The Ministries of God the Holy Spirit Today: Indwelling of the Spirit
Ephesians Lesson #079
August 16, 2020
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.
“Father, we’re so thankful that we have Your Word and that the more we study the more we learn, the more we are amazed at the depths of Scripture—all that is revealed. Each time we go back to familiar topics we discover and learn new things as God the Holy Spirit enables us to put together the different things that are taught and revealed in Scripture to come to a fuller understanding and appreciation for all that You have provided for us in this Church Age, especially through God the Holy Spirit.
“As we have studied, He is the One who has worked in us to regenerate us, to give us new life. He is the One who works in the world to convict the world of sin, of righteousness and judgment. And He is the One who has been sent in this Church Age to indwell not only every believer to take up residence inside of us, but also to indwell His church, the corporate invisible body of Christ, to make it a temple for the indwelling of our Lord on the earth in this way during this age.
“Father, as we study the Word we recognize that so little of this has been taught or understood. That often it is just overlooked. Father, we pray that You might help us to understand these things, and as we studied last time related to the baptism of the Holy Spirit, that the point is often missed, that this is what has destroyed the tyranny of the sin nature.
“It hasn’t wiped it out, it hasn’t made us less sinful. It has just destroyed that tyranny, that power the sin nature had, and after we are saved, Paul tells us that we are to consider ourselves dead to sin. This is still a major problem for most believers, most of us.
“So Father we’re thankful for Your grace and for forgiveness of sin, that we might continue to press on, even though many times we fail each day to trust in You. Father remind us of Your grace, Your goodness, and the new identity we have in Christ and the power we have because we can walk by means of the Holy Spirit, and we pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
We are studying in Ephesians and have sort of hit the pause button after Ephesians 2:22 in order to look at the topic of the ongoing ministries of God the Holy Spirit during this Church Age for a couple of reasons:
1. To tie together a couple of references to the Spirit in the section we just finished, Ephesians 2:11–22
2. To help us define our vocabulary because Paul is going to refer to several of these in the coming chapters.
It’s a good focal point.
Unfortunately, many people today are confused about these things. I’ve taken a lot of time to go back and read through different systematic theologies and books that are specialists on the ministry of God the Holy Spirit today. There are some that are very good and there are some where you just raise your eyebrows about every other page and wonder how they connect what they just said to this passage over here or that passage over there. It’s no wonder that many Christians are just confused about the Holy Spirit. They hear so many different things, and they don’t know quite what to believe.
So, it’s important for us to clarify and to go through these particular ministries. It has often been observed that when there is a mist in the pulpit, there is a fog in the pew, and when it comes to this doctrine, there is a lot missed in a lot of pulpits. As we continue our study, we will focus on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. There are a few new things I’m going to bring out as we go along.
Ephesians 2:18, Paul says:
“For through Him—that is, Christ. Twice in the previous couple of verses he talked about through the death of Christ, through the blood of Christ, and through the Cross. So, ‘through Him’ incorporates those two terms—For through the cross we both—both being Jew and Gentile now together in one body—by one Spirit have access to the Father.” It’s important to understand, what this access is that we have, which we will learn as we go through today and coming topics.
“… in whom you also—he’s addressing these Ephesian believers who are Gentiles—in whom you also—together with the Jews that have already been saved—are being built together …” That’s the idea: both together. We’ve seen this repeated over and over again through Ephesians 2, that this describes “you Gentiles” and “we Jews.” That is, we Jewish background believers who were first saved, Acts 1–10, then starting in Acts 10 the joining of the Gentiles to the church.
“… in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place …” What’s another word for dwelling place? Tabernacle or temple—in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God by the Holy Spirit.”
I’ve pointed out before, the preposition EN is so important to understand. It is in this passage “by means of the Spirit.”
But, when we looked at the baptism by the Spirit last time, it is often translated by different words. So, the mistake has been that these different words have led to different doctrines as they did with the baptism “by the Spirit” and “with the Spirit.”
There are those who thought there were two different baptisms involving the Spirit, one by the Spirit and one with the Spirit, so that led to confusion. The phrase is the same in 1 Corinthians 12:13 as in Matthew 3:13; they’re not talking about two different events. Christ is still the One who performs the baptism.
I will review it because a lot of people sort of got lost in the weeds following me at the end last time, and I want to make sure everybody gets out of the weeds a little bit.
We saw that the Holy Spirit’s ministry to the world is restraining. This continues until the Rapture of the Church. He is restraining evil and restraining sin, so we have no idea how bad it could be.
Think about the repression that occurred in Soviet Russia and the repression that even now is occurring from the Chinese Communists, and how many tens if not hundreds of thousands of Christians have been murdered by the Chinese Communists. It is estimated that somewhere between 30 and 50 million people were killed by Stalin in his various purges during the 1930s and 1940s.
A lot of people think that Hitler is the real bad guy. Hitler was just a Stalin wannabe. He’s just a Chinese want-to-be. He didn’t even come close to the level of murder that the Russians and the Chinese Communists have enacted. When we think about how evil those systems are and all of the suffering that occurred under them, is just a pale reflection of how bad the whole world would be if the Holy Spirit weren’t restraining evil.
He will stop restraining evil at the Rapture when the Church is removed from the earth. Soon after the Tribulation will begin. That is why all of those things will happen that are so horrible and evil; such intense persecution of Christians and Jews during the Tribulation period.
We talked about the restraining ministry and the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit: He is convicting the world of three things:
1. Sin because they don’t believe. John 3:18 tells us that if we do not believe in the name of Jesus, then we are already condemned. The reason isn’t because of our sin, it’s because we haven’t believed in Jesus, exactly what is said in John 16. That’s the sin that they’re convicted of.
2. Righteousness because we don’t have righteousness unless we trust in Christ and God gives us the righteousness of Christ, “He who knew no sin was made sin for us that the righteousness of God might be found in us.”
That’s the restraining ministry, the convicting ministry.
3. Judgment because Satan was judged at the cross. He’s “still alive and well on planet Earth” as Hal Lindsay put it in his book, but he doesn’t have the power he had before because he’s been defeated, ultimately. He still carries out a lot of his work, and he is very, very powerful, but he’s fighting a rearguard action now, and he knows that he’s ultimately been defeated.
We looked at regeneration at the time of salvation—baptism. Today we will look at indwelling. Next time we will talk about sealing and illumination, then conclude with filling, maybe not quite in that order.
Slides 7 and 8
“What the Bible Teaches about the Ministries of God the Holy Spirit”.
We looked at regeneration.
This chart is so important. The left diagram represents the eternal realities that we receive at the instant of salvation: we are regenerated, we become a new creature in Christ, and we have a new identity. We are born again the Scripture says, another term that means that we are now spiritually alive and not spiritually dead, and we have everlasting life. It’s not based on what we do, it’s based on what Christ did on the Cross.
The problem, as we’ve seen in our study in Ephesians, is spiritual death, identified in Ephesians 4:18 as alienation from God.
Jesus said, “Unless you are born again, you cannot see the kingdom of God.” We will talk about that a little more.
Titus 3:5, “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration—which could be translated ‘even’ or ‘or that is,’ indicating that the—renewing of the Holy Spirit—explains it.”
We looked at how there is a lot of confusion about the baptism by means of the Holy Spirit. In Scripture, there is one set of passages in the Gospels and in Acts. In those passages in the Gospels, John the Baptist is saying it’s future: “Just as John baptized with water, Jesus will use the Holy Spirit to baptize.”
We looked at this as a second aspect of what we have in Christ. It is actually what places us in Christ, according to Matthew 3:11 and 1 Corinthians 12:13.
1. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is uniquely the work of the Holy Spirit for this present age. There’s no baptism of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. This is something distinctive and unique.
According to Romans 6:3–6, it is based upon Christ’s payment for sin: His death, burial and resurrection. It means that we are identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. That could never have happened in the Old Testament.
It is the basis for our new position in Christ and our new identity in Christ, and it did not begin until the Day of Pentecost in AD 33. That’s the birthday of the Church; that was our birthday present. All of these ministries came at that same time; they came together.
2. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the unique mark of the Church.
It’s not in any of the Old Testament periods, it’s not in the Tribulation, and it won’t be in the Millennial Kingdom. There are different and phenomenal ministries of the Holy Spirit under the New Covenant in the Millennial Kingdom. But they’re not today. They’re similar. People confuse those, but they’re not the same.
3. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is often confused with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the filling of the Holy Spirit, but these are distinct ministries.
4. The baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs for every believer at the instant of salvation. It’s not experience; you don’t feel it. You’re not going to feel better, you’re not going to get the rosy glow. When we read the Scripture God tells us this is what he did. It’s a legal transaction before the Supreme Court of heaven.
1 Corinthians 12:13, it’s “by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.”
As a reminder, John the Baptist gives us a great parallel to understand the baptism by the Spirit, Matthew 3:11, “I baptize you with water.” He’s using water as the means for identifying the repenting person with the kingdom of God. That’s been his message, “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.”
“Kingdom of God” refers to everything that was taught in the Old Testament regarding God’s promises that He would establish a glorious kingdom on the earth with the Messiah as the Davidic king, the descendent of King David, on the throne in Jerusalem.
It’s a physical, political kingdom that will rule over the earth. Jesus came to offer the kingdom to Israel. The problem: they rejected it. At the beginning of His ministry in Matthew 3:11, John the Baptist was the forerunner, announcing that the Messiah is coming.
You have to prepare yourself spiritually, and that means you have to change your mind: you have to give up any mental idolatry, you have to give up your legalism—you have to quit looking at all these other things instead of God. You have to turn back to God and prepare yourself for the coming Messiah. That’s what he meant by “repent for the kingdom of have heaven is at hand.”
Matthew 3:11, regarding the Messiah, “… but He who is coming after me is mightier than I—He is more powerful than I am. John knew he was just a man, but the Messiah would be the God-Man—He is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals. He will baptize you by means of the Holy Spirit and fire.”
John said “I use water to identify you with repentance for the future state of the kingdom. Jesus is going to baptize you, or identify you, using the Holy Spirit as the means of cleansing you and identifying you with Jesus in His death, burial, and resurrection.” That’s the understanding.
1. John compares what he does with water to what Jesus will do in the future with the Holy Spirit and with fire. We’re just focusing on the Holy Spirit aspect.
2. Just as John used water as the means to identify the repentant person with the coming kingdom,
… so Jesus in the future will use the Holy Spirit to identify the new believer with His own death, burial, and resurrection, and place the believer into the body of Christ and in Himself.
Just before He went to Heaven—the Ascension, Jesus said in Acts 1:5, “For John baptized you with water—using the same language—but you will be baptized—so 40 days after the crucifixion He’s still saying this event will be in the future—you will be baptized by means of the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
That was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost.
1 Corinthians 12:13, it’s by one Spirit; that is, it is always by means of the Spirit, and it puts us into the body of Christ. So there are no longer any ethnic distinctions, any gender distinctions, or any economic distinctions.
Under the Mosaic Law, only the priests could go into the Holy Place. Only the High Priest could go into the Holy of Holies. God is discriminating. We discriminate all the time. It’s not a bad word; we make choices, which is what discrimination means.
God said only the High Priest can go into the Holy of Holies, only the priest can go into the Holy Place and perform the sacrifices. Only men can go so far into the temple, but women can’t come that far. If you’re a Gentile, you can’t come as far as the women, and if you’re slave or not free, you can’t come any further than the Gentile.
There were a lot of reasons for those restrictions because God is teaching certain things. But now in the body of Christ, these distinctions no longer are relevant to our spiritual life. Men are still men; women are still women. There’s no other genders. They are those two, and they have distinct roles in God’s plan. Both are in the image and likeness of God.
All races are equal. No longer is God going to distinguish Israel as a unique people in the Church Age. God will restore His plan for Israel after the Rapture. He will begin to work in preparing them, and He will fulfill His promises to Israel in the Millennial Kingdom. But for now, being Jewish is not distinctive spiritually.
This is why racism is excluded from the spiritual life. I define racism as whenever people make a distinction, whenever they think one group is superior to another based on either their ethnicity, their culture, their background or their gender, and that that is more important than their unity in Christ, then that is prohibited in Scripture.
Galatians 3:27-28, “We have all been baptized into Christ and have put on or clothed ourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Those distinctions have nothing to do with our spiritual relationship with the Lord.
The purpose: Romans 6:4, “… even so that we also should walk or live in newness of life.”
That brings us to a full understanding of the baptism by the Holy Spirit. It’s the work of Christ whereby at the moment of salvation—the moment we have faith alone in Christ alone—Christ uses the Holy Spirit to identify us with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. So that we become a new creature in Christ, where the power of the sin nature is broken, but the presence of the sin nature is not removed until death or the Rapture—whichever comes first.
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit also has a lot of confusion with it. There are a certain number of people who confuse indwelling with regeneration, and they are not the same thing. They are very different, and I’ll explain and give you just a quick basic reason for that as we go forward.
We looked at the eternal realities and temporal realities. In the baptism by the Holy Spirit we are identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, and at the same time God the Holy Spirit personally indwells each and every believer. That is the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit.
1. Indwelling of God before the Church:
- Indwelling in the Old Testament. It’s very important to look at that.
When the Spirit indwells us that is great! We can learn a certain number of wonderful things about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Church Age. But what really fills it out for us is understanding the background of that from the Old Testament, and that’s so important. So we will look at the indwelling of God in the Old Testament.
- The indwelling in Christ.
2. Differences between regeneration and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus talked to Nicodemus about regeneration in John 3, that unless you are born again, you cannot see the kingdom of God. He was expecting Nicodemus to trust in Him as Messiah and to be born again right then and there.
Jesus ends John 7:39 by saying, “The Spirit has not been given yet.” The giving of the Spirit is promised in the Gospel of John, but it’s not yet.
As He says in the passages we read earlier in John 14 and John 15, God will send the Spirit in the future. Nicodemus could be regenerated now, born again now. He is expecting Old Testament believers to be regenerated. But indwelling is clearly something that is not then and is only for a future time, which is now in the Church Age.
3. Indwelling of the Holy Spirit today.
In what do we see God dwelling in the Old Testament? I encourage you, as we look at these verses, to write references in the margins so that you can follow the chain that we’re going to follow this morning.
In Genesis 1 God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them. He created man on the sixth day; He creates man, male and female, in the image of God. Now that’s just a summary statement.
It is typical in Hebrew narrative to give a summary verse or chapter, then the next chapter fills in the gaps on just one part of what’s summarized in the previous chapter. That’s how Genesis 2 relates to Genesis 1. Genesis 2 drills down on what happens on that sixth day when God created man, and it gives us the order of the events.
Genesis 2:8, “The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.”
God created the whole planet, and in one area of the planet God has a location that is called Eden. Part of Eden is a garden, thus the Garden of Eden; but the whole of Eden is not a garden. Eden is also the dwelling place of God on the earth.
This is indicated in Genesis 3:8 when after Adam and Eve had sinned, “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord among the trees of the garden.”
It was normative for God to come visit them. Eden itself was the dwelling place of God on the earth.
You can find pictures on the Internet where artists have depicted this. Adam and Eve are hard to see in this picture, but they’re there. This brilliant light represents the glory of God and His presence in Eden.
Here’s a schematic: the presence of God, then the Garden of Eden, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then after the fall, the cherubs. “im” is a plural ending in Hebrew, so they are cherubs. We don’t know how many there are. There may have been thousands.
We know how large the Garden of Eden was, but it was basically surrounded by this army of cherubs, each holding flaming swords to keep humanity from entering into the Garden and accessing the Tree of Life. That is where God was abiding.
Slide 37 Skip slide.
Genesis 6:3. This is the prelude to God’s decision to flood the whole Earth, and to judge mankind. Because He looked at the heart of man, and over this 2,000-year period—we studied this some last Tuesday night. God sums it up in Genesis 6:5, “Then the Lord saw the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
God is going to bring a judgment on the Earth. He is going to destroy all of the Earth, He is going to destroy all but eight humans and the animals that go with them on the ark.
In Genesis 6:3, God made this statement (New King James), “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be 120 years.”
“Strive” is not a correct translation. The word used there in the Hebrew is only used one time. I was pleased this morning as I noticed several more contemporary translations have translated this with the word “remain” or the word “abide.” I clicked on some more recently published Hebrew word study books—since I last studied this in detail back in the late 80s—and they all seem to have shifted to this view that the best translation here is God says, “My Spirit will not abide with man forever.”
The point I’m making is that when God created the heavens and the Earth, He created Eden and He took up His dwelling on the Earth. He was still dwelling on the earth during the time from Adam to Noah, through 2,000 years. The army of cherubs were guarding the garden of life. Nothing tells us that that’s been removed and we find out here that God says He still abides.
There’s a similar word that some people think are related, and it could be. It also has the idea of justice—having a judicial sense. Which is what I pointed out on Tuesday night: God says, “I’m not going to judge man forever.”
My view is that God hadn’t delegated authority for judicial actions. That’s why He’s going to delegate authority for capital punishment after the Flood. There’s no authority any higher than the family for 2,000 years and everything is just horrible; man is evil continually.
God is going flood the Earth, and from that point on He will remove from the Earth. His presence isn’t on the Earth, but He makes a promise. After the Flood, there’s the Noahic Covenant in the first part of Genesis 9. Thena the episode where Noah got drunk, and after that he prophetically pronounced a statement for his sons indicated by their character and who their descendants will be.
Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth:
- Shem is the father of all the Semite—Arabs as well as Jews—and a number of other Middle Eastern groups.
- The Japhethites, mostly European, Slavic, non-Asian, non-African people.
- The Hamites, the African people; also the Philistines, and the Asians.
There are certain general things said about each one.
Genesis 9:27, “May God enlarge Japheth and may he—Japheth and his descendants of the Slavic-European groups—may he dwell in the tents of Shem … “He” is probably mistranslated as a lowercase. The subject of God enlarging Japheth is God, and the subject here is likely also God—may He dwell—may God dwell—in the tents of Shem …”
Some think—and I thought so in the past—that it’s Japheth; it could go either way. But it’s very likely, looking at the context, to still be talking about God dwelling in the tents of Jacob.
The important word here is “dwell,” the Hebrew verb shakan, meaning to dwell, to abide, or to live in a tent. A form of that word, mishkan, is used for the tabernacle where God will dwell. Genesis 9:27 seems to suggest if it’s God that’s the subject there, that God will dwell in the tents of Shem, which would be in the tabernacle.
The Greek translation of shakan is SKENOO. You can hear the same consonants: S-K-N compared to SH-K-N. This is used in John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” God is going to come, and He is going to dwell in a tent in Israel.
Exodus 40:34, “Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting”
Remember, if you’re reading your Bible through the year, in the second half of Exodus there are a number of civil laws given, but also the ritual laws. It’s a description of the sacrifices, but also a description of just precisely how the tabernacle should be built.
There are all those chapters that describe how it should be built, then parallel chapters that describe it being built. Then in the first part of Exodus 40, the whole tabernacle is put together. Exodus 40:34, “The cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.”
I’ve underlined “the glory of the Lord” because from this point on, I want you to notice that phrase in the following verses. “The glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” Later this is called the Shekinah glory.
Shekinah comes from the verb I just mentioned, shakan. Shekinah is not used anywhere in the New Testament. It was developed in the rabbinical period between the Old and New Testaments. It’s based on shakan, meaning “dwelling;” so the mishkan is the place where God dwelt.
The Shekinah is the glory of the indwelling presence of God in the tabernacle, and later in the temple.
Exodus 40:35, “And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” There is a connection between the dwelling presence of God and the glory of God.
Exodus 40:38, “For the cloud of the Lord was above the tabernacle by day, fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.”
Israel has the presence of God with it, but not in each believer: it is within the nation.
Here is an artist’s picture of the tabernacle and the inner building, the Holy Place.
The Shekinah of God is represented by the pillar of fire in the back—a nighttime view with the pillar of fire over the Holy of Holies.
After the period of the Judges, by the latter part, the nation became unified. After the first king, Saul, then King David, Solomon finally built a permanent place. The tabernacle was a temporary location at Shiloh for over 350 years.
Deuteronomy 12:5, the prediction of Moses, “But you shall seek the place where the Lord your God chooses—God will choose a place—out of all your tribes to put His name for His dwelling place, and there you shall go.” God will choose a place for His dwelling.
In the Old Testament He dwelt in the tabernacle then in the temple. But because of Israel’s disobedience, God will leave and remove His presence from them, before He destroys the temple.
This pattern is found both in 586 BC, and after Jesus in AD 70. God first takes His presence out of the temple, and then the nation will be defeated militarily, Jerusalem will be sacked, and the temple destroyed in 586 BC.
As a prophecy of that, Ezekiel had a vision of the movement of the glory of God, the Shekinah presence, the glory of God leaving the temple.
Ezekiel 10:18, “Then the glory of the Lord—He sees the Shekinah, the presence of God—departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim,” moving out of the Holy of Holies.
Ezekiel 11:23, “And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city—He left the temple—and stood on the mountain …” That’s across the Kidron Valley to the top of the Mount of Olives. Then from there He departs to Heaven.
After that, the first Temple was destroyed, and God does not restore His presence to Israel during the Second Temple Period until Jesus comes. Then in the New Testament, we see the indwelling of God in the incarnation of Christ. This pattern is all through the Scriptures.
John 1:14, “And the Word—the Greek is LOGOS is a title for Jesus—the Word—the LOGOS—became flesh—He added humanity to His deity—and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory.”
Remember how I was showing the connection between the glory of God and the indwelling presence in Exodus and later in Ezekiel? Here we have it again with Jesus, the incarnate Second Person of the Trinity Who takes on humanity. John says—“… we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
The verb SKENOO, from shakan, but it’s Greek. In fact, you have this word show up in a lot of different languages, even in Russian. The word for dwelling is SKENE; it is related to that. We see this term throughout the Middle East in different languages, and it is “the glory is beheld.”
We’ve studied in the Gospels where Jesus goes up on the Mount of Transfiguration, then unveils His glory. John and James and Peter were with Him, and they saw His glory—the unveiled glory of Jesus. But that’s not what John is talking about here. I have heard people preach sermons on that. That’s not what happens. You have to go on and read through the context.
John 2, Jesus’ first miracle where He turns the water into wine at the wedding of Cana. At the end, John says, “We saw His glory.” Wait a minute! There’s no flashing forth of God’s character and the brilliance of God at the wedding of Cana. It’s what Jesus did: He performed a miracle hat demonstrated who He was.
I’ve told you many times the phrase “the glory of God” has also become an idiom for the essence of who God is. It’s similar to the name of somebody. So when you talk about the name of Jesus, that incorporates all that Jesus is. When you look at the glory of God, it’s talking about all that Jesus is.
When John says, “We beheld His glory:” we saw who He was. We saw the essence of God revealed in what Jesus did and taught, not in some sort of brilliant effulgence. He saw that too because John was up on the Mount of Transfiguration. But that’s not what he’s talking about in the book. Over and over again, he talks about the glory of Jesus that is revealed, and it’s what He did and what He taught; that’s what they beheld here.
Turn to John 1:51 because there’s not enough room on the screen to put up all the verses in the episode.
This is an intriguing episode in John 1:43, where Jesus has already called John and Andrew and Philip. He’s calling His disciples. They’re all from the northern part of the Sea of Galilee—Bethsaida, a city on the coast—they’re fishermen. Then Philip goes to find Nathanael and tells Nathanael in John 1:45, “‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’”
John 1:46, “ ‘And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ ” Nazareth had a reputation. We all know there are places in every state or city—someplace where the IQ doesn’t get above room temperature—and it’s just sort of the way we are.
In Houston, we talk about people from Pasadena or we talk about people from Arkansas. When I went up to Connecticut, somebody told me that your IQ drops 20 points if you go to Maine. We all have places, we joke about these things. We’re not trying to offend anybody, they are just jokes.
That’s what they thought about Nazareth. Nazareth was a hick town; it only had 150 people. It wasn’t very big and never made an impact, so Nathanael said, “ ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ ” Philip said, John 1:46, “ ‘Come and see.’ ”
When He came to Nathanael in John 1:47 Jesus said, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!”
He’s complementing Nathanael as a man who is studying the Scriptures and wants to know the truth. John 1:48, Nathanael said, “ ‘How do You know me?’ ” He’s not just accepting Him right away. Jesus answered, “ ‘Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.’ ” “Wait a minute you knew I was sitting under a fig tree?” That’s the first thing that grabs his attention.
Then, just on that basis Nathanael said, John 1:49, “ ‘Rabbi, You are the son of God! You are the king of Israel!’ ” Just because Jesus demonstrated His omniscience by knowing where he was.
Jesus said something else to him, which I want to focus on, John 1:50, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You’ll see greater things than these.”
John 1:51, “most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.’”
What’s that all about? Well, you have to know your Old Testament.
Genesis 28 Jacob has been out of the land, where he picked up his two wives, two concubines, and had all the sons who are the heads of the different tribes. He is finally coming back to the land; he’s met Esau already. He goes to Shechem, and is retracing the steps of his grandfather Abraham.
From Shechem, he goes down to the outskirts of a village, Luz, and camps out in the same place that Abraham and Sarah had camped out a couple hundred years before. It is between Luz on the right as you’re facing south, and Ai on the east.
Archaeologically, there was a Byzantine church put on this traditional site. Before that, it had been marked by the Jews as where this happened. It’s a very interesting place; I’ve been there. He has a dream there, in which he sees what is sometimes translated as “ladder,” but it has the idea of a staircase, to heaven. He saw angels going up and down on this ladder, ascending and descending.
The Lord stood above it at the top and said, Genesis 28:13, “ ‘I am Yahweh Elohim of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.’ ”
In the subsequent verses, Jacob is just astounded, Genesis 28:17, “ ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God.’ ”
Hebrew for “house of God:” Beth is house; el, God. Bethel means the “house of God” That’s what he names it in Genesis 28:19.
In John 1:51 when Jesus said, “ ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man,’ ” He is saying He’s the new Bethel: He’s the new house of God; God is dwelling in Him.
Jesus makes a further statement of this in the first verse after the miracle changing the water into wine, John 2:13, “Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.”
What do you think of when you think of Passover? The lamb. He’s connecting the dots to what John said about Jesus earlier in John 1, that “He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
Jesus went into the Temple and cleanses it. The Temple is where the dwelling place of God was, but it’s not there anymore. But it’s still a holy place, and these people are profaning it with their money changing and their deal making. Jesus comes along and makes a whip out of cords, He scourges them, and He runs them out of the temple. He’s cleansing the temple at the beginning of His ministry, and the Jews confront Him.
The word for Jews here really means “the Judeans.” This was mistranslated centuries ago as the Jews, and that was one of the factors that led to a lot of anti-Semitism. But technically the word in the Greek means “the Judeans.” We’re in Jerusalem; it’s on the northern border of Judea, and the leaders here are all Judeans.
John 2:18-21, “So the Jews—the Judeans—answered and said to Him, ‘What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?’ ” They wanted to go back to Deuteronomy 18, have a sign. Jesus said, “ ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ Then the Jews said, ‘it’s taken 46 years to build this temple—still not finished actually—and will You raise it up in three days?’ But He was speaking of the temple of His body.”
What is a temple? It’s the dwelling place of God. He’s indicated by what He said to Nathanael, that He is the new Bethel. He’s the new house of God. He is saying he’s a temple; He’s the dwelling place of God.
John 4 Jesus is talking with the Samaritan woman. He asked her for a drink of water at the well, and He said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would’ve asked Him, and He would’ve given you living water.”
That’s key to understand what He is going to say in John 7.
John 4:13–14, “Jesus answered and said, ‘whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.’ ”
He will be the source of blessing for many others.
John 7:38–39, Jesus said, “ ‘He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ” This refers to the blessing the believer will be to others in telling them the Gospel and leading them to salvation. John said about this, “ ‘But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.’ ”
That tells us the Holy Spirit’s not given like it is in the Church Age prior to the Church Age. The temporary ministry of the Spirit on the leaders of Israel we refer to as enduement; but it’s not permanent. Here it’s future, so you can’t confuse it with regeneration.
John 14:16 Jesus tells the disciples that “ ‘He will give you another Helper—sometimes it is translated comforter. Helper is a better word—that He may abide with you forever …’ ” The Holy Spirit will be in you, and this will be permanent.
John 14:17, “ ‘the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and—future tense—will be in you.’ ” This has never happened before.
John 14:26, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said you.”
I think this is just referring to the disciples, because they’re going to be instrumental in recording the Word of God.
John 15:27. This indwelling of the Spirit of truth will have to do with bearing witness of who Jesus is.
Just before Jesus goes to heaven in Acts 1:2, “until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen.”
Acts 1:4, “And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father—the coming of the Comforter—‘which you have heard from Me …’ ” which He said just forty days before.
Acts 1:5, “for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized by means of the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
He tells them, Acts 1:8, “‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit is come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’”
If we put all that together, Jesus is telling the woman at the well, “If you drink living water, you’re going to have eternal life.” In John 7 the living water is the Holy Spirit, and it’s related to being a witness.
When He gets to the Upper Room Discourse, He’s telling the disciples that the Holy Spirit will come, and “you will be My witnesses.” Here He says, “Wait here in Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit will come not many days from now, and you will be My witnesses.” It’s all related to being witnesses of the gospel.
This is fulfilled at the beginning of Acts 2 where the whole house is filled. They heard a rushing wind. They saw flames of fire over each one. Acts 2:4, “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
This is the first time the Spirit comes upon the Church—only the disciples as the head of the Church. Then if you walk through Acts, you see Peter and John as the primary communicators to the Jews in Acts 2–4. The other disciples are also active, but its focus is on John and Peter.
Later, John and Peter go to the Samaritans, and the Holy Spirit comes upon them. Then he goes to Cornelius, and the Holy Spirit comes upon the Gentiles. When Peter reports it back, Acts 11:15, “… the Holy Spirit came upon them, as He did on us at the beginning.” This is the unity of the church.
As we’ve studied before, this makes each individual a temple of God now, It goes from God in the tabernacle, God in the temple, to the body of Christ being the temple, to the Church now being the temple, and each individual believer being a temple.
The word here for temple is NAOS, which is that inner Holy Place.
1 Corinthians 3:16, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”
It’s repeated in 1 Corinthians 6:19, “… that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God.”
This is what we’ve been studying in Ephesians 2. The last paragraph in Ephesians 2:19–22 is saying Gentiles and Jews are now together as one in the body of Christ. Ephesians 2:19-20, called the “household of God. “… built on the foundation of the New Testament apostles and New Testament prophets, Jesus Christ the Chief Cornerstone.”
Ephesians 2:21–22, “the whole building—that’s all the believers of all of the Church Age—are growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom also you are being built together for a dwelling place of God by the Holy Spirit.”
Believers—that’s who we are! That’s what makes this so important: this has never happened in history! We think of how great David was, we think of how great Joseph was, we think of how great Daniel was.
God is saying here that we have this unique privilege: each of us individually are indwelt by God the Holy Spirit. And God the Holy Spirit lives in our lives to be a witness, a testimony to the Gospel, to the grace of God, and that corporately every believer is indwelt.
The church itself is a dwelling place of God for this purpose. It goes right back to the Great Commission: that we are to be baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, related to evangelism.
And teaching everyone to obey everything that Jesus taught, which is how Christians grow: through the knowledge of the teaching of the apostles and the prophets. This ties “indwelling” together for us, and next time we will come back and look at the next one, which is sealing.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to study these things, reflect upon these things, to see just how marvelous Your Word lays these things out for us. The idea that You the Eternal God, the Creator of heavens and the earth is so far beyond anything that we can think or imagine.
“Yet You have condescended to live amongst us, and we see that this is a historical trend that will not end with the Church Age. But in the future kingdom, there will not be a temple, because You will dwell with us, Revelation says. This is Your plan and purpose to have us as regenerate humanity, living in the kingdom with You in Your presence.
“Father, this just floors us that we get to be part of this; that we get to experience these blessings from You, for we have nothing to claim. There’s nothing for us to bring forward and say we’ve done anything, for You have done it all.
“Especially, we’re thankful for our salvation. We pray for anyone that may be listening or anyone here that’s never trusted in Christ as Savior, that they would clearly understand that this is a free gift. That You sent Your Son to die on the cross for our sins in fulfillment of dozens and dozens of prophecies and promises in the Old Testament, fulfilling them specifically and in every detail, so that He could go to the cross as the God-Man and there pay the penalty for our sins, so that we might have everlasting life simply by believing or trusting in You.
“Father, we thank You for what we’ve learned today. May it broaden our understanding of all that You want to do through us, and all that You have provided for us. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”