The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lost Opportunity

“If you will be a servant to these people today, and serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.” – 1 Kings 12:7

 Decisions based on pride and insensitivity lead to division. When King Solomon died he was succeeded by his son Rehoboam. His inauguration was to take place at Shechem. But right out of the box young Rehoboam was faced with a critical decision. Jeroboam, (an enemy of his father - 1 Kings 11:26-40), led the assembly of Israel to challenge Rehoboam. They said, “Your father made our yoke heavy; now therefore, lighten the burdensome service of your father, and his heavy yoke which he put on us, and we will serve you” (1 Kings 12:1-4).  Solomon had expanded the kingdom of Israel to its greatest boundaries. He had built the magnificent Temple, his own house, the Milo, the wall of Jerusalem, Hazor, Megiddo and many other building projects (cf. 1 Kings 9:15-28). While he didn’t utilize forced labor to do this work (1 Kings 9:22), he did lay heavy tax burdens on the people.  Wisely, Rehoboam asked for three days to think about it his response (12:5).

Rehoboam first consulted “the elders who stood before his father Solomon while he still lives” (12:6). He first went to those who knew his father and had served with him. Their counsel was, “If you will be a servant to these people today, and serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever” (12:7). In other words they counseled Rehoboam to be a servant leader. Jesus said the key to greatness is being a servant (Mat. 23:11). The counsel of the elders was spot and prudent. They also advised Rehoboam to answer the people and speak “good words to them.” “Good” (טוֹב - ṭôwb, tobe ) here means pleasant, bountiful, cheerful, proper types of words. Rehoboam shouldn’t respond haughtily but humbly. He was being advised to empathize and be sensitive to the needs of the people; to be gracious and willing to listen. The elders told Rehoboam if he would just respond in a good way with good words to the people, “then they will be your servants forever.” If he responded as a servant of the people and not a tyrant, the people’s hearts would melt before him and he would win them forever. Not only that, but we know that God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble (Prov. 3:34; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). If Rehoboam responded in humility, God would be on his side. This was good wise counsel from his father’s elders.

What the elders were really advising Rehoboam was to love the people. David loved the people. He was heartbroken when his poor decisions adversely impacted the people (cf. 2 Sam. 24:14). Solomon started with a concern and love for the people he ruled (1 Kings 3:9). Loveless decisions are always poor decisions. In the New Testament John wrote, “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17). Rehoboam had it in his power to relieve the burden of the people. In refusing to do so he exhibited loveless leadership. A good leader has compassion. A godly leader leads in the love of the Lord.

Unfortunately Rehoboam “rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him.” (12:8). The advice of his young friends was to answer the people, “My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s waist!” (12:9-10). In other words, “You think my father laid a heavy burden on you? Wait until you see what I do; you haven’t seen nothin’ yet!” This was a purely prideful response. Rehoboam and his young friends probably reasoned that to show compassion and sensitivity was to expose weakness. Perhaps they thought if I give in to them with this then it will only lead to more requests. They saw leadership as rule, authority, power, and control. They were more concerned with keeping power and lordship over the people than they were serving God by serving the people. They were so wrong.  

It’s not surprising that Jeroboam and the people didn’t respond well to the rough answer of Rehoboam. Not only did they completely reject his decision, but when they saw that he was unwilling to listen to their request and be fair, they said, “What share have we in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel! Now see to your own house, O David!” (12:16). When King Rehoboam sent Adoram to collect the taxes, the people stoned him and   it began a civil war that resulted in the ten northern tribes separating from Judah and Benjamin in the south.  

What a lost opportunity! The unity of the nation was at stake. And the loyalty of a people to their king and king to the people hung in the balance. Even more importantly, the relationship of Israel to their God was about to be adversely impacted. And all was lost because of pride and a lack of love. Tragic! Humility and love are indispensable to leaders and decision making. Nothing good comes from pride. Nothing is gained by a lack of love.

Decisions based on pride and insensitivity lead to division. “By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well advised is wisdom” (Prov. 13:10). “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18). Rehoboam’s proud harsh response to the people led to a foolish decision. A fool is someone who fails to factor God into their life equation (Ps. 14). Rehoboam consulted the elders of his father and his young friends, but he never consulted God! If he had maybe the Lord would have brought to mind the inspired proverb of his father that states, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1). But God spoke to him and told him not to fight against those who had separated themselves from him (12:22-24). The consequence of the decision must take its course. This situation was linked in part to Solomon’s forsaking of God (1 Kings 11).

The division caused by pride was like a cancer. Jeroboam, concerned that he would lose people if they went to the Temple in Jerusalem to worship, erected an alternative altar in the northern area of the tribe of Dan and at Bethel. Two golden calves were made and outright apostasy and false worship was encouraged (12:25-35). Pride led to division. Division led to apostasy. Human relationships were severed by pride and insensitivity. And relationships with God were and added ultimate consequence. Nothing good ever comes from pride.

Is your life characterized by broken relationships and division? If so, it doesn’t mean you are necessarily the culprit or cause. Sometimes we are victimized by pride and lovelessness. But just in case, ask yourself a few questions. Are you more concerned with maintaining control than being compassionate? Are you looking to serve or be served? Are you proud or humble? “He who has a proud heart stirs up strife, but he who trusts in the Lord will be prospered” (Prov. 28:25). Remember, “If you will be a servant to these people today, and serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever” (12:7). Those are wise words. Pray about it. Servant or lord, what’s your choice?



Tuesday, January 15, 2013

In His Image – Grace, Faith, and Love

“So God created man in His own image” – Genesis 1:27

 We are created in the image of God. What does that mean? In part it means we are a reflection of God and who He is. We get a picture of who God is and what He is like when we look at the human makeup. Of course, that image has been marred by sin. Adam went from being created in the image of God to having offspring “in his own likeness,” that is, in his own fallen sinful nature likeness (Gen. 5:3). But there is still a lot we can learn about God and His ways by looking at His image in us.  
We see; God sees. We hear; God hears. We touch; God touches. “So do animals,” you say. Some would argue that primates are very human-like. They would go so far as to say they are simply less evolved than humans. That is a discussion for another day. Suffice it to say that humanity is so far beyond primates in intellect, creativity, and volition as to make comparison gross. Humanity is uniquely created by God in His image. What really sets humanity apart?

I like the comment of Pastor Chuck Smith in the Word for Today Bible for Genesis 1:26. He states, “What does it mean to be made after God’s likeness? The chief governing characteristic of God is His self-determination – His will and His ability to choose and to determine His own destiny. So man was created a self-determinant being. The chief emotional attribute of God is love. God made man in His image with a beautiful capacity to love – both to give it and receive it.” [1] The image of God in us is most clearly seen in our will and capacity to love.

Understanding the image of God in humanity is important because it sheds light on our accountability before God. Because we are created by God with the capacity to make decisions and to love others, we are accountable before Him for those decisions and our love or lack thereof.

Our existence is completely due to the sovereign determination of God. We exist because He chose to bring us into existence. “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” (Colossians 1:16b, 17). “You are worthy O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created” (Rev. 4:11). That is grace. We don’t deserve to be created. But God created us by grace; undeserved favor. Grace is God acting according to His own nature of love. God created us graciously; according to His own nature of love. He created us in His image.

Created by His grace and in His image we have the capacity to make decisions. God’s image in us manifests itself in our capacity to choose right from wrong. We trust this or that. We exert the faith He has built into our being. “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15). “’How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.’ But the people answered him not a word.” (1 Kings 18:21).

The greatest decision we make is to love. “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD our God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Mat. 22:37-40). The love God speaks of is not cheap love. It isn’t a love that is in word only. Love is not mere lip-service. “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.” (John 14:21a). “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:16-18).

Human choice and love are inextricably connected. If humanity does not have the capacity to choose, it cannot love. Love forced is an oxymoron. That’s important because some theology discounts the human will. It removes the image of God in humanity that provides the capacity to choose and make decisions. There are some who would remove human decision from the equation of salvation. And yet Christ’s call to repentance screams for decision (e.g. Mark 1:15). I understand the motive of those who discount human free will and the capacity for decision. I understand the desire to exalt God and make salvation completely and totally of Him, of His grace. But even if the salvation plan of God is viewed as incorporating a decision from human beings, salvation is still totally of God. God created us in the first place. He created us in His image with the capacity to choose. He reasons with us and draws us to Himself (Is. 1:18; John 6:44). He persuades us and convicts us of our sin (John 16:8-11). It’s all by His grace. We wouldn’t know we fall short of His glorious requirements unless by grace he revealed and exposed our depravity (Rom. 3).

Removing the decision required of humanity by God from the salvation equation serves to desecrate the image of God He has placed in the human creation. It makes God’s creation less than He created it to be. It diminishes God’s creativity. It doesn’t exalt God’s sovereignty, it lessons it. Is God only able to rule those He has programmed a certain way to be ruled? Or is God so great and glorious that He can field humanities’ questions and even their accusations and then respond, “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me” (Job 38:2-3).

To say humanity must respond to the gospel with faith or trust should not be viewed as incorporating a human “work” in salvation. Faith is not a work. When a person repents and puts their faith in Jesus they have nothing to boast about. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9). Faith is part of God’s image in humanity. It is there by grace. But humanity is responsible for using that capability.

Some say salvation circumvents a willful decision by people. Some say people cannot make a decision one way or the other. They affirm the only people who are saved are those who have been predestined to salvation by God beforehand. They say salvation is separate from any decision on the part of humanity. Such a view removes the image of God from humanity. Such a view reduces humanity to automatons; robots. Unable to choose, we are unable to love. Thank God this is not the truth! For God has given us a will and capacity to choose. Praise God we can choose to receive Jesus as our Savior and Lord! Praise God we can love! By His grace we can choose. By His grace we can love. Choose wisely.



[1] Pastor Chuck Smith,  Word for Today Bible. (Costa Mesa CA: Word for Today Pub. 2012)  note on page 3 for Genesis 1:26.  

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

“Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’”

Jesus told Nicodemus, “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” (John 3:7). We must be “born of the Spirit” (John 3:6, 8). Does that cause you to marvel? Are you amazed that in this age of eclecticism, unbridled tolerance, and relativism someone would be so bold as to claim there is a single solitary essential of salvation? Is that bigoted?

The context of those words was one Rabbi talking to another. Nicodemus was a religious man. As a rabbi he was beneficiary of a high quality of education relative to the day. He was probably well to do. He was outwardly clean and polished. He was religiously well dressed. He was in a position of prestige. He had all the advantages of being a prominent person in his society and culture. And yet when in the presence of Jesus this religious man of note was told, “You must be born again.”

What about people in the church who don’t believe a person has to be born again to enter God’s kingdom? What about people of other faiths: Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Jews? What about good atheists and agnostics?  What about the millions who admit they simply don’t know? Or what about the millions who say you can’t know? Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). That narrow but saving way is, “You must be born again.”

Why is it so important to be born again? Because without being born again humans are spiritually dead. We are dead in sin. Physically we will die. But there is much more than that. Because of sin we are dead to God. We are out of relationship with Him. Our sin separates us from Him (Isaiah 59:1-2). He is Holy and requires we be holy (Leviticus 11:44; 1 Peter 1:15-16). People forget about that. People concoct or create an image of “God” that doesn’t exist. Their “God” condones sin and immorality. They disregard God’s definition of sin in scripture and call evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20). That is unacceptable and repulsive to God. If we cherish sin in our hearts God will not hear us (Psalm 66:18). God is of purer eyes than to look upon evil and “cannot look on wickedness” (Habakkuk 1:13). And we are evil!

God in His word states, “The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen. 8:21). In Psalms David states, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). Solomon was inspired to write, “For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). All this sin works death in us. In Ephesians Paul contrasts believers with what they once were by stating, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others” (Eph. 2:1-3). Evil, iniquitous, unjust, dead in trespasses and sins, walking worldly, under Satan’s influence, disobedient, and fleshly, that’s our human condition. Would you want to stand before a Holy God in that state? We better be born again.


We must all be transformed from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God, in order to receive forgiveness of our sins and God’s inheritance of eternal life (Acts 26:18). We must be saved from our sin. We must receive “the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). We must be born again!

Paul said, “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ he is not His” (Romans 8:9b). It takes the Holy Spirit within us to enable us to have a saving relationship with God. Only by the Holy Spirit can someone experience, “. . . the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’” (Romans 8:15). It is “The Spirit Himself” who “bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16). That should make us want to be born again.

Our world is confused. They foolishly think themselves wiser than God. They “marvel” at the supposed stupidity and narrowness of Christianity. But really they are cowards. They run from any conflict or integrity like it was the plague. They have grown weak as a wet noodle. They are unwilling to stomach what it takes to confront sin and stand in the gap for those running toward hell. They would rather allow people to fornicate while their house burns down around them. Some hide from personal accountability by claiming eternity is esoteric; unknowable. Therefore they claim every road leads to the same place; a nirvana of some kind. They think this philosophically prudent in terms of avoiding conflict. “Can’t we all just get along?” “Give peace a chance.”

But if all roads are right and all beliefs true it raises a lot of logical reasonable questions about the many contradictions such a worldview creates. Is there one God or many gods? Is He personal or impersonal? Has “God” communicated with us? Can we communicate with Him; or Her? Is there a heaven? What’s it like? How do we get there? Do we work our way to heaven? What “work” is sufficient? How much work is enough? Can we be sure? Is getting to heaven a religious or spiritual journey? Are those two things in agreement or conflict? Is there a right, a wrong?  There’s a myriad questions and humanity is seeking answers while in a dark dead state. All the while there is this ache within pondering  there must be more than this. There is. We must be born again.

“But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4-7). In love as a free gift of His grace God in Christ came into this world of sin. He reached down into the toilet of this world and made a way for us to be cleaned from the filth of sin. He has shined His light into our darkness. “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. . . . If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:7, 9). The kindness and love of God has appeared. It does not speak of working your way out of this sinful mess. It speaks of mercy; not getting what we deserve. It speaks of salvation to those lost in sin. It speaks of thorough heart cleansing. It speaks of renewal; transformation by the Holy Spirit. It speaks of abundance. It speaks of the possibility to be justified before God or have a standing that is just as if I’d never sinned. And it speaks of all of this through Jesus Christ. His blood shed for us. The penalty for sin is death. He paid our penalty. He died for us. (Romans 6:23). He is faithful. He is just. He will forgive our sins. We can be born again!

If this salvation, this washing of regeneration, this spiritual birth, this second birth or being born again is not of works, then how can we experience it? “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13). Receive Him. Take hold of Him, grasp Him. Just take hold of the gift He is offering. Believe in His name. Have faith in Him and all He stands for and has revealed. Be convinced. Trust Him. Rely on Him. Have confidence in Him as your Savior. All of this implies repentance. God’s offer entails turning from alternatives to Jesus. He doesn’t say “receive Him and . . . .” He doesn’t say, “believe in His name and . . . .” By nature we are walking from God. He gets our attention with grace, love, mercy, sacrifice. He who knew no sin has become sin for us. He offers us His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). It’s not our blood. It’s not our human willful religious asceticism. It’s God. “You must be born again.” It’s the only way. It’s the truth. It’s life (John 14:6). Marvelous? In light of our sin, yes indeed. In light of our self-righteousness, definitely not! “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” Be born again!




Monday, January 7, 2013

The Prime Essential of Salvation

". . .  if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you” - Romans 8:9

There is one prime essential of salvation. A person can be religious, relatively good, and even believe there is a God and that Jesus is the Christ, and still be lost! The Pharisees were amongst the most religious people that ever lived and yet Jesus denounced them for their hypocrisy (Mat. 23). The Rich Young Ruler had apparently kept the commandments of God and yet “one thing” (Mark 10:21). Demons believe there is a God and that Jesus is the Christ, “the Holy One of God!” and are still destined for hell (Mat. 8:29; Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34; James 2:19). What is the one prime essential which separates these examples from eternal life and a place in God’s Kingdom? It is the Holy Spirit within.

Jesus told Nicodemus the religious Pharisee, “You must be born again” and explained that to be a spiritual birth (John 3:1-21). Just as a person is physical born, they need a second birth, a spiritual birth. They need to be born again. Until that happens a person is spiritually dead. Until the Holy Spirit comes to reside or indwell a person they are incomplete. God created humanity to have fellowship with Him. We are dependent on fellowship with God. We are created with an inherent design for fellowship with God. No matter what success or partial fulfillment we acquire in this life without God there will remain emptiness in us.

The apostle Paul wrote, “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ he is not His” (Rom. 8:9). The context is speaking of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in the genuinely saved Christian. There are people who frequent churches, wear Christian paraphernalia, who do “good” deeds but still do not belong to God. Why is this so? Because they lack the indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus referred to such people as “tares.” A tare is husk of wheat with no kernel inside. On the outside it looks like any other full husk of wheat. But on the inside it is empty. Jesus said there are tares among the healthy wheat (Mat. 13:24-30).  This raises two questions.

First, how can I be born again and indwelled by the Holy Spirit? This spiritual second birth takes place when a person responds to the gracious reasoning and call of God (Is. 1:18). No one can come to God unless He draws them (John 6:44). Sin separates humanity from God (Ps. 66:18; Is. 59:2; Rom. 3:9-23), who is Holy (Ps. 5:4; Hab. 1:13). God will not simply dismiss or turn a blind eye to our sin; that would go against the foundations of who He is (Ps. 89:14). The Holy Spirit convicts the sinner of their sinfulness, that in their own strength they cannot attain God’s required level of righteousness for salvation, and that they are therefore destined for God’s just and righteous judgment (John 16:8-11). The consequence of sin is death; not annihilation but eternal separation from God in a place called hell (Ps. 9:17; Mat. 25:46; Rom. 6:23).

But God who is Love made a way for humanity to be justified, redeemed and forgiven their sin through faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Rom. 5:1f.; 8:1f.). Jesus the just paid the death penalty on the cross for the unjust (1 Pet. 3:18). He “was made sin for us” that we might receive His righteousness put to our account (2 Cor. 5:21). That transaction takes place when a person puts their faith in Jesus as Savior (Eph. 2:8-9). This is not mere assent like demons.  Saving faith by nature is repentant; a person turns from their sin to God. It also means they ask God’s forgiveness based on the atoning work of Jesus on the cross not their own efforts to be right with God.

When a person receives this salvation offered by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ God forgives their sin and gives them spiritual life (i.e. regeneration) by indwelling them with the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19). The work of the Holy Spirit is described as, “the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). He washes away our sins and gives us spiritual life.

Second, how do I know if I have been born again and indwelled by the Holy Spirit?  The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity (one God; Three distinct Persons); He is God (Acts 5:3-4). Jesus described the Holy Spirit as “another Helper” which literally means, another just like Me (“another” = ἄλλος - allŏs, al´-los another of the same of the same sort - John 14:16). Peter conveys this by using the words, “the Spirit of Christ” in reference to the Holy Spirit (1 Pet. 1:11). When we see references to Christ being in us it is referring to the indwelling Holy Spirit who is making the presence of Jesus known (e.g. Rom. 8:10; Col. 1:27). Therefore, when the Holy Spirit indwells a person there will be evidence of His holy work in that person and that holy work is conforming the indwelled person to Christlikeness (Rom. 8:29).

There are ten evidences of the indwelling Holy Spirit. These are the things associated with the regenerated life of the Spirit in scripture. They may be in degrees. They should be ongoing and growing. These evidence are:

1.      A desire to be led by the Spirit of God not the flesh (i.e. self-will; self-reliance; self-promotion) – Rom. 8:1-14; Gal. 5:16, 25; 1 Pet. 1:22.

2.      A personal relationship with Jesus via the indwelling Spirit – Rom. 8:10; John 15:26

3.      A warm familial rather than harsh slave/Master relationship with God – Rom. 8:15

4.      An assurance of salvation – Rom. 8:16; 1 John 3:24

5.      A power of the Spirit to help overcome weaknesses – Rom. 8:26a; Acts 1:8; Zech. 4:6

6.      A Spirit led prayer life – Rom. 8:26b-27; Eph. 6:18

7.      A Spirit led insight – John 14:26; 16:13; 1 Cor. 2:9-14; 1 Tim. 4:1f.; Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22.

8.      A hunger for and submission to the God-breathed/inspired word of God which is the language of the Spirit - 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Eph. 6:17.

9.      A holy love for God and people – Rom. 5:5; Gal. 5:22-24;  2 Cor. 5:14

10.  A unity with other Spirit filled believers – Eph. 4:3

Do you see these evidences in your life? Paul was inspired to question his readers with the words, “. . . if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you” (Rom. 8:9). Have you been born again? Does the Spirit indwell you? Is there evidence of the Spirit’s indwelling in your life? The indwelling Holy Spirit is the prime essential of salvation. “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Cor. 13:5). Do you not know . . . ?