Pristine Grace

The Epistemological Work of the Holy Spirit
by Brandan Kraft

     Mysticism is the order of the day when most talk about the Holy Spirit.  And I’m not just talking about  charismatics. I’m talking about most evangelicals. You know, baptists, presbyterians, methodists… and yes, of course “calvinists.”

     So what do we know that's metaphysical about The Holy Spirit? Well, for starters, He is omnipresent. In other words, He is everywhere at once. He is actively involved with every single activity in this world. God, the Holy Spirit is actively spinning the electrons around the protons and neutrons in the molecules that make up the screen you’re using to read this article. Whether or not you’re one of His chosen people, the Holy Spirit is actively holding your eyeballs in your sockets.

     So if the Holy Spirit is everywhere, how is it that He is able to indwell believers?  And why isn't it metaphysical?   Well, the answer lies in how he indwells His people. Most professing Christians speak of a metaphysical and/or mystical indwelling that they have difficulty explaining. More often than not, they’ll tell you that one can tell the Holy Spirit is indwelling you by feeling “something”. What that “something” is, they have difficulty putting into words. It’s a mystery they say! “Just believe what I say and you too can get this wonderful feeling.. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make any sense to you. Just ‘let go and let God’. See, the Holy Spirit will speak to you in a small voice when you’re really quiet and you can just hear him ‘talking’.”

     Nothing could be further from the truth. I propose the error lies first in the fact that religionists everywhere haven't even thought about this. I’m serious! All of us are born into the world as ignorant people. We don’t, nor can we think rationally. The idea of logically trying to solve this problem (scripturally of course) has escaped the thought of most professing christians.  Why? Well that’s a topic for another article. But I digress! The error also lies in the fact that men have ignored the plain teaching of Scripture. They don’t understand the Gospel of an accomplished redemption in Christ alone. They just don’t understand the Gospel, and therefore the God of the Gospel is unknown to them. They speak of a different holy spirit, a figment of one’s imagination, something more akin to casper the friendly ghost.

     I propose that the Holy Spirit works in His elect people is primarily epistemological, or in other words, He works in the form of knowledge - propositional knowledge that is! He convicts by revealing knowledge. He reveals the truth to His people. Ethically, He teaches us what is right and wrong. I’m not at all denying the metaphysical supernatural events performed by the Holy Spirit, or that He supernaturally causes our brains to comprehend and understand this knowledge. I’m simply suggesting that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is primarily epistemological.

Rom 12:2, (KJV), And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Eph 3:6, (KJV), That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:

1 Cor 2:11-16, (KJV), For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. (12) Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. (13) Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. (14) But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (15) But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. (16) For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.

     I now also propose that regeneration is also an epistemological process. The conditional primitive baptists teach that men are privatisticly or metaphysically regenerated and may not have any knowledge of any Gospel propositions before conversion. Classical calvinists teach that regeneration occurs right at conversion - that regeneration is dependent upon knowledge of the Gospel. I disagree with both teachings! I believe that regeneration is a process that takes place in the life of the elect individual sometimes starting long before they are converted. But it is mostly an epistemological process. The Holy Spirit reveals pieces of the truth before revealing the full truth of the Gospel of Justification by grace alone without conditions. For example, how can one know what salvation is unless of course he knows what sin is? How can one know who Christ is unless He understands who God is, and how can one understand who God is unless they know what His attributes are? Regeneration isn’t just single event! It’s a series of events, and starts in the womb for many of His elect people. John the Baptist for example lept in Elizabeth’s womb for joy (Luke 1:44). The hand of the Lord is upon His people from before they are born and throughout their entire lives even before conversion. His love for them is unending, and He is in the process of preparing them for Gospel conversion their whole lives before they are actually converted to the truth in its Gospel fullness.

     So what do you think?  Does this make sense to you?  Let me know!

     Grace and Peace,
     Brandan