Non-Miraculous Indwelling?

In the Church of Christ, there is a debate between two major camps concerning the Holy Spirit: the “word only” view and the literal indwelling view. Gus Nichols held to the literal indwelling view while men like Guy N Woods and Franklin Camp taught the word only view. The latter was persuading to me in the first half of my ministry.

The word only view began to fall apart for me in my study of Romans.

In Romans 8, Paul writes,

However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him… But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Romans 8:9-11

From this passage, it seems like every member at the Roman church had the Spirit, at least those who belonged to God. Those who didn’t were apparently not eligible for resurrection. However, in Romans 1, Paul says,

For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established;

Romans 1:11

Apparently some had the Spirit, but they didn’t have the miraculous gifts. The gifts were given so that they would be established. This is the similar to what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1.

I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:4–8

Here the church is told that they were enriched in all speech and knowledge in the same way the gospel was confirmed in them, miraculously. Not everyone in the empire’s capitol had these gifts, so Paul wanted to make a special trip to them to accomplish this.

Were these saints exempt from resurrection? Did they belong to God?

In Acts 8, John and Paul had to travel to Samaria to impart spiritual gifts to the people. Did those individuals belong to God before or after their arrival? If a Christian died before having Peter and John lay their hands on them, were they out of luck?

As I’ve stressed up to this point, the main purpose of the Spirit wasn’t to allow people to do miracles; it was to sanctify, to resurrect, to restore. The gifts were proof that the Spirit had been poured out in this special way, but the absence of the charismata does not mean the absence of the Spirit.

9 Replies to “Non-Miraculous Indwelling?

  1. “As I’ve stressed up to this point, the main purpose of the Spirit wasn’t to allow people to do miracles; it was to sanctify, to resurrect, to restore. The gifts were proof that the Spirit had been poured out in this special way, but the absence of the charismata does not mean the absence of the Spirit.”

    It appears to me that this statement could be used to claim the miraculous pouring out of the Spirit on the household of Cornelius (Acts 10,11,15) and their subsequent speaking in tongues was visual proof they had been sanctified, resurrected and restored, before Peter had even preached the gospel to them and commanded to be baptized. Foy Wallace covers this point clearly in his book “The Gospel for Today” – (Why Send for Peter)

  2. I might make a correction if I understand what Phil is saying. According to Acts 10:34-43, Peter proclaimed the Gospel before the Holy Spirit fell upon them. In concluding his sermon, Peter said: “everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” They did receive the Holy Spirit prior to water baptism. They were saved before they were immersed in water, otherwise, the Holy Spirit was poured out on children of hell. They were saved when they accepted Jesus.

    1. Brother Dallas, the point I was trying to make in reference to the conversion of the household of Cornelius (the first Gentile conversions) was taught to me by Brother Foy Wallace, in his book “The Gospel for Today” in the chapter entitled “Why Send for Peter?” I believe brother Wallace got it exactly correct. (I would heartedly recommend anyone who is interested in this topic, read Wallace’s discourse.
      Briefly, here are the main points made by Wallace:
      1) There are two accounts of what took place at the home of Cornelius, Acts 10 and Acts 11. Doctor Luke gave a general account of the proceedings in chapter 11, but Peter, confronted by the Jews for going in to Gentiles, rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it “by order” (vs 4) . . . Wallace emphasizes that Peter gave the order in which everything took place, while Luke gave a general accounting of what happened, without putting everything in the order in which it took place.

      2) Hence, in 11:15 it states the Holy Ghost fell of the household of Cornelius just as Peter “began to speak” and relate the “words” whereby Cornelius and his house shall be saved.

      3) So Wallace’s point, and with which I agree is this: To claim that Cornelius and his house was saved at the point at which the Holy Ghost fell on them is to claim they were saved before they heard Peter preach the words (gospel) by which they were to be saved.

      4) Peter attributes the Holy Ghost falling directly from God onto the gentiles as proof that God had granted repentance unto life to the Gentiles as well as the Jews. (11:16-18) The command for the Gentiles to be baptized was the point at which they contacted the blood of Christ and were saved, and raised to walk in newness of life. (10:48) . . . not at the point of receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost which convinced Peter and the Jews which came with him, to preach the gospel to the Gentiles.

      I hope I have cleared up the point I am trying to make. These thoughts are not original to me, but I have held them since the early 1970s when I first read Brother Wallace’s works.

  3. Brother Dallas, I forgot to add that Acts 15:7-9 proves that hearing and believing the gospel led to the salvation of Cornelius and his house, by purification of their heart through faith in the gospel, which Peter did not preach until after the Holy Ghost had descended on the gentiles.


  4. Correction: Luke gives a general account in Acts 10. Peter gives his account in the order in which it happened in Acts 11:4


  5. The “Word only” promotes questionable ideas. When you compare it to Scripture, it makes no sense. They find themselves denying what they claim; “we just go by the Bible.” It is so dangerous on so many counts I would not encourage any serious Christian to subject themselves to such distorted doctrine. It distorts the doctrine of the Holy Triune God.

  6. Thanks for your comment Darrell. I brought me back to this page and gave me a chance to re-read the entire thread. I would like to add another comment on the Holy Spirit, falling miraculously on the Household of Cornelius, and the claim that it was at this point they were saved.

    Since Wallace already pointed out that the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius just as Peter began to speak (11:15) . . . hence, if faith comes from hearing the word of God, which it does (Rom 10:17) then Cornelius and his household were saved with out faith, because they had not yet heard the gospel, for Peter had just begun to speak. If not why not?

    As for the claim that Cornelius and his household were “children of hell” when the Spirt fell upon them, the description of Cornelius, in Luke 10:2, certainly dispels that assertion. Cornelius is said to be “a devout man, one who feared God with all his house, and who gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always.” Hardly the description of a child of the Devil. I would also assert that there is a very good chance that Cornelius and his household were disciple of John the Baptist and had been baptized by him, seeing as the Bible says that all of Jerusalem, Judea, and the region round about Jordan (which would include Caesarea Mt 3:5-6) and were baptized of him

    A more appropriate analogy and comparison of Cornelius and his household would be with with “certain disciples” in Acts 19. Obviously Paul was willing to lay hands on them and pass along Spiritual gifts when he asked them, “have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed?” When they answered him that they knew nothing of the Holy Ghost, Paul got right to the most important point, by asking about their baptism. Now why would he have gone their? Well Paul knew that Jesus had commanded him to go into all the world and preach the gospel, which included baptism in the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Ghost (Mat 28:19) He also knew that Peter and the other Apostles, had preached the gospel on Pentecost and commanded the believers, who had been pricked in their heart, to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of their sins, ad they would receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38) So when these disciples admitted they knew nothing about the Holy Ghost, Paul rightly asked them, if not in the name of the Holy Ghost, “unto what” were they baptized? When they answered unto John’s baptism, which was “for the remission of sins” (Mark 1:4) Paul knew they lacked the commanded baptism of Mathew 28 and Acts 2.) These disciples were hardly compared to “children of the Devil.” Perhaps wicked Simon the Sorcerer would be a better comparison, as one who found himself in “the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity.” But surely, one would not consider Cornelius and his household to be in the same condition as Simon.

    Nevertheless Cornelius and his household needed to hear the gospel, (words whereby they could be saved) and to obey the gospel by being baptized in the name of Christ for the remission of their sins.

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