The Spirit and the Word
(1 Corinthians 2, Daniel 2, John 16)
Introduction: Of all the important teachings of the Bible, one of the most important is an understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 8:14-17 we read the story of new believers who have been baptized in the name of Jesus, but still have a very serious deficit; they have not yet "received the Holy Spirit." Peter and John "placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit." Do you have a deficit in your Christian life? Are you like those Christians used to be, baptized, but missing the Holy Spirit? The extent of the potential problem becomes clearer when we consider how the Holy Spirit operates in our life. Let's begin our journey in the Bible to learn how the Holy Spirit is critical to our life!
- The Holy Spirit and Understanding God
- Read 1 Corinthians 2:13. What is wrong with human wisdom? (It is limited. Even human wisdom would tell you that the wisdom of God has to be greater than the wisdom of His creation.)
- Read 1 Corinthians 2:14. What serious problem do we face as Christians if we are missing the Holy Spirit? (We cannot understand the things of God.)
- There are some well-known comics and so-called intellectuals who make fun of Christianity. Whenever I hear this mocking it makes me angry. Should I be mad? Or, should I have a different emotional reaction? (This text teaches that it is natural for a human to think Christianity is "foolishness" if that person lacks the Holy Spirit. Although I think some of these mockers are under demonic influences, the default for human wisdom is to fail to understand the things of God.)
- Read 1 Corinthians 2:15. What does it mean that we are not "subject to any man's judgment" in the context of what we have been studying? (Those people who are not guided by the Holy Spirit will think we are fools, but we should pay no attention to them because we are not subject to their judgment. They are incapable of reaching a correct judgment about us.)
- The Holy Spirit and the Word of God
- Read 2 Peter 1:19-21. What distinction do we find here between human wisdom and human thinking directed by the Holy Spirit? (No Bible prophecy finds it origin in human wisdom. Instead, the Holy Spirit "carried along" human descriptions of the future.)
- Read Psalms 95:7-9 and compare Hebrews 3:7-9. What is the source of this part of the Psalms? (The Holy Spirit! We see that the Holy Spirit is central to the creation of the Bible.)
- The Holy Spirit and Problem Solving
- Read Daniel 2:1-3. Assume that you were one of the King's astrologers, what question would you have for him?
- Read Daniel 2:4-5. It turns out that the astrologers have the same question we do, "Tell us the dream." Why do you think the king took such a hard line with the astrologers? (The king must have had two thoughts. First, this is such an important dream that he wants to get it right. Second, he did not trust his advisors. He could test whether they were telling the truth by confirming that they could correctly recite his dream.)
- Read Daniel 2:11-12. What do you think about the king's mental health? Is he a maniac, or is this a reasonable reaction to this group of "wise men" who the king has been financially supporting?
- Read Daniel 2:13-15. Now put yourself in Daniel's place. Is this the question that you would ask?
- Read Daniel 2:16. What does Daniel's request assume? (That he can interpret the dream.)
- Consider the danger in going to the king. The king's guard is looking for wise men so that they can kill them!
- Read Daniel 2:17-18. Compare Daniel's explanation to the statement of the wise men - only the gods know the answer. What does this tell us? (Daniel and the other wise men agreed - this is a matter for the gods. The difference is that Daniel believes he has access to God, and God will help him.)
- Have you had a more terrifying and pressure filled experience than this - that the government has decided to cut you into little pieces and destroy your home if you fail to produce the right answers?
- Re-read Daniel 2:11. Notice that the wise men say the gods do not live among men. Is this true with regard to your God? (Read John 14:17, Romans 8:11 and 1 Corinthians 6:19. These texts tell us that the Holy Spirit lives in us! Thus, better than the gods living "among" men is that God lives "in" us!)
- If, like Daniel, you had an information problem, and your life was on the line, would you have God's knowledge simply because God's Spirit lives within you?
- Re-read Daniel 2:18. Is the help of the Holy Spirit automatic? (Apparently you have to ask. Daniel and his three friends "plead for mercy" that God will give them the answer.)
- Read Daniel 2:19. Why did the answer come to Daniel at night? Why not right away? (Read Daniel 2:22-23. The Holy Spirit living in you does not automatically infuse you with all of God's knowledge. Instead, we ask God for information to solve problems and He gives the requested information to us.)
- In the past I've thought that the Holy Spirit was only "living in me" to help me with spiritual matters. See John 16:8. Is that true? (Not according to this story. The Holy Spirit helped Daniel with his work-related problems.)
- The Holy Spirit and Strategic Planning
- Read John 16:12-13. We discussed this idea that having the Holy Spirit living within us might infuse our minds with all of God's knowledge. What reason does Jesus say that does not happen? (We could not bear it. There is some sort of Divine metering that shares knowledge with us as we are able to bear it. Jesus essentially says "I cannot tell you now because you cannot bear it, but the Holy Spirit in the future will guide your mind into greater knowledge.)
- When Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will "guide" us "into all truth," does that mean we will ultimately know what God knows?
- Read John 16:13-15. What does this suggest about the knowledge of the Holy Spirit? Is it less than that of God the Father? The Holy Spirit just picks up things that He overhears, and that is what is passed on to us?
- Read 1 Corinthians 2:10-11. What does this teach us about the depth of the knowledge of the Holy Spirit? (This text tells us that nothing in the universe knows the mind of God better than the Holy Spirit! Clearly, the Holy Spirit is not just "picking things up.")
- Read 2 Corinthians 3:17-18. What does this teach us about the essential nature of God? (That the Lord "is the Spirit." As part of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is fully God. It is a false idea to think that the Holy Spirit does not know what God the Father knows. Instead, I think we should understand this "only what He hears" to mean that the Trinity discusses and decides the entire scope of truth that we need to know. It has to do with our limitations, not the limitations of the Holy Spirit.)
- When we read that the Holy Spirit will "guide" us into "all truth," what role does that suggest for us? (Not a passive role! Just like Daniel and his friends asked God to reveal the mysterious dream to them, so we need to join with the Holy Spirit in an exploration of "all truth.")
- Notice that 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 also refers to "freedom" and "unveiled faces." What do you think this suggests about the work of the Holy Spirit? (As the Holy Spirit helps us to better understand God's will for our life, it gives us freedom from misunderstandings about God's law.)
- Friend, do you have the Holy Spirit in your life? If you are uncertain, why not ask the Holy Spirit to dwell in you. Even better, why not ask your pastor to lay hands on you to give you this important gift from God?
- Next week: The Holy Spirit: Working Behind the Scenes.