Some Protestants adhere to the Westminster Confession of faith. This quotation "our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts."

How does the Holy Spirit bear witness to our hearts the infallible truth and divine authority of the Bible? How would one describe and discern that experience? How would one experience such a witness?

Thank you.


2 Answers 2


Of course the first time a person experiences this inner witness is immediately after experiencing the new birth by putting their faith in the gospel, obtaining justification apart from their own evil works and being joined into Christ, being reconciled to God.

Only these receive the unction of the Holy Spirit and to them the Spirit testifies to their spirit that they are children of God. (John 16:13, Rom 8:15)

As far as how this is described with reference to the infallibility of the word, it is an assurance or testimony of God himself making our faith living and attended with the experience of its truth and reality by the Spirit. It is described similarly to a blind man suddenly receiving sight.

Psalms 119:18 ESV

18 Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.

If a man is blind and people who can see, explain truth around him, he may feel with his hands and understand the basic shape of them but it is not until he can actually see that suddenly everything old becomes new and alive.

We have no idea how this actually happens but we can see it does by its effects. (John 3:1-21)

The spiritual sense or new principle of life that is given to, and enjoyed by, those in Christ is of a completely new quality that is not experienced in any fashion outside of Christ. (2 Cor 5:17)

So what is it like to see? First the assured authenticity and authority of the word is made known to the mind so that a believer can see with confidence God’s glory and nature in the words he has expressed. They become self evident truth made known. The mind is able to see all the indescribable excellencies of the gospel, where God becoming man and suffering under the punishment of the law, living a perfect life, in order to both forgive and declare righteous sinners, who are without hope, exceedingly wonderful and glorious and filled with wisdom and knowledge. When the spiritual eyes of a person are opened all these new sensations of the beauty and veracity of God’s word are laid open by the Spirit.

In addition to the mind becoming spiritual the whole soul with its emotions and will take on this life and there is an immediate awareness of the remnants of sin warring against this new nature. (Rom 7:21) Prior to our eyes being opened this lively struggle of life and death within ourselves never existed.

Finally as opposed to the seed falling on shallow soil, rising quickly and fading away from mere emotions, a true spiritual sense of God’s word overcomes the world, causes increased love and personal holiness and gradually increasing assurance for our remaining lives. (1 John 5:4). Even if our hearts at times condemn us and we doubt our faith, we overcome for God’s witness is greater than our fears. (1 John 3:20)

At some point along the way believers are so sure of the need of Christ’s righteousness, apart from their filthy works, that they grow to love the gospel more and more and are assured that their faith is genuine and their beliefs true in a more steadfast and confident way.

This is the common experience of all believers and the anointing we have does not and cannot fail us in leading us into all truth and entering into glory when we pass away from this world. (John 6:39, 16:13-15)

2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ


It is through a believer's conscience that the Spirit (through God's written Word) would 'bear witness to our hearts':

Romans 8:11-16

But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. 12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

Romans 9:1

I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,

Romans 2:14-15

For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

I believe an example of this would be a feeling of guilt when having done something that goes against what God would have a representative of Christ do:

2 Corinthians 5:2

Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

1 Thessalonians 5:19

Quench not the Spirit.

Romans 6:17-21

But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. 19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. 20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.

A non-believer's conscience would not be guided by the Spirit as they do not possess the Spirit and are "spiritually discerned":

1 Corinthians 2:6-16

Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11 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.

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