Question: The Spirit’s Role in Salvation?

A friend of mine, Tyler Williamson, recently contacted me with a fantastic question about the role of the Holy Spirit leading people to salvation. In my experience, I have discovered that many others have similar questions. So, with his permission, I thought I’d share our informal internet conversation.

Now certainly the Holy Spirit’s role of  in salvation is a huge topic; but given the context of his question, my response more narrowly addressed the Holy Spirit’s work in what is called effectual calling and briefly touched on the Spirit’s related work of regeneration. (If the answer I provide is not as direct as you may like, please bear in mind that this was an informal conversation.)

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Christian Tyler Williamson: The Holy Spirit–integral to the relationship of the believer with Christ. Many people talk of free will; many people talk of predestination. What do you believe is the role of the Holy Spirit in the salvation process? Detailed (as you typically are) would be great.

Me: The Bible speaks much of the Holy Spirit’s work of drawing individuals to faith in Christ. This is what theologians call the doctrine of “calling.”

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A Wholistic View of Salvation—“Already/Not Yet”

Introduction

In contemporary Christianity it is very common to hear that someone “got saved” or to have someone tell you that they were “saved” at such and such a time. But beyond that, the concept of “salvation” remains dormant. I believe this stems from a misunderstanding of salvation, that is, salvation in its entirety.

Now, it is true that many believers can point back to a specific moment of turning from sin towards initial trust in Christ for salvation. In theology we call this moment conversion and it is also the moment we are regenerated (given spiritual birth and life) and justified (counted as righteous before God). In this sense, then, we can rightly say that we were saved upon our conversion. But the idea of “salvation” is Biblically and theologically much more comprehensive than just that one precise moment.

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Tongues | Special Revelation and Conclusion

The following belongs to a series on the continuation or cessation of the miraculous phenomena of tongues-speaking. Read the previous post here.

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Special Revelation and Tongues-Speaking

If no other argument up until this point has been persuasive, this next argument is the most decisive point cessationism has. The argument is as follows: 1) since tongues-speaking is revelatory (1 Cor 14:6, 26)1 and 2) since the canon of scripture (special revelation) is closed, then 3) no tongues utterances can be given in this age. Denying the second premise is dangerous business and places one outside of historical evangelicalism. Consequently, in order to deny this argument continuationists typically deny the first premise by arguing that the revelation given via tongues is different than that of scripture, and therefore, tongues’ continual existence is not inconsistent with a closed canon.2 However, problems surface when such a distinction is made.

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Tongues | The Nature and Function of Tongues Speaking

The following belongs to a series on the continuation or cessation of the miraculous phenomena of tongues-speaking. Read the previous post here.

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One of the most significant and decisive factors concerning the cessation or continuation of tongues is the purpose that tongues had/has, or said differently, the essence of the presence of tongues. Temporary function and provisional existence would argue for the momentary presence of tongues. But on the other hand, a continual function and permanent nature would necessitate continuation.

A Sign

Of the Hardening of Israel

In 1 Corinthians 14:1 Paul begins an argument that prophecy is to be preferred over tongues, namely, uninterpreted tongues (14:1-25). Paul’s first reason is that uninterpreted tongues do not edify the congregation (14:2-19; cf. 12:7; 13:1-3). Paul’s second reason, found in verses 20-25, is that tongues repel unbelievers1 due to its apparent bizarre manifestation when uninterpreted (v.23). Paul says this repelling effect is due to the fact that tongues is not primarily for the church. The essence of tongues’ existence is found in it being a sign to Israel of their hardened hearts (vv.21-22).2 However, prophecy, which is given for the congregation’s good (v.22),3 can serve to draw the unsaved to repentance (vv.24-25).

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Tongues | A Historical Theology of Tongues-Speaking

The following belongs to a series on the continuation or cessation of the miraculous phenomena of tongues-speaking. Read the previous post here.

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“Reinventing the wheel” has never been an efficient venture. Contemporary theology owes much to the theological progress made before it. Although it certainly does not have the final word in the matter, what historical theology can contribute to this study on tongues must be considered, as demanded by wisdom and caution.

If continuationism is true, one would expect to find evidences of tongues in those centuries closest to the apostolic era. However, as D.A. Carson notes, from the beginning of the 2nd century until the Montanists emerged, claims of tongues-speaking were tremendously rare.1 Eusebius of Caesaria (AD 263-339) gave report of this 2nd century sect (the Montanists) which practiced babbling speech. His report reveals that this group was divisive, declared heretical, and expelled from the Church.2

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