|Vol. 14 No. 11 November 2012||
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Perception of the manner in which the Holy Spirit indwells the Christian is fundamentally related to one’s view of every other facet of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it is imperative to briefly identify the basic concepts of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit held by several writing brethren. These positions neither represent the total summary of statements published by brethren, nor does even one of them, apart from the Bible itself, constitute Bible authority in the matter before us. These excerpts simply and concisely identify the two primary differences of thought among faithful brethren relating to the Holy Spirit.
Nearly all our brethren writing about the Holy Spirit begin by devoting many pages to the firm disavowal of the miraculous operation of the Holy Spirit now. Even those who argue for an indwelling of the Spirit apart from the Word of God emphasize no new revelations are received today and no leadings or pronouncements of the Holy Spirit occur today apart from the Word of God. Then, the pages that follow typically lay the groundwork for the writer’s later contention for his understanding of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the child of God. So, the pages preceding that announcement are colored by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit chapter later in the volume.
To this writer, the position that supposes the Holy Spirit indwells the Christian separate and apart from the Word of God is unwarranted, unnecessary and potentially dangerous. It is unwarranted because it is not precisely taught in the Bible – only affirmed by its proponents. What brethren conclude from various passages is rather the point to be proved. This indwelling theory is unnecessary since the Holy Spirit is not empowered to do anything apart from the Word of God. Finally, it is dangerously close to adoption of the erroneous Pentecostal and charismatic platform. There is only one short step from contending that the Holy Spirit operates directly in salvation or enables the recipient to perform miracles or receive inspired revelation or special guidance and leadings.
However, as long as differing brethren can seemingly walk the tightrope without falling into the “Pentecostal pit” and joining the “charismatic circus,” no test of fellowship is proposed here. Brother Franklin Camp voiced this tolerance of the opposing view in the introduction of his book, The Work of the Holy Spirit in Redemption: “…one thing I want to make crystal clear is that I do not believe that any differences about the gift of the Holy Spirit and the indwelling of the Spirit should ever be made a test of fellowship” (ix-x).
Conviction: “The Holy Spirit indwells the Christian
THROUGH the Word of God.”
The proposition that the Holy Spirit works only through the Word is one that has stood the test on the polemic platform for more than a hundred and fifty years. …The main theme of this book sets forth the proposition that the Holy Spirit works through the Word in conversion and sanctification. (ix)
James M. Zachary
…(2 Cor. 6:16) …(Eph. 3:17). Now, if God, Christ and the Spirit dwell in us, is there any teaching that the Spirit dwells in us in a different sense from that in which the Father and the Son dwell in us? …Gal. 3:2… The above Scriptures clearly teach that when the words, thoughts and Spirit of God are controlling in our lives, God dwells in us; that when the gospel controls us, Christ dwells in us; that when we receive the gospel by the hearing of faith, the Spirit dwells in us. (117-119)
Foy E. Wallace, Jr.
Who would be so foolish as to contend that God or Christ dwells in any Christian or church as a veritable personality? …The personal habitation of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit is in heaven, and they only dwell in Christians by faith and through the influence of wisely adapted means or medium. The theory of the abstract and direct spiritual influence destroys the personality of the Holy Spirit, turns it into a mute and dumb substance… (51)
Guy N. Woods
Independent of the Word we could never know “whether there be any Holy Spirit.” …God and Christ never personally occupied anyone; and for the same reason the Holy Spirit does not personally occupy anyone. …If the Spirit dwells in a person directly he must provide direct testimony for that immediate indwelling in the demonstration of it. The very theory of a direct indwelling exists to accommodate the mysterious influence, but it has no proof. (7)
It seems certain that God, Christ and the Holy Spirit dwell in the hearts of faithful disciples in exactly the same manner, i.e., through the word of truth. He who can see a personal, literal and actual “indwelling” in the words, “The Spirit dwelleth in you,” but nothing more than a representative “indwelling” in the words, “God dwelleth in him” (1 John 4:15 ASV) …has abandoned all reasonable exegesis. …The Holy Spirit dwells in Christians today through the word which he inspired. (279-280)
The Holy Spirit is received as a gift by those who obey the gospel. …The child of God and the Holy Spirit live in the same house. The temple of God must remain Holy. The body is the only dwelling place of the soul of man. When the man moves out, by reason of death, the body is dead; the temple is unoccupied. If the Holy Spirit is forced to vacate the temple because of sin and unrighteousness, spiritual death is the result. …The Holy Spirit, as a person, does dwell in the body of a child of God, having begotten life through the seed. Man’s own spirit dwells in the natural body, having been begotten through the seed which produces natural life. It is not within the realm of human wisdom to fully understand how this is possible regarding spiritual life, or natural life. It is a fact! (167, 169-170, 172)
The indwelling of the Spirit is not the word of God, the instruction of the Spirit, or one’s knowledge of the word… (Acts 2:38). (82)
…Rom. viii: 9-11… To our mind, the passage admits of one interpretation, and only one; namely, that the Spirit of God – the Holy Spirit – dwells literally and really in every Christian, and by it God will re-animate his body in the great day. (639-640)
…Acts ii, 38. By the gift of the Holy Spirit in this passage we are not to understand the miraculous powers of the Spirit bestowed on the Apostles and many other primitive Christians, but the Holy Spirit itself. (77)
After commanding the inquirers to repent and be immersed for the remission of sins, Peter adds the promise, “and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” …The latter expression means, the Holy Spirit as a gift. (44)
When Peter promised the gift of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost to those that would repent and be baptized, he certainly meant more than that the word should be received, for they had by faith already received the truth of the gospel, and their repentance and baptism was still further reception of the word into their hearts and their lives; and then the promise of the Holy Spirit was something beyond this, the reception of which depended upon their obedience to the gospel. …The gift of the Holy Ghost as mentioned in this passage we understand to be the Holy Spirit himself, which every one that obeyed the commands given had the promise of receiving. It was not pardon… (Lipscomb and Sewell 317-318)
The gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38) was the Holy Spirit himself. (Lipscomb and Sewell 318)
How the Holy Spirit indwells a person is mildly disputed. That the Holy Spirit (1) dwells in the child of God (2) and in a non-miraculous way is affirmed heartily and universally by faithful brethren. Be it remembered, though, that whatever interpretation one accepts about the manner of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit dramatically affects his understanding of every other New Testament passage mentioning the Holy Spirit. That alone makes this an important biblical subject worthy of careful study. After all, we are obligated to handle aright the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:15 ASV).
Brents, T.W. The Gospel Plan of Salvation. sixteenth ed., Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1973.
Camp, Franklin. The Word of the Holy Spirit in Redemption. Birmingham: Roberts & Son P., 1974.
Howard, V.E. The Holy Spirit. second edition. West Monroe: Central Printers & Publishers, 1975.
Lipscomb, David, and E.G. Sewell, Questions Answered By Lipscomb And Sewell. A Compilation Of Queries with Answers by D. Lipscomb and E.G. Sewell, covering a period of forty years of their joint editorial labors on the Gospel Advocate, edited by M.C. Kurfees. Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1969.
L’Roy, Elmer. The Holy Spirit. Shreveport: Lambert Book House, 1966.
McGarvey, J.W. A Commentary On Acts Of Apostles. With A Revised Version of the Text. seventh edition. Nashville: Gospel Advocate, n.d.
Milligan, Robert. Exposition and Defense of the Scheme Of Redemption as It Is Revealed and Taught in the Holy Scriptures. Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1972.
Sweeney, Z.T. The Spirit and the Word. Nashville: Gospel Advocate, n.d.
Wallace, Foy E., Jr. The Mission and Medium Of The Holy Spirit. Nashville: Foy E. Wallace, Jr. Publications, 1967.
Woods, Guy N. Questions and Answers. Open Forum, Freed-Hardeman College Lectures. Henderson: Freed-Hardeman College, 1976.
Zachary, James W. The Witness of The Spirit. Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1954.