The disciples were confused. Jesus had just told them that He was going away and that His closest friends would betray Him.
Where was He going? Why couldn’t they come? Would Jesus show them the Father?
For three years Jesus had been with His disciples. He’d been their teacher, their comfort and their guide. Yet how shaky was their faith! How little they knew!
Jesus knew their fears and their lack of faith. He had anticipated it and had prepared the perfect remedy.
“I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever — the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:16-18
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” John 16:12-14
The Holy Spirit was Jesus’ answer to the disciples’ lack of faith and misunderstanding of the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit, the mighty third person of the Godhead, would be their helper and teacher. He would stay with them and teach them all the truths they had not been able to comprehend while Jesus Himself was with them.
The Holy Spirit would pick up where Jesus left off. He would illumine their minds and give them understanding of the Scriptures so they could share with others.
“Peace be with you…”Jesus told His disciples when He first saw them after His resurrection, “Receive the Holy Spirit…”John 20:19, 22 Then He “opened their understanding that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” Luke 24:45
The Illumination of the Holy Spirit
Picture a flashlight with me. It’s got a bright bulb, a reflecting mirror and all the wiring to make it work. Unfortunately, its missing something vital – a battery. Without that essential ingredient, the flashlight can’t help me. There is no way it can light up the darkness.
The same is true of the Bible. It is “lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105Yet without the power of the Holy Spirit, we cannot understand it.
“The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14
The Bible is a bright light that reflects the character of God and reveals His glory. Yet we cannot understand it without the illumination of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is like the battery that powers the flashlight so we can see where we are going on a dark night.
“For You light my lamp; The LORD my God illumines my darkness.” Psalm 18:28
Given & Interpreted by the Holy Spirit
In the past several articles, we’ve explored how God reveals Himself to humanity and how the Bible was inspired. We saw how God gave His messages to the prophets through the Holy Spirit and enabled them to accurately write down those messages for us.
“Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:21
God gave us the Bible through the Holy Spirit. Just as importantly, God gives us understanding of the Bible through the same Holy Spirit.
Jesus promises us that the “Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” John 14:26
One of the Holy Spirit’s most important jobs is to give us understanding of God’s Word.
“We can attain to an understanding of God’s Word only through the illumination of the Spirit by which the Word was given.” Ellen White, Steps to Christ, p. 114
5 Ways the Holy Spirit Helps Us Understand the Bible
- Opens Our Spiritual Eyes – Jesus told the Laodicean church to “anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.” Revelation 3:18. Sin has blinded our hearts to the truth. We need a miracle to open our eyes. The Holy Spirit is given to do that. “The Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” 1 Corinthians 2:13
- Leads Into All Truth – Do you want to know truth? Then you need the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised His disciples, and us, that “when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” John 16:13
- Gives Us Understanding– Jesus’ teachings gave new insight the Old Testament Scriptures. Where did He get that understanding? “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.” Isaiah 11:1-3 We too can have deep understanding into God’s Word through the illumination of the Holy Spirit.
- Leads Us in What to Study– Do you ever struggle to know what to read in the Bible? Ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He will show you. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” Romans 8:14
- Reveals the Things of God– “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” 1 Corinthians 2:9-12
Why We MUST Have the Holy Spirit
Not long before His death, Jesus told a story that illustrated how important the Holy Spirit is to us. The parable is recorded in Matthew 25:1-13.
Jesus told of ten young bridesmaids who were waiting for the groom and his party to arrive so they could join the festivities with the bride. In the story, the groom is delayed, the girls fall asleep and their lamps go out. The groom arrives at midnight and the bridesmaids scramble to relight their small oil lamps. Only five are wise enough to have brought extra oil and are able to join in the celebration. The other five dash off to find oil to buy. By the time these foolish ones return, the door is closed and the groom says he doesn’t know them.
The bridesmaids in the story represent you and I – Jesus followers at the end of time. As we wait for Jesus to return, all of us get sleepy, and our lamps grow dim. Only those who are prepared with extra oil will be ready for the Second Coming of Christ.
What then is the essential oil? It is the Holy Spirit who gives us understanding of the Bible and transforms us into the likeness of God.
Events in the world around us show us that Jesus is coming very soon. Politics, wars, natural disasters, society’s loss of a moral compass — all indicate that the prophecies are being fulfilled and Jesus is soon to return. Unless you and I are daily receiving the Holy Spirit as our personal friend and guide, we will be among the foolish girls shut out in the dark. Friend, we must have our faith founded in the Word of God and our understanding enlightened by the Holy Spirit.
God’s Gift to You
Just before Jesus returned to heaven, He reminded His friends of the coming gift, “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you…” Luke 24:49
Ten days later Jesus delivered on His promise and sent the Holy Spirit upon His waiting, praying disciples. Heaven’s gift enabled them to understand the Scriptures and share it with others. Their transformation propelled the good news of Jesus’ salvation through the world in just one generation.
The Holy Spirit was the “most essential and complete gift which He [could] bestow upon His followers—the gift that would bring within their reach the boundless resources of His grace.” Ellen White, Acts of the Apostles, p. 47
The gift of the Holy Spirit is just as applicable for you and I today as it was for Jesus’ first century disciples. We too must have the Helper to be with us and guide us into a full understanding of truth.
Without the Holy Spirit, the Bible is like a flashlight without a battery. But it doesn’t need to be that way.
“The promise of the Holy Spirit is not limited to any age or to any race. Christ declared that the divine influence of His Spirit was to be with His followers unto the end. From the Day of Pentecost to the present time, the Comforter has been sent to all who have yielded themselves fully to the Lord and to His service. To all who have accepted Christ as a personal Saviour, the Holy Spirit has come as a counselor, sanctifier, guide, and witness.” Ellen White, Acts of the Apostles, p. 49
Every one of us can receive the Holy Spirit for ourselves so that we can understand the Bible for ourselves. We simply need to ask for the promised Gift. God is eager to give it to us.
“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if heasks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” Luke 11:9-13
**All Scriptures taken from the New King James Version.