The Holy Spirit and the Calvinistic Westminster Confession

After the 'Theologian of the Holy Spirit,' John Calvin (1509-64), his views were enshrined especially in the 1647 Westminster Confession of the British Puritans.

The Spirit-drenched Westminster Confession of Faith (2:1) insists that "there is but one only living and true God, Who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure Spirit." Nevertheless, "in the unity of the Godhead, there be three Persons — of one substance, power and eternity." They are: "God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost." Each is distinct from the Other Two, yet Each also co-operates harmoniously with the Others — "the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son." W.C.F. 2:3.

Now it was precisely the third Divine Person — "God the Holy Ghost" — Who inspired "the Holy Scripture." Consequently, the latter is now "most necessary" — all "former ways of God's revealing His will unto His people being now ceased." W.C.F. 1:1. Holy Scripture, continues the Westminster Confession (1:2), is therefore "the Word of God written." It comprises sixty-six books, "all of which are given by in-spir-ation of God." This means they have all been in-breathed by the Holy Ghost.

Indeed, we are next told, "our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit." He, the Holy Ghost, keeps on "bearing witness by and with the Word — in our hearts." W.C.F. 1:5. Furthermore, "the whole counsel of God…by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture — unto which nothing at any time is to be added…by new revelations of the Spirit." W.C.F. 1:6.

"Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word." W.C.F. 1:6. Too, "the Old Testament in Hebrew" and "the New Testament in Greek…are to be translated into the vulgar [or common] language of every nation unto which they come…. I Cor. 14:6,9,11,12,24,27,28." W.C.F. 1:8.

Clearly, the above W.C.F. 1:8(u) insists on a truly-linguistic view of, and precludes any other (glossolalic-ecstatic!) notion about, I Cor. 14:6-28. Indeed, "the infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture, is the Scripture itself." W.C.F. 1:9. Consequently, "the Supreme Judge by Which all controversies of religion are to be determined…, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture!" W.C.F. 1:10.

The Westminster Confession (8:8) further reminds Christians that it is the Triune God Himself Who saves Christians — and Who keeps on "persuading them by His Spirit to believe and obey." He alone is to keep on "governing their hearts by His Word and Spirit."

God also effectually calls men to belief in Christ "by His Word and Spirit…, enlightening their minds — spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God." W.C.F. 10:1. The elect are "quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit," and "thereby enabled to answer this call and to embrace the grace offered." W.C.F. 10:2. Indeed, even "elect infants dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit." W.C.F. 10:3. For all "children of God…receive the Spirit of adoption." W.C.F. 12:1.

"God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect; and Christ did, in the fulness of time, die for their sins, and rise again for their justification. Nevertheless, they are not justified until the Holy Spirit doth in due time actually apply Christ unto them." W.C.F. 11:4. Thus, "the grace of faith…is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts." W.C.F. 14:1.

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