Spirit, Word and Brain Usage.

Elsewere I’ve been continuing discussions about the influences we allow into our Bible study. My view is that far too much reliance is placed up commentaries, study bibles and other “theological” writings. That understanding of scripture is being influenced by that reliance, leading to the acceptance and perpetuation of some questionable doctrines.

I suggest it’s important to start with scripture ALONE.
Don’t study scripture WITH other resources. Trust the Holy Spirit to give understanding of what we read. Don’t turn to a commentary to find “the meaning” of passage that isn’t immediately understood. Be prepared to accept that things may remain a “mystery” for the time being. We don’t need to understand everything NOW. We just learn and understand what we can. Other things will come later as understanding grows.

Sermons, discussion, history books and other teaching resources are useful AFTERWARDS and can help us process what we’ve been studying IN scripture. But they shouldn’t be used to shape the direction of our study before (or even during) that personal time with scripture.

In putting scripture first we will find that our study of the Bible will equip us to handle those resources (rather than vice versa). Our discernment will be enhanced and we’ll be able to differentiate between the good and the bad within those resources.

A very common and predictable response to what I’ve had to say about trusting the Holy Spirit has been a snide reference to “checking your brain in at the door”. I’m not sure what that says about attitudes towards the Holy Spirit if so many suggest that trusting the Spirit means that the brain isn’t needed.
The irony is that so little use of the brain is required when we turn to others to interpret things for us, wanting them to tell us what scripture “really” means, instead of making the effort to address scripture for ourselves.

Also see: https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/scripture-teachers-bereans-and-the-holy-spirit/

7 thoughts on “Spirit, Word and Brain Usage.

  1. Well said, brother !! And as hard as you hit “scripture only” (in contrast to scripture PLUS commentaries and etc.), I think you give the Spirit His just place as the necessary/sovereign Interpreter of scripture.

    That’s often seemed a problem with the hardline “Sola Scriptura” people I’ve known. Though they at least verbally acknowledge scripture can only be understood and interpreted correctly through the Spirit’s agency (they can hardly deny it, in light of II Peter 1:20-21), they seem to mostly embrace the MacArthurite view of the Spirit.

    With lip-service to, and no real belief or practice in, seeking the Spirit as Interpreter, “Sola Scriptura” often seems (in actual practice) to consist almost entirely of the interpretations of men. MacArthur I’ve already mentioned: but the folks of that persuasion I’ve known are usually also hardline Calvinists and hardline Fundamentalists.

    I’d be the first to say there are great biblical truths, and spiritual strengths, in Calvin’s writings, and in the essays of “The Fundamentals.” Adapting either, however, as the the whole and complete interpretation of what God says to us in scripture: and erecting either as our operative scripture-view: is to make the doctrines of men our real faith.

    It could be called irony that those who most loudly claim (usually self-approvingly) to follow “Sola Scriptura” are often the most ensnared in men’s doctrines. Turned another degree, it could be called hypocrisy.

    Our enemy the serpent remains “…more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.”

    In Jesus, Steve

  2. Hi Steve,
    When study resources direct our own bible study, we will only see what the creator of those resources directs us to see. Not only does that make us susceptible to any error they promote, it also keeps us away from things they haven’t considered.

    In recent months I’ve become more and more aware of how the Holy Spirit has been sidelined. Most people remain either ignorant of Him or misinformed about Him because of their reliance on study resources – and yet scripture has a lot to reveal about Him and how He equips believers. Scripture usually gives a totally different picture of Him than that given by many of the commentary and study bible writers.

  3. Steve, in addition I’d like to say how shocking it can be to regularly witness the extent that people will go to in justifying the things they prefer to believe even when those beliefs are in direct contradiction to scripture.

    Having an “expert” opinion to back them up seems to blind them to some of the most obvious and clear truths that scripture reveals.

    But after all of these years you’d think I wouldn’t still be so easily shocked.

  4. Amen, Tim ! The lengths we will go to, to avoid simply believing what scripture says !!

    It’s been a long time since I studied the list of “logical fallacies” (or maybe it was tools of propaganda ?)…but isn’t “appeal to authority” one of them ? That when we don’t like what simple reality, fact, truth/Truth, or scripture plainly verify to us, we can justify ourselves by citing an “authority” who says it isn’t so ?

    In the U.S., at least, that’s been a huge and harmful part of public dialogue. And there always seem to be “experts” available to deny climate-change, or that smoking causes cancer, or that lack of sane gun-restrictions has some part in the weekly massacres.

    In Jesus, Steve

  5. Onesimus, Thank you for this insight. I wholeheartedly agree with it. I will add as an example, I have a friend who does extensive studies in the Greek to parallel his study with scripture and the Spirit. I myself rely on the Holy Spirit and the scriptures. When we get together to share and compare what we’ve learned I must say, humbly, I do not miss a step. In fact, I believe God takes me a bit further in the “heart” – my personal transformation. The Holy Spirit must be able to dwell in us. Sin grieves Him away, by faith in Christ we are sanctified. And the scriptures continue to open up as we clean our hearts…

  6. Thank you for the encouragement Chris, it’s good to know that some people understand. There are so many who are so caught up in tradition and their reliance on men’s teaching that it can often be discouraging to see some of the responses to what I’ve said about trusting the Holy Spirit.

  7. And Amen !! Chris:

    “…the scriptures continue to open up as we clean our hearts…”

    Probably one of those facts of which Jesus said “…to everyone who has, more shall be given…” (Matthew 13:12, 25:29).

    It seems one of the most hurtful effects of following commentators’ interpretations, that once we have “THE” meaning of scripture (on an “expert” ‘s say-so) we seldom keep our spirit open to anything further God has to say.

    It’s almost a diagnostic of individuals’ hearts. God’s word is “perfect” (i.e., “complete”). We can take that to mean it is static. Our hubris may be contributory to that assumption; and is certainly part of our belief that man’s understanding can overtake and ENCOMPASS anything static. I think all of us here would instead consider that God is still speaking in what He has already said, still pouring out further riches of His counsel on all who will listen: and we want (even at the PRICE of letting Him cleanse our hearts) to hear Him further.

    In practice, I find “staticists” (if that’s a fair characterization) seldom as bad as their theology. Even the most doctrinaire of them I’ve encountered will testify that the Spirit often illuminates scripture to them in new understandings. How perverse, then, to take a hard-line stance denying what they KNOW is true, and experience !

    Again, the lengths we will go to, to avoid simply believing scripture !

    God forgive our rebelliousness !!

    In Jesus, Steve

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