Bill Somers

In my early years as a Christian, I heard the following challenge during a bible discussion. "If the bible says that the Holy Spirit will lead you into all truth, and you people claim to have the Holy Spirit, why is it that you can't ever agree on anything?"

Now this question, however critical in spirit, does point out a real problem, division and disagreement in the church. It also reflects the attitude of the lost world that looks for answers, but finds only hypocrisy in today's Christianity.

You hear people say things like: Well there are so many different bibles, how do you know which translation to believe. Or they say: It all depends on your interpretation, every church teaches something different, so how are you supposed to know who's right?

The scripture reference is this.

John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.

Here we have a promise in the bible that tells us the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth and show us things to come.

And yet here we have all these pastors, scholars, teachers and prophets all saying something different. What's wrong with this picture?

We hear talk of the simplicity of the gospel so why is the bible so hard to understand.

A clue to an answer is found here in first Corinthians.

1Co 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

11 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.

12 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.

13 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.

14 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.

15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Here God is telling us that man cannot know or learn the meaning of spiritual things i.e. the bible. That is natural man, on his own, cannot. The Holy Spirit knows these things and teaches them to the spiritual man.

So who is the natural man and who is the spiritual man? The natural man is one with out the Holy Spirit to guide him, who must rely on the teaching of man's wisdom. The spiritual man has the Holy Spirit to guide him and is taught by God himself.

To the ordinary person, the bible is long and boring. It's deliberately vague, confusing and open to multiple interpretations.

Some parts are plain and simple, others are seemingly meaningless and some are outright mind boggling. Yet in it, God is telling us some interesting things about how to approach his Word.

2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

I like to break this down and analyze it this way.

A. All scripture is given by inspiration of God. This inspiration is the Holy Spirit. The words spirit and inspiration are closely related. So we ask, given to whom?

Well first off, it's given by inspiration to the writer of the book, Moses, Jeremiah, Malachi, John or whomever. Secondly it's given by inspiration to the reader. That is, you and I are given insight into the meaning and application by God and not man's wisdom. [You can see here that even the plain and simple parts are open to multiple interpretations.]

B. All scripture is profitable [for various uses]. This tells me that the entire bible has some meaning, even the boring and confusing parts. But that we need to hear from the Spirit to understand that meaning.

Now this brings me back to our original question.

"If the bible says that the Holy Spirit will lead you into all truth, and you people claim to have the Holy Spirit, why is it that you can't ever agree on anything?"

My first answer to this has always been that it takes time. Leading someone into the truth is a process. It won't happen all at once. In Isaiah 28 we read:

Isa 28:9 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.

10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:

Here we are speaking about teaching knowledge and understanding doctrine and it is the Lord doing the teaching. First he says in effect, that you have to be past the baby stage where the word is likened to milk.

1Pe 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

The milk of the word is those plain and simple parts that are easy to understand and get you going on your way to knowing the Lord. The meat comes later with some maturity.

Heb 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

And in Isaiah, God is telling us that it has to come a little at a time. That deeper knowledge of him and his word comes gradually. It is built up a little at a time, each revelation you get can be the foundation of a further revelation to come.

So what we're saying here is that the Spirit does not lead us into all truth all at once, but gradually. Now that's pretty clear but it still does not answer the question of why is it that you can't ever agree on anything?

We said earlier that scripture is given by inspiration to the reader [or listener]. This means that a certain understanding is granted by the Spirit of God to the conscientious student of his Word. Then when this student begins to teach others what he has learned, the Spirit is needed to allow the others to also understand. And here comes a problem.

What one person has learned line by line may not always be received by another. There are often attitudes and traditions and doctrines standing in the way of the one trying to share revelation knowledge.

Secondly what one person learns from the Spirit about the meaning of a portion of scripture may not line up with what another one has learned by the same Spirit because the Lord may reveal differing interpretations and applications of the same scripture. This is to say that not only are there differing interpretations of the same scripture according to 'man's wisdom' but there can often be differing correct interpretations of scripture given by God.

You may recall the famous parable of the blind men and the elephant. Each blind man examined the elephant by his senses of touch and smell and came away with a different report. The thing is that each one was correct in so far as they were able to tell. Yet they could never agree on what the elephant was! They had forgotten something. They forgot they were blind!

The church is in the same position. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. And we can never agree on anything because we have forgotten something.

If we look back at our original question:

"If the bible says that the Holy Spirit will lead you into all truth, and you people claim to have the Holy Spirit, why is it that you can't ever agree on anything?"

We can recall that it refers to a certain scripture:

John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.

And in looking carefully at this verse there is an alternate explanation of why is it that you can't ever agree on anything. The verse says when he, the Spirit of truth, is come he will etc. This is your basic if, then statement. If and when the Spirit is come, then such and such will take place. For example: If the light is green you can go; this is a basic if, then statement. So if you can't go, then clearly the light is not green yet! Likewise if we can't ever agree on the truth, then the Spirit has not yet come! Now some might get upset at this conclusion but it should be obvious. And it's clearly obvious to an unbelieving world.

This is what the church has forgotten. This passage from first Corinthians talks about the same problem and uses terms like when, and now and then to indicate a before and after condition.

1Co 13:9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

We have forgotten that we are still in the before stage of this transition. Everyone is claiming to have the Holy Spirit but show me the money!

We have forgotten that what Holy Spirit we have is only a partial fulfillment of the promise. In my article on the Feast of Tabernacles I discussed this partial fulfillment and gave four arguments to illustrate what I meant. I am going to repeat them here because of their importance. They are the analysis of fulfilled prophecy in Acts 2, the word picture of tongues of fire, the word study on baptism, illustrated by the pickle recipe, and the word study on earnest of the spirit.

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