As you are learning to mine God’s Word,…
you may be looking for an expert “miner” to help you discover how to improve your skills. The Spirit as Resident Partner is the indispensable Expert for every aspect of our spiritual lives. He releases abundant life through all three great pathways of Disciplemaking.
Upward in worship.
Outward in mission.
Inward in community.
Yet nowhere is He more present than as we interpret and apply God’s Word since Scripture is the bedrock for all ministry. The Spirit as Resident Partner comes alongside as we open up our Bibles. He makes us competent as we engage in the Bible and respond to its truth. And this competence is one of the four powerful motivations for adult learners. Below I have gathered ten interrelated ministries of the Spirit of God in reference to learning and practicing God’s Word. As you discover others, please post a comment for me on this web page.
1. The Spirit as Resident Partner reminds us of truth.
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you (John 14:26).
Our Counselor, the Holy Spirit, has promised to teach us all things and call to our remembrance everything you need to know. It’s His work within us that enables us to know, respond to and experience His Word. He’s here to help and to bring the realization of the awesome promises of God to satisfy our need for Reality. Take on a listening posture.
2. The Spirit guides our lives.
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come (John 16:13).
We are on an adventure of discovery with God. If I went on a backwoods adventure, I would want to have a trusted guide with me who had already been over the terrain many times. The Holy Spirit, who lives in us, has promised to guide us into all His truth. “Guide” means to assist and accompany, not do it for us. He works through our disciplined effort because God designed us for this divine partnership.
But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding (Job 32:8).
3. The Spirit as Resident Teacher reveals Christ to us.
He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you (John 16:14-15).
If you had been wrestling with the meaning of The Client by John Grisham, and he was sitting next to you on an airplane, wouldn’t Grisham be the best person to ask? The Author of Scripture also acts as the Interpreter of Scripture. Jesus says, “The Spirit will demonstrate Me to you.” The Spirit takes Jesus Christ and lifts Him up, revealing our Lord to us as a moment-by-moment Reality who radiantly points to His Father. He is our crucified, risen, reigning Savior. He is powerful, personal and on our side. The Spirit makes this practical along our journey of life, no matter what occupation we are in.
4. The Spirit searches the deep things of God.
And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:10).
Only the Spirit of God searches out the deep things of God and reveals them to our longing hearts. And since the Holy Spirit is also God, He knows all things. Without the Spirit, the Bible is a closed book. Our Resident Teacher, the indwelling Holy Spirit, bears witness by and with the Word in our heart to give us full persuasion that God’s Word is Reality. Our final authority can never fail.
As you have tried to study the Bible in the past, I wonder if you ever had thoughts like: “I’m not smart enough to understand the Bible” or “I have never been able to read well enough” or “I can’t concentrate well” or “I don’t remember what I read” or add your unique disqualifying midset. These thoughts come from the enemy!
“But God has revealed it to us by his Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:10, emphasis).
The Spirit is the greatest search engine in the universe with access to the Father’s heart. We may therefore learn things far beyond what we are able to ask or even imagine (Ephesians 3:20). This God-stuff has never before entered our minds but awaits us to push into His presence so the Spirit can reveal it.
Every born-again Christian has all that is necessary to understand the Bible, our Father’s love letter to us, even those who have not been successful in school environments in the past. Understanding spiritual things is so much more than an acquaintance with facts, although some learning skills are similar. The Bible is a book of revelation and revelation must be revealed or we get nothing out of it through the natural mind.
5. The Spirit tunes our hearts to Reality.
…give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation…that your heart may be enlightened in order that… (Ephesians 1:18).
In the four Gospels, the disciples were asking questions and in the book of Acts, they were answering questions. The Spirit of God makes the difference. He clears our minds and tunes our hearts so that we can understand Reality and His call on our lives. That flash of insight so we personally know God as actually present comes from the Spirit. He illuminates the text to us and for us like an inner floodlight.
Illumination is the penetration of God’s truth into our hearts. The Bible calls this “repentance,” or Spirit-initiated change to see our Source of life differently. This then changes our foundational values, how we see life. Before we saw…now we see beyond. Then we can grasp as Reality today for our own lives and ministries what He has set down in Scripture thousands of years ago. Those “ahas” and “wows” come from the Spirit. No methods can ever replace His ministry. Then He enables believers to discover and love and respond to what He has already revealed through His Word, the Bible.
6. The Spirit teaches every Christian.
The anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you remain in him (1 John 2:27).
It’s the promised privilege of every Christian to be taught by the Spirit of God. None are disqualified…even if you were not a good student in school. The Spirit realm is closed to the unaided intellect, regardless of IQ, just as the Spirit realm is open to all, no matter how many struggles have been experienced in classroom settings in the past. He is like a key that will open doors, but the doors are doors to workrooms.
Of course, the aged Apostle John is not discounting the need for teaching ministries. He wrote this epistle to teach! John points to the essential ministry of the indwelling Spirit to learn and apply (the anointing in us), whatever we read and hear from others or personally discover. The Holy Spirit penetrates. He sharpens the javelin of the Word of God passed on by the man of God. The Holy Spirit makes the difference.
Even as the Spirit teaches us, this same Spirit teaches others through us. Words coming from Scripture through the heart of a man or woman given over to wholehearted allegiance to God penetrate and arrest. Heartwarming stories, voice modulation, friendly teaching ambiance have little impact compared to the Word spoken in the power of the Spirit. We have all felt the difference the Spirit makes. The Spirit pricks the heart.
Approach Scripture with a prayerful, expectant, almost happy-go-lucky anticipation that the Holy Spirit will do what He delights to do. He reveals Jesus in His resplendent brilliance so that Jesus will bring fame and glory to His Father.
7. The Spirit releases in His people a passion for Scripture.
You…received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 1:6b, NASB).
Certainly, our lives are not protected from trials and tough times, but in trials. As we persevere, the good God works in us during the trial waits for us on the other side (Romans 8:28). The Spirit gives us joy while in trials through faith in the faithful hand of God. So even in trials, these new believers in Thessalonica welcomed and embraced God’s Word with joy generated by the Holy Spirit.
Studying Scripture with the Spirit as Resident Teacher can become one of the most joyful experiences of life. The Spirit changes our emotional tone as we approach learning as lifelong life-learners. Notice how Paul hooks together the Word dwelling richly in us and joyfully singing (Colossians 3:16). The joy of the Holy Spirit makes all things new…even learning!
8. The Spirit as Resident Partner transforms us into Christ-likeness.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect [“behold” NASB] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17-18).
How can we experience and reflect the very likeness of our Lord Jesus? We are transformed from one ever-increasing level of glory to another. It’s the Spirit who partners with us to gaze steadfastly into the Word of God without hypocrisy and to see Jesus…to really see…so we can be transformed into His likeness. He made us lovely in His eyes! “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” to be transformed into the image of Christ.
9. The Spirit teaches us who we are.
You did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory (Romans 8:15-17).
Outside personally knowing God, nothing is more important for growth than knowing ourselves the way the Community-God knows us. Who are you? Do you see yourself accurately, the way God does? Are you inwardly quiet enough, tranquil, resting, fully satisfied and contented in Him? Pour water into a basin and look at your reflection. When the waters are disturbed, the image is distorted. Now wait. Be still, quiet. When the waters are perfectly still, look again at your more accurate reflection. Know your identity in Christ.
10. The Spirit as Resident Partner opens our eyes to know the Trinity better.
May [the Father] give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better (Ephesians 1:17-18, emphasis).
Even with our spiritual antennae tuned to God’s heart, the Spirit of God is necessary to open Scripture. The Spirit is the difference maker as He gives insight into Scripture (revelation) and wisdom to put it into practice in our lives. Bible study is about a growing relationship, first with Him, then with others. God’s heart is to raise up prophetic people who can accurately see His ways and relate them to 21st century life.
Summary: Even with an intense desire to understand God’s Word, the ministry of the Spirit of God is crucial to unlock it. Scripture is spiritually perceived, even though many of our learning skills are similar for any literature. Like a good teacher, the Spirit will not do the work for us. Instead, He whispers hints to our hearts when we are stuck, allowing us to develop our personal skills in relationship with Him as our favorite Teacher. This is why I’m strongly encouraging us not to go to outside helps at this time (Bible footnotes, internet, commentaries). It’s God’s Word so God’s Spirit is indispensable for understanding. Learn to trust Him. As Tozer writes:
“Men of the breaking hearts had a quality about them not known to or understood by common men. They habitually spoke with spiritual authority. They had been in the presence of God and they reported what they saw there. [Those with the breaking hearts] were prophets, not scribes, for the scribe tells us what he has read, and the prophet tells what he has seen. The distinction is not an imaginary one. Between the scribe who has read and the prophet who has seen there is a difference as wide as the sea. We are today overrun with orthodox scribes, but the prophets, where are they?” (A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God ).
God is after prophets who see, not just students of the Word who know. This Book of all books, the Bible, is God’s Love-Letter to us. God designed us to be lifelong life-learners in the Word, equipping us with all that is necessary to understand and relate.
Next Steps after the Spirit as Resident Partner: Personalize for your needs.
- Pull up this PDF of this page to mark it up, jot down insights, and reflect on it more.
- Jump in now and put what you are learning into practice by launching a SmallGroup to cultivate such a culture of natural learning. Invite a couple friends. Philippians, Joy Overflowing, Word & Spirit, interlaces the study of this joyful book of Philippians with a natural learning culture. Use this as your Companion or guide. It’s available for a low introductory price at Amazon.com. After Philippians, move on to the second Companion, Ephesians, chapters 1-3.
- Go on to the third of the seven essentials to develop for natural learning, Draws on the Transforming Power of Koinonia.
Before moving on from this second essential, make your learning active. Jot down your response to the wonderful help of the Spirit. Which one ministry stands out to you at the moment? Why? Summarize in two sentences. Then, how can you use this to grow in your ability to listen to God communicating His heart to you?