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Tuesday
Jun042013

Theological Term of the Week

internal testimony of the Holy Spirit
A work of the Spirit that overcomes the noetic effects of sin and produces the belief that the Scriptures are the word of God;1 also called testimonium spiritus sancti internum (Latin).

  • From scripture:
  • My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27 ESV)

  • From Systematic Theology by Louis Berkhof:
  • The Testimony of the Holy Spirit is simply the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the sinner, by which he removes the blindness of sin, so that the erstwhile blind man, who had no eyes for the sublime character of the Word of God, now clearly sees and appreciates the marks of its divine nature, and receives immediate certainty respecting the divine origins of Scripture. Just as one who has an eye for the beauties of architecture, in gazing up into the dome of the St. Peter’s Church at Rome, at once recognizes it as the production of a great artist, so the believer in the study of Scripture discovers in it at once the earmarks of the divine. The redeemed soul beholds God as the author of Scripture and rests on its testimony with childlike faith, with a fides divina. It is exactly the characteristic mark of such faith that it rests on the testimony of God, while a fides humana merely rests on a human testimony of on rational arguments. Of course, rational arguments may be adduced for the divine origin of Scripture, but these are powerless to convince the unrenewed man. The Christian believes the Bible to be the very Word of God in the last analysis on the testimony which God Himself gives respecting this matter in His Word, and recognizes that Word as divine by means of the testimony of God in his heart. The testimony of the Holy Spirit is therefore, strictly speaking, not so much the final ground of faith, but rather the means of faith. The final ground of faith is Scripture only, or better still, the authority of God which is impressed upon the believer in the testimony of Scripture. The ground of faith is identical with its contents, and cannot be separated from it. But the testimony of the Holy Spirit is the moving cause of faith. We believe Scripture, not because of, but through the testimony of the Holy Spirit.
  • From Canon Revisited by Michael Kruger:
  • The reason some refuse to believe the Scriptures is not that there is any defect or lack of evidence in the Scriptures … but that those without the Spirit do not accept the things from God (1 Cor. 2:10-14)
    Jesus himself affirmed this reality when he declared, “My sheep [i.e., those with the Spirit] hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Likewise, he said of his sheep, “A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers” (John 10:5). Put simply, canonical books are received by those who have the Holy Spirit in them. When people’s eyes are opened, they are struck by the divine qualities of Scripture—its beauty, harmony, efficacy—and recognize and embrace Scripture for what it is, the word of God. They realize that the voice of Scripture is the voice of the Shepherd.
Learn more:
  1. Sam Storms: The Theology of John Calvin (see section B2,  Calvin on the Testimonium Internum Spiritus Sancti)

Related terms:

Filed under Scripture

1From Canon Revisited by Michael J. Kruger

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Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

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