Holy Spirit Led Bible Study :: by Joe Southerland

“He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him” (Daniel 2:2b-22).

“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. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you” (John 16:13-14).

Early one morning years ago in my personal study of the Holy Scriptures, I came upon what I thought on my part was a brilliantly insightful connection about God’s plan for the redemption of mankind.

I thought to myself, I better not share this until I fully capture my thoughts on paper, so I did just that. I admittedly became rather puffed up, and was thinking somewhat highly of myself and my keen, perceptive mind.

As my wife and I drove to work that day, I could not hold back my excitement anymore and proudly announced the insightful revelation. As I sat beaming in pride, only moments later over the radio J. Vernon McGee pronounced the very same point in his Through the Bible series which was taped years ago. Coincidence? Not a chance.

Humbled by the Spirit

To say I was humbled and embarrassed before God is an understatement. As we continued our morning commute my beaming pride faded away in silence as a darkness of night receded with the dawning day. Instead of giving God the glory for the insight the Holy Spirit had granted me, I had vainly yielded to pride, as the old sin nature within me wanted to take the credit.

Was the insight granted to me any less valid? No. In fact, the Holy Spirit had also just validated independently to me another scriptural insight which He had previously revealed to many others:

Two thousand years ago the Jews looked for their Messiah to be the Lion of Judah, but were instead sent the Lamb of God in love, mercy and sacrifice. Today’s soft apostasy churches are looking for the returning Messiah to be the Lamb of God, but instead they will get the returning Lion of Judah who is coming in judgment and in power.

God Alone Leads Bible Study

God used this humbling experience to emphasize to me that it is the Holy Spirit who leads the study of the Holy Scriptures, and to drive home the following points:

– Scriptural truth is revealed to those who seek God alone.

– Scriptural truth is revealed by God alone, not by a lone man.

– All glory and honor concerning scriptural truth is God’s alone.

God Rewards Those Who Seek His Face

Over the ages the Holy Spirit spoke directly to every writer of the books that He later compiled into the Holy Scriptures. The Bible is the mind, the wisdom, and the mystery of God presented to mankind so we may know the Triune God and His plan for us.

Through the Holy Spirit the apostle Paul penned the following (which I believe correlates well to what the Bible provides to believers):

“That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2-3).

In our current Church Age/Age of Grace, the Lord God’s loving mercy has given us the Holy Spirit to seal us unto salvation; comfort us in our walk; and pointedly for this commentary— guide us in the understanding and application of His Word in our walk.

The Holy Spirit heals our spiritual blindness so that we may seek and know God who graciously rewards believers who study the Bible.

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

The Holy Spirit Reveals All Truth

The Spirit alone, not Man, is the source of any valid wisdom gleaned from the study of the Holy Scriptures.

“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” (1 Colossians 2:14).

The Holy Spirit is the one who “will guide you into all truth.” Let me emphasize all truth; not some of the truth, but “will guide you into all truth.”

Any valid, insightful truth about God is therefore a gift given to us through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit alone allows believers to unlock the wisdom that He Himself sealed within the pages of the Word of God—the Bible.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Believers are only able to discern Scripture truths in the Bible because of the presence, patience and prodding of the Holy Spirit. Other than what is given to us by the Holy Spirit, all other earthly, worldly wisdom is valueless for God’s kingdom.

…Not by a Lone Man

Like the Lord God, the Word of God is eternal truth. All Scripture is God breathed and eternally unbreakable (John 10:35), and provides a cohesive and complete message from God to mankind. There is no need for additional prophecy before Christ’s return. In Revelation Chapter 22, Jesus Christ provides the final prophetic words and then closed the Holy Scriptures.

Therefore, we should all be on guard for those individuals claiming to have a unique and private revelation from God’s Word; a lone wolf interpretation or unique and special insights. Or some special seven-point or purpose-driven plan on how to apply the gospel message to our lives. God sent Jesus Christ and gave us his Holy Word, what more can mere Man add?

We must take heed to the warnings of the apostles Paul and John, that we should test all spirits by seeking confirmation in God’s Word (Hebrews 1:14; 1John 4:1).

“Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11).

Again this goes back to knowing and studying the Word of God in the Spirit, which is a critical piece of putting on the full armor of God.  Any truth discerned from the Holy Spirit will be verifiable in the Scriptures, if not—it is the work of a man, not the Lord God.

Giving God Alone the Glory

The ultimate fruit of Bible Study is to draw closer to God and gain insight into the nature and will of the Triune God—so that we may apply it in our lives and spread the gospel. Anything we harvest from his Word is a blessing from God, for apart from the vine all our efforts are fruitless.

Therefore, we must acknowledge before others, that all glory and honor of anything derived from our Bible Study is God’s alone.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

As I learned, it is very easy to answer the call to pride. A visit to a local Christian bookstore quickly revels that I was not alone.

In many instances you can “judge a book by its cover.”

Ask yourself, to whom is the glory of spiritual insights into the mind and will of God being given (if that is a source at all)? The books’ authors or God? Does the cover display a huge picture of the author? Hmmm….

All glory and honor should be given to God alone.  For God alone is the revealer of the mysteries and treasures of wisdom and knowledge found in His Holy Scriptures.

Lessons from My Folly

I have never and will never forget that humbling moment in my car, and I share it with you in the hopes you can learn from my folly. Since that time I make sure I do two things:

1.      I always begin my personal or group Bible Study by acknowledging the Holy Sprit’s power over the study and pray for His wisdom and guidance.

2.      I confirm the interpretation I believe the Spirit has reveled to me through careful hermeneutic principles honoring the Bible as the divine Word of God.

May God bless you and may the Holy Spirit guide you in the study of his sacred Word.


jojoekwaj@yahoo.com  J&J Ranch Ministries: “But as for me and my [ranch], we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).