Monday, June 1

Today is the second day of our three-day journey exploring what we believe about the Holy Spirit and the church. To help us on our journey, we will be using the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed and the words of Martin Luther in his handbooks on the basics of the Christian faith, the Small and Large Catechisms. Today, we will focus on the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

When we say the Apostles’ Creed, we confess, “ I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.”

What does this mean? Martin Luther explains it like this in his Small Catechism:

“I believe that by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him, but instead the Holy Spirit has called me through the gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, made me holy and kept me in the true faith, just as he calls, gathers, enlightens, and makes holy the whole Christian church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one common, true faith. Daily in this Christian church the Holy Spirit abundantly forgives all sins—mine and those of all believers. On the Last Day the Holy Spirit will raise me and all the dead and will give to me and all believers in Christ eternal life. This is most certainly true.”

Luther further explains the person and work of the Holy Spirit in the Large Catechism:

“To this article… I cannot give a better title than “Being Made Holy.” In it are expressed and portrayed the Holy Spirit and his office, which is that he makes us holy. Therefore, we must concentrate on the term “HOLY SPIRIT,” because it is so precise that we can find no substitute for it. Many other kinds of spirits are mentioned in Scripture, such as the human spirit, heavenly spirits, and the evil spirit. But God’s Spirit alone is called a Holy Spirit, that is, the one who has made us holy and still makes us holy.”

How does the Holy Spirit make us holy?

“[T]he Holy Spirit effects our being made holy through the following: the community of saints or Christian church, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. That is, he first leads us into his holy community, placing us in the church’s lap, where he preaches to us and brings us to Christ.

Neither you nor I could ever know anything about Christ, or believe in him and receive him as Lord, unless these were offered to us and bestowed on our hearts through the preaching of the gospel by the Holy Spirit. The work is finished and completed; Christ has acquired and won the treasure for us by his sufferings, death, and resurrection, etc. But if the work remained hidden so that no one knew of it, it would have been all in vain, all lost. In order that this treasure might not remain buried but be put to use and enjoyed, God has caused the Word to be published and proclaimed, in which he has given the Holy Spirit to offer and apply to us this treasure, this redemption. Therefore, being made holy is nothing else than bringing us to the Lord Christ to receive this blessing, to which we could not have come by ourselves.

If someone asks, “What do you mean by the words ‘I believe in the Holy Spirit’?” you can answer, “I believe that the Holy Spirit makes me holy, as his name states.” How does he do this, or what are his ways and means? Answer: “Through the Christian church, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.” In the first place, he has a unique community in the world [the church], which is the mother that begets and bears every Christian through the Word of God, which the Holy Spirit reveals and proclaims, through which he illuminates and inflames hearts so that they grasp and accept it, cling to it, and persevere in it.”

Prayer: Holy Spirit, thank you for revealing Christ to me and for making me holy. Thank you for the forgiveness of my sins. Help me to use and enjoy this treasure that you have given me through faith. In the name of Jesus. Amen.