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Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Inner Witness and Our Confidence in Scripture.

We have raised here before the seeming 'schizophrenic' approach taken by many within the Episcopalian (Anglican) Diocese toward the Inerrancy of Scripture. This is demonstrated in their high regard for the authority of the New Testament but a different rule (or devices) applied to parts of the Old Testament. Some, however, are not so inconsistent and are ready to jettison altogether the Reformed principle of Inerrancy of Scripture. Both failings have their root in the capitulation of the Diocesan theological seminary - Moore Theological College - to the world's view on Origins.

Undoubtedly, the Evil One has a hand in this by working on sin resident in man. That sin, once activated, rises up to contest the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit in regenerate man. The Holy Spirit, remember, is the promise of our Lord Jesus of much blessing and worth, including that of leading into all truth (John 16:13). Though that was the promise of our Lord to his disciples it follows that the Holy Spirit, dwelling in us today, will desire to teach us truth and not than error.

I was reminded of this when reading an article entitled "The Inner Witness and the Sufficiency of Scripture" by Richard C. Ross, former Minister of of Ackhill Baptist Church, Presteigne, Powys, Wales, published in Banner of Truth journal of November, 1981, parts of which I restate here:

"Submission to the Holy Scriptures as the inerrant word of God and the recognition of Scripture as the only rule for faith and conduct is the nucleus of personal Christian obedience (John 17.17). In order to recognize and confess the true character of Scripture we depend upon two distinct but related witnesses; the witness Scripture gives to itself and the inner witness of the Holy Spirit.

The inner witness or inner testimony of the Holy Spirit operates in two particular areas: 'It is an aid to faith, by producing conviction regarding the nature, worth and authority of Scripture; it is an aid to understanding by providing the illumination which enables one to seize the meaning of the text'
. [He here quotes from R. Pache in "The Inspiration and Authority of Scripture", 1969]

By the grace of God, the Spirit's inner witness, both as conviction and illumination, is the inheritance of every believer. But it is vulnerable to resistance and suppression. The believer has a considerable capacity for inconsistency. Every individual sin is an expression of the believer's inconsistency with the new nature he has received, an inconsistency which plagues him throughout his life. That this inconsistency may find expression in relation to a confession of the inerrancy and authority of Scripture, while deplorable, is not incredible. The divinity, reliability and sufficiency of Scripture have been targets for singularly intense attacks and, as every believer is liable to a greater or lesser degree to be put off balance by prevailing opinions, it is conceivable that the Spirit's gentle witness may be ignored or even smothered. For this reason it is wise to be wary of precipitately concluding that all who fail to respond with consistency to the claims of Scripture are, for that reason, unregenerate. A failure to bear witness to the absolute authority of Scripture does not, in itself, prove apostasy. It is however our duty to warn men that this sinful inconsistency and insensitivity has the strongest tendency to lead towards a total apostasy. The possibility of resisting the Spirit's inner witness ought therefore to make us more vigilant that we ourselves may avoid this particular sin."

We ought take on board Ross' counsel as we wrestle with past and present faculty and students of Moore Theological College on their, at times, disregard for for the inerrancy of Scripture. As we all, at times, succumb to sin in some way or another we should be mindful to be firm but not destructive in our dealings with sin in others on the matter of regard for the Word of God.

Sam Drucker


Farel said...

The inner witness is the spirit bearing witness with our spirits Rom.8:16 cf to 1John.4:13 etc. While confusion and conflict may shake the believer from the remnants of sin within, the power of the heavenly life sustained by the eternal indwelling Spirit of Christ will hold them to a heart-felt acknowledgement of the truth that "Pr 30:5 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him."
"The authority of Scripture is a key issue for the Christian church in this and every age. Those who profess faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are called to show the reality of their discipleship by humbly and faithfully obeying God's written Word. To stray from Scripture in faith or conduct is disloyalty to our Master. Recognition of the total truth and trustworthiness of Holy Scripture is essential to a full grasp and adequate confession of its authority."

The Chicago Statement Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.pdf

sam drucker said...

Thanks Farel.

We may have an erroneous view of Scripture but when the error is persistently pointed out to us then we are without excuse.

Sam Drucker