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February 23, 2013

Religion Column: God's Spirit testifies with our spirit

By the Rev. Jim Wheeler
The Daily Star

---- — The Bible says: “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.” (Romans 8:16 New American Standard Bible)

Some don’t believe the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many don’t believe in God. They cannot see him, and they don’t believe there’s sufficient evidence of his existence. Some believe in a god other than the God of the Bible. One major thing separates the Christian faith from all other religions. The Christian faith is based on the historically documented fact that Jesus, who is the Messiah who died on a cross for our sins, did literally rise from the grave.

No other religion can claim an empty tomb of a risen savior. He showed many convincing proofs. He really was alive again. In today’s world, our courts would demand far less evidence to prove a fact. Hundreds witnessed the resurrected Christ and several witnessed his ascension off the earth as he returned to heaven.

Many things support the fact that Jesus is the Messiah; that the Bible is the only true written Word of God; and that the God of the Bible exists. We have the precise fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies concerning Jesus’ first coming. Archaeology and other sciences do not detract from,

 add support to the accuracy of the Bible; nature its self declares the existence of God; there is the testimony of millions of believers whose lives have been radically changed for the better through faith in Christ; the evidence of God at work through signs, wonders and miracles not only in Bible times but in modern times; and we have the witness of the Holy Spirit. I especially want to bring out some thoughts on that witness of the Holy Spirit. 

When people say they don’t believe in the God of the Christian faith, there’s at least one particular thing some tend to leave out of the equation in coming to their conclusion.

What many unbelievers might not understand or are not aware of is that in addition to the promises of the Bible, believers have the assurance of their relationship with Christ because the Holy Spirit testifies with their spirit that they are children of God. They sense the presence as well as voice and leading of God’s spirit in their lives. Sometimes the Holy Spirit even manifests his presence in the lives of believers.

The Bible says the Spirit of God dwells in God’s people. Anyone who doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ doesn’t belong to him. (Romans 8:9). When a person takes the step of faith to believe in Christ and gives his heart to him, confessing and repenting of their sins, he forgives and saves them. At that very instant the Holy Spirit simultaneously indwells that person. Christians know for certain God is real and the Bible is the Word of God. They know they’ve been saved and they know Christ personally. They know these things because the Holy Spirit is inside of them and he testifies with their spirit the reality of Christ.

Because the Bible in its original writing is the inspired, inerrant, God-breathed Word of God and because the Holy Spirit lives in believers and opens up their hearts and minds to the Holy Scriptures, the Bible comes alive to them as they read it. Unlike any other book ever written, it’s a living, active book that speaks to our soul and spirit. (Hebrews 4:12). God’s Holy Spirit in believers also helps them in spiritually discerning its message. (1 Corinthians 2:14).

The Bible not only tells us we’re indwelt by the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation, but also at that moment we become a part of the body of Christ, the fellowship of all believers, as the Holy Spirit baptizes us into that body. (1 Corinthians 12:13).

But that’s not all. There’s more available for the believer. The Bible tells us Jesus will baptize us with the Holy Spirit, an event in which the Holy Spirit comes upon us (Acts 1:4) and we’re filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4; 8:17; 9:17; 10:44; 19:6) and given power to be Christ’s witness. (Acts 1:8). We’re saved by grace through faith in Christ. That salvation is available to all who chose to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Once saved, our body is then a temple of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:19). Jesus also calls upon every believer to be water-baptized, signifying the new life in Christ. (Matthew 28:19). Subsequent to our salvation (Acts 19:2-6), Christ is the one who baptizes believers with the Holy Spirit. (John 1:33). Christ desires every believer to be baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39), and to continue living the Spirit-filled life. (Ephesians 5:18).

Jesus said: “How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those that ask Him?” (Luke 11:13).

The Rev. Jim Wheeler Sr. is an Assemblies of God Evangelist who lives in Oneonta.