Golgotha—it was the place where Jesus was crucified, outside the city. They were gathered there to watch Him die. Soldiers were gambling for His garments. His religious enemies were hopeful this would be the end of so much upheaval; believers were mourning, unsure of what was to come, overwhelmed by this dramatic turn of events. Here He would tell one of the two thieves on either side of Him, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (The other one, soon forgotten with his rebellion and rejection of the Savior.)
Here He assigned responsibility for His mother to His disciple John; here He asked the Father to forgive those who had put Him there (and how far-reaching was that prayer?). Here He cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” And here He thirsted and cried out, “It is finished,” and committed His spirit to His Father. It was here that He died. It has been established that “Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit….” (1 Peter 3:18).
Back in the city at the Temple, the attending priests were busy with the business of the Passover, the sacrifice of a lamb without blemish or spot. The day became dark and an earthquake shook the area. Then suddenly, the veil (curtain) that separated the Holy of Hollies from the sanctuary was ripped mysteriously, from top to bottom!
Some people saw some, once-dead, now walking about in the city. It was a time for panic, for in that moment the Holy of Holies, the place of God’s presence on earth was exposed, opened to mankind! But what did they find in there?
Nothing of that awesome presence of God!
God was no longer there! He was gone. For three days and nights, there was no physical place on earth where man could go to find God. Then Jesus rose from the tomb, His mortal body transformed into an immortal one, just as He had promised the disciples, and God was present again on earth. For forty days He was among them, the believers. Paul writes of those who had seen Him after his resurrection, the disciples, the apostles, and over five hundred believers, no doubt including the women who were close followers; His mother, His siblings—James, Judas and the others, who now believed in Him, and of course, Paul. (See 1 Corinthians 15:1-8.)
There is no record of any non-believers seeing Him as casual observers after His resurrection. Why? I think that as it was in the Holy of Holies, so it was with His resurrected presence. No flesh could approach Him without a covering of blood, for in His presence was the Holy of Holies. Now, however, believers had access to Him through the offering of His own blood, and thus were priests in His presence.
Jesus was with the believers for forty days, then ascended into heaven. He had promised a Comforter would come and indwell them, and this is what happened ten days later, at Pentecost. But for ten days there was, again, no place on earth where God could be found.
Then the Holy Spirit came upon about 120 believers in that upper room and the world has never been the same since! But where is the Holy of Holies now? Where is that temple of God that includes the Holy of Holies, where God can be found on earth?
Paul writes of that in 1 Corinthians 3:16:
“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”
And where is that Holy of Holies? Look at 1 Corinthians 6:17: “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.”
Paul writes of it being a mystery now revealed:
“…the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:26-27).
Think of it!
The eternal God of the universe chooses to dwell in a human frame—but then, He already had done so. This would be different, however. He would only come in by invitation, as Revelation 3:20 tells us:
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”
And that would result in a transforming event described in John 1:12:
“[And] as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”
That event would be called the “new birth,” a requirement which Jesus spoke of to Nicodemus, a man of the Pharisees who came at night with questions: “You must be born again!” (John 3:3).
That transformation is described in 2 Corinthians 5:17 by Paul, like this:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
Marvelous changes were made, indeed, beginning at Golgotha! No wonder those new believers “turned the world upside down” with their message of mercy, forgiveness and hope (Acts 17:6) and brought fears to the hearts of those who hated to face the truth.
Although He is an invited guest indweller (a truth needing further exploration in a separate article), God declares that He is the down payment, the earnest agreement, in a contracted purchase:
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).
Reassuring believers of the firmness of this relationship is a work of this Holy Spirit:
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…” (Romans 8:16-17).
Other Ministries of the Holy Spirit to Believers
God’s protection for all of His ministries from any influence or participation by the flesh of man is without question, even though He has made that body His temple. From beginning to end, all truly spiritual activities are under the control of that Holy Spirit. Man’s ability to recognize spiritual truth is impossible without Him, as this conversation from Matthew 16:15-17 reveals:
“He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’
“Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’
“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.’”
Jesus further amplifies this to subsequent believers in John 16:13:
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.”
That absolute rejection of the works of the flesh enters into every area where man’s pride of life temptation would lead him. Romans 3:20 tells us, “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” How great is that warfare between the flesh and the spirit! So it is that man cannot even, in his own ability, call Jesus Lord, and if He is blasphemed, it will not be by the Spirit’s doing:
“Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3).
The Spirit who dwells within enables our prayers, even going beyond our meager attempts to communicate with the Father:
“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27).
Making intercession for us? That’s what Jesus is doing for us in heaven, according to Romans 8:33-34:
“Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Whois he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”
What representation before the throne of God, where the accuser is always pointing out our failures! We have the Holy Spirit in our hearts and Jesus in heaven, both interceding for us!
So why not, with great boldness, exclaim, “…He who is in you [me] is greater than he who is in the world? (1 John 4:4).