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.

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Did the Holy Spirit Indwell Old Testament Saints?

New Testament Christianity teaches that the Holy Spirit resides within every saved person. At the moment of salvation God the Spirit takes up residence within the believer’s spiritual part of his being. What about the believers in the Old Testament. Did the Holy Spirit reside within them?

The Bible’s teaching about the Holy Spirit takes place primarily through the stories of the people of God. Few sections are specifically intended to teach about the Holy Spirit. The majority of those teaching passages are found in the New Testament. By observing how the Holy Spirit worked in the lives of specific people an understanding can be developed of the Holy Spirit’s Old Testament ministry.

The Holy Spirit was actively at work in the world before the coming of Jesus. The Old Testament describes various instances of the Holy Spirit coming upon individuals. The Holy Spirit came upon people to enable them to prophecy. (Numbers 24:2) Sometimes this “coming upon” happened at the beginning of their ministry like Othniel in Judges 3:10. Sometimes, like Samson, the Spirit came upon the person multiple times throughout their ministry. The Holy Spirit filled individuals like Bezaleel to perform a specific task. Very rarely does the Old Testament describe the Holy Spirit as “in” a person. Pagan kings said of Joseph and Daniel that the Spirit was in them. God told Moses that Joshua was, “a man in whom is the spirit.” (Numbers 27:18) Aside from these few references the Old Testament gives no indication that every believer possessed the Holy Spirit or was uniquely empowered by the Holy Spirit. The active working of the Holy Spirit was not the normal experience for Old Testament believers.

The Old Testament also presents the possibility of the Holy Spirit being removed from a person. This is the tragic case of Samson and Saul because of their sin. When David repented of his adultery and murder he prayed that God would not take His Holy Spirit from David. (Psalm 51:11) Those who knew the presence of the Holy Spirit were not assured of His continued working in them.

Jesus sums up the difference between the Holy Spirit’s ministry. In preparing the disciples for His departure Jesus promised to give them His Holy Spirit. He tells them the Holy Spirit was currently with them (Old Testament work of the Spirit) and in the future would be in them (New Testament work of the Spirit). (John 14:17) The Holy Spirit did indwell some believers before Pentecost, but that was not His usual ministry. The Holy Spirit empowered Old Testament saints without taking up residence within them. The Holy Spirit was with Old Testament saints. The Holy Spirit now resides within every child of God. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in every believer is a unique thing that began at the day of Pentecost.

What are Spiritual Gifts?

Spiritual gifts seem to be a bit of an enigma and are a significant matter of debate. Every major Christian group believes in the spiritual gifts, but most differ from each other on the particulars. The charismatic churches are probably most well known for their beliefs about the spiritual gifts. A few years ago a well known ministry in California hosted a conference focused on their disagreements with Charismatic theology. Why is the topic of spiritual gifts so difficult and contentious?

The Bible is not at all silent about spiritual gifts. The promise of the Holy Spirit that Jesus gave the disciples before His death includes the reception of spiritual gifts. Peter says in Acts 2 that the miraculous things done by the apostles on the day of Pentecost were the fulfillment of God’s promise to send the Holy Spirit. Spiritual gifts are abilities given to Christians by the Holy Spirit to enable them to do the work of the ministry. The spiritual gifts are supernatural gifts of God not skills developed by the person, but the Christian should exercise and improve his spiritual gift.

The spiritual gifts are given for the benefit of others and for the glory of God. The largest section of teaching on the spiritual gifts in the Bible is found in 1 Corinthians 12-14. In that passage Paul teaches the Corinthian believers about the gifts because they were desiring the most impressive gifts and were using the gifts for self-promotion. The spiritual gifts are given by God for the promotion of Christlikeness in the church.

1 Corinthians 12 teaches that all spiritual gifts come from God. God gives gifts to Christians for the benefit of the entire church. No one gift provides everything a church needs and every gift God gives is important to the church. Like the human body, each member of the church body exercises a specific and essential function for the good of all. If everyone had the same spiritual gift the church would be as deformed as a person comprised entirely of ears.

1 Corinthians 14 shows the church the orderly use of the gifts within the church. Gifts are not to be used against one another. Each Christian must show preference to other believers in the application of gifts. Those who have speaking gifts must not insist on their right to be heard but must speak in an orderly fashion, each in turn and only when it is proper to do so.

The Bible contains several other key passages about the spiritual gifts. 1 Peter 4:10-11 puts the spiritual gifts into two broad categories, the speaking gifts and the serving gifts. Ephesians 4 mentions four specific leadership gifts given to the local church for the equipping of the saints to do the work of the ministry. Romans 12:3-8 describes various kinds of gifts. In Romans 12 Christians are instructed to use the gifts humbly for the benefit of the entire church. Each person is to use his gift in the fullest possible way to the best of the ability given him by God. The gifts mentioned in these New Testament passage are: teaching, administration, mercy showing, giving, ruling, prophecy, ministry, exhortation, governments, helps, tongues, interpretation, healing, miracles, prophecy, apostle, evangelist and pastor.

The absence of a particular spiritual gift does not exclude the Christian from engaging in that kind of ministry. All Christians should be merciful, though only some have the gift of mercy-showing. Some Christians are given the gift of evangelism, but all are commanded by Jesus tell others the gospel. The spiritual gifts are given to aid the growth of the entire church not exclude Christians from areas of ministry. Every believer is given at least one spiritual gift. Some may be given more than one, but all believers are gifted by God for the edification of the church. The responsibility of the Christian is to use his gift for the glory of God and the growth of His church.

Is the Holy Spirit the personfication of God’s power?

Is the Holy Spirit a force? Or is the Holy Spirit a personal being and a member of the Triune Godhead with the same eternal existence as God the Father and God the Son?

The Holy Spirit is the effective agent through which God works in this world. The Holy Spirit can accurately be described as that which accomplishes the will of God on earth. Some have concluded from this that the Spirit is a force and a personification of the power of God.

The term “person” is not being used to mean a human being. The question is not if the Holy Spirit is human. Person is used to describe a personal being, an entity with intellect, will and emotion. In contrast to a person is force or energy which are impersonal. Gravity is a force, with no ability to think, no feelings about what it is doing and ability to determine when it will and will not act.

The Holy Spirit is not a force. The Holy Spirit is not a personification of God’s power in this world. The Holy Spirit is a person, the third person of the Trinity.

The Holy Spirit has a name, a name in which others act. Forces are named, but no one acts in that name of that force. None declare, “In the name of magnetism I christen this boat”, nor do any announce “By the power of electricity I declare you man and wife.” The Holy Spirit is a named entity under whose authority and in whose name Christian’s are commanded to act. “Baptizing them in the name of Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 28:19)

The Holy Spirit has emotions. The Spirit of God can be grieved. “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.” (Ephesians 4:30) A force has no feelings. Gravity is not disappointed when a man barely escapes falling.

The Holy Spirit has a will. He makes decisions and acts according to His purposes. Friction does not decide to make the road more slippery for one car and less slippery for another. Forces operate according to the laws of physics and the purposes of a person guiding those forces. The Holy Spirit acts according to His own will. “But all these (spiritual gifts) worketh that selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He wills.” (1 Corinthians 12:11)

The Holy Spirit has intellect and understanding. Air resistance does not increase as a car accelerates because it understands velocity and aerodynamics. All forces are dumb having no understanding of the their own operation nor the world around them. The ability to make decisions indicates intellect. The Bible speaks of the “mind of the Spirit”. The Holy Spirit examines and knows the deep wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 2:10-11) The Holy Spirit understands the will of God (Romans 8:26-27).

The Holy Spirit has all the attributes of a personal entity. He is a member of the Triune Godhead. He is as much God as the Father and the Son. He possesses all the perfections of God. The Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force. He is the God of the Bible.

How do I know if God is speaking?

Many people experience the sensation of a spiritual force speaking to them outside the normal senses of man. Many religious people have had the experience of being in communication with God. The challenge facing those who think they may have heard God speaking is the uncertainty of rightly interpreting the source of those influences. The ability to distinguish between the voice of God and one’s own sinful longings. How does one separate the voice of God from the urgings of one’s own flesh and from evil temptations?

I am a strict cessationist, stricter even than many of my fellow cessationists. A cessationist is one that believes, among other things, God is no longer giving new revelation to man. God stopped talking directly to men when the Bible was completed and now speaks exclusively through His Word. He does not guide men through dreams, visions or voices. He guides men through the Bible. This does not deny the work of the Holy Spirit to give a person understanding of the meaning of the Bible nor the work of the Spirit to convict of sin and apply the Bible to the individual’s life. The Holy Spirit’s work takes place through a renovation of the heart and mind not through promptings or inner impressions.

God is speaking when you read and rightly understand His Word. His voice is clear and unmistakable. All other voices are ambiguous and leave the individual attempting to navigate a maze of pitfalls in the attempt to determine whether or not a voice is of God. Our own senses are very easily deceived. Mr. Scrooge was right on target when he argued with Marley’s ghost about the gullibility of the senses. “A little thing affects them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!” The unreliability of our senses, especially the internal impressions, makes it paramount that Christian’s have an accurate scale by which to measure out the true value of our sensations.

When reading the Bible there is no doubt about its source. The will of God is clear in the Bible. You know God is speaking when you read His Word. When you obey what He says in His Word you will know His power, His care and His guidance over your life. This will never fail. Though there may be times when you do not perceive the Lord to be as close as at other times, He will remain true to His promises. He will never leave you nor forsake you.

Let me offer some closing thoughts for those who are now mad because I have seemingly denied the working of the Holy Spirit and the miraculous guidance of the Father in your life. Though you may believe God speaks in ways outside His Word, never imagine that He speaks without His Word. One cannot neglect the Word for a sensation of a conversation. One cannot let inner promptings guide him down a path that contradicts the plain commands of the Bible. God never speaks without His Word. Do not allow an experience or the desire for an experience to be more important than God’s Word. Remember the words of Peter, “We have a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed; as unto a light that shineth in a dark place.” (2 Peter 1:19)