As Christians, we believe the Bible is truly the word of God and we believe the Holy Spirit will use the Scriptures to direct us in our lives. But how does this happen exactly?
Here are 4 ways the Holy Spirit will communicate to you through the Bible.
1. The Holy Spirit Will Speak to You Through the Bible By Using Prescripts
A prescript is a command. Like a prescription from a doctor, the Bible gives us very clear directions to follow. These types of rules apply to all people.
Much confusion happens with biblical interpretation because most people think everything in the Bible is a prescript. But that’s not true. There are many sections of Scripture that are merely descriptive rather than prescriptive, meaning God has often chosen to record history accurately to how it happened. But this accurate historical record doesn’t mean God wants us all to imitate everything that is recorded. If the Bible records a sinful event, for example, this is given to us for context or to teach us something from this person’s mistake.
So you can’t just read random parts of the Bible and then assume the Holy Spirit is telling you to do what you just read about. The Holy Spirit, however, will open our minds to the actual commands in the Bible, the imperatives, the prescripts – and through these directions we will know what the Holy Spirit is saying. For example:
- If you are wondering if you should marry an unbeliever, the Holy Spirit will tell you no through the command in 1 Corinthians 7:39.
- If you are wondering if you should divorce and unbelieving spouse even though they want to stay with you, the Holy Spirit will tell you no through 1 Corinthians 7:12-16.
- If you are wondering if you should remain single or marry the person you are dating because you really love this person, you both are Christians, and you want to marry this person, the Holy Spirit will use 1 Corinthians 7:36 to tell you yes.
Prescripts are the clearest way to hear the Holy Spirit speak to you through the Bible. If there’s a command in the Bible, it always applies to all Christians.
2. The Holy Spirit Will Speak to You Through the Bible By Using Principles
A principle is a general truth that is meant to guide how you make specific decisions.
A principle is unlike a prescript because a principle needs to be wisely applied to the unique variables in each person’s life. A prescript is something, however, that should always be applied to everyone’s life in the exact same way.
For example, the Bible commands all people to never murder (Exodus 20:13). That prescript always applies to all people. But in Matthew 5:21-26, Jesus goes beneath prescript of “You shall not murder” and teaches a wider principle that applies in different situations. For example, Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:22 to not get angry with people but then Jesus appeared to get angry when people were abusing the temple (John 2:13-17). He said to not to insult people in Matthew 5:22, but in Luke 11:45 he insults the religious elites.
Is Jesus breaking his own commands? No, he is talking about the principle behind the commandment to not murder. Principles need to be wisely applied to the proper context. In this case, it’s not enough to just not physically murder. God wants our lives to be free from even the hatred or unrighteous anger that causes murder. But in some instances, certain types of anger are appropriate, like when something unholy is happening. As Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry and do not sin . . . .” Therefore the principle about not being angry needs to be rightly applied.
Another example would be 2 Corinthians 6:14 which states Christians are not to be unequally yoked. This verse does not say to not date an unbeliever. There’s no command in the Bible that explicitly states that. But when you apply this principle in 2 Corinthians 6:14, it seems clear that to avoid an unequally yoked relationship you should not date an unbeliever.
The Holy Spirit will use biblical principles to lead you in your life. There won’t always be a clear prescript or command to tell you exactly what to do in every situation. But through taking a general biblical principle, the Spirit will teach you what to do in specific situations in your life (2 Timothy 3:16-17, James 1:5, Psalm 119:24).
3. The Holy Spirit Will Speak to You Through the Bible By Showing You Patterns
A pattern in Scripture is a trend that can give you guidance on what is often the best or worst practice.
Prescripts should be given the most authority in our lives because the are extremely clear and don’t require wisdom in applying. They are what they are. A principle should be given a lot of authority in our lives but not as much as a prescript because with principles we can error in our application. A pattern in Scripture should be given authority in our lives but not as much as prescripts and principles.
One reason for this is that some patterns in the Bible are because of the culture in which the Bible was written. Prescripts and principles are timeless where patterns can sometimes be present in the Bible because of an outdated cultural practice. A classic example of this would be in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. In this passage, Paul uses a cultural practice of head coverings to help the Corinthians understand a timeless principle about husbands and wives. In 1 Corinthians 11:16 he states, “If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.”
Here Paul points out that this cultural practice of a woman covering her head as a sign of submission to her husband points to the way God designed a husband to lovingly lead his wife. Married Christian women today, however, don’t need to wear head coverings and it’s not sinful for men to have long hair. But the cultural pattern then still highlights the biblical principle of a husband leading and a wife respecting that still apply now (Ephesians 5:21-33).
Another example would be when the question comes up about how much money should a Christian give to support their local church. There is no biblical prescript on the amount but there is a biblical prescript on financially supporting the church (Galatians 6:6). Many Christians have decided to give 10% because that is the regular pattern in the Bible. But again, giving 10% is not commanded in the Bible and in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 we are given the principle that God loves a cheerful giver. So if you are not happy to give 10% you are not biblically required. But again, if you are unsure of what to give, the 10% pattern might be used by the Holy Spirit to give you direction on this question.
While we need to be extra cautious when it comes to patterns, they can still give us a lot of insight into what the Holy Spirit is leading us to do.
4. The Holy Spirit Will Speak to You Through the Bible By Using Your Personal Prayers Saturated with Scripture
While studying the prescripts, principles, and patterns in the Bible will help you hear the Holy Spirit, all Christians also need to quiet their hearts in prayer too if they really want to hear what he is saying.
But our prayers should not be detached from Scripture. In fact, when we use biblical language, when we pray biblical prayers, when we rely on the promises given when we obey the prescripts and principles, this helps us to personally walk with the Holy Spirit in a biblical way.
While our relationships with the Holy Spirit must be personal, they also must be holy and based on truth. We can’t pray things contrary to Scripture and expect the Spirit to answer. And if we ever hear something in prayer that contradicts the word, the Spirit did not say it.
The Holy Spirit himself inspired the word of God (2 Peter 1:21), so it makes sense that a close fellowship and conversation with the Spirit should be saturated with biblical truth. You should be hearing the same things in your personal prayer time that you are reading about in your personal Bible study times (1 Corinthians 2:11-14).
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