I feel compelled to point out that the Spirit-in-the-word-only-today proponents’ case is almost totally dependent upon twisting together two or more basically-unrelated passages of New Testament scripture into a logical argument, which usually runs like this:
Ephesians 3:17 says “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith….” Scripture says Christ dwells in our hearts and then tells us HOW He dwells in our hearts, “by faith.” The Holy Spirit dwells in a Christian the same way as Christ dwells in a Christian – by faith. The Bible says that faith comes by hearing the Word of God in Romans 10:17.
This logical argument depends upon several assumptions: first, that Christ dwells in a believer’s heart ONLY by faith; that the Holy Spirit dwells in a Christian the same way as Christ dwells in a Christian (unsubstantiated with scripture); that faith ONLY comes by hearing the Word of God; that these two passages were written with textual, contextual or subtextual purpose of establishing that the Holy Spirit dwells in the believer only in the form of the word or bodily; that this logical argument outweighs any other clear scripture (usually ignored, but sometimes explained away) which implies otherwise.
That’s a lot of assumptions. If any fail, the logical argument falters as well.
Let’s just deal with them:
Ephesians 3:17 is immediately surrounded by this context: “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” So it is surrounded by a prayer for the Spirit’s power in your inner being with no mention whatsoever of written scripture, which establishes a bodily surround for the Spirit.
Romans 10:17 is surrounded by the context:
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’ But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our message?’ Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: ‘Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.’ “ So it is engulfed in a discussion about the importance of believing and the importance of hearing and preaching so that something crucial – the gospel – may be known and believed. There is no mention of the Spirit. (Though it is worth mentioning that the Spirit is deeply involved in the proclamation of the gospel … I was going to list scriptures here, but my previous posts establish that.)
- Neither passage establishes that it is directly related to the other by any key word or phrase or concept.
- Neither deals with the focus of the subject matter of the other.
- Neither establishes, on its own or together, that Christ or the Holy Spirit exists in the believer ONLY by faith (one would have to consider Saul’s experiences in 1 Samuel 10 and 19, certainly, before concluding that – neither mentions a prerequisite of faith on his part).
- Neither establishes, on its own or together, that faith comes only by hearing (and one would have to ponder about faith being given as a direct gift of the Holy Spirit per 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 before concluding that, especially verse 9).
- The second passage has no reference to the Holy Spirit; the subject simply isn’t in view. How could a conclusion drawn from it specifically apply to Him, especially if the context of the other scripture contradicts the conclusion?
- The other passages “explained away” by this logical argument speak clearly and explicitly to the Holy Spirit dwelling within the believer: John 14:16-17; Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 1 John 3:24. That is their subject and and at least part of their purpose in being written: to describe the way the Holy Spirit – a Person – truly “lives,” not figuratively but literally – in the heart of the welcoming believer.
Most of the supporting assumptions in this logical argument fail. When you knock the supporting legs off of a milkstool, it don’t stand up no more – and this argument is no different.