Two different views exist as to how one comes to a knowledge of God’s will. The first view is that one comes to this knowledge by carefully reading and understanding the scriptures; that Jesus promised His apostles that they would be led into all truth by the Spirit (John 14:26; 16: 13); that they, along with other inspired men, wrote that truth in the scriptures; that when we read what they wrote, we may “understand (their) knowledge in the mystery of Christ” (Eph. 3:3,4); that the scriptures, consequently, are an all-sufficient guide from earth to heaven.
The second view is that each child of God is led in some direct way by the Spirit in understanding God’s will. People are often heard to say, “God is leading me into this understanding,” or “in this way,” and in saying this they mean that He is leading them through some direct guidance. While they do not disregard the scriptures altogether, they feel that they are led in some additional way into an understanding of God’s will, applying John 14:26 and John 16:13 to every “believer.”
This writer confesses to holding the first view and would ask those who hold to the second view the following questions:
(1) If, indeed, all believers are led directly into an understanding of God’s will, why was it necessary for the first converts to continue “steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42)? Would they not have had the same understanding of God’s will as the apostles had?
How do we explain the differences in doctrine and practice that exist among those who claim to be led into their understanding directly by the Lord? Differences abound among those who claim direct guidance, while the scriptures teach only “one faith” (Ephesians 4:4-6). Is the Lord really leading all these people into conflicting ideas? Is He the author of confusion (I Cor. 14:33)?
If you could accurately communicate to me — either orally or in writing — this understanding into which you have been led, could I place as much confidence in it as I do in the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, etc? Could I continue steadfastly in your teaching as the early Christians did in the apostles’ teaching? If so, how would I know to continue steadfastly in your teaching rather than in the teaching of some person whose understanding conflicts with yours? With all these conflicts, would we not have to go back to the Bible to know what was right? And wouldn’t that, in reality, take us to the first view stated in this article, which I already accept?
The truth is—the scriptures are God’s divine truth (John 17:17). One can read and understand them (Eph. 3: 3, 4). They are all-sufficient as a guide from earth to heaven(2 Tim. 3:16,17). They will provide the basis for our judgment in the last day (John 12:48). Read them carefully and obey them in love.