“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Trusting in this promise, we often gather to listen to the word of God and its explanations. The promise is great, but how is it possible?
Jesus has ascended into heaven and is now sitting on the right hand of God. We cannot see or hear Him with our natural senses. Yet, He is among us. This is possible only because He is present in the midst of His kingdom in the word and sacraments through the Holy Spirit.
The disciples were given the task of bringing the message of Jesus into all the world. This is a great and demanding task: all nations are to be made disciples of Jesus and they are to be baptized and taught to obey Jesus’s teachings. It was an impossible task for the human strength of the disciples. The group of disciples gathered behind locked doors were captives of fear.
The disciples were convinced and received new strength from the appearances of the resurrected Jesus: when Jesus arose from the grave of death, he appeared to His disciples and taught them to know the kingdom of God.
Jesus promised that the disciples would not be left alone. They would not be orphans in the world. They would receive the Holy Spirit as armor in their work.
The Holy Spirit gives birth to faith
The Holy Spirit is God’s third person. Each person of the triune God has its own important task.
Ten days after Jesus ascended into heaven the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples in a way that they could see with their natural senses. The disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak what the spirit gave them to speak (Acts 2:1−13). We remember this event every Pentecost. The period of time from the first Pentecost to the last judgement is called the time of the Holy Spirit.
God’s Holy Spirit gave the first disciples the power, will, and boldness to proclaim the gospel as Jesus had taught. Jesus’s work on this earth continues as the work of the Holy Spirit.
On the first Pentecost, 3000 people affected by Peter’s sermon were pricked in their conscience. They believed the gospel and received the grace of repentance. The Holy Spirit gave birth to faith in the hearers.
The prophets’ promise of a new covenant and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was fulfilled. God’s signs were in heaven and on earth. Mount Zion was a refuge, and those who God called were saved (Jer 31:31−34; Joel 3:1−5).
Faith and its fruits
The miracle of the birth of faith can also happen today. A person who is separated from God can return to become a child of God. God calls an unbelieving person to faith, the grace of repentance, and into the kingdom of God through the sermon of repentance preached in the kingdom of God.
When a person receives the message of joy of God’s kingdom–the gospel of forgiveness of sins of Jesus–that person becomes a citizen of God’s kingdom. He or she becomes a partaker of all of God’s good gifts, which Jesus has earned with His innocent life, suffering, and death. The Holy Spirit reveals Christ as the only righteousness.
A person who has received the grace of repentance is righteous – acceptable to God.
Faith is not born by one’s own reason or power. Our mind cannot comprehend God nor the mysteries of God’s kingdom. The Holy Spirit calls man to be with God by the gospel, gives birth to faith, and encourages a person to preserve faith and a good conscience.
In addition to the gift of faith, the Holy Spirit also gives other gifts. The fruits of the Holy Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22−26).
The most precious gift is love. With the gifts of the Holy Spirit it is possible to be victorious over the accomplishments of the flesh – all kinds of uncleanness. The Holy Spirit helps and guides a person to have such a will and understanding where sin is seen as sin and grace as grace. This is a question of the work of the Holy Spirit and the state of the heart. This work of the Holy Spirit is called sanctification. Grace teaches a person to reject sin and to live in such a way that the will of God is realized. This way of life, this will, this battle against sin and its powers is called the Christian’s endeavor.
The priesthood of the Holy Spirit
Every believer has the right, the possi-bility, and the obligation to tell about Jesus. A believing person is a priest of the Holy Spirit.
The task given by Jesus is precious: with the power of the Holy Spirit we preach the forgiveness of sins with the authority that Jesus has given. The Father sent Him and He sent us.
“The one who hears you hears me,” our resurrected Lord states (Luk 10:16). Whoever hears the remission of sins proclaimed by a believer who has received the gift of the Holy Spirit does not hear just the voice of a human, but rather the call of Jesus himself. This is then God’s call.
The Holy Spirit calls, gathers, and enlightens. The Holy Spirit as the Spirit of truth leads a person to the light of God’s word, and as the Spirit of grace comforts and forgives sins, will one day awaken us from the grave of death, and will give us everlasting life.
Text: Mauno Soronen
Published in the book Uskon aakkosia, SRK 2012
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