Understanding Spirit Hermeneutics

The experience of the Spirit that empowered the church on the day of Pentecost can and should dynamically shape our reading of Scripture. All Christians should read Scripture as people who are living in the biblical experience – not in terms of ancient culture, but as people living by the same Spirit who guided God’s people in Scripture.

This means that we are interested in biblical texts not simply for what they teach us about ancient history or ideas (intriguing as that is), but because we expect to share the kind of spiritual experience and relationship with God that we discover in Scripture. Jesus’ resurrection is not a mere historical datum; it declares that the Jesus we learn about in the Gospels is now the exalted Lord, who has sent his Spirit so that we may continue to experience his presence.

Throughout Scripture we read about people hearing from God, prophesying, and experiencing miracles. Though we may not all experience all these activities of the Spirit daily, biblical patterns lead us to expect that the God who empowered these activities throughout Scripture is the God who still empowers them. While careful study of Scripture helps counter the unbridled subjectivism of popular charismatic excesses, study that does not lead to living out biblical experience in the era of the Spirit misses the point of the biblical texts. All Christian experience in this era must be properly “Pentecostal” – that is, shaped by the experience of Pentecost, the outpouring of the Spirit on the church.

This content is by Craig Keener, but edited and posted by Defenders Media.

For more on how to interpret Scripture in light of Pentecost, read Spirit Hermeneutics (2016).

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