This is part 3 in a series of related posts. Read Part 2 and Part 1.
The moment a person is saved several things happen. First, all their sins are forgiven. In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace (Eph 1:7). We are saved from eternal punishment in hell. That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead; thou shalt be saved (Rom 10:9). For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom 6:23). We are made new creatures. If any man be in Christ he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new (II Cor 5:17). We also receive the Holy Spirit. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba Father (Rom 8:15).
There is a thought that I have come across recently. It goes something like this. We have the Holy Spirit and He will guide us. We don't have to worry about which version of the Bible we read because all Bibles have errors in them. It's best to read from all the translations and then let the Spirit guide you as to which parts are right and which are wrong. Actually, we don't have to worry about reading the Bible at all really. When it comes right down to it, we don't even need God's Word. The Spirit will lead us. Throw the manual out and listen to the Spirit! That's the way of being assured that we will be on the right path.
This idea sounds very spiritual doesn't it? Don't let the spiritualness of it fool you. It is downright heresy and blasphemy. There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death (Pro. 14:12). Here's what God said. The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple (Psalm 119:130). The Holy Spirit is glaringly absent from this verse. In fact, it seems like the verse is saying it's the words of God that give light and understanding, not the Spirit at all! The Bible also says that all Scripture is profitable (II Tim 3:16). If it is profitable then we shouldn't be discarding it. The Bible is perfect. The law of the LORD is perfect... (Psalm 19:7). There is no corruption in the Bible. The words of the LORD are pure words... (Psalm 12:6). Great truths are learned from the Bible. If you've read my previous posts you know there are even more reasons why the Bible is essential to the Christian life. No where in the Bible does it say that the Holy Spirit will show us what parts of the Bible are right and what parts are wrong. Why? Because it's completely unnecessary. The WHOLE Bible is right, so why on earth would the Holy Spirit cast doubt on His own Word?
I'm going to revert to some of my "opinions" for a moment :). I think God is pretty amazing. I also think He is powerful. I also think that if He was planning on not keeping His Word free from error, He would have told us and prepared us for that. It's funny that the Bible doesn't warn us about errors in God's Word, but it does warn about errors coming from people who claim to be from God. But there were false prophets among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction (II Peter 2:1). Notice the false teachers are among us. They are in the church, not in the world! Scary!!! I really believe that if God knew that false teachers would come, He would know if the Bible was going to become full of errors through time. He warned about the false teachers, so it stands to reason He would have warned us about error in the Bible too. He didn't. That's because He promised to keep it forever. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away (Matt 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33). Notice the three references for this verse? Jesus said this three times exactly word for word!!!! He really must have meant it!
I've purposely tried to stay away from the whole "Bible version" debate while writing these posts, but I think it's necessary to clarify some things at this point. Remember Satan is all about casting doubt on God's Word. He's also really good at corrupting it (Gen. 3). God did promise to preserve His Word, and He has kept that promise, but not EVERY Bible version out there is perfect! In fact some of these books that claim to be Bible's are downright blasphemous. I'll never forget how shocked I was when I discovered that the Living Bible translated I Samuel 20:30 with a swear word! I'm not talking about words that are used as swear words today but are used in their proper way in the Bible (ie. "ass" meaning "donkey"). I'm talking about an ACTUAL swear word. I looked it up just to make sure and it was there. It was, and even though it's been changed in subsequent editions, the fact remains that at one point someone thought it was okay to use a swear word in the Bible. With some translations (like the NLT, The Message, and the Jehovah's Witness NWT), the corruption and the error is pretty obvious. With other translations it's a little harder to pick out. Remember Satan is the father of lies and deception (John 8:44)! He's not going to try and make his corruption of God's Word look obvious. Instead he will try to deceive. He'll package up the corrupted word to look just like the real thing, and many will be fooled. Satan tricked Eve into eating the fruit and she was perfect! That's power! Basically my point is this. We need to make sure we have the true, preserved, inspired, infallible word of God in our hands, because such a thing does indeed exist. Personally, I don't want a translation that's "close" or "good" or "the best that's available." I don't want one that has "the message" or the "thought" of the passage intact. I want the translation that is the very Word of God!!! Some say this is impossible. I say that's just another way Satan has cast doubt on God's Word. If we are to walk by faith, let's put our faith into action, and trust that God will give us His holy Word without error.
So if the Bible is what it says it is, what's with this idea that I only need is the Spirit? Doesn't understanding come from the Spirit? Actually it does. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (I Cor. 2:10-14).
Okay what's going on here? First it's the Holy Spirit that shows me the truth. Then it's the Bible, and now I'm back to the Holy Spirit again. This is the problem when people take one or two verses or maybe a small passage (such as II Corinthians 2), and isolate it from the rest of Scripture. Understanding DOES come from the Spirit AND it comes from the Word. These two cannot be separated. God doesn't separate them and neither should we.
Here's another truth. God wrote the Bible (II Tim 3:16). The Holy Spirit is God (I John 5:7). God will not contradict Himself (Mal 3:9). Therefore, the knowledge that comes from the Holy Spirit will ALWAYS compliment, confirm, and back up that which is found in the Scripture. But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me (John 15:26). Here we see the Holy Spirit called not only the Comforter, but also the Spirit of truth. What is truth? Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth (John 17:17). This is absolutely why we must look at the Bible as a whole. It clearly shows us that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is directly connected with the Word.
There's another problem with this idea that we only need the Holy Spirit to guide us and the Bible isn't that important. The Bible says that there is more than one spirit. Oh no... how do I know which spirit is of God? Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world (I John 4:1). Notice a few things about this verse. We are not to believe every spirit. That means there will be spirits that try to guide us that are not of God. Why else would this warning be given? We are to try the spirits. What does that mean? To try something means to prove it. A criminal is tried for his crime in a court. We try out a new bicycle to see how it works. We are proving the truth and value of something when we try it. How do we do that with the spirits? What is the standard for trying them? Again it has to be the Word because the Word has already been tried. As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those who trust in him (Psalm 18:30). Notice finally that John says there will be MANY false prophets. They are everywhere. We live in a spiritual battle. I know I've said this a lot, but I think too many Christians are missing this point. Satan loves to cast doubt on God's Word. The idea that I have the Holy Spirit, so it doesn't matter if I have a perfect Bible or not is another one of the ways Satan is casting doubt on what God has said. I can tell you by personal testimony that when you start trying those who claim to be Christian by the Word of God, many of them fall short. Error starts poking out it's head when these men and women are measured by the holy standard of God's Word.
Again, it's not about what people say or claim to be. It's not about how good or right an idea sounds. It's not about whether I "think" or "feel" that the ideas are good. It's about how everything measures up to God's standard given in His Word. Is it easy for us to be deceived? The Bible calls false prophets wolves in sheep's clothing (Matt 7:15). That means on the outside they look good. They've got everything right. But once you pull that outside layer off underneath they are impostors. They are not who they really say they are. It only takes one error to make someone wrong, no matter how much truth they might preach and teach. I've actually met Christians like this in my lifetime. They were impostors. They said one thing and did the complete opposite. They weren't acting out of ignorance or immaturity, they actually lived a double standard, and they knew it. We probably all know Christians like this. That's why the world often says the church is just full of a bunch of hypocrites. Sadly, they're right.
Back to the point. The idea that we should not worry about what the Bible says, but just listen to the Holy Spirit is taking away the emphasis from what is really important. It's also an excuse to do what we feel or think is right. It caters to our pride. It's exalting the standard of man above the standard of the Bible. No where does the Bible say we are only to listen to the Spirit and not the Word. The Holy Spirit speaks through the Word. It's as simple as that. If you really want to know what the Holy Spirit is telling you, then read the Bible and you'll find out.
I'm not saying that the Holy Spirit never speaks to us. The Holy Spirit speaks to me all the time. He tells me to pray more. He prompts me to give a tract to a lost person that I know. He tells me that I need to tithe. He tells me that I need to read the Bible more. He tells me that I need to be more kind, gentle, and compassionate. It's interesting because the more time I spend reading the Bible, the more I feel the Holy Spirit speaking to my heart. However; none of these He speaks to me about contradict Scripture. The Holy Spirit will never tell you to stop reading the Bible. He just won't do it. He'll never tell you the Bible is not important. He'll never tell you it's okay to participate in sin in order to reach people for Christ. I've been convicted so much in my own life regarding reading my Bible MORE not less. That is the working of the Holy Spirit because it lines up with what is in the Bible.