This month, we are going to spend time reviewing the Third Article of The Apostle’s Creed with Dr. Martin Luther’s comments, the Catechisms and personal reflections.
The Third Article of The Apostle’s Creed:
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!
Dr. Martin Luther’s explanation of The Third Article from The Small Catechism answers the famous Luther question, 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 Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, and sanctified and kept me in true faith. In the same way 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 all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the last day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.
This week, we focus on the first part of Dr. Luther’s explanation: 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, enlightened me with His gifts, and sanctified and kept me in true faith. This is most certainly true.
“I believe…that I cannot believe.” As fallen people, we are unable to find God on our own, let alone choose to entrust our lives to Him.
Which is harder to accept – that I choose to believe or that I am brought to saving faith apart from my own efforts?
As Christians, we confess that the Holy Spirit has made us new creatures by bringing us to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Such faith is “granted to our hearts (or birthed in us) by the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Gospel” (LC (Large Catechism) II 38).
What is meant by, ‘The Gospel?’
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are certainly Gospels, but Luther is talking about the central message of all of Scripture. Read Romans 1:16 and Romans 10:17. John 3:16, frequently called “the gospel in a nutshell,” sums up the gospel very nicely.
O most wonderful creator God, continue to bring us closer to you, ever stronger and more mature in faith in Jesus through Your Holy Spirit. We give thanks and praise to you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.