The Spirit’s Witness

This originally appeared as an email delivered on
Saturday, March 23rd, 2024.

“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” – Romans 8:16

Three waves of Pentecostal Charismaticism, with a fourth cresting, have flooded the church doing great damage to Biblical interpretation. One of the most detrimental effects is the mystical interpretation of the witness of the Spirit.

Whenever the word Spirit shows up in Scripture, the gut reaction of the modern Christian is to put down the Bible, tilt their head back, and wait for a mystical experience from the Spirit to speak to them outside of Scripture.

At best this is misguided, and at worst it is devilish.

The Lord has given the Holy Spirit to dwell in every believer of the gospel of the free grace of God (Eph 1:13).

Though the Spirit dwells in us, the witness of the Spirit is not found in emotions, experiences, or in still small voices. The witness of the Spirit is the revelation recorded in Scripture by the apostles and prophets (Eph 3:3-5).

During the first wave of misinterpretation, dispensationalist A.C. Gaebelein wrote this about the witness in Romans 8:16.

“This witness is not a mere good feeling, which is subject to fluctuations, but the witness of the Spirit is in the Word of God. We know that we are the children of God, because the Word assures us that it is so; this is the witness of the Spirit.” – A.C. Gaebelein, The Annotated Bible on Romans 8:16

How do we know what is the testimony of the Spirit? We open the Bible and read the Spirit’s witness. How does it witness with our spirit? We believe it.

We were saved by hearing the word of God. We know by reading the word of God. The word of God is the word of the Spirit.

Let the Spirit speak: open the Bible (2 Tim 3:16-17).

For your edification,

Justin “head down” Johnson

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