The material on this page was written in the 1970s to respond to the criticisms of Walter Martin, founder of the Christian Research Institute (CRI) and the original “Bible Answer Man.” CRI has since withdrawn those criticisms and reversed its earlier conclusions (see “A Brief History of the Relationship between the Local Churches and the Christian Research Institute”). The text of this article is published here for the historical record, for the important points of truth it addresses, and because CRI’s criticisms, although withdrawn, are still repeated by others.
From: Answers to the Bible Answer Man (Vol. 1)
13. THE TRUTH CONCERNING GOD COMING INTO MAN
The desire of God’s heart is to come into man so that He may have His dwelling place with man. This desire is expressed in Exodus 25:8, where the Lord, speaking of the tabernacle as a type of His real dwelling place, says, “And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” God’s desire to dwell with man is also seen in Isaiah 66:1-2, where the Lord, longing for a house, a place of rest, says, “To this man will I look, the poor and contrite in spirit, who trembleth at my word” (Heb. ). Surely this passage indicates that God intends to come into man for His rest.
What is foreshadowed in the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New Testament. Christ, the Word of God, became flesh and tabernacled among us (John 1:1, 14, Gk. ). When Jesus was on earth, He was God’s temple (John 2:19, 21). In Him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Col. 2:9). However, when Christ was on earth, God was only among us; He was not yet in us.
God Being Among Us to His Being in Us
The change from God’s being among us to His being in us is seen in John 14. Although in Christ’s incarnation God was among us, His desire was to come into us. For this reason, in John 14 the Lord Jesus spoke of another Comforter, who would be able to be in us. In verse 17 He said that the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, or reality, was with us, but that He would be in us. As the context of verses 16-20 indicates, the Spirit of reality is the reality of Christ. Therefore, the Spirit in us (v. 17) is Christ in us (v. 20). Speaking of the day of His resurrection, Christ says in verse 20, “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” By His incarnation Christ could be among us, but by His resurrection He could come into us. Today, every genuine Christian has Jesus Christ Himself living within him (2 Cor. 13:5; Gal. 2:20). As John 14:23 indicates, the Father and the Son together make Their abode with the one who loves the Son, and thus God’s desire to come into man is fulfilled. Hereafter, we need to abide in Him and He in us (John 15:4).
God in Man and Man in God
The revelation of John 14 is developed in the Epistles. First John 3:24 reveals that we can dwell in God and that God can dwell in us. Here we see the fact of the mutual dwelling: God in man and man in God. In the light of this verse, how can anyone say that God does not desire to come into man? First John 4:15 says, “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” God has come into us to dwell in us. What a glorious reality!
A number of portions from the Epistles of Paul confirm this truth. Romans 8:10 says that Christ is in us, and the following verse reveals that the Spirit of God dwells in us. In 1 Corinthians 3:16 we see that the church in a locality (cf. 1 Cor. 1:2) is the temple of God indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Second Corinthians 6:16 says that the saints are the temple of the living God, who dwells in them. According to Galatians, Christ is revealed in us and is formed in us (1:15-16; 2:20; 4:19). Ephesians 4:6 indicates that the Father is in us; Colossians 1:27, that Christ, the Son, is in us; and Galatians 4:6, that the Spirit is in us. Hallelujah, the Triune God is in us! The Father, the Son, and the Spirit all dwell in us as one to be our life and our everything for the satisfaction of the desire of God’s heart to come into man and to dwell with him forever.
Perhaps the clearest and fullest revelation of God’s desire to dwell in man is found in Ephesians chapter three. In this chapter Paul prayed that the Father would strengthen us with power by His Spirit in our inner man, so that Christ may dwell in our hearts and that we might be filled with all the fullness of God (vv. 16-19). If it were not the desire of the Triune God to dwell in man, why would He inspire the apostle Paul to pray that Christ may dwell in our hearts and that we would be filled with all the fullness of God? Paul’s prayer was the expression of God’s intention, and the answer to this prayer through the loving cooperation of the believers in Christ today will bring about the fulfillment of God’s desire to come into us, to dwell in us, and to fill us with all His fullness, so that He and we may enjoy mutual rest and satisfaction for eternity. The Triune God not only intends to come into us—He has done so. And we are enjoying His indwelling. Praise Him!
Copyright © 1994 Living Stream, Anaheim, CA, USA. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission.