The Internal Witness of the Holy Spirit

Continuing on from ‘The Necessity of God’s Condescending Grace

It is in consonance with this approach that the Reformed Confessions assert that our final acceptance of the Scriptures as the Word of God rests upon the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit. All the indications of the divinity of Scripture would lose their effectiveness and would indeed accomplish the very opposite of what they are meant to accomplish if they were taken out of their relation of dependence upon the testimony of the Holy Spirit. These indications do, of course, objectively show the Scriptures to be the Word of God. The whole Bible in all respects shows itself objectively to be the Word of God. The majesty of its style, the harmony of its parts and other such things, all indicate the Scriptures to be the Word of God. Prophecies fulfilled and miracles performed, the works as well as the words of Christ, all that Scripture contains, shows its divinity. The record of these works and words of the Christ is ipso facto as a record identified by God as the Word of God. But the acceptance of both the Christ and his word, both the personal word and the spoken word, comes by virtue of one and the same act of submission and surrender. And this act of surrender and faith comes in consequence of the testimony of the Holy Spirit.

This testimony of the Holy Spirit is therefore not a new revelation of God that would in turn need a new testimony for its corroboration. Nor does it work apart from the objective evidence of the divinity of Scripture. It appeals to man as made in the image of God with full ability to see and understand the significance of his deeds. It speaks to this same man as the sinner with utter inability to understand spiritually and to respond obediently to the demands of the gospel. It speaks to him through the content of the Bible and only through the content of the Bible. It actually convinces the sinner and practically convicts him of sin and of judgment. It compels him to believe that which he knows he ought to believe but which because of the perverseness of his will and the darkness of his mind he otherwise cannot believe, namely, that the Bible is the Word of God and what it contains is the system of truth as given to man by God.

– Cornelius Van Til, A Christian Theory of Knowledge p.228-229

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