jillianchan asked a question:
I’m reading your answers to questions about the bible and they’re so helpful! The question I have is kind of strange and maybe I already know the answer: why does God give us the bible? If we have the holy spirit, why do we need the bible?
Thank you so much dear friend! I’m encouraged that you’re blessed.
I think it’s probably romantic to believe that we don’t need the Bible as much as we need the “prompting” of the Holy Spirit. I once heard two different pastors ask this question in a sermon: “If you could only pray or only read the Bible, but not both, which would you choose?” Both pastors answered differently. Unfortunately, this sets up a false dichotomy to pit things against each other that were never meant to be in conflict.
The thing is, without the Bible as an anchor to guide us, then all of us could say the “Spirit told me.” Too many people try to pull “God’s Will” as a trump card, but we already have God’s Will: His written word (that was a sick Jesus Juke, come on).
On the other hand, without the Spirit, then we wouldn’t have an individual intimacy with God for the different ways He gifted us and made us. For some of us, it’s to be missionaries and pastors and praise leaders – for others, it’s to be the best doctor or lawyer or politician or scientist we can be.
The tough truth that is that if we’re only “Spirit-led,” then I’m tempted to manipulate the Bible to my own whim. The Bible is always pressing against each of our selfish tendencies, so that it’ll offend me both personally and culturally. It has to do this, or else we wouldn’t have a real God who could contradict us. If you had a friend who you could “switch off” whenever they disagreed with you, then you don’t have a real friendship either.
The Bible also ensures that we’re globally united as one. I can visit the Philippines and know that the church in Manila is under the same authority of the Bible, and will roughly believe the same things about Jesus. But I also know the Spirit has led them to a specific ministry, not to become “Anglo-European Christians,” but uniquely their own identity with their cultural roots intact.
We need both. The Spirit enlightens the Bible for me, and the Bible leads me to trust Him.