Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 15 No. 3 March 2013
Page 2

Editorial

The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

Louis Rushmore“The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit” intersects with other facets of studying about the Holy Spirit, such as reviewing the divine nature of the Holy Spirit, considering the relationship of the Word of God to the Holy Spirit, noticing the work of the Holy Spirit, analyzing the interjection of the Holy Spirit at the home of Cornelius and most certainly examining the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Strictly speaking, the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the manifestation of the Holy Spirit among Cornelius, his family and friends do not concern the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. However, erroneous denominational interpretations connect the miraculous displays of Acts 2 and Acts 10 to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, they must be considered and explained, too, when treating the subject of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Truly, there is no area of scrutiny when studying the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that does not materially affect virtually every other aspect of studying about the Holy Spirit. For instance, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit has an impact on the understanding of Acts 2:38 and the gift of the Holy Spirit, gifts of the Holy Spirit, blaspheming and sinning against the Holy Spirit, and sealed in and the intercession of the Holy Spirit. 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. It cannot be overemphasized that every author, preacher or Bible class teacher’s explanation of the manner in which the Holy Spirit indwells the child of God completely controls or colors the rest of his teaching about the Holy Spirit.

The following passages may not represent all Scriptures to which one may turn in his study of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. However, they constitute a significant repository of the Word of God with which this chapter’s topic may be satisfactorily pursued to a valid, biblical conclusion.

The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

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

Acts 2:17-18, 38-39; 5:32, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: [38-39] Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. [5:32] And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.”

Romans 8:9-16, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. …but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”

1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? [6:19] What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”

Galatians 3:2; 4:6, “This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? [4:6] And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.”

Ephesians 5:18-19, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”

1 John 4:13, “Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.”

The Indwelling of God, the Indwelling
of Jesus Christ, the Indwelling of the
Word of God and the Indwelling of Man

2 Corinthians 6:16, “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

Ephesians 3:17, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith…”

Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

1 John 3:24; 4:12, 13, 15, “And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. [4:12, 13] No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. [15] Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.”

Who Indwells Whom?

Note from the passages above, who is indwelling whom? Not only does the Holy Spirit dwell in the Christian, but also: (1) God dwells within the Christian. (2) Jesus Christ dwells within the Christian. (3) The Word dwells in the Christian. (4) The Christian dwells in God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

In view of the biblical evidence that not only the Spirit dwells in the child of God, but each member of the Godhead indwells the Christian, is there the least justification for the notion that the Holy Spirit dwells in one differently from God or Jesus Christ? Since each person of the Godhead dwells within the child of God, why should there be so much emphasis on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? Why is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit singled out from the indwelling of God and of Jesus Christ? The intensity with which the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is often addressed is due to the influence of Calvinism. Had John Calvin, or someone else theorizing as he did, not erroneously concluded that the direct operation of the Holy Spirit upon a sinner is essential in order for one to be saved by the Gospel, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit would not have become paramount in the minds of religious people. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit would not have overshadowed the indwelling of God, the indwelling of Jesus Christ, the indwelling of the Word or the indwelling of man in God.

Noting the indwelling of the Christian in God, is there the least justification for the notion that the Holy Spirit dwells in one differently from man’s dwelling in God? Why emphasize the Holy Spirit’s indwelling of man over man’s indwelling of God? The same process through which God indwells man facilitates man’s indwelling of God (1 John 3:24; 4:13). Calvinism has ushered the indwelling of the Holy Spirit into the arena of fascination. Even attempts at biblical exegesis by brethren often are overshadowed by Calvinism.

The indwelling of the Holy Spirit does not deserve more emphasis than the indwelling of God, Jesus Christ or the Word in man, or the indwelling of man in God, etc. The emphasis of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit while virtually ignoring the indwelling of God, Jesus Christ, the Word and man dwelling in God is tantamount to another patent mistake in the religious community. Frequently, denominationalism will emphasize one element to which Scripture ascribes saving power (such as faith, John 3:16) to the exclusion of other elements to which the Bible also attributes redemptive qualities (such as repentance, Luke 13:3; confessing Christ, Romans 10:9-10; and especially baptism, Mark 16:16).

Respecting the elements to which Holy Writ assigns saving power, each of those elements either works together for the salvation of souls or works against each other (making the Bible, therefore, contradictory and false). Hearing the Word of God exclusively (Romans 10:17), believing that Word alone (Mark 16:16), repenting of sins (Acts 17:30), confessing Christ (Matthew 10:32), being immersed in water for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; Colossians 2:12), the blood of Christ (Ephesians 1:7), the mercy of God (Titus 3:5), the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8), hope (Romans 8:24) and every other element to which the Bible attributes saving power work together for the salvation of souls. Likewise, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, God, Jesus Christ and the Word in man, and the indwelling of man in God, are more nearly alike and relatively equal than different. Each case of indwelling either works together or they are antagonistic toward each other (making the Bible contradictory and false).

How Does Indwelling Occur?

The question is not only how does the Holy Spirit indwell the Christian, but how does indwelling occur. Remember, God, Jesus Christ and the Word dwell within the Christian along with the Holy Spirit. Further, the Christian dwells in God, too. So, the question is not “How does the Holy Spirit indwell the child of God?” but “How does indwelling occur?” Ascertaining from Scripture how “indwelling” occurs will answer at the same time: (1) “How does the Word dwell in man?” (2) “How does God dwell in man?” (3) “How does Christ dwell in man?” (4) “How does man dwell in the Godhead?” and (5) “How does the Holy Spirit dwell in the child of God?”

Jesus Christ dwells within the Christian through faith (Ephesians 3:17). “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith…” Bible faith is the calculated result of hearing the Word of God [or “Christ” ASV] (Romans 10:17). “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Inspired penman Paul in parallel passages used the indwelling of the “word of Christ” and the indwelling of the “Spirit” interchangeably. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16). “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:18-19).

Not only does the summary of these passages teach that Jesus dwells in the Christian through faith, which is undeniably related to the Word, but that the indwelling of Christ and the Spirit in the Christian heart are interchangeable, and therefore, they are equal in manner of indwelling. If the indwelling of Christ and the Spirit are interchangeable and equal, and the indwelling of Christ results through faith in the Word, then the indwelling of the Spirit also results from faith in the Word.  The common denominator for the indwelling of Christ or the Spirit is the Word of God. The indwelling of Christ and the Spirit in the Christian occur through the Word, not apart from it. “Indwelling” occurs through the Word of God, and unless other Scriptures can be produced that teach that indwelling also occurs some other way, then the indwelling of the Holy Spirit occurs exclusively through the Word of God.

God also dwells in the Christian (2 Corinthians 6:16). The manner in which God dwells in the child of God relates to the Word of God as man observes or keeps God’s Word or commandments. “And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us” (1 John 3:24). The latter sentence further states that first century Christians could also deduce that God was in them (and they in God) because of the evidence that the Holy Spirit was also in them. The only way in which they could legitimately appeal to their senses to observe the Holy Spirit in them (and thereby know that God was also in them and they in God) was by observing the miraculous demonstrations of the Spirit. Otherwise, they would have been encouraged to accept the futile and contradictory subjectivity of the Pentecostal and charismatic persuasion. The apostle Paul laid to rest in the first century reliance on either the claims of men or the observance of miracles – by turning Christians to the written Word of God (Ephesians 4:11-14). If observation of the Spirit in us was not a reference to miracles, then every man would have been a law to himself as much as every supposed Holy Spirit filled prophet today contradicts every other supposed Holy Spirit filled prophet and his new revelation. With the cessation of miracles, men cannot observe the Holy Spirit in themselves. Today, everyone must appeal exclusively to and obey the Word of God to know that either God or the Holy Spirit dwells in a Christian. “Independent of the Word we could never know ‘whether there be any Holy Spirit’” (Wallace 7).

We can also know that God is in us and we are in God if we practice the Bible’s prescription for love of God and man (1 John 4:12-13). “No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.” To love God, the same writer wrote, is to obey His Word. “If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments” (John 14:15 ASV). After one learns how to properly love God, he can also properly love his fellow man and especially his brethren (John 13:34-35). Again, the dwelling of God within the Christian and the Christian indwelling God reduces to the common denominator of through the Word of God.

Yes, the Holy Spirit also dwells in the child of God (1 Corinthians 3:16). However, one passage that teaches this truth also indicates how the Holy Spirit came to indwell the Christian (Galatians 3:2). “This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” The only source of Bible faith through which the indwelling of the Holy Spirit occurs is the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Again, the common denominator for “indwelling” is the Word of God. The Holy Spirit only dwells in the child of God through the Word of God, not apart from it.

Conclusion

A personal, literal or bodily indwelling of the Holy Spirit in man is not explicitly taught in the Bible. A personal, literal or bodily indwelling of the Holy Spirit would serve no purpose whatsoever. Instead, a personal, literal or bodily indwelling of the Holy Spirit would supplant the medium of the Holy Spirit’s operation today, which is through the Word of God, and a personal, literal or bodily indwelling of the Holy Spirit would not facilitate the work of the Holy Spirit today either.

A personal, literal or bodily indwelling of the Spirit, since there is no evidence to suggest God or Christ dwells in man differently from the Spirit, would demand that God and Christ also personally, literally or bodily dwell in the Christian. Then too, a personal, literal or bodily indwelling of the Holy Spirit would further demand a personal, literal or bodily indwelling of man in God, Christ, the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. That the Holy Spirit dwells personally, literally or bodily in anyone cannot be proved!

The notion that the indwelling of the Spirit is somehow fundamentally different from the indwelling of the Word, God, Christ or man in each of these is the result of Calvinistic theory, not Bible instruction. How does the Holy Spirit dwell within us? The inspired apostle Paul penned, “This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Galatians 3:2). The Spirit is not received through the observance of the law of Judaism, but through the “hearing of faith,” the Word of God (Romans 10:17). If the Spirit is received through the Word of God, he is not received through the law or any other means, including the personal, literal, bodily theory.

Perhaps we can benefit from the studied counsel of scholars who came before us and left behind their written affirmations concerning the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Franklin Camp

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. (Camp ix)

Z.T. Sweeney

…(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. (Sweeney 117-119)

James M. Zachary

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. (Zachary 51)

Guy N. Woods

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. (Woods 279-280)

Works Cited

Camp, Franklin. The Word of the Holy Spirit in Redemption. Birmingham: Roberts & Son Publications, 1974.

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.


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