The Ministry of the Holy Spirit in Our Teaching

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you…” (John 14:15-17, ESV)

“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:25-26, ESV)

“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment …” (John 16:7-8, ESV)

“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.” (John 16:12-15, ESV)

Have you ever been preparing to lead a Bible study and struggled to think through how to lead your group in applying the message of the Scriptures to their lives? It’s one thing to know what a passage says and means, it is another to discern how to live, in light of what it teaches. This is a critical element in studying and teaching the Bible, since our goal is not just greater knowledge, but greater faithfulness in living out what we learn. The good news is that God has given us tremendous help in this area!

In John 14-17, Jesus knew that the time for His death was drawing near, yet there was still much that His disciples did not know, or simply did not yet understand. In the above passages, Jesus reassures them that He will not leave them alone, and that their learning and growth will continue. With Jesus’ pending departure, He says that the Father will send them another Helper, the Holy Spirit, also appropriately named the “Spirit of Truth”, who will dwell within them forever. His role is to teach them all that Jesus wants them to know, and to help them remember what Jesus taught them. In addition, there were things they were not ready to hear and understand during Jesus earthly ministry, but the Holy Spirit would guide them to those important truths, glorifying Jesus as He does so. In other passages we learn that it is the Holy Spirit who is at work to transform us more into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). What a wonderful gift!

This same Holy Spirit indwells believers today, and this gift can deeply impact the way we approach leading Bible study groups. This Holy Spirit was actively at work guiding the authors of the Scriptures so that we might have God’s message for us today. This same Spirit dwells within us to help us better understand how God’s Word applies in our lives, stirring our thinking, convicting us of sin, and helping us discern where and how we need to live out what we have learned. As a teacher, I can seek God’s help to apply the Scriptures in my own life, I can pray that He will be at work in the hearts of those I teach, and I can also teach in ways that help my group be attentive to the Holy Spirit in His convicting work.

In light of this, I find some things I need to do as I prepare my lessons and as I teach. First, I need to take some extended time with the passages I will teach so that I can meditate on them, pray, and invite the Holy Spirit to teach me and give me insights as to how the passages impact my life and the lives of those I will teach. Second, I cannot assume I know how those I teach need to apply the truths of the Scriptures, so I must take time to allow them to reflect and discuss this in the group. Pray together that the Holy Spirit would give them insights and a clearer understanding of the importance of the passages for their lives. As different people reflect and talk, God uses this time to stir our hearts and help us see things we may have overlooked. So many times, I have gained important insights because of something shared by another person in my group. Finally, I must continue to pray for those I teach, that the Holy Spirit would remind them of what they read and heard, so that the Spirit can continue to bring conviction where needed, encouragement, and courage to put into practice what they learned. The Holy Spirit’s teaching continues long after the study group has concluded, and we can pray for His transforming work throughout the week.

As a Bible study leader, you are not teaching alone. God is present and working through the Spirit to teach, convict, and transform. Pray that you will learn how to be a supportive part of that work, and continue to seek God’s guidance as you prepare and as you teach.

Father God, I am so thankful that you have given us the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, to continue Jesus’ teaching work within us. Help me be attentive to you as I study, so that you may convict me and guide me in appropriately applying what I learn from your Word. Help me to remember what I have learned, so that over time you can take it even more deeply into my own heart and transform me more fully. Finally, help me prepare and teach in ways that you can use to accomplish your purposes in our lives. Thank you for being our teacher. Amen.

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