Church of Christ
Mission USA

Personal Indwelling Of The Holy Spirit Advocates Have Many Problems

(How The Godhead Dwells In The Christian Today)
(Part 8, Holy Spirit series; will be intermittent)
by Perry Sexton

            The main problem that I see for those who believe that the Holy Spirit literally and personally dwells in the Christian (referred to as personal indwelling in these articles) is that they have no Bible for it!  This in itself is very serious as we are not “to go beyond the things which are written” (1 Cor. 4:6 ASV 1901).  If we do so, is it not an addition to God’s Word (Rev. 22:18,19)?  We are to “speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11).  If you know of any verse that you think even suggests that the Holy Spirit literally and personally dwells in the Christian, please let me know.  Again, for the record, I believe that the Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian, but not literally and personally.  Note what brother Guy N. Woods wrote: “He who is able to see in the statement, ‘The Spirit dwelleth in you,’ (Rom. 8:11), a literal, actual, bodily presence of the Spirit, but in the statement, ‘God dwelleth in him,’ (I Jno. 4:15), nothing more than a representative indwelling, confesses to a conceit which we do not covet! The Holy Spirit dwells in Christians today through the word which he inspired.” [Questions and Answers (Vol. 1) by Guy N. Woods, pg. 278, 279]. 

            These verses speak of the Holy Spirit dwelling in the Christian: John 14:17; Rom. 8:9,11; 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19.  These verses speak of Christ dwelling in the Christian: 2 Cor. 13:5; Gal. 2:20.  These verses speak of God dwelling in the Christian: 2 Cor. 6:16; 1 John 4:12,15,16.  All these verses speak of the Godhead, each of the three Members individually, dwelling in the Christian.  All people that I know of (denominational or brethren) who believe in the personal indwelling say only the Holy Spirit dwells in us literally and personally.  Why do they say that in light of these verses?  I do not know.  It seems very inconsistent to me.  These verses simply tell us that the Holy
Spirit (for example) dwells in the Christian and I believe it.  But these verses do not tell us HOW the Spirit dwells in us.  It is not up to us to say how this is accomplished!  We must have BCV for it.  My search of the Scriptures reveals that the Godhead (all three) dwells in us today through the Word of God as we are influenced by the Word.  The Spirit dwelt in the early Christians in this same manner, but also in that they had miraculous gifts from the Holy Spirit.  I will give more on the miraculous later. 

How The Godhead Dwells In The Christian Today

      If we find how one Member of the Godhead dwells in us then it is a strong indication that They all dwell in us in the same manner.  It is certainly not good interpretation to come up with literal personal indwelling whenever we have no BCV for it.  We have BCV concerning Christ dwelling in the Christian through the Word: “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love” (Eph. 3:17).  How does faith come?  “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). 

      Now consider: “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” (Col. 3:16).  Compare the parallel to this: “... but be filled with the Spirit; {19} Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:18‑19).  Ephesians 5:18 says “be filled with the Spirit” while Colossians 3:16 says "Let the word of Christ dwell in you.”  So how are we to be “filled with the Spirit”?  By letting the “word of Christ dwell in us.”  As an added note please consider: “This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith” (Gal. 3:2)?

      The above is what the Bible says of one way the Godhead dwells in us.  We will talk more of the miraculous later.  But now, where are the Bible verses (BCV) for the literal personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit?  I find none.  For the Bible to say the Holy Spirit “dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:17) is not to say HOW that will be accomplished.  We must find BCV for the HOW or just leave it alone (1 Peter 4:11).  The preachers who believe in a literal personal indwelling seem to want us to automatically think “literal personal indwelling” every time we see the words “in you” when dealing with the Holy Spirit.  Let us think better than that! 

      Now consider this: These verses speak of us dwelling in God: (1 John 4:12-16 cp. John 15).  Note: “we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.”  We dwell in God?  Yes.  How?  Through the Word of God: By learning and obeying the Word of God!  It seems perfectly reasonable that the Godhead (including the Holy Spirit) would dwell in us by the same means (the Word), and especially with the verses we have seen just above.  The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit dwell in us through the Word.   

      If the personal indwelling is true, where is the precedence for it?  The knowledge that I have of those who believe in the personal indwelling is that they start with Acts 2:38.  But Acts 2:38, in my studies, is clearly referring to the miraculous outpouring of the Holy Spirit as is seen in the contexts far reaching both ways (see prior articles).  Acts 2:38 is not referring to the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  If so, where is the recorded promise (see v.39) or any prior reference to it at all?  You find the miraculous throughout the Bible, but no personal indwelling.  We find the promise of a special outpouring of the miraculous (Joel 2:28,29; Mark 16:15-20), but not of the personal indwelling.  Where is the proclamation of the personal indwelling?  Of the miraculous Peter plainly declares “this is that” (Acts 2:16), but not so of the personal indwelling.  There is zero Bible for the personal indwelling.  No precedence, no promise and no proclamation for the personal indwelling!  Why then should any member of the church believe it???  It is borrowed from and left over from the denominations and it has been causing problems in the church for many years by those who go further with this doctrine.  ♥  

 2011, 6 SW  The “Gift of the Holy Spirit” in Acts 2:38?  (continued from 4-2011)  (Part 7, Holy Spirit series; will be intermittent)

2011, 9 SW  Personal Indwelling Of The Holy Spirit Advocates Have Many Problems (cont. from 7-2011) (Part 9, Holy Spirit series; will be intermittent)