About Me

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I am the Pastor/Teacher of Rivers of Joy Baptist Church in Minford, Ohio since August 2008.  I am married to Charity since June 14, 1969.  I have four grown children.   Having served in the local church for over forty years as Pastor/Teacher, Asso., Youth Pastor, Minister of Education, Building Upkeep, Camp Director, Sunday School Teacher, etc. Also I have worked in the public place for as many years as I have preached. Charity and her sister are co owner of Union Mills Conf. (Bakery) in West Portsmouth Ohio

What is the role of the Holy Spirit in relation to the interpretation of Scripture?
Part One

This week I will attempt to address the roll of the Holy Spirit in our understanding of Scripture.

Footnote: I have written six pages on this one article and will post the article over the next three days.

Different theological grids will have different points of view about the ministry of the Spirit.
  • How many times have I heard and been informed: "If the Christian will simply pray, the Holy Spirit will give you the proper interpretation. ." Preachers have mentioned to me in sermon preparation: "Charles, ask the Holy Spirit to give you the meaning of the text and the sermon to preach this Sunday." I try to always pray and ask the Holy Spirit for His inner witness as I study and preach.

So many people have the idea that the interpretation of Scripture is to be "What does this verse mean to me?" This is called the IDIOSYNCRATIC (INDIVIDUAL) MEANING OF THE TEXT. Whimsical I might call this approach. It’s the believers run amok. It’s a pooling of ignorance or a merely pietistic approach to Scripture. It’s one of my pet peeves ‘Pooling ignorance of the Word of God.’

On the other hand, some believe the Holy Spirit has no place in a scholarly method of interpreting the Bible.

You would think if we have one Holy Spirit, one Bible, that we could have one interpretation method of the Scripture. We are so polarity? (A relation between two opposite attributes or tendencies.) We hardly have two preachers who agree, and only one Holy Spirit.
Why? We all don’t read the Bible in the same manner. We are seeing the meaning of Scripture today different from what John Calvin saw it, or even how Charles Spurgeon saw it. We all see Scripture from our understanding of how to know the Scripture.

Some will say this: "We should be open to new truth from Scripture. Even heroes of the Christian faith have changed their minds about the meaning of various Biblical texts."

So how should we approach the understanding of Scripture?

  • It is important to articulate one’s position in such a way that we recognize the unique prophetic, revelatory status of Scripture. That is, we must not say that the Spirit adds more revelation to the written Word. This would deny the sufficiency of Scripture. The Spirit can not add revelation to the already written Word. As if the Holy Spirit could add new revelation to you and you alone. Nor can we say that the Bible becomes the Word of God in one’s experiences. In others you could not think you can make the Bible mean anything you want it to mean.

A KEY PASSAGE FOR A THEOLOGICAL ISSUE IS KNOWN AS CRUX INTERPRETUM Such a text is a hinge on which one’s view depends.

(Frank Tallerico has said "you can’t take one passage and make a doctrine out of it" } Some do.


People use these verses to support there view of the purpose of the Holy Spirit
I Corinthians 2:12-14 and 1 John 2:20, 27

How you translate these verses will give you a meaning of the work of the Holy Spirit in the area of knowing the understanding of Scripture.
I Corinthians 2:12-14
  • KJV: 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." (12)
    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. (13)
    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. (14)
  • ESV says: 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (Or interpreting spiritual truths in spiritual language, or comparing spiritual things with spiritual (13))

In sum, I Corinthians 2:12-14 is saying that the non-believer will not accept spiritual truths and cannot understand them. It’s a volitional (choice) problem. Sin affects our wills, emotions, and our minds. Non-believers do indeed plainly understand the Gospel message at times, and unbelieving exegetes do often offer valuable insights into the text. Unbelievers can at times give an explanation of the text that would be right. The point here in these verses is: the depths of God’s ways and God’s wisdom cannot even be touched by non-believers. There is a level to which they cannot accomplish.


Drafted by Charles E. Whisnant and Proof Read by my wife of 38 years Charity Whisnant