The Holy Spirit: Introduction: Alexander Campbell

The Restoration Movement (or Stone-Campbell Movement), which gave birth to the Churches of Christ, resulted from the merger of two earlier movements, one founded by Barton W. Stone and one founded by Thomas and Alexander Campbell. The Stone movement is quite a bit older than the Campbell movement, but over time, the thought of Alexander Campbell came to dominate, as he was much younger and more energetic than Stone.

Their views differed on many things, including the role of the Holy Spirit. While Stone saw the Spirit as vibrantly active in the church and in the lives of individual Christians, Campbell had little room for the Spirit in his theology.

Campbell wrote,

To “walk in the Spirit,” and “live after the Spirit,” are, in effect, the same as to be “led by the Spirit.” Christians who think, speak, and act according to the gospel, are walking after, or according to, the Spirit–living according to the Spirit–led by the Spirit. Thus the Platonist was led by Plato–walked according to Plato–lived as Plato directed.

However, Campbell’s views were not strictly “word only.” He plainly taught that the Spirit does more than what the word does alone.

But the phrase “communion of the Holy Spirit,” will still more fully illustrate their views. It is koinonia, fellowship, joint participation. We have this word twenty times from the day of Pentecost to the close of the Epistles. It is twice applied to the Holy Spirit–II. Cor. xiii. 13; Phil. ii. 1. It is applied to the Father and to the Son–I. John i. 3-6; I. Cor. 1. 9. We have the communion of the Father, the communion of the Son, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, or the fellowship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; for it is the same term uniformly in the passages quoted. The communion of saints; of the blood of Christ; of the body of Christ, denote their joint participation of the influence, presence, and comforts of the good Spirit of God.

(italics in original and bold is added, here and throughout this post). Campbell sees “communion” or fellowship of the Spirit as involving influence, presence, and comfort.

We have communion with one another when we mutually give and receive consolation, whether in sentiment, in sympathy, in communication, or in any of the blessings of society. Man was made for communion with God and his fellows, but he lost it in Adam the first. In Adam the second he is restored to that communion; but while in his mortal body his communion with God is only by his Spirit through Jesus Christ our Lord.

One purpose of this fellowship is to restore us to the relationship Adam had with God before the Fall.

But we have not yet caught the precise idea expressed in the Apostle’s benediction–“The communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all”‘ There is suggested in this phrase a participation of the Holy Spirit common to all the members of the body of Christ. It is not some gift or special influence of the Spirit, imparted only to a few; but that fellowship of the Spirit which, under Christ, is common to the many–to all the family of God–of which the Apostle spoke. The best definition of the word communion which I can give, is, union in that which is common. Wherever there is union in common, there is communion. As the glory of the Lord equally filled all the tabernacle and the temple, so the Spirit of God animates, consoles, and refreshes the whole body of Christ. These consolations, joys, and refreshments from the presence of the Lord, the Apostle imprecated upon all the Corinthian converts.

Thus, Campbell argues that the Spirit consoles, animates, gives joy, and refreshes.

Into these relations to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit we are immersed; for the Lord commanded the believers to be immersed into the name of the Holy Spirit as well as into the name of the Father and the Son. To be immersed into the name of the Holy Spirit, prepares for the enjoyment of this communion; as being immersed into the Father, introduces into the enjoyment of the love of God; and as immersion into the name of Jesus Christ, introduces us into the favor of the Lord Jesus. This love, grace, and communion are the superlative glory of the Christian institution. They are equally apprehensible, though in their nature and modes of development incomprehensible. It is the duty, honor, and privilege of Christians to enjoy all that into which they are immersed. There is as much wisdom or folly in disparaging the communion of the Holy Spirit, as in undervaluing the love of God or the favor of Jesus Christ.

Campbell concludes that the communion of the Spirit is “apprehensible” (can be had) although not necessarily “comprehensible” (how the Spirit works cannot be understood). He couldn’t sensibly argue that the Spirit works exclusively via understanding the word and then say that it’s workings can’t be fully understood!

Campbell tooks pains, however, to argue that the Spirit worked only through the word before the Christian is converted. This was to refute the Calvinist view of unconditional election in which no one could be converted without the Spirit’s quickening. Faith could only come by the Spirit’s intervention, which the non-elect would never receive.

You’d think that the presence of faith would be entirely sufficient to show that the Spirit had allowed the convert to come to faith, right? But many taught in those days that no one could be considered saved until he or she related a story of how God had awakened his heart to the love of God — through a dream, a vision, or “strange warming.” Thus, in Campbell’s day, there were many people desperate for salvation and filled with faith who were excluded from the church because they’d never had such an experience. Campbell taught that their faith was sufficient to allow them to be accepted and baptized.

Thus, Campbell taught,

All that is done in us before regeneration, God our Father effects by the word, or the gospel as dictated and confirmed by his Holy Spirit. But after we are thus begotten and born by the Spirit of God–after our new birth, the Holy Spirit is shed on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; of which the peace of mind, the love, the joy, and the hope of the regenerate is full proof; for these are amongst the fruits of that Holy Spirit of promise of which we speak. Thus commences [THE NEW LIFE.]

Notice that Campbell plainly states that “word only” is a pre-conversion rule and that, after conversion, the Spirit gives the Christ peace, love, joy, and hope, which are proof of the Spirit’s presence.

Similarly, John Mark Hicks quotes Campbell,

In 1832 he wrote a friend: “To his view of baptism, as the only medium of actual pardon, justificatio[n], sanctification, reconciliation, adoption and salvation from the guilt and power of sin–and to his view of divine influence as consisting merely in the moral influence of the word, I would not consent” (Broaddus, Memoirs, 289-90).

Moreover, the early 19th Century was a time when the Society of Friends (Quakers) and the Shakers were arguing for direct revelation from God by the Spirt in addition to the scriptures. Thus, Campbell repeatedly emphasized that the Spirit worked only in conjunction with the word before conversion, as he wrote in The Christian System

Now we can not separate the Spirit and word of God, and ascribe so much power to the one and so much to the other; for so did not the apostles. Whatever the word does, the Spirit does; and whatever the Spirit does in the work of converting men, the word does. We neither believe nor teach abstract Spirit nor abstract word, but word and Spirit, Spirit and word.

But in the next sentence, Campbell makes it clear that the Spirit’s work in the Christian is beyond the work of the word by itself —

[The Spirit] is promised only to them that believe in and obey him. These it actually and powerfully assists in the mighty struggle for eternal life[.] Some, indeed, ask, “Do Christians need more aid to gain eternal life than sinners do to become Christians? Is not the work of conversion a more difficult work than the work of sanctification?” Hence, they contend more for the work of the Spirit in conversion, than for the work of the Spirit in sanctification. This, indeed, is a mistaken view of the matter, if we reason either from analogy or from divine testimony. Is it not more easy to plant than to cultivate the corn, the vine, the olive? Is it not more easy to enlist in the army, than to be a good soldier, and fight the battles of the Lord; to start in the race, than to reach the goal; to enter the ship, than cross the ocean; to be naturalized, than to become a good citizen; to enter into the matrimonial compact, than to be an exemplary husband; to enter into life, than to retain and sustain it for threescore years and ten? And while the commands “believe,” “repent,” and “be baptized,” are never accompanied with any intimation of peculiar difficulty; the commands to the use of the means of spiritual health and life; to form the Christian character; to attain the resurrection of the just; to lay hold on eternal life; to make our calling and election sure, etc., are accompanied with such exhortations, admonitions, cautions, as to make it a difficult and critical affair, requiring all the aids of the Spirit of our God, to all the means of grace and untiring assiduity and perseverance on our part; for it seems, “the called” who enter the stadium are many, while “the chosen” and approved “are few;” and many, says Jesus, “shall seek to enter into the heavenly city, and shall not be able” – “Let us labor, therefore, to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” …

This requires aid. Hence, assistance is to be prayed for; and it is promised. … The Holy Spirit is, then, the author of all our holiness; and in the struggle after victory over sin and temptation, “it helps our infirmities,” and it comforts us by seasonably bringing to our remembrance the promises of Christ, and “strengthens us with all might, in the new or inner man.” And thus “God works in us to will and to do of his own benevolence,” “while we are working out our own salvation with fear and trembling.” Christians are, therefore, clearly and unequivocally temples of the Holy Spirit; and they are quickened, animated, encouraged, and sanctified by the power and influence of the Spirit of God, working in them through the truth. …

[B]y his Holy Spirit, in answer to our prayers, he worked in us, and by us, and for us, all that is needful to our present, spiritual, and eternal salvation.

Therefore, Campbell is no advocate for the “word only” view of the Spirit. Rather, disciples of Campbell, took his words regarding the work of the Spirit pre-conversion and expanded them out of context to apply to all of the Christian experience.

On the other hand, while Campbell’s teaches a personal, effective indwelling after conversion, his writings say very little on the subject. The Spirit is not a big part of this theology. You see, he is a sufficiently bright and responsible scholar to see what the Bible says about the Spirit, but he is such a rational, Enlightenment intellectual, the Spirit was just not a large part of what he taught.

It was only later that his disciples began to teach the word-only view, but Campbell had said so little on the subject, he made it easy for the following generations to ignore the Spirit very nearly altogether.


79 Responses

  1. We owe a lot to the Campbell’s for expressing a rational doctrine firmly based in scripture. Given their starting point and the opposing forces they faced, they did a remarkable job, and we still benefit from their work. It was the next the next generation that went off the deep end with CENI and the Regulative Principle, and the third generation that actually split the church.

    Campbell and Stone made a great combination — the yin and yang of the movement. Their devotion to church unity outweighed their differences in substance as well as style. We could learn a lot from them.

  2. ” But many taught in those days that no one could be considered saved until he or she related a story of how God had awakened his heart to the love of God — through a dream, a vision, or “strange warming.” ”

    Act 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    (and then, there is this. which is it? )

    Act 10:44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
    Act 10:45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
    Act 10:46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
    Act 10:46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
    Act 10:47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
    Act 10:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

    Is the “GIFT” of the Holy Ghost, and the “Holy Ghost” one and the same.

  3. Jay,

    You have said it well. Campbell’s reaction against the extreme, emotional “exercises” that Stone accepted as well as his reaction against the Society of Friends and Calvinists of his day led to his emphasis on the Word. Our current problem is not over-emphasis on the Word as much as it is our denial of the Holy Spirit as an active agent.

    Even Campbell, as far as I know, ever addressed the question of how the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin, other than through the Word. Yet, the Word must interact with the heart of the hearer where it is mixed with faith. Does the Spirit not pick up His sword until after “conversion”?

    I recently began an ongoing series on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. You can see it here.

    I continue to read this series with interest and appreciation.

    Jerry Starling CommittedToTruth.WordPress.Com

  4. Laymond, in Acts 11 when Paul was recounting the Cornelius event, he said:

    Act 11:15 “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning.

    This was maybe ten years after Pentecost. He didn’t say it was like what routinely happened during the past ten years. He said it was like what happened “at the beginning.” I take that to mean Acts 2:2-4:

    Act 2:2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
    Act 2:3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.
    Act 2:4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

    So as you point out there are differences between what is promised to all believers (Acts 2:38-39) and what happened in Acts 2:2-4 and Acts 10:44-46. Of course the scriptures never say God won’t perform another Acts 10 – like event. But that’s certainly not what usually happens.

  5. Peter, not Paul…. Now I’m going to get some coffee!

  6. Lamond,

    I suspect you are getting ahead of Jay. So far he is laying background.

    In my series, referenced above, I address your question in my 4th post (scheduled for Sunday) and will come back to it in my 7th post (which is not yet scheduled, but will likely be in the week of the 18th.


  7. Alan,


  8. Laymond,

    Yes the “gift of the Holy Spirit” is the Holy Spirit — rather like “a gift of perfume” is perfume. This is evident from Peter’s quotation of Joel’s prophesying of the outpouring of the Spirit, for example.

  9. Jay,
    You are absolutely right in saying “the gift of the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit.” However, the “gifts of the Spirit” (the miraculous powers, healing, speaking in tongues, etc.) are not the Spirit Himself. These are things the Spirit empowers the man of God to do the work of God. Having these gifts does imply that the Spirit Himself has been given as an indwelling gift. These “charismatic” gifts were present long before Pentecost, even at Mt. Sinai as Bezalel & Oholiab and were given skills to do the craftsmanship of the Tabernacle (Exodus 35:30-35). But it was not until Pentecost that the Spirit Himself was given as the divine representative to live within the people of God.

    Jerry, CommittedToTruth.Com

  10. Jhn 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    Act 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
    (the gift of everlasting life, through Jesus Christ)

    that is the way Act 10:44—48 is reconciled with Act 2:38.
    I agree with Jerry that the gifts, are powers given by God, but I believe “The Gift” peter is talking about is God’s only Son Jesus Christ, and when we are baptised into Jesus we receive salvation. how much better can a gift be.
    (gift of perfume ?)

  11. The “gift of this watch” could be the watch itself, or it could be the ability to know what time it is. i don’t see how the “gift of” phrase *alone* forces either understanding. Other factors may determine the meaning, but i don’t see how the “gift of” phrase by itself settles it.


  12. forgot to tick ‘subscribe’

  13. Guy,

    “Gift of” is not determinative by itself. Context is.

    (Act 2:1 ESV) 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: 17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. 21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

    22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know– 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him, “‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; 26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

    29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, 35 until I make your enemies your footstool.’ 36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

    37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

    38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    Notice expecially the parallel of “promise of the Spirit” with “gift of the Spirit” following the quotation of a prophecy promising the Spirit itself.

  14. I agree, the promise of the Holy Spirit/ spirit of God, is the gift to which Peter refers, eternal life, and the inheritance of the kingdom.

    Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit.
    Jay, What do you see that promise to be.? to receive the Holy Spirit as a gift, if that is the promise, Jesus had that promise fulfilled right after his baptism. Besides, I believe you say they are the trinity, all the same,
    The Father is God, The Son is God, The Holy Ghost is God, so how could one receive the other as a gift?

  15. Laymond,

    That’s an excellent question — but I’d rather work up to the answer as we go through the series. (I’m still sorting it out.)

  16. I’ve always thought the Acts 2:38 gift was eternal life as stated in Romans 6:23 and 8:10.

    Sure looking forward to more on this subject! Ya’ll keep it up.

    Thanks for the site and discussions Jay!!!

  17. Laymond,

    Have you traced the promise through Acts 1 & 2?

    ,blockquote>Acts 1:4. On one occasion, while He was eating with them, He gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.”
    God had promised the Spirit would be poured on all flesh in Joel 2. Jesus spoke about the Spirit in John 14, 15, & 16 as well as in other places.

    Acts 1:5, 8. “For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit….But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

    The coming of the Holy Spirit is the gift God promised and which Jesus had spoken of.

    Acts 2:33. Exalted to the right hand of God, He [i.e., the resurrected Jesus] has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.

    The Holy Spirit was poured out on that day, signs from whom drew the crowd together.

    Acts 2:38-39. Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

    The promise is not only for the apostles, but for all who will, with repentant heart and faith in Jesus, be baptized in the name of the Lord for the forgiveness of sins.

    It does not make sense in this passage to say the gift of the Holy Spirit is something other than the promise, which Jesus and Peter both identified as the coming of the Holy Spirit. To say that, you would have Peter saying in v. 38, “…be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the forgiveness of your sins.”


  18. Tts 1:2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
    Hbr 10:23 Let us hold fast the profession of [our] faith without wavering; (for he [is] faithful that promised;)
    Jam 1:12 Blessed [is] the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
    1Jo 2:25 And this is the promise that he hath promised us, [even] eternal life.
    Gal 3:14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

    Jerry, it seems that there was more than one promise (of a gift) made. The promise of eternal life was made to those who obeyed and was baptized, the promise of the comforter was made only to the apostles (who Jesus was leaving behind)

  19. Laymond,
    I looked at “promise” in the context of Acts 2:39. Certainly there were other promises, but each one that I mentioned is contained in the context of Acts 2 either directly or by reference. My question still stands: why should we think the promise in Acts 2:39 (of the gift of the Holy Spirit) is any thing other than the Spirit Himself?

  20. Laymond,
    Do you seriously believe that only the Apostles receive comfort from the Holy Spirit? When you trace the promise (including Jesus’ reference to what He had said to the apostles) and read Peter’s statement that “the promise is for you and your children to to all them that afar off,” how can you still say the promise of the Comforter was only for the apostles?

  21. Jhn 14:26 But the Comforter, [which is] the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

    If this is the Holy Spirit you have received, how could you have any doubts you are right.? Now could any baptized Christian have doubts?

  22. Jhn 14:13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
    Jhn 14:14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do [it].
    Jerry, unless all Christians recieve all they ask for (in his name) I think he was talking only to the apostles seated at the table.

  23. Jerry,

    i think you’re probably right about some things. i did want to interject though that a promise being “for you” could mean for your benefit. A couple could renew their vows for their children, meaning that they make promises *to each other* but *for the benefit of their children* (perhaps the children were shaken up about a rocky patch their parents were going through).

    my only point is that the phrase alone doesn’t force the reading either way.


  24. Also just a thought,

    the promise being the Spirit Himself vs. the promise being eternal life

    Do we *have* to take these to be mutually exclusive readings?


  25. Wow!!!! You guys want to tell people who don’t attend the church denomination you attend at they are damned to hell when you don’t even know the Holy Spirit’s role in a Christian’s life and the promise God keeps…just Wow!!

    It’s not rocket science as many people try to make it to be to fit their agenda.

  26. Anonymous, how about telling us?

  27. I want to keep observing for now, watching all the scholars here, a person learns a lot about the COC denomination.

  28. Guy,

    Concluding that the “gift of the Spirit” is the Spirit does not exclude salvation being received at the same time. In fact, it’s clear that the work of the Spirit is involved in our salvation.

    (Tit 3:5 ESV) he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,

  29. Guy,
    I agree that the phrase “of the Spirit” can be taken either way. My point is that in this context, especially when you trace how “the promise” is used in Acts 1-2, the gift is the Holy Spirit. I am currently doing a series on my blog about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, which I take to be virtually synonymous with the indwelling Spirit. You might wander over there to see some more on this issue.


  30. Laymond,

    No doubt, in a long conversation such as Jesus had with His apostles in John 13 – 16, you may be able to cherry pick some examples of what He said that would apply only to the apostles.

    It is not good exegesis, however, to say that everything in that conversation applied only to them. Without arguing the merits of the two examples you gave above, I point to John 13:34-35 as at least one instance that I am sure you will agree applies directly to all Christians. If you want to respond that this says nothing about the Holy Spirit, I remind you of what Paul said in Romans 5:5.

    My point, to which you wrote your comments, is that what Jesus says about the promise in Acts 1 – 2, even without going back to specific statements in John 13 – 16, suggests that (1) the promise is the Holy Spirit and (2) “the promise is for you and your children.” I see no reason to believe “the gift of the Holy Spirit” in Acts 2 is anything other than the Holy Spirit – especially in view of John 7:37-39; Acts 5:32 and Galatians 5:6 plus many, many similar passages throughout Paul’s epistles.


  31. Jerry, I cannot find one place in John 13, where Jesus is speaking to anyone except the people who are there with him, Yes love your neighbor applies to all Christians, I believe it is one of the commandments. show me any where, when he speaks of the third person in this conversation. and you will have a leg.
    Satan was introduced as a third person, but I am sure Jesus was not speaking of him.

  32. I’m sorry, I stopped before I fully explained.
    Jhn 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

    Do you notice anything in this verse that might say it is for the apostles ears only. “A new commandment” show love for one another no matter how far apart you are. so people will know you are my apostles.

    I believe love your neighbor, was spoken pretty highly of, by Jesus long before this meeting.

  33. Rom 8:8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
    Rom 8:9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
    Rom 8:10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.
    Rom 8:11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
    Rom 8:12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it.
    Rom 8:13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,
    Rom 8:14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
    Rom 8:15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
    Rom 8:16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

    Rom 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
    Rom 8:27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

    The Spirit of God lives in us. This is the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead by the biblical text, but by the Spirit. So, who is that Spirit? These few verses alternately refer to the Spirit as the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit, and even once simply as Christ. We could have an interesting discussion of the Trinity from this one passage — but regardless of all that, the Spirit being discussed in the passage is a living being, a person. The Spirit lives in us and controls us (vs 9), gives life to our mortal bodies (vs 11), and puts to death the misdeeds of the body (vs 13). The Spirit intercedes for us in prayer (vs 26). The Spirit searches our hearts and knows our minds. And this is the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead.

    So, those are some of the things meant by “the gift of the Holy Spirit” promised in Acts 2:38-39.

  34. Alan, that is not the best explanation of “Spirit” I have ever heard, but to be fair, and I want to be fair, explaining the spirit, is like explaining the “mind”
    no the mind is not the brain, the mind controls the brain, and the brain controls the body, if there is anything we can point to as being the bodily spirit it is the “mind” if you let God control your mind, then God controls your spirit. If your mind is of holy things, you have a holy spirit. and a holy spirit indwells you.

    Mat 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

    Yes Jesus was raised by the spirit/mind of God, all creatures were created by the spirit/mind of God, no hands involved.
    You can’t see my spirit, but God knows my spirit.

    Anyhow that is how I see it, have a good day.

  35. I wasn’t talking about what Paul said, I was talking about this ” but regardless of all that, the Spirit being discussed in the passage is a living being, a person.”

  36. Lamond,

    You are really stretching to hold on to a theological position. His new command was new because of the standard of love it required, not because it was given only to the apostles! As you continue, you can see just how high that standard is. In John 15:9, He said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.” We are to love one another as Jesus loves us – which is as the Father loves Him. No longer “love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Love one another as the Father loves Jesus. Doesn’t that qualify as a new commandment – without restricting it to the apostles? It is to be the love of the Christian community that identifies them as Jesus’ disciples. How can that be restricted

    In my previous comment, I also referenced another time Jesus spoke of “the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive.” (John 7:39)

    Is that only for the apostles as well? We need to read the Bible without being blinded by our theology. Otherwise, we can never grow beyond our fathers who developed that theology. This was one of the “beefs” that Alexander Campbell had with formal creeds. Our informal creed can be just as binding if we do not open our eyes to what is actually being said in the Scripture.


  37. Jerry said, ” His new command was new because of the standard of love it required, not because it was given only to the apostles! ”

    Let’s break down what you said -” His new command was new because of the standard of love it required-

    I believe that is what I said .

    ” not because it was given only to the apostles!”

    I believe that is exactly why the standard was raised, because he was speaking to “his apostles” .
    What you are saying is, Jesus changed the commandment of God, his father. The one Jesus said was like the first.
    I don’t think so. according to what Jesus said about the second commandment, that would be like changing the first commandment.
    Mat 22:39 And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

  38. Alan, that is not the best explanation of “Spirit” I have ever heard

    Nor was I attempting to craft the best explanation you’ve ever heard! I was merely documenting that Paul’s description of the operation of the Spirit is really not compatible with the view that the Spirit that indwells us is inanimate.

  39. Alan said, “the operation of the Spirit is really not compatible with the view that the Spirit that indwells us is inanimate.”
    and in my opinion Alan is correct, if our spirit is inanimate, we are dead.

  40. Jerry said “You are really stretching to hold on to a theological position”

    Jerry I have noticed you have not bothered to answer the question of Jesus changing the second commandment. or admitting to who is stretching what. in order to do what.

  41. Most in the church of Christ have taught for years and still do that the Holy Spirit today is the written word. Our bibles are the comforter.

    The main counter point to what you are saying is that the Spirit cannot be a person since a person cannot live inside another person.

  42. Cannot? I wonder how we can know that.

  43. Lamond,

    You said

    Jerry I have noticed you have not bothered to answer the question of Jesus changing the second commandment. or admitting to who is stretching what. in order to do what.

    Jesus no more changed the second greatest commandment than He changed the sixth or seventh of the ten commandments. He deepened our understanding of all of these. What I meant by you “stretching” is that in denying that the Holy Spirit is actually living within the child of God, you force explanations on many passages instead of taking them at their face value.

    You still have not responded to my comment about John 7:39 – or Galatians 3:26-27; 4:6 – or Acts 5:32 either. Nor have I tried to respond to every rabbit you throw out for me to chase. I have tried to stick to the main point that I made.

    Jesus said the apostles had heard him speak of the promise of the Father, first made in the Old Testament. He said that John had spoken of being baptized in the Holy Spirit – which would occur in a few days from when He spoke. On Pentecost, Peter said that the resurrected and ascended Christ received the promise from the Father and had poured out what they now saw and heard. He also said that penitents who were baptized in the name of the Lord for the forgiveness of sins would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, ie, the Spirit promised by the Father & poured out by the Son. He further said “the promise is for you and your children and as many as are far off.”

    THAT is the point I started with – and which you have not really responded to. In my original comment, I mentioned one time Jesus had spoken to the apostles about the coming of the Holy Spirit (John 14). YOU wanted to say that this entire conversation was ONLY for the apostles, not for us (which makes me wonder why it takes so much space in John’s gospel, if that is so). Was his comment about serving one another by washing feet only for the apostles as well? I mentioned John 13:34ff as one thing there that you certainly would agree is for all of us – and you even denied that! This is why I say you are really stretching to make a point – and even if you validly made your point, you still would not have not dealt with the main thrust of what I wrote.

    Now why would a seemingly intelligent, lucid man discuss things that way? My conclusion (and I admit it is MY conclusion, not necessarily fact) is that it is to hold on to a theological point that the gift of the Spirit is not the Holy Spirit Himself nor is the promise that is for all whom the Lord will call the Holy Spirit.

    I tried to point you to the context of Peter’s statement and how “the promise” is developed in that context. You do not seem to want to deal with that, so until you do, my part in this conversation is over.


  44. I don’t know that I could still say “most in the church of Christ” these days, Alabama John. I move in fairly mainstream and right of center circles most of the time, and even there I don’t find too many people holding to the word only view, and haven’t for a very long time. But one’s mileage may vary, as they say, depending on region. Uniform we aren’t.

  45. Alabama John said; “The main counter point to what you are saying is that the Spirit cannot be a person since a person cannot live inside another person.”

    I agree, and might I just add, to answer Alan, If, and I say IF, it were possible for the Holy Spirit to live within every Christian, (as some claim, person within, person) there would be no way that Christian could commit a sin. Yet the bibles says if you say you don’t sin, you are a liar, without the truth.
    As far back as I can remember ( I have attended the CoC for 63 yrs, not as a member of course, because I was made to go, and sit and listen) the CoC has taught that the bible was written with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, therefore fulfilling the purpose given for that comforter.
    Jhn 14:17 [Even] the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

    Jhn 14:26 But the Comforter, [which is] the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

    Jhn 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, [even] the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:

    Let’s look at how the Old testament describes spirits.

    Isa 11:1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
    Isa 11:2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
    I might ask those who say , a person within a person, do you believe many persons entered Jesus when he received the spirits at baptism?

  46. James you are right, the circles you run in have changed from the original belief of the church, but that said the majority of the CoC is not based in New York.

  47. Laymond wrote:

    If, and I say IF, it were possible for the Holy Spirit to live within every Christian, (as some claim, person within, person) there would be no way that Christian could commit a sin.

    There would be no way? How could you possibly know that?

  48. Guys,

    The Bible repeatedly talks about person’s living within other persons. In the Gospels these are normally called demons or unclean spirits but they are identifiable individuals with names and personalities. If a demon with a name, and an identifiable personality (a person) can dwell within a human (another person) why can’t the spirit of the living God indwell that same human? Even more so if that human being was specifically created to enjoy that very degree of relationship.

  49. And I think I John 1:5 – 2:2 deals with the sin issue. We aren’t supposed to sin – John makes that point most strongly – but if we do sin we have an advocate and a cleansing. We remain the temple of the Holy Spirit because the blood of Christ continues to cleanse us from all sin as we continue to walk in fellowship with Him and with the other temples (each other).

    To my understanding the point of salvation is not to keep you out of hell, but to allow you to enjoy this special relationship with God – now as His spirit dwells within us and for all eternity when we go to dwell with Him. The alternative to (and indeed the total absence of) this relationship is hell.

  50. Alan, let’s put it this way, do you believe “God the Holy Spirit” would live in a temple of sin?

    1Cr 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [that] the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
    1Cr 3:17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which [temple] ye are.

    I could be wrong, please explain, is Paul not saying you have to be holy/perfect , sinless, for the Spirit of God to live there.?

  51. I could be wrong, please explain, is Paul not saying you have to be holy/perfect , sinless, for the Spirit of God to live there.?

    No, that’s not what he said. He described consequences when a Christian sins. Your comment which I quoted is your inference, not what the passage says. In fact that statement actually contradicts what the passage says: “the Spirit of God dwelleth in you.” And the passage explicitly acknowledges the possibility of defiling the temple in which God lives.

  52. Alan, what happends when you do that. does he move out, before you go to hell.

  53. Alan, I know we are all straying from the post but I believe we left that road a while back.

    Can you explain what is meant by this?
    Mat 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

  54. Laymond, I’m not going to try to fill in the blanks where the scriptures have not done so. I’m just taking these passages at face value, and trusting God on the parts that are not revealed.

  55. WE humans, all humans, past and present whether they knew it or not, were, and are, born with some spirit of God within us.

    All humans, and nothing else born on earth, have some born with knowledge of God and that He must be obeyed and worshipped. Different understandings, and methods, but the goal of obtaining a better afterlife is the same.

    Not too different from what some would call savages and todays christians when you get down to it is it?

  56. “Not too different from what some would call savages and todays christians when you get down to it is it?”

    After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts;
    And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me,

  57. The problem arises when in every civilization and culture there are always some that propose to know more of God and what He wants and convinced others to follow them. We call them priest, priestesses, and reverends, evangelist, sineater, and many other lost in time names.
    In all cases, these have set the course for others to follow.
    Without their leaderrship, but the spirits only, would we as a whole have a clearer understanding and far less disagreements among us than we do?

    The question is: have these that have led the civilizations and todays churches really like Abraham, Noah, and Paul among others been given a better understanding of God, or just assumed the position.

  58. Alexander Campbell defined the godhead exactly the way the Bible and all classical trinitarians explained it: no one ever taught that the Spirit OF Christ is another PEOPLE. That would be beyond the pale for Alexander Campbell.

    If he denied the LU tritheism of three people it is not possible that he is speaking of hearing “beyond the sacred pages.” He declared with John Calvin that anyone who heard “spirit” outside of the written words of Christ was a fanatic.

  59. Jay comments: Campbell taught,

    All that is done in us before regeneration, God our Father effects by the word, or the gospel as dictated and confirmed by his Holy Spirit. But after we are thus begotten and born by the Spirit of God–after our new birth, the Holy Spirit is shed on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; of which the peace of mind, the love, the joy, and the hope of the regenerate is full proof; for these are amongst the fruits of that Holy Spirit of promise of which we speak. Thus commences [THE NEW LIFE.]

    Notice that Campbell plainly states that “word only” is a pre-conversion rule and that, after conversion, the Spirit gives the Christian peace, love, joy, and hope, which are proof of the Spirit’s presence.

    RAY: I propose that by personally adding to our faith, we are encouraged to enjoy spiritual good fruit whenever we think about our Lord Jesus. If we do not have such spiritual fruit, we should not complain that the Spirit has shorted us, for the fault is within ourselves. It cannot be denied that God’s gift of His Spirit is given to every Christian upon their new birth through repentance and baptism into Christ. But we do not do well to expect the Spirit to miraculously and mysteriously take over our live. We were free moral agents. We still are. The more we seek God, the more we will FIND God. We should desire to be filled with God’s Spirit. We should show forth to others God’s love which is fully demonstrated by the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus promises to be with us as we proclaim gospel truth wherever we go. He is IN us by our being indwelt with HIS SPIRIT.

  60. Ray,

    But is there some degree to which the Spirit could’ve acted such that i would’ve responded to the “prompting” positively rather than negatively (assuming i failed in some instance)? Just seems like easy new frontier for the problem of evil.

    In any case, you said, “it cannot be denied that God’s gift of His Spirit is given to every Christian upon their new birth through repentance and baptism in to Christ.” i’ve heard that denied multiple times by multiple preachers over the years. And i’m still not sure i agree with it.


  61. Campbell continues:
    There yet remains the phrase “sanctification of the Spirit.” This understood, I presume the whole New Testament phraseology on the subject of the Spirit will be easily understood by every attentive reader. The original phrase is hagiasmos pneumatos, and is found only in II. Thess. ii. 13; I. Pet. i. 2.

    In both places it appears to refer to the sanctification of the spirit of believers. It is literally rendered “sanctification [or holiness] of spirit.”

    There is no article in the original and no epithet that suggests the Holy Spirit in either passage.
    God has chosen men to salvation through (or by) holiness of spirit;
    not through the holiness of his Spirit,
    but through the holiness of their spirit.

    So all Christians, being priests, are anointed or sanctified by the Holy Spirit [135] through the obedience of the truth, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus, cleansing their consciences from dead works to serve the living God.

    A holy spirit (Acts 2:38) is A good conscience (1 Peter 3:21) so also says Walter Scott

  62. In this article Campbell points out a difference in the Greek, which is obscured in English, concerning “spiritual gifts” and “the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

    Fact 2. When “spiritual gifts” are spoken of, no other word is used but charisma–that is, where we have the phrase “spiritual gifts” in the common version, we have charisma expressed or implied in the Greek.

    Heb. ii. 4 is not an exception, for there it is distributions: common version, “gifts”–not “the gifts” of the Holy Spirit. The word here is merismos, found only twice–Heb. ii. 4 and iv. 12. In the last place it is translated “dividing asunder”–common version.

    Fact 3. But when the gift of the Holy Spirit is spoken of, or, indeed, alluded to, no other word than DOREA is used by any writer who speaks of it.

    Every particular gift of the Spirit spoken of, or alluded to, is designated by charisma; but “the gift of the Holy Spirit” by dorea only. This is certainly worth something to those who wish to understand the Scriptures.

    From this last fact the inference may be drawn, that a gift of the Spirit, or a spiritual gift, is not the same as the gift of the Holy Spirit, inasmuch as the sacred writers in their language never confounded them. Ought we not now to inquire what is the precise import of the words dorea and charisma?

    His conclusion regarding the “gift of the Holy Spirit”:

    From all which the following conclusion is inevitable, that the phrase, “the gift of the Holy Spirit,” means the Holy Spirit himself given, as foretold by Joel, and vouchsafed to Jews and Gentiles at the erection of the kingdom of the Messiah, and on their admission into it.

  63. Ken said “A holy spirit (Acts 2:38) is A good conscience (1 Peter 3:21) so also says Walter Scott”

    Ken I like your explanation better than (person indwelling person) but I believe if you re-read 1 Peter 3:21, you will find he said baptism brings salvation, if you come with a good conscience toward God.

    1Pe 3:21 The like figure whereunto [even] baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

    (baptism doth also now save us)

    Another argument for the “Gift of the Holy Ghost” being salvation.

  64. i thought the reading of 1Peter 3:21 was either a textual variant or ambiguous regarding whether you receive a good conscience or whether you’re motivated by one (compare NKJV & NIV to the NASB & ESV). [Not trying to turn this into a translation debate.]

    But i don’t see how good conscience can be understood from Acts 2:38. If you observe all the references to the “spirit” throughout the passage, i think you’d be hard-pressed to make a case that the mention in Acts 2:38 differed in connotation from the all the previous mentions. And i don’t see how you’d work in “good conscience” into all the previous mentions.


  65. The Peter who promised A holy spirit also promised A good conscience or consciousness and Paul said that we are sprinkled FROM an evil conscience when our bodies are washed with pure water. I don’t know of any history which believed that the Spirit OF Christ was a person.

    A figure or tupos is “a pattern capable of being imitated.” When we obey that pattern we are then free from sin (Rom 6)

    1 Pet. 3:21 The like figure whereunto
    even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh,
    but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

    In Hebrews the ekklesia or church of Christ have their spirit translated into a heavenly kingdom not subject to much sight and sound

    To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all,
    and to the Spirits of just men made perfect, Heb 12:23

    Answer ALWAYS means REQUEST. And only baptism is the time and place to request A holy spirit or A good conscience which God sprinkles clean when our bodies is washed with pure water (as opposed to blood or wine)

    Eperotema (g1906) ep-er-o’-tay-mah; from 1905; an inquiry: – answer.

    The NIV translates this as a PLEDGE only time which I believe is one out of 53 (?)

    Examples: Hdt. 6.67 “ask him if he would like to hold office.” Thuc. 3.53 “asked leave to speak” Interrogation in latin

    Our spirit or our consciousness is what makes us aware:

    Conscience (Consciousness) Suneidesis is an awareness, of right or wrong, And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you– not the removal of dirt from the flesh,
    but an APPEAL to God for a good conscience— through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 3:21NAS

    Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body
    but as an APPEAL to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 3:21RSV

    To turn, be converted or be baptized would give the Corinthian Jews the power to read BLACK text on BROWN paper in the Old Testament which was READ in the synagogue.

    Walter Scott said the gift of the holy spirit is OUR spirits made perfect: A holy spirit which is the goal of removing AN UNholy spirit, mind or conscience (consciousness).

  66. I don’t understand the reluctance to acknowledge that there is a being called the Holy Spirit who can and does indwell every Christian. Have we become so material in our thinking that we can’t accept the spiritual?

    I don’t think “indwell” implies geo-location. The Holy Spirit is not confined to a particular physical location. Maybe that is the hangup some peope have. But there is a connection, a joining of spirits between our own spirit and the Holy Spirit. There is an external power that comes to our lives. God’s power is at work within us (Eph 3:20). There is a constant companionship, a participation in our inner thoughts. If people believe God hears a silent prayer, how can it be hard to accept that the Holy Spirit is right there all the time hearing our inner thoughts? And if so, how is it hard to accept that the Spirit also influences those thoughts… and that the Spirit gives us love, joy, peace, patience, and the other fruits of the Spirit?

    And if we accept all that, why is there a reluctance to call that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit?

  67. Because calling the Spirit OF Christ a person was invented at LU and first outed at FHC in 1938 and published by H. Leo Boles in 1942 where it was spread through the GA literature. Jesus promised “another” not “heteros” and said I WILL COME TO YOU. Whatever the Campbells say about the Holy Spirit it is designated as an IT and is not a person. Spirit means wind or BREATH and only in a remote sense the Spirit OF a rational Being or God Himdel.

    James 2:1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
    1John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

    The first Nicene creed did not speak of the Holy Spirit and only later said that “we believe in the Holy Spirit.” No trinitarian ever thought of the Spirit OF Christ as another god person as the LU dogma teaches.

    The word PERSON according to Thomas Campbell: “is not manifestly applied in the Holy Scriptures to any of the Sacred Three: nor indeed can be so applied in strict propriety, according to its literal and obvious acceptation;

    “for when applied to God, instead of meaning a distinct intelligent being coexisting with others in the same common nature, we must mean by it, if we think and speak correctly, one and the self-same individual being so existing as to constitute in and to itself so many distinct or different, real and relative characters, or subsistences, each of which is but another name for the self-same individual essence or being considered as existing in the specified relation of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

    Calvin’s article continues to say that all who had the Holy Spirit (Mind of Christ) could manifest it and said:

    “Let none of the admirers and believers in “physical and moral operations of the Spirit”–in “common and special operations”–in “divine influences,” be alarmed at this investigation of the matter.”

    “God has chosen men to salvation through (or by) holiness of spirit;
    NOTthrough the holiness of his Spirit, but through the holiness of THEIR spirit.

    “When Jesus prayed (John xvii.) for the sanctification or holiness of his disciples,
    it was through the truth: “Sanctify them through the truth; thy word is truth.”

    “The belief of the truth is, therefore, by Paul associated with this holiness or sanctification of spirit. The Spirit of God is frequently denominated in these days, “the Sanctifier.” Let it be granted that it is the Spirit that sanctifies or sets apart men to God, still it must be argued from the Record that he sanctifies them only through the truth or gospel believed.

    “A sanctified unbeliever is inconceivable; and, as “without holiness [or sanctification of spirit] no man can see the Lord;” so, without faith, there can be no holiness, and no action acceptable to God.”

  68. Correction:

    Calvin’s article continues to say that all who had the Holy Spirit (Mind of Christ) could manifest it and said:

    Should be the quoted

    Alexander Campbell’s article continues to say that all who had the Holy Spirit (Mind of Christ) could manifest it and said:

  69. Alan
    I think I see clearly the answer to your question if I might be bold enough to answer.

    All that guidance by the Holy Spirit just might differ in some way with the teachings of the teachers.
    The teachers disagree with each other enough, why allow another teaching or guiding influence in the frey.

  70. Alan,

    Your basic question is very interesting to me. i’ve been thinking something similar the whole time but from the opposite perspective:

    Why does it seem like there’s such a need in people for it to be true that the HS is metaphysically inside them doing something mysterious?

    Don’t misunderstand me. If the scriptures teach a metaphysical indwelling, then that’s what they teach and i accept that. Personally, i just still haven’t seen it decivisely and persuasively proven either way.

    But what does seem apparent to me (i could be wrong) is that regarding this particular issue, there are people on both sides who seem more deeply committed to their position than they are simply open and flexible to whatever the Scriptures say about this. Now, true, that could be said of a great number of controversial issues. But here, IMO, that commitment seems to portray more psychologically deep elements than in some other issues.

    i remember growing up with one of my friends from school; his mom used the HS to explain just about everything. If the weather was bad outside and she was at a store and found a good parking spot, she would literally say something like “Oh, the Holy Spirit gave me that parking spot so it wouldn’t be so hard carrying my baby into the store in the cold.”

    i also remember growing up in very conservative CoC’s where even mentioning “The Holy Spirit” outside of reading a scripture verbatum was met with deafening silence and suspicious stares and tension. It was the dirty word that 9 times out of 10 would get you in trouble almost no matter what you said about it.

    Me? i think i have fears about both positions. Suppose the indwelling we read about was something only for the first century church and is no more. (Granted, many non-literal-indwelling-adherents don’t even grant this much.) What does that say of my experience as a Christian? Is this something i, as a committed restorationist, just have to do without? –something that seemed so integral to the first century experience? What’s left for me? That’s scary to think we might have a huge (underscore huge) “blank” spot in our modern ecclesiological experience when compared to the first century. How do we fill it? More frighteningly, how do we figure out how God expects us to fill it? If this position is correct, then it doesn’t appear God has made much clear provision for the modern church. That’s scary.

    But i also get afraid when i hear people drop the HS into every other sentence. Even if it’s true, it seems to open up a back door for subjectivism. If you don’t like what i did or said or think, i can always claim the Holy Spirit prompted me to say it or “revealed” it to me, and then how are you supposed to argue with that? But what’s scary isn’t just that i can claim that, it’s that i can *believe* it. There are multiple people who say the HS did this that or the other that, frankly, i’m sorry, but i don’t believe the HS had anything to do with it. But if i don’t believe it, i’m forced to conclude that person is either lying or self-deceived. (So much for unity with that person.)
    Some people say “Oh the HS is working here.” When i was a teenager, i had a lot of close charismatic/pentecostal friends, and i started to talk just like this. If something bad happened, “well the devil is clearly working against us,” and if something good happened “Oh the Holy Spirit is looking out for us.” But eventually it dawned on me, how can i possibly know that? How do i know there weren’t other forces at work that explain what happened in that particular case? Perhaps it’s something that appears good but turns out to be bad. Do i still wanna say the HS did it? Perhaps it’s something good, but God didn’t exercise any *special* intervention at all in the case. Perhaps it’s something good, God did it, but He didn’t do it by way of the HS. i’ve encountered lots of people (and i mean within the CoC) who use “The Holy Spirit” to explain anything that seems mysterious or good to them. If that’s okay, then it seems to me all objective measures of reason will crumble. That’s scary.

    Anyway, i’ve rambled long enough just to make the point that i think there are aversions in people that bubble up to the surface on this issue because most of the positions you take seem very risky in some sense or another.


  71. Guy, very interesting comment!

    I don’t see any promise in scripture that the HS will provide us with good parking places. OTOH not a single sparrow falls to the ground apart from the Father…. I guess if you are inclined to thank God for something then you are implicitly attributing that event to God as the cause. I’m not too impressed with the alternative that God merely allowed it (otherwise maybe we should be thanking God for allowing it — that is, for not causing something worse to happen! Seems to be a pretty fatalistic view.)

    Eventually I always end up back at Deuteronomy 29:29:

    The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.

  72. Good study Ken, and and I am in agreement with what it says.

  73. Alan,

    i concur with the notion i think you’re expressing–i really don’t think i any longer believe in the concepts of luck or chance in the sense that there are events for which there is no reason whatsoever and i’m simply playing the odds. i think some people have the notion of a dichomoty–either the Holy Spirit or Deism. –as though there’s nothing inbetween.

    i think God is in control of everything actively. i don’t think that implies that everything that happens happens for reasons peculiar to the event and people in question. But the point is that God has a *variety of means* by which to get His purposes accomplished. Ya know what? Maybe God did somehow ensure you’d get that parking space. But that doesn’t necessarily mean He did it by some use of the HS, nor does it mean that His purposes had anything to do with your convenience or comfort (seems a “quaint” idea in the Mark-Twain-sense).

    Perhaps then what some people are afraid of is not the idea that the literal-indwelling-doctrine is false, but what they fear is Deism–the idea that God’s not doing anything anymore presently, but simply wound up the clock and walked away, and thus He’s only doing something in the present in the sense that He set things up a certain way. That is an idea that’s scary and certainly not the picture the Bible paints in any age of biblical history. i can certainly relate to that fear.

    But like i said, i can relate to the other fear too. Some people seem to think that the literal-indwelling-doctrine implies some degree of subjective experience that seems a short slippery slope away from pentecostalism or mysticism. i don’t the bible supports either of those ideologies. So i can certainly relate to that fear as well.


  74. In this long thread, I believe , the Holy Spirit has been referred to as the Spirit of Christ.(at times)
    How does that fit with this?

    Jhn 14:30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.

  75. Laymond, the Spirit of Christ could simply be the spirit that proceeds from Christ, could it not? And the term “Spirit of Christ” is used elsewhere to refer to a living being:

    1Pe 1:10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care,
    1Pe 1:11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.

  76. There are several other passages to prove that the PROPHETS and the prophecies made more certain will reveal the Mind or Spirit of Christ: that is why the command is to use “that which is written” or “that which has been taught.” Remember prepositional phrases? The spirit OF anger is not a little person.

    Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently,
    ……..who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 1 Peter 1: 10
    Searching what, or what manner of time
    …….the Spirit OF Christ which was in them did signify,
    …….when IT testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. 1 Peter 1: 11

    The Prophets were inspired BY Christ and it was HIS Spirit (breath) inspiring them. Christ was the ROCK in the wilderness or any other verbal or audible manifestation of the invisible ONE Deity.

    2Pet. 1:18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard,
    …….when we were with him in the holy mount.
    2Pet. 1:19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy;
    ……whereunto ye do well that ye take heed,
    ……as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, (that unique worship concept)
    ……until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
    2Pet. 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. (further expounding)
    2Pet. 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man:
    ……but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

    But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. 2 Cor 3:15
    ……Nevertheless, when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. 2 Cor 3:16
    Now the Lord IS that Spirit: and where the Spirit OF the Lord is, there is liberty. 2 Cor 3:17
    But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the GLORY of the Lord,
    ……are changed into the same image from glory to glory,
    ……even as by the Spirit OF the Lord. 2 Cor 3:18

    How can anyone “hearing voices” give you a better deal? I love being a “disciple” and never intend to be a “ceremonial legalist” again. A disciple is a student. Rituals will make you depressed and broke.

    Rev. 19:10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me,
    See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus:
    worship God: for the testimony of Jesus IS the spirit OF prophecy.

    Spirit is wind or BREATH long before it is used only in a figurative sense to speak of the “mental disposition of a person” or of God Who is Holy or WHOLLY Spirit.

  77. It makes interesting surmising to try to comprehend what John saw in Revelation’s chapter four. He speaks of seeing God seated on a throne while being worshipped by heavenly hosts. First imaginings would have God in a body somewhat similar to the bodies He gave Adam and Eve. For he was SEATED, perhaps implying human-like appearance. The descriptions of Jesus in chapters one and five also indicate that Jesus now looks human much as He did when on earth AS a human. Is it implied also that we will know one another in Heaven? Doesn’t this imply eternal bodies which appear much as our earthly ones? How else would we know one another?

  78. Ray,

    i think our resurrected bodies will be similar to our earthly ones, but not because of anything Revelation says. i’m iffy about the idea of God having a body, and i’m not sure i would push ideas like “seated” to imply such unless i’m also willing to accept that there exists a literal multi-headed beast or a literal dragon that spills water out of its mouth.

    but i’m not sure i see the connection to the discussion about The Holy Spirit?


  79. Didn’t God show His backside once?

    How did the person know it was a backside if it didn’t look like one?

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