“Blogging the Institutes” is my on-going attempt to paraphrase John Calvin’s work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. You can find out more about the series in the Introduction. For all the posts in this series, check out the Master List.
The Spirit Seals the Truth on the Hearts of Believers
Those who have been taught by the Holy Spirit in their hearts will naturally trust the Scriptures. The authority of Scripture does not rest upon evidence or arguments, but upon the testimony of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit enlightens our minds, we no longer believe the Scriptures come from God based upon our own opinion or reason. Rather, we are perfectly assured that the Scriptures come from God in a way superior to human reason. We come to know the Scriptures as if the very image of God is impressed upon them, coming through the hand of men from the mouth of God.
As believers, we do not ask for arguments or evidence. Rather, we subject our intelligence and reason to the Scripture as being too transcendent for us to fully grasp. We do this, not like we are trying to hold onto some unknown object. We submit to Scripture because we have a thorough conviction that in it, we are holding the unassailable truth. We are not like miserable men whose minds are enslaved by superstition, but we feel a divine energy coursing through it—an energy which draws us in and compels us to obey it. We obey it willingly, with more power than comes from mere human ability. Therefore, God says from the mouth of Isaiah: “‘You are My witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘And My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me’” (Isaiah 43:10).
We can have knowledge in our mind which does not ask for reasons. Yet, this knowledge corresponds to the highest reason—the kind of knowledge which comes from revelation from heaven rather than merely human opinion. I’m not saying anything different than what any ordinary believer experiences. I’m not going to dwell on this subject much any longer, because I’ll get back to it later.
We must understand that the only true faith we cave have is the one which the Holy Spirit seals upon our hearts. The book of Isaiah demonstrates this truth as it speaks of God’s people being “taught by the Lord” (Isaiah 54:13). The privilege of being taught by God is given to His elect people only. How does faith begin? Does it not begin with alertness to hear God’s Word? God, by the mouth of Moses, demands to be heard: “It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it” (Deuteronomy 30:12, 14).
Since God has reserved the treasure of His truth for His children only, it is no wonder that so much ignorance is seen in the rest of humanity. Within this mass of humanity, I even include the Jews until they are grafted back into the church of Jesus Christ. Isaiah reminds us that God’s truth would seem unbelievable not only to the unbelieving pagans but also the Jews as well: “To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (Isaiah 53:1).
If we become troubled by the small number of people who believe the truth, we must remember that no one can comprehend God’s mysteries unless God chooses to reveal them to someone.