Interpretation... what's the role of the Holy Spirit?

Discussion in 'Pneumatology' started by SIXDAYZ, Jan 31, 2008.

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    SIXDAYZ Puritan Board Freshman

    So... anyone who is not interpreting the Word of God like you (or Calvin) does not have the Holy Spirit leading them? Furthermore, any church that does not worship "perfectly" is heretical...??

    Am I missing something?

    I think maybe we have a misunderstanding of the Spirit's role... It's my understanding that the Holy Spirit He not responsible for interpreting these kind of secondary issues. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, righteousness, and judgment... and He is the Teacher who reminds us of what has been taught. But He does not interperate for us. That's our responsibility. If that were His responsibility, then the conclusion could be made that "we" are the only Christians... everybody else is lost.

    How else can two great men of God like Sproul and MacArthur have such different views on Baptism?

    Am I close? What do ya'll think?
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  2. Bygracealone

    Bygracealone Puritan Board Sophomore

    A few verses come to mind that may be helpful for this discussion:

    John 14:16-17 16 "And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another (1a)Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is (a)the Spirit of truth, (b)whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you.

    John 14:23-26 23 Jesus answered and said to him, (a)"If anyone loves Me, he will (b)keep My word; and (c)My Father will love him, and We (d)will come to him, and make Our abode with him. 24 "He who does not love Me (a)does not keep My words; and (b)the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me. 25 "These things I have spoken to you, while abiding with you. 26 "But the (a)Helper, the Holy Spirit, (b)whom the Father will send in My name, (c)He will teach you all things, and (d)bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

    John 15:26-27 26 "When the (1a)Helper comes, (b)whom I will send to you from the Father, that is (c)the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, (d)He will bear witness of Me, 27 1)and (a)you will bear witness also, because you have been with Me (b)from the beginning.

    John 16:13-15 13 "But when He, (a)the Spirit of truth, comes, He will (b)guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 "He shall (a)glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you. 15 a)"All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said, that He takes of Mine, and will disclose it to you.

    1 John 4:6 6 (a)We are from God; (b)he who knows God listens to us; (c)he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know (d)the spirit of truth and (e)the spirit of error.

    1 John 5:7 7 And it is (a)the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is the truth.
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  3. A5pointer

    A5pointer Puritan Board Sophomore

    I think we have to see the promises in John as being unique to the Apostles who would go on to be the foundation of the church. We can take our comfort in knowing that they were specially instructed by the H.S.
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  4. A5pointer

    A5pointer Puritan Board Sophomore

    As has been pointed out this is not our common experience. Christians come to different conclusions regarding interpretation and theology.
  5. Bygracealone

    Bygracealone Puritan Board Sophomore

    Amen Josh.

    Just like sanctification. The Holy Spirit is the One Who sanctifies us; our lack of sanctification is due to our sinfulness, not His lack of leading. Likewise, we cannot take credit for having a right interpretation of Scripture anymore than we can take credit for our sanctification. It's the gracious work of the Spirit that leads us to a correct understanding of His Word.

    We all struggle with sin. The Holy Spirit convicts all of us of our sin. For example, He tells us that it's wrong to covet. We all know this; we all affirm this to be true, yet we still commit this sin from time to time. Why? Well, it's certainly not because the Spirit wasn't clear on the matter...

    The reason there are disagreements among even godly men is because all of us still wrestle with sin. The reason there are factions and even different denominations is due to the fact that we live with the reality and consequences of sin. In Heaven, there will be One Body in part because there will be no sin.
  6. A5pointer

    A5pointer Puritan Board Sophomore

    Would you say that the 2 views of baptism are a result of sin in the interpreters? Should we think that for one side the Holy Spirit's efforts to teach are being thwarted by sin?
  7. Bygracealone

    Bygracealone Puritan Board Sophomore

    Well, I think you would agree that both positions cannot be correct, right? If a position is incorrect, it's only incorrect because it's not the correct teaching according to the Scriptures. So, I'll stick with what I said earlier; sin is the cause for the divisions in Christ's Church.
  8. A5pointer

    A5pointer Puritan Board Sophomore

    Just trying to clear up what you mean by "Failed interpretation is not due to to the Holy Spirit, but the hearts of men." in the context of this discussion about the role of the H.S. in interpretation.

    SIXDAYZ Puritan Board Freshman

    I think we are on to something... When we interpret scripture, we are working alongside the Holy Spirit (with His power). Like sanctification, some (according to God's hidden purposes) grow in grace much faster than others... some things have been "revealed" and some things have not. God is pleased to reveal truth at his leisure... If He chooses not to, then we are left to interpret according to our (still)fallen minds.

    The dangerous aspect is to "Lord it Over" weaker Christians who have not had the finer points of scripture revealed to them... That is the reason I really started this thread. I think we have to be extremely humble in our orthodoxy.

  10. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Puritan Board Junior

    In post 3 Bruce was correct when he noted this;

    Joshua, I think I am not in agreement with what you posted when you quoted a portion of Jn 16,you said-

    As Bruce had posted only the Apostles were promised to be "guided" into all truth, not [us]. The bible is all truth. The Holy Spirit illumines it to us as he wills.
    When the pastor posted all the verses in Jn 14,15, 16, these were unique promises to The apostles. The [ Us] in John's writing is the Apostles.
    He says the same thing in 1Jn. 4:1-6.
    I think carefully reading through these chapters does not give room for another interpretation. Because we have all that pertains to life and godliness in scripture, it does not mean that each one of us has infallible interpretation into all truth, unless we are Harold Camping:rolleyes: Do we agree on this?
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2008
  11. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Puritan Board Junior

    I was not trying to suggest that you were saying that directly.
    I was reacting to your quote where you put the [us] in the bracket.

    I do not believe the verse in John 16 means that each individual believer is guided into all truth, BUT WHEN YOU PUT THE [US] in the bracket, it seemed like that is what you were saying. Sorry if I missed your point.
    I live in an area where there are many claim to be "guided into all truth". So I have grown very sensitive to this verse being abused.
    Maybe I am not understanding how you used it? I was not saying anything about you personally. I was just trying to deal with the Jn 16 verse as it relates to this thread. I think Bruce in thread number 3 was right on it.
  12. AV1611

    AV1611 Puritan Board Senior


    SIXDAYZ Puritan Board Freshman

    Isn't there a huge problem when one man says... "the Holy Spirit has guided me to understand covenant baptism" while another says "the Holy Spirit has guided me to understand credal baptism"...

    Now we know both cannot be correct... But how should we deal with one another when talking about differing interpretations? How can we demonstrate humility, and at the same time, stand firm on our convictions?
  14. Bygracealone

    Bygracealone Puritan Board Sophomore

    Brothers, I included the passages from John to first show that the truth we have in God's Word is the truth as given by the Holy Spirit; I affirm that many of those promises are directly to the Apostles. That said, even as the Holy Spirit provided us with the truth of His Word, it is also true that He does in fact guide us in that truth; He is the one who illuminates. 1 John 4:6 affirms that if we belong to God, we will listen to what the Apostles wrote by the inspiration of the Spirit. The Spirit in us will bear witness to what He gave us in the Scriptures. I John 5:7 confirms this.

    I realize Charismatics distort the following passage, thinking they need no teacher other than the Holy Spirit. Eph. 4 and other passages answer that false notion. Nevertheless, consider what this passage does teach us with regard to the role of the Holy Spirit in interpretation of the Scriptures:

    1 John 2:20-27 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 24 Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that He has promised us -- eternal life. 26 These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. 27 But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.

    SIXDAYZ Puritan Board Freshman


    Don't you think the teaching John is referring to is concerning the Truth of Christ - namely that He is the Son of God who died for our sins? It's hard to think that he is referring to all things, right? Am I reading you wrong? If that were the case, wouldn't we (who have the Spirit) be of one accord in ALL things? Or is the remnant that small?
  16. Bygracealone

    Bygracealone Puritan Board Sophomore

    Good question Brother Matt.

    Remember Jesus Christ is THE Truth. All truth is grounded in Him, which includes the Truth of His Word in all areas; He is the Word of Truth. Yes, I believe John has the Gospel primarily in mind, but what he says must equally apply to all of God's truth.

    Perhaps another question will help: Why would God stop leading us once we come to the knowledge of the truth of the Gospel? Furthermore, remember, the Gospel extends beyond what we're taught in John 3:16. The Gospel is the whole message of the Bible. Jesus said that all Scripture speaks of Him (Luke 24:44--The Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms).

    As for your question about all of us being of one accord, I simply say that this is something that God is in fact doing. The Lord is working in His Church (ALL of His Church); He who began the good work in her will be faithful to complete it; He is sanctifying us individually and corporately with the goal of all of us attaining to the unity of the faith.

    Ephesians 4:11-16 11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head -- Christ -- 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

    Perhaps the Lord is even using this forum to help us attain to that unity. I know I've been encouraged by participating and learning from others...

    To answer the other question, I don't believe my denomination or denominations similar to mine are the only true churches or that we have sole ownership of the truth. Because all of us are sinners, we're all prone to err in our interpretation. But as has been said before, we're to blame for the error, not God. He has given us His Word and His Spirit and with these gifts we've been given all things necessary for faith and life. Until glorification, we will struggle in making proper use of His gifts, but even so, we press on...

    Philippians 3:12-21 12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind. 17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. 18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame -- who set their mind on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.
  17. A5pointer

    A5pointer Puritan Board Sophomore

    Agreed, the same as taught by Paul In 1 Corinthians Ch.2, the mind of Christ
  18. A5pointer

    A5pointer Puritan Board Sophomore

    Yikes another interpretive question, some would not agree that the writer of Hebrews had in mind the scriptures.
  19. A5pointer

    A5pointer Puritan Board Sophomore

    Sorry, didn't say that at all. The question is what did the writer of Hebrews have in mind when he referrs to "the word of God".

    SIXDAYZ Puritan Board Freshman

    Shepherd - you really know the scriptures. Very good...

    I think, as fallen creatures, we have a tendancy to want to systematize our theology, and have everything buttoned down - especially us reformers... but a proper dose of humility is required when we consider all things that are still a mystery to us. That, for sure, will be granted by the Spirit! :cool:
  21. Bygracealone

    Bygracealone Puritan Board Sophomore

    Brother Matt, thank you for your very kind words. May the Lord continue His work in each of us as we all study the Scriptures to attain to that unity of the faith in humility.

    Your servant in Christ our Lord,

  22. A5pointer

    A5pointer Puritan Board Sophomore

    Sorry, I have not exegeted the text. It seems that it could refer to the "voice" of God as referred to earlier in ch. 4 as well as in ch 3. In the ANE the spoken word was closely associated with deeds and power as well. "word" is used to convey more than speech, it encompasses the whole will/purpose of the speaker. I would suggest that whatever is meant it would be a mistake to see it as only the recorded "scriptures". I also have seen some take "word" as meaning Christ in the text.
  23. A5pointer

    A5pointer Puritan Board Sophomore

    I guess I am misunderstanding you. When you said,

    The point that I'm making is that Scripture is not merely some text of ink on paper. Rather, it is the living Word of God. It discerns thoughts. Jesus is the Word. One of the Holy Spirit's functions is to point to Christ. I'm just not really picking up how I've intimated anything other than a biblical understanding.

    I thought you were getting that from Hebrews 4. You seem to conclude that "scripture" discerns thoughts.
  24. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Puritan Board Junior

    I agree with what you typed in post 23. Unless the Holy Spirit opens the word to us, we will not understand it correctly. 1 Cor 2:9-15 is clear on this.
    The abuse of the passage I was speaking of is when someone takes a promise given specifically for the Apostles and takes it as if it was given directly to us individually.

    The Apostles were being spoken to directly in John 16;

    Then again in Jn 16;12-13 we read this;

    No christian that is here today was there with them to have this promise. The Apostles are given the faith "once for all" delivered to the saints.

    We are given some of this truth as we pray and study,yes. We are to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, as we look to the truth which was given to THEM.
    Jn 17:20
    Joshua, when we are guided into any divine truth that is the gift of the Spirit of God. We cannot welcome or receive truth apart from it being given to us from heaven jn.3:27. That being said, I would even agree that in a secondary sense we are guided into the truth in the normal pattern of studying. A "new insight" to us we later come to find out has been known by the church for hundreds of years. Think of a person who begins to understand election before he ever hears , or learns any of the theological terms, or before they see a confession of faith. However, not one of us individual believer's is promised to to guided into ALL Truth.

    I think we are totally agreed on this. It is just that I was stressing that the Apostles were foundational as Bruce posted in post 3. They were ordained for this very purpose mk3;14
    also in 1jn 1:1-5
    We are to try the spirits by the same apostolic word,
  25. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    WCF Chapter 1
    I found the question why MacArthur and Sproul would disagree on Baptism as if the Scriptures or the Spirit had many interpretations to be unintentionally funny. I can tell you the answer the R.C. Sproul would give:
    1. One of them is right.
    2. They're both wrong.
    What can't be true is:
    3. They're both right.

    As has been noted, humility is absolutely required and I know of no Godly man that believes the Scriptures that would disobey the Word of God itself and be haughty in his knowledge. I know of sinful men that do otherwise but have no warrant for it.

    As Josh noted, the Spirit illumines the Word. Natural man cannot discern spiritual Truth.

    I also disagree with the notion that systematizing the Scriptures somehow depreciates the Truth found therein. This would actually undermine this notion:
    Why? Because God is not the author of confusion. Systematizing is a way to "check your homework". Many people hold up completely erroneous notions that would be seen for what they are (error) if they would be both teachable and put their views through the rigor of putting two thoughts next to each other, against the Scriptures, and seeing if they hold water. This does not mean that human reason can solve all puzzles that God has left unresolved but there are even extremely plain things in the Scriptures that men deny because they are intellectually lazy and do not force themselves to go through this rigor.

    Truth is something that has to be pursued. Sloth is never acceptable nor is some neo-Pentecostal notion that the thoughts that fly into our mind are somehow more "spiritual" because we've never put any effort into them. Everything that God wrote is worth a tremendous amount of effort. All disunity in Truth is ultimately a result of sin (yours, mine, ours) and a good amount of the sin today is the sin of sloth.
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