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Question #42

Is Jesus in my heart or at the right hand of God?

As a born-again Christian, is Jesus in my Heart or seated at the right hand of God? Who is within us, the Holy Spirit? My wife is not a Christian and asked me that question.

The Answer:

The truth is “all of the above.” Christ dwells in the Christian’s heart: “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,” Eph. 3:17. He is said to be in us as our hope of glory, Col. 1:27. Christ is described as standing at the right hand of God, Acts 7:55-56 and Romans 8:34, seated at the right hand of God, Col. 3:1, Heb. 10:12, and Heb. 12:2, and as being at the right hand of God without describing him as either standing or sitting, 1 Pet. 3:22.

The scripture is also clear that the Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian. “What? 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 Cor. 6:19. (See also Romans 8:9-11. However, there is disagreement among scholars regarding this text over when the “s” in “spirit” should be upper case (the Holy Spirit) or lower case (the human spirit). There is disagreement as to whether the Spirit dwells in the Christian personally in conjunction with the Word or representatively through the Word. There is no disagreement whether the Holy Spirit indwells the Christian. The important truth is that the Holy Spirit guides and speaks to the Christian only through the Word of God. Put differently there is no direct operation of the Holy Spirit; there is only indirect operation through the Word of God. Many people today are fond of the expression, “God spoke to me and said . . . .” God speaks to man today and the Holy Spirit guides man today ONLY THROUGH THE WORD OF GOD. Those who claim a direct message do not speak the truth. To claim such a message is either fraud (a deliberate misrepresentation) or ignorance (the speaker is misguided). There are no other alternatives since the Bible clearly teaches that there are no latter day revelations. Moreover, any latter day revelation is at best superfluous and at worst untrue. If it contains more than the Bible it contains too much; if it contains less than the Bible it contains too little; if it contains the same thing as the Bible it is superfluous because we already have the Bible.

The evidence we have for the indwelling Christ and Spirit is what the Scripture reveals to us. In today’s search for a religion that is “better felt than told,” people mistake some emotional reaction as evidence of their salvation. It is true that feeling precedes salvation and is a sign of salvation. The feeling that precedes salvation is demonstrated by Saul of Tarsus in his conversion. Acts 9:6-9. After the Lord appeared to him, Saul spent three days in Damascus in fasting and prayer. He was obviously a man who “felt” penitent. His feeling was not a sign of salvation because he was yet in his sins. Ananias, who the Lord sent to Saul, instructed him to be baptized to wash away his sins. Saul obeyed and the rest is history. There is, however, feeling that is a sign of salvation. In Acts 8, the Ethiopian Nobleman “when on his way rejoicing” ( 8:39) after he was baptized.

The problem, however, is that feelings cannot be trusted. If one believes he or she is saved, he or she will “feel” saved even if they are lost. The only way to know that one is saved is to read and believe the Scripture and obey its commands. Then one can know that the Lord will fulfill his promise – “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be condemned.” Mark 16:16.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)