Questions and Answers: The Holy Ghost in Christendom?

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 10
Ques. — I find that some Christians maintain that the Holy Ghost dwells in Christendom. Now I have always thought... that the Holy Ghost dwells exclusively in the Church. I would be so glad if you would give me your thoughts about it.
Ans.—I think that a right understanding of the distinction between the Church as the "Body of Christ" (Eph. 1:22, 2322And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. (Ephesians 1:22‑23)), unto which believers are baptized by the Holy Ghost, (1 Cor. 12:1313For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:13)) and thus united to Christ, exalted and glorified in heaven (1 Cor. 6:1717But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:17)), and the "House of God," a "habitation of God through the Spirit," (Eph. 2:21, 2221In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:21‑22)), in the world, will make the answer to your question simple and plain. When Christ was glorified as man to heaven, the Holy Ghost (not previously given, see John 7:3939(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) (John 7:39)) descended from heaven and took up His abode in the saints, on the day of Pentecost, as God's house. (Acts 2) The Church thus begun, and set up as God's witness and abode through His Spirit, is styled "the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." (1 Tim. 3:1515But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:15).) This "House" was, as it were, a co-extensive thing at the first with the "Body," its other aspect, and was the true thing which God Himself fitly framed together; a member of this house was a living one, and in union with Christ the Head, by the Holy Ghost. But we find that immediately after its being set up, men began to build on the foundation wood, hay, stubble as well as gold, silver, precious stones. (1 Cor. 3) As a consequence, the House as man built it, began to assume vast proportions, entirely disproportionate to the Body, the true thing. But still the Holy Ghost did not leave the House. And the House was as far as man's responsibility went, "God's building." "The temple of God and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you" (1 Cor. 3:9-179For we are laborers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. 10According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. 14If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. 16Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. (1 Corinthians 3:9‑17)), that is, collectively as in a temple, which is a different thought from the body of the believer, being the temple of the Holy Ghost, as in 1 Cor. 6:1919What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (1 Corinthians 6:19). The House of God drifted soon into what the Apostle speaks of in 2 Tim. 2:19-2119Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. 20But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. 21If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. (2 Timothy 2:19‑21), like to a "Great House" containing vessels to honor and dishonor. This is quite a different state of things from 1 Tim. 3:1515But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:15), and has characterized Christendom ever since, and at which judgment must begin. (1 Peter 4:1717For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17).)
So that we see that the Holy Ghost in the first instance, baptizes all believers since His coming down into one Body, ("There is one body and one Spirit," Eph. 4:44There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; (Ephesians 4:4)) uniting them to Christ as Head, and God dwells amongst them as a habitation through His Spirit. What a wondrous thought, and what a wondrous privilege. How much has the Church forgotten her calling! But not only so, He dwells in the "House" here below, and professing Christians (as well as true Christians) are responsible for His presence, and are, as far as His presence goes, thus responsible for the presence of the Holy Ghost, although not, of course, "sealed" as the true believer, and indwelt by Him.
A right understanding of the Church as the "Body of Christ," composed of living members, and the "House," or professing church, is the key to much of the teaching of the epistles. F.G. Patterson
When on the long and dreary way.
Or at the dawn of breaking day,
Or in the damp and chill night air,
Or in the noontide dusty glare.
Lord, as we march, we look to Thee,
To lead us on to victory!