|February 2015||A Publication of Seventh Day Home Church Fellowships||Vol 06 - Issue 01|
I have often been misrepresented as believing that Christ does not “literally” or “really” dwell in anyone. I chose to ignore this misconception for a time, but for the sake of souls and truth, I have decided to explain my position. Of course, I believe Christ is to really dwell in the Christian, but, in a sense, and not contrary to sense. Do I believe the indwelling is “literal”? If you mean by “literal” in the sense that it is to actually take place and that it is not symbolical, then yes, I believe that. But if you mean by “literal” in the sense that it is Jesus’ physical presence, then no, I do not believe that.
I do not believe that the flesh and bones of Christ dwells in us. I do not believe that his arm or leg or any physical part of Christ dwells in us. I believe that the Spirit of Christ dwells in the Christian. “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” (Romans 8:9). The spirit is not tangible, it is not physical.
The question really hinges then on what you believe the spirit of Christ is. If you are Trinitarian or a Tritheist you probably believe the spirit is some sort of intelligent entity independent from the body. I am a Seventh Day Adventist and thus, I do not believe in the immortality of the soul, or a spirit that dwells apart from the body. Therefore, I do not believe Christ or God have this kind of spirit, for we are made in God’s image. I believe that Christ dwells in us in the same sense that a rational mind can reasonably conclude that any person can dwell in someone else, and that is in thought, or mind. This is illustrated in Jesus’ words: “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me” (John 17:21-23). Jesus here, likens our relationship with one another to his relationship with the Father, and our relationship with him. It is only our mind, our way of thinking, our thoughts, and our communication, which can dwell in someone else. Of course, when speaking of Christ dwelling in us, it is much more than this, because Christ is much greater than us. Christ can communicate with us whenever and wherever we are. Christ communicates much more than thoughts, but power, life, etc., and there is a constant communication possible. And, he has left us his written word, a revelation of his will, his ways and character. These very real things are all intangible, non-physical things.
Christ dwells in the Christian by being in communication with us, by our listening to his voice speaking to our hearts, by our reading and listening to his word, and by thinking his thoughts. He can also impart energy and life to our decaying physical bodies, or energy to quicken our minds.
It is only through abiding in Christ that we can keep the law or do anything good. “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not . . .” (1 John 3:6). “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).
But how do we abide in Christ and him in us? Christ goes on to tell us: “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:5-7). “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23). Notice that having Christ and the Father abiding in us is dependent on us keeping his words. What words is Jesus speaking about? The words that he had spoken to the disciples, these include the words we have record of, and not just these words, but the whole Bible, for Christ’s words are the Father’s words (John 14:24). And the Father’s words also include the Old Testament and New Testament. The apostle Paul admonishes: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom …” (Colossians 3:16).
Brethren there is a connection here between the word of God and the abiding of Christ in our hearts. The dwelling of the word of Christ in us is synonymous with having Christ dwell in us. This is why Jesus said that we are sanctified through the truth and that God’s word was that truth (John 17:17). This is not giving us a second way by which we can keep from sinning and being sanctified. It is saying the same thing as, “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not . . .”
This is also the reason we are told in Ephesians 5:26 that Christ “might sanctify and cleanse it [the church] with the washing of water by the word.”
Let us bear this thought in mind, that words convey someone’s mind. And the word of God conveys the mind or thoughts of God. Christ is called the word in John 1:1-3, 14, this is because the living Christ is the expression and embodiment of the mind of God. When Scripture speaks of the word dwelling in us, it is not speaking of ink on paper, or phonetic symbols. It is speaking of the thoughts of God. Whether that is from the written word or spoken word, or the impressions of the Holy Spirit. It is a two way communication of the soul with God, for he says “Abide in me and I in you” John 15:4. He tells us that his very spirit and life are in his words. “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).
This understanding explains why it is that God’s word is a safeguard from sin and why David could say, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalms 119:11). Christ also used God’s word as a defence from sin and the tempter (Mat 4:3-11). Now consider this connection in the following verse: “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1 John 3:9). That seed that remains is that incorruptible seed, the word of God, this is how we are born of God or born again. “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Peter 1:23). The word of God harmonises beautifully. As long as we are connected to Christ we cannot sin, and the word and the spirit are essential for this connection.
The word of God is the means through which we abide in Christ and in the father.
I like to illustrate these truths with an example from everyday life. When I have a video chat with someone from the USA while I am in Australia, I can see their image, hear their voice, and understand their thoughts. I can even read their body language. It could be said that their spirit is present with me. But that spirit is not tangible. It is not the plastic and glass and components making up my computer. Nor is it the airwaves by which it travels. In fact, the spirit is not the audible sounds that I hear. It is the thoughts that are conveyed by these channels or mediums. It is the image that is conveyed by these channels. The spirit of God is not the ink on paper forming words, it is not the audible sounds made when someone reads those words, it is not the angels which convey impressions or thoughts from God to the soul, neither is it any of the various mediums God uses. The spirit is intangible, non-physical. But is it real? As real as any communication from my son or daughter, whether that be a written letter, and email, a typing chat, or audio chat or video chat, or any other form of communication.
Christ in You
How does Christ dwell in the believer? Pastor David Sims explains his understanding on this important subject.
A Missionary's Story
Missionary Stefan Fred Skucy shares his experience on witnessing to souls in Las Vegas.
Read about the upcoming missionary projects and their needs in Peru and other places!
Are You A Legalist?
Is the true message of Seventh-Day Adventism legalism? Many claim that it is and even some within the circles of Adventism. This article seeks to examine and answer this question.
The 8 Laws of Health in the Bible
Have you ever wondered were we find the principles for the 8 laws of health in the Bible? This study seeks to find out.
Think on These Things
Of late there has been much talk about having a relationship with God versus having a relationship with the law. God and his law are placed opposing each other. But what does the Bible say about the law? Is the law the enemy of God?
Peruvian-Russian Potato salad!
Seventh Day Home Church Fellowships is an association of Sabbath-keeping groups, which through web & tele-conferencing provides means for study, fellowship, and jointly organized missionary projects.
Seventh Day Home Church Fellowships:
P.O. Box 262, Laconia, NH 03246, U.S.A.
Phone: 530 708-2381
Chief Editor: David Sims
Assistant Editor: Thomas Akens
Proof-reader: Alice Fredrick
Layout: Thomas Akens