Since the times of Alexander Campbell our brethren have taught
that the Spirit operates on the human mind in conversion and sanctification
only through his Word. We have always labeled a direct operation
of the Spirit as false doctrine. In the debate with the Presbyterian
N.L. Rice, Alexander Campbell affirmed, "In conversion and
sanctification the Spirit of God operates on persons only through
the word" (p. 611). He made this statement: "The doctrine
which I oppose, so far as it is really believed and acted upon,
neutralizes preaching, annuls the Bible, and perfectly annihilates
human responsibility. I know no doctrine more fatal" (p.
We cannot do justice to all that Campbell said in the proposition
or the statement I have quoted. However, I would like to first
notice a couple of the brethren who agree with him; then give
a bare hint why a direct operation of the Holy Spirit on the human
spirit is not only false doctrine but also fatal false doctrine.
E.R. Harper quoted the Baptist J.N. Hall (co-resident of the Hall-Moody
Institute), "God's doctrines, ordinances and teachings are
embodied in his written Word and that not beyond, or without them,
but in conjunction with them, there is a distinct personal power
of the Holy Spirit."
Speaking of sister Bass at Highland in Abilene brother E.R. Harper
She said she believed that both the Word and the Holy Spirit worked
together. That is what J.N. Hall said, only he used the word 'conjunction.'
... This is the most destructive of all supposed Christian religious
doctrines known to me. It is as destructive, if not more so, than
miracles and tongues. It must be stopped in our ranks, or we are
soon to be a 'forgotten people' (p. 65, Harper on the Holy
Spirit Issues in the Twentieth Century).
In the open forum at Freed-Hardeman College brother Guy N. Woods
said this on the subject:
It isn't a minor matter that we are dealing with here! Don't let
anybody leave you with the impression that it's not a critical
situation. At stake here is the all sufficiency of the word of
God. At stake here is the question of whether or not hunches,
leadings, indications that people may feel must or may be interpreted
as leadings of the Holy Spirit. That's it and that is a serious
question and if something is not done about it, it's going to
cause a major division in the church which all of us of course
want to avoid. But we won't avoid it by sticking our heads in
the sand and saying it doesn't exist (Guy N. Woods, Open Forum,
FreedHardeman lectures, 1967).
Once when doing mission work in Vermont, I studied until daybreak
with a Baptist regarding baptism. Sometime during the night he
took a big black cigar our of his mouth, held it in front of my
face and proudly said, "Someday God is going to take this
cigar away from me."
Now suppose some preacher with an ongoing affair with a woman
not his wife talks to another preacher. He knows adultery will
send him to hell (1 Cor. 6:911). However, he sobs pitifully
and exclaims after hours of counseling, "I just can't break
it off. I want to be faithful to my wife but I don't have the
His fellow preacher finally says, "I understand. But I believe
if you will just be compliant, the Holy Spirit, in conjunction
with all those passages we have studied, will strengthen you,
and he will enable you to bear his fruit of faithfulness."
The other preacher says, "I hope so, and soon. I just can't
obey God's command without direct help." He should be told
the Bible says he can obey by self-control and faith (1 Cor. 9:2327).
While waiting with false hope in his heart he is killed one month
later, still in the grip of fornication, still waiting for that
which God never promised. To that man it was fatal, false doctrine,
though neither preacher thought so.
Brethren, I have tried to put how the doctrine will be received,
by some, into a conversation. I have not made the conversation
so much as the doctrine will be actually presented. The Baptist
who believes "once saved always saved" does not actually
teach, "Go out and sin and enjoy the pleasures of sin, for
once you are a son you are always a son. Once you are saved you
are always saved." However, openly or not, many gladly receive
the teaching that way; the consequences follow. So, we view it
as fatal, false doctrine.
What Does God Say?
In part God simply says, "Flee fornication (1 Cor. 6:18).
"Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin"
No, there is a power in God's Word (Heb. 4:12; Jer. 23:29). Its
promises, reproofs, rebukes, warnings, and exhortations need no
mysterious supplement to enable the honest and good hearers to
bear fruit (Luke 8:15). God requires us to add selfcontrol
to our desires (2 Pet. 1:6), cleanse ourselves of all defilement
of flesh and Spirit, and perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord
(2 Cor. 6:177:1). To wait for a direct influence on our
mind or heart by the Holy Spirit both contradicts and adds to
the words of the Spirit of truth. With ill will toward none, I
must believe a direct operation of the Holy Spirit on the human
spirit is fatal false doctrine. I invite you to look at this offer.
Does the Holy Spirit Operate Directly on the Human Spirit in
Sanctification, or Only Through the Truth?
Controversial Correspondence Between Roy Deaver, Mac Deaver, and
Jerry Moffitt and others.
Free, or if willing, please send $2.50 to help defray costs of
printing, postage and handling.
Portland Church of Christ
P.O. Box 1275
Portland, TX 78374