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What should I do when the Spirit challenges or rebukes the teachings in the Bible? I am mostly having this problem with the book of Revelation.
Thank you for your important question. I suggest there are two aspects about it that require some thought: first, the nature of biblical authority and second, the inner voice you identify as 'my spirit'. I will begin with the nature of the Bible.
The Bible consists of 66 books which have been recognised from the earliest period of Christian history as especially inspired by God. Speaking of the Jewish Scriptures, or what we call the 'Old Testament' Jesus said,
"Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God". (Matthew 4:4). On another occasion in prayer, Jesus referred to the inspired Scriptures as , "Your word is truth" (John 17:17). The apostle Paul spoke of Scripture in these terms:
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:14-16)
It is obvious from such statements (and there are a number of others like them) that by Scripture the Christian Church has always meant writings that are inspired by God directly and as such are true and trustworthy. The Book of Revelation is one of those writings and it is also, therefore, true and trustworthy.
Having said that, it has always been recognised as a very difficult book to understand because it is full of symbolism. There are two basic reasons for that: the first is that it belongs to a genre of Jewish literature called 'apocalyptic' writing in which numbers and creatures are given a kind of 'secret' meaning only discernible to people familiar with the style at the time. Secondly, it was written at a time when any criticism of the Roman government might have provoked the mass arrest and execution of Christians as rebels.
As a result, the Revelation speaks of Rome as 'Babylon' and its immorality in terms of a prostitute. We need to read trustworthy commentaries on the book in order to begin to understand it properly and I encourage you to do so.
The second issue in your question concerns the 'inner voice' you identify as the Spirit of God. The reality is that God would not tell you His own word of truth is wrong. The more likely explanation is that the inner voice to which you refer comes from your own emotional or psychological make-up. We are all liable to have strong inner sensations that are so apparently powerful we think they originate from outside ourselves, such as when we become convinced God is telling us to take or avoid some course of action about which we are uncertain.
The Holy Spirit does guide us, of course, especially through our consciences and sometimes by a direct revelation, but He will always lead us according to the truth of God, which can never be different from what the Bible teaches.
I do hope this general answer to your question goes some way to helping you find peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: www.lookingforGod.com
In closing, I want to encourage you to get more involved with your local church. It would be good to speak to a Christian leader or another trusted church individual regarding your question. I know they would be delighted to further answer you as well as offer prayer and support as you continue your spiritual journey:
Please use our Interactive Answer Matrix and feel free to ask another question. Our helpful staff are praying for you and waiting to try and answer to you from the Bible, and will be delighted to tell you more about Jesus Christ the Lord, the Saviour of the world.
*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise
*If anything in this answer affects you directly, then please feel free to call our confidential prayer line in the UK on 0845 4567729, where trained Christian volunteers will take your call and pray both for you and with you. If you are outside of the UK then you may submit your request for prayer on line at www.ucb.co.uk/prayerline
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