The testimony of the Spirit Romans 8:16 in relation to special revelation.

Discussion in 'The Confession of Faith' started by Zewski, Mar 22, 2018.

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  1. Zewski

    Zewski Puritan Board Freshman

    Hello all, before I ask my question I will give a bit of background information. I come from a Charismatic background. I am a Cessationist now, but I still have lingering questions brought about by the traditions which were taught to me.
    I have a question which was spurned by this thread:

    I found this conversation fascinating and gained many insights into my understanding of assurance. However, my question is this: what is the testimony of the Spirit to our spirits described in Romans 8:16 if it is not special revelation? If it is in fact the very voice of God speaking to our spirits, how is it not revelation? I have thought through this issue a bit already and may have an answer for myself. I will present it here and you can critique/help me understand the issue better.
    Here are my thoughts: When the Scriptures are opened and the unconverted hear the law and the gospel preached, along with this--if they become regenerate--the Holy Spirit is speaking to them the very words of Scripture, telling them that they must repent and believe. Therefore, when the Holy Spirit regenerates someone and persuades them, He is not speaking to them new revelation, but it applying the already written revelation in a new way, just as Christ's continual intercession for us in the heavens described in the book of Hebrews is not a new sacrifice, but is a continual application of the one sacrifice already made. Likewise, when the Holy Spirit inwardly testifies to our spirits as described in Romans 8:16, this is an inward and continual application of the written words of Scripture which say "he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will," (Eph. 1:5) etc.
    Thanks for your thoughts.
  2. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    You seem to be on a good track to understanding. We often use a term like "illumination" to distinguish the encouraging work of the resident Holy Spirit from his inspirational work of revelation.

    Perhaps a good question would be: "How does the Spirit speak to my spirit?"

    Here's how the Westminster Confession puts it: 1st ch., 5th para.
    V. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture.10 And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man's salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it does abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.11

    11 1Jn.2:20 But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. 27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
    Jn.16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
    1Cor.2:10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
    Is.59:21 As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever.​

    So, what exactly is that "testimony" that is so comforting to your spirit? Is it not that "Word of Christ" dwelling richly in you (Col.3:16)? The conviction that this is a hopeful word to and for you--and not just a bare witness of God's position toward some group object/abstraction known as his "elect" or his "church--is not from any other source than God himself.
  3. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    The Holy Spirit grants to the saved His work to illuminate to us the scriptures, to allow us to understand what they mean and how to apply them to our daily lives. He is working through the already revealed written revelation of the Bible, but not giving to us any additional revelation now outside of what has already been established.
  4. Zewski

    Zewski Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you, this is very helpful. So--as I understand it--going along also with that discussion on assurance: the testimony of the Spirit to our spirits is that infallible application of the written word, "dwelling in us richly," which as you said "is not from any other source than God himself."
  5. Zewski

    Zewski Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you for that reminder. I've usually thought of illumination as the Holy Spirit simply helping us to initially understand and to continually grow in understanding His word. I'm now also seeing that He illumines the inward reality of our salvation by the word as well. Another thought I had was that if the written word itself was not sufficient revelation to be applied in this way, then the purpose for which John wrote his first letter--that we may know that we have eternal life (5:13)--would not be efficacious.
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