At the time God reverses his end-time people’s circumstances from curse to blessing, what is it that causes their enemies to confess, “Surely God is in you, and no other gods exist!” (Isaiah 45:14)? Is this a reference to the Holy Ghost’s dwelling in them, as when he says, “This is my covenant with them, says the Lord: My Spirit which is upon you and my words which I have placed in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of their offspring, says the Lord, from now on and forever” (Isaiah 59:21)?
Or, are there degrees of God’s dwelling in people on a parallel with the Holy Ghost ministering in the telestial kingdom, Jesus in the terrestrial, and the Father in the celestial? When he further says, “I dwell on high in the holy place, and with him who is humble and lowly in spirit—refreshing the spirits of the lowly, reviving the hearts of the humble” (Isaiah 57:15)? is he now speaking of himself literally dwelling in them? If so, upon which laws of his covenant would these blessings be predicated, or on what conditions would any of the godhead dwell in us?
Says Jesus, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every [branch] that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:1–5).
Evidently, Paul attained such a spiritual state in which the Lord himself dwelt in him: “I through the law [of Moses] am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:19–20). Besides being humble and lowly in spirit, Paul thus saw himself “crucified with Christ” through the grievous sufferings he bore in the course of ministering the gospel to the Gentiles.
And since Jesus opened the way to the Father, what did he mean when he said, “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23). Could “loving” Jesus and “keeping his words” merely consist of feeling love for him in our hearts, attending gospel doctrine classes, and reading scriptures daily? How could we know for sure of the Father’s and Son’s love and presence abiding in us—a blessing greater than receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost—without actively experiencing it?
And its inverse. Could anyone know of the Father’s and Son’s abiding in him if he obeyed a lesser law and hadn’t kept all of Jesus’ words? If God truly abode in us, would we subject him to our worldly predilections, frivolous pastimes, or idolatrous addictions? Rather, from the above scriptures it is self-evident that those in whom the Father and Son abide are persons who have long since moved beyond being average believers—terrestrial persons who as yet are deceived through falsehoods, who still act on fears or depend on arms of flesh to resolve life’s challenges.
Celestial persons, on the other hand, love the Lord by keeping his commandments; are valiant in the testimony of Jesus; endure his purging of their branches so they may bring forth more fruit; acknowledge that without him they can do nothing; are willing to be “crucified with Christ” in the course of ministering the gospel to the house of Israel; invite the Father and the Son to dwell in them so they can accomplish all that is expedient in Christ; pray always, day and night; are filled with God’s love towards all men; and form extensions, as it were, of the great I Am.