to leave them alone and allow the Jewish people to deal with their circumstances however they feel the need, or having the need to warn them of a coming day of calamity because it is what all of the prophets have spoken from the time of Enoch – as we read that we’re to be an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:16)?
If it is by living according to love that causes us to renew our minds, then why would we believe that we can do this outside of the Holy Spirit? Is this not the result of the very logic of love shed abroad in our hearts? No, we are at the complete disposal of the Holy Spirit. Everything we do, and everything we comprehend, is to stem from obedience to the Holy Spirit. This is our final source for theology. The question, which is quite a laborious question, is how to discern between the voice of the Holy Spirit and all other voices. Once again, this goes back to renewing our minds. How do we do this? We live as Christ lived, which is to say, we live and move and have our being from the command of the Holy Spirit.
The importance of this cannot be stressed enough. Stop idolizing preachers. You cannot live off of someone else’s relationship with God. To build your life and theology off of someone else is to be a parasite. It takes building your own well and drinking from your own cistern to come to your own reality. It might be true that we can learn much from others, and indeed we should. That is part of what it means to give to the next generation. We desire to teach and build up anyone and everyone who might need it. However, building up requires that we would teach our disciples how to pray and how to cultivate their own relationships with God. They are welcome to come to us for advice and wisdom, but at some point if there is not the breaking away because of maturity, there is a problem.
Men like Leonard Ravenhill, David Wilkerson, Arthur Katz, and Paul Washer are known for saying that we need to get alone with God. They are known for challenging pastors and teachers to acquire their messages from before the throne instead of from our own minds or some influential message from another person. Where do you think they got such an idea? Was it from their own minds, or do you think they would challenge others to do so because they have done so? Our theology needs to be our own. Our understanding needs to be our own. There are tremendous revelations and insights that others have given that I am forever indebted to. Yet, I don’t live to come to further understanding by reading what others wrote. My understanding comes from my relationship with Christ. So, too, should you understanding come from the revelation from the Holy Spirit instead of from the work of others, however beneficial that might be. Pick up where they left off and continue the labor. Don’t leave it alone simply because they had wrestled with their understanding longer. Figure out if they were missing anything, and if so, balance their understanding more properly with these missing details.
That kind of understanding and wisdom to discern what others are missing or misunderstanding does not come from diligent study. It comes from God Himself. Remember that when Peter had claimed, “Thou art the Christ”, that Jesus’ response was, “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but the Father who is in heaven.” So it is with all truth. Anything that you understand, when it is true, was not apprehended because of your diligent study, but because of the Holy Spirit revealing it. The Father Himself bore witness to it, and in that, you saw it for the reality it is. Therefore, continue in that reality.