How Does the Spirit of God Teach Us?
August 27, 2019
by Dr. J. Vernon McGee
If you’ve been on the Bible Bus for more than one trip, you know that before we begin in Genesis, Dr. McGee gets us ready for the journey by reviewing some guidelines for how to understand the Bible. In ten messages, he covers things like: How was it written (inspiration), how do we know the Bible is true (inerrancy), how can we understand it (interpretation), and more. All these topics are gathered in a free booklet called, "How to Understand the Bible: Guidelines that Lead You to God's Truth." Here’s just a taste from this important series. How does the Spirit of God teach us (illumination)?
Only the Spirit of God can teach the Bible to us. We can get Bible facts on our own, but the Spirit of God must open our minds and hearts if we are to understand the spiritual truth that is there.
But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. –1 Corinthians 2:10
The Holy Spirit has to be our Teacher. Only God can open up the Word of God for us to really understand it.
On the day Jesus rose from the dead, He joined a couple of men as they walked along the road to Emmaus. Entering into their conversation, He asked them what they were talking about. They thought He was crazy—the only one in Jerusalem to not hear how they crucified Jesus of Nazareth. And they went on to tell about what the women had reported but that they hadn’t seen Him. Their hopes had dimmed.
Now listen to the Lord Jesus. He said to them,
“Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. –Luke 24:26, 27
Friend, wouldn’t you have loved to have been there that day and heard Him go back in the Old Testament and lift out the Scriptures concerning Himself? And after He finally made Himself known to them as they sat at the evening meal, this is their comment:
And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” –Luke 24:32
You see, we are studying a book that is different from any other book. It is not that I just believe in the inspiration of the Bible; I believe that it is a closed book to you unless the Spirit of God will open your heart and make it real. When Jesus returned to Jerusalem at that time, He continued teaching the disciples:
Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. –Luke 24:44, 45
And, friend, if He doesn’t open your understanding, you’re just not going to get it, that’s all. That is the reason we ought to approach this book with great humility of mind, regardless of how high our IQ is or the extent of our education. (Read 1 Corinthians 2:13,14.) Only the Spirit of God can open your mind and heart to see and to accept Christ and to trust Him as your Savior. How wonderful!
I have always felt as I entered the pulpit how helpless I am because, believe me, Vernon McGee can’t convert anyone. But I not only feel weak, I also feel mighty—not mighty in myself, but in the knowledge that the Spirit of God can take my dead words and make them real and living.
When you seriously study the Word of God, you see His road map in your life and in the patterns of history. Wouldn’t you like to understand the Bible like that? Download “How to Understand the Bible,” which is a beautiful digital rendering of Dr. McGee’s valuable and long-loved “Guidelines for the Understanding of the Scriptures.”
Did you know? Psalm 119 references God’s Word (in various ways) in every one of its 176 verses. As you ask God to make His Word alive in you, read this Psalm in one sitting. Perhaps circle every reference to God’s Word in every verse (Your precepts, Your testimonies, Your law, Your truth, etc.).
Praise God for the times these have been true in your life:
- When I read God’s Word, God brings me joy. (v. 14)
- When I obey God’s Word, God keeps me from shame. (v. 32)
- When I memorize God’s Word, God protects me from evil. (v. 105)
- When I delight in God’s Word, God gives me victory. (v. 92)
- When I meditate on God’s Word, God brings me success. (v. 97)
- When I abide in God’s Word, God gives me confidence. (v. 1)