Statement On The Holy Spirit and His Proper Work
I. His Person and nature
We believe and hold that He is true God.
II. His Work
We believe and hold The Proper Work of the Holy Spirit of God has been revealed and set forth in the clear statement of God's Holy Word.
We believe the proper work of the Holy Spirit is to work faith in the heart of man
III. His Workshop
We believe The Christian Church or Communion of Saints is called into being by the Holy Spirit to serve as the place in which he offers and bestows His gifts of enlightenment and Sanctification.
We believe The Holy Spirit preserves the Church, His Workshop, in union with Jesus Christ in the one true faith and that within the Church he daily and abundantly forgives the sins of all believers
IV. His Tools
We believe the chief tools of The Holy Spirit to be:
A. The Word (Law and Gospel) and Sacraments (Baptism and Holy Communion), The Means of Grace.
We believe the Holy Spirit uses the Biblical Word of Law as a tool to convict man of sin and then uses the Biblical Word of Gospel to bring man to Faith.
B. The Church (Communion of Saints) - which though His Workshop, is also the tool of the Spirit.
We believe that just as the Son obtains dominion by purchasing us through his birth, death and resurrection, etc., so the Holy Spirit effects our sanctification through the following: the communion of saints or Christian church,......' (LC, Article III, Creed)
C. The Offices of Ministry as given by Christ Jesus for the Life of the Church
We believe the Holy Spirit offers and bestows, offers and applies, offers and effects Forgiveness of Sin, Life, and Salvation. These are given to all members of the Church through Word and Sacrament. The Holy Spirit effects Sanctification for believers through the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of Sins, The resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Thus his work of sanctification for each member of the Church continues until Life everlasting is effected for each by the Spirit.
We believe the Holy Spirit first leads individuals into his Holy Community (The Church) [i.e., calls], places each in the bosom of the Church [i.e., gathers], and then preaches to each [i.e., enlightens], and works to bring each person to fulness in Christ [i.e., sanctifies].
B. His Work for the Ongoing Mission of the Church in the World
We believe the Holy Spirit individually apportions to those who are brought to faith in Christ individual gifts and abilities for the work of the Church as he deems necessary and for the good of the Church.
We believe each member of the Church has been given special abilities or talents by God the Father at birth. The Holy Spirit works to bring to the awareness of the individual members of the Church as well as to the Church itself these gifts of talent and ability that they may be utilized in works of vocation.
We believe the Holy Spirit calls persons to different kinds of service and that he likewise grants different kinds of working abilities. We believe that these are given in a hierarchy of importance for the work of building up the church and that all are of importance for that work (I Cor. 12:27ff).
VI. The Results of His Work and Workmanship
We believe the Holy Spirit empowers believers [the branches grafted into the true vine (John 15)] to bear good fruit in their lives. '...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control' (Gal. 5:22-23).
We reject the following notions:
1) We reject the notion that speaking in tongues should ever be equated with justification before God (Rom. 3:28; 5:1; Eph. 2:8).
2) We reject the teaching that salvation is assured to those receiving the Spirit's gifts (Acts 4:12; Romans 10:10).
3) We reject the concept that infant Baptism is spiritually insignificant or even a hindrance to the work of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 18:10).
4) While not denying the renewing work of the Holy Spirit, we reject any 'second blessing' or 'second baptism' theology which would detract from the all-sufficient work of Christ or would teach that the Holy Spirit is not fully given in Holy Baptism. (Ephesians 2:8; 4:3-6; Rom. 3:22-24)
5) We reject any spiritual pride that would regard any experience or gift of the Spirit as a 'step' above or beyond justification by faith in Christ. We hold that all Christians 'gather at the foot of the Cross,' which is 'level ground' for all. (Luke 10:17-20; 18:9-14; 1Tim. 1:15; 1 Cor. 14:18-19).
6) We reject the concept that in this life it is possible to live entirely without sin and sinning (Rom. 7:21-25).
7) We reject the thought that faith enables a person to appropriate (demand) the fulfillment of his prayers (Matt. 26:39; 2 Cor. 12:7-9).
8) We reject the notion that every gift of the Holy Spirit as listed in the New Testament is necessary or even desirable for the fullness of the Spirit in the congregation.
9) We reject the concept that the fullness of the Spirit for an individual Christian requires a particular gift [i.e., speaking in tongues etc.] (Eph 3:17-19).
10) We reject the idea that anyone can come to God, be enlightened in the faith, be justified and saved without hearing God's Word (Mk. 4:1-20; Rom. 10:17; Epitome, Article II. Free Will, 471:13).
11) We reject any teaching that regards the Sacraments as optional in Christian living (Matt. 28:19; Lk. 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24,25).
12) We reject the distinction between a little faith and perfected faith especially as it is applied to the view that Christians having a perfect faith can always live without illness, or that all illness can be overcome by perfect faith (II Cor. 12:7-9).
13) We reject the notion that the gifts of the Holy Spirit can be taught or learned.
14) We reject the concept that Justification is an infusion of grace into man by the work of the Spirit.
15) We reject the concept that the events of the Bible are to be replicated in every congregation or in every generation; for example, 'If there are tongues, they will cease' (1 Cor. 13:8).
adopted at the LMS-USA Convention
St. Matthew Lutheran Church
June 7-8-9, 1997