The Person & Work of the
with host Todd Wilken
WILKEN: Greetings, and welcome to Issues, Etc. I'm Todd Wilken. Thanks for tuning us in.
When you hear the words the Holy Spirit, what do you think of? It's not like you can picture, say, when you hear the words Jesus Christ, you will picture the pictures you saw in Sunday school or the painting you have hanging on the wall or the crucifix or something along those lines—a picture emerges in your mind. Well, the Holy Spirit is a different matter. The Third Person of the Trinity—immaterial and yet indispensable. What is the work of the Holy Spirit, and who is the Holy Spirit? We're going to be talking about the Third Person of the Trinity, the Person and work of the Holy Spirit during this hour of Issues, Etc. with Dr. Ken Schurb. He'll join us here in just a moment. It is Sunday night, October 10. Our call-in number: 1-800-730-2727. You can post a question or a comment as well on the subject of the Person and work of the Holy Spirit on the Issues, Etc. Forum. You go to our Web site: issuesetc.org. Click on the "What's New" section, you'll find the forum there ready for your questions and your comments. Now, before we introduce our guest tonight, I'd like to welcome our listeners in Columbus, Ind. They're listening on WCSI 1010 AM. A special thanks to Grace Lutheran Church in Columbus for sponsoring Issues, Etc. on WCSI. It's great to have you part of the Issues, Etc. listening family.
Dr. Ken Schurb is our guest. He's pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Moberly, Mo. He received his doctorate in history at Ohio State University, and he formerly served as a professor of theology at Concordia College in Ann Arbor, Mich. He's a regular guest. Ken, welcome back to Issues, Etc.
SCHURB: Top of the evening to you, Todd. How are you tonight?
WILKEN: Very well, and to you as well. Okay, the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. Someone says, "Look, I've been to one of your Reformation churches, and you guys spend all your time talking about Jesus. You hardly ever talk about the Holy Spirit." How do you respond?
SCHURB: I guess that's good news to me, because it means we're doing our job. We're doing the job that Jesus Himself said, that the Holy Spirit was going to do. One of the most precious sections in Scripture for a number of reasons, and for a number of subjects, but also this one about the Holy Spirit, is the discourse that Jesus made with His disciples on the night when He was betrayed in John 14, 15, and 16. And in each of these three chapters, Jesus talks about the work of the Holy Spirit as being—to throw the spotlight not on Himself, not on the Holy Spirit—but rather on Christ. So, John 14:26: "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." It's Christ peace and Christ Himself that the Holy Spirit is coming to bring.
WILKEN: So, let me see if we have this clear. If someone goes into a church and hears the message of Christ and Him crucified—the message of Christ our Savior—the Holy Spirit, although the Holy Spirit may not be mentioned or mentioned in passing, is there and is doing His work?
SCHURB: Well, I certainly would be wary about any so-called church that never mentioned the Holy Spirit, but if the emphasis is on Christ, that's precisely where Jesus Himself said that the Holy Spirit would place the emphasis. I'll go on a little bit with John 15:26: "When the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness to Me. " And then chapter 16, verse 13: "When the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears, He will speak and He will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you. All the Father has is Mine. Therefore, I said that He will take what is Mine and declare it to you." If the emphasis is being placed on Christ, that is exactly what Jesus Himself said the Holy Spirit would do.
WILKEN: Ken, today, it seems that everyone is "spiritual" in some sense. That is a popular word, a popular concept, especially in America—spirituality. "I'm a spiritual person." It's given rise to a number of myths about the Holy Spirit. One, that the Holy Spirit is some sort of cosmic force, a general spirit, a universal wisdom that everyone has access to and that everyone possesses. How do you respond to this myth?
SCHURB: Well, I would like to respond to that myth, but you kind of waved another red flag at me as you were setting up to talk about that one. And let me just charge at the red flag like a bull here for a minute. You talked about the contemporary fetish on spirituality. Not only is that fetish sometimes very much unrelated to Christ—people just declare themselves to be—or consider themselves to be spiritual persons no matter precisely what kinds of spiritual thoughts they are thinking. But there's another aspect to this that maybe we need to work in to the discussion at some point, and that is people tend to think that the more spiritual you are, the less connected with this world you are, like being a good husband and father, or a good wife and mother, is at polar opposite from being spiritual, like spiritual doesn't get involved in the grubby details of life. And I think as we go through here talking about the Person and work of the Holy Spirit, we will see that it's just the opposite in terms of what the Scriptures have to say.
Now, you were talking specifically about the misconception that people will have, and sometimes people have this who consider themselves to be spiritual persons. They kind of think of themselves as spiritual in a 60s sense or a New Age sense, and they think of themselves as in contact with cosmic forces and the Holy Spirit would be just one of those impersonal cosmic forces or a universal kind of wisdom. The Scriptures speak in just the opposite kinds of terms. The Holy Spirit is not a thing, not a force, not an it. The Holy Spirit is a Person. St. Paul writes to the Ephesians and says, "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit." You don't grieve a force or a thing. Peter in the Book of Acts, chapter 5, tells Ananias and Sapphira that they have lied to the Holy Spirit and insodoing, they have lied not to men but to God. When you lie to the Holy Spirit, you lie to God. And, furthermore, you can't lie to a thing. You can't lie to a chair or a filing cabinet or a fax machine. You lie to a person. Later on in the Book of Acts, chapter 16, it talks about the way the Holy Spirit kept Paul and his party from going into particular places they wanted to go. The Spirit forbid them to go a particular place—or prevented them from going to a place. Again, that's not the work of an impersonal force, that is the work of a Person—God Himself.
WILKEN: So, I was just recently watching the Star Wars Trilogy all over again, Ken, because it came out on DVD, and they talked about the force—this thing that binds people together, that moves and directs the course of human events. People have drawn a parallel to the Christian idea of the Holy Spirit. No connection whatsoever?
SCHURB: No, the biblical idea is very different. This is God Himself, as you said before what the church has come to call the Third Person of the Holy Trinity a Person with all the power of God, distinct, and yet of the same essence with the Father and the Son, and He's definitely not an it.
WILKEN: Now, that is the Person in a nutshell. With two minutes, let's talk about His work. What is the Holy Spirit's work?
SCHURB: Well, basically, the Holy Spirit's work is what we said a moment ago. He's to bring you Christ. It's fascinating to me that this is the pattern of the biblical witness throughout. The Holy Spirit is always kind of thrusting Christ out into the spotlight, into the limelight, into the world. Christ comes into the world when He is conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. And the angel tells Mary, "That which is conceived in you is of the Holy Spirit." Jesus is baptized and the Holy Spirit comes upon Him, and then the Holy Spirit thrusts Him out—the Gospel of Mark says. Luke says it a little bit differently. He says He is "led by the Spirit in the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." But, again, this is the Spirit thrusting Jesus out, leading Him out to where He needs to be. And, of course, in the Book of Acts when finally people were called something—were nicknamed derisively for their faith—they weren't called Holy Ghostians—they were called Christians because the Holy Spirit had made Christ so prominent in their own lives and so prominent in their own speech and thought about God that when people wanted to grab something to kind of hold on to and hang about them as a nickname, they called them Christians.
WILKEN: So, with only about 30 seconds here, this picture of the early church as all about the Holy Spirit, you get this picture that that's what they talked about all the time on the Lord's Day. That's what the apostles must've been preaching about all over the place. Is that an accurate picture of that Acts church?
SCHURB: Well, what they were doing is being led by the Spirit, as Jesus said, back to Christ. They never outgrew Christ. They never left their need for the Christ whom the Holy Spirit had brought to them in Baptism.
WILKEN: When we come back from this break, we're going to talk about that very thing—the relationship between Holy Baptism and the Holy Spirit. Jesus makes the connection in John 3—at least, in one place I can think of and I'm sure that there are more—where He talks about being "born again of water and the Spirit." And He talks about Baptism as being "born of the Spirit." We're also going to talk about the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Jesus. And when the Holy Spirit brings a person to faith, is this a coercive act? Does the Holy Spirit force someone to faith? Or does it require cooperation? How does it work? We'll talk about all of that with Ken Schurb when we come back.
WILKEN: Issues, Etc. is underwritten in part locally by Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Ind., and they're hosting several fall retreats for laypeople, for church workers, for pastors, including their annual Good Shepherd Institute Conference. Now, that's Nov. 7-9. The speakers at the conference include Issues, Etc. regular guests like Dr. Arthur Just and Dr. Gene Edward Veith. Now, for more information on the Good Shepherd Institute Conference, go to the "What's New" section of our Web site: issuesetc.org or call Concordia Theological Seminary toll free. Here's the number: 1-877-287-4334. It's the Good Shepherd Institute Conference Nov. 7-9 on the campus of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Ind.
We're talking about the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. Dr. Ken Schurb is our guest.
Ken, right before the break you talked about the Holy Spirit leading the Acts church back to Jesus—the very Jesus that the Holy Spirit had brought to them through Baptism. Why did you mention Baptism?
SCHURB: Peter himself mentions it in that great Pentecost sermon. He says to folks at the end when they say, "Brethren, what shall we do?" "Repent and be baptized" is the answer—"everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, for the promise is to you and to your children and to all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Him." So this is part and parcel of what happens in Baptism. You receive the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
WILKEN: What does Jesus mean—I mentioned it before in John 3 where He speaks to Nicodemus and talks about Baptism as being born of the Spirit, "being born of water and the Spirit"?
SCHURB: Now, that's a fascinating passage, that whole John 3 discussion between Jesus and Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council who is a little bit afraid about being seen in the presence of Jesus. He comes to Him under cloak of darkness and starts asking Him all kinds of questions: "How can a man be born when he is old?" Because Jesus has told him you have to "be born again." Or it could even be translated "born from above." And Jesus maintains in verse 5, "Truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God."
Now, just a little grammatical note here, if some of our listeners are using the King James, you will note that it says there, "born of water and of the Spirit." That second of is in italics. That was the King James translator's signal to the reader that they were inserting a word into the text because it sort of made better sense to them to put it in there. They thought it flowed better or whatever. But that second of is not in the text. And in Greek grammar as in English grammar, where you have one preposition—in this case of—remember that second preposition is not really in the text—where you have one of governing two objects, water and the Spirit, that is one whole phrase. Jesus is absolutely not talking about being born of water—that's one thing—and being born of the Holy Spirit—that's another thing. He's talking about something that is a birth both of water and the Spirit. And what that could be referring to other than Baptism, I don't know. Sometimes, by the way, Todd, people will say, "Well, Jesus is anticipating here. He's talking about something that wasn't really available at the time. It would become available, of course, after He died and rose," they say. And the people who were reading the Book of John would know this, but when Jesus first said it to Nicodemus, He wouldn't have had any access to being born of water and the Spirit." Not so! The very same chapter goes on to talk about how John and His disciples were baptizing, and Jesus' disciples were baptizing. Baptism was already available to people—already available to Nicodemus right when Jesus spoke these words to him.
WILKEN: Now, you spoke before about how the Holy Spirit's job—His work—is to bring people to faith. First of all, is this an act of coercion, the Holy Spirit forcing people to come to faith—or the people are put in the position, sometimes it is said, of simply being robots?
SCHURB: Well, there are Scripture passages that tell us that the Holy Spirit when He comes to people to give them the gift of Christ and everything Christ won for us on the cross, that He can be and sometimes is resisted. Stephen says to the people who are about to stone him, "You stiff-necked people! Uncircumcised in hearts and ears. You always resist the Holy Spirit." So, yeah, the Holy Spirit definitely can be resisted when He works in His Word to bring us Christ, and so that means that this is not a coercion.
The better picture that Scripture gives us is a new birth or, in some places, a heart transplant. Ezekiel 36:26, "Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you." See, that's what conversion is really all about. It's a miracle! The Holy Spirit takes that old heart and gives us a new heart.
WILKEN: So, do we possess any capacity to cooperate with the Holy Spirit before conversion—before the Holy Spirit creates faith in our hearts?
SCHURB: Well, again, the image is that of a new birth. We have as much capacity to bring about a new birth in the Holy Spirit as we had to bring about our physical birth in the first place. The answer is, of course, no, we don't have any capacity to do that.
WILKEN: So, what changes in the believer after the Holy Spirit has done this work of bringing someone to faith? What changes in the person, I should say. Obviously, they change from an unbeliever to a believer. What's the change, then?
SCHURB: Well, the Holy Spirit brings with Him so many things. He brings the forgiveness of sins. That person receives the righteousness of Christ. He's clothed in the garments of salvation. He stands before God as completely pristine, spotless, guiltless, and that in spite of all the times that he has disobeyed the law of God and sinned. And that blessing brings still more blessings. The Holy Spirit makes us into the image of Christ. "We were buried," St. Paul writes to the Romans, "therefore, together with Christ by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised form the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in the newness of life." And so He brings us newness of life that He both counts to us and then that He leads us in as we bring forth the fruit of the Spirit. He really brings forth the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.
WILKEN: With two minutes, is it proper—is it scriptural—to speak of the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Jesus Christ? In fact, just a minute to answer that before we have to go to a break.
SCHURB: Oh, yes, absolutely. And there are passages—perhaps not a great many—but decisive ones at key places that speak in just these terms. For example, Paul writes to the Galatians in chapter four. This is Galatians 4:4: "But when the time had fully come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those who are under law that we might receive adoption as sons, and because you are sons, God has sent the spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father.'"
So Christ is sending the Spirit—His own Spirit—the Spirit of God's Son into our hearts. Or the passage we were talking about earlier in Acts 16, where the Holy Spirit prohibited Paul and his party from going to certain places. It says, "The Spirit of Jesus did not allow them."
So, yes, the Spirit is called the Spirit of Christ.
WILKEN: Folks, our Issues, Etc. Book of the Month for October is called The Renaissance and Reformation Movements. It's actually two books. It really is a chronicle of how the Holy Spirit continues to work through His Word. We're going talk about that on the other side of the break and bring Christ to light. You can order this excellent Reformation resource by calling Concordia Publishing House: 1-800-325-3040. The cost is $23.99, plus shipping and handling for each volume, or it's $40.99 for both. You can go to our Web site and browse before you buy: issuesetc.org. Look under the "What's New" section. You'll find The Renaissance and Reformation Movements," our Issues, Etc. Book of the Month for October. We'll be right back.
WILKEN: Next week on Issues, Etc., we're going to discuss "Hate Crimes" with Greg Koukl with Stand to Reason. It is now illegal in Canada to publicly oppose homosexuality. But is opposition to homosexuality hate speech? Can someone be against hate crimes and still oppose hate-crime laws? We'll talk about next week on Issues, Etc. with Greg Koukl.
Now, if you'd like to know what we'll be discussing for the rest of the month, check out our Web site: issuesetc.org. While you're there at the Web site, be sure to read several resources on tonight's topic, "The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit."
Our call-in number if you have a question or a comment on the Holy Spirit: 1-800-730-2727. Feel free to give us a call. Our guest, Dr. Ken Schurb, is pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Moberly, Mo. He received his doctorate in history at Ohio State University, and he formerly served as a professor of theology at Concordia College in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Ken, before the break you mentioned something else—the connection between the Holy Spirit and God's Word. How would you sort that out? What does Scripture tell us about God's Word and the Person and work of the Holy Spirit?
SCHURB: Probably the passage that makes the connection most closely is in 1 Timothy 3:16: "All Scripture is inspired by God." Actually, you could say it a little bit more vividly in translation: "All Scripture is God-breathed. "theopneustos" is the Greek word, and it's got in there that word for Spirit, "pneuma." The words that God has given us in Scripture are His own words. They are the product of His own out-breathing. Just like the words that I am speaking right now are the product of my breathing out and the air passing over my vocal chords in such a way as to form words that you can hear. Scripture is breathed out by God, and the holy men of God spoke as they were moved, borne along like the wind bears a ship, by the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 1:21 tells us.
So, the Spirit has gone to the exceptional length of not only thrusting Christ into the world and of thrusting the proclamation of Christ into the world after His resurrection, but now of moving men in New Testament times—these apostles and their associates—to write these things down in words that He Himself gives. Just as the Spirit inspired the prophets in Old Testament times to write and speak the very Word of God.
WILKEN: Is God's Word ever found apart from the Person and work of the Holy Spirit? I'm thinking about a scenario in which someone says, "Well, I was in church, and the pastor was particularly on his game this Sunday, and I could really feel the Spirit working. But, you know, last week he would seem to have an off Sunday, and I don't think the Holy Spirit really even showed up that day."
SCHURB: Well, where God's Word is, there His Spirit is. The Spirit is the One who inspired it, and the Spirit is the One who inspires through it. Jesus was probably making the point most graphically to the disciples on Easter evening where He appears to them in the Upper Room and He breathes on them. Now, remember, in Greek for breath and the word for Spirit are the same: pneuma. He breathes on them and says, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whosoever sins you forgive, they are forgiven. Whosoever sins you retain, they are retained." As they went and proclaimed the message of the forgiveness of sins, the Holy Spirit was going to accompany that. And the Holy Spirit always accompanies His Word whether we feel it at that moment or not. And that's terrifically good news for me, Todd, because there are some days where I come away from church—either a service I've attended or a service I've conducted and which I've preached—and I don't feel particularly different. I may be even in a kind of foul mood, but still I know that God is working through His Word on me. That's the great thing that Paul marveled at in the Thessalonians, that when they receive the Word which Paul and his associates brought to them, they received it as the very Word of God, which is at work in you, believers.
WILKEN: Somebody says, "Look, I have communication with the Spirit all the time. The Spirit speaks to me sometimes even when my Bible's closed. The Spirit speaks to me, and I get direction and insight and sometimes something like a premonition of what might happen next!"
SCHURB: Well, of course, those are always dangerous things to go thinking that you've got a definite word from God. God has promised to be present for us in His Word to bless and forgive and to lead us further into the mysteries of God. But we have no such promise where not using His Word—sometimes people will say, "Oh, yeah, God spoke to me. He told me that He loves me." Well, that's something that God already said in His Word. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son." What you are in effect doing there is simply recalling something that the Word already tells you and thinking of it in some other context. That's not so dangerous. The dangerous part is where somebody thinks that the Holy Spirit is telling them something that goes way over and above or beyond or certainly it's dangerous if they think the Holy Spirit's telling them something different from what the Word of God says. Then you know you're not dealing with the Holy Spirit.
WILKEN: On the issue of the Christian life, someone says, "Okay, fine. It was the Holy Spirit's work to bring me to faith in Jesus Christ. Now as I live the Christian life, it is my love for God that motivates what I do in my Christian life."
SCHURB: Well, love is itself one of the fruits of the Spirit. In other words, it's not the basic motivation for what we do in the Christian life. It is rather one of the first sorts of manifestations of that Christian life. The real motive, deep down, is that link that gets forged in us with—I should say between us and Christ—through Baptism. Where we are buried with Him and raised again with Him as Paul says to the Romans and to the Colossians. That goes far beyond any emotion we can point to or even any first response we have, it is the kind of link that Jesus is talking about when He says, "I am the Vine, you are the branches." And you don't analyze it any further. You simply let the vine send its life-giving sap through those branches.
WILKEN: You talk about this before, and I'd like a brief treatment of it once again before we go to the calls, Ken. People talk about Baptism and then a baptism in the Holy Spirit, as though there were a second experience that's apart from the Baptism that Christ instituted with water in the name of the Triune God. This is a thing where you really get the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit may be on you, or kinda in you before, but this is where He fills you up, and it's the second experience. Does Scripture know of such a "baptism in the Holy Spirit"?
SCHURB: No, it is an unfortunate and even potentially a dangerous thing to go counting on a second experience with the Holy Spirit because, as you kind of suggest already in the way you phrased the question, Scripture does not promise it. When Jesus talked about staying in the city, and He tells the apostles that they will be baptized with the Holy Spirit, well, 10 days later on Pentecost, they are baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire, which was part of the promise there, too, because tongues of flame appeared. That's what that reference to Baptism in the Holy Spirit is talking about. It's not talking about an experience that Christians are going to be able to potentially have or certainly count on having after they have been brought into union with Christ in the one Baptism that Christ instituted.
WILKEN: Our call-in number: 1-800-730-2727. Up first, calling from New Orleans, listening on WSHO, George is on the line. George, welcome to Issues, Etc.
GEORGE: Hello, I wanted to know if he would agree with the teaching from Ephesians 1:3-14, where this man wrote in this column that salvation was planned by the Father, purchased by the Son, and processed by the Holy Spirit. Would you agree with that statement?
WILKEN: Thank you very much, George. Ken?
SCHURB: It's good to talk to somebody in New Orleans, my hometown. Yeah, that's a good kind of quick way to put it. Sometimes we put it in terms of God being our Creator and Redeemer and Sanctifier, and the Father gets the spotlight in the work of creation, and the Son gets the spotlight in the work of redemption, and the Holy Spirit gets the spotlight in the work of sanctification. And a good passage is the one that you just pointed out—that first opening doxology at the beginning of the Epistle to the Ephesians.
WILKEN: So when Paul says there—talks about being sealed in Christ with the Holy Spirit—what exactly is He making reference to?
SCHURB: Well, the sealing is something that really occurs in our Baptism as He puts His name and His claim on us. And notice then that the Spirit is called in the next verse—verse 14—the "guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it." Like a down-payment. You get this much now, but this enables you to see to get a little foretaste of what is coming, because what is coming is going to be even greater and more vivid and better.
WILKEN: When we come back from this break, we're going to take more of your phone calls. We're talking with Dr. Ken Schurb about "The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit." Ken is pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Moberly, Mo. He received his doctorate in history at Ohio State University, and he formerly served as a professor of theology at Concordia College in Ann Arbor, Mich. Talking about "The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit." Our call-in numbers—we have several open phone lines: 1-800-730-2727. Or you can visit our Issues, Etc. Forum at our Web site and post a question or a comment there: issuesetc.org. Click on the "What's New" section. You'll find the forum there for questions and comments on "The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit" with Dr. Ken Schurb. When we come back, your phone calls. We'll also wrap up our conversation in the last 10 minutes or so on "The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit." Stay with us.
WILKEN: Well, you can
see from this brief conversation so far in "The Person and Work of the Holy
Spirit," that if you are staying close to God's Word, you will never stray far
from the Christ-centered, cross-focused message of God's Word. The Holy
Spirit is always there directing us back to Christ and His work for us at the
HECTOR: Good evening, and thank you for taking my call.
WILKEN: What's your question or comment, Hector?
WILKEN: Basically, I had heard a lot of different opinions about the worship of the Holy Spirit, and should we mention His name, like, in our daily worship to God and everything. I was just wondering if it's appropriate and if it's correct to mention His name and/or to worship the Holy Spirit.
WILKEN: That's a very good question! Hector, thank you. Ken, what do we make of this?
SCHURB: Well, it is certainly appropriate to worship the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit possesses all the attributes of God, does things that only God can do, receives Divine honor and glory, so, yeah, of course the Holy Spirit should be mentioned and should be worshiped. It's kind of interesting. The way a lot of church services begin in a lot of churches is with the phrase, "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." And there's a tendency on the part of a lot of people to try to fill that out because it's not a complete sentence; it's just a prepositional phrase. And so people will say, "We begin in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit," or "We gather this day in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Actually, I think the phrase is best left just as it is as an incomplete sentence—a prepositional phrase standing by itself—because it puts us in mind of the really important sentence that lies beneath it, which is, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." That's how Jesus told His church to baptize at the end of the Book of Matthew, and that starts off worship, starts off the day if you say that at the beginning of the day in your prayers, "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," putting you in mind not of the Holy Spirit only in general or kind of out there, but how that Spirit has come and brought you new birth in Baptism.
WILKEN: Victor is listening in San Jose, Calif., on his station KFAX. Victor, welcome to Issues, Etc.
VICTOR: Thank you so much for taking my phone call. What I'd like to know is, how can I be filled with the Holy Spirit and if I can ask that. I do ask that often, but He's there in experience that takes place. That's basically my question.
WILKEN: Thank you, Victor. Ken, is there a ‘how-to'? Can you answer this question, how to be filled with the Holy Spirit?
SCHURB: Probably not in the kind of terms that Victor is wondering about—I'm guessing a little bit here. But the way to be filled with the Holy Spirit is to repair to God's Word. You know, St. Paul wrote to the Ephesians that they should not get drunk with wine but be filled with the Spirit, and then he goes on and says, "addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." In other words, put yourself back in touch with the things that are going to tell you about what the Lord has done for you in Christ.
WILKEN: One more phone call here. Doc listens in Wisconsin on XM Radio. Doc, welcome.
DOC: Yeah, I just—I have one thing to ask and this is it. You know, it says the Paracletos in John 14, but it also says in Acts 13 that the Holy Spirit specifically spoke, saying, "Separate unto me, Saul and Barnabas, for the work that I have prepared for" them. You know, He's still a personal entity of God! And He works as speaking of His own! Thereby we should be recognizing His work in the church not only as recognizing what Christ did but what He Himself can do. Why should we separate it in such a fashion whereby we say, "Well, you know, it's to lead everybody to Christ." Yes, it is, definitely, oh yes. Because He does seal us unto the day of Redemption by that.
WILKEN: All right, Doc, thank you very much. Are you making a separation here between the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing people to faith and instances like he mentioned there in the Book of Acts?
SCHURB: Well, I was trying to bring these together. And, in fact, what he suggests by way of that one quotation from Acts 13, you know, the "Holy Spirit speaking," can be multiplied by way of example. There's more than one Old Testament quotation that is introduced in the New Testament, like, Hebrews 3:7: "Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says." So, yes, the Holy Spirit—and this is another thing to indicate, by the way, that the Holy Spirit is a Person, not just a thing. The Holy Spirit speaks. The Holy Spirit is that Third Person of the Trinity. But when the Holy Spirit speaks, which Jesus says in those middle chapters of John that He's going to do, He's going to "bring to your remembrance everything that I told you."
WILKEN: Finally, here, Ken, I want you to return to something you mentioned at the very beginning, and that is the misconception that spiritual things are on the far end of the spectrum from the mundane details of life. And when the Spirit's doing His work, it's got to be something special. It's got to be something extraordinary, something deeply emotional or ethereal. Straighten us out here. Lining this up with what Scripture does say about the Person and work of the Holy Spirit, in particular, that work of bringing us Christ through His Word.
SCHURB: Yeah, this is kind of a difficult thing especially for us today because somehow or another we've gotten this idea that the spiritual is going to be at least a-typical if not sort of unreal as compared to our run of daily life.
St. Paul writes to Timothy that things are "consecrated by the Word of God and prayer." The thing that really consecrates anything that is consecrated—sanctified—is the Word of God through which the Holy Spirit is going to work. That means that my life is sanctified as I, a Christian born again in the Holy Spirit in Holy Baptism and bearing in mind and heart through God-given faith that work of Christ that the Holy Spirit has brought to me go out and vote in the election intelligently—do my work no matter what that work is—raise my kids—take care of my wife. In all those things, I am being spiritual. And that's the mind-blowing thing. It's like it's almost too simple and too good to be true, and so therefore we go looking, I guess, for other alternatives. But the most mundane things can be spiritual when the Word of God is added to them.
WILKEN: Folks, we'll continue to take your phone calls on "The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit" in the next hour's conversation. Our call-in number: 1-800-730-2727. The best callers will receive a Bible study on myths about Christianity. You can also post your questions or comments on our forum: issuesetc.org. Click on the "What's New" section. You will not be able to hear this next hour on the radio. It's only live on the Internet. So go to our Web site. Click on the worldwide KFUO logo that you find there, and you'll be able to listen to the next hour live. We are coming to you live this Sunday night, Oct. 10. Write this number down and call us during this break. If you're getting a busy signal, keep trying, because we'll be freeing up phone lines, taking phone calls right on the other side of the break.
Where Christ is being proclaimed, where the testimony of Jesus, our Savior, His perfect life, His death on the cross for us sinners, His resurrection from the dead, the forgiveness and salvation and the mercy of God that are available in His name, all the promises attached to what Jesus did for us—when these things are being proclaimed, when this is the testimony, that is the testimony of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit—well, the Holy Spirit can do whatever the Holy Spirit wants to do. That is very clear. "The wind blows where it will, but we don't know where it's going." But what has the Holy Spirit promised to do? What has our Savior Jesus Christ told us the Holy Spirit will most certainly do? He will testify of Jesus, Jesus our Savior, Jesus our hope, Jesus our life. This is how the Holy Spirit brings life. This is how the Holy Spirit gives life and salvation: through the message of Christ and Him crucified.
I'm Todd Wilken. Thanks for listening to Issues, Etc.
The Rev. Todd Wilken is the host of Issues, Etc.