Christian Evangelism_20

It has been aptly and truthfully said, “No importance can be attached to a religion that is not begun, carried on and completed by the Spirit of God.” That the Christian is led, guided and strengthened by the Spirit cannot be denied by any Bible reader. To deny the fact that the Spirit dwells in us is to deny the Bible. However, it is asserted with equal clearness in the inspired, inerrant Word that the Father dwells in us. The apostle Paul wrote, “And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ‘I will dwell in them and I will walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.’” (2 Cor. 6:16; Lev 26:12; also similar to Jer. 32:38, Eze. 37:27) This not only says that God will dwell in us, but that he walks in us. It is also clearly taught that Christ dwells in us. Paul wrote, “So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love.” – Ephesians 3:17.

Thus, we see that Scripture clearly teaches that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit dwell in us. The question before us is this, is there anything within Scripture that says the Holy Spirit dwells in us in a different sense from that in which the Father and the Son dwell in us? The apostle quoted from Leviticus 26:12 in our Scripture above at 2 Corinthians 6:16, where he explained what the Father meant by his words in Leviticus,

2 Corinthians 6:16 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,

“I will dwell in them and I will walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.

Leviticus 26:12 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

12 And I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be my people.

 

 

 

The Greek word enoikeso literally means, “I shall indwell” en autois “in them.” We learn from Paul’s quote of Leviticus 26:12 that God had promised to be in communion with Israel. However, there is nothing in Leviticus 26:12 to show God’s personal “indwelling” in any one person.

How does Christ dwell in us? Ephesians 3:17 quoted above says, “Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;” the Greek literally reading ho pisteos, “the faith” or the gospel. How does the Spirit dwell in us? Paul asks the Galatians, “Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by the hearing of faith?” In other words, ‘Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by the hearing of the gospel?’ 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.

Now, what reason has any man for declaring that the Spirit dwells in us in any other way unless he can point to an explicit declaration of God’s word defining and explaining that other way? This cannot be done, for there is no such passage. However, some might argue, “I do not have to depend upon the Word. I know it by my own consciousness.” It is a principle as old as metaphysics that consciousness does not take cognizance of causes, but of effects. You may be conscious of an effect within you, but you cannot be aware of the cause that produced the effect.

Suppose you are lying asleep on the ground; a severe pain suddenly awakens you in your lower limb; consciousness tells you that you are suffering pain, but it does not tell you what produced that pain. This must be decided by reason or faith. If you find a thorn in the grass where your limb was resting, reason says the thorn stuck you. On the other hand, if you find a bumblebee mashed in the grass, reason will say the insect stung you; or, if someone near you says, a boy with a pin in his hand ran away from you, faith will say the boy stuck you.

However, in either case reason or faith decided the cause of your pain. Now, when a man says, “I am conscious of the presence of the Holy Spirit within me,” he simply means, “I am conscious of a feeling within me which I have been taught was caused by the Holy Spirit.” If the man has been taught wrong, he assigns a wrong cause for the feeling. What is the feeling usually assigned for the presence of the Holy Spirit’s personal indwelling? It is a feeling of joy, peace and love. However, cannot such feeling be excited by other causes?

The Holy Spirit_02

We know there are dozens of causes that will produce such feelings. In the absence of clear testimony, what right has anyone to attribute such feeling to the personal presence of the Holy Spirit? A man is found murdered. The testimony shows that any one of a dozen men could have killed him. Is there an intelligent jury in the land that would convict anyone of the men of being the murderer? What would you think of a jury that would render such a verdict?

“Well,” says one, “what of the great numbers who pray for a ‘Pentecostal revival’? Are they all wrong?” Not wrong in what they want, but wrong in what they call it. All that those people desire, is to be filled with a genuine revival of religious enthusiasm. Their mistake is in calling it a “Pentecostal shower.” A Pentecostal shower would lead every preacher under its influence to say, with the apostle Peter, to inquiring sinners, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins …” This is what they are careful not to say. It is clear evidence that the Spirit, which guided Peter, is not guiding them. I assert it to be a fact that the Spirit acting through the word of God as clearly accomplishes everything that is claimed to be affected by a personal indwelling of the Spirit.

I do not wish to rest content with asserting that statement, but I wish to prove it. What are the things that might be accomplished by a direct personal indwelling of the Spirit in us?

  1. The Holy Spirit might give us faith.

This is accomplished through the Word of God.

Romans 10:17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

  1. The Holy Spirit might enable us to enjoy a new birth.

This is accomplished through the Word of God.

1 Peter 1:23 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

23 having been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

  1. The Holy Spirit might give us light.

This is accomplished through the Word of God.

Psalm 119:130 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

130 The unfolding of your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.

  1. The Holy Spirit might give us wisdom.

This is accomplished through the Word of God.

2 Timothy 3:14-15 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and were persuaded to believe, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from infancy[1] you have known the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through trust[2] in Christ Jesus.

This is accomplished through the Word of God.

Psalm 19:7 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

The law of Jehovah is perfect,
restoring the soul;
the testimony of Jehovah is sure,
making wise the simple

  1. The Holy Spirit might convert us.

This is accomplished through the Word of God.

Psalm 19:7 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

The law of Jehovah is perfect,
restoring the soul …

  1. The Holy Spirit might open our eyes.

This is accomplished through the Word of God.

Psalm 19:8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

The precepts of Jehovah are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of Jehovah is pure,
enlightening the eyes.

  1. The Holy Spirit might give us understanding.

This is accomplished through the Word of God.

Psalm 119:104 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

104 From your precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way.

  1. The Holy Spirit might preserve or give us life, i.e., quicken us.

This is accomplished through the Word of God.

Psalm 119:50 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

50 This is my comfort in my affliction,
that your word has preserved me alive.[3]

  1. The Holy Spirit might save us.

This is accomplished through the Word of God.

James 1:21 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

21 Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and abundance of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.[4]

  1. The Holy Spirit might sanctify us.

This is accomplished through the Word of God.

John 17:17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

  1. The Holy Spirit might purify us.

This is accomplished through the Word of God.

“Seeing ye have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth

1 Peter 1:22 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

22 The souls of you having been purified by obedience to the truth, for an unhypocritical love of the brothers, intensely love one another from the heart,[5]

  1. The Holy Spirit might cleanse us.

This is accomplished through the Word of God.

John 15:3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Already ye are clean because of the word which I have spoken unto you.

  1. The Holy Spirit might make us free from sin.

This is accomplished through the Word of God.

Romans 6:17-18 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

17 But thanks be to God that you were slaves of sin, but you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

  1. The Holy Spirit might impart a divine nature.

This is accomplished through the Word of God.

2 Peter 1:4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

By which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

  1. The Holy Spirit might fit us for glory.

This is accomplished through the Word of God.

Acts 20:32 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

  1. The Holy Spirit might strengthen us.

This is accomplished through the Word of God.

Psalm 119:28 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

28 My soul weeps[6] because of grief;
strengthen me according to your word!

In the above cases, we have covered all the possible things a direct indwelling Spirit could do for one, and have shown that all these things the Spirit does through the word of God. It is not claimed that a direct indwelling of the Spirit makes any new revelations, adds any new reasons or offers any new motives than are found in the word of God. Of what use, then, would a direct indwelling Spirit be? God makes nothing in vain. We are, therefore, necessarily, led to the conclusion that, in dealing with his children today, God deals with them in the same psychological way that he deals with men in inducing them to become children. This conclusion is strengthened by the utter absence of any test by which we could know the Spirit dwells in us if such were the case.

What the Spirit Does for the Christian

  1. The Holy Spirit is active in our birth.

John 3:5 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless someone is born from water and spirit, he is not able to enter into the kingdom of God.

Here is a distinct statement of radical change, so radical as to be likened to a new birth in order that we may enter the kingdom of God. What is it that is born? Christ says, “A man.” However, what is a man? We regard a man as having a mind, heart and a body. There is no perfect man where any of these elements is lacking. If, therefore, a man is born again, he must be born in mind, in heart, and in body. How is this birth accomplished? Let us see what the Word says,

John 1:12-13 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

12 On the other hand, as many as received him, he gave authority to them to become children of God, to the ones trusting in his name; 13 who were born, not of blood,[7] nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

God gives all things–sometimes directly, sometimes through an agent. The Holy Spirit is the agent, i.e., “Born of water and the Spirit.” However, an agent often works through an instrument. What is the instrument? It is the Word of God. “The souls of you having been purified by obedience to the truth, for an unhypocritical love of the brothers, intensely love one another from the heart, having been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” (1 Pet. 1:22, 23).

How can the word of God accomplish the new birth?

Paul tells us, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be fully competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17) The apostle Peter tells us, “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (2 Pet 1:21) The apostle Paul tells us, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) The Word of God is inspired, literally God-breathed; as the Bible authors were carried along by Holy Spirit, meaning the words are is living and active. Let us listen in as New Testament Bible scholar Thomas D. Lea writes about Hebrews 4;12,

This vivid expression of the power of God’s message provides the explanation for the strong warning of verse 11. Because God’s message is alive, active, sharp, and discerning, those who listen to God’s message can enter his rest. Two questions are important in this verse. First, what is the word of God? Second, what does this passage say about it?

Although the Bible sometimes refers to Christ as God’s Word (John 1:14), the reference here is not speaking of Jesus Christ. Here we have a general reference to God’s message to human beings. In the past God had spoken to human beings through dreams, angelic appearances, and miracles. He still can use those methods today, but our primary contact with God is through his written Word, the Bible. God’s Word will include any method God uses to communicate with human beings.

This verse contains four statements about God’s Word. First, it is living. God is a living God (Heb. 3:12). His message is dynamic and productive. It causes things to happen. It drives home warnings to the disobedient and promises to the believer. Second, God’s Word is active, an emphasis virtually identical in meaning with the term living. God’s Word is not something you passively hear and then ignore. It actively works in our lives, changes us, and sends us into action for God.

Third, God’s Word penetrates the soul and spirit. To the Hebrew people, the body was a unity. We should not think of dividing the soul from the spirit. God’s message is capable of penetrating the impenetrable. It can divide what is indivisible. Fourth, God’s message is discerning. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. It passes judgment on our feelings and our thoughts. What we regard as secret and hidden, God brought out for inspection by the discerning power of his Word. (Lea, Holman New Testament Commentary: Vol. 10, Hebrews, James 1999, 72)

George Washington put his spirit into the sentence, “United we stand, divided we fall.” As long as the American people are faithful to the above words, the spirit of George Washington will live in them. However, make the same words read, “Divided we stand, united we fall,” and the spirit of Washington is removed from them. The only way to take the Spirit of God from the word of God is to add to, take from or transpose the Word so it will not say what the Spirit said in it.

“Well,” says one, “if we are born of the Spirit operating through the Word, must we not understand all the Word in order that we may be born again?” No, the apostle limits the part of the Word we must understand in verse 25 of this same chapter, “This word is the good news that was preached to you.” Let us now endeavor to learn how the gospel, good news produces this change. How is the mind born again! In order to learn this we must understand what is the normal condition of the mind of those who are not reborn spiritually and not repentant (unregenerate). In general, we may say it is in a state of unbelief. Now, the proclamation of the great facts of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ according to the Scriptures will break up that condition of unbelief and produce a conviction of the truth of the gospel. When the mind is changed from a state of unbelief to one of hearty belief, the birth of the mind is complete.

However, the mind is only a part of man. The heart must be born again. What is the normal state of the unregenerate heart? It is one of either indifference or hatred. The latter is the former fully ripened. It is said that Voltaire carried a seal ring upon which were engraved the words, “Crush the wretch,” and every time he sealed a letter he impressed his spirit of hatred upon that letter. Now, the gospel sets forth the love of God in Christ and the loveliness of Christ’s sacrifice for us in such a manner as to change the indifferent or malignant heart into one of supreme love to Christ. When the heart has thus been changed from hatred to love, it is born again.

However, man has also a body, and upon this spirit cannot act. If the body is to be born again, some element must be used that can act upon the body. Hence, our Savior says, “born of water and the Spirit,” because water can act upon the body. Now, the only use of water in the new birth is in the act of baptism. All scholars of note in the religious world agree that Christ’s use of water in the new birth has reference to baptism. Paul also speaks of “having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Heb. 10:22) Thus, with mind and heart changed by the Spirit through the gospel, and the body solemnly consecrated to God in baptism, the entire man is born again. This is all accomplished by the Spirit of God working in and through the gospel.

  1. Another work of the Spirit is to “bear witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs.” (Rom. 8:16) It does not say, “bear witness to our spirit,” but “with our spirit.” Many people gauge the witness of the Spirit by feelings within themselves. If they feel good, it is evidence to them of the Spirit’s testimony, but they frequently feel bad also; whose testimony is that? The testimony of the Spirit should be clear testimony, and not fluctuating; it should be in words, and not in feelings. Feelings, impressions and emotions come and go as the waves of the sea, but words remain forever the same. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away,” said the Lord. The idea of the conscious testimony of the Spirit is not sustained by either the Word of God or a correct psychology. It is the testimony of metaphysicians, from Sir William Hamilton down to the writer, that consciousness does not take cognizance of causes, but effects. Feelings are effects and not causes. Consciousness tells us when we feel good or bad, but it does not tell us what makes us feel good or bad. When a man has been taught that a certain feeling in the heart is produced by a certain agency, his faith and reason may decide that that agency produced the feeling, but consciousness has nothing whatever to do with the cause of the feeling. Likewise, a certain feeling in the heart may be attributed to the Spirit because one has been taught that the Spirit will produce such a feeling, but consciousness cannot trace that feeling to the Spirit himself. A man should feel right because he knows he is right, and not know he is right because he feels right.

In deciding whether we be children of God, we have two witnesses: first, the Spirit himself, and, second, our spirit. The Spirit testifies as to who is a child of God; our spirits testify as to what we are. If our spirits testify that we are the character, which the Spirit says belongs to a child of God, then we have the testimony of the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirits that we are children of God. The testimony of the Spirit, in the nature of the case, must be general. He testifies that whosoever believes in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized into him, is a child of God. This is the whole of his testimony. Your spirit, likewise, must bear witness to your position on all of these points.

 

No one but your own spirit can testify that you believe in Christ; you may profess to, and the whole world may believe that you do, but your own spirit knows that you are a hypocrite in making the profession. Likewise, no one can testify but your own spirit that you have repented; you may make professions of repentance, and the world may believe you thoroughly sincere, but your own spirit may tell you that your profession is false. In a similar manner, no one but your own spirit can testify that you have been baptized; your father and mother may say so, the church record may so testify, and yet it is possible for them to be mistaken. To be certain you are a child of God you must have the testimony of your own spirit that you believe, that you have repented and that you have been baptized. If, in the judgment day, God should ask such people, “Have you obeyed me in the act of Christian baptism?” they would not have the testimony of their spirit that they had so obeyed; they would have to fall back upon the church record or that of their father and mother. Others may be satisfied with such testimony, but, as for myself, if I did not have the testimony of my own spirit that I had obeyed the Lord in Christian baptism, I would obtain that testimony before the going down of the sun.

“Well,” says one “is that all the witness of the Spirit mentioned by the apostle?” Yes, that is all; absolutely and unqualifiedly all. What more can you desire? “Well,” says another, “I want something more than the mere word; I want to be saved like the thief on the cross.” How do you know that the thief on the cross was saved? “Oh, the Bible says he was.” True, but that is the testimony of the “mere word;” so you have as much testimony to your own salvation as you have for the salvation of the thief on the cross, and it would be impossible for you to have any more. Suppose the Lord were to come down and take you up bodily and set you down before his throne in heaven, and, in the presence of all the angels and archangels, say to you: “My child, your sins are all forgiven.” “Now,” says one, “that would be testimony indeed.” Yes, it would be testimony, but no more testimony than you have in the word of God now; you would then have only the testimony of the “mere word” of God that you were forgiven. All such criticisms arise out of infidelity as to the truthfulness of God’s word.

  1. The Spirit make intercession for us. This is not a work done neither in us nor upon us, but is something done for us before the throne of God. We cannot dogmatize as to how the Spirit maketh intercession, but Paul says he does it “according to the will of God.” This is a fact that appeals to our faith and not to our Christian experience. It “cannot be uttered.” We can rest upon it and draw comfort from it as a child draws strength from its mother’s breast. We can also draw comfort from the fact that Christ “always lives to make intercession” us, though we have no knowledge as to how he does it.
  2. Another work of the Spirit is to “change us from glory to glory.” “But we all, with unveiled face, reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18) The figure used here by the apostle is taken from the process of mirror-making among the ancients. They had not the glass mirrors of our day, but a mirror of highly polished metal. A piece of coarse metal would be placed upon a stone and the workmen would begin to polish it. At first, it made no reflection at all, but when polished for a while would give a distorted and perverted reflection; but in the process of polishing, that reflection would grow clearer and clearer, when finally a man could behold his face in it perfectly reflected. And so, the same holds true with us. When taken into the great spiritual laboratory of Christianity we are blocks in the rough, but in the polishing process of the church and spiritual surroundings we begin to reflect the image of our Master, and when we have completed the work, we reflect him as perfectly as an imperfect human being can. Take, for illustration, the brothers Peter and John. At first they were called Boanerges, sons of thunder; they wanted to call down fire from heaven to destroy men who differed from them; but in the great laboratory of the Christian life they grew more and more Christlike, transformed by the Spirit of God, until at last we see the old apostle John at Ephesus, beautified and ennobled, sitting in his chair and lifting up trembling hands, and saying to the young disciples: “Little children, love one another, for love is of God.” We see the transforming power of the spiritual atmosphere of the church and the Christian life upon human nature. Christian, with this illustration before you, how can you excuse yourself for keeping out of the spiritual atmosphere of God, for staying away from the communion and the spiritual convocation of God’s people? Is it a burden and a duty to attend the house of God, or is it a pleasure gladly and joyfully anticipated? When you rise on the Lord’s Day morning, do you say, “Must I go to church today?” or do you say,

“You may sing of the beauty of mountain and dale, The water of streamlet and the flowers of the Vale, But the place most delightful this earth can afford, Is the place of devotion, the house of the Lord”?

The last work of the Spirit, which the Word of God mentions, is “giving life to our mortal bodies.” “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” (Rom. 8:11) This Spirit, which has ever been with us, watching over us, will never leave us until he raises our bodies from the dead and fashions our vile bodies like unto the glorious body of our Lord. It matters much where we now live; it matters little where and how we die. Our bodies may be buried in the unfathomed caves of ocean; they may lie upon some mountain-peak or be placed in a crowded cemetery of some great city. No stone may mark our resting-place, no friend may be able to find the spot and place a flower of love upon it; but the infinite Spirit of God knows that abiding-place, and from our ashes, he will give life to our bodies and present us faultless before the throne of God.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

[1] Brephos is “the period of time when one is very young–‘childhood (probably implying a time when a child is still nursing), infancy.” – GELNTBSD

[2] Pisteuo is “to believe to the extent of complete trust and reliance—‘to believe in, to have confidence in, to have faith in, to trust, faith, trust.’ – GELNTBSD

[3] Older translations read, quickened me

[4] Or “is able to save you

[5] Two early mss read a clean heart

[6] Lit drops

[7] Literally “bloods.” This is the only place in the NT that you will find the plural form of blood. It possible that it could refer either to hereditary (that is, blood from one’s father and mother) or to the OT blood sacrifice. Neither is necessary for birth into the family of God.