Read a summary of chapter 3 or go directly to any of the following sections:

  1. Introduction
  2. Let Me Count the Ways
  3. The Bible Alone is the Word of God
  4. Only True Christians Have the Holy Spirit
  5. Only the Holy Spirit Can Explain God's Word
  6. Hearing God's Voice: How It Works
  7. Is This "Spiritualizing" the Text?
  8. Pitfalls and Dangers

PDF of Chapter 3: Hearing God»s Voice

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Only the Holy Spirit Can Explain God's Word

Has it ever happened that a scholar has read and studied the Bible most of his or her life and yet not become a Christian? Does it happen that a person reads the Bible, even quotes verses from the Bible, and yet does not become a follower of Jesus Christ? Of course; it happens all the time. Why is this the case? How does this happen? It happens because the individual reading the Bible has not committed to receiving Jesus Christ as his or her personal Savior, and therefore the Holy Spirit does not dwell within.

Without the Holy Spirit in the life of the reader, the Bible is just another book; either an interesting history of the Jews, a book of philosophy, or an intriguing book of antiquity. Some may even receive inspiration from the Bible, such as the desire to have 1 Corinthians 13 read at a wedding, or Psalm 23 read at a funeral. But regardless, without the Holy Spirit it is impossible for the reader to appreciate the Bible as God's Word.

The Bible is more than a book of historical fact or a source of inspiration. It is literally the Word of God; that is, God’s word to mankind, given to change him. God gave us His Word so that we might know Him, might order our lives around Him, and might learn to live by faith in Him. This can only be done if we hear His voice. The Old Testament was given, amongst other reasons, so that Jesus Christ might be recognized when He came. The New Testament was given so that the church might have a foundation for carrying the good news about Jesus Christ to all people.

Through the Bible all absolute spiritual truth has been given once for all with the closing of the canon. That does not mean the words themselves are no longer dynamic and available for personal application on a daily basis. The Bible is not just full of static spiritual truths to be applied as necessary by the believer.

For indeed, “The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12). While some apply this verse only to the act of justification of the unsaved, and still others to include the sanctification of the believer, Walk with the Word takes the position that the Word of God is applicable for all believers in all areas of the Christian walk at all times of the Christian’s life.

The operative word, of course, is “all.” Not only does the Holy Spirit “explain” God’s Word to us—that is, help us understand its truths—He is always present in our lives to help us apply God’s Word to any given situation.

The Bible is not a book of static truths to be learned and applied; the Bible is literally God’s voice speaking to us in any given situation at any given moment in time. God wants his children to make the right choices and understand how to apply His principles in every area of life. Therefore, He has given us His Word as His Voice, heard by the heart, superintended by the Spirit. At Walk with the Word, we believe that personal application can be made from any portion of Scripture. That is because “…the Word of God is living and active…”

The Bible is very much like a two-way radio with the party at the other end, the transmitter always on the air. The listener can turn on his receiver and hear the words of the transmitter and just listen. Because the transmitter has a basic program presented in an infinite variety of ways, the listener can always learn something new each time he listens. But it doesn’t end with just listening. There are times when the listener has a specific question or need. The listener can call the transmitter and ask a specific question (prayer), and the transmitter is there to provide a specific answer.

Learning to apply God’s Word to one’s daily walk is only part of the process. Walk with the Word recognizes the value, for example, of the Life Application Study Bible (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 2000). The editors have done a superb work in providing practical application to all parts of God’s Word. But here again, it is the editors who have provided the application. Walk with the Word encourages each and every believer to learn to apply God’s Word on his or her own to everyday, personal situations, therefore taking application one step further: personally hearing God’s voice through His Word.

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