“Bad Bob”* rolled into his bunk on the submarine and opened the Bible. Another submariner had given it to him two years before, but he’d never looked inside. Now, he started at Genesis 1, planning to read it from cover to cover. His progress was slow. For a few years, he continued to read it off and on, but only while he was on patrol. During shore leave, he was too busy partying to give it a thought.
Then, Bob’s life took an unexpected and serious turn. He was arrested and charged with reckless driving and possession of drugs. Just being arrested on a drug charge was enough for him to lose his rank and be suspended from duties because, on patrol, he was responsible for nuclear weapons. While he was in custody, he prayed in desperation, “God, if You get me out of this, I’ll become a preacher!” Surprisingly, his submarine crew collected bail for him, and he was allowed to go straight out on patrol again. It was his last scheduled one before moving to shore duty.
After the patrol, Bob faced a court date. Strangely, although he had no defense lawyer and pleaded guilty, the judge himself advised Bob to plead Georgia’s “First Offender Act,” and he found himself released, still a petty officer, and given the best shore job available for that rank—an instructor. Bob was astounded! He wondered if reading the Bible had anything to do with this miracle and decided to read it more intently.
About this time, he finished the Old Testament and started into the Gospels. Suddenly, the “lights went on,” and even the simplest sayings of Jesus took on deep significance. The Holy Spirit was helping him to understand truth. He became so enthralled with the Bible that he only slept about two hours a night. He prayed he would never need to sleep again so that he could keep studying!
“Do you know any Christians here?” he asked his friends (who thought he’d gone crazy). They named a young man who was always reading his Bible, and Bob asked him to take him to church. At church he gave his life to the Lord and immediately began buying Bibles. Whenever he picked up hitchhikers, he’d recount his experience and offer them a Bible. He also went door to door with a church friend, explaining to people about Jesus. Bad Bob had found his Savior and a new, fulfilling life. He didn’t formally become a preacher, but he has never stopped sharing the life-changing truths he found in his once-neglected Bible
Who or what changed Bob? Was it the Holy Spirit, or was it the Bible? Let’s see how the Bible itself answers this question.
*Bob’s nickname because of his wild exploits
John 17:17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.
God has placed a library of 66 books in our hands, bound together in one volume—the Bible. It has all the truth we need for a new life.
2. How was the Holy Spirit involved with giving us God’s Word?
2 Peter 1:20, 21 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
Not only were the prophets’ spoken messages inspired; the whole Bible was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Even though the words came from human authors, they are God’s messages infused with God’s power. The Bible is a very unique book!
John 16:13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.
Jesus called the Holy Spirit “the Spirit of Truth.” After He left the earth, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to fulfill an immense and varied role in the plan of salvation. Part of that role is to help people find and understand God-given truth.
2. When we study the Bible and open our minds to what we find, what happens?
Psalm 119:50 This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your Word has given me life.
As we read and digest God’s Word, we find comfort, help, and inspiration. The Holy Spirit confirms the truth we’re reading by drawing our attention to the difference it’s making in our lives. Through the Holy Spirit, Bible truth becomes a source of real change and encouragement to us instead of just theory.
John 14:16‒18 [Jesus speaking] And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
Jesus gives us the Spirit of Truth to connect us with Himself—the Truth. When we receive the Holy Spirit into our lives, Jesus personally comes to us through Him. It’s impossible to explain, but it’s real. This close connection with Jesus is a deep joy and privilege, and it’s vital for our salvation. It must be renewed daily.
2. What does it take to receive Christ’s presence in us through the Holy Spirit?
John 3:3‒6 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old?” . . . Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
When we give control of our lives to Jesus, we experience a spiritual rebirth. The Holy Spirit creates different desires, priorities, thoughts, feelings, and motives, and He also gives us the power to obey God’s truth. All this takes a work of re-creation that only God can accomplish, but we must obediently cooperate with Him.
1 Peter 1:23 Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the Word of God which lives and abides forever.
1 Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby.
The Holy Spirit works in us through the living, powerful, inspired words of the Bible. Who or what changed Bob and will change us? The Holy Spirit and the Bible!
2. God has made it very simple for us to connect with the Holy Spirit and receive His help. What do we have to do?
Luke 11:13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!
Because He loves us even if we’ve ignored Him, God is always willing to give us the Holy Spirit. It’s important to ask for the Holy Spirit’s guidance every time we open the Bible. He’s ready to be our Helper, and He makes the message of the Bible come alive!
God has preserved the Bible through the ages so that you may find living truth and power for a better life. Would you like to commit to studying it regularly and acting on what you find, asking for the Holy Spirit to both teach and transform you?