Just so you know, in case you were/are curious, I believe that the Holy Spirit is in us in the same way that Jesus was in his disciples, when he told them that he was in them in passages such as Jn. 15.
Let’s look at that passage briefly.
(Jn. 15:4-7 ESV) 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
If this were all we had to go by, one could make a fair argument that Jesus abides in us solely through his words. But it’s not. The preachers who used this (and similar) passages to build a case denying a personal indwelling in favor of a representational indwelling through the word utterly ignored the OT background. And the whole point of the OT and NT passages I cited in previous posts of this series is that words are not enough.
Paul plainly says so — repeatedly — because he’s read the OT —
(Rom. 2:28-29 ESV) 28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.
(2 Cor. 3:5-6 ESV) 5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
(Rom. 7:6 ESV) 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.
If a written code — words — could be good enough, then Paul is an idiot. Paul’s point is not just that the Torah is insufficient, but that we are insufficient to circumcise our own hearts. The letter kills. How do we know that? Well, read Jeremiah. Read Ezekiel. Read Lamentations. The Jews utterly failed to circumcise their own hearts. The solution is not a better law or better letters but the Spirit.
(Ezek. 37:1-14 ESV) The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. 2 And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. 3 And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
And I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.”
4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. 5 Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD.”
7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8 And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. 9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”
10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army. 11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14 And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.”
How did the dry bones of Israel become “an exceedingly great army” for the Lord? God put his Spirit within them so that they would live. When? At Pentecost.
I believe that Jesus is in us today, in the same way, and to the same extent, that the Spirit is. Not that Jesus is in us “representatively” BY the Spirit (which would mean that Jesus isn’t actually in us).
John 15 concludes,
(Jn. 15:26-27 ESV) 26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.”
How did the Spirit bear witness? Largely incarnationally, through Christians in whom the Spirit dwelt. Obviously, the disciples were themselves witnesses.
In fact, we just can’t set up a dichotomy and insist that Jesus dwells in his disciples either through his words or through his Spirit. Both can be true simultaneously — and this is what the Bible teaches
However, I don’t believe that either of them are in us “personally”. I mean, Jesus told his disciples while with them on earth, that he was “in” them. But, we know that he didn’t mean by that that he was himself “personally” inside of them. Which, IMO shows that God can indeed be said to be in a person, without needing it to be via himself, personally.
But you ignore the OT background, as well as the several passages that teach we need the Spirit to live (echoing Deu 30:6) because the letter kills. The solution is the indwelling. If the indwelling is merely the words of Jesus — and nothing more — well, the letter kills, and we get the words of Jesus by reading words written in letters.
How are we regenerated and renewed in a way that the Jews did not enjoy? What changed with the outpouring of the Spirit?
(Joel 2:28-32a ESV) 28 “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. 29 Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit. 30 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”
Why does Joel 2 associate the outpouring of the Spirit with the ability to be saved by calling on the name of the Lord? What was going to be different?
Having said that, I do believe that God (Father, Son, and/or Spirit) is fully able to strengthen, heal, cause us to remember, make us forget, encourage or even kill a person, without first needing to be personally inside of the person, to do so. IOW, I do not believe in the “Word Only” idea that God is not personally active in the lives of his children. He is. And he directly helps us, along with his living Word.
So why is it that God can do this but he can’t do this through his Spirit? What advantage is there to crediting this things to God the Father rather than God the Spirit?