CATECHISM SERIES: Studies in The Apostles’ Creed
FIRST OF FIVE PARTS OF A SERIES ON THE THIRD ARTICLE
“This is most certainly true!”
The THIRD ARTICLE installments:
1) The Holy Spirit has called me by the gospel
2) The Holy Spirit enlightens, sanctifies, and keeps me
3) The Holy Spirit calls the whole Christian Church on Earth
4) The Holy Spirit daily forgives sins
5) The Holy Spirit gives me eternal life
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven and sitteth on the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; the Holy Christian Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.
(TLH, p. 12)
In our ongoing exploration of the Apostles’ Creed, this is the first in a series of articles that focus on the work of the Holy Spirit–the third person of the Triune God.
I have been told that I am a difficult person to get hold of, for at times I don’t want to be contacted. I need a disconnect.
When I was assigned an article on “The Holy Ghost has called me by the gospel…,” it got me thinking….
Do Not Call
Humans in their natural state do not want to be gotten hold of either. We were conceived in sin inherited from our first parents, Adam and Eve (Psalm 51:5). As the Apostle Paul says in Ephesians, we “were dead in trespasses and sins…and were by nature children
of wrath” (2:1,3); and again in Romans, “The carnal mind is enmity against God” (8:7).
God’s plan of redemption in Christ is foolishness to our human nature. “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him: nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned [understood]”
(1 Corinthians 2:14).
In other words, by nature each of us places the Holy Spirit on our “do not call” list. We do not want to be bothered by what God has to say.
Voice Message and Text
“No one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit”
(1 Corinthians 12:3).
How is it then that someone on our “do not call” list reaches us with the gospel message? The work the Holy Spirit does—sanctification (to make holy)—is a miracle, unable to be fully understood by us.
We do know, however, the means by which the Holy Spirit works. We refer to these as the “means of grace,” the gospel in the Word of God and in the sacraments.
For many of us the Word first came to us in our baptism. The power of God through His Word in the waters of baptism converted a heart blackened with sin to a heart of a child of God, lightened by faith in God’s forgiveness.
In a similar manner the Holy Spirit uses the spoken Word in the Lord’s Supper to sustain and strengthen the faith of a believer, conveying God’s forgiveness. “Take and eat. This is My body, which is given for you….This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”
The sacraments employ the voice messages of God to produce and sustain faith in the hearts of people.
In addition to the Word of God used in connection with the sacraments, the Holy Spirit calls us through the spoken and written Word—the voice message and text, if you will. The regenerating power resides in the Word itself, whether proclaimed by a preacher, teacher, parent, or friend. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
The power is also in the written text as it is studied by a lone individual or in the company of others. “These [Scriptures] are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).
Those who opt to have caller ID on their phones no doubt do so because they want to know the source of the call before picking up.
The Bible warns Christians that false prophets dressed in sheep’s clothing will teach lies. It is important therefore that like the Bereans of old we search the Scriptures daily to find out whether what is being taught us is the actual Word of God
(see Acts 17:11).
With daily Bible study we grow in the knowledge of our Savior and His work on behalf of us sinners. We will come to recognize His “ring tone” and when we “pick up,” we will be ready to listen.