Thursday, June 5, 2014
Pentecost: Stirring Up the Holy Spirit / How the Holy Spirit Leads the Church and Us Individually in Doctrine, Policy, and Decisions
As Church of God members know, the Day of Pentecost represents the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Church. Jesus Christ promised His disciples that they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-18, 26, John 15:26, John 16:5-15, Acts 1:4-8, Acts 2:38-39). On Pentecost, as described in the book of Acts, that promise was fulfilled (Acts 2:1-21).
Pentecost also represents firstfruits. We in the Church are firstfruits to God and to Christ (Romans 8:23, James 1:17-18, Revelation 14:4-5). We are not the main harvest, which comes in the millennium and the white throne judgment. Understanding this helps us understand why the world is not being saved now and how all mankind will have a chance for salvation later.
Pentecost, also called the Feast of Weeks in the Old Testament (Exodus 34:22, Deuteronomy 16:9-11, 16), is one of the seven annual holy days and feasts commanded by God for His people. Old Testament Israel kept these days without fully understanding their meaning. But God has revealed their meaning to us in the Church of God, and we are able to observe them with a fuller understanding of what they represent. God uses these days, as we obey God's command to observe them, to reveal His overall plan for the salvation of mankind to us.
How the Church of God in Modern Times Received the Truth
I emphasize that God reveals His plan through His annual holy days as we observe them because it is those who actually obey God's command to keep these days who are given the understanding. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments" (Psalm 111:10). I have discussed the holy days on the Internet with non-Church of God members or members of the Church of God Seventh Day who do not observe these days. Some of them agree that these days represent New Testament truths and lessons, and they say they like to study these days and learn their lessons, but they do not observe them or believe that the Church is commanded to observe them. They do not really believe the Bible on this point. So their understanding is limited. They never quite "get it." Why? God never intended Christians to learn the meaning of these days by studying them only while not observing them.
God gives understanding to those who believe and obey Him (Psalm 111:10). God also gives understanding to those whom He calls (John 6:43-44). But those who are called must respond to the call, and if they reject God's calling by refusing to believe and obey what God says in the Bible, the understanding God gives them is taken away. The world as a whole is deceived by Satan, and those in the world who are not called cannot escape that deception by their own power (Revelation 12:9, 2 Corinthians 4:3-4). But it is because they are not willing to believe and obey God that they cannot understand. Satan deceives them by imparting his attitude of disbelief and disobedience into their minds, as well as imparting false ideas and false doctrines (Jeremiah 17:9).
But if a man or woman is called by God, God opens that person's mind to enough of the truth for him or her to make a choice to believe God and begin to obey Him. And as that person obeys, God opens his or her mind to understand more and more truth.
So it is because we obey God in keeping the holy days that God has given us understanding of what those days mean, and the meaning of those days reveals God's whole plan for the salvation of mankind.
God revealed these things to the Church of God in our time through Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong. Mr. Armstrong was willing to believe and obey what God teaches in the Bible. He and his family kept the holy days alone for years without the Church of God Seventh Day. He didn't keep the holy days because he was following the Church of God, but because He was following the Bible. And because he was willing to believe God first, more than the Church or the traditions he grew up with, God saw his faith and obedience and opened his mind to understand the meaning of the holy days. God was then able to use him to teach the Church.
God revealed in the Bible the truth that the Church should keep the holy days today. God, through the Holy Spirit, helped Mr. Armstrong understand the Bible and understand that the Bible teaches that we should keep these days. Mr. Armstrong made the choice to believe and obey God by keeping these days, and God through the Holy Spirit then helped him understand the Bible more, to understand what these days actually mean. That is how we got the truth we have today.
The holy days and knowledge of the plan of God have become our Church of God tradition. But they didn't start as tradition, not in modern times. They started with Mr. Armstrong's willingness to believe what God says in the Bible MORE than his traditions - more than the traditions he grew up in and more than the traditions of the Church of God Seventh Day he came into after conversion.
Stirring Up the Holy Spirit
Often we are told in sermons that to overcome sin we need to "use" the Holy Spirit. Often, the speaker does not explain exactly how he expects his listeners to do this. But certainly, stirring up the Holy Spirit is a biblical principle. "Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:6-7).
We recently observed Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. The Days of Unleavened Bread teach and represent our putting sin out of our lives. We must overcome our sins. "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death" (Revelation 2:11). "To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne" (Revelation 3:21). See also Revelation 2:7, 17, 26-28, 3:5, 12, 21:7.
But to do this we need the help of God's Holy Spirit. We cannot do it by our own power alone. We must strive with all our might to overcome sin, but we need the extra help of God's Holy Spirit to succeed.
God's Spirit helps our minds to understand and know God's law. "But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For 'who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?' But we have the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:10-16). But knowing the law is not enough. The history of Old Testament Israel from the leaving of Egypt to the captivities of the house of Israel and the house of Judah show that man, without God's Holy Spirit, cannot consistently obey God in the letter and in the spiritual intent of His law. So God, through His Spirit, gives us the love, the power, and the soundness of mind to obey God and overcome our sins. "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7).
The Holy Spirit helps us overcome by helping us understand spiritual knowledge, including the knowledge of God's spiritual law. But it also gives us power and motivation to obey. It gives us the love of God, which helps to fulfill the spiritual intent of the law (Romans 13:10).
Paul told Timothy, and God tells us through Paul, to "stir up" the Holy Spirit within us. How do we do that?
Although Paul doesn't explain, I think it is obvious that we stir up God's Spirit within us by exercising it.
The Holy Spirit guides our thoughts. It helps our understanding. It inspires our love towards God and man. It helps us believe, trust, and obey what God says. So we exercise it by putting ourselves in situations where the Holy Spirit can guide our thoughts.
The Holy Spirit helps us in prayer. "Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God" (Romans 8:26-27). So one way we can "stir up" or exercise the Holy Spirit is by praying. When we pray, we are talking to God and we are in communication with God. God's Spirit is involved, helping us to pray, helping us understand what we should say.
That does not mean that prayer is always easy. Sometimes it is and sometimes it is not. Sometimes it comes easy, especially when we are in a trial and we cry to God for help. Other times, it may not be easy. We may not know what to pray about.
In terms of general categories, we can praise God for His goodness and His wonderful works (Psalm 30:4, 78:4, 150:1-6). We can give Him thanks for the things He has done and will do for us, for the Church, and for mankind (Psalm 92:1, 1-6:1, 1 Timothy 2:1-3, Ephesians 5:3-4). We can confess our sins to Him and acknowledge our sinful nature and ask for His mercy and forgiveness (Luke 18:13-14, Daniel 9:3-20, Psalm 51:1-19). We can make our requests to him (Philippians 4:6-7, Matthew 7:7-11, John 14:13-14, 16:23-14). We can make our requests, not only for ourselves, but for others (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
The Bible gives many guidelines and examples of prayer. We have the model prayer we can use as an outline, putting these things in our own words and applying the principles to our own situation (Matthew 6:5-15, Luke 11:1-13). There are specific instructions about prayer scattered throughout the Bible. For example, we are to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44), and we are to pray for those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-3). We also have the Psalms, which are full of examples and instructions about prayer. In fact, I have sometimes found it effective to read the Psalms while praying. I will read a few verses of a Psalm, and then pray about what those verses are talking about. Then I will read a little more, and pray a little more, and so on.
But if prayer is not easy, sometimes you may have to force yourself to put in the time. There have been occasions when prayer has been hard for me, but I would make up my mind to pray for a half hour on my knees. So I would kneel and try to pray, but it would be hard, and sometimes minutes would go by just trying to think of something to say. But I made up my mind, I would at least try. I would put in the time. In other words, I would "show up". And then, after about 20 or 25 minutes of trying to pray, not very successfully, the thoughts would come into my mind like a flood of things I wanted to say to God, and I would begin to pray effectively. And then I would end up praying an hour or longer, not because I was forcing myself, but because I wanted to.
It was as if God was testing me to see if I was willing to pray even if it took some work, and once He tested me on that, He helped me by His Holy Spirit to pray, and then the prayer was easy.
Prayer is an effective way of stirring up, exercising, and "using" the Holy Spirit.
Bible reading or Bible study is also an effective way of stirring up the Holy Spirit within us, if we study with an attitude of belief and obedience. God's Spirit helps us understand the Bible. Because of our calling and because of the Holy Spirit working with or in our minds, the veil that is over the Bible for the world is taken away for us. "But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away" (2 Corinthians 3:14-16). But it is important to believe the Bible and be committed to obeying it. The Holy Spirit helps us to understand the Bible, but if we see something in the Bible but choose not to believe God, then rather than exercising the Holy Spirit we could be quenching it. "Do not quench the Spirit" (1 Thessalonians 5:19). So we must study the Bible with an attitude of belief and obedience. We must believe what God says. And as we believe and obey, the Holy Spirit opens our minds to understand the Bible more and more accurately. In this way, we are to grow in grace and knowledge (2 Peter 3:18).
Bible study and Bible reading can be a tool to stir up God's Holy Spirit in our minds. The Spirit of God helps us understand the Bible and spiritual knowledge (1 Corinthians 2:10-16), so the more we study the Bible, the more the Holy Spirit will be active in our minds, helping us to understand what we read.
Fasting, with prayer, is also a way to stir up God's Spirit. Fasting can humble us and help us draw closer to God. When we fast we should spend extra time in prayer (Matthew 17:21). We can work, but we should not seek our own pleasure when we fast (Isaiah 58:3).
Meditation is also a way to exercise God's Holy Spirit. What can we meditate about? We can meditate about God's law as the writer of Psalm 119 did. "Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day" (Psalm 119:97). We can meditate about how to obey God's spiritual law in all the choices and decisions we have to make all day long. Then, we can submit our will to God's law and make the choices that will please God, not ourselves.
One way I have done this effectively is to try to keep my thoughts on God and what He wants me to do moment by moment as I go through the day. If I am shopping, I ask, does God want me to buy this? When deciding what to eat, or where, I ask, where does God want me to eat, or what does God want me to eat? When I am trying to organize my work and decide what to spend time on, I ask, what does God want me to work on next? In other words, I ask myself, maybe as often as every ten minutes, whatever tiny choices I have to make, what does God want me to do? And in seeking the answer, I try to think of scriptures and scriptural principles that apply to the decision. The Holy Spirit will help us remember the scriptures we need to make decisions, even small decisions all day long, if we have a submissive attitude to God and are willing to do God's will more than our own. "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit can help us remember those parts of the Bible we have studied when we need them to make decisions, and the more often during the day we seek to remember scriptures and scriptural principles to make even small choices and decisions, so that the Bible is guiding us and we are really living by every word of God (Matthew 4:4), the more the Holy Spirit is stirred up and exercised in our minds, the more we are using God's Spirit, because it is the Holy Spirit that helps us remember Bible passages and understand those passages.
This of course works together with Bible study, because we can't remember what we have not read.
Also, I sometimes review God's law in my mind, checking myself as I go about my daily routine, asking myself, am I falling short somewhere? Am I obeying the first commandment? Am I obeying the second commandment? The third?, etc. I try to keep part of my mind monitoring everything I do, comparing it will the principles I have studied in the Bible.
I have not often succeeded in meditating like this, seeking to let God guide me in my minute-by-minute decisions all day long, but on those occasions when I have done it, God seems to bless me more than usual.
Prayer, Bible study, fasting with prayer, and meditating about God's law and how to apply it to what we are doing in the present moment, are all ways of using the Holy Spirit, stirring up the gift of God that is in us, to help us overcome our sins.
I should mention that watching TV and movies and playing video games is NOT a way to stir up God's Spirit in us.
As I have said in a recent post, to overcome our sins we have to make a maximum effort. We have to go all out. It is not a question of overcoming by our power or God's power. It is both. We must go all out to use all the power we have to strive against sin.
But our power is never enough. We can't do it by our power alone - we can't even come close. We need the help God gives us through His Holy Spirit. We have to always realize that and learn to rely on God's help and trust God to help us even while we are making maximum effort to obey. And when we make spiritual progress, we must realize it is a gift from God through His Holy Spirit and acknowledge that, and not think we did it by our power alone.
Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, and Pentecost all work together to picture the process of our conversion, spiritual growth, and overcoming in this life. Passover represents the sacrifice of Christ that makes our salvation possible and opens the way for God to forgive us and help us. The Days of Unleavened Bread represent repentance, putting sin out of our lives, putting the righteousness of God into our lives, and overcoming. Pentecost represents the gift of the Holy Spirit, which alone can give us the extra power we need to overcome our sins.
The Days of Unleavened Bread show us that we need to put sin out of our lives. But we cannot do that alone without the Holy Spirit. So God gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit to empower us to put sin out. And that gift of the Holy Spirit, represented by Pentecost, only is available from God because Jesus Christ paid the penalty of our sins so we can be forgiven, and His sacrifice is represented by Passover.
How the Holy Spirit Leads the Church and Us Individually in Doctrine, Policy, and Decisions
I was raised Catholic. My sister became a nun. All my immediate family members were Catholic. I understand Catholic thinking.
There is a trap that many Catholics, and the Catholic Church in general, and many Protestants also fall into regarding the Holy Spirit and the Bible. I am not talking about the trinity doctrine.
I am talking about how the Holy Spirit leads the Church into truth.
The trap I am talking about is a trap that some Church of God members may fall into. It is certainly a trap, in my opinion, that Mr. Tkach and other leaders in Worldwide fell into. But it can happen with leaders, ministers, and members in the Church of God today, even among those who hold to the basic doctrines taught by Mr. Armstrong. And if a man falls into that trap, it can be invisible to others around him.
We all agree that the Holy Spirit leads the Church, or we could say, Christ leads the Church by the power of the Holy Spirit. We can also say, God the Father leads the Church through Jesus Christ, because Jesus Christ is the head of the Church and the Father is the head of Christ.
Catholics have no problem with that idea. Neither do Protestants. Mr. Tkach Jr., I am sure, would agree. God leads the Church through the Holy Spirit. Mr. Armstrong understood that correctly.
The Holy Spirit teaches us the truth. We trust and rely on God to lead us into right doctrine and right decisions by the power of the Holy Spirit leading our minds.
The question is, how?
And more specifically, the question I am addressing is, how does the Holy Spirit guide our understanding of doctrines and principles that guide our decisions when the Bible itself explains those same doctrines and principles?
In other words, how does the Holy Spirit work with the Bible in teaching us truth and guiding our decisions?
We might say, the Holy Spirit opens our minds to understand the Bible, to understand what God is really saying in the Bible, and without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we cannot understand the Bible accurately.
That is absolutely true. But what do those words mean? Because, if you say that to a Catholic or Protestant, he would agree with you. Mr. Tkach would agree with you. Mr. Armstrong would agree with you. The pope, I am sure, would agree with you.
But I think what Catholics and Protestants have in mind and what Mr. Armstrong had in mind are light-years apart in actual practice. Mr. Armstrong correctly understood how the Holy Spirit opens our minds to help us understand the Bible. Most Catholics and Protestants do not, and I do not think the leaders of Worldwide who made doctrinal changes after the death of Mr. Armstrong correctly understood this. They made the same mistake Catholics and Protestants make, but Mr. Armstrong did not make that mistake when he came into the truth and was learning new knowledge from the Bible.
I will use a simple illustration to show the difference between these two views of how the Holy Spirit helps us understand the Bible.
Let's say, the Bible says that 2 + 2 = 4. Satan deceives the world into thinking that 2 + 2 = 5. A Catholic or Protestant, who already believes or wants to believe that 2 + 2 = 5 will say, "the Holy Spirit is helping me understand that when the Bible says, '4', that is only a metaphor for '5', so the statement in the Bible that '2 + 2 = 4' really means '2 + 2 = 5'. So the Holy Spirit helps me understand the Bible, that 2 + 2 = 5. Without the Holy Spirit, I would think the Bible is saying '2 + 2 = 4' ". But Mr. Armstrong or a Church of God member who really believes the Bible will look at the Bible and see that it says '2 + 2 = 4', and will say, "I don't care what the rest of the world thinks, I can see with my own eyes that the Bible plainly says '2 + 2 = 4', and I believe the Bible." And in fact, it is the Holy Spirit that is helping Mr. Armstrong and members of the Church of God to see that the Bible really says, and really means, that 2 + 2 = 4.
Why do we need the Holy Spirit to help us understand something so plain? Because Satan deceives the world into thinking that 2 + 2 = 5, and there is a veil over the scriptures for the world (2 Corinthians 3:14-16), and God through the Holy Spirit helps us understand the Bible correctly.
So if the Bible says that 2 + 2 = 4, the Holy Spirit helps us understand that correctly, that the Bible really says and really means that 2 + 2 = 4. But Satan deceives the world into thinking that 2 + 2 = 5. And the religious people of this world, those who consider themselves Christian, think that the Holy Spirit is "interpreting" the Bible to mean something different from what it actually says. So they see the words in the Bible, that 2 + 2 = 4, but they think that the Holy Spirit is interpreting the words of the Bible for them so that it really means 2 + 2 = 5.
In other words, traditional, mainstream Christianity falls into the trap of thinking the Holy Spirit interprets the Bible for the church to mean things other than what the words of the Bible actually say in their normal, ordinary meaning.
So for example, "three days and three nights" does not mean "three days and three nights". It is coded language to mean something other than what it says. It really means, "a day and two nights". When God said, let there be light, and evening and morning were the first day, that is coded language that only the Holy Spirit can reveal to the Church to mean an indefinite period of time, maybe millions of years. I could go on and on. This is how traditional Christianity views the Bible. They are not willing to say, "We don't believe the Bible." They feel compelled to acknowledge that the Bible is God's word. But they are not willing to believe what it says. So they have to justify that somehow, even to themselves. So they choose to believe that the Holy Spirit must "interpret" the Bible for them to mean something different than the words of the Bible actually say. This enables them to disbelieve what the words of the Bible actually say while still claiming to respect and follow the Bible as the word of God.
So while Catholics and Protestants would agree with Mr. Armstrong and the Church of God that the Holy Spirit guides Christians to understand the Bible, the way they understand that and the way we understand that are as far apart as can be.
We understand, or should understand, that the Holy Spirit leads us to understand what the Bible really is saying, not something that is different from what the Bible really says.
Words mean something. You cannot just twist words any way you like, and be right. You cannot throw logic out the window.
The Holy Spirit does not guide us into doctrinal knowledge, or into spiritual principles taught by the Bible, apart from what the Bible actually says. The Holy Spirit does not contradict the Bible. The Holy Spirit does not contradict the plain words of the Bible. Rather, the Holy Spirit helps us correctly understand the plain words of the Bible, even in the face of Satan's influence to try to deceive us by twisting the meaning of the words of the Bible.
When I was growing up Catholic, I thought that for me to understand the Bible correctly, or to understand true religious doctrine, the Catholic Church had to "interpret" it for me. It was as if the plain words of the Bible didn't necessarily mean what they said. I don't know that I thought about it a lot, but to the extent I did there was a very simple background assumption in my mind, that only the Catholic Church could interpret the Bible rightly. I thought, God guided the pope, and the pope taught the rest of the Catholic Church, and the Catholic priests explained true doctrine to me. I think one person on the Internet put it this way: God gave us the Bible and He gave us the church (Catholic, or Orthodox) to interpret the Bible. The two must go together.
In other words, people who are deceived think that the Holy Spirit leads them apart from and contrary to what the words of the Bible actually say in their natural and normal meaning. They think the Holy Spirit leads them either individually or through their church leaders and traditions to change the meaning of the words of the Bible.
That is their error.
This error often works with another error in the way people think about the Holy Spirit.
We all have our opinions. We may think many things. But some people have a hard time knowing the difference between their opinions and God's Holy Spirit working in their minds. In other words, they believe their own reasoning, and they attribute that reasoning to the Holy Spirit. They think that the Holy Spirit is guiding their thoughts, ideas, and thinking, that God is putting their thoughts into their minds, and then they believe their own thoughts, ideas, and opinions because they think they are from God.
Rather they should check their own thinking against the Bible, and let the Bible correct them by what the Bible actually says, NOT by what thoughts pop into their heads as they read the Bible. "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world" (1 John 4:1-3). "Test all things; hold fast what is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21). "These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11).
This is why people of different religious denominations and groups can read the Bible and come up with wildly different opinions about what the Bible says. Each person reads his own opinion or tradition into the Bible, and then attributes his opinion or tradition to the Holy Spirit, thinking, "it is the Holy Spirit teaching me this". But it is not.
Mr. Armstrong had it right when he said that we must let the Bible interpret the Bible. We can do that by getting all the scriptures on the subject and letting clear scriptures interpret difficult ones. God's Holy Spirit is a Spirit of a sound mind, and it helps us reason about the scriptures accurately. "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7). God's Holy Spirit helps us separate in our minds our own opinions and what we want to believe from what the Bible actually says. Because we have human nature, our own minds try to deceive us, even as we read the Bible, to make the Bible say what we want it so say. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9). The Holy Spirit gives us the help that the world does not have, to see past our own biases and rationalizations, and to read the Bible accurately.
This is why having a Bible discussion with someone in the world who is not called but claims to believe the Bible goes nowhere. You can reason with him correctly about scripture, putting verses together correctly. But the other person isn't listening with an open mind, though he may seem to for a while. He has a built-in bias towards his traditions, and that bias is in control. He has a kind of faith in that tradition, and it would violate his own faith for him to admit the truth of what the Bible says. So he will use any argument, no matter how silly, to deny the truth of the Bible, and he will believe his own argument. He has to do this, because to do otherwise would be to deny his faith in his church, and he is not willing to do that. His whole world view, his personal identity as a "Christian", his confidence in his relationship with God, would collapse like a house of cards. That is more than most religious people can bear, if they are not called.
Yet it seems that members, or so-called members, of the Church of God also can sometimes fall into the trap of attributing their own opinions to the Holy Spirit when those opinions are contrary to the plain and ordinary meaning of the words of the Bible.
If you have an idea or opinion about doctrine or a decision you are making, don't assume that because you are in the Church of God that the Holy Spirit must be guiding your thoughts that lead you to your opinion. Test what you think against the Bible. Let the Bible correct you. Take the Bible for what it really says. Don't twist or "interpret" words, phrases, and sentences beyond their normal meaning. Get all the scriptures that relate to the matter, and let the clear and easy ones interpret the vague or difficult ones. If your thinking is right, the Bible will confirm it, and if you are wrong, the Bible will correct you, and if you are willing to believe and obey God, then God, over time, will help you understand the truth by the power of His Holy Spirit.
Here are links to posts in this blog related to this subject:
"Pentecost is Unique", dated June 7, 2011, link:
"Pentecost Should Remind Us to Be Thankful", dated June 9, 2011, link:
"Pentecost Helps Us Understand What the True Church Is", dated May 14, 2013, link:
"Pentecost Teaches Hierarchy", dated May 15, 2013, link:
"Lack of Controversy about Holy Spirit in New Testament Text - What That Tells Us", dated May 16, 2013, link:
"We Need the Holy Spirit to Overcome Our Sins", dated May 17, 2013, link:
"The Subject of Pentecost Is an Opportunity for Preaching the Gospel to the World", dated May 21, 2013, link:
Here are links to related chapters or sections in Preaching the Gospel:
Pentecost - the Gift of the Holy Spirit, Chapter 2
The Source of Our Beliefs, Chapter 6