The Holy Spirit and Believers in the New Testament

Following the earthly ministry of Jesus, something remarkable happened. He visibly ascended to heaven and sat down at the right hand of the Father. From that exalted, triumphant position, he sent the third member of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit, to minister in his place. This was something new. The Holy Spirit had never functioned this way before.

The Holy Spirit had never functioned this way before.

Prior to the cross, Christ taught his disciples about this new, upcoming ministry of the Spirit. These words are recorded in John 14:16-17.

Another Helper

And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Helper, that he may abide with you forever. (John 14:16, NKJV)

Here you see the marvelous cooperation of the triune God. Jesus speaks to the Father to send the Spirit. The three persons of the Godhead work together in perfect unity. They work on behalf of one another, and in this case the Holy Spirit helps believers in the place of Jesus.

The original disciples of Jesus had grown accustomed to his immediate presence. He lived with and taught them in person. But having foreshadowed his return to heaven, he guaranteed that another member of the Godhead would come to earth in his place, ministering to them in the same way and even more.

Another member of the Godhead would come to earth in his place, ministering to them in the same way and even more.

He promised to send another helper. What does another mean? It means “another of the same kind.” Though the Spirit would be a different member of the Godhead, he would also be God just the same. His ministry would be as though Jesus was the one who would be with them.

What About the Old Testament?

What role did the Holy Spirit play in the life of Old Testament believers? And how is that different from his role in the New Testament?

The Holy Spirit regenerated believers, giving them new life and birthing them into the spiritual family of God. New and Old Testament believers alike have been born again by the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus plainly taught that a person must be born again to see the kingdom of God. And he said this to Nicodemus, well before the crucifixion (John 3:3). In John 3:5-8, Jesus verifies that being born again is a work of the Holy Spirit. And in John 3:10, he points out that Nicodemus should have already known this from the Old Testament.

But beyond regeneration, what role did the Holy Spirit play in the life of Old Testament believers?

Dwelling WITH the Disciples

You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:17, NKJV)

When Jesus said this, he used two small but important words – with and in. He also used the verb dwell, which is very important as well.

Jesus reminded his disciples that they already knew the ministry and presence of the Holy Spirit. He was already dwelling with them, but how? There are two plausible answers to this question. First, Jesus may have been referring to the way that the Spirit of God resided with the Israelite nation in the tabernacle and Temple, respectively. Alternately, he may have been referring to his own personal presence alongside his disciples during his earthly ministry.

Either way, the disciples had already encountered the presence of the Holy Spirit. He had been with them, but this role would change after the departure of Jesus.

Dwelling IN the Disciples

Notice that Jesus said the Holy Spirit would shift from being with the disciples to in them at future point. What’s more, he would remain in them forever. By switching from the present tense for dwelling with to the future tense for dwelling in, Jesus was announcing a change in the Holy Spirit’s role. When did this change occur? It would happen after Jesus ascended to heaven, and so it did on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4; Acts 11:16).

By switching from the present tense for dwelling with to the future tense for dwelling in, Jesus was announcing a change in the Holy Spirit’s role.

You can trace this new ministry of the Holy Spirit, dwelling in believers from the beginning of the New Testament. John the Baptist predicted it would happen (Mt. 3:11; Mk. 1:8; Lk. 3:16; Jn. 1:33). Jesus did the same (Jn. 7:37-39; Acts 1:15). Furthermore, the book of Acts highlights this new ministry of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4; 8:14-17; 10:44-47; 19:1-6). And the letters of Paul explain it further (Rom. 6:3-4; 1 Cor. 6:19; 12:13).

Your Body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit resides within every person who believes in Jesus Christ as God and Savior, the Bible way (Jn. 7:38-39). He moves in immediately, without delay, the moment you believe in Jesus. When you receive Jesus Christ for salvation, you receive the Holy Spirit also.

This new relationship with the Godhead is so intertwined that Paul describes it as “Christ in you.” The Holy Spirit truly is “another of the same kind” as Jesus, just as God the Father and Jesus the Son are also one (Jn. 10:30). Furthermore, Paul calls this new reality something that was “hidden from ages and from generations, but is now revealed to his saints” (Col. 1:26-27).

If you have believed in Jesus, then the Holy Spirit has taken up residence within you. That’s why Paul describes your body as “the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you” (1 Cor. 6:19). He no longer resides in a building made with hands, as he did for the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. He now resides within every person, man or woman, boy or girl who believes in Jesus.

If you have believed in Jesus, then the Holy Spirit has taken up residence within you.

This new reality was not possible until Christ completed his work of redemption for our sins and sat down at the right hand of God triumphant. But now that he has done so, he has redeemed your sin so completely that the Holy Spirit of God can call your body his home. Old Testament saints did not experience this degree of relationship to God, as we do today.

It is a most sacred trust, the very treasure of God himself within our “earthen vessels” (1 Cor. 4:7). And so it is important to remember that “to whom much is given, much is required” (Lk. 12:48). What you do with your body matters. The Holy Spirit is living there.

What you do with your body matters. The Holy Spirit is living there.

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