John 16:12-15 - (Jesus said) "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is Mine; therefore I said that He will take what is Mine and declare it to you."
"I want an answer." Who hasn't said those words, even to God? At Lutheran Hour Ministries, we regularly get contacts from people who are looking for an answer—and they want it right now. "Why did my son die? Why does God allow evil in the world? What am I supposed to do with my life?"
Jesus knows we have questions, millions of questions. So did the disciples. And He wants to answer those questions—but He is running up against the same problem parents and teachers face around the world. "My child isn't ready to hear this yet." "The students only get confused when I try to explain this to them." "They don't yet have the foundation they need to understand the answers they are looking for."
And so Jesus promises the Holy Spirit to His disciples. The Spirit will continue to teach them, step by step, until they get to the point where they are ready to understand. And we can trust the Spirit, Jesus says, because He will not be "making things up," but He will be reporting what He hears. The Holy Spirit will pass on to us what the one God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—wants us to know. There is no danger of Him teaching us anything different from what Jesus has taught us.
So how does the Spirit teach us? Maybe you've heard people who walk around saying, "God spoke to me this morning, and He said ..." That's a dangerous assumption to make, actually. Human ideas and desires can and do get in the way of hearing what God says. One fellow back in college even told me God told him I should marry him! (I told him to ask God to tell me also. It didn't happen.)
So where do we learn from the Spirit? One huge place is from the Bible, God's own Word. God the Holy Spirit uses the Bible, whenever we read or hear it, to teach us and to help us grow spiritually. We can use the Bible to test messages we are hearing from other people, whether they are preachers, Christian friends, or people in media. If their message does not agree with what God says in the Bible, it's wrong. It is not for us.
Of course, if we want to use the Bible to tell the difference between true and false ideas, we need to know the Bible first of all. And that's scary for a lot of us. If you'd like an easier place to start, try the Gospel of Mark or Luke. Then try the book of Acts. The more you read, the more the Spirit will use what you read and help it to stick in your memory. You can trust what He says.
THE PRAYER: Lord Holy Spirit, please teach me and help me to listen. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
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