Index of Essays

Find Tom Online:

Live Journal blog
Union with God Devotional Forum

Contact Tom Durst:

E-Mail:
tomdurst1@msn.com

THE INDWELLING HOLY SPIRIT

John 14
16And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever--
17The Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive (welcome, take to its heart), because it does not see Him or know and recognize Him. But you know and recognize Him, for He lives with you [constantly] and will be in you.

John 16
12I have still many things to say to you, but you are not able to bear them or to take them upon you or to grasp them now. 13But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth). For He will not speak His own message [on His own authority]; but He will tell whatever He hears [from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him], and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come [that will happen in the future].
14He will honor and glorify Me, because He will take of (receive, draw upon) what is Mine and will reveal (declare, disclose, transmit) it to you.
15Everything that the Father has is Mine. That is what I meant when I said that He [the Spirit] will take the things that are Mine and will reveal (declare, disclose, transmit) it to you.

Romans 8
14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

Revelation 3
22He who is able to hear, let him listen to and heed what the [Holy] Spirit says to the assemblies (churches).
[All Bible quotes from the Amplified Bible]

One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is the tendency of Christians to major on minors and minor on majors. One of the majors of the New Testament is the indwelling Holy Spirit for believers and what this means. The epistles of the New Testament are full of references to this blessed experience which build upon the promise of our Lord to give the Holy Spirit to continue His work after He would depart from this earth. If you read the book of Acts you find how centered it is on the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers individually and in the collective life of the church.

Why is there so little clear teaching on this mighty gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit? Is it because we are afraid that the Holy Spirit might upset our church meetings and/or our personal lives? Are we so tied to our forms, ceremonies, rituals, and orders of service that we are afraid that the Holy Spirit might come in and somehow "take over" and our well planned routines might be overthrown? I well remember one service that I attended in a church in Benton Harbor, Michigan in 1970. A grass roots revival among the students at Andrews University was in process at the time and a team of students went to conduct the service at a church in nearby Benton Harbor, Michigan. As they gave their personal testimonies of how God was working in their lives there was a clear move of the Holy Spirit and many in the congregation were deeply touched responded. It was wonderful. The order of service was suspended and the Holy Spirit allowed to do His work! This is a rare happening indeed. In most cases the church services are so well planned ahead of time, down to the last detail, that it is little more than people getting up and "doing their part" and the Holy Spirit has little to do with any of it.

How about our personal lives? Are we afraid to let the Holy Spirit have more of a place in our lives? Are we afraid that we might have to give up some cherished idol or hindrance to spiritual growth that we would be better off without? How much time do we spend waiting upon God to be able to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, that precious "still small voice" that comes from within prompting us to better ways of living, thinking, and fellowshipping with God? I remember many years ago reading in a devotional book on how often we grieve the Holy Spirit when we are prompted to pray and do not stop and pray but put it off. I've never forgotten that and many a time I've endeavored to obey that voice and if I can't go apart to pray somewhere I pray where I am in whatever way I can.

Notice in the above quoted verses how the Holy Spirit takes the precious things of Jesus Christ and reveals them to us more fully as well as helping us to assimilate our Lord's example and teachings into our daily lives. It is one thing to read about our Lord in the gospels and another thing altogether to apply His life and teachings to our everyday life. The Holy Spirit is given to us for this very purpose. He bridges that huge gap between "head knowledge" and "heart experience." The Holy Spirit reveals to us "What a friend we have in Jesus." He takes that precious truth of the closeness of Jesus and makes it work in our lives. Through the Holy Spirit we come to know Jesus as our very personal Lord, Savior, and friend in every area of our lives. Jesus is no longer just the Savior of the world in some far off place but is actually with us every moment of every day through the work of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit guides us into all truth (John 16:13). What does this mean? I think each person needs to find this out for himself in his own experience of walking with God. Some feel that it means that there were lots of "additional truths" to be made known after Jesus would leave the earth and so additional prophets would be needed to tell us this and that, especially about what is going to happen in the last days of this world's history. I feel based upon the context of the verses quoted above, and much else also that is taught in the New Testament, that the "all truth" which the Holy Spirit guides us into is more and more the meaning and joy of Jesus in our lives, what He has done, is doing, and will do and the deep meaning of the Word of God and how to assimiliate it and apply it to our lives. I think those who have various gifts of the Holy Spirit that the NT talks about will exalt Jesus Christ, and not themselves nor will they try to get people to follow them but rather to follow our Lord. The Holy Spirit makes us more Christ-centered, not self-centered. Those purported messengers of God who constantly draw attention to themselves and seek to gain a personal following for themselves, their teachings, and their organizations are to be viewed with great caution. "Not I but Christ" (Galatians 2:20) will be the theme of the teachings and life of truly Spirit-filled teachers of God.

Another area about the guidance of the Holy Spirit individually that I've come to see more and more is the uniqueness of each individual believer and the importance of being together in community so that we can learn from one another, encourage one another, and grow together. Each of us has our own way of praying. The Bible contains many ways, forms, and words for prayer but does not dictate a specific way of praying for each person. The admonition is simply to pray without ceasing and with the help of the Holy Spirit we apply that to our lives. Our "witnessing" for the Lord, our methods of Bible study, our church preferences, the expressions of the many spiritual gifts that are part of church life, etc., are all individualized. Why? The Holy Spirit works in our lives in His own way and according to our individuality. All of us are unique and special and we need to remember that so that we can honor one another, rather than try to make everyone conform to some kind of a set pattern. "One size fits all" is not the way to go in the body of Christ. But when we bring our individual guidance of the Holy Spirit together with other believers we can benefit and life up one another so very much. The Holy Spirit leads us to be part of the body of Christ which has many expressions and variations. Let us never forget that.

I want to give some of my own personal testimony about the ministry of the Holy Spirit in my life. I hardly know where to begin but will share some anyway.

  1. When I've needed guidance, was facing some serious challenge and not knowing which way to turn or where to get help, the Holy Spirit has helped me over and over. Sometimes I've received direct insights of what I needed to do. But most of the time I have been directed to find just the right book that gave me the help I needed in working through a specific issue. This has happened again and again. At times it was like a "force" impelling me to a shelf which contained a book that helped me work through the situation. I have never paid for professional counseling and don't plan to. I have the indwelling Counselor that will help me work through the situation and part of this may be to direct me to some information in a book, talk to a friend, or simply receive flashes of guidance to know what to do and I've experienced all of these things many, many times. I don't downgrade professional therapists but my guidance system has not led me in their direction. Those who feel guided to a therapist for help should by all means do so.
  2. The Holy Spirit has revealed to me times without number the preciousness of the written Word of God. So often I've gone to my Bible and devotional reading and found just the help and strength that I needed. While I've been a diligent student of the Bible now since 1951, the Bible is ever to me new, fresh, and exciting. It is not just words on a page but the power of God in my life. Why is that? It is because the Holy Spirit takes the mighty truths of the Word of God and opens them up to my understanding. Over and over again I've experienced reading a very familiar scripture and seen some beautiful insight in it that had never dawned on me before. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit that gives us life, not the letter (See 2 Corinthians 3-more on that another time). I couldn't find any words to express my utter joy and enthusiasm concerning the revelation of God that comes to me daily through the ministration of the Holy Spirit as I spend time seeking God in the Word. It is an unending process and the main anchor point for my life.
  3. The Holy Spirit empowers me and gives me guidance so many times as to how I should live my daily life. I meet people all the time in unexpected ways that are reaching out for help in some way. So many times these encounters are surprising to me and totally unplanned. I think those kinds of things are what Romans 8:14 is talking about.

These are just a few thoughts for the moment that I wanted to share with my friends about the indwelling Holy Spirit and what this means to me. I'm disappointed that so very little is taught on this topic in Christian circles. Yes, there is some teaching but in comparison with other topics, very little. If you go into a Bible bookstore I can guarantee you that you will find many more books on prophetic speculations than you will on the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the preciousness of that experience in our lives.

How do we receive the Holy Spirit? Consider these words of our Lord:

Luke 11
9So I say to you, Ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you.
10For everyone who asks and keeps on asking receives; and he who seeks and keeps on seeking finds; and to him who knocks and keeps on knocking, the door shall be opened.
11What father among you, if his son asks for a loaf of bread, will give him a stone; or if he asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent?
12Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?
13If you then, evil as you are, know how to give good gifts [gifts that are to their advantage] to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask and continue to ask Him!

[All Bible quotes from the Amplified Bible]

I think that the Amplified Bible does the best job of translating what the Greek is intending to say in these verses. We must continually seek the face of God if we want the blessing of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Again and again I've claimed the promise of verse 13 and found it to be absolutely true. God stands behind His Word! If we are careless and inattentive we shall simply be walking in the sparks of our own kindling and not under the unction of the Holy Spirit. If we don't have the fire of the Holy Spirit actively burning upon the altar of our hearts what are we hoping to accomplish anyway?

I think it is more than a mere coincidence that at the end of every message to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 we are admonished to listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying (See Revelation 3:22 as quoted above) Doesn't that tell us something about how important this is to our spiritual life? Does it not also point out the continual tendency of the church not to listen to what the Holy Spirit is trying to say? What good are all of our church programs and plans if they are not baptized with the life-giving presence of the Holy Spirit? Should we wonder why so many efforts require so much human planning and scheming and so little results in terms of changed lives are produced?

So these are just a few thoughts to share with you. Whole books have been written on this topic but there is very little preaching or emphasis upon it generally in the churches. I hope that each reader of this article will find a way to think more about the preciousness of the indwelling Holy Spirit for every believer and how this can transform and empower us daily.

Written by Tom Durst of Spokane WA
tomdurst1@msn.com