Thomas Campbell: DIRECT OPERATION of Holy Spirit

Rejecting a DIRECT OPERATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT is not a problem because Thomas Campbell did not think of the Holy Spirit as a person separated from the One God. The following letter sets forth some of his position for the American Restoration Movement. Second Corinthians chapter two shows that the Holy Spirit is the Mind of God as our spirit knows our minds. Furthermore, Lord Jesus Christ is that Mind of God and the Spirit Who breathed inspired words into the prophets (1 Pe. 1:11). When we belittle the Word as having the power of spirit and life of Christ (John 6:63) then we deny Christ Whose mind it reveals. We "quench the Spirit" by denying that as Word god moved all of the prophets.

The misunderstanding comes when we try to force the Mind of Christ to fit any of our patterns or paradigms. The goals of the Restoration Movement has modern meaning only if we begin where they began: with a great understanding of the spirit nature of the Word of God. The modern rejection of the wide-spread movement is directly parallel to the dominant pastors seeking a direct operation to justify their power over those who pay their food bill.

Referenced Scripture in blue.

See Declaration and Address by Thomas Campbell

Campbell, Thomas - Spirit - Agent of Conversion
Campbell, Thomas Holy Spirit - A circular letter
Thomas Campbell and Alexander Campbell  
Campbell, Thomas a DIRECT OPERATION of the Spirit

Thomas Campbell wrote the Editor of the Christian Baptist:

"SIR: When your eighth number of the Christian Baptist came to hand, upon reading your animadversions on experimental religion, I was persuaded that it would likely give offence to many of your pious readers; and that, instead of obviating the charge brought against you and your associates, of "denying experimental religion," it would rather increase it. This I have since understood to be actually the case. I, therefore, for my part, could have wished, that you had treated that very delicate, and, at the same time, very important subject, In a different manner.

I am not to be understood as objecting to the detection and exposure of a false and unscriptural experience, which, from your words, appears to be the thing intended; for, in your foot note, page 141, you assert, that we are taught, that

"since those gifts have ceased, the. Holy Spirit now operates upon the minds of men only by the word;"

and at the close of said note, you further assert, that "we are positive of one point," namely,

"that the scriptures teach us not the doctrine of physical operations of the Divine Spirit in order to faith."

With these declarations as I understand them, I am quite satisfied; for, since the sacred canon has been completed, it seems to be the general opinion, at least of

all the most eminent Protestant writers that have adverted to this subject,
that we are not to
look for any new revelations of the Spirit;
and that, of course, his saving operations in the production of
faith and repentance
and of every other
gracious effect by which we are made partakers of a divine nature, (2 Peter i. 4.)
        is by the
word of truth being put into the mind and written upon the heart, (Heb. viii. 10.) 

for this certainly is one of the exceeding great and precious promises above referred to, (2 Peter i. 4.) by which the Lord has graciously engaged to save his people, (Heb. viii. 10.)

As to regeneration itself, or, as it is commonly termed, the new birth, we are divinely assured, that it is effected by the word of truth.

(James i. 18.) Of his own will begat he us by the word of truth; and

(1 Peter i. 23-25.) Being born again not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible,
by the word of God
, which lives and abides forever. 
And this is the
word which by the gospel is preached to you.

Again--both the beginning and progress of Messiah's kingdom are ascribed to the word. Compare Matthew xiii. with Mark iv. and Luke viii. "Behold a sower went forth to sow," namely, the word of the kingdom; for the sower sows the word.

"And he that received seed into the good ground, is he that hears the word and understands it; who, in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keeps it, and brings forth fruit with patience." Again, (Mat. xvi. 16, 18,)

Simon said to Jesus, You are the Christ, the son of the living God. Jesus answered and said to him, Upon this rock will I build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Accordingly John, in his first Epistle, chap. v. verse 1, asserts, that whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.

And Peter, in his first Epistle, chap. ii. verse 2. exhorts all such, that "as new born babes, they would desire the sincere milk of the word, that they might grow thereby." Again, Christ's farewell prayer for his disciples, is,

"Holy Father, sanctify them through your truth; your word is truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also who shall believe in me through their word." John xvii. 17-20, and Paul to the Ephesians, v. 25, asserts that

"Christ loved the church and gave himself for it that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word."

Also, Peter in his first epistle, chap. 1, verse 22, addresses the brethren to this effect:

"Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit, to unfeigned love of the brethren, love one another with a pure heart fervently."

Lastly, to close this chain of quotations, it is worthy of remark, that the whole body of the persecuted disciples of Jesus is represented as overcoming the grand adversary by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony.

Rev. xii. 11. Now "who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

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. Rev 19:10

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63

Once the gospel has "quickened the soul" it is time to move beyond "milk" and teach the deep "meat" of the Word.

And this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith." 1 John iv. 5. Upon the whole of the evidence before us respecting the instrumentality of the word in the salvation of men, we find that it is the beginning, middle and end; that every thing is done by it, and that there is nothing done without it.

That where the word of the truth of the gospel is not published, 
Spirit of Christ has nothing to do, is farther evident from John xvi. 3-14, 
        where his reproving or
convincing the world of sin, of righteousness, and of jud
confined to his testifying the things concerning Jesus.

In short, his very character as the spirit of Christ, as the spirit of wisdom and revelation, for enlightening, convincing, comforting and establishing, in the knowledge and belief of the truth, is ascribed to him exclusively as revealing and testifying the things concerning Jesus. Compare John xiv. 26, and xvi. 14, 15, with 1 Cor. xii. 3-13, with Eph. i. 13-18, and 1 Pet. i. 10-12, and ii. 18, 19, with Jude 14, 15.

AND there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: Isaiah 11:1

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; Isaiah 11: 2

And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: Isaiah 11: 3

For the more full illustration of the truth and certainty of this conclusion let us again review and examine the evidence, that we may clearly perceive the connexion of the word with the kingdom of Christ in its rise, progress and consummation, or ultimate triumph and perfection in this world.

I. And first we shall find that the word of the gospel is the seed of the kingdom; that every subject of it is begotten by, and born of that seed. See John i. 13, James i. 18, 1 Peter i. 23,25, 1 John iii. 9. Upon this point of the testimony three things are expressly evident.

First, that every subject of Messiah's kingdom is born of God.
Second, that his birth is by the means, or through the instrumentality, of the word of truth.
Third, that this seed in each is the very and imperishable substance of his new being. Consequently,

till this seed is sown and takes effect, there cannot be an existing subject of the Redeemer's kingdom upon earth.

II. Again, it appears from the evidence before us, that the radical formative truth, the in wrought perception, and real persuasion of which gives birth and being to the new creature, is that expressed by our Lord in his declaration to Peter, Matt. xvi. 16-18, with 1 John v. 1.

And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. Matthew 16:16

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. Matthew 16:17

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18

WHOSOEVER believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 1 John 5:1

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 1 John 5:2

It farther appears, that it was for the demonstration of this truth, that both the predictions, types and promises of the Old Testament were exhibited and recorded, and also the things that are written concerning Jesus by the four Evangelists. See Luke xxiv. 25, 27, 44, 45.: John xxiii. 30, 31.

Consequently there cannot be one born of God, but by means of the scriptural persuasion and hearty reception of this truth,

in the light of its proper evidence, and true scriptural import;
for if Jesus be truly received as the Messiah, the Christ,

he must be received in character; that is, [65] in the true scriptural import of his personal, relative and official appellations.

But who sees not that all this is virtually and truly implied in the belief of the great fundamental truth under consideration, viz.

"That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Regeneration or birth or conception or germination means:

For whosoever is persuaded of the truth of this grand fundamental article,

upon the evidence which God has afforded,
the same is
heartily disposed to receive whatever this glorious personage has affirmed, or caused to be taught concerning himself, and his Father, and the salvation, which he has accomplished.

III. Hence, thirdly, according to the evidence before us, we are justified, sanctified, nourished, and obtain a final victory and triumph over all the power of the enemy,

by the belief of the truth; that is, by the word of the truth of the gospel, believed and acted upon.

First. We are actually justified in believing the apostles' testimony concerning Jesus, that is, the gospel. Compare Mark xvi. 15. 16, Rom. v. 1, with Acts xiii. 38, 39, and 1 Cor. ii. 1, 2, and xv. 1-6.

> And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. Mark 16:15

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. Mark 16: 16

THEREFORE being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: Romans 5:1

> And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. Acts 8:38

And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. Acts 8:39

> AND I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 1 Cor 2:1

For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 1 Cor 2:2

> MOREOVER, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 1 Cor 15:1

By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 1 Cor 15: 2

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 1 Cor 15: 3

And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 1 Cor 15: 4
And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 1 Cor 15: 5

After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep 1 Cor 15: 6

Second. We are also sanctified by the same word believed. See as above. John xvii. 17, Eph. v. 26, 1 Peter i. 22.

Third. By the same word the believer is nourished, comforted, and made to grow in grace. 1 Peter ii. 2, Jer. xv. 16, 1 Thess. iv. 18, 1 Tim. iii. 6.

Lastly. By faith, which is a belief of the divine testimony concerning Jesus, believers are made victorious over sin, Satan, the world and death. See Rom. vi. 14, 17, 18, 1 Peter v. 3, 9, James iv. 7, Rev. xii. 11, 1 John v. 4, 5, Heb. ii. 15. Therefore may all believers say, "Now thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Cor. xv. 57. Upon the whole, it is evident that all the salvation that is known or experienced in this world, is in consequence, and by virtue of, the knowledge and belief of the truth, which works effectually in them that believe. 1 Thess. ii. 13.

Neither is there any other means appointed or acknowledged by God, for the salvation of men, but the scripture revelation of Jesus Christ.

Compare Mark xvi. 15, 16, with Luke xxiv. 46, 47, and Acts iv. 12. That where this scripture revelation is not heard, not known,

there neither is, nor ever was, nor indeed can be, any faith in Christ Jesus, (see Rom. x. 9, 14)

nor of course any regenerate, any purified in heart, (see Acts xv. 7, 9,) nor any endued with the spirit of adoption, crying Abba, Father. Rom. viii. 14, 16, with Gal. iv. 6, 8.

But, instead of such characters, the debased and stupid practisers of horrid cruelties and abominable idolatries, "do service to them who by nature are no gods." This, all may know to be the present as it most certainly was the ancient state of the heathen world, in the days of the apostles and long before.

Nor can it be shown, that since the gospel was first preached to the nations, from the day of Pentecost, (Acts ii. 1) until this day,

that any portion of the human family were ever reformed from their idolatries and disgraceful immoralities
        by any supposed physical operations of the Holy Spirit without the word.

To talk, therefore, of Christian experience by any supposed operations of the Holy Spirit without the word, or previous to, and independent of, the knowledge and belief of the truth,

is not only contrary to most express declarations of holy scripture and universally established fact, but to reason also. It supposes a fact without a proper and adequate cause.

It supposes a conversion from error and wickedness without the proposal of truth and goodness to the understanding and heart of the creature.

It supposes faith without the exhibition of a testimony to be believed, a thing absolutely impossible.

It also supposes love to God in his true and lovely character, of just and holy, merciful and gracious, which the gospel alone manifests, which, without the knowledge and belief of that gospel, is a thing equally impossible with the former.

Love and devotion to an unknown God!! Again, to speak of experimental religion by way of contradistinction to a false religion, appears equally absurd.

Who ever heard of a religion, Jewish or Christian, Pagan or Mahomedan, Popish or Protestant, that is not productive of some kind of experience--that produces no sensible effect upon the mind of the sincere professor of it? Can such a religion be found upon earth?

Let us have done, then, with this unscriptural, indefinite, unmeaning phrase, which, at best, is only calculated to perplex, mislead, and deceive. When we speak of our holy religion, let us speak of it, and distinguish it by proper epithets, such as the scriptures afford, instead of those vain delusive epithets, which the wisdom, or rather the folly, of men has invented.

Yours respectfully T. W.  [The Christian Baptist, June 7, 1824, pp. 64-66.]

Holy Spirit Index

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