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The notion of relying on God's guidance to walk the right path has ample support in Scripture. Jesus was in intimate connection with the Father and relied on His direct guidance at all times to carry out his ministry:

26 I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” 27 They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father. 28 So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. 29 And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” [John 8:26-29, ESV]

30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me [John 5:30, ESV]

Scripture also tells us that Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit, which comes from the Father:

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. [Luke 4:1-2, ESV]

Thanks to the influence and power of the Spirit on his life, Jesus was able to have exceptional insights and understanding of the Scriptures which baffled the scribes and Pharisees of that time, who could not understand how a carpenter's son could have acquired such wisdom (see Matthew 13:54-55).

Jesus set an example for all Christians to come. And the same principle is taught in other passages, such as:

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. [John 16:12-15, ESV]

12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” [Romans 8:12-14, ESV]

If we want to have an accurate understanding of the scriptures, there is no better teacher than the one who inspired it - the Holy Spirit. And there is no better example of how to live in this way than the life of Jesus, who relied on the Spirit of God for every thing he did, at all times. In light of these facts, are there any Christian groups/denominations that encourage their members to seek an intimate personal connection with the Spirit of God, to the point that they can receive revelatory wisdom about the scriptures, to be able to interpret the scriptures accurately and, thus, avoid the pitfalls of false doctrines and false teachings?


An interesting related question from BH.SE: What role does the Holy Spirit play in hermeneutics?

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  • 1
    I suggest this question actually needs some more focus. Some denominations expect the ministry, that is to say, vocationally called Ministers who teach others and preach the gospel, would receive special gifts in regard to the understanding of the scripture. They would not expect the entire congregation to have such gifts and such discernment.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 2 at 5:28
  • @NigelJ - is there such a thing as "the gift of understanding of the scripture"? At least I can't see it in 1 Cor 12. The gift of teaching surely exists, but that's a different matter. Jul 2 at 15:31
  • 2
    @NigelJ But such ministers from different denominations disagree. What to do then? Jul 2 at 16:46
  • 1
    Agree with @Matthew that Jesus knows Scripture because of his divine nature IS the Word, so this is not proof that we can do that too. This is also evident when he taught the disciples on the road to Emmaus. "Holy Spirit guides us into all truth" seems more into truths necessary to salvation, not a guarantee to provide the "missing link" of any verse's interpretation. Maybe gift of teaching for ministers have something, maybe not. +1 anyway, I'm curious what different mainstream denominations teach. Jul 2 at 20:59
  • 1
    To be fair, there was a certain amount of Trinitarian snark in that comment 🙂. Obviously, if Jesus is God, then He's clearly omniscient (er... if He chooses to be). Your phrasing suggests an assumption of Unitarianism... but we don't need to get into that. I chose to comment anyway because I found it interesting that there are verses directly implying omniscience, and I find the linked question also interesting. Thanks!
    – Matthew
    Jul 3 at 13:21
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Yes, this is a doctrine of tremendous importance to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Members of the church are regularly counseled to gain a personal witness through the Holy Ghost of the truthfulness of the doctrines taught in the scriptures and by church leaders.

Former church president Brigham Young taught:

I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are lead by him (see discussion of this quote and Harold B. Lee's paraphrase of it here)

What follows is a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints perspective.

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Moroni's promise

The church's missionaries ask those they teach to test for themselves the promise (already referenced in depperm's answer) recorded in the final chapter of the Book of Mormon:

4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

This passage indicates, among other things, that God will reveal truth by the Holy Ghost to those who seek in faith, with sincerity & real intent. In verse 4 a promise is made specifically with reference to the teachings of the Book of Mormon. Verse 5 expands the principle to point out that this is the means for accessing all truth. My own experience with this process is described in this video.

And from the manual used to train the church's missionaries:

This message of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ is either true or it is not. We can know that it is true by the power of the Holy Ghost, as promised in Moroni 10:3–5

Moroni and the church's modern-day missionaries are in layman's terms telling people "don't take our word for it, take God's word for it. You need not rely merely on our interpretation; God will tell you Himself."

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Multiple lines of communication

Apostle Dallin H. Oaks has taught:

Our Heavenly Father has given His children two lines of communication with Him—what we may call the personal line and the priesthood line. All should understand and be guided by both of these essential lines of communication (see here).

and

This personal line of communication with our Heavenly Father through His Holy Spirit is the source of our testimony of truth, of our knowledge, and of our personal guidance from a loving Heavenly Father. It is an essential feature of His marvelous gospel plan, which allows each one of His children to receive a personal witness of its truth. (ibid)

My own experience is that, when the personal & priesthood channels of revelation are faithfully used, they do not lead to contradictory answers.

The scriptures represent one facet of the "priesthood line"--they were revealed through people with authorization to speak in the name of God.

Thus, Latter-day Saints do not embrace the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.

We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. (Articles of Faith 1:9)

And as apostle Jeffrey R. Holland explained:

the scriptures are not the ultimate source of knowledge for Latter-day Saints. They are manifestations of the ultimate source. The ultimate source of knowledge and authority for a Latter-day Saint is the living God. (see here)

To paraphrase the statement made by (then) Elder Russell M. Nelson here:

[what] was given by revelation...is best understood by revelation

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Peter's confession

Matthew 16 records Peter's confession:

15 He saith unto them, But whom say aye that I am?

16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

This was before the Mount of Transfiguration. Peter knew who Jesus was by revelation from God. I recognize there are those who do not like what I will say next: the claim made by Latter-day Saints is that people today can know the truth about Jesus exactly the same way Peter did at this time.

We believe God speaks today as He did in the past, and He is just as willing to reveal truth to those who earnestly seek it today as He was 2,000 years ago.

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Why is it hard?

Like learning any language, learning the language of the Spirit requires consistency and tremendous effort. During Jesus' mortal ministry, He gave more knowledge to those who were willing to receive it, and to those who were not, most of His teachings were just curious anecdotes.

Doctrine & Covenants 82:3 teaches:

For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation. (see also parallel passage in Luke 12:47-48)

If God revealed a tremendous amount of information to somebody who wasn't ready to receive it, much less act on it, it would serve only to condemn the person--they would now be sinning against greater knowledge. So a merciful God reveals truth line upon line, precept upon precept, and very much expects the sincere heart & real intent described by Moroni.

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Conclusion

Do any Christian groups/denominations encourage their members to seek personal revelations from the Holy Spirit to accurately interpret Scripture?

Yes, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches its members--and asks its missionaries to teach those learning about the church--to seek personal revelation from the Holy Ghost to know that the scriptures are true, to understand what they mean, and to know how to apply them in their lives.

I am unaware of any other denomination that teaches something comparable to Moroni's promise (referenced above), but I welcome the opportunity to read perspectives on this topic from those of other faiths. I would find those perspectives more edifying than attacks from those who are distressed that I have presented beliefs held only by a few.

If we want to have an accurate understanding of the scriptures, there is no better teacher than the one who inspired it - the Holy Spirit.

I wholeheartedly agree.


Disclaimer: my comments are the product of my own study and do not represent official statements by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints encourage their members to seek intimate personal revelation. There are hundreds of scriptures and talks by church leaders on this topic so I will only offer a brief summary. President Harold B Lee taught:

I say that we need to teach our people to find their answers in the scriptures. ... And if we hear someone teaching something that is contrary to what is in the scriptures, each of us may know whether the things spoken are false—it is as simple as that. But the unfortunate thing is that so many of us are not reading the scriptures. We do not know what is in them, and therefore we speculate about the things that we ought to have found in the scriptures themselves. ...

The Lord has given us in the standard works the means by which we should measure truth and untruth. May we all heed his word: “Thou shalt take the things which thou hast received, which have been given unto thee in my scriptures for a law, to be my law to govern my church.” (D&C 42:59.)1

Elder Dallin H Oaks said

Paul reminded his young friend “that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation” through faith in our Savior (2 Tim. 3:15). Hold fast to the scriptures, whose teachings protect us against evil.2

One of the most shared scriptures is Moroni 10:3-5

3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.

4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

1 Find the Answers in the Scriptures

2 Be Not Deceived

See also Protecting Ourselves against the False Doctrines of the Last Days, Personal Revelation, and Search the Scriptures

all emphasis added by me

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