What is Indwelling Faith?

We Can’t Do It Alone

The Bible teaches that a person cannot overcome sin and sinful habits by himself. Faith is the secret of the victorious Christian life. “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith,” (1 John 5:4).

Even beyond living a triumphant life, a person can walk in moment-by-moment communion with God. A medieval monk described this victory as “practicing the presence of God.” This life of victory and fellowship is made available by the indwelling of Jesus Christ. When a person becomes a Christian, Christ comes into his life.

Union with Christ

The believer has union and communion with Christ (John 15:5). Not only does Christ dwell within the believer, the power of Christ is available to him. Paul testified, “Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God” (Gal. 2:20). The secret of victorious living is allowing the life of Jesus Christ to flow through us. The believer must surrender his fears and rebellion to Christ. In so doing, he finds new faith to overcome his problems. Paul described this new faith that comes from Christ, “the promise by faith of Jesus Christ [that] might be given to them that believe” (Gal. 3:22).

Every Christian has access to the “faith of Jesus Christ.” Yet many Christians are defeated and discouraged because they have not allowed Christ’s power to flow out of their lives.

To get this victory a Christian must first recognize that faith comes from Christ and is described as “Christ’s faith” (Gal. 2:16; Eph. 3:12; Phil. 3:9). Second, a person must yield (the nature of faith is trusting) and allow Christ to work through him. And third, the Christian must constantly obey the direction of the Word of God so that he can continually have power for victory.

The Agent of Faith

An agent is one who acts on behalf of another. The Holy Spirit, the agent of faith, acts on behalf of Jesus Christ to plant faith in a person’s heart. The Holy Spirit is one who initiates the faith process by convicting or causing a sinner to see his sin (John 16:8, 9). By the work of conviction, the Holy Spirit is working in a sinner’s heart to make him aware that he is a sinner, that Jesus is God’s standard of righteousness, and that Christ’s death on the cross paid the debt for sin. The ability to believe comes from the Holy Spirit. Paul declared that “your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:5).

The Instrument of Faith

Indwelling faith is placed in our hearts as we read the Scriptures. When Paul says, “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17), he is saying that the Bible is the tool in the hand of the Holy Spirit to place faith in the human heart. just as a carpenter uses a hammer to build things, so God uses the Bible as an instrument of faith.

When a minister is quoting the Bible, God may be using the Scriptures in a negative way to break up unbelief (Jer. 23:29) or to cut out prejudice or ignorance (Acts 5:33). But the Scriptures received in the heart also have the positive force of implanting a new nature in the convert (2 Pet. 1:4), to give him faith to believe (Rom. 10:8).

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Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

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