“Dear Editors: A preacher claimed that you people at GOSPEL MINUTES do not believe the Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian separate and apart from the word of God. Please reply.
– S.G., PA”
If this preacher read our paper carefully, he would not have been so quick to point out what we believe, nor be as wrong in his conclusion. I don’t like that phrase, “Separate and apart from the word,” for it means different things to different people. How about this instead, “Do you believe that the Holy Spirit actually dwells in Christians?” I have no hesitancy in answering with a resounding, “Yes!”
Let me show you the problem with the phrase, “Separate and apart from the word.” If someone asked you, “Do you believe Christ saves people today, separate and apart from the word of God”, how would you answer? If you answer “Yes” that would be a denial of what God said in Romans 1:16, “The gospel is the power of God unto salvation.” But if you answer “No” that implies that Jesus Christ is not really involved in saving people today. That same basic problem is found with that phrase when used with regard to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Christian. The question comes, “How does the Holy Spirit dwell in Christians?” And the truth is I have yet to find the man who understands how his own spirit dwells in him! So, let’s forget the catchphrase and just look at the Bible.
I firmly believe the Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian, for the Bible says so: “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him” (Acts 3:38-39). Compare that with Acts 5:32, “And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God hath given to them that obey him.” Or, again: “And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6). These texts show that when people become Christians, God gives them the Holy Spirit. Now add Acts 2:41, “They then that received his word were baptized; and there were added (unto them) in that day about three thousand souls.” Notice the order: Only those who believed and repented were baptized, and only those who were baptized received the Holy Spirit. They received the word, they were baptized, they then received the Holy Spirit. Thus, the reception of the word and reception of the Holy Spirit were two different things.
Paul declares that the basis of our receiving the Holy Spirit is “the hearing of faith” (Galatians 3:2). He adds, in Romans 8:15, “Ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father.” God gives the Holy Spirit to those who believe and are baptized into Christ. The Spirit is not given to make anyone a child of God, but is given to him because he IS a child of God. As an exhortation to godly living, that Christians must not use their bodies to satisfy fleshly lusts, the Lord declares in 1 Corinthians 6:19, “Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own; for ye were bought with a price; glorify God therefore in your body.” But one asks, “Does the Holy Spirit actually dwell in the Christian?” Just as surely as God expects us to “really” live holy lives, then surely the Spirit really dwells in the Christian.
There are many things that the Holy Spirit does for the Christian, much beyond the scope of our space here. He “strengthens us in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16). He “intercedes for us” (Romans 8:26), and helps us overcome temptation (Romans 8:12-13). We must remember that “that the sword of the Spirit is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). When one asks, “How much of the above does the Spirit do for us through the word?”, I must answer, I do not know. Why not simply accept the fact that He dwells in us to help us fulfill God’s purpose? As a result let’s do the work which God gives us to do, and leave the work of the Holy Spirit to Him. – Clem Thurman
Excerpted from Volume 63, Number 44 of Gospel Minutes. Gospel Minutes is a publication originating from Forth Worth, Texas; Clem Thurman, Co-Editor, David Thurman, Co-Editor.