The Spirit’s Leadings

THE APOSTLE PAUL wrote that “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Rom. 8:14) It is tremendously important for followers of the Master to be assured that they are ‘sons of God’. If we are God’s children, then we know that he is caring for our every interest, just as a proper earthly father cares for his children. The Bible assures us that God loves his children, and that he supplies all their needs. He gives them needed spiritual nourishment, and he strengthens them when they are weak. He encourages them when they are discouraged, and guides them in the way of righteousness. He disciplines them when they need correction, and comforts them in their trials.

And Paul assures us that if we are led by God’s Spirit, we are his sons. What, then, is the Spirit of God, and how are we led by that Spirit? In view of what is involved, it is imperative that we know the proper answer to these questions. Many erroneously suppose that the Holy Spirit of God is the third person in a trinity of gods. But this view is not supported by the Scriptures. Rather, according to the Bible, God’s Spirit is his invisible power, always exercised for good, therefore a holy power.

In the Old Testament, the word spirit, as in ‘Holy Spirit’, is a translation of the Hebrew word ruwach. The primary significance of this word is ‘wind’. We do not mean to imply, however, that the Holy Spirit is a holy wind. This is merely the root meaning of the word. Wind is both invisible and powerful, hence the ancients applied the Hebrew word ruwach to various invisible and powerful influences. Since Divine power is exercised through channels and by agencies beyond human sight and understanding, this particular Hebrew word came to be applied more and more to that mighty influence which accomplished the works of God.

The word ruwach in addition to being translated ‘spirit’, is also translated in the Old Testament by the English words ‘blast’, ‘breath’, ‘tempest’, ‘mind’, ‘smell’, ‘wind’, and ‘windy’. It will be seen that in each of these translations the thought behind the word is that of invisible power, or influence. There is power in the mind, for example, but it is a power that is invisible, and its operation but little understood.


In the New Testament, the Greek word translated Spirit, or Ghost, in the expressions ‘Holy Spirit’, or ‘Holy Ghost’, is pneuma. The primary meaning of this word is also ‘wind’ or ‘air’. It is the Greek word from which our English word pneumatic is derived. In addition to being translated spirit and ghost, this word is also translated by the words ‘life’, ‘spiritual’, and sometimes ‘wind’. In Revelation 13:15 it is translated ‘life’, and here the reference is to the life that is given to the “image of the beast.”

The use of the word ghost to describe the Holy Spirit was an attempt on the part of the translators to indicate that the Holy Spirit is a personality. But this is a completely erroneous translation. The personal pronouns ‘he’ and ‘his’ sometimes used in the New Testament with reference to the Holy Spirit are also incorrect. As we have said, the Holy Spirit is not a person, but the invisible power of God. When the Holy Spirit came upon the waiting church at Pentecost it is said to have been “shed” forth. How strange this language would seem if applied to a person!—Acts 2:33

The Holy Spirit, or power of God, is exercised by him for the accomplishment of all his works. In Genesis 1:2, the Holy Spirit is shown to be a creative power. When Moses was building the Tabernacle, God’s Spirit operated to enable the builders, and those who made the furnishings of the Tabernacle, to have necessary skills to accomplish this great work. (Exod. 31:2-5) The Old Testament prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, or power of God, to record their prophecies.—II Pet. 1:21


So far as we are concerned, the Holy Spirit, or power of God, in our lives is in part the influence of his thoughts, or his will concerning us. God has revealed his will through his written Word. The prophets, the apostles, and our Lord Jesus all were miraculously directed by the power of God to express his plans and purposes as they apply to his people, and these have been recorded for us in the written Word. It is through his Word that God’s Spirit leads his children in the doing of his will.

The power of God also manifests itself in the shaping of the providences in our lives by which we are guided. It is our responsibility—and this becomes a test of our sincerity—to interpret God’s providences in harmony with the truths which are set forth in his written Word. The Bible points out the main steps in our pathway of sacrifice, and we are to interpret our experiences in keeping with those main principles of the Divine plan.


Jesus said that no one could come to him unless the Heavenly Father drew him. (John 6:44) It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that God draws people to Christ. That power operates through the Word, in which is revealed God’s great plan of the ages. This plan, revealing as it does the unsearchable riches of Christ, touches the hearts of those whom the Lord draws, and in their response they are brought to the place where they want to do God’s will. We believe that God’s Spirit also directs in calling attention to the precious truths of his Word.

God’s Spirit, through his providences, also operates in preparing the heart for the reception of his Word. We know, for example, that the truth is often called to the attention of all in a family, yet perhaps only one receives it and is drawn to consecration. Why is this? We believe that it is because God exercises his selective prerogatives, and that through his providence he prepares the heart of each one whom he draws to receive Jesus. In this sense of the word, it would be proper to suppose that God’s Spirit was leading us even before we came to an appreciation of his truth.

Through his Word, God continues to draw those whom he chooses. They are ultimately drawn to the point where they see that it is his will for them to make a full consecration of their all to do the Heavenly Father’s will. And while to begin with they do not understand all the details of what the Heavenly Father’s will might be, they do learn that he wants them, in response to Jesus’ invitation, to deny themselves, and to take up their cross, and follow in the footsteps of the Master.—Matt. 16:24

These learn from the Word of truth that the Lord wants them to follow Jesus in the way of suffering and of sacrificial death. They learn that this means, symbolically, that they are to be baptized into the likeness of his death. They learn that just as Jesus did not die for himself, but for others, so they are to lay down their lives for the brethren, and are to be baptized into death for the dead world of mankind. They learn that just as the Holy Spirit led Jesus “as a lamb to the slaughter” (Isa. 53:7), so they, too, are to be thus led (Rom. 8:36), and that in following the Spirit’s readings they will be following “the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.”—Rev. 14:1,4

As we mentioned, those who are being drawn to the Lord and to the point of full surrender to do his will, do not, to begin with, understand clearly all that will be involved in a life of full dedication to the Lord, but they do know that the Lord wants them to give their all to him, to covenant with him that they will do his will regardless of what the cost might be. And they make this covenant with the Lord, knowing that it is a “covenant by sacrifice.” (Ps. 50:5) They know that their new way of life will be one of suffering, of weariness in the Lord’s service, of sacrifice; and that they will reach the end of this narrow and difficult way only at death.


After having counted the cost of a full consecration to do the Lord’s will, and having been accepted by him through the merit of Christ’s sacrifice on their behalf, each one who continues to be pleasing to the Lord must follow the readings of his Holy Spirit. And having learned in advance that through consecration they enter into a narrow way of sacrifice, it should not be expected that the Spirit will lead them into paths of earthly prosperity and pleasure.

Through the written Word, the Holy Spirit has established certain important signposts by which we may determine whether or not we are walking in the way that the Spirit leads. These signposts are the basic principles of the Divine will which are so clearly outlined in the Scriptures. In the beginning of our walk in the narrow way we presented our “bodies a living sacrifice”; but we are to keep that sacrifice on the altar by daily continuing to yield ourselves to the Lord in sacrifice, and we are to do this gladly, knowing that this is our “reasonable service.”—Rom. 12:1

The Spirit’s leading is very definite along this line. The way of the consecrated life is described by terms which denote suffering and death. John the Revelator, in describing those who will live and reign with Christ, spoke of them as being “beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God.” (Rev. 20:4) Literal beheading is something from which we would all naturally shrink, yet it is used as a symbol of our death in Christ, and the Spirit leads us to this symbolic beheading.

After urging us to present our bodies a living sacrifice, Paul admonishes us not to be “conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing” of our minds, that we might “prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” (Rom. 12:1,2) The Spirit leads us away from the world, and it leads to a transformation of our minds, a transformation in which the ways of the world and of the flesh are kept, so far as possible, in subordination, and the ways of the Lord, his service, his people, and his truth become paramount in our thoughts.

How true is this in our experience as followers of the Master? Where do we find our greatest source of delight—in the world, and in following the pursuits of the world, or in the fellowship of the brethren, and in laying down our lives in the great cause of the Lord? The Spirit is not leading us to love the world, nor the things of the world, but is leading us in the way of fellowship and of service—indeed, in all the ways of the Lord.

Are we cooperating with the Spirit’s leadings in doing all we can to transform our minds and hearts in keeping with the Lord’s will and ways? Possibly the Lord, through his providences might permit experiences which are designed to teach us the vanity of the world and the ways of the world. These experiences may at first seem difficult and disappointing; but we should recognize them as the leadings of the Spirit to help us to devote more of our energies to the transformation of our minds in keeping with the will of the Lord.


One of the things which the Holy Spirit has made clear through the written Word is that the followers of the Master are to be his witnesses. (Acts 1:8) If we are following the leadings of the Spirit we will, therefore, be seeking and using every possible opportunity to make known the glad tidings of the kingdom. One who is not doing this is not following this leading of the Spirit. The faithful ones in the Early Church were limited in their means of communicating the truth to others, although the Lord did give many of them the gift of speaking in tongues (Acts 2:4-11), or other languages, which enabled them to witness to those whose native language they did not understand. Today we have the printed page, billboards, newspaper ads, the telephone, the radio, television, the postal service, E-mail, and other methods of communication which can be used in carrying out our Divine commission to bear witness to the truth.

But today strange ‘voices’ are also to be heard on this subject. We are told that it is no longer proper to publicly bear witness to the truth. Others say that the Lord wants us to devote all our time to making ourselves ready for the kingdom. Then there is the voice of discouragement which insists that no definitive results are visible from the efforts of the Lord’s people to bear witness to the truth; therefore we should no longer continue this work. As mentioned, these are “strange things to our ears.” (Acts 17:20) They do not represent the leadings of the Holy Spirit, but are of a contrary spirit.

The great fundamentals of the truth are shining very clearly today. Those who know and understand these precious doctrines can no longer be led away by error. Satan, the Devil, is quite satisfied that those who proclaim error should continue their activities, but knowing that there are some who cannot be led into error, his next effort is to induce them to remain silent with respect to the truth. He seems willing for them to enjoy the truth themselves, but uses all sorts of cunning arguments to persuade them to cease proclaiming this glorious Gospel of the kingdom to others. But we are not ignorant of his devices. The Holy Spirit is leading us to proclaim the truth, and we will continue to follow this leading of the Spirit.


The Holy Spirit, through the Word, also leads us to assemble with others of like “precious faith.” (II Pet. 1:1; Heb. 10:24,25) Are we following the leading of the Spirit in this respect? Many of the Lord’s people attend meetings as a matter of course, because they love to fellowship with their brethren in Christ. If a week goes by without their assembling with the Lord’s people they feel that something important has gone out of their lives. This is the proper viewpoint. It reveals that the Holy Spirit is leading these brethren—leading them in the doing of an important part of the Lord’s will.

We realize that many of the brethren are isolated, and seldom have the opportunity of meeting with others of like precious faith. Undoubtedly the Lord makes up to these in other ways. The printed page means more to them, perhaps, than to some others. Or, perhaps they can hear a weekly broadcast of the truth, or play tapes or video cassettes of discourses, which makes them feel that they have some contact with their brethren. And certainly these have the privilege of prayer in which they can bear their brethren, wherever they may be, before the throne of heavenly grace.

But what about those who have the opportunity of meeting with their brethren, yet fail to use it; or, perhaps, find frequent excuses to do other things, or go to other places, when the Spirit should be leading them to the meetings? We recognize that there are circumstances in the lives of all the Lord’s people which hinder them from attending meetings as frequently as they would like. We are here merely calling attention to the fact that to stay away from meetings simply because it might be more pleasant to the flesh is not following the leading of the Spirit, for the leading of the Spirit is not to be found in the pleasantries of a full and happy life according to the standards of the world and of the flesh. The Lord wants it to cost us something to fellowship with his people, and if we are not willing to pay this price, we are sure to suffer spiritual loss.


Doing God’s will requires effort. Many times, for example, all sorts of difficulties will present themselves when we make plans to bear witness to the truth by means of a public meeting, or otherwise. How do we interpret these experiences? Do we conclude that through these experiences the Lord is saying to us that it is not his will to make the effort? If we should view the matter in this way, and give up the effort, it would be a failure to follow the Spirit’s leadings; for through the Word we know that the Lord does want us to bear witness to the truth. There has never been any change in this.

If we continue to be blocked in what we undertake to do in the Lord’s service, even though we do the best we can, it still would not mean that the Lord does not want us to bear witness to the truth. It might simply mean that he wants us to try elsewhere, or in some other way. It might also mean that he is testing our determination to do what he has commissioned us to do. We might at times be inclined to give up too easily.

And this is true with respect to all our efforts to bear witness to the truth. We cannot expect that every time we put out a few hundred tracts, someone will come into the truth! We cannot expect that we will have a large audience at every public meeting we arrange. If we do, perchance, have a good turnout, we cannot expect that a number of those in attendance will come into the truth! We are to sow beside all waters, with the assurance that the Lord will give the increase according to his wisdom and purpose.

The main benefit we obtain from these efforts is the joy we experience in telling out the good tidings of the kingdom. So may we never give up, no matter how disappointing our experiences may seem. This is the way the Holy Spirit is leading us. The Lord wants us to be willing to continue to serve him even though there may be no visible results.

However, when it comes to the overall efforts of the Lord’s people today, there are results. People are still coming into the truth. One here and there is responding to the Gospel and to the Gospel call, and making a full consecration to the Lord. The religious world of today is drifting deeper and deeper into unbelief. The language of the truth is more and more strange to the people, so witnessing is a more difficult task than ever before. But the Lord wants us to continue! This is the leading of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit that leads us into service, and into fellowship with the brethren will strengthen us to do the Lord’s will no matter how formidable or difficult the tasks may be. The Lord’s Spirit is “not … [one] of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (II Tim. 1:7) To have the Holy Spirit ruling in our minds will make us rational and reasonable, and the presenting of our bodies a living sacrifice, our “reasonable service.” (Rom. 12:1) For this, the love of God, will motivate us, and for this, the power of the Spirit will strengthen us. And, being led and helped thus by the Holy Spirit, we can rejoice that we have this evidence that we are the children of God!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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