The New Testament teaches that the church, both individually and corporately, is the dwelling place of God:

    • ‘Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?’ [1Corintihians 3:16]
    • ‘Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, and whom you have received from God?’ [1Corinthians 6:19]
    • ‘In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit’ [Ephesians 2:21,22].

This divine indwelling was promised by Jesus Christ in John 14:14-31; 15:26; 16:5-16. There he told his disciples that he and the Father would send the Spirit to live in them, and that the presence of the Spirit within them is also the presence of the Father and the Son within them:

    • ‘I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth… to be with you forever … he … will be in you … I will come to you … we will come to him and make our home with him … ‘ [John 14:16-18,23].

The indwelling Spirit is God’s mark of ownership on individual members of the church, and his guarantee of their present and permanent salvation:

    • ‘Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession’ [Ephesians 1:13-14]
    • ‘He has anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come’ [2Corinthians 1:21-22]
    • ‘Now God … has given us the Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come [2Corinthians 5:5].

The indwelling Spirit affirms the unique and intimate relationship between believers and God:

    •  ‘… those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God… you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children’ [Romans 8:14-16]
    •  ‘Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”’ [Galatians 4:6].

The indwelling Spirit mediates the believer’s access to God and communication with God:

    • ‘For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit [Ephesians 2:18]
    • ‘… the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express … the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will’ [Romans 8:26-27].

The indwelling Spirit is in the process of transforming believers into the image of Christ, a process that was predicted in the Old Testament:

    • ‘But we all … beholding … the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory … by the Spirit of the Lord’ [2Corinthians 3:18 KJV].
    • ‘I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws’ [Ezekiel 36:27].

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2009, 2021