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Unit 3-E: The Apostle's Creed
     The Third Article

          "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."
                           From The Third Article--Apostles' Creed


The Third Article:
   The Holy Spirit


God, The Holy Spirit

The third Person of the Trinity is the Holy Spirit. The Bible gives several names for the Holy Spirit. Sometimes He is called the "Holy Ghost." Other times He is simply called "The Spirit" or "The Spirit of God." 

However He is called, the Holy Spirit has two main works. First, He brings us into faith. Second, He keeps us in the faith.

#1 The Holy Spirit Brings Us To Faith...
          By Word And Sacrament

"I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength, believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him. But the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel...."
                               Martin Luther, "Explanation To The Third Article"

Without the Holy Spirit, no one could believe in Jesus Christ. That's what Luther write in his explanation to the Third Article.

The Holy Spirit is the person of the Trinity who brings us to faith. In I Corinthians 12 Paul wrote, "No one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit." 

Even as the Father created us, and Jesus Christ, His Son, saved us, the Holy Spirit's main role is to call us to faith. He does this by using the Word (the Holy Bible) and administering the Sacraments, specifically, through Holy Baptism.

Faith, of course, is an undeserved gift of grace. When we are called to faith, it is not because of our own works works. Nor was it because we were better than others. The Holy Spirit has no favorites. Everyone is called to faith on the same basis: only grace.
The Holy Spirit Preserves Faith:
By Word And Sacrament

The same Holy Spirit who gives us faith also preserves it. The Holy Spirit is not disinterested in us. He doesn't just come to bring us to faith and then desert us. Instead, the moment He gives us faith is the very beginning of His eternal working in our lives.

What does the Holy Spirit do to preserve our lives? He "sanctifies" us. That means that He does everything He can to make--and keep--us holy. He does this exclusively through Word and Sacrament.

Whenever we read the Bible, it is the Holy Spirit who is working in us to help us grow in our faith and obedience to Jesus. And whenever we receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion, it is the Holy Spirit who enables us to repent and receive the forgiveness offered at the Holy Table.

In short, whenever we serve God, express our worship to God, pray to God or do anything in response to faith, it is the Holy Spirit which enables and empowers us to do these good works. Whenever we resist doing these things, we resist the Holy Spirit in us. That is sin.

The Unforgivable Sin

All sins are forgivable...except one. That is the "Sin against the Holy Spirit." What is that sin?

The "Sin Against The Holy Spirit" is the sin of not believing in Jesus Christ as our Savior. As long as we do not believe in Jesus Christ, we sin against the Holy Spirit who would bring us to faith. Without faith, we are not--and cannot--receive forgiveness for our own personal sins. As long as we reject Jesus, we reject His Holy Spirit and His gracious forgiveness.

Do you know of people who don't believe in Jesus? Do you have friends who don't know of Jesus' forgiveness? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you share Jesus with them so that they will not continue to reject Jesus...and not receive the gift of heaven.

The Holy Spirit's Gifts

"He has enlightened me with His gifts...." Luther understood that the Holy Spirit who brings us to faith also gives us what we need to serve the Lord.

In general, the Holy Spirit calls all of us to be loving, compassionate and always eager to serve. These "Fruits of the Spirit" (see Galatians 5) are simply the attitudes and passions that the Holy Spirit gives to all Christians. It is these fruits which describe the Christian character toward which all Christian ought aspire in their joyful response to God's grace as they serve the Lord.

The Spirit also gives specific gifts as well. I Corinthians 15, Romans 12, Ephesians 4 and other Scriptures list these gifts. Some of these gifts include the ability to teach, preach, share the Gospel, pray, show hospitality, serving others as well as other gifts such as giving.

Look For The Gifts

Whenever the Spirit gives these gifts, He intends that they be used. What gifts does your Pastor have? Is he an especially gifted teacher?

Do you know leaders in your church who seem especially "wise"? Perhaps, as they lead others to do the right thing in  God's time, they are demonstrating the gift of wisdom.

Do you know someone who just loves to tell others of Jesus? And, as they speak of Jesus, their missionary gift is so winsome that God uses it to draw unbelievers to listen intently to their message of Jesus? 

Perhaps you know of people in your church who have a special gift of prayer. Such people not only pray several times a day, they live a life of prayer. Whenever people have needs, they visit and pray for them...for weeks, months and years.

Others have the gift of giving. The Holy Spirit has made them especially generous to give to the needs of the church and those in need in a remarkable, sacrificial way.

What gift or gifts has the Holy Spirit given you? Often the best way to find out is to prayerfully look at your faith life. What things do you enjoy doing most? What in your service to the Lord gives you special joy? The answer to these questions could lead you to discovering how the Holy Spirit has given you His gifts...all to serve others.

Consider Serving The Lord

During the time of Confirmation instruction, many young men and women begin to discover God's calling to them. This calling is from the Holy Spirit and may be a call to serve as a pastor, teacher, youth director, musician, missionary, or enter full-time Christian service. It is also a time when individuals should be encouraged to experiment with the use of their interests or possible gifts.

Helping in Vacation Bible School, teaching in Sunday School, participating in the choir, doing community service through your church, visiting shut-ins are just some of the ways to begin discovering what gift or gifts the Holy Spirit may have given you.

Do you want to begin serving? Talk with your pastor, your parents, your confirmation leader, or a Sunday School teacher and see if there's an opportunity for you to serve the Lord in your church!

Some young men may even start to wonder if God is calling them to be a pastor. How about you? If God called you to be a pastor, would you say, "Yes, Lord, send me!"?

The Third Article...Continued

The Apostles' Creed begins, "I believe in the Holy Spirit." The words which follow in the confession of faith are an affirmation of various key parts of faith which we believe.

 "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."

The "Holy Christian Church" is where the Holy Spirit works. What is the Holy Christian Church? It is anywhere there are believers...whether there is a church building or congregation or not. Yes, the church is the total of all Christians, called together by the Holy Spirit, into saving faith in Jesus Christ.

The Church can also be called the "Communion of Saints." The Communion of Saints is the total number of all believers on earth--and in heaven. These are those whom the Holy Spirit has called and enlightened that they might have saving faith.

"The forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting" is simply a final affirmation of the Christian hope. Because we are forgiven, we will rise again to everlasting life. That, ultimately is the hope we have. It is "life everlasting" with God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that the Christian Faith promises--and grants--to all who believe.

"Amen!" So shall it be!


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