“When we just prayerfully look at the Bible text, then the Spirit can direct us and teach us.” (Implication: if you look at “the words of humans,” such as in commentaries, then you will not hear God’s Spirit.)
I stumbled across the same notion in a conversation this week. “You went to Bible school, but I’ve been taught by the Holy Spirit.” But? Just because one claims to only be taught by the Spirit, this does not mean one has received more training from the Spirit.
Whether we are talking about use of commentaries or the privilege of “formal” study, let’s not make this false step of restricting where God’s Spirit can work. This is similar to the nonsensical idea that the Spirit works when we don’t prepare a message, but is absent if we do prepare.
We absolutely need God’s Spirit at work in us as we prepare to preach, both in respect to understanding the Bible text, and in terms of sensitively applying it to those who will listen. As one person put it this week, “Hearing how God has spoken to the community over the ages about the text will only give the Spirit more chance to speak, not less.”
Not only does the Spirit want to work in our biblical study, and in our ministry, but in light of yesterday’s book review, he most certainly wants to work in our hearts too. What does he want to do there? Let me finish with a quote from Reeves’ new book (p73):
My new life began when the Spirit first opened my eyes and won my heart to Christ. Then, for the first time, I began to enjoy and love Christ as the Father has always done. And through Christ, for the first time, I began to enjoy and love the Father as the Son has always done. That was how it started, and that is how the new life goes on: by revealing the beauty, love, glory and kindness of Christ to me, the Spirit kindles in me an ever deeper and more sincere love for God. And as he stirs me to think ever more on Christ, he makes me more and more God-like: less self-obsessed and more Christ-obsessed.
Next week: Two-Person Preaching?