Quite often when I suggest that believers today can hear the voice of Jesus and be led by the Holy Spirit, people are quick to say that the Holy Spirit would never contradict anything that had already been written down in the Scriptures.
This knee-jerk reaction is meant to do two things: First, it is meant to maintain the Bible as our ultimate authority. Nothing new or different can ever be introduced into our faith system because God’s Word (the Bible) has said everything that will ever need to be said about God.
Secondly, the statement is meant to downplay our experiences and subjugate those experiences to the Scriptures. In effect, all experiences are essentially pointless because anything they might reveal to us, and anything we might learn from those experiences, are subject to correction. Therefore, what good is experience if anything that might be learned from it is already written down in the Book for me?
The problem with this view is that the Scriptures themselves completely contradict this assumption.
Rather than a unified voice of agreement throughout the Bible, what we observe is an ongoing dialog where one prophet says something about God, and then, later on, another prophet challenges that idea. So, in other words, the Spirit speaks to the prophet who writes down what he hears, and later another prophet also hears from the Spirit and writes down something that modifies or enhances—or sometimes flatly contradicts—what the previous prophet wrote down.
This is what the Bible is: A series of progressively enlightened ideas about who God is and what God is like.
As we’ve already seen, for example, when Moses says that God requires animal sacrifice and other voices modify this until Jesus gives us the final word on the matter. Or, when Moses introduces the idea of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”, but Jesus shows up and says, “But I say to you, love your enemies.”
Not only this, but Jesus also corrects Moses’s statements when He says that God “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (See Matt. 5:45) Because, according to Moses, in Deuteronomy 28:12, God says to the righteous: “The Lord will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands.” But to the unrighteous God says: “The Lord will make the rain of your land powder. From heaven dust shall come down on you until you are destroyed.” (v. 24)
Jesus makes it clear in the Sermon on the Mount that Moses was wrong about God’s disposition towards people. He loves and blesses them both the same, and brings rain on both the just and the unjust alike.
Another good example of how some prophetic voices in Scripture correct what has been said previously is when Elijah commands a man named Jehu to strike down the entire house of his master, Ahab. (See 2 Kings 9:7-8) Once he obeys this command, Jehu is praised as a righteous man of God. However, later on, the prophet Hosea writes that God spoke to him saying: “I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel.” (Hosea 1:4)
So, I ask you: Are you still so convinced that the Holy Spirit will never contradict what has been written in the scriptures?
The fact is that the Holy Spirit almost always contradicts what has been written in the scriptures.
Peter learned that when the voice of the Lord spoke to him and commanded him to kill and eat the unclean animals. The Pharisees learned that when they brought the woman caught in adultery to Jesus. James and John learned that when they asked Jesus if they could call down fire on the Samaritans as Elijah had done.
In every single case, if these men had held tightly to their scriptures, they would have missed what Jesus was doing.
Peter would not have awakened to God’s plan to redeem the Gentiles.
The Pharisees would have executed an adulterous woman instead of showing her mercy.
James and John would have called down fire upon Samaritans before Philip could come and preach the Good News of the Kingdom to them. (See Acts 8:5)
The surprising truth is: The Holy Spirit will almost always contradict what has been written in the scriptures. In fact, we should probably expect it.Jesus affirms this idea when he rebukes the Pharisees who cannot let go of their Scriptures long enough to accept what they have seen with their eyes and heard with their own ears.
They are blinded by their Bibles. The refuse to see that the eyes of the blind were opened and the lame were made whole because it didn’t fit with what their Scriptures told them.
So, because what they were seeing didn’t line up with what was written, they rejected their experiences of God and attributed the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan. Jesus responded to their blindness and warned them that the unforgivable sin was to reject what the Spirit of God was doing right in front of them.
“Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” (Mark 3:28-29)
The greatest sin, according to Jesus, is to deny what the Holy Spirit is doing and revealing to you—even if that revelation contradicts what has been written in the Scriptures.
This means that we must be willing to leave the safety and security of our Bibles to walk with Jesus in the uncertain and unknown realm of faith. This is why we are called to “test the spirits” (1 John 4:1) and to use discernment in our walk with Christ. Because we are expected to be venturing out into the deep with Him, not lounging comfortably in our pew clinging tightly to our absolute certainty, but holding fast to Jesus who is untamed and unbound by any book.
Jesus was most critical of the Pharisees because they were mired in the traditions of men (Mark 7:8) and unwilling to accept anything that didn’t line up with their understanding of Scripture. He begged them to see that the life they were seeking for in the Scriptures was only available through Him. They refused to come to Him for life because they were convinced that their Bible had all the answers. (John 5:40)
The Pharisees rejected Jesus because they assumed that the Holy Spirit would never contradict what was written down in their Scriptures. But, they were wrong about that. When the Holy Spirit did something they didn’t think aligned with their Book, they attributed that to Satan, and as a result, they totally missed the fulfillment of every prophecy in that same Holy Book.
He was standing right in front of them, and they missed Him.
Please don’t make the same mistake.[Excerpted from Chapter 17 of Jesus Unbound: Liberating the Word of God from the Bible by Keith Giles]
Keith Giles is a former pastor who left the pulpit 11 years ago to start a church that gives away 100% of the offering to the poor in their community.
His new book “Jesus Unbound: Liberating the Word of God from the Bible”, is available now on Amazon and features a Foreword by author Brian Zahnd.
He is also the author of the Amazon best-seller, “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb”.
Keith also co-hosts the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean. He and his wife live in Orange, CA with their two sons.
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