When Christians say Jesus lives “in their heart,” little kids might picture a tiny Jesus inside them. Older people might think Jesus “living in them” is just a warm spiritual feeling.
But God “indwelling” us is more than that. The Bible sometimes says the “Spirit of Christ” lives inside believers (Romans 8:9). More often it says the “Spirit of God” (Romans 8:9) or just the “Holy Spirit” is in us (1 Corinthians 6:19). Those phrases all mean the same thing: when we believe, God establishes a relationship with us that’s so close that we become one with him. He’s in us, and we’re in him.
The Holy Spirit Empowers Us to Share the Good News
The book of Acts tells the remarkable story of how, in a few short decades, the Good News of Jesus Christ spread like a wildfire from the tiny backwater province of Palestine across the Roman Empire, reaching the very heart of the civilized world — Rome itself. The message of Acts is that this amazing task could not have been undertaken by any human effort. It was indeed the work of God, accomplished through men and women empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus commissioned his disciples, saying, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost marked the dawn of the new age of salvation, empowering and guiding believers.
Defining the Holy Spirit’s role in evangelism is much like talking about your heart’s relationship to your physical body. Without your heart, you would be dead. Without the Holy Spirit, you would be dead in your relationship to God.
• The Holy Spirit makes us “alive with Christ” (Ephesians 2:5).
• The Holy Spirit resuscitates and regenerates us so that we can see and understand the things of God (John 3:3; 1 Corinthians 2:12).
• The Holy Spirit gives us ears to hear and respond to the call of the gospel (John 6:44), resulting in salvation and holiness.
• The Holy Spirit is our very own “caseworker” for adoption into God’s family as children and heirs (Romans 8:15 – 16).
• Even before we hear the gospel, the Holy Spirit is working to empower the message (Romans 1:16) and the messenger (1 Corinthians 2:3 – 4).
One of the most vivid images of the Holy Spirit’s role in evangelism is found in the book of Ezekiel, where the prophet received a vision of the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1 – 14). It is an astounding picture of the new work that God will do in Israel by his Spirit in the last days. Ezekiel was told to preach, and as he did, the Spirit (breath) of God began to animate those old bones, which came together to form a great army (Ezekiel 37:9 – 10).
Christians Live in the Power of the Holy Spirit
In the New Testament, the disciples received the Holy Spirit; then he gave them power; and finally the disciples were told they would be Christ’s witness to the very ends of the earth. Effective witness requires that we first learn to rely on the Spirit to help us.
Believers must appropriate daily, by faith, the power of the Holy Spirit to live as Christians (Romans 8:4–5). This means that instances such as resisting temptation, being faithful and sharing one’s faith. There is no secret formula that makes the Spirit’s power operational in our lives. Scripture tells us that the Spirit dwells and operates in us (1 Corinthians 6:9). We have to learn by experience through interaction with God to understand how that dynamic works.
God promised back in the Old Testament to send his Spirit to cause us to obey him (Ezekiel 36:27), and Jesus said the Spirit will come to comfort and teach us. Whenever you change and become more like Jesus, that’s a sign of the Spirit working in you (Galatians 5:22 – 23).
How do you know the Holy Spirit is in you? What does the Spirit do for you?
Article drawn from study features in the NIV Starting Place Study Bible.