The Holy Spirit: Does God Do Miracles Today?

Guy asked,

Where are the miraculous gifts? If all the passages you’re mentioning are meant to include us–21st century disciples–where are the miraculous manifestations? Where are the tongues, the healings, the interpretations, the prophecies, the visible floating fires, etc.?

If the Spirit-relevant bits of the passages you’re dealing with truly are meant to include us, I can’t think of any good reason why our experience of the Spirit would be any different than theirs.


A few thoughts —

1. The New Testament doesn’t draw a bright-line distinction between the spectacular and more mundane gifts of the Spirit. Prophecy is mentioned in the same breath with such gifts as liberality and encouragement. It’s all the Spirit. It all violates natural law. It’s all miraculous.

(Rom 12:1 ESV) 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Therefore, I reject any theory that insists treating some gifts of the Spirit differently from others without scriptural justification. We can’t read our Western, naturalistic preconceptions into the scriptures. If the Spirit can’t give the gift of healing today, why could the Spirit still give joy or the gift of leadership?

2. And yet I don’t see the more spectacular gifts manifested in my congregation — healing, tongues, that sort of thing. But does that mean they are no longer given ever? anywhere? No, absence of proof isn’t proof of absence. Besides, I know people who’ve seen and experienced things that sure seem miraculous. Just because I haven’t personally experienced these things hardly means it hasn’t happened.

3. We are told to test the spirits — but that hardly means that we should deny that there are spirits.

(1Jo 4:1 ESV) Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

4. The New Testament witness suggests that the most spectacular gifts are found among the most immature in the faith. And today, some of the most convicting accounts of miraculous works of the Spirit are found in mission points — and that actually makes sense.

I’m not sure God wastes his miraculous efforts on people unwilling to see. Around here, if someone did a healing, even if it was videotaped and there were 20 medical doctors who’d certify that a miracle had happened, few would believe it. We are so imbued with the scientific, naturalistic worldview that we can’t see miracles that happen before our very eyes. Faith in these parts has to come by other means.

Anyway, God acts the way he wants to, and he’s not bound by rules — other than the fact that he’ll keep his promises and tell the truth.

Even while Jesus was in Galilee, people died without being raised and not all diseases were healed. There were surely weddings that ran out of wine too soon. Miracles aren’t given to end all the sufferings of this life. They are given to help create faith. And God decides when to act and when not to. Even Paul wasn’t healed of his thorn in the flesh. That doesn’t mean no healings occurred!

God does miracles when it suits his purposes, and that means that sometimes miracles don’t happen even when earnestly prayed for. And it may well be that it doesn’t suit God’s purposes to heal and give tongues as readily as he once did — right here, right now. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t active in that way in other places that are more receptive or that have a greater need. That’s his to decide.

By the way, miracles do happen even here in West Alabama. Some are quite spectacular. It’s just that the American Protestant church culture makes it hard for us to share these experiences. Grab 30 members of your church and create a safe, trusting environment. Ask if anyone in the group has ever experienced a miracle. I guarantee that you’ll hear some stories that will amaze you!

More importantly, who am I to decide what kind of miracles God must do? My own church has a member who a year ago was eating out of dumpsters and who has now defeated addiction and has a job. Why isn’t that a miracle? In today’s worlds, that’s harder to accomplish than defeating most physical diseases.

We have a couple who, at great cost, are working to adopt a Down’s syndrome baby from Russia. It would take a miracle to get me to do that! Why would I suppose that their decision didn’t also require a miracle?

We have couples with young children who are buying houses in the housing projects to work with the people there. Again — it would take a miracle to get me to do that. I’m sure it took a miracle for them to make that decision.

Miracles are all around us. We just need to learn to see them.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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27 Responses to The Holy Spirit: Does God Do Miracles Today?

  1. guy says:


    Wow. A lot to say, not lots of time.

    (1) i understand what you say might possibly be tongue in cheek, but i'm certainly not taking "violation of a law of nature" as definitive of miracle. That's certainly a definition many prominent Western scholars have worked with, but i think it's flawed for several reasons. It excludes acts which i believe scripture does present as miracle (parting of the Red Sea for instance). Also the concept of "law of nature" is largely defined and conceived of naturalistically. Bottom line, "violation of law of nature" as definitive of "miracle" smuggles in far too much of that scientific, naturalistic worldview you mention.

    (2) Frankly, there's a red herring in this post. i realize why you bring it up–these issues quite typically have historically been lumped together and conflated in our fellowship.

    Point is, i'm not questioning the existence of the miraculous *in general.* i'm not asking whether God does *anything* spectacular anymore. The subject at hand is far more specific than that.

    In the NT, certain kinds of miracles were performed by average members of the church who had the ability to perform them (and 'at will' as far as i can tell). This feature of the NT church seems to be quite characteristic of their experience of the Spirit. By characteristic, i mean "normal" in a sense. That is, i don't see that this feature was highly localized or temporally rare in the NT church. Rather, these kinds of miracles manifesting as abilities of average members of the NT church is presented as a normal function of NT church life. (Perhaps that is the relevant point you might find suspect, but i'm operating on the view that it's true and accurate.)

    So the question is not anything like, does God still heal people spectacularly *at all*? i wouldn't question that. Rather, the question is — why is there an apparent difference between 21st century church life and NT church life *with regard to this particular feature*–namely, average church members being bestowed with the ability to perform repeatedly a certain miracle? It's not about whether God can do this or that, but why does there seem to be *this specific difference*?

    You mention immaturity as a correlated to frequency of miraculous occurrences. But in general, where is there evidence that any NT congregation had greater frequency of exercising miraculous gifts than another? And where is there any evidence that some NT congregations lacked certain of the spectacular gifts but had the more "mundane" ones?


  2. Keith says:

    Miracles confirmed the message of salvation in Jesus (Acts 2:22; Hebrews 2:4), but did not guarantee belief (Matthew 9:34; 13:58; Mark 3:22; 6:5; Luke 11:15; John 12:37, etc.).

    I'm not sure we would believe even if we saw a miracle today, either. I'm not sure I would. Yet I want to; I want to believe that the Holy Spirit works as powerfully today as then.

    Monday morning comes, though, and like so many of the people on the periphery in scripture, I let my skepticism win; shrug and say, "Interesting coincidence." ~ Keith Brenton

  3. JamesBrett says:

    Some would argue that miracles serve (or served) the purpose of encouraging initial belief and expanding the kingdom. It would then follow (they might say) that God doesn't use miracles in the U.S. (or at all) because the gospel has already reached this place.

    Others would argue, as Jay has offered, that miracles might not occur very often in the U.S. because they simply wouldn't affect a change — people wouldn't believe them anyway.

    I think the reason we may not see these miracles as often in the U.S. is a combination of these ideas. It's not that there is no need for the kingdom to grow in the U.S., but that there is already evidence (or should be) of God's presence there.

    The greatest miracle that could ever be witnessed as a testimony of the power of God is his people. Changed lives, extreme love, overflowing graciousness towards one another and others are the signs of God's power in and on us.

    In the field of missions, there is much talk about "power encounters" — that a people group being initially exposed to Christ must encounter the power of God through the miraculous. And I believe this happens often. But I also believe that once lives in that community have been given to Christ, THAT will be the encounter the non-Christians need. To see that a guy in the next village over — who used to be a drunk, always beating his wife — has experienced a tremendous change in his life IS a miracle. and it is the kind of encounter seekers need in their lives.

    i fear, though, that in the U.S. non-Christians are not experiencing the miraculous in either of these forms.

  4. Laymond says:

    Jay wrote "God does miracles when it suits his purposes, and that means that sometimes miracles don’t happen even when earnestly prayed for."
    Jay, this could only mean one of three things.
    #1 John 14 was not written to all Christians.
    #2 the person who believed in Jesus so much they prayed for his help, was not a Christian.
    #3 Jesus did not mean what he said.

    Jhn 14:13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
    Jhn 14:14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do [it].

    Which of the three do you prefer to believe.?

  5. HistoryGuy says:

    Jay & Guy, I’m going to enjoy watching you all discuss this.

    If you would permit my addition, perhaps there is option #4 God’s will always takes priority over the creation’s prayer [1 Jn. 5:14 “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us”]

  6. Alan says:

    We pray asking God to intervene in all kinds of situations — health, finances, conversion of friends and family, peace on earth, government leadership… If we don't believe God will intervene to cause things to happen that wouldn't otherwise happen, why would we pray those things?

    The artificial distinction between "miracles" and "providence" is meaningless. If God does anything to alter these situations (and of course he does!) it is a miracle.

  7. Laymond says:

    HG maybe that is the distinction between the Father and the Son.

  8. guy says:

    Once again, the issue at hand is being grossly conflated. i never asked about miracles generally or God's workings generally. i never even questioned whether God can still perform miracles. i'm most certainly not questioning whether God can answer prayers. i'm not even questioning whether radically changed lives occur by the power of God. i would concede every bit of that. None of those are the subject i was raising when i asked the original questions. i'm asking about a very particular and significant feature of NT church life, structure, and experience in comparison to our own.

    In the NT (so far as i can tell), it was a normal feature of a congregation for members each to possess abilities–abilities with which those individuals were endowed by the Holy Spirit. Some of those abilities included the ability to heal people miraculously, the ability to speak in languages one had never studied, the ability to interpret languages one had never studied, the ability to prophesy and/or generally receive divine revelation through some kind of 'direct' inspiration, etc.

    First, this distribution of spectacular abilities seems to have been (again, so far as i can tell) an integral part of the life and function of each congregation. That is, each congregation demonstrated a basic quality of interdependency, and each member being endowed with a special ability not had by every other member was a key causal factor in a congregation's having interdependency as a basic quality. This distribution of miraculous abilities wasn't extra or superfluous. It's not as though all the NT congregations would've managed just dandy without this feature. Rather, this feature is presented as integral and definitive to functioning as a congregation.

    Second, this distribution of spectacular abilities does not seem to have been rare or highly localized. It's not as though only two or three out of dozens of NT churches had this feature. Rather, there's plenty of reason to think (again, so far as i can tell) that this feature was ubiquitous throughout first century churches.

    Third, this phenomenon of distributing abilities (some of which were very spectacular in nature as i have listed above) among individual Christians seems inextricably linked to some interaction or relationship between the Holy Spirit and first century churches. In this case, i am assuming something quite frequently challenged by many CoCer's. Namely–i am denying the following, which i will call the 2HS theory:

    (2HS) There are two numerically and categorically distinct interactions that first century Christians had with the Holy Spirit:
    (a) some "normal," "non-miraculous" indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and
    (b) a "miraculous" or "special" endowment with abilities by the Holy Spirit–
    such that:
    (i) having (a) did not imply nor necessarily lead to having (b),
    (ii) every individual Christian possessed (a) without exception but few
    possessed (b),
    (iii) (a) is meant to continue indefinitely while (b) was highly temporary.

    Frankly, i find that the 2HS theory just isn't true (but rather is forced on the text by certain assumptions). Rather, it seems to me that the text presents all facets of NT Christian interaction with the Holy Spirit as linked/inseparable/part of the same experience.

    Even if these three points are true, where's the rub? Well, bottom line: *My* church experience does not match that of the NT church in this regard. No one in any congregation of which i've been a part ever claimed nor demonstrated the ability to heal miraculously by touch, to speak in or interpret languages they'd never studied, or to receive inspired revelations from God directly; nor (it follows) is it the case that having a distribution of such abilities among members was a key defining feature of any congregation of which i've been a part. And my guess is that a great many in the CoC would admit that their experience is similar to mine.

    What could possibly explain this difference?

    (1) It could be the case that i and every congregation of which i've been a part simply aren't the same kind of institution was the first century church. That is, perhaps our beliefs or practices are such that we simply aren't members of the same body as those we read about in the NT. And if we did manage to become a part of the same body, then we would begin exhibiting the same feature as them and there'd be no more difference.

    (2) It could be the case that God knew or intended for the experience of later Christians to differ in this particular respect from the experience of first century Christians. In other words, we are, in fact, members of the same body, but this particular feature was not designed or intended to be had by or characteristic of the 21st century church.

    If (1) is the case, then either there are true churches out there who do have this basic feature, or there are no true churches out there and that's why we don't see any congregation exhibiting this feature. My guess is no one wants to claim the latter. So if (1) is true, then where are the miracles? Where are the churches who do have this basic feature as a key to their function as congregations?

    If (2) is the case, then this difference in experience is just what we would expect. But it's still very puzzling and even scary–why aren't we informed in no uncertain terms of this intended difference? This feature of the NT church was clearly God providing for them to be able to function as a body at all; what has He done to ensure our basic function? Even if there is such a provision, how would we know what it is?


  9. Jay Guin says:


    1 Cor is likely the earliest of Paul's epistles and also reflects the greatest miraculous (in the spectacular sense) activity of the Spirit.

    Meanwhile, Romans was written much later and speaks just as much about the Spirit, but the gifts of the Spirit listed in Romans 12 are quite mundane — other than prophecy. Why the difference?

    Just so, Ephesians, written late in Paul's ministry, speaks several times of a presently active Spirit, but says little of spectacular gifts — speaking instead of prophets and apostles.

    Acts speaks frequently of those baptized receiving the gift of tongues and prophecy — immediately upon baptism, not as a product of maturity. And yet Acts only speaks of healing and other such spectacular miracles as being done by the apostles and Philip the Evangelist.

    Of course, 1 Cor speaks of ordinary members having the gift of healing (some, not all), but the later NT epistles (Pauline and otherwise) say very little about healing, and none suggest that this is a gift commonly seen in the church.

    Therefore, a number of commentators — not just me — see a decided decline in the more spectacular gifts even during NT times.

    I don't believe a case can be made that they necessarily ended, but the evidence is that the frequency declined — and the ECF witness reflects a continuing decline but not a loss of miracles. It's not a steady, linear decline.

    Augustine, for example, in the Fifth Century, originally thought the age of miracles was over, but then learned of and documented a large number in his diocese. It seems miracles were sporadic.

    So what's the conclusion? Well, that the Spirit blows where he wills and not according to some black and white doctrine. He decides what to do and when and where based on his own wisdom, which is far removed from ours.

    I observe in history an uneven, unpredictable decline in miraculous manifestations, punctuated by outbreaks now and again.

    Therefore, I am skeptical of claims of miraculous powers — because I've been told to test the Spirits and becase I know there are many charlatans. But I accept the possibility, and my theology and worldview would not be upset if I saw a miracle with my own eyes. God is alive and well and can do whatever pleases him.

  10. guy says:


    First, if what you write is correct, then why the decline? Is it just a mystery similar to a full theodicy?

    Second, Paul wrote to different churches for different reasons. Corinth may have had issues with the gifts that other churches, such as Ephesus, did not. Whether Rome needed those same instructions wouldn't likely have been known by Paul since he wrote before he went there, no? But in the case of Corinth and 1Cor in particular, he's responding to particular questions that were asked of him. As a result, he speaks of several topics he doesn't really write much of anything about elsewhere. My point is that the reason the spectacular gifts don't get as much attention in other epistles isn't necessarily because those churches didn't have those gifts.

    Third, 1Cor still gives us the portrait that the miraculous gifts possessed by the individuals in the congregation were integral to their function as a church–including the spectacular ones. If this design was intended by God, then what or where is our integral feature analogous to theirs? Again, if God intended for some other mechanism to serve in its place, how would we even know it?

    Fourth, there still seems to be a significant difference between first century reception of the Spirit and our experience. Is there evidence in scripture that receiving the HS was invisible and undetectable and you just had to take an apostle's word for it that you got it? i think the evidence suggests otherwise. The HS fell on the apostles (or perhaps all 120) and Cornelius' house quite visibly and detectably. Apostles laid hands on the Samaritans, Paul on John's disciples and Timothy, and the results are presented as obvious. In fact, the results were obvious enough that Philip or Luke or someone could tell that the Samaritans *didn't* have it. i take it no one in the NT had any reason to wonder, well did i get the HS or not? Rather, the experience was evident and lucid.

    We have no such comparable experience. (At least i certainly haven't had it nor witnessed it in any congregation i've been a part of.) Rather, if we are, in fact, getting the HS, then our experience differs radically. Ours is invisible. There are not the same immediate evidences that they had. And people generally don't immediately demonstrate skill sets as i mentioned that they otherwise would not have had. So in comparison to the first century, ours is largely non-experiential. What accounts for that difference? (And frankly, if there is such a difference, then why assume we're getting the same thing they got?)


  11. Jay Guin says:


    1. It's a mystery only because the answer is not revealed in full. They doesn't mean the answer is incomprehensible to mortal minds. And there are indicators, such as —

    (Joh 3:8 ESV) "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."

    The verse suggests that the Spirit's work will be perceived only indirectly. Therefore, we can't predict it with certainty — any more than we can predict the wind.

    2. Yes, Paul wrote to different churches for different reasons. And yet more than once he addressed the work of the Spirit in congregational life and more than once he listed various works or fruit or gifts of the Spirit — and no other list reads anything like the one in 1 Cor.

    3. Yes, Paul describes the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Cor as works befitting various parts of the body. But he didn't say that these gifts will be necessary in every congregation for it to do God's work. Indeed, the other texts, such as Rom 12 and Eph 4, suggest that the more mundane gifts are of greater importance.

    Consider —

    (1Co 12:1 ESV) 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.

    Paul plainly states that the more spectacular gifts are given to the most immature. The seemingly "weaker" gifts are the most indispensable — a point he expands on 1 Cor 13 by showing that love is the greatest gift of them all.

    The church in Corinth was astonishingly immature, and their giftedness appears to have been a mark of their immaturity.

    So what's the replacement mechanism today? Well, I think Paul makes that quite clear. First, it's faith, hope, and love — especially love. Master those three things, and the need for spectacle is greatly reduced!

    Teachers, pastors, and other congregational leaders are the gifts emphasized in Eph 4 — and if you've experienced both well-led and poorly led churches, you'll appreciate that Spirit-led leadership is far more valuable than even healing.

    Then there are the gifts listed in Romans 12 — boring old encouragement, liberality, service, etc. Try building a congregation without those!

    And these are plainly gifts that the church in Corinth was overlooking and even despising, preferring to focus on the spectacular.


  12. Jay Guin says:

    Guy (continued) —

    4. Yes, there is ample evidence that the reception of the Spirit was often quite spectacular — but there are plenty of baptismal accounts in Acts where there are no tongues or prophecy recorded.

    Indeed, after Pentecost, where the Spirit was explicitly promised, there is no record of spectacular gifts being received by the 3,000. In fact, the evidence is to the contrary —

    (Act 2:43 ESV) 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.

    (Act 4:33 ESV) 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.

    (Act 5:12 ESV) 12 Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon's Portico.

    Luke makes a point of emphasizing that it was the apostles with the wondrous powers. If powers were the essential evidence of the Spirit, surely he'd have followed Acts 2:38 with a description of the converts speaking in tongues or such. Rather, what he records is —

    (Act 2:42-47 ESV) 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

    What gifts do we see among the new converts? Well, hospitality, service, liberality, joy, love — those boring gifts.

    Most of the gifts of the Spirit presented in the NT are mundane — love, joy, faithfulness, service, encouragement, etc. And even today, some new converts present these in abundance and, yet, some never show much of the Spirit at all.

    The problem, as I see it, isn't the lack of early manifestation, but that so many show so little evidence of the Spirit years after conversion.

    But even in the First Century, Paul wrote letters urging his readers to bear the fruit of the Spirit and to manifest love. Obviously, if it were entirely automatic, there'd be no need for such urging!

    The NT presents our efforts as coordinate with God's —

    (Phi 2:12-13 ESV) 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

    Paul speaks both our own work and God's work in us. It's a cooperative effort.

    The biggest problem in the Churches of Christ is the refusal of so many to even believe that the Spirit works in them. This pushes them to a humanistic, self-reliant Christianity, which is but a shadow of the real thing. And this nearly faith-less religion frustrates the work of the Spirit in them.

    There are other things that can grieve the Spirit and even quench the Spirit. We retain our free will.

    But the biggest barrier to Spirit-filled living is a religion that denies the Spirit, denies grace, and depends on the individual to save himself. The Spirit works most powerfully in people of true faith, hope, and love. It's a sympathetic, resonance kind of thing.

  13. guy says:


    Of course, i have plenty i want to say, but i have to leave shortly. So let me just say the briefest thing:

    If it is the case that a person can be baptized and receive the forgiveness of sins even without having the explicit belief that they received the forgiveness of sins, why should any Christian need the explicit belief for the Spirit to work in them for it to actually happen just as it would for someone who does have that belief?


  14. Stewart Dean says:

    Guy – Does one's perception shape their reality? In a world where no God exists, certainly no miracles (and by extension, miraculous powers) could exist. Does it follow, then, that the existence of God demands the existence of miraculous gifts? That's a pretty big leap, so let's start smaller…

    I don't believe in aliens (of the "little green men" variety — I certainly believe in foreigners visiting this country). I've seen a UFO. My worldview prevents me from accepting any possible explanation for what I saw that requires the commonly-held definition of extraterrestrial intelligence. Even if a UFO landed in front of me and a little green man jumped out and said, "Hi, I'm an alien and I've got an extra ticket for an Elvis concert on the moon," I would have a half-dozen explanations ready for why I couldn't possibly be experiencing what every available sense told me I was experiencing.

    But UFOs are "real". Certainly Objects that Fly can be Unidentified. People that want to see them as carriers of Elvis-toting aliens will see them as such and people that want to see them as satellites or space junk will explain them away just as easily.

    Have you ever had any experiences in your life that couldn't be attributed to one of the miraculous gifts? I believe God told my wife and I to adopt. It's not something I would have chosen for myself, honestly, and I'm not the type of person to upend my entire life based on something my wife thought might be fun. "Discernment" is a spiritual gift…

    So it's my assessment that you're asking the wrong question. The question shouldn't be "where are the miraculous gifts," but "why won't I recognize the miraculous abilities granted to me?"

    But what do I know? I just passed on front-row seats at an Elvis concert…


  15. Keith Brenton says:

    Perhaps we don't have because we don't ask … or don't ask in faith. Have we been taught to not believe that we could receive? That makes it hard to ask in faith.

    Luke 11:33 comes to mind. So does Matthew 21:22 — and James 4:3.

  16. Jay Guin says:


    I don't believe that the Bible says the Spirit can only affect those who believe in the indwelling. In fact, I believe the Spirit can and does change people who have no idea that the Spirit is at work in them.

    But it is my observation that the Spirit works most effectively in those who understand the indwelling. I observe that, on the whole, those who deny the indwelling are severely handicapped in their ability to receive his blessings.

    If I had a mental illness that caused me to deny that my parents are really my parents, they'd still have worked hard to raise me, but my denial of their relationship to me would have greatly handicapped their work. Their instruction and guidance is greatly enhanced by my recognition of the nature of our relationship.

    Those who deny the Spirit are under the false impression that they must obey God and mature in Christ entirely on their own. Many even deny that God answers prayers for guidance and direction. And for many, this leads to a sense that life is overwhelming and that Christianity is just one more burden we must carry to make it to heaven.

    Another response I observe is the feeling that, because we must make it on our own, we feel entirely worthy and capable of making it on our own. This leads to a certain arrogance and sense of self-sufficiency.

    And both arrogance and feelings of inadequacy take the joy out of Christianity and cut out the heart of what God is trying to do for us.

    When we fail to see how desperately God wants us to make it, evidenced by his coming to live within us through his Spirit to help us make it, we miss a key part of Christian living.

  17. Laymond says:

    Jay said: "I don't believe that the Bible says the Spirit can only affect those who believe in the indwelling. In fact, I believe the Spirit can and does change people who have no idea that the Spirit is at work in them."

    You are right Jay, I can't seem to find that statement anywhere in scripture, either, but let me show you what I did find.

    Jhn 1:32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.

    The word used here is "epi" which in no way means in, it means upon, or over.Why would we expect God to dwell within our sinful body, when he did not choose to do so even in the sinless body of Jesus.

  18. Todd says:

    Laymond, are you a gnostic?

    Eph. 2:22 clearly states that we (together) are a dwelling in which God lives and then in Eph. 3:17 Paul prays that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith. John 14:7 clearly states that the Spirit will live within us. Romans 8:9&11 say the same. There is too much clear text to deny the desire of God to indwell us. The question must be what that indwelling means.

    As for our "sinful" bodies, Paul makes it plain that our bodies represent both Christ's death and His life (2 Cor. 4) In Gal. 2 we are told that our life has been consumed by Christ's death and now belongs to Him. In Eph. 4 Paul describes the life change we have to make and the language he uses makes it pretty clear that it is our spirit that corrupts, not our flesh. This is the same point Jesus made when He said that what comes into us does not make us unclean, but what comes out of us. The body is merely a clay pot – it has no inherent evil or goodness in itself. What we do with that body determines whether we are clean or unclean. And having been cleansed from the inside through the blood of Jesus, we are clean throughout and made holy to receive the promised Spirit.

  19. Laymond says:

    Todd said "Laymond, are you a gnostic? " that is a favorite way to attack a messenger who has a message you don't like, discredit the messager.

    "Eph. 2:22 clearly states that we (together) are a dwelling in which God lives and then in Eph. 3:17 Paul prays that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith. John 14:7 clearly states that the Spirit will live within us. Romans 8:9&11 say the same. There is too much clear text to deny the desire of God to indwell us. The question must be what that indwelling means."

    Eph 2:22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. ( let's look at this small word "en") it is not only representive of the english word in, it is used in the english translation as "by" 163 times.) not only that but it is used as "with" 140 times, and among, 117 times. ( what if the scripture started "by whom" ?)

    Eph 3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, (let's look at the word, "kardia" which is translated hearts. (since none of us believe Paul was referring to the old pumper. Let's look at another deffinition, 2) the centre and seat of spiritual life a) the soul or mind, as it is the fountain and seat of the thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, endeavours

    Jhn 14:7 ¶ If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. (I really don't understand, how this helps your argument, please explain.)

    I won't go into Romans, I will refer you back to Eph. 3:17.

    Mat 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
    The Holy Spirit lives In the midst of, or among Christians, not in their body, but their minds.

  20. guy says:


    Again, i have tons i'd like to go back and say, but little time (i only have the internet at work these days).

    It doesn't seem to me that in the NT church, whether a person had the Spirit was a mysterious question. 'Well, maybe.' 'i think so.' 'Probably, but i'm not sure.' As Tim has pointed out, there's reason from the text to think it was obvious who had it and who didn't.

    However, it is by no means obvious to me in our day when a person does or doesn't have it. If a person was baptized but for some reason didn't receive the Spirit, i don't know how in the world i would know that the way it seemed obvious to Philip.

    In the first century, it doesn't seem there was any need for "just take my word for it" or "well, that's what it seems like the text says happens" sorts of bases for disciples' belief in the indwelling Spirit. And yet, so far as i can tell, that's the only bases on which i have to go. Why then think that i have what they had?


  21. guy says:


    You wrote:
    "The question shouldn't be "where are the miraculous gifts," but "why won't I recognize the miraculous abilities granted to me?""

    That's takes the question for granted. Whether there are any is what's being discussed. The reason the first question is important is because of the difference between first century experience and my own. The Corinthians seemed to have no problem recognizing their miraculous abilities despite their being quite hard-hearted in some ways. Thus, i don't see why i should think that any spiritual misgiving would necessarily prevent me from being able to tell whether or not i had the Spirit or had some particular gift.


  22. Jay Guin says:


    The indwelling of the Spirit is supported and taught by numerous passages. One of many reasons that we should understand that Spirit to be in some sense "in" the believer is because of the OT references used.

    (Exo 15:17 NIV) You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of your inheritance– the place, O LORD, you made for your dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, your hands established.

    In the Septuagint, "dwelling" (?????????????) is the same word as in —

    (Eph 2:22 ESV) In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

    Exodus refers to God literally "dwelling" within the Tabernacle —

    (Exo 29:45-46 ESV) 45 I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. 46 And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.

    (Exo 40:34-35 ESV) 34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

    The concept of the Spirit's indwelling of God's people, his spiritual temple, finds its roots in God's indwelling of the tabernacle and, later, the temple. And this was a literal indwelling. God's special presence literally dwelled within the tabernacle/temple.

    (1Ki 6:12-13 ESV) 12 "Concerning this house that you are building, if you will walk in my statutes and obey my rules and keep all my commandments and walk in them, then I will establish my word with you, which I spoke to David your father. 13 And I will dwell among the children of Israel and will not forsake my people Israel."

    (1Ki 8:13 NIV) "I have indeed built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell forever."

    Thus, when the NT writers speaking of the Spirit "dwelling" in the Christian or the church, they are alluding to God's dwelling in the temple, and thus mean something similar.

    Obviously, God dwelt in the temple in a deeper sense than giving gifts to the temple or the fact that the temple was dedicated to God or his service. No, there was something more going on.

    On the other hand, God did not entirely dwell there!

    (1Ki 8:27 ESV) 27 "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!"

    Solomon does not contradict God in pointing out that God cannot be contained by temple walls. God is omnipresent AND lives in heaven AND had a special presence with the physical temple.

    Just so, the Spirit has a special presence in the Christian.

  23. Jay Guin says:


    So if I don't speak in tongues or heal or move mountains, what evidence is there that the Spirit dwells in me?

    Well, let's see —

    * There's the evidence of the scriptures, which promise the Spirit to all who believe. I mean, if we can accept that we are saved, why not accept that we have the Spirit? The evidence for one is the same as the evidence for the other.

    * There's the evidence of water baptism. Indeed, water baptism should be entirely sufficient evidence for both salvation and the Spirit. After all, no one is baptized unless he's convinced his church that he has saving faith. Thus, baptism testifies not only to the faith of the person being baptized but to the decision by the church to acknowledge that faith and admit that person to baptism. (I've known cases where church leaders very appropriately refused to baptize someone, finding their faith not yet sufficient.)

    * There's the evidence of spiritual gifts. How are we justified in finding that, for a person of faith, prophecy is sufficient evidence but liberality, or joy, or love is not?

    * There's the evidence of changed lives. The Spirit is frequently credited with sanctification and obedience to the will of God. If we see Christians being transformed, we should give glory to God for his work through the Spirit.

    * Read 1 John. What evidence of salvation does he argue for? He considers either faith in Jesus or love for fellow Christians entirely sufficient. (And necessarily co-extensive.) And his argument equally declares the Spirit co-extensive with Christian faith and Christian love.

  24. "I want to see God raise a widow's only son from the dead right in front of me!" (21st century man)

    "I want to be healed of my leprosy by some great feat!" (Na'aman, 2 Kings 5)

    Man seems to want God to manifest Himself in the way WE prescribe. The more things change, the more people stay the same, or something like that.

  25. Pingback: How Does the Holy Spirit Work Through Believers? « Blog In My Own Eye

  26. MLuger says:

    What about taking up serpents and drinking poison per Mark 16? Still applicable today?

  27. Darin says:

    Great discussion. Jay you are both a kind and gifted teacher. I appreciate your work for the Kingdom.

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