We believe that the Holy Spirit operates and influences us today exclusively through the word of God, and that He does not literally indwell the Christian. However, this in no way limits God’s power in answering prayer (or otherwise, as revealed in His word as it applies to us today). (Eph 6:13-18; 1 Cor 13:9-12; Mark 16:20)
The Holy Spirit is a vital part of the Christians life. Christians are commanded to walk in the Spirit, be guided by the Spirit, bare the fruit of the Spirit, etc. The Christian is said to be “the temple of the Holy Spirit.” There is no doubt that the New Testament puts a great deal of emphasis on the Spirits working in the Christian life.
We would think that since that New Testament speaks so much about the Holy Spirit it would be a well-understood subject. However, nothing could be further from the truth. There is a great deal of confusion over who the Holy Spirit is, what He does and how He does it. The confusion is not the fault of ambiguity on the Bible’s part. It is the result of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit being so sorely abused for so long. People have heard so many different things about the Holy Spirit that they don’t really know what to think any more.
The key phrase of the statement is that we do not believe the indwelling of the Spirit is literal. That is, a physical bodily indwelling. But no one can rightly deny that the Bible does teach the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer (cf. Acts 5:3, 4; 1 Cor. 6:19; Rom. 8:8-11). The question isn’t whether the Spirit indwells the Christian or not but, rather, how the Spirit indwells the believer.
We believe the Holy Spirit dwells in us the same way the Father and the Son dwell in us. People seem to forget when discussing the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that He is not the only member of the Godhead said to dwell in the Christian. The apostle Paul says that Christ dwells in our hearts by faith (Eph. 3:17). The apostle John said that when we love one another and confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God then God dwells in us (1 Jn. 4:12, 15). Both of these show how the Father and the Son dwell in us. Jesus dwells in us by means of the word of God for Paul wrote “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” and Jesus dwells in us by faith. If faith comes by the word of God and Jesus dwells in us by faith then He dwells in us by means of the word of God. Likewise, the Father dwells in us when we are obedient to the word and therefore by means of the word. How can we know how to love one another except by the instruction of the word? How can we confess that Jesus is the Son of God except by the knowledge of the word? (cf. Jn. 20:30, 31; 1 Jn. 5:13). Therefore, God dwells in us by means of the word. If Jesus and the Father both dwell in us by means of the word, why would it be different for the Spirit?
The fact is that it is not different. Two parallel passages help us to see how the Spirit dwells in Christians. Paul said to the Ephesian church, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:18, 19). Then he says almost the exact same thing to the Colossian church, “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) In both places Paul is instructing the church in their worship to God with music. He says to both that they are to sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. He says to both that they are to teach one another with their singing. He says to both that their song service is to be done unto the Lord. But where he tells the Ephesians to be filled with the Spirit he tells the Colossians to be filled with the word of Christ. Is he saying two different things here or are they the same thing? The parallel nature of the verses, and the letters for that matter, shows that being filled with the Spirit and being filled with the word is the same thing. This shows that the Holy Spirit operates by means of the the word and not in a direct or miraculous manner.
The Holy Spirit Operates By Means Of The Word
The Holy Spirit bring about the New Birth (John 3:5) By Means Of The Bible (1 Pet. 1:22, 23).
The Holy Spirit convicts man of sin (Jn. 16:7-8) By Means Of The Bible (Acts 2:1-4, 36-37).
The Holy Spirit cleanses (1 Cor. 6:11) By Means Of The Bible (Jn. 15:3).
The Holy Spirit saves (Titus 3:4) By Means Of The Bible (Rom. 1:16; Js. 1:21).
The Holy Spirit sanctifies (1 Pet. 1:2) By Means Of The Bible (Jn. 17:17).
The Holy Spirit makes holy (1 Cor. 3:16, 17) By Means Of The Bible (Eph. 5:26, 27).
The Holy Spirit grants access to God (Eph. 2:18) By Means Of The Bible (Eph. 3:12).
The Holy Spirit brings liberty (2 Cor. 3:17) By Means Of The Bible (Js. 1:25; Jn. 8:32).
The Holy Spirit comforts (Acts 9:31) By Means Of The Bible (Rom. 15:4).
The Holy Spirit purifies (1 Pet. 1:22) By Means Of The Bible (1 Pet. 1:22).
The Holy Spirit guides man (Gal. 5:18) By Means Of The Bible (Ps. 43:3; Rom. 8:14).
The Holy Spirit makes man fruitful (Gal. 5:22, 23) By Means Of The Bible (Col. 1:5-6).
The Holy Spirit accomplishes the will of God by means of the Bible (Eph. 6:17).