Friday, August 9, 2013

Meditation on the Third Article of the Apostles' 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.
What does this mean?
I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; But the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; just as He calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.  In this Christian Church He daily and richly forgives me and all believers all our sins; and at the last day He will raise up me and all the dead, and will grant me and all believers in Christ eternal life. This is most certainly true.
In Babel, when the people began to erect a tower and make a name for themselves God confused their language so that they would not be able to complete the work.  This resulted in many different languages being spoken and the inability to continue consolidating their time and efforts in one place.  The confusion carried the peoples into different parts of the world and they gathered with others who spoke the same language.
The only way it would now be possible to communicate with those of a different language, would be to use a translator.  Over time, some people would learn more than one language in order to speak between the different cultures that now existed.  In a similar manner, all people need a translator in order to understand God’s Word.  Without a translator, the Bible remains a closed book.
It’s not as if the English we use in our translations is too far removed from the English that we speak today, but we really need a translator to understand what God’s word is really saying…we need a translator to help us see with the eyes of faith and not just our earthly perceptions.  This is the role of the Holy Spirit.  He translates God’s word so that we can take it to heart and trust in it, even without seeing it.  “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to Him.”
In John 14, Jesus said this, “The Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”  Through the work of the Holy Spirit, God’s word teaches us about Christ and all that He has done for us.  Through the preaching of that Word, the Holy Spirit works faith in our hearts to believe.
This faith does not occur by some magical act, but rather it is always connected with God’s Word.  Where two or three are gathered around His Word, there God is in their midst.  The work of the Holy Spirit is always attached to God’s Word and Sacraments, and the word and sacraments take place where people of like faith gather around that Word.  This is why we believe in a Holy Christian Church, because it is made “holy” by the Holy Spirit who works faith in the hearts of those gathered to hear this precious word.
Without the Holy Spirit the Word remains hidden to us, and without the Word the Holy Spirit does not bring us to faith.  The two are intimately connected in such a way that where one is, the other is also.  This Gospel through which He brings us to faith is none other than the work of Christ, revealed to us throughout Holy Scripture.
When the Holy Spirit works on us through God’s Word, he works forgiveness and salvation.  He assures us of God’s love for us in Christ and causes us to take that comfort to heart.
O God, You once taught the hearts of Your faithful people by sending them the light of Your Holy Spirit.  Grant us in our day by the same Spirit to have a right understanding in all things and evermore to rejoice in His holy consolation; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.