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The Assurance of the Spirit

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  • The Assurance of the Spirit

    I'm starting this thread in reply to something Nick said in another thread about the Holy Spirit. Nick's view on this subject isn't a surprise to me since he's mentioned it before, but I thought maybe we could all discuss it a bit.

    This is what I'd like to talk about:

    Originally posted by Apologiaphoenix View Post
    First off, with regard to the Holy Spirit, I do not argue that I believe in Christianity because of the conviction of the Holy Spirit or the assurance of the Spirit. I don't think that's the role of the Spirit and I don't see anything in Scripture indicating that. I think Scripture is to convict us on sin when we know the wrong that we have done
    So, I think this can be found in scripture, and some good places to start are probably:

    1 John 3:23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

    1 John 4:13-16 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

    Romans 8:15-17 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God
    Last edited by Adrift; 07-29-2015, 09:28 PM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Adrift View Post
    I'm starting this thread in reply to something Nick said in another thread about the Holy Spirit. Nick's view on this subject isn't a surprise to me since he's mentioned it before, but I thought maybe we could all discuss it a bit.

    This is what I'd like to talk about:



    So, I think this can be found in scripture, and some good places to start are probably:

    1 John 3:23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

    1 John 4:13-16 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

    Romans 8:15-17 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God
    I'm confused. The scriptures you posted seem to be talking about the Spirit assuring believers of their status as people belonging to God--assurance of salvation, basically. The viewpoint that Nick says he doesn't believe seems to be that the Spirit has the role of convicting people to believe in Christianity/assuring them that Christianity is true.
    Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.--Isaiah 1:17

    I don't think that all forms o[f] slavery are inherently immoral.--seer

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by fm93 View Post
      I'm confused. The scriptures you posted seem to be talking about the Spirit assuring believers of their status as people belonging to God--assurance of salvation, basically. The viewpoint that Nick says he doesn't believe seems to be that the Spirit has the role of convicting people to believe in Christianity/assuring them that Christianity is true.
      Hmm. If the Holy Spirit assures a person that they belong to God through Christ, wouldn't that also warrant that Christianity is true? Nick's post seemed to be at least partially in response to CP's post here, and Nick also linked to his disagreement with William Lane Craig on the matter of the internal witness of the Holy Spirit (as an argument for the truth of Christianity) here.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Adrift View Post
        Hmm. If the Holy Spirit assures a person that they belong to God through Christ, wouldn't that also warrant that Christianity is true? Nick's post seemed to be at least partially in response to CP's post here, and Nick also linked to his disagreement with William Lane Craig on the matter of the internal witness of the Holy Spirit (as an argument for the truth of Christianity) here.
        To me, it seems that one involves providing assurance to a person who's already convinced that Christianity is true, while the other involves strengthening someone who basically believes but still has some intellectual doubts.
        Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.--Isaiah 1:17

        I don't think that all forms o[f] slavery are inherently immoral.--seer

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by fm93 View Post
          To me, it seems that one involves providing assurance to a person who's already convinced that Christianity is true, while the other involves strengthening someone who basically believes but still has some intellectual doubts.
          I don't really follow your distinction. At anyrate, this isn't some new argument. As mentioned previously, apologists like William Lane Craig refer to it as a secondary type of "warrant",

          He puts it this way,



          J.P. Moreland devotes a section to this in Scaling the Secular City called "Religious Experience". He calls it the Direct-Perception Argument. Here's a snippet from his book,

          Source: Scaling the Secular City: A Defense of Christianity by J. P. Moreland

          Suppose that there was a table before you and you could see the table. Now suppose that someone asked you how you really knew that the table was there. It may be, he could point out, that an evil spirit is causing you to suppose that you see a table, or perhaps there are some undetected mirrors in front of you which are projecting a picture of a table before you which you merely take to be a table. What could you say?

          You could point out weaknesses in the other hypotheses and argue that the most reasonable explanation for your sensations is the fact that a real table exists and causes your sensations. On the other hand you could simply point out that you see the table directly. In this latter view, the theory of perception it expresses is called perceptual realism, the view that the immediate objects of my perceptual experiences are things in the world--normal material objects. Perceptual realism contrasts with a second theory of perception called the sense-data theory or representative dualism. This view was embraced by Rene Descartes, Locke, Berkeley and David Hume. Representative dualism holds that the immediate objects of my perceptual experiences are my sense impressions of things in the world, not those things themselves. I infer the existence of mind-independent material objects as the cause of my sense impressions, but I do not directly see those objects. I directly see my sense impressions in my mind.

          The argument from religious experience from direct perception claims that, occasionally, God himself is directly perceived or apprehended by a nonsensory form of seeing. In such cases one directly experiences God himself. As Job 42:5-6 states, "My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes" (NIV). This sort of argument seeks to show that there is a close analogy between the religious form of perception in numinous experiences and the sensory form of perception in visual experience, and since we know the latter to be cognitive and (usually) veridical, there is justification for taking the former to be cognitive and (usually) veridical.

          The case for the causal form of the argument from religious experience rests on showing that the God hypothesis is a better causal explanation than any other reasonable hypothesis. The case for the direct-perception form of the argument from religious experience rests on showing that there is a close analogy between visual, sensory perception and mystical numinous perception.

          © Copyright Original Source



          Gary Habermas covers this topic at length in his book The Risen Jesus & Future Hope in the chapter The Testimony of the Holy Spirit and Evidence. First he points out that,

          Source: The Risen Jesus & Future Hope by Gary Habermas

          We need to recognise that the Holy Spirit's witness cannot be proven. Neither can it prove the Bible or Christian Theism to be true.

          © Copyright Original Source



          However, he asserts that just because the Holy Spirit cannot be demonstrated does not render it valueless for personal assurance or in apologetics,

          Source: The Risen Jesus & Future Hope by Gary Habermas

          Ramm asserts that there is also an objective component involved in the testimony of the Holy Spirit. It is shared by all believers, hence it can be reported as a common phenomenon among them, even though not all believers necessarily experience it in the same manner. Also, the content on which this testimony is based, namely the facts of the Gospel message, are highly evidenced. Still, we should not mistakenly assume that these considerations make the witness an objective concept.

          R.C. Sproul agrees that there is a harmony between the witness of the Holy Spirit and various evidences for Christian theism. "There is an inseparable relationship between testimonium and objective evidence... The Spirit causes us to submit or yield to the evidence. Our yielding is a subjective act to an objective basis of evidence.

          We might look from another angle at the relation between the witness of the Holy Spirit and apologetics. If the truth of Scripture can be confirmed by classical or other evidences, it may be argued that Jesus', Paul's and John's teachings on the subject of the witness of the Holy Spirit are thereby given an even more substantial basis. While this witness is not objectively proven, it is a reported experience of many believers; and it is firmly secured to a solid foundation.

          . . .

          Roderick Chisholm has argued that one's personal, experiential claims as long as they are unopposed by conflicting evidence, ought to be considered to be trustworthy. Similarly, Richard Swinburne refers to the "principle of credulity," according to which one's own experience constitutes evidence for a belief unless there is contrary data which disprove it.

          While the witness of the Holy Spirit cannot be dismissed as some credulous belief, we have also said that it cannot be objectively proven. So it is not being suggested that it be included as an apologetic for Scripture or for Christian Theism as a whole. The skeptic is not being asked to view it in an evidential context.

          We have developed the position that it is a personal indication from God to the believer that he or she has, indeed, experienced salvation and adoption. Although not objectively verifiable, the witness of the Holy Spirit still functions in its proper realm, serving the individual by providing the certainty of their own belief. It is therefore valuable in solving certain sorts of doubts, as well as contributing an assurance concerning the truthfulness of the Gospel message. Why ought the Christian not view his or her own experience in this way, especially when it is shared by other believers and as well being based on a firm foundation?

          © Copyright Original Source

          Last edited by Adrift; 07-30-2015, 08:26 AM.

          Comment


          • #6
            I do realize a lot of great minds say otherwise and frankly, Habermas and I disagree on a number of points and we've shared them in discussion. I still agree with FM and personally, I think it can set a dangerous precedent when so many of us are experience oriented and one Christian wonders "Why do I never have this experience and everyone else does?" I've heard similar tales far too many times and many times, I've seen them end in apostasy.

            I'm just going by what I see in Scripture. I see conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit in Scripture. I do not see Him telling us Christianity is true.

            Comment


            • #7
              I think I was just referring to the grace of God affecting one's openness to the Gospel. Or something. I don't know for sure; there's much that I will not know untill meeting Jesus. And then asking Him! But we can't do that yet.
              If it weren't for the Resurrection of Jesus, we'd all be in DEEP TROUBLE!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Apologiaphoenix View Post
                I do realize a lot of great minds say otherwise and frankly, Habermas and I disagree on a number of points and we've shared them in discussion. I still agree with FM and personally, I think it can set a dangerous precedent when so many of us are experience oriented and one Christian wonders "Why do I never have this experience and everyone else does?" I've heard similar tales far too many times and many times, I've seen them end in apostasy.

                I'm just going by what I see in Scripture. I see conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit in Scripture. I do not see Him telling us Christianity is true.
                The whole "experience oriented" is pretty suspicious to me. I have had my experiences but my faith does not come from them. If you demand some sort of experience I have doubts about your salvation. You must be convinced of the Truth, but that does not mean some mystical experience. The assurance of the Spirit is not what brings you to salvation (which is what I thought your comment was saying) it is the guarantee or "down payment."
                Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Jedidiah View Post
                  The whole "experience oriented" is pretty suspicious to me. I have had my experiences but my faith does not come from them. If you demand some sort of experience I have doubts about your salvation. You must be convinced of the Truth, but that does not mean some mystical experience. The assurance of the Spirit is not what brings you to salvation (which is what I thought your comment was saying) it is the guarantee or "down payment."
                  William Lane Craig, J.P. Moreland, and Gary Habermas are not at all suggesting that one's faith comes from experience oriented assurance. Neither are they demanding some sort of experience to prove salvation. And they are absolutely not suggesting that assurance of the Spirit is what brings one to salvation. These are all (probably unintentional) strawmen to the position they take on the subject.

                  At the very most what they're suggesting is that, in line with scripture's clear teaching on the subject, along with the historical evidence (and other deductive/inductive reasons) for knowledge of the truth of Christianity, one can also (and with some certainty) rely on the witness of the Spirit to warrant their belief in the claims of Christianity.

                  Just to be clear, this is no Mormon - Burning in the Bosom sort of feeling. Habermas points out,

                  Source: The Risen Jesus & Future Hope by Gary Habermas

                  Some Christians might wonder why they have not felt such a witness at all? Why have they not noticed this before? If the chief focus here concerns the feelings, we should not be surprised if it goes unnoticed. While the Holy Spirit's testimony can certainly affect one's feelings, and frequently does so, the witness is not an emotion at all, so we should never look for it there. I have said that this is an area where individual personality variances may well account for the differences. Besides, emotions often seem to disappear when placed under a microscope. So we should not pace ourselves by either the presence or the absence of feelings.

                  Further, there can be many hindrances to realizing that the witness is present in our lives. The work of the Holy Spirit can be stifled or restrained (Eph. 4:30; 1 Thess. 5:19). While sin can more obviously suppress the recognition of God's presence, so can the simple denial of the New Testament's teaching on the subject of the witness. For example, if one rejects the biblical reports of the Holy Spirit's testimony, how can it then be surprising that one does not appear to experience it?

                  Religious doubt can also develop into a vicious circle. Tough questions or the lack of assurance may lead a Christian to look suspiciously at the Holy Spirit's testimony, perhaps because it is not objectively known. But then this very suspicion can itself keep one from recognizing the presence of this witness, which may be the single item that is most needed to quell these questions. The Holy Spirit's testimony could be there all the time! A subtle denial of this teaching can thus effectively cut off the assurance that the Holy Spirit could have provided. So there are several possible reasons that believers may not be able to identify the Holy Spirit's witness in their own life. Sin, the subtle or blatant denial of the testimony, or simply a misidentification of its nature are probably the chief obstacles.

                  Thankfully, these barriers can be removed. Ramm states it this way: "The remedy consists in the restoration of spiritual vision and sight, of the opening of ears and eyes resulting in an intuition of the truth of God."

                  Personal questions should not keep the Christian from recognizing a crucial truth: Scripture does, in fact, teach the witness of the Holy Spirit. One's inability to recognize it is insufficient to deny its reality.

                  © Copyright Original Source



                  Elsewhere, Habermas talks about his own questioning of the testimony of the Spirit,

                  Source: The Personal Testimony of the Holy Spirit to the Believer and Christian Apologetics

                  For years I questioned the nature of this testimony, chiefly because I could not prove it. In so doing, I failed to identify the Holy Spirit's witness; it was there all the time! This subtle denial of its rightful, biblical place in my life effectively cut off the assurance the Holy Spirit could have provided.

                  © Copyright Original Source




                  New Testament scholar Colin G. Kruse breaks down this witness in Romans 8:16 in the following way.

                  Source: Paul's Letter to the Romans by Colin G. Kruse

                  The apostle further explains what it means to receive the Spirit of adoption when he says: The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. The verb translated 'testifies' is found only three times in the NT, and every case in Romans (in 2:15, 8:16, and 9:1). While it might be argued etymologically that this verb (symmartyreo) means 'to bear witness with, or alongside of', the way Paul uses it elsewhere suggests that it should be construed more generally to mean simply 'to conform' or 'bear witness', as the following quotations (where the relevant verbs are in italics) show: In 2:15 Paul writes, "They [Gentiles] show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them, and at other times even defending them'. Here the consciences of the Gentiles bear witness, confirming 'the effects of the law' in their hearts. In 9:1 Paul says, 'I speak the truth in Christ -- I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit'. In this case Paul's conscience confirms to him that he is speaking the truth in Christ. Here in 8:16 where Paul says, 'the Spirit himself testifies with/to our spirit that we are God's children', he is affirming that the Holy Spirit bears witness to the spirit of believers, confirming that they are children of God. This is better than saying that the Spirit bears witness alongside [the witness of] our own spirits that we are children of God.

                  © Copyright Original Source

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Adrift View Post
                    Hmm. If the Holy Spirit assures a person that they belong to God through Christ, wouldn't that also warrant that Christianity is true? Nick's post seemed to be at least partially in response to CP's post here, and Nick also linked to his disagreement with William Lane Craig on the matter of the internal witness of the Holy Spirit (as an argument for the truth of Christianity) here.
                    Yeah, and I certainly wasn't arguing 'against' apologetics. I just think the Holy Spirit needs to be involved in the process.

                    I have been reluctant to post here, because I don't want to get into a fight, but I'm one of those pesky old fashioned soul winners.

                    I have long believed that if somebody can be "argued into" the Kingdom, they can be "argued out".

                    It almost seems to me that people can put too much stock in "arguing" (apologetics), because it seems to put more emphasis on the ability of man to 'argue somebody into the Kingdom'. I have seen some pretty ignorant Christians share their faith in Christ, and win people to Jesus, and the "fruit remains". I believe it's the Holy Spirit at work doing this, and we praise God for it.

                    I'll stop there and wait for response, if any.

                    EDIT: This was a pretty clumsy first response, but I'll let it go at that, and recall the words of the Lord to Zerubbabel: 'Not by strength or by might, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of Hosts'.
                    Last edited by Cow Poke; 07-31-2015, 10:05 AM.
                    The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
                      Yeah, and I certainly wasn't arguing 'against' apologetics. I just think the Holy Spirit needs to be involved in the process.

                      I have been reluctant to post here, because I don't want to get into a fight, but I'm one of those pesky old fashioned soul winners.

                      I have long believed that if somebody can be "argued into" the Kingdom, they can be "argued out".

                      It almost seems to me that people can put too much stock in "arguing" (apologetics), because it seems to put more emphasis on the ability of man to 'argue somebody into the Kingdom'. I have seen some pretty ignorant Christians share their faith in Christ, and win people to Jesus, and the "fruit remains". I believe it's the Holy Spirit at work doing this, and we praise God for it.

                      I'll stop there and wait for response, if any.
                      I'm generally very much for apologetics.

                      I do definitely think however, that the witness of the Spirit can keep a person in the faith, absent any external evidence.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        And yet another question to eventually ask Jesus about.
                        If it weren't for the Resurrection of Jesus, we'd all be in DEEP TROUBLE!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I think the thing about being argued into the Kingdom works both ways. If you want to say you can be argued out, then we could just as well say someone can be loved into the Kingdom and loved out of it as well. There can be very loving people outside of Christianity. While I think we need to realize the role of the Holy Spirit, we have no control over that aspect. My thinking is we simply do the part we have been instructed to do and trust God to do what He has said He will do. There's a quote I understand to be attributed to Saint Augustine that says to pray as if everything depended on God. Work as if it all depended on you.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Adrift View Post
                            William Lane Craig, J.P. Moreland, and Gary Habermas are not at all suggesting that one's faith comes from experience oriented assurance. Neither are they demanding some sort of experience to prove salvation. And they are absolutely not suggesting that assurance of the Spirit is what brings one to salvation. These are all (probably unintentional) strawmen to the position they take on the subject.

                            At the very most what they're suggesting is that, in line with scripture's clear teaching on the subject, along with the historical evidence (and other deductive/inductive reasons) for knowledge of the truth of Christianity, one can also (and with some certainty) rely on the witness of the Spirit to warrant their belief in the claims of Christianity.

                            Just to be clear, this is no Mormon - Burning in the Bosom sort of feeling. Habermas points out,

                            Source: The Risen Jesus & Future Hope by Gary Habermas

                            Some Christians might wonder why they have not felt such a witness at all? Why have they not noticed this before? If the chief focus here concerns the feelings, we should not be surprised if it goes unnoticed. While the Holy Spirit's testimony can certainly affect one's feelings, and frequently does so, the witness is not an emotion at all, so we should never look for it there. I have said that this is an area where individual personality variances may well account for the differences. Besides, emotions often seem to disappear when placed under a microscope. So we should not pace ourselves by either the presence or the absence of feelings.

                            Further, there can be many hindrances to realizing that the witness is present in our lives. The work of the Holy Spirit can be stifled or restrained (Eph. 4:30; 1 Thess. 5:19). While sin can more obviously suppress the recognition of God's presence, so can the simple denial of the New Testament's teaching on the subject of the witness. For example, if one rejects the biblical reports of the Holy Spirit's testimony, how can it then be surprising that one does not appear to experience it?

                            Religious doubt can also develop into a vicious circle. Tough questions or the lack of assurance may lead a Christian to look suspiciously at the Holy Spirit's testimony, perhaps because it is not objectively known. But then this very suspicion can itself keep one from recognizing the presence of this witness, which may be the single item that is most needed to quell these questions. The Holy Spirit's testimony could be there all the time! A subtle denial of this teaching can thus effectively cut off the assurance that the Holy Spirit could have provided. So there are several possible reasons that believers may not be able to identify the Holy Spirit's witness in their own life. Sin, the subtle or blatant denial of the testimony, or simply a misidentification of its nature are probably the chief obstacles.

                            Thankfully, these barriers can be removed. Ramm states it this way: "The remedy consists in the restoration of spiritual vision and sight, of the opening of ears and eyes resulting in an intuition of the truth of God."

                            Personal questions should not keep the Christian from recognizing a crucial truth: Scripture does, in fact, teach the witness of the Holy Spirit. One's inability to recognize it is insufficient to deny its reality.

                            © Copyright Original Source



                            Elsewhere, Habermas talks about his own questioning of the testimony of the Spirit,

                            Source: The Personal Testimony of the Holy Spirit to the Believer and Christian Apologetics

                            For years I questioned the nature of this testimony, chiefly because I could not prove it. In so doing, I failed to identify the Holy Spirit's witness; it was there all the time! This subtle denial of its rightful, biblical place in my life effectively cut off the assurance the Holy Spirit could have provided.

                            © Copyright Original Source




                            New Testament scholar Colin G. Kruse breaks down this witness in Romans 8:16 in the following way.

                            Source: Paul's Letter to the Romans by Colin G. Kruse

                            The apostle further explains what it means to receive the Spirit of adoption when he says: The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. The verb translated 'testifies' is found only three times in the NT, and every case in Romans (in 2:15, 8:16, and 9:1). While it might be argued etymologically that this verb (symmartyreo) means 'to bear witness with, or alongside of', the way Paul uses it elsewhere suggests that it should be construed more generally to mean simply 'to conform' or 'bear witness', as the following quotations (where the relevant verbs are in italics) show: In 2:15 Paul writes, "They [Gentiles] show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them, and at other times even defending them'. Here the consciences of the Gentiles bear witness, confirming 'the effects of the law' in their hearts. In 9:1 Paul says, 'I speak the truth in Christ -- I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit'. In this case Paul's conscience confirms to him that he is speaking the truth in Christ. Here in 8:16 where Paul says, 'the Spirit himself testifies with/to our spirit that we are God's children', he is affirming that the Holy Spirit bears witness to the spirit of believers, confirming that they are children of God. This is better than saying that the Spirit bears witness alongside [the witness of] our own spirits that we are children of God.

                            © Copyright Original Source

                            After all that, I'm afraid I'm still uncertain about what he means. If the witness of the Spirit is not a feeling/emotion that one experiences, and it's presumably not an audible voice that one hears in one's mind, what exactly is it?
                            Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.--Isaiah 1:17

                            I don't think that all forms o[f] slavery are inherently immoral.--seer

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by fm93 View Post
                              After all that, I'm afraid I'm still uncertain about what he means. If the witness of the Spirit is not a feeling/emotion that one experiences, and it's presumably not an audible voice that one hears in one's mind, what exactly is it?
                              Like I said, Colin G. Kruse breaks it down pretty well. Basically something like a divine, conscience-based confirmation.

                              Comment

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