"Though the future is uncertain, Green writes, 'God is in control.' Hobby Lobby’s leaders 'are doing all they can to balance the need to keep the Company strong and the need of employees,' he writes, adding that 'we may all have to ‘tighten our belts’ over the near future.'" - Church Leaders
We have argued that Scripture-quality revelation has ceased with the completion of the New Testament canon.1 Moreover, we’ve attempted to demonstrate that New Testament prophecy and tongues are forms of Scripture-quality special revelation.2 Consequently, Christians should not expect the revelatory gifts of tongues and prophecy today. This is the essence of the cessationist argument. Before we conclude our study, however, I’d like to respond to four objections that are commonly raised against the cessationist position (see below). Then will examine two or three passages to which those who advocate for the continuation of revelatory gifts frequently appeal.
The Bible commands the church neither to despise the prophetic utterance nor to forbid speaking in tongues, which is a form of prophecy (1 Thess. 5:20; 1 Cor. 14:39). Does not the abiding validity of these commands assume that tongues and prophecy will be an ongoing practice in the church?
Much has been written on the topic of spiritual gifts by both cessationists and continuationists. Enter Spiritual Gifts: What They Are & Why They Matter, written by a continuationist turned “nuanced cessationist,” Thomas R. Schreiner. Schreiner is a leading New Testament scholar and the James Harrison Buchanan Professor of New Testament Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Although Schreiner is a New Testament scholar, he writes Spiritual Gifts for the person in the pew who desires to gain more insight into spiritual gifts without having to wade into the exegetical minutia of an in-depth, scholarly treatment of the topic.
Schreiner begins Spiritual Gifts by stating he writes the book not only to support “a kind of cessationism” but also to “sketch in a theology of spiritual gifts.”1 He acknowledges that the issue of cessationism can easily become polemical and divisive, but as is typical for Schreiner, he desires to approach this topic humbly and irenically. It is not surprising then that he dedicates the book to Wayne Grudem, John Piper, and Sam Storms—three notable continuationists.
From Paraklesis, a resource of Baptist Bible Seminary (Fall, 2012). Used by permission.
We might better ask the question, “Does the Holy Spirit have a role in interpretation?” If the Holy Spirit does have a role, what is that role?
The purpose of this article is to propose first that the role of the Holy Spirit in interpretation is not to enable the reader to grasp the meaning of a text. We will look briefly at certain verses which supposedly teach this to see whether they actually do teach this.
This article then proposes that a role of the Holy Spirit in interpretation is actually post-interpretation. The role of the Holy Spirit is to enable the reader to make a correct evaluation of the meaning of a text so that he can welcome or accept that meaning. The Holy Spirit also assures the reader of the truth of Scripture. A role of the Holy Spirit also may be to enable the reader to relate the meaning which comes from interpretation to his life. The article looks briefly at texts which seem to support these proposals and this suggestion.
The Holy Spirit does not enable the reader to discover the (author’s intended) meaning of a passage. He does not teach the reader the meaning of a text. The Holy Spirit does not help the reader to comprehend Scripture.
While the Holy Spirit has an incredible ministry directly to believers, that is certainly not His only role. Before the Spirit’s present ministry in the church, He also interacted with Christ in several profound ways. As we understand the relationship of Christ and the Spirit, and their relationship to the Father, we can be encouraged and strengthened, knowing that we also have a relationship with all Three, and that they are doing amazing things so that we can have life (Eph 1:3-14), and walk with Him (Jn 17:3).
The Holy Spirit bore witness to the fact that Christ was sent from the Father, and by so doing provided a testimony to Israel that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. Note the fourfold witness identified in John’s gospel: (1) John (Jn 5:33-35) was the forerunner prophesied by the Holy Spirit (Mal 3:1; Lk. 1:67-79), (2) Jesus’ works (Jn 5:36), many of which were accomplished in the power of the Holy Spirit, (3) the Father (Jn 5:37-38)—through His word, which is the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:17), and finally, (4) the Scriptures (Jn 5:39-47), which are the words and testimony of the Spirit (Is 59:21; Zech 4:6; Acts 21:11; 1 Tim 4:1; Heb 3:7; 9:8; 10:15; Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). His words were provided by method of inspiration—or God breathing (2 Tim 3:16), as He moved men to speak His word (2 Pet 1:20-21).
The theological term most commonly used by theologians to express the role of the Holy Spirit in biblical understanding is illumination. While the term isn’t directly used of the Holy Spirit, the concept is present, for example in John 1:5 and 1:9, “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it… the true Light which coming into the world, enlightens every man.” In this context Jesus is the Light, and His enlightening or illumining work is accomplished with everyone.
But if Christ illumines everyone, to what extent does the Holy Spirit illumine? Does the Bible even teach that the Holy Spirit illumines, or is illumination by the Holy Spirit a theological rather than exegetical concept?