In these bulletin articles, we’ve been going through a list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism, published in the 17th Century. We’ve previously learnt that a Christian cannot fall away from faith because of the love of God, the promises of God, the union Christians have with Christ and the intercession of Christ. Why else does a Christian continue to believe?
Christians are safe in God’s hands because the Holy Spirit lives in them.
One of the great truths of Christianity is that the Spirit abides inside the believer. For example, on the day of Pentecost, there was a visible manifestation of the Holy Spirit coming upon Christians. The apostle Peter explained to the gathered people that this was a fulfilment of a prophecy from the prophet Joel in the Old Testament: ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams’ (Acts 2:17).
Thus, Peter explains, Jesus now sends his Spirit to his people: ‘God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear’ (Acts 2:32-33).
The apostle Paul also teaches the Spirit’s presence in believers: ‘And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession– to the praise of his glory’ (Ephesians 1:13-14).
Did you notice the reason Paul gives for why the Spirit lives inside the Christian? The Holy Spirit guarantees that God will give them an inheritance one day.
Paul describes the Holy Spirit as a ‘deposit’. This word is a legal and commercial term that could also be translated as ‘first installment, down payment or pledge’. We are all familiar with giving down payments when we buy something very expensive. For example, if you buy a house you put down a sizeable deposit to show you are very serious about the purchase and guarantee that you will come back with the rest of the money.
So in a similar way, the Holy Spirit functions as a deposit from God to say that he will one day take his disciple to live with him in heaven.
Therefore the Christian lives with a wonderful assurance that he will always be safe. Paul says this when he writes to the church in Corinth: ‘Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it’ (2 Corinthians 5:5-9).
So do you trust in Christ and have God’s Holy Spirit living in you so that you will never fall away?