In John 7, John the Apostle writes about how Jesus secretly went up to Jerusalem to attend the Feast of Booths (a very happy feast in Jewish tradition, which is actually still practiced today). The Jews looked for Him but did not find Him, because He traveled there privately. In the middle of the feast, John records, Jesus walked up into the temple and began teaching. The Jews were amazed at how He taught, and asked each other how Jesus learned what He spoke of, if He was never taught. Jesus answered them:
“My teaching is not Mine, but his who sent Me. If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on My own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood” (John 7:16-18 ESV).
While this is undoubtedly telling about the identity of Jesus as the Son of God, it is also encouraging to us as believers. Jesus had the Holy Spirit – the same One we have – and spoke confidently and authoritatively. Some of His teachings were new to the ears of the Jews, but biblical scholars since the time of Jesus have keenly noticed that many of the truths Jesus spoke were not actually new; they could be found all throughout the Old Testament. For example, the Sabbath being made for man, and not man for the Sabbath – Exodus 23:12 talks about how the Sabbath should be observed so that all may refresh themselves.
Since we as believers also have this same Holy Spirit who lives in us, just as He dwelled within Jesus during His time on Earth, we too have the ability to preach truths we may not have even learned. This is called illumination, where an idea is clarified for a Christian as they speak or live in step with the Spirit.
The test for these ideas is always twofold: firstly, it must be realized and told from the position of the Christian seeking the glory of God and not himself; and secondly, it must coincide with the rest of Scripture.
What I am not saying is that Christians have the same teaching authority as the Son of God Himself, but I am saying that Christians have access to the same source of authority. The Holy Spirit as an intercessor who dwells within us and who enlightens us to ideas or situations or spiritual concepts is amazing, and should not be viewed lightly.
I myself have been in multiple situations where I have been speaking with someone with the earnest desire for them to know God as He is, and words and ideas leave my mouth that teach even myself about who God is. In those situations, both parties go away encouraged – the hearer for hearing the truth, and the speaker for being used to speak the truth.
Therefore, seek to do God’s will. Endeavor to bring glory to God. Listen to the Holy Spirit to test others who speak. And know that the power of God lives in you, and God wants to use you to accomplish His glorious plan.