Does God Speak through the Bible or the Holy Spirit?

Father, Son, and Holy Bible?

how does God speak to us?

Bible Verses: 1 Corinthians 2:11-14

How does God speak to us? Does the Bible or the Holy Spirit teach us everything we need to know about God? Does the Bible or the Holy Spirit lead us to an intimate relationship with the Father? Does the Bible or the Holy Spirit fill us with the power to obey and have the knowledge to please God? According to the Bible, the answer is “the Holy Spirit” to all of these questions.

What the Bible does claim, however, is that the Holy Spirit will speak through the Scriptures to teach us about God.

How Does God Speak to Us? The Holy Spirit Speaks Through the Bible

God the Holy Spirit uses the Scriptures to guide, fill, and accomplish the Father’s will in the believer’s life.

Without the Spirit, the Bible will not be of any service to us. Notice that the Bible is our one weapon against Satan, but God refers to this weapon as “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” Ephesians 6:17).

If we replace the Spirit’s presence with the Bible, we no longer have the sword of the Spirit, we have a human sword, as we will seek to use the word of God through the wisdom of man, which will not be enough to understand and apply the real truth the Bible contains. Satan himself knows the word of God better than we ever will, and he seeks to use it for his own evil agenda. Without the Holy Spirit making us holy, we can study the Scriptures but in our sinfulness we will use our knowledge for evil and not good, just like Satan.

Romans 8:13-14 states, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” Without the Spirit we cannot understand the Spirit’s written words. And without the Spirit’s written words, we cannot be sure we are truly being led by the Spirit. But notice that the above verse does not say that those who are lead by the word of God are sons of God but rather “all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” Many non-believers see some practical wisdom in the Bible, but only when the Spirit is in you does the word of God change your life.

How Does God Speak to Us? The Scriptures Confirm and Interpret the Spirits Personal Leading

To clarify, since the Holy Spirit is the one who used man to write the Scriptures, since the Holy Spirit is therefore the true author of the Bible (2 Peter 1:21), to be in communion with the Spirit and to know what the Spirit is speaking, we must be students of the Spirit’s Scriptures. Elevating the Spirit over the word should never diminish the word, but rather lift up the Spirit as God. The word helps us, but God and not the Bible is the real point.

To hear or feel the Spirits personal leading should never contradict, diminish, or make void the written word of God to us in our minds. God’s Scriptures always stand in judgment over our personal experiences in regards to hearing or feeling God’s individual leading of us because we are imperfect and God’s word is perfect. God will always use his word in personally leading us. Therefore seeking the Spirit’s counsel is not about God giving us extra-biblical information, but rather allowing the Spirit to apply biblical wisdom in a personal way to your life.

How Does God Speak to Us? The Holy Spirit (God) is Greater than the Bible, Which Does Not Diminish the Importance of the Bible

The Holy Spirit is greater than God’s Holy Scriptures. Again, this statement does not diminish the Scriptures but rather reminds us of the deity and Sovereignty of God the Holy Spirit. The Bible is living and active because the Holy Spirit wrote it through men. Without the Spirit the Scriptures would not exist. Without the Spirit no one can understand the Scriptures (2 Corinthians 2). Without the Holy Spirit we do not have the power to apply the Scriptures to our lives (Philippians 2:13).

“Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us” (1 John 3:24). Obeying God’s word confirms that you are being led by the Spirit. The Scriptures are the primary tool the Holy Spirit uses to speak, teach, and convict, but the Holy Scriptures are still a tool God uses and not a god to be worshiped in itself.

How Does God Speak to Us? The Holy Spirit’s Primary Means (not sole means) of Communication is the Bible

The Scriptures trump what you feel the Holy Spirit saying to you not because the Spirit does not speak to us individually but because the Spirit speaks to us individually what he has already spoken to us in his word.

Yes he applies the Bible to our unique circumstances and sometimes gives special leading on neutral situations not specifically stated in the Bible (Should I or should I not travel to visit my family for the holidays?). In addition to God’s word, God often speaks to us through the inner impression is Spirit puts our heart and also through our external circumstances.

But what God the Holy Spirit never does is contradict himself, which means God will never tell us to do something that contradicts his written and unchanging word. And what he primarily does is lead us through illuminating the truth in his Scriptures.

how does God speak to us?

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14 thoughts on “Does God Speak through the Bible or the Holy Spirit?

  1. I thought your article was excellent. I found it after being given this context which I would love to have your input on. Thank you.

    Forward:
    First, no one denies that we are led of the Spirit. Indeed, all Christians are so led (Gal. 5:16-26). However, this leading is through the word revealed by the Spirit in the Bible (1 Cor. 14:37; 1 Tim. 4:1; Cf. Heb. 3:7; 4:7; Rev. 1:19; 2:1 — “write….hear what Spirit saith” — Rev. 2:7). When we read the Bible, we hear the Spirit. When we are obedient to what we read, we are led by him, that is, by the Spirit.

    Second, the Holy Spirit witnesses to us through the Scriptures; the Hebrew writer said so (Heb. 10:15-17).

    Third, not everyone who claims to be led by the Spirit is actually led by him (1 Jn. 4:1). If every claimant were led by the Spirit, why would the Spirit tell us not to believe every spirit? Why would the Spirit commend those who tested the spirits and found some to be “liars” if all are led by him (Rev. 2:2)?

    Common Errors of Spirit Led Claimants
    (1) Some, though not all, claim they “cannot resist the Spirit’s leading.” When they cause difficulty or stir family trouble, they say their problems are caused by the Spirit’s leading in ways they do not understand, and that they are unable to ignore that leading. Paul received a “heavenly vision” (Acts 26:19). However, he said, “I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision.” But, he could have been! He could have chosen not to do the bidding of God. Too, “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets” (1 Cor. 14:32). Thus, one can control himself (and is expected to do so) while under the influence of the Spirit (1 Cor. 14:27, 28, 32, 33, 40).

    (2) They claim God is leading them to do his work in ways they never imagined! If that be so, 2 Timothy 3:16, 17, cannot be true. In that text, the Holy Spirit said the Scriptures completely equip the man of God “unto every good work.” Did the Spirit tell the truth? Or, are claimants of direct Spirit guidance telling the truth? One of them is lying. “Let God be true, but every man a liar,” especially if that man contradicts the witness of the Spirit in the Bible!

    (3) They cease to work and worship as the Spirit-led disciples of the New Testament did. We know first century Christians were led by the Spirit to “sing,” break bread “upon the first day of the week,” and to oppose all human traditions (Acts 2:42; Rom. 16:17; 1 Cor. 4:6, 17; 11:2; 2 Thess. 2:15; 1 Tim. 1:3; 4:16; 6:3-5; 2 Tim. 1:13). The “Spirit of truth” does not lead men to worship in ways he severely condemned in his revealed word (Col. 2:8, 18-23; 2 Jn. 9; Rev. 22:18, 19).

    (4) Charismatic Catholic claimants “feel led by the Spirit” to sprinkle water on infants. Certain Protestant claimants “don’t feel it is right” for them to do so. Does the Spirit tell one group one thing and another something else? Which “Spirit” shall we believe? What of the babies of the Protestant claimants who die without “baptism”? If both are “OK,” then it appears that God indeed is “the author of confusion” (1 Cor. 14:33)! Does the Spirit’s word in the Bible on this, and other topics, not matter at all (Jn. 12:48)?

    (5) They claim a special joy others cannot know or appreciate. The apostles never claimed such an exclusive privilege. John said, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 Jn. 4). Is it possible for every Christian to have such joy as John had? Yes! Since John, too, could have “no greater joy,” then those who say they have a joy above that of others are in error on that point.

    What the apostles had, others could share, if they were but obedient to the gospel (Phil. 4:9; 1 Jn. 1:3, 4; 2:3-5). If God gives them a select, restricted bliss, he is a respecter of persons, for he gives them something he does not give to other obedient children (Acts 10:34, 35).

    (6) They say their leading by the Spirit tells them not to discuss the Scriptures with those who disagree with them. If so, this reverses the order given those led by the Spirit in the New Testament (1 Pet. 3:15; Jude 3). It condemns the practice of the apostles (Acts 17:2, 3, 16, 17). The apostle Paul allowed and encouraged others to search the Scriptures to see whether or not he was teaching the truth (Acts 17:11, 12).

    However, if the Spirit now forbids such discussions, what shall Bible students do with Proverbs 28:4 and 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, which urge us to “earnestly contend” with those with whom we disagree? Ironically, and inconsistently, those who say it is wrong to “argue” often will argue at great length that it is wrong to argue! Will one who claims to be led by the Spirit today dare to challenge the charges made in this essay? If not, by what Spirit is he being led (2 Tim. 4:2-4; Titus 2:1, 15; 1 Jn. 4:1; Jude 3; Rev. 2:2-5, 12-16)?

    • Hi Starla,

      Thank you so much for your comments. The forwarded message you sent has a lot of intriguing topics.

      When being “led by the Spirit” we must first of all rely on what God has already communicated in the Bible. The Holy Spirit wrote the words of Scripture through the hands of men, so the Holy Spirit will never say something different than what he has already proclaimed in the Bible. However, the Holy Spirit does apply the message of the Bible to our lives in personal ways. Dallas Willard states that there are three biblical ways to be led by the Spirit:
      1. Through God’s Word, 2. through the Spirit’s internal impression on hearts, and 3. through our external circumstances.

      For example: If Dave felt like God was leading him to marry Amy, he could go to Scripture and see that marriage is good and believers should be united to believers, and est. If nothing in Scripture disqualifies his desire to marry Amy, then he should pray about it and see if the Holy Spirit is leading him to ask Amy. If he feels confirmation through an internal impression, he then moves forward. But then if he asks Amy and she says, “No”, Dave gives his best go at it, and after giving Amy plenty of time to consider it, she still says “No”, clearly God is not leading Dave to marry Amy. God may have led Dave to ask, but God is not leading Dave to marry her because God is speaking through the external circumstances.

      In summary, the Bible trumps everything when talking about being led by the Spirit. But God also leads through personal, internal impressions on the heart (like conviction of sin, leading to witness, discernment), and also through external circumstances.

      For more on this, I recommend Dallas Willard’s book “Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God”

      Hope this helps, God bless!
      Mark

  2. Thank you for your insight. Can you also help with the wording in this sentence, maybe a word missing? I just want to understand your point fully. Thank you

    In addition to God’s word, God often speaks to us through the inner impression is Spirit puts our heart and also through our external circumstances.”

    • Sure thing Starla. Yup, I had a typo there 🙂

      Corrected:
      “In addition to God’s word, God often speaks to us through the inner impression His Spirit puts on our heart and also through our external circumstances.”

      PS: by “inner impression” I mean Biblical feelings like “discernment” or “conviction.”

      Hope that helps, God bless,
      Mark