Does the Holy Spirit live inside Christian’s today?

The relationship of the Holy Spirit to believers today is a vitally important challenging doctrine to understand. The relationship of the Spirit with the believer gives comfort (John 14:16) and understanding (John 14:26) to the Christian.

A previous article stated that the Holy Spirit resides within each believer. The indwelling of the Spirit is the personal presence of God the Spirit within the saved person. The indwelling of the Spirit is more than a symbolic declaration of the Christian’s newfound closeness with God. The Holy Spirit actually takes up residence within the Christian.

Why do Christian’s believe this? The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is repeatedly affirmed in the New Testament. Jesus promsied the disciples that after His death and resurrection He would send them the Holy Spirit who “shall be in you”. (John 14:17) This promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost when the 120 disciples were “all filled with the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:4) That same day Peter told the Jews that God would give the gift of the Holy Spirit to all who believe. (Acts 2:38-39)

The possession of the Holy Spirit immediately became the hallmark of genuine Christianity. The presence of the Holy Spirit is so crucial to the Christian life that Romans 8:9 says, “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.” The presence of the Holy Spirit dwelling in the person is confirmation of the individual’s salvation. Those who do not have the Holy Spirit are not saved.

The indwelling of the Spirit is also taught in 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” 1 Corinthians 6:19 says the same thing, “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you.” 2 Timothy 1:14 says, “the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.” 1 John 3:24 says, “And hereby we know that (Christ) abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us.” The New Testament states repeatedly that God the Father and God the Son gave the Holy Spirit who takes up residence within the body of the believer.

This presence of the Holy Spirit is a major part of what makes the New Testament Christian different from an Old Testament believer. Through the Holy Spirit Jesus keeps His promise to abide in in His disciples and to never leave nor forsake them. At salvation the believer is given the Spirit. The Christian does not need to get the Spirit again, nor to get more of the Spirit. The indwelling Holy Spirit is the fulfillment of God’s promise to the Christian who seals and secures his salvation.

Are Mormons Christian?

In an effort to rid themselves of the longstanding label of cult the Mormon church has spent a lot of money on advertisements to present themselves as mainstream and Christian. Their founder, Joseph Smith, described Mormonism as a restoration of the true church that was lost after the death of the apostles. The church website says, “Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unequivocally affirm themselves to be Christians.” Mormons believe themselves to be Christians, but does their self-evaluation line up with the Bible’s evaluation?

Mormonism is not Christian because its teachings are in direct opposition to central tenets of Biblical Christianity. Most importantly, Mormons deny that Jesus is God. They call Him the Son of God, but do not mean it as the New Testament. Mormon’s believe Jesus was a spirit being organized, or formed, by God the Father and is a separate being from the Father. Jesus is a god and the Father is a god, but they are not one. Lucifer was also organized by the Father and is the spirit brother of Jesus. Many other gods exist and Jesus was appointed by these gods to be the redeemer of earthly humanity.

Jesus’ death on the cross does not wash away all sin of those who believe Him, nor does faith in Jesus bring eternal righteousness to the believer. The death of Jesus on the cross makes it possible for men to achieve salvation. Salvation is not received by faith alone, but is accomplished by faith, baptism, good works, obeying God’s command and obeying the teachings of the Mormon church.

Mormon’s believe that salvation is by God’s grace. The grace of God in Mormonism does not give salvation freely to those who turn to Him. God’s grace makes it possible for the faithful to earn their salvation.

Mormonism denies that God is the only God and denies that He is the Creator God who made everything. The Mormon god was once man like us on a different world. God had a flesh and bone body. By his obedience to eternal laws God became an exalted being and is now the god of this planet. He is one of many gods, all who are exalted beings that have risen to their divine state by their obedience to eternal laws. By their faith and obedience earthly men can also be exalted to become gods themselves.

The Bible teaches that none who deny Jesus is God are saved (1 John 2:22-23)), that salvation is only by the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8-9), that any attempt to earn salvation rejects God’s grace (Galatians 2:21) and that any one who preaches a false gospel of moral behavior and personal effort is condemned (Galatians 1:8-9).

Mormonism is a dangerous fraud that presents itself as Christian. The Mormon church willfully obscures its true message to deceive the unlearned or unwary. Mormonism rejects many key tenets of Biblical Christianity. It teaches doctrines both ridiculous and abhorrent. It does not share a common faith with Christians. Mormonism is not Christian and, sadly, those who believe the teachings of Mormonism are not saved.

What are the Biblical evidences of true salvation?

The child of God will show the genuineness of his salvation by the way he lives. The Bible describes at least seven different things that will be true of the Christian. Those who do not possess these characteristics have good cause to evaluate the authenticity of their profession of faith.
Not everyone will possess these things to the same degree. No one will possess them perfectly. The practice of these things has nothing to do with keeping salvation. One does not lose his salvation by failing to maintain these Biblical disciplines. At salvation the believer is made a new creature. These are a few of the things that will be different about a Christian life after conversion.

The book of 1 John was written so those who are saved will know they have eternal life. These evidences are not given to cause unwarranted doubt about salvation. They are given to comfort the true believer and to bring the false professor under conviction so he will be saved.

The Biblical marks of genuine salvation are:
  • The genuine Christian is honest about his own guilt before God. He does not deny his sinfulness. Salvation is not possible apart from confession of one’s sin and the saved person will continue to acknowledge his sinfulness. (1 John 1:6)
  • None can be saved who deny that Jesus is God. Those who profess salvation and deny the deity of Jesus or who later reject His deity show they are not truly saved. (1 John 2:23-24)
  • Salvation comes through faith that trusts God entirely for salvation. None can be saved who rely on anything (like goodness, church or religious ritual) in addition to God for their salvation. The child of God trusts Jesus alone to be saved and continues to trust God for his salvation. This saving trust in God grows into an ongoing confidence in God that continues throughout life. (1 John 5:12-15)
  • At salvation the Holy Spirit immediately takes up residence in the child of God. The Holy Spirit produces in the Christian a desire to obey the commands of God. The child of God wants to obey and grows in obedience to God. He lives in righteousness and rejects sin. (1 John 2:4; 3:3-10; 3:24; 5:18)
  • The New Testament commands for Christians are summed up in the command Jesus gave, “love one another”. (John 13:34) The child of God loves his fellow Christian. His love for others results in a natural obedience to all the other New Testament commands. (1 John 2:9-10; 3:10-18, 23; 4:8-5:3)
  • The culture and kingdoms of this world are under the dominion of Satan. The child of God has been delivered from the tyranny of Satan and from enslavement to the world. He no longer loves the things of this world but loves the things of God. (1 John 2:15-17)
  • Because salvation comes through the hearing of the Word of God, the believer desires to know more of the Word. The genuine Christian has a hunger for the Bible. (1 Peter 2:2-3)
Salvation is not at all of man’s doing. The ultimate evidence of genuine salvation is the promise and assurance of God. The Holy Spirit works in the heart of the Christian to give confidence of salvation. When the believer is living in sin or neglecting basic Christian disciplines his own heart will convict him and rebuke him. The feeling of assurance may be lost, but in the end God knows the true condition of the heart. Confidence in salvation is not measured by a person’s feelings, but by the promises of God found in His Word. (Romans 8:16; 1 John 3:20-21)

What is a Christian?

A 2014 survey disclosed that 70% of Americans consider themselves to be Christian. Today the total number of self-professed Christians in the world is estimated at 2.2 billion. Christianity is by far the largest religious affiliation in the world. What is a Christian? Is a person a Christian because he claims to be one? Is a person a Christian because he has an affiliation with a Christian church or is something else required?

The word Christian has a wide range of meaning depending on the speaker . In its broadest use Christian is applied to anyone who attends a Christian church or claims to be a follower of Christ. This widest range of meaning allows nearly anyone to call himself a Christian based upon his personal association with the term.

People were first called Christians when Christianity was still a very small minority religion within the Roman Empire. At that time the message of Jesus was primarily restricted to the region of Palestine and a few outlying areas. Those who followed Jesus were almost entirely Jews. As the church began to spread into regions outside Judea it began to interact with Greek culture which was not familiar with the promises of a Jewish Messiah.

The followers of Jesus were first called Christians in Antioch of Syria. “And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” (Acts 11:26) The term was probably one of scorn to mock the disciples for their devotion to Christ. Despite its derisive intent “Christian” eventually became the most common title for those who follow Jesus.

The origin of the term begins to narrow the common definition to form a Biblical definition. A Christian is one who is a disciple of Jesus. A disciple, a Christian, is one who follows Jesus. A disciple looks to Jesus as most important and as Master. A disciple trusts Jesus, and only Jesus, to give eternal life. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life;” (John 10:27-28)

The New Testament expands this definition of following Jesus to provide specifics truths which must be believed to be a genuine follower of Jesus. A follower of Jesus believes Jesus is God, (1 John 2:23) Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of sin, Jesus rose to life again and Jesus is eternally alive. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

A Christian is one who responds in faith to these truths. Mere acknowledgement of facts does not make a person a Christian. Instead, to be a Christian the individual must turn to Jesus trusting Him alone for full forgiveness. As Jesus told Nicodemus, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)

Though a person identifies as a Christian, he is only a Christian in the Biblical sense if he believes the truth of God’s Word about the person, character and saving work of Jesus and if he trusts Jesus alone for salvation.

What is an evangelical?

American Christianity can be broken down into various groups, sets and sub-sets. Regardless of denomination and church affiliation certain broad categories describe sections of Christianity. These categorizations can help observers understand the general beliefs of various churches and Christians. Four major descriptions of protestant Christians are liberal, evangelical, fundamental or charismatic.

Evangelicals have gained a lot of media attention. A lot of this attention has been unhelpful and often inaccurate. Most news agencies fail to understand Christianity and and to distinguish between Christians beliefs. Any one who attempts to define evangelical based upon the presentation of popular media is sure to be confused.

A simple, exhaustive and settled definition of evangelical does not exist. Many call themselves evangelical whom this author would insist is no more evangelical than a green-soled slug. Some who are evangelical in every significant sense of the word refuse to accept the title. This use of evangelical is a broad categorization of a certain segment of Christianity. Evangelicalism as a label must not be confused with denominations like the Evangelical Free Church or the Evangelical Church of North America or even organizations like the National Association of Evangelicals. While these denominations and church groups may be evangelical the category evangelical is broader than a single denomination.

The most common definition of evangelical has four key elements. An evangelical is one who believes in the necessity of the death of Jesus on the cross for the salvation of men, in the necessity of being born again, in the authority of the Bible and in the importance of applying the Bible to life, especially in regards to calling others to salvation.

An evangelical is one who believes Jesus is God who died on the cross to purchase salvation for those who believe Him. Crucial to this is the conviction that salvation is the gift of God, never the work of men. Jesus died for the salvation of men. Salvation is freely given to those who believe Him. Salvation is never given to those who strive to earn their way to heaven.

Every individual must personally trust Jesus for salvation. The ideas of conversion and personal commitment to Christ are core tenets of evangelicalism. The individual must personally believe on Jesus Christ for salvation. A person must be “born again”. When one turns to Jesus for salvation he is made a new creature and begins a new life in Christ.

The Bible is God’s Word and the authority over the Christians life. The Bible is to be applied to every part of the believers life. This is especially true of the necessity of evangelism. Since none can be saved apart from believing the gospel every Christian has the duty to proclaim the gospel message to others.

Evangelicalism is a largely self-applied label. Those who wish to call themselves evangelical can do so with little repurcussion aside from the disagreement of others. Evangelicalism is possibly the largest category of protestant Christians in America. Evangelicals can be found among Lutheran, Baptist, Wesleyan, Presbyterian, Methodist, non-denominational churches and most other protestant churches.

Evangelicals will disagree amongst themselves about the specific features of these four broad categories, but, in general terms, this definition accurately describes the distinctive features of an evangelical in America today.

What will we be like in heaven?

Death is the terrible reality of life. People cope with the death of a loved one and the reality of their own impending death in many different ways. The Christian perspective of death gives abundant Biblical comfort to those who are saved. True Biblical comfort does not seek to minimize the pain of death, nor does it attempt to ignore the reality of death’s sorrows. True Biblical comfort places death in its proper perspective. Death is a defeated enemy. For the child of God, death is the end of this life and the beginning of life eternal. At death the saved enter directly into heaven. This is a great, and Biblical, source of comfort. The words of the Apostle Paul reflect the believers conviction, “We are willing to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” Since the deceased believer goes directly into heaven, what will he be like? What form will the believer have in heaven?

When a person dies his spirit is separated from his body. The spirit is the indefinable, non-material part of the man. Though there is a theological distinction between the spirit and the soul, this article will use the terms interchangeably. The spirit is not currently apparent to human senses but it is nonetheless a very real component of the human make-up.

The death of the body does not eliminate the conscious existence of the person. The death of the body does not end the distinct identity of the person. Human identity is not wrapped up in the physical form, nor is it contained in the material brain. The identity of a person is connected with the spirit. At death the spirit of the believer consciously enters into heaven. Luke 16 gives the clearest description of what happens after death. Lazarus, the child of God, entered directly into heaven and received conscious comfort. Lazarus’ identity remained distinct from the others in heaven and remained aware of what was happening to him.

At death the Christian’s spirit leaves the body behind to enter the joys of heaven. This separation from the body is not a loss for the person. Though the spirit is immaterial, it is not inferior to the physical. The believer is not somehow less in heaven than on earth because he is without a physical body. The spiritual body will be far greater than this earthly body could ever be. Consider angels as an example. Angels are spiritual beings. (Hebrews 1:14) They are given the ability to manifest themselves in human form, but they are not physical creatures. The lack of a physical body does not make them less than human. In fact, the Bible says that humans are a little lower than angels. (Psalm 8:5) Angels are powerful creatures and the absence of a physical body is no defect or hindrance to them. Likewise, the believers spiritual body will not be inferior in any way to the earthly body. The Christian will be more real and alive than ever before. At death all that is left behind is the sin broken body and the corruptions of the cursed flesh.

Though the Bible does not speak directly to identity, it seems the spiritual form will retain recognizable characteristics of the individual’s identity. I doubt the spiritual body will have the same features as the earthly body, but it seems that believers in heaven will be distinguishable as the individuals they were on earth. In Luke 16 Abraham is recognizable to the rich man. When the three disciples saw Moses and Elijah at Jesus transfiguration (Matthew 17), they recognized them for who they were.

We are not given much information about the activities of the souls of the just in heaven. In Revelation 4 and 5 the Bible describes a group of 24 elders. Who they are is unknown, but it is evident they are deceased believers given a special place in heaven. They surround the throne of God singing His praises. Revelation 5 tells of a huge host of saints who sing praise to God. Whatever else the souls of the deceased will do in heaven the Bible makes clear they will be praising God and rejoicing in His glorious presence. Believers look forward to the rapture when the spiritual body will be reunited with the physical body. Believers will then live forever with body and soul joined together in a glorified physical body.

What are the most important things for a Christian to consider as he votes?

Our nation is racing towards the climax of the election cycle. Right now we are in the middle of the presidential primaries. On Tuesday the states of Michigan, Mississippi and Idaho will be having presidential primary elections. Every election leaves the Christian with a some very difficult decisions. The Bible informs every area of the believer’s life. This includes electoral decisions. How does a careful Christian honor God in his voting choices? Because no election is a clear cut choice between good and evil the Christian has to give more weight to certain issues when casting his ballot. What does the Bible says are the most important things to consider when voting?

Proverbs 14:34 says, “Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Christians must consider which candidates will promote Biblical righteousness. The likelihood of finding a candidate with whom you agree completely is almost nonexistent. The possibility of finding a candidate who has a largely Biblical morality seems to be getting slimmer and slimmer. The reality is the Christian will probably have to chose the “lesser of two evils”. In doing so, much discernment must be exercised. The Christian must not vote for candidates who have built their political platform on the promotion of immorality and godlessness. Whenever possible, Christians should seek to vote for those candidates who have shown themselves to be promoters of Biblical righteousness (not necessarily of the ten commandments, but of those things which are in line with Biblical morality).

Romans 13 declares that God ordained the government to be a terror to evil doers. One must select officials who will punish evil. Government officials, from the lowest to the highest, are the servants of God. He appointed them, even the worst of them, to restrain evil. This means elected officials must be restraining evil in their own lives. Proverbs 29:2 says, “When the wicked bear rule, the people mourn.” A wicked man in power is not going to promote justice. He is not going to restrain evil. The Christian should seek those leaders who are honorable men of integrity that will uphold justice.

A Christian should not vote for a person just because the candidate professes of Christianity. While some politicians do have a credible testimony of salvation, far too many take the name of a Christian to attract Christian voters. A competent person of integrity may lead with greater ability and righteousness than a nominal Christian who crafted an identity to attract Christian votes. Nor should a Christian vote with the assumption that the right leaders will fix America. While our elected officials wield great influence over the direction of America, the needs of this nation are heart needs. The transformation of the heart is only accomplished by Christ. No elected leader, no legislative body, no judge and no system of laws will ever make a person truly righteous. Vote with hope but do not place that hope in men. Trust in Jesus, hope in the eternal kingdom He has secured and remember only the gospel will change this country.

Do conservative Christians want America to follow the Old Testament laws?

In some of the many debates about morality, a few have accused conservatives and Christians of wanting to put America under Old Testament law. The implication is of a fundamentalist movement that wants to enact a Christian version of Sharia law. The angry retort accuses Christians of thinking America should burn witches and stone homosexuals. Is there any truth to this? Do Christians think American law should be like the law of Moses? What should Christians think about the laws of Israel and their application to America today?

Most conservative Christians do not secretly yearn for a day when America is under the law of Moses. The law of Moses was a unique system of laws unfit for use in any other country of the world. The law of Moses was not just a religious law. It described the right ways of worship andd sacrifice. It defined right and wrong, commanding some behaviors and forbidding others. The law of Moses was more than religious law. The law of Moses was also civil law. The laws given to Moses by God described how the nation of Israel would be governed. It assigned punishment for crimes, maintained civil order and directed those who arbitrated God’s law. At that time Israel was a theocracy, a government by God mediated through His prophet Moses. Israel had no elected leadership, no constitution, no king, no ruling body. God was Israel’s supreme ruler and He ruled directly over the affairs of the nation.

Most Christians are not seeking to turn America into a theocracy. Such an effort would be futile and contrary to God’s commands for Christians today. God has never commanded the church or individual Christians to establish a Christian nation ruled directly by God. Christians have been commanded to exert a positive influence on the morals of others. Christians recognize that the moral laws found in the Old and New Testament are God’s unchanging standard of right and wrong. Christians would love to see the nation move to a place of obeying those moral laws, but Christians do not desire to overthrow the existing system of government to enact a pseudo-spiritual political agenda.

The focus of all Christians should be on a goal higher than the passing of new laws or the defense of existing laws. The Christian recognizes that human behavior is the symptom of the evil that exists in every human heart. As a result, the Christian’s goal is the transformation of the heart. The Christian must not be content to be a lobbyist or legislature. The Christian must be anxious to tell the gospel to everyone he meets so the heart of individuals will be changed by the power of God. Only when the heart of a man is changed, turned from sin, cleansed by God and made new, will he be able and wanting to obey God’s laws. The laws of a nation can only order the actions of a people, they can never change hearts.  Christians are not interested in making America a theocracy like Israel, but are anxious to preach the gospel to every creature.